Understanding and accepting true doctrine (see 3 Nephi 7:4).1 Belief comes after mere hope (meaning “desire”) and is based upon the conviction a proposition is true. There is a difference between belief and faith and between faith and knowledge. It is a spectrum. At one end there is desire, and it is then followed by belief. By degrees this belief grows into faith, and faith can progress by degrees into knowledge. Knowledge is at the other end of the spectrum. Belief is a step toward faith. Belief can come from study and from trusting others. Belief can be very weak, or it can be a strongly held conviction.2 In the Book of Mormon, Jacob makes a startling promise for those who live when the destruction begins preliminary to the cleansing of the world before the Lord returns. He says, none will he destroy that believeth in him. And they that believe not in him shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine (2 Nephi 5:5). This amazing promise is predicated on “believing in Him.” This requires us to understand what the word “believe” means in the parlance of the Book of Mormon. Those who believe in Him know and accept correct doctrine — or the truth — about Him. Those who do not know and will not accept correct doctrine or the truth have dwindled in unbelief. They do not believe in Him. They may have religion, may belong to churches, may be active in all their observances, but they are not in possession of belief in Him. Instead they accept for doctrines the commandments of men and their hearts are far from Him. They teach false and vain things. As a result, they neither enter into the kingdom nor suffer those who are entering to go in. This includes those who, though they are humble followers of Christ, are nevertheless led that in many instances they do err in doctrine (see 2 Nephi 12:2). There will be many who are destroyed who will be quite surprised by it. They will complain that they have prophesied in Christ’s name, have cast out devils in His name, and done many wonderful works, but they do not know Christ, and therefore, never did believe in Him (see Matthew 3:47–48). “If you are one of those who believe in Him, and who will not dwindle in unbelief, will not accept the commandments of men as doctrine, but will take the spirit for your guide, then Jacob promises that Christ will not destroy you. The rest He will destroy.”3 To believe in Him is to accept, study, contemplate, and ponder His teachings. It is not to just go along with the group, but to rise up from one’s position and awaken from one’s slumber. It is to grow into knowledge about Him. Belief leads to faith and faith to knowledge. But the process is initiated by one’s belief and correct understanding of His teachings (see the Lectures on Faith).4
1 Passing the Heavenly Gift, 51–52.
2 Second Comforter, 54.
4 “3 Nephi 11:31–32,” Sept. 27, 2010, blog post.