I would appreciate your wisdom here. What is the difference between having faith and having hope? Are they different or the same thing? In Moroni 10:20-21, we learn they cannot exist without each other including charity however often we would think they are the same thing. What’s the different between having faith we’ll be saved and having hope we’ll be saved?
In the Book of Mormon, one of my favorite scriptures is found within the book of Alma (Alma 7:24), “And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.” The three principles form the foundation of discipleship in the gospel of Jesus Christ. All three principles are unique; faith is different from hope, hope is different from charity, and yet these three main principles are interwoven with each other. The principle of forgiveness, for example, incorporates faith, hope, and charity. Forgiveness is the ultimate form of love, while we exercise faith and hope in the principle of forgiveness (temporally and spiritually).
The scriptures teach us the following regarding faith, hope, and charity:
1) Faith — “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32:21)
2) Hope — An expectation that promised blessings according to our covenants and commandments will be received, not the worldly view of hope as “mere wanting,” — “believing you shall receive.” Hope is the means by which our faith grows or is increased, because through our hope, we act, and through our actions we receive further assurances. (Bible Dictionary)
3) Charity — “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.” (Moroni 7:47)
The scripture you have highlighted, Moroni 10:20-21, clearly states, “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity. And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope.”
Faith is a principle of power and action. Hope is a principle encompassing our personal belief and knowledge in the promises given which will be received as we act in faith, or are faithful. The life of Joseph Smith, prior to receiving his first vision, is a great example highlighting the relationship between faith and hope. Faith was exercised when Joseph Smith read his scriptures. Hope is exercised in the belief, or knowledge, that God will provide an answer and give us further knowledge as we read our scriptures (faith). When God provided an answer, Joseph exercised faith when he decided to walk to a grove of trees, kneel down, and pray. Hope was exercised in the belief, knowledge, that God indeed would answer his prayer. This is why the Book of Mormon also teaches (Moroni 7:42) “if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.” What other examples do we have from scripture that highlight this relationship of faith and hope?
1) Abraham hoped God would honor all his promises when the Lord commanded him to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. Faith was exercised when he went to the mount and placed Isaac on the alter.
2) Nephi exercised hope, when he made the statement that God would prepare a way for them to accomplish his commandments. Faith was exercised when he walked to Jerusalem with his brothers (and when he went back to Laban’s house not once, not twice, but three times to honor the Lord). The decision and choice to go back three times represented his belief, his knowledge, and his witness from God that God would prepare a way. Nephi would not have acted as such, without hope. Thus faith cannot ever be exercised without hope, and we cannot exercise the proper application of hope without exercising faith.
3) The Tree of Life vision: Hope is highlighted in the belief that the Rod of Iron will lead to the Tree of Life. Faith is grabbing the Rod in the first place. Yet, would we grab the Rod, if we did not have hope in the promised blessings of Eternal Life? No, indeed we would not.
Now as we exercise faith and hope, we must realize the greatest character trait of God is Charity, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” and “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The proper exercise of charity, love, is when our actions (our faith and hope) glorify our Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). We begin to lay down our lives in service and in love toward our fellow human beings without guile, without envy, without selfishness, without a desire for power, and without personal aims for glory, and this is why the proper exercise of faith, hope, and charity will lead all of the children of men toward good works.