We believe that the first principles and aordinances of the Gospel are: first, bFaith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, cRepentance; third, dBaptism by eimmersion for the fremission of sins; fourth, Laying on of ghands for the hgift of the Holy Ghost.
The fourth Article of faith expresses the 4 fundamentals of the gospel ordinances and principles that are essential for our salvation. A brief summary declaring the basic steps necessary for our progress through mortality. There is quite a bit to say about each of the 4 principal and ordinances that this article of faith references. The 2 principles (faith and repentance) and the 2 ordinances (baptism by immersion and gift of the holy ghost) are necessary in order to achieve our exaltation.
1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: Joseph fielding smith said of this principle “we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; we must accept him as the Son of God; we must put our trust in him, rely upon his word, and desire to gain the blessings which come by obedience to his laws.”
What does this mean and what is faith exactly. Faith can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Specifically faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not something that is automatic nor exist simply because of our faith that there is a God. Our Faith in Christ is a lifelong journey. I know for myself I did not have Faith till I was in my early 20’s. It is not something that simply happens but something you must learn and grow with. Our faith may be small and seem insignificant, even as small as a mustard seed.
When we feel this way we must remember what Christ said in Mathew 17:20 “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your aunbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have bfaith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this cmountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be dimpossible unto you.”
Faith is the power to perform miracles. Faith can move mountains. But how does one get faith to begin with. For me, I received my faith by putting the gospel into action. We must put into practice what the gospel teaches and then experience the results first hand. Our faith is something that starts with a desire that can then lead to action to test the words given to us by those who have faith. In Alma chapter 32:27 Alma is telling those whom he has preached to that they must test the words they have been taught and see the results for themselves.
“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words”
2) Repentance: From Joseph Fielding Smith:we must repent of our sins; we must forsake the world; we must determine in our hearts, without reservation, that we will live godly and upright lives.”
Repentance is the process by which we purge our selves from the sins of the world and become clean again. There are 4 basic steps that we take when we repent of the sins which we have committed.
a) We must first recognized that what we have done is wrong. When we acknowledge this we can and are better equipped to overcome our weaknesses. This is key in strengthening ourselves against sin. Recognizing when we have done wrong helps to us to be more aware of the choices we are making. This first step is vital in repenting of our wrong doing. Without out recognition we can’t repent
b) We must make a covenant with God and in some cases with the one we have wronged to not commit that sin again. In my experience covenanting with God is a lot easier than making a promise to the one we have wronged. Especially when those sins involved destructive habits that persistently plague you and thus affect your relationships with those whom you love. I thank God everyday for a loving and supportive wife who always seems to find it in her heart to forgive me. It can be a lifelong struggle.
c) Make restitution: This is not easy and can’t always be done effectively, however the concept is simple enough. If you stole something, pay for it or return it. If your break something fix it or replace it. Make right what you did wrong to the greatest extent possible. Seek forgiveness from the one you have wronged. Part of making restitution is confessing our sins to those we have sinned against. Confession to God is easy by comparison in my experiences with more severe sins from my past but is important to do this. Ask the one we have sinned against what we can do to make it right.
d) Forgive our selves: This is something that can be hardest of all. Especially for someone like myself. I tend to be hard on myself and tend to set a high bar and struggle to forgive myself when I fail to meet that bar. I can tell you that this can serve to hold you back however. Forgiving our selves is critical in giving us the ability to move on from our sins and face the world with confidence in our ability to become perfect and avoid such mistakes again.
3) Baptism: From Joseph Fielding Smith ” we must be baptized in water, under the hands of a legal administrator, who has power to bind on earth and seal in heaven; we must through this sacred ordinance enter into a covenant to serve the Lord and keep his commandments.”
The ordinance of baptism by immersion represents the burial and resurrection of Christ. His redemption from the grave and gives us hope for eternal life if we keep the covenant made by this ordinance as explained in the sacramental prayers found here and here.
These prayers which are said every week before the administration of the sacrament help us to remember our covenants made at baptism and serve as a good reminder of how we are to live throughout the week.
4) Laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost: From Joseph Fielding Smith “we must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; we must be born again; we must have sin and iniquity burned out of our souls as though by fire; we must gain a new creation by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
The gift of the holy ghost can only be given by one having authority and ordained to that office by one who has been given the keys of the priesthood. This also must be done under the direction of the proper priesthood authority. This concept I will discuss in more detail in the Fifth article of Faith so stay tuned for that post upcoming in the next few weeks.
The gift of the holy ghost is one of guidance and comfort. Through this gift we can be taught the gospel, learn to separate lies from the truth. We can be warned of danger that we can’t see. I am so grateful for this gift and a story comes to mind of how the influence of the holy ghost can keep us safe.
When I was still a young boy playing with my friends we lived where their was a small ravine right behind our homes. We would often go play in this ravine and build our forts and have little wars with other kids who had their forts. We had a club house in this ravine where we would spend much of our time during the summer. One day during the summer when I got together with a few of my friends we were all about to go down to our little club house when I had a sudden overpowering prompting and force restrain me. I cannot explain it but I do remember that I could not take another step from where I was. A voice as firm, and powerful spoke to me saying 5 words to me with such force That to this day it has left an impact on my mind. The voice said to me “STOP. TURN AROUND. GO BACK!!” Interesting that I was told to stop when I could not move anyway. I was so shocked by this event, It was so powerful in my mind and body that I obeyed almost as if I was not consciously aware of what was happening. I told my friends that we need to go back and can’t go right now but we could go later.
A while later after we had forgotten all about this we decided to go again. Again I was stopped by a force I cannot explain and the command came with even more force to my mind with the same words “STOP. TURN AROUND. GO BACK!!!” Again we returned to our home completely confused on what the problem was. We attempted this a third time a little bit later with the same result more powerful each time. To this day I do not know why this happened or what would have happened if we had ignored or disobeyed the command. But this I do know, if we had not heeded this command something bad would have happened.
The Holy Ghost will be our companion and protector. This is a priceless gift given to us by a loving heavenly father who cares only for our well-being.
Apply these principles and ordinances in your life and you will live a life of happiness. You will have the strength to endure to the end. And may God bless you.