Christ and his Teachings
Of all the things Christ taught the people when he was on the earth, they can be focused around 5 key principles. This is what is called The Gospel of Christ. Not to be confused with "The Gospels", being the amazing books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Rather, The Gospel of Christ is what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are focused on. It structures our soul purpose here in life, and is the never ending cycle of mortality. But most importantly, its what we need to return back to our Father in Heaven, and Jesus Christ.
The First Step
Everything begins with faith, but it only starts here. Faith is akin to laying down the foundation of a house or building. With a strong foundation, or strong faith, we can build up our testimonies, lives and persons into something grand, should we so choose.
So, what is Faith?
"And now as I said concerning 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
Faith can apply to anything, really, not just spiritual things. For instance, I would say I have faith that the sun is going to come up tomorrow. I haven't seen it, but I know it's true. The use of Faith to religious terms is probably more prevalent, because religion and a belief in God is such a highly debated topic. However, the scriptures do state that it is "...Christ, who [is] the author and the finisher of [our] faith." -Moroni 6:4
It is by Christ that all things are made possible. For instance, it would be foolish of me to say that I have faith in a table, and because of that table I'm able to achieve anything, and because of my faith I receive strength from it. It's most certainly NOT true that the table will allow me any of that, therefore having faith in the table would be completely pointless. On the flip side, having faith in Jesus Christ and God, who most certainly ARE true, and are there to help me with my problems, challenges and daily struggles, will produce a much more profound result.
The Second Step
Because Faith is merely the foundation, or the start, it leads on to something else. What does great faith bring? In James 2:14-26, we are taught that faith without works is dead. Yet, by great faith a man may be able to perform miracles, and it is by faith we are saved. Yes, all of these are true. But faith is a verb, an action. It's not just something you have, it's something you do. Faith is not faith until it is tested.
"I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." -Ether 12:6
And how do we test faith? Well, you're being tested right now and you may not even know it!
Trials can test our faith. Heck, trials are the BIGGEST tester of faith! Loss of a loved one, loss of a job, natural disasters...Sometimes it can be something small, like peer pressure, or holding out on something with patience. Often times our weaknesses are challenged, and many times we may give in to temptations. This is where Repentance can come in to play. A little something we call The Atonement, or Christ's suffering for us in the Garden of Gethsemane, paying that price for our sins. What an amazing gift that is! Can you imagine not having the opportunity to be forgiven? No matter how much you tried to make up for it? But just because Christ made this payment for us, it doesn't mean we have a free ticket. He did not take away our personal responsibility, why else did he give us our Agency?
The very gift of Agency is what caused the War in Heaven. Lucifer came up with a plan that every soul would be saved, he would be the christ and he wanted all the glory for himself. However, for this plan to work we wouldn't have the option to choose for ourselves right from wrong, thus eliminating responsibility and agency. Jesus gave the glory to the Father, after all it was God's plan, and Jesus would be the one to perform the Atonement. But we would have our agency to choose whether or not we accept that.
"...the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins." -Helaman 5:10
The Third Step
So, we've just broken a window because we failed to heed the rule of "No Baseball Inside the House". We feel bad, we give our "I'm sorry I promise I won't do it again" speech, and is that it? Are we off the hook? The window is still broken! And what's worse are broken promises. What good is a promise without the commitment? What can we do to show that we own up to our promise and will mend our ways? Pay for it perhaps, do a chore, an act of service even. Repentance to Baptism is much the same way.
We repent of what we've done wrong, we want to do better, but "actions speak louder than words". Baptism is more than just washing away your sins, its a promise: A promise to leave your sins behind you with your old life, and begin anew, reborn, and follow Christ's example in a new life. We make a covenant, or promise, that we will strive to be like Jesus, follow his example and his teachings, and it is by Baptism that we sign this "contract".
Baptism is a wonderful step in a person's life. It shows great faith and dedication when somebody chooses to be baptized! However, it is very important that an event such as this be performed properly.
Going back to hollow promises. What would be the point of promising to do something, if you don't hold through? Before a person is baptized, they are interviewed by a Bishop to make sure this is something they want to do, and understand it's importance. Baptism is just the first step to a life-long commitment, kind of like marriage.
he person giving the baptism is performing a sacred ordinance for God. This is VERY important! Not just anybody can baptize someone because they feel its right. Say I caught someone speeding through a neighborhood, and I write him up a ticket because its the right thing to do. What good does it do? I don't hold that badge, or that authority, to act in the name of the law. While my intentions were good, I just don't have authority. Jesus walked from Galilee to the River Jordan to be baptized of John the Baptist, because John held that authority. From Galilee to the Jordan is about 60 miles. Walking. In a desert. THAT is how important priesthood authority is.
When Christ came to John to be baptized, John forbade him, saying
"...I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" -Matthew 3:14
Christ replyed to allow it to be so, to "fulfill all righteousness". Here is Christ, a perfect man, coming to John, an imperfect man, to be baptized. Why would Christ need to be baptized if he committed no sin? It's just as he says: To fulfill all righteousness. Baptism is a commandment. Christ followed ALL of Heavenly Father's commandments, he gave us that example to follow. Christ had no other need to be baptized, other than it was commanded of God.
"And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfill all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!" -2 Nephi 31:5
Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost
The Fourth Step
This is a very important step after Baptism. Right after we are baptized, we receive a very special gift. No, its not a gift that can be wrapped up in pretty paper with a bow on the top. It is much more important: it's the Gift of the Holy Ghost. So, what's the difference between having the Gift of the Holy Ghost and just feeling its influence?
From time to time, we can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost. It can warn us of danger, teach us of truth, calm us when we are nervous and so forth. The Spirit comes and goes as needed. But when we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, we are given its constant companionship. It never leaves us, however we can leave it based on our choices and actions. Another important part of receiving the Holy Ghost is the sanctification that comes with it. Baptism without the Holy Ghost is incomplete. While Baptism is the physical act to the cleansing process, the Spirit sanctifies.
Christ speaks of two baptisms. One by water, and one by fire. We just covered the water part, so what's the fire? It's not that literal, rather follows its symbolic term of the holy spirit as a purifying agent. Often, when one feels the spirit, it is described as "a burning in the bosom". That warm fuzzy feeling, a pressure in the chest, swelling motions. This is the "fire".
The Final Step
So, we find our Faith, we Repent of our mistakes, we are Baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and are sanctified and forgiven of our sins. Is that it? Can we just return to whatever it was we were doing before and not have to worry about anything anymore? Heck no! That's like going through the entire process to get a driver's license and a car, then letting it sit in your driveway and never driving it!
What was that promise we made at baptism? To follow and keep God's commandments, by following Christ's example. This is the process we call Enduring to the End. As we continue to exercise Faith by following Christ's example, we are mortal, so we will continue to make mistakes and mess up. Because of the Atonement, we have Repentance to help us make up for those mistakes. We are only Baptized once, but after that, ever Sunday we partake of the Sacrament, in which we partake of bread and water in remembrance of Christ's flesh and blood. When we do this, we take his name upon us, and renew those promises we made at baptism. As we do this, the Spirit's influence grows stronger with us as we return to it, and our Faith continues to grow.
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Mark Richardson from Utah on November 08, 2020:
I was just trying to keep the Sabbath today and came across your excellent article! Well said. Its good to come across another of the faith.