Posted 29 May 2012 - 06:14 AM
I was using an older copy of this written down Doctrine of Christ so here should be a better description of the Law of the gospel section.
While prophets warn us of trying to earn Salvation by the keeping the laws and commandments perfectly, we certainly should try to choose the right and set these standards as a goal. Once we see that we can not be saved by the Law, we then need to point ourselves back towards Christ and ask him and the Father what it is that saves us. Once we realize that what saves us is Christ's atonement and our utilizing it by uniting with Christ in trying with all our might, mind, and strength to become like him
The Third Article of Faith says, “Through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the Laws and Ordinances of the Gospel”. One might pick the word obedience out of the statement and begin to dwell too heavily on it. It is not obedience for the sake of Obedience. It is obedience to the Laws and Ordinances of the Gospel. Second it is through the atonement of Christ we are saved. “Through” implies it is the vehicle or mode by which we get, from trying to keep the laws and ordinances of the gospel, to Exaltation with Heavenly Father. The atonement provides the verb or “action” in the process. So what are these laws and ordinances we need to obey?
The answer is found in the very next article of faith. “The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: first,Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion; fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost”. While the word laws is exchanged for principles it is indeed these principles and ordinances that Lead us to the Atonement and our Salvation. Remember these are the first principles and ordinances. In fact the beginning words of the 4th article of faith were changed in the mid 1800's after the Lord revealed other saving ordinances and in the original wording the 4th Article of Faith said “We believe that these are 1st, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; 2nd, Repentance; 3rd, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; 4th, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The “These are” refers to the 3rd article of Faith's Principles and ordinances. If you read the original wording this becomes obvious. Other saving ordinances such as the endowment and sealing would be included in the things we need to be obedient to in order to access the atonement. Nephi leaves room for these in chapter 32 verse 6 where he says there are other parts of the Doctrine of Crist that may bee added after Christ comes in the flesh.
So again what are they? They are Faith, Repentance, and receiving saving ordinances . I would add here as it will become plain the final unmentioned step of enduring to the end. If we can truly get this process down herein we are told is Salvation through the Atonement. We may think that Family History is the pure doctrine of Christ or part of it, or that Tithing or the Word of Wisdom is included in the pure doctrine of Christ, but it is not. That Home Teaching is truly a part of the pure doctrine of Christ but again it is not. These in and of themselves are just more rules and commandments and laws designed to assist us in becoming more like the Son of God and to help us serve others in the same cause.
The “true and only” doctrine of Christ according to Nephi here is to enter the strait and narrow path (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost) and endure to the end “Pressing Forward with Steadfastness”(2nd Nephi 31: 19-21). To see this from another angle we might ask, Can a Buddhist make it back to the Celestial kingdom without ever having paid tithing in this life or the next? Can a Hindu get back to Heavenly Father without doing Home Teaching or Visiting Teaching in this life or the next? Can an Evangelical Christian get back to Heavenly Father without having done their four generation chart? To all of these questions is a resounding, Yes! They will be unable to get back though, if at some point in this life or the next they do not exercise faith, repent of their sins, receive and accept saving ordinances, and endure to the end. Sanctified or spiritually changed at some point along the way, eventually becoming truly perfect. The pure doctrine of Christ is defined as the necessary steps for his children to become like him so that they might enter back into his presence. All will have to in this life or the next be obedient to these principles and ordinances. I would remind us in the church that this is not reason to disregard the other principles like tithing or family history. That to truly be like God and his Son, we must try to keep all that he has given us to do.
there is some confusion at this point because on one hand we are saying that works do not save us and yet we are saying they are at least in regards to some essential or necessary for our exaltation. The difference is monumental when you clearly understand the pure doctrine of Christ. There are two ways to present the gospel. One is that we teach people that outward expressions of their faith is what counts in Heavenly Father's eyes. Keep the commandments, be a 100% Home/Visiting Teacher, receive all the ordianances, go to all your meetings, pay a full tithe, keep the word of wisdom, magnify your callings, and serve a mission; then if you do all this you will have been considered faithful and upon death enter back into the presence of Heavenly Father having done what is required of you.
That sounds great on the surface except it fails for two reasons. The majority of good faithful members of the church will notice they fall short of this works righteousness and see the self imposed bar of perfection as impossible. They will become discouraged and lose hope. The second problem is that any member who feels they have achieved this perfection of works may still find themselves having fallen short of what it is that God is really asking for.
While God does give us rules, laws, commandments, assignments, stewardships, ect...; what he really wants is us to look to Christ and become like him. He wants us spiritually changed. He wants us perfect. Helaman 3:35 states, “Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God”. This Mighty Change we seek comes from bending our will to the will of the Father. It comes from yielding our heart to him. It comes from his gift of grace being given to us enabling us to do way more then we could on our own, including becoming like Christ and becoming perfect. It is an inward change that will reflect itself in outward action and expression. One who has had this spiritual change will undoubtedly move forward in progression continually adapting his life to what God requires of him.
There is no moment in time in this life when we have to have this all thing down perfectly or we have failed. We must see the plan of redemption as a process. This refiner's fire will take time. There will be times when we fall down and mess up. We must “press forward” with “steadfastness” until some future day when we shall be perfect. We must push forward everyday. We must keep getting up and dusting ourselves off. We must keep trying. We must see the things he requires of us an opportunity to become more like him. He gives us things to do to help us in our change to be like him. So while God requires faith, repentance, and saving ordinances they are not required as a means to an end with the end being Salvation. The yielding of our hearts to him is the means to Salvation with works of Righteousness being the obvious expression of that inward change. How much do we love him? How much faith will we have in him? How much will we trust in him? Will we continue to be “steadfast “ the further we “press forward”? He also uses works to place us in situations where we can learn and grow spiritually.
We will go into each of these in more depth but we must at this juncture see the importance on getting on this path, joining in the yoke with Christ. This is more than going to Church. It is more than agreeing to join the church because of some pretty girl or your friend in school. It is more than staying active because of family pressure or risk of letting others down. We have now seen that we can not get back to Heavenly Father through our own actions, so now it is time to team up with “him who is mighty to save”. This inner progression is not a one time thing. Your Faith will be required everyday. Your time spent repenting will need to be a regular occurrence, the attitude or repentance will need to be a constant feeling within you. You will daily need to come to terms with the realization of just how imperfect you are and how short you fall.
The ordinances of the gospel are also lifelong pursuits. While you are baptized only once, you will be renewing that covenant each week as you partake of the sacrament. In essence you will be re-baptized each week in your inner commitment to once again try to keep the commandments and take his name upon you; and he will again promise his spirit to be with you as you try. While only confirmed once, the spirit will leave you if you do not make a constant effort to be clean and repent as needed to have his constant companionship. While we go to the temple once to receive ordinances for ourselves we go back over and over again to receive these ordinances for others. The final Step, enduring to the end is just as it says. It is to endure all that life throws at you remaining strong in your faith, continually going through the refinement process becoming more and more like Christ progressing toward perfection.