Even as Many as Will

I was recently reading the story of Enos, where Enos describes his “wrestle before God” prior to obtaining forgiveness for his sins. We know so very little of what Enos was thinking and feeling when he went into the forest to hunt that day, besides the words of his Father sinking deep into his heart and his soul hungering for forgiveness of unnamed sin. Following a day and night of pleading, he hears by revelation, “Thy sins are forgiven you.”

The whole account is to me a beautifully succinct encapsulation of the Gospel. I’ve reviewed the chapter many times, but this time I was struck by the familiar phrase at the end of his conversation with the Lord: “Go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.” After pondering the phrase, which the Savior also used after two healings recorded in the New Testament, I wondered, why does the Lord in these instances give credit to the individual’s faith, rather than to himself, for making them whole? For example, he might’ve said, “Go to, the Atonement of Christ has made thee whole” but he didn't. He said their faith had made them whole.

This could easily devolve into a discussion of works versus grace. I’m not interested in debating the subtleties of just how our actions, combined with the Savior's, lead to salvation. But I think it’s worth noticing how “thy faith hath made thee whole" teaches us about the importance of our action. The infinite Atonement has been accomplished by the Savior Jesus Christ. It stands eternally in all it’s perfect and infinite power to save. As the Savior said on the cross, “it is finished.” Saying “Thy faith hath made thee whole” implies that the power of the Atonement is available, but it must become active in our lives through our faith in Christ. There are numerous scriptures that teach to this principle. Consider the following references, each with the repeated phrase “even as many as will."

Moses 5:9
And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.

D&C 29:2
Who will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer.

D&C 33:6
And even so will I gather mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, even as many as will believe in me, and hearken unto my voice.

D&C 33:6
And even so will I gather mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, even as many as will believe in me, and hearken unto my voice.

D&C 35:2
I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one.

Each of these scriptures teaches that the Atonement is the source of our salvation. As Isaiah, Zephenia, Nephi, Alma, and the Savior himself said, "Christ is mighty to save." He has the complete power and ability to save us. But only if we will, or in other words, only if we desire, intend, and choose to be saved. That’s the catch. When he says “Thy faith hath made thee whole,” the Savior reminds us of the choice of faith made by the individual seeking the Saviors help. The Savior has done his part, and we are free to use it or not. Perhaps this is why he is so bold as to say in section 38, very simply, save yourselves. Of course this doesn’t reduce or minimize the absolute requirement of the Atonement of Christ. Without it all is lost. But with it, the choice is ours and when obtain salvation, it will be through our faith because we will allow him who is "mighty to save" to save us indeed. Truly we are the only thing that can prevent our own salvation.

What does this look like in day to day life? For Enos, it was prayerful pleading for forgiveness. Here are some other examples.

  • A man with a decades-long pornography addiction meets with his bishop to confess and formulate a recovery plan
  • A couple in difficult financial circumstances continue to pay their tithing
  • A young woman fasts on the day of her patriarchal blessing
  • A young man prays for help with a difficult class at school
  • A couple chooses to be married despite failed marriages in the past

There are countless reasons for our souls to hunger, and just as many ways to exercise faith. It’s worth asking: In what ways am I incomplete, and how can I exercise greater faith so that Christ can make me whole?

Further Reading:
Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice
Is Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ Written in Our Hearts
Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ