Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Believe in the Gospel of Christ

Articles of Faith #4
[I] believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I have had a surprisingly difficult time writing this. I thought it would be easy, writing about faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have written about each of these before, I believe, but I have been drawn to talk about them a little differently than I expected to do. Much of what I say here has been revealed to me only recently through scripture study. The words are nothing new, and I feel limited in what I am able to say here, but the understanding is completely new and life-altering. I am still working on it, working through it, but it is more glorious and beautiful beyond anything promised on the path of the Self.

As I have studied these concepts with writing this post in mind, the question Why? continually came to me. We speak all the time of the principles of faith and repentance and the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Spirit, but the "Why?" is usually summed up with "to be saved". I wanted to know more of what "saved" means.

Scripture teaches us a fairly well-known process. The Lord has asked us to believe that Christ can atone for our sins (faith), to do all we can to right the damage done by our sins (repent), to demonstrate our willingness to follow Christ and become cleansed (baptism) and to keep His commandments (also referred to enduring to the end or overcoming by faith). By exercising our self-discipline in a continuing cycle of repentance and obedience, we will be purified.

In return, He has promised us the Gift of the Holy Ghost to help guide us in that cycle, and eventual sanctification by the Spirit. We often speak of this process, but less mentioned is the final step before exaltation: being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (otherwise referred to as the second endowment, being of the Church of the Firstborn, being given the Second Comforter or having one's calling and election made sure.)

In Sunday School, I was recently enlightened on these questions of "Why follow or perform the principles and ordinances?" and "What does it mean to be 'saved'?". In a rush to "get through the lesson" (a topic for another time), the teacher only read the title of a section in chapter 18 of the Joseph Smith Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual. It reads "Those who receive the testimony of Jesus, receive the ordinances of the gospel, and overcome by faith will inherit the celestial kingdom."

Intrigued by the statement for some reason, though I'd heard it often, I read down in the paragraph and noticed something that wasn't mentioned in the title. It reads ". . . overcome by faith and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true." (D&C 76) I went on a flurry of footnote searching and cross-references and realized that this is the entire reason for the principles and ordinances of the Gospel. They all lead to seeing Him and being ministered to by Him. They are not to restrict or condemn us, they are to lead us to the final sealing, whereby we are sealed to Christ and to Heavenly Father. We will know that we are promised eternal life. It was given to many in their lives, and will be given to all those who have been valiant.

In my reading, I have come to understand that if we do all the Father asks, there will be a time when we are ministered to by Him and by Jesus Christ. They are the Second Comforter.

The Lord said to those who believed they knew better than the words given through Joseph Smith because of his imperfection, "inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me . . . the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am . . . ." That admonition and promise is as true today, among all the flurry of criticism, and "issues" such as women/priesthood, Mountain Meadows, Proposition 8 and such, as it was to Joseph's peers.

We will actually see His face and know Him. It is a gift to all willing to subvert their will to the Father's will, to all who are just and true. This must happen in order to enter the Celestial Kingdom. In a literal way, it is the Celestial Kingdom. I wish I could express the feelings and knowledge burning through me. These words aren't anything new, but my understanding of them is fresh and vibrant. This is no little "I am saved!" this is big. I can only urge all you who read to pray for more knowledge and understanding. There is so much spiritual oil out there that you can only purchase for yourself. If you allow yourself to be distracted by comparatively flimsy issues of "equality", spiritual and literal fingerprints on the windows, or the imperfections of the Church and her leaders, you will miss your own imperfections and the chance to enter this process of purification, sanctification and ministration.

I know with a certainty beyond any other that Jesus Christ lives, that He will show Himself to me if I am patient and faithful, and that He will show Himself to you if you are the same. Please give up the petty jealousies and fears. Do what He asks of you.

There is no other way than the way He has given us; the principles and ordinances of the Gospel.


  1. SR, what an interesting path you are on. Thank you for this.

  2. Well, I’ve been thinking about this post. About a year ago in a joint E & HP meeting 35 or 40 priesthood holders were asked if they believed they could see the face of the Lord within their lifetimes. Four hands went up.

    Like you, I know that Christ lives and if we are remain patient and faithful we will meet him.

  3. Thank you for your post. I have been on a similar path of increased knowledge and understanding (which has also come through diligent scripture study) and I've been amazed at how simple and beautiful the gospel of Jesus Christ really is.

    There's an excellent quote in Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith manual that says, "God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him... from the least to the greatest [see Jeremiah 31:34]" ("Gaining Knowledge of Eternal Truths," pg 268).

  4. Thank you for your comments. I know the thought of seeing the Lord is a mildly controversial one, so I'm glad that there are those who feel as I do, that it is possible, and even inevitable should the conditions be met.

    Rachel—It is such a "seminary answer" to read your scriptures, but I have been astounded at how much I learn through study. It puts eternity and this life in perspective to know that, as much as some people exalt Apostles and Prophets, they have nothing which is is not open to us, should we desire it and do the things necessary to achieve it.
    Thank you.

  5. You have beautifully set out the main reason why IMO the Gospel of Christ is both so simple that a child can understand it, and so profound that it inspires awe and reverence in mature adults.

    Sometimes it seems we forget that we didn't come to earth to just keep ticking off "good actions" on long checklists, in hopes that when weighed in the balance the good we have done will outweigh the bad.

    This mortal probation gives us the chance to choose whom we desire to follow, serve and emulate. Because of the Atonement, we can overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of our return to live in God's presence. The first principles and ordinances of the Gospel lead us to the temple, and open the way for us to gradually become more and more like our Savior until we can reach a state of sanctification that will enable us to be comfortable in His presence.

    Although this is a celestial goal, perhaps it is a goal often best sought through indirection. I have seen some who became so preoccupied with becoming sanctified and seeing the Savior in this life that they became very self-absorbed, and were ultimately led astray by false spirits. Perhaps it is through primarily focusing outwards--seeking to know and obey the will of God, and to bless the lives of others as instruments in His hands--that we will, sooner or later, enter His presence.

  6. RoAnn—Thank you for adding this. It is a profound and necessary addendum to what I have written. Although it is our ultimate goal to see Christ, it is best worked for by serving His children.

  7. Good points Roann. I've been pondering similar things as well and wrote about them on my blog the other day:


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