Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt
First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency
Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt was sustained as first counselor in the Young Men General Presidency on April 4, 2020.
Brother Corbitt received an undergraduate degree in sociology from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and a law degree from Rutgers University School of Law. He worked as a trial lawyer, executive director of corporate communications and associate general counsel of a Delaware company, and vice president and general counsel of a New York public relations firm. Brother Corbitt was director of the Church’s New York Public Affairs office. He currently works for the Church’s Missionary Department.
Brother Corbitt’s past Church service includes time as a full-time missionary in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission, stake president, and president of the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission.
Ahmad Corbitt was born on August 16, 1962, in Philadelphia. He and his wife, Jayne, have six children and 11 grandchildren.
"Graduating Your Faith to the Next Level"
Ahmad S. Corbitt
September 21, 2021
It is a true honor to speak to all associated with BYU-Idaho. I have the most wonderful connections to the campus and the great Gem State! One of the missionaries who contacted my family was from nearby Sugar City. After joining the Church, I decided to attend then-Ricks College. Here, as an 18-year-old brand new convert, I received the Melchizedek priesthood, my patriarchal blessing, a testimony that the Lord wanted me to serve a full-time mission, and the faith and courage to make and follow that choice. More recently, my wife and I sent a son to Idaho on his mission, and a daughter to BYU-Idaho where she had a wonderful experience. We have had professional connections to the university as well.
In his April 2021 Sunday morning address in general conference, President Russell M. Nelson made an unusual appeal to the Church and to all the world. Did you catch it? It was not an invitation, teaching, or urging. Importantly, he said, “My dear brothers and sisters, my call to you this Easter morning is to start today to increase your faith.”1 How have you accepted that call? I have felt to help you continue to accept and magnify it. Just two weeks ago, Elder Quentin L. Cook taught the BYU-Idaho employees, “Maintaining a laser-like focus on our responsibility to help build faith in Jesus Christ and in His restored Church should drive our efforts.”2 And Elder David A. Bednar has taught, “True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to action.”3 So, my references to faith always mean faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I said in your discussion board, Sister Corbitt and I recently met some new additions to our dear missionaries. After playing with our mission grandbabies, I asked these wonderful, faithful couples a sobering question. I’ll ask it of you now: Do you know and love someone who once had a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ—a seemingly strong youth, or even a returned missionary or older adult—who abandoned his or her faith in Christ and left the Church? Sadly, each of us knew such a person. Perhaps you do too. This sad experience is not new. But why do some of God’s children turn their backs on Him, especially after once being enlightened? And how can we increase our faith in Christ and help others do the same, such that leaving the covenant path is never an option for us?
Today, I will share a vital principle of faith in Christ from the teachings of the prophets and the scriptures. In my experience, too few of God’s covenant children use, understand, or even know about it.4 But I promise that if you listen carefully, believe, and humbly apply it, you will leave this devotional armed with increased faith in Christ and having further answered the prophet’s call today.
I’ll then share three major areas to which you can apply your increased faith to make a powerful difference in the world. These subjects are the gathering of Israel, race relations in the United States, and successful marriage.
First, what is the vital principle that will significantly increase our faith in Christ? In his epic teaching of the Zoramite people, Alma identifies at least two levels of faith. He describes the first as “beginning.” You remember, this faith experiments with the word of God and comes to learn the gospel is true. I remember experiencing this beginning faith as a young man when missionaries from our church contacted and taught our family in New Jersey. I felt the sensations of peace, joy, and the love of God from the Holy Ghost confirming what I was learning was true and right.
“And when you feel these swelling motions,” Alma said, “ye will begin to say within yourselves [and to others]—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good [that the Church is true], for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding . . . Now behold, would not this increase your faith?” Alma asked. “I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up.”5
All our dear ones who have strayed have this in common: at some point, with their beginning faith, they bore witness to others of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and Church of Jesus Christ. So, what happened? Or, more accurately, what didn’t happen? Sadly, their faith never reached the next level. What is this next level? It is to look forward with an eye of faith and see the Lord’s promise of eternal life as already fulfilled in our lives. Looking forward with an eye of faith is like an essential course needed to graduate our faith from beginning to permanent. If we do not take this course, our faith does not graduate. Alma said it this way, “If ye will not nourish the . . . word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.”6 We leave our faith at the beginning stage, never taking that required upper-level course and, in some cases, eventually losing the credits we’ve already earned. Alma teaches that if we don’t look forward with an eye of faith our gospel tree or testimony will not survive the hot opposition we all inevitably face. In his words, we predictably “pluck it up and cast it out.”7 Alma then reassures us that we can overcome challenges to our faith: “But if ye will nourish . . . the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and . . . shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”8 You see, our beginning faith was just to plant the seed to know if the gospel and Church were true, not necessarily to get us through the heat of mortality. Alma said that once we have this beginning experience, “ye [must not] lay aside your faith.”9
What does it mean to look forward with an eye of faith? President Nelson has taught us to “begin with the end in mind.”10 President Dallin H. Oaks has counseled to “[see] the end from the beginning.”11 I’ll never forget what I told myself sometime around my baptism. Although I had no knowledge of this principle of faith, I said that I would die an old man in this church. (You may be thinking I already qualify!) Just weeks later, I came here to study. Three years
earlier, in 1977, on this very campus, the first President Henry Eyring of this school taught students, “The way is a simple one, clearly marked. It is to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on that which is unchangeable. We must have an eye of faith fixed on eternal life. That life, the greatest of all the gifts of God, is to live in glory forever in families in the presence of our loving Heavenly Father. It takes a focused eye.” 12 (In the written version of this talk I have included footnotes to the teachings of many other church leaders on this subject.13) President Eyring then read this passage from Alma 5:15–16, “Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you?” I almost hear Alma breaking down the rest to easy steps to understand how to exercise greater faith in Christ. He asks: “Do you look forward with an eye of faith and view [or see] this mortal body raised in immortality and this corruption raised in incorruption [in other words, the promise fulfilled] to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?" I know of no more powerful expression of “fixed” faith in God’s promises and His inability to lie than to look forward and see His promise as already fulfilled, a positive fait accompli, and act accordingly.
Alma continues: "I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?”14 Did you know your imagination plays a key role in your faith? Do you “imagine to yourself” what you will become and how you will be, especially in the eternities? The Lord has counseled us to “let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds.”15 Do you ever imagine what it will feel like in our Heavenly Father’s presence if you continue to do your best at living His gospel and repenting of mistakes?
Looking Forward with an Eye of Faith Increases Our Revelation and Helps Us “Hear Him”
“But I’m not that sure of God’s promises? How can I see them with such certainty as if they have already occurred if I’m not certain, if my faith is not that strong?” Seeing and imagining God’s promised blessings will increase your faith. They are like pondering with visuals and images. They will also increase revelation in your life and your ability to “hear Him.”16 Remember when just three years ago President Nelson warned that “in coming days it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost”?17 I believe we are in those days. But fear not. As you see, imagine, and envision the Lord’s promises fulfilled in your lives, and work diligently and patiently toward their fulfillment, you invite the Comforter to confirm what you are experiencing.
Because “faith is always pointed toward the future,”18 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, Satan’s message is, “Look anywhere but forward, toward God’s vision of the future!” Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught: “The father of all lies, will try to prevent us from seeing the end from the beginning.”19 Sadly, some of our own friends and loved ones are victims of this clever, destructive strategy. No wonder Book of Mormon prophets stated that by teaching the people to look forward with an eye of faith and related principles, “they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land.”20
Jesus Christ Himself looked forward with an eye of faith and saw true promises fulfilled about His own mission and destiny. Approximately a day before His atoning sacrifice, He seemed to assure His apostles by modeling this powerful faith: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”21 Perhaps in case there was doubt in anyone’s mind, then or now, about His exceedingly great faith—that in His mind and heart the promise of His Atonement was already fulfilled even before He performed it—He then prayed, “Father . . . I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”22 If we are to “follow [Jesus Christ] and do the things which [we] have seen [Him] do,”23 as He commanded, surely the way He Himself lived the very first principle of His own gospel and doctrine (faith in the Lord Jesus Christ) ought to be among His primary examples to follow. On a personal note, one of my best times for following His example of looking forward with an eye of faith and seeing myself in God’s eternal presence is during the sacrament. Partaking weekly and remembering the Savior in this way increases my faith in Him.24
The Three Topics
Well, how can we apply this principle of powerful faith in Christ and His promises to the gathering of Israel, racial harmony in the United States, and marital success?
The Gathering of Israel
First, the gathering of Israel. In the 2014 new mission leaders’ seminar, which Sister Corbitt and I were privileged to attend, President Nelson taught us all to teach our missionaries to begin with the end in mind. He shared a personal example where, after meeting a couple not of our faith, he envisioned them dressed in baptismal and temple clothing. Years later, he attended this couple’s baptisms and performed their temple sealing. He “saw with [his] eyes the things which [he] had beheld with an eye of faith, and [he was] glad.”25 President Nelson instructed us as mission leaders to teach our missionaries to also envision those they contacted or taught in this way.26 This reminded me that we had looked forward with an eye of faith in the premortal world and “overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of [our] testimony.”27 These teachings lit a fire of faith in Christ and His promises throughout our mission! Let them light that same fire of faith in Christ in you as you look forward with an eye of faith and view, imagine, and envision God’s children—including yourselves—in this wonderful way. Sister Michelle D. Craig taught, “Through the power of the Holy Ghost, Christ will enable us to see ourselves and see others as He does.”28 Sister Corbitt and I saw our missionaries in this way, and we saw our mission transformed as they rediscovered and re-exercised their exceeding faith in Christ and His promises.
Speaking of seeing ourselves and others as Christ does, how can we apply our faith to establishing a national culture of unity and harmony that is devoid of racism29 and racial contention? We have a pivotal role to play in this national miracle. Jesus prayed, “Father . . . neither pray I for these alone [those who were with Him], but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; [for us!] That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” Why? “That the world may believe that thou hast sent me."30 Our unity as a people will be evidence for the country and the world that Jesus Christ is really the Son of God, and that He has the power to unify God’s willing children of all backgrounds. If we let Him, He will use us as an example for the United States and an ensign to the nations in all the world.
Perhaps this is why He established the following vision through His prophet:
Ultimately, we realize that only the comprehension of the true Fatherhood of God can bring full appreciation of the true brotherhood of men and the true sisterhood of women. That understanding inspires us with passionate desire to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.
It is my prayer and blessing that I leave upon all who are listening that we may overcome any burdens of prejudice and walk uprightly with God and one another in perfect peace and harmony. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
That was the First Presidency 40th anniversary commemorative celebration of the 1978 revelation on priesthood in 2018, titled “Be One.”31 About two weeks prior, joined by his counselors and the national officers of the NAACP, President Nelson said, “We are impressed to call on people of this nation and, indeed, the entire world to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony and mutual respect. . . . lifting our brothers and sisters who need our help, just as the Savior, Jesus Christ, would do.”32 He quoted the scripture, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.’”33 He continued, “Together, we invite all people, organizations and governmental units to work with greater civility, eliminating prejudice of all kinds . . . [and] achieve the respect, regard, and blessings that God seeks for all of His children.”34 As you know, the Lord has declared, “My word . . . shall all be fulfilled—whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”35 Yet “in the space of not many years”36 after this prophetic call to the nation and the world, racial abuse and strife sparked, igniting a conflagration of contention and violence throughout the country. Imagine if the nation had heeded the prophet’s call. How much more unified would we be today? Imagine conditions tomorrow if we do not heed the prophetic calls of today.
What must we do? President Nelson recently said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is exactly what is needed in this confused, contentious, and weary world . . . no other message can eliminate contention in our society.”37 And President Oaks stated, "Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can unite and bring peace to people of all races and nationalities.”38 And it is never too late. President Eyring stated, "God has promised that blessing [of unity] to His faithful Saints whatever their differences in background and whatever conflict rages around them."39 Let the differences you see among God’s children here on campus and everywhere remind you of our important role as a catalyst in unifying everyone “in perfect peace and harmony.”
Brothers and sisters, there is a clear sense that we as a people are doing so much better. Let us “look forward with one eye [or vision], having one faith and one baptism, having [our] hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.”40 Let us avoid negativity and division and work toward perfect peace and harmony “with great diligence and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof.”41 Imagine how we could thus guide the United States to increasingly “form a more perfect union”42 as “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”43
Marital Harmony and Success
Finally, how can you apply the principle of looking forward with an eye of faith in Christ and His promises to marital harmony and success? One of the greatest promises God makes to His children is also the greatest of all His gifts to us, eternal life.44 As you know, this is exaltation, or the life He Himself lives in marriage and family. Is this promise to everyone? Just this past April, President M. Russell Ballard taught, “Scriptures and latter-day prophets confirm that everyone who is faithful in keeping gospel covenants will have the opportunity for exaltation.”45 Citing President Nelson and President Oaks, President Ballard continued, “The precise time and manner in which the blessings of exaltation are bestowed have not all been revealed, but they are nonetheless assured.”46 I see such hope and power in their teachings. They enable all the faithful, regardless of whether you have a sealed spouse with you or not, to look forward with an eye of faith and see yourselves exalted in the presence of our Heavenly Father and our Savior. These glorious promises transport many of us back to the highest rooms of the holy temple but will be fulfilled for all the faithful in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
Let me illustrate with a brief story how this great faith can be applied. A couple weeks ago, Brother Brad Wilcox and I visited Sister Wendy Thompson in her ward in North Ogden, Utah. Her husband had recently been killed in a tragic accident. After Sunday services, we met with her and her extended family. Their stake president invited us to share thoughts with them. Following Brother Wilcox’s inspired and inspiring remarks, I briefly shared some of these same principles of faith. Sister Thompson became emotional. She later asked me if I would write her what I shared. She said, “I was just feeling so much peace and joy knowing that my Heavenly Father and my Savior and my sweet eternal companion have prepared every needful thing for me and my boys here and in the eternities. I remembered my covenants made and also the covenants Heavenly Father made. He never breaks His promises. I love thinking that I already have those blessings . . . and [I love] what I felt.”
Brethren, do we who are married each look forward and see his wife as an exalted and glorious woman, according to the promise? Do you wives see your husbands as exalted and glorious men? What can we do to treat them more according to the eye of faith? If we are not married, how should we look forward with an eye of faith toward our promised exaltation? How should we see ourselves and what should we do? Most importantly, how should we all act toward our Father in Heaven and our Savior who have secured for each of us—married and single—these sure eternal blessings and promises at great personal sacrifice?
Earlier on, I asked, “What can we do?” Let us go, therefore, and help others begin with the end in mind and see the end from the beginning. Let us help “nourish . . . the tree as it beginneth to grow . . . [by] looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof.”47 I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He was “with us in the beginning, He is with us to the end.”48 In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1 Russell M. Nelson, “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” Ensign, May 2021.
2 Quentin L. Cook, “Foundations for Eternity,” BYUI address, September 7, 2021.
3 David A. Bednar, “Exercise Faith in Christ,” July 1, 2014.
4 Although church leaders have taught this principle for many years, including on this campus. See, e.g., footnote 10.
5 Alma 32:28–29, emphasis added.
6 Alma 32:40, emphasis added.
7 Alma 32:38.
8 Alma 32:41, emphasis added.
9 Alma 32:36.
10 Russell M. Nelson, “Begin with the End in Mind,” 2014 Mission Leaders Seminar.
11 Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan,” Ensign, May 2020; see also Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “See the End from the Beginning,” Ensign, May 2006.
12 Henry B. Eyring, “Education,” Ricks College devotional, January 11, 1977.
13 Elder Quentin L. Cook has invited the entire Church to “honor the Savior and make any necessary changes to see ourselves in His sacred temples.” (Quentin L. Cook, “See Yourself in the Temple,” Ensign May 2016.) Elder Jeffrey R. Holland appealed to the brethren of the Church to “lift your vision of home teaching,” and to “in newer, better ways see yourselves as emissaries of the Lord to His children.” (Jeffery R. Holland “Emissaries to the Church,” Ensign, November 2016.) President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “In your mind’s eye you will see yourself entering the house of the Lord for an eternal marriage and family.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “See the End from the Beginning,” Ensign, May 2006.) President Dallin H. Oaks reminded the Church of President Brigham Young’s statement, “I want present salvation. . . . and not wait for the Millennium.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, 1954, 15–16). President David O. McKay spoke of the revealed gospel of Jesus Christ in that same present sense of “salvation here—here and now” (Gospel Ideals, 1953, 6). President Henry B. Eyring taught Brigham Young University students to see themselves as “perpetual learners” and “perpetual servants.” (Henry B. Eyring, “Go Forth to Serve,” BYU devotional, Apr 25, 2002.) Similarly, Elder David A. Bednar has taught that, “the spiritual creation preceded the temporal creation. In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day—and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day.” (David A. Bednar, “Pray Always,” Ensign, Nov 2008; Elder Neil L. Andersen, “Eye of Faith,” Ensign, May 2019.
14 Alma 5:15–16.
15 Doctrine and Covenants 43:34.
16 Russell M. Nelson, “Hear Him,” Ensign, May 2020.
17 Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018.
18Jeffery R. Holland, “’Remember Lot’s Wife’: Faith Is for the Future,” BYU devotional, Jan 13, 2009.
19 Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “See the End from the Beginning,” Ensign, May 2006.
20 Jarom 1:12.
21 John 16:33.
22 John 17:2–4, emphasis added; note also, perhaps the most remarkable display of Jesus’s great ability to look forward with an eye of faith and see the Father’s promises fulfilled in His own life was this wondrous declaration to Nicodemus: “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 8:13, emphasis added). A grammatical exegesis of this phrase suggests Jesus referred to Himself twice as already being in heaven, and not His Heavenly Father on this occasion.
23 2 Nephi 31:12.
24 D. Todd Christofferson, “Firm and Steadfast in the Faith,” Ensign, Nov 2019.
25 Ether 12:19.
26 Russell M. Nelson, “Begin with the End in Mind,” 2014 Training for Mission Presidents.
27 Revelation 12:11.
28 Michelle D. Craig, “Eyes to See,” Ensign, Nov 2020.
29 Dallin H. Oaks, “Racism and Other Challenges,” BYU devotional, Oct 27, 2020; “Dictionaries typically define racism as “involving the idea that one’s own race is superior [to others] and has the right to rule [over them].”
30 John 17:20–21.
31 Russell M. Nelson, “Be One Commemoration,” June 1, 2018.
32 Russell M. Nelson, “First Presidency News Event with NAACP Leaders,” May 17, 2018.
33 Doctrine and Covenants 38:27, emphasis added.
34 Russell M. Nelson, “First Presidency News Even with NAACP Leaders,” May 17, 2018.
35 Doctrine and Covenants 1:38.
36 See Helaman 6:32, 7:6.
37 Russell M. Nelson, “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” Ensign, May 2021.
38 Dallin H. Oaks, “Racism and Other Challenges,” BYU devotional, Oct 27, 2020.
39 Henry B. Eyring, “Our Hearts Knit as One,” Ensign, Nov 2008.
40 Mosiah 18:21.
41 Alma 32:41.
42 Preamble to the United States Constitution.
43 Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
44 Doctrine and Covenants 14:7.
45 M. Russell Ballard, “Hope In Christ,” Ensign, May 2021, emphasis added: "President Russell M. Nelson taught: ‘In the Lord’s own way and time, no blessing will be withheld from His faithful Saints. The Lord will judge and reward each individual according to heartfelt desire as well as deed.’”
46 Ibid.; President Dallin H. Oaks explained that some of the circumstances “of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children.”
47 Alma 32:41, emphasis added.
48 Gerritt W. Gong, “Our Savior Stands with Us,” Ensign, May 2018.