First principles of the Gospel

Someone asked this question:

In one part of Come, Let Us Adore Him you talk about the Dispensation in the Meridian of Time.  How “Men of good faith and sincere desire doing their best to follow after God, lost the light of the Spirit, then lost sound doctrine, and ultimately lost their covenant status and drifted into darkness.” Did you mean this collectively?  Over time as a group?  As an individual of good faith, sincere desire, doing their best to follow after God, losing the light of the spirit, then sound doctrine and later drifting into darkness….   How tragic.  If after all that they still failed, what then is our hope for an individual now, in our dispensation?  Are we doomed to the same outcome?  I see many following the same course as anciently.  

My answer:

It is troubling.  It is the terrible problem of mortality.  We are all prone to drift and fail.  It is only by constant renewal of faith that we can hope to succeed.  No matter how far we have come, what great things we have obtained, we are still subject to failure.  This is why the FIRST principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: “faith, repentance, baptism and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  We never outgrow these FIRST principles.

I believe them to be “FIRST” in the sense of primacy, not a singular event which happens and then you can take them off the list of stuff to do.  They are primary. They are foundational.  They are required to be used constantly.  Therefore, they are “FIRST.”

So, we always go forward in faith.  No matter how much we already know, we must use faith to go forward.  We live within the limitation of linear time.  We experience things in a flow that happens without our control.  Life unfolds as an unknown to us, and we must cope with all it hands us from day to day.  That requires faith to confront this uncontrolled, unfolding stream of time in which we are presently confined. 

Repentance is required because even if we are doing what we should be doing we are always going to learn more.  It is the nature of the Gospel that our light should increase.  Whenever we learn more, we must change to reflect what we have just gained.  Change is the heart of repentance. 

Baptism is to have sins washed away.  If you are already baptized, then the ordinance does not need to be done again, but the remission of sins and washing them away is required repeatedly.  For those already baptized, this is done through the Sacrament. It is still required for us to have sins remitted.

The Holy Ghost is should be a regular participant in our lives.  Its renewed companionship is also primary.  Its witness to us that we are on the right path is the only way to wage the necessary war against entropy which seeks to take you into darkness.  It is the source of renewed light that always enlightens when it comes. 

These are the only means by which we can avoid the same dismal fate as all others of all prior dispensations.  We must do this individually.  It does not matter if it is done collectively. I’ve yet to see any reason in the scriptures to expect great collective success by the Gentiles who inherit the Gospel in our dispensation.  There are individual promises to the few Gentiles who will repent, have faith, be baptized, enter into the covenant and remain faithful.  But the collective outcome is not particularly rosy.

4 thoughts on “First principles of the Gospel

  1. It dawned on me about 10 years ago that 3 Nephi 16: 10 was referring to us as Mormons — either instead of — or minimally as well as “those Gentiles out there who refuse to join the Church”. It was quite a revelation to me when I started reading the Book of Mormon with the new eyes of seeing it speaking to us instead of to them. I’m not sure that people who have not accepted the Gospel in the first place can actually reject the fulness of it. If Christ (who, by the way, said the Father had commanded Him to say this to them) is speaking specifically to Mormons and NOT to “those other guys”, then it’s sounding quite amazingly dismal for us collectively, and only positive individually.

    It actually seems more clearly and EXCLUSIVELY directed at Mormons in the first phrase of v. 10 where Christ says, “when the Gentiles shall SIN against my gospel” than in the second phrase where He says they will “reject the fulness of my gospel”.

    I know you’ve written on this in your books quite a bit.

  2. According to D&C 20:37, Baptism is for entrance into the church; the only mention of having repented and obtaining forgiveness are as prerequisites–then and only then are they accepted, by the church, into the church.

    All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized,

    and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits,

    and witness before the church

    that they have truly repented of all their sins,

    and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ,

    having a determination to serve him to the end,

    and truly manifest by their works:
    (1) that they have received of the Spirit of Christ
    (2)unto the remission of their sins,

    shall be received by baptism into his church.

    Baptism is the publishing, or act, of one being accepted into the church.

    Now the ordinance of Re-baptism, which is not in vogue now–that baptism expressly states “for the remission of sins” whereas the first baptism does not:

    “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

    This position, as I read D&C 20:37 at face-value [original meaning of words + original intent], is supported by the fact of a child of eight is baptized–how can they have their sins forgiven when it’s impossible for them to commit sin [the Age of Accountability Law gets in the way]–on the contrary, and logically consistent with the view above, they are accepted into the church [in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost].

  3. Dan said: “Baptism is to have sins washed away. If you are already baptized, then the ordinance does not need to be done again, but the remission of sins and washing them away is required repeatedly. For those already baptized, this is done through the Sacrament [emphasis mine]. It is still required for us to have sins remitted.”

    Then why do children under the age of accountability partake of the sacrament, if the sacrament is the renewal of “the baptismal covenant” which they have not received? This act, of children taking the sacrament when they have neither had nor need the ordinance seems to be logically perverse.

  4. I think this is where the Proverbial “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” gives us a reason.

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