The Fourth Article of Faith

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

We 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.

We believe that there are certain principles of the gospel, which need to be understood by any who want to follow Jesus Christ and live a righteous life. The first of these is faith in Jesus Christ. We are followers of Jesus Christ. We believe that his life should be a pattern for how we should live. We believe that the only way we can be saved is by following the path that he led for us. You cannot follow Him, if you do not believe in Him. Faith is a belief is something that is true which we cannot see. In Alma 32:21 we read, “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.” Most people will not have the opportunity in this life to personally see the Savior. None of us have witnessed first-hand how He lived his life, or have heard Him speak. We were not there to see Him work miracles, or to watch Him as he suffered for each of us. We are not those who watched Him die, and then witnessed Him as a resurrected being. All we have is the testimony and witness of others, which we find in the scriptures, along with possibly a witness from the Spirit. From that, we are required to exercise our faith that he truly did live and that he made the ultimate sacrifice for us. We have to have faith that he was truly the Son of God and that through his obedience he has made it possible for us to return to live with God again. We believe that the only way to gain a firm testimony for ourselves is to exercise faith in Him. In Ether 12:6 we read, “. . . wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Faith is the reason that we have to make religion a part of our lives and it is the building block upon which living the gospel stands. Doctrine and Covenants 8:10 says, “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith.” I know that faith is the first step to coming unto Christ, and to receiving the greatest reward after this life. I believe in Jesus Christ. I know that he is the Son of God, the Eternal Father. I know that he paid for my sins and that he was resurrected and lives today. I know that by maintaining a strong faith in Him, I will be able to see Him again some day.

Faith in Jesus Christ, is the principle which leads us to the second principle of repentance. Repentance is absolutely necessary for all people who are capable of sin, who hope to live with God again. Repentance is the process that we go through in order to become worthy and clean to enter into the presence of God. The Bible Dictionary says, “Since we are born into conditions of mortality, repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined.” We each are born with natural tendencies that we must learn to control. This life is truly about self-mastery. Repentance is there for when we make the mistakes that we will make. Because we are mortal, we have flaws and weaknesses. When we learn the gospel, we learn of those things that we must or must not do if we hope to gain eternal life. If we did not have repentance, we would never be worthy to have these blessings. We believe that the process of repentance requires recognizing that we have sinned and then having a change of heart. Sometimes this change of heart can come easily and without much effort on our part. At other times, a change of heart is a difficult and refining process. With this change of heart, we must put our own desires in line with the will of God. We know what He wants for us through the scriptures. True repentance requires making restitution where we can. In Numbers 5:7 we read, “Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.” It requires forgiving others and ourselves. We believe that to repent, we must return to the Lord, asking for forgiveness from God for our sins, and then follow it up with making and renewing our covenants with Him. I know the the repentance process is difficult. I don’t many people who thrill in change. Repentance is all about change. I know that it is so much easier to continue in doing the things that come naturally to us, but I have hope in the rewards of joy, peace and happiness, which will come through having that change of heart. I have experienced a great deal of this in my own life. So much so, that I am enjoying becoming more like that person that God knows that I can become. I am so grateful for the Savior’s atonement, which makes repentance possible. I don’t want his suffering to be in vain, so I want to do my best to repent for the things I do wrong.

Baptism

When we have repented, we become worthy to make and keep covenants with the Lord. The first ordinance of the gospel is baptism by water. We believe that we must be baptized, because it is a commandment from God. It is so necessary, that even Christ, who was pure and perfect, had to be baptized. In Matthew chapter 3 we read the following,

13 ¶Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Different religions believe different things about baptism. We believe that baptism can only be performed for those who are capable of committing sin and repenting for that sin. This means that we do not baptize children under the age of eight. The Savior, although perfect, was capable of sinning because he was mortal and understood temptations and what was right and wrong, as well as knew how to repent, even though this was never necessary for Him. In Doctrine and Covenants 20:71 we read, “No one can be received into the church of Christ unless he has arrived unto the years of accountability before God, and is capable of repentance.” We believe that baptism is symbolic of burial and resurrection into new life. In Romans 6:4 we read, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Therefore we believe that we must be fully immersed in the water. Another thing that we believe about baptism, is that it must be performed by one who is worthy and holds the priesthood and authority to act in the name of the Lord. We believe that any other type of baptism will not be recognized by God. The Bible Dictionary says, “Baptism in water has several purposes. It is for the remission of sins, for membership in the Church, and for entrance into the celestial kingdom; it is also the doorway to personal sanctification when followed by the reception of the Holy Ghost.” Through baptism, we not only enter into Christ’s church, but we receive a remission of our sins. When we repent, we become worthy of forgiveness from God. Through baptism, that forgiveness is received as our sins are washed away from us. Those sins are permanently erased from the heavenly record of our lives. They will not be held against us. Then with the help of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and regular renewal of that covenant through partaking of the Sacrament, we can continue to be sanctified and forgiven of our sins.

Baptism by water is incomplete without the baptism of the spirit. In John 3:5 we read, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” We believe that the laying on of hands, or confirmation, for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, is a necessary ordinance for our salvation. This confirmation, like baptism, must be performed by those who hold the priesthood of God. Without this priesthood authority, it is not valid and the Gift of the Holy Ghost will not be received. In Acts 19 we read the following,

1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

The Bible Dictionary says, “Confirmation includes more than conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost. To confirm means to “make more sure.” The ordinance of confirmation completes the ceremonial process of becoming a member of the Church, and as such, it is complementary to water baptism.” I believe that without the Gift of the Holy Ghost, it would be next to impossible to live a life after our baptism, that is worthy to gain eternal life. The spirit is a constant guide and companion to those who receive it after baptism. I cannot imagine my life without the inspiration, comfort and teachings I receive on a regular basis.

I am grateful for the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. I know that life would be extremely difficult with the ability and opportunity to exercise faith in Christ. I am so glad that I have the hope in the atonement of Christ, and that through it I can repent and be worthy of great blessings both during and after this life. I am glad that I was raised in the gospel and that I was able to receive baptism and confirmation through the proper priesthood authority, so that I could take the steps necessary to return to live with God again.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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