Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“The First Principles and Ordinances of
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel.
Through sincere repentance, we can partake of the blessings of the Atonement.
Baptism is an essential ordinance.
Through the ordinance of confirmation, we receive the gift of the Holy
We must endure to the end in faith to receive eternal life.
A study of this lesson will help us understand and seek the blessings that
come from the first principles and ordinances of the gospel: faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and confirmation.
Scripture references for study:
Review the material for this lesson in the
Class Member Study Guide
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 7 Handout (PDF)
Faith In The Lord Jesus Christ
The restoration of the gospel corrected many errors in doctrine that crept
in during the centuries that passed since the death of the Apostles. It seems appropriate to explore the Doctrine and Covenants and see what
modern revelation says about these basic principles and ordinances
of the gospel. All of the scriptures have much to say on these vitally
important principles, but we shall limit our focus to what is written in this book of
The opening of the latter-day dispensation began by an act of faith. After young Joseph had read James counsel to those who lacked wisdom, he
determined to ask God.
Said the Prophet, "At length
I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion,
or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came
to the determination to 'ask of God,' concluding that if he gave wisdom
to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid,
I might venture" (JS-History 1:13).
Having faith in James admonition, Joseph retired
to the woods fully expecting to receive an answer. Again, prior to
Moroni's first visit, Joseph turned to prayer having "full confidence in
obtaining a divine manifestation" (JS-History 1:29). These simple
acts of faith opened the door to the restoration of knowledge and power
that has changed the lives of millions.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE CENTER OUR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST?
Consider this powerful statement from Brother Stephen R. Covey: "Let
us never stray from forcefully, clearly, explicitly declaring our faith
in Jesus Christ as the first principle of the gospel, as the foundation
principle, as the principle from which all other gospel principles derive
their power and efficacy, as the integrating, organizing, unifying, harmonizing
principle. . . . He is the head of our church. It bears his
name. We belong to his kingdom. He is the Truth, the Way, the
Life, the Light. He is our advocate and mediator, our Savior and
Redeemer. We have taken upon ourselves his name. Through the
gospel and the spiritual rebirth we become his children, his sons and his
daughters. He is the driving force." (The Divine
HOW DO WE STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST?
"Learn of me, and listen
to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace
in me." (D&C 19:23)
as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of
wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning,
even by study and also by faith." (D&C 88:118)
It seems that the process of obtaining and strengthening
our faith in the Lord is an incremental process that comes from doing those
things that have been prescribed by the Lord. One of the
great examples from the scriptures is Peter. His faith in the Lord
grew over a period of time as he applied the teachings of the Master. Are we any different? I think not. Our faith grows a little
at a time, not by leaps and bounds, as we are diligent in pursuing the
course of faith.
Brigham Young: "If
mankind could know the object God has in their creation, and what they
might obtain by doing right and by applying to the source and fountain
of wisdom for information, how quickly they would turn away from every
ungodly action and custom." (Journal of
As President Young has stated, if we had any idea
what the Lord has in store for us, we would turn from our natural tendencies
and seek for wisdom and the "fountain of wisdom." Our faith will
grow as we seek after the things of God.
HOW DO WE DEMONSTRATE OUR FAITH IN CHRIST?
the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders,
by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there
may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures—walking in holiness
before the Lord."
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO HAVE A "GODLY WALK
If we have faith in Christ, we will be striving to
live within the boundaries the Lord has set, to follow his path, to do
as he would do. This does not mean that we must live a perfect life. We will make mistakes. I think it means that we are doing are
to follow the Master in thought, in word, and in deed.
that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not
with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not."
WHAT CAN WE ACCOMPLISH WITHOUT FAITH?
"And your minds in times past have been darkened
because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have
received—" (D&C 84:54)
WHAT CAN WE ACCOMPLISH WITH FAITH?
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr: "As I think
about faith, this principle of power, I am obliged to believe that it is
an intelligent force. Of what kind, I do not know. But it is superior to
and overrules all other forces of which we know. It is the principle, the
force, by which the dead are restored to life." (CR, Apr 1960,
"And whoso shall ask it in
my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick;
they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear,
and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk." (D&C 35:9)
Those who have faith will be healed (D&C 42:48-51).
Signs come by faith, including signs of the Second Coming (D&C 63:9-11;
Faith is essential to salvation (D&C 20:29;
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE POWER OF FAITH MANIFESTED?
We have each seen numerous instances where the power of faith has been manifested. Church history is full of
accounts where the power of faith
has made a difference. This Church could not have gone forward without
the power of faith. The movement of the pioneers west was built upon
the cornerstone of faith.
See Gospel Topic Faith
at LDS.org for more information.
WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
"Behold, he who has repented
of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess
them and forsake them." (D&C 58:42-43)
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Repentance
means more than simply a reformation of behavior. … True repentance is
based on and flows from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other
way. True repentance involves a change of heart and not just a change of
behavior (see Alma 5:13)." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,
President Marion G. Romney: "One having
forsaken his sins and, by proper confession, cleared his conduct with the
Lord, with the people he has offended, and with the Church of Jesus Christ,
where necessary, may with full confidence seek the Lord's forgiveness and
go forth in newness of life, relying upon the merits of Christ. . . ."
(CR, Oct 1955)
Elder Orson F. Whitney: "Repentance
is not that superficial sorrow felt by the wrongdoer when 'caught in the
act'—a sorrow not for sin, but for sin's detection. Chagrin is not repentance.
Mortification and shame alone bring no change of heart toward right feeling
and right living. Even remorse is not all there is to repentance. In highest
meaning and fullest measure, repentance is equivalent to reformation; the
beginning of the reformatory process being a resolve to 'sin no more.'
'. . . by this ye may know that a man repenteth of his sins: Behold he
will confess them and forsake them'." (Saturday Night Thoughts,
"For, behold, the Lord
your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain
of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath
risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions
of repentance." (D&C 18:11-12)
"When we sin, we become unclean and subject to
the punishments required by the law of justice. Being imperfect, we cannot
become clean again or meet the demands of justice on our own. By atoning
for our sins, the Savior took upon Himself the punishments required by
the law of justice and is able to offer the mercy and forgiveness we need
to become clean. These blessings of the Atonement are available to us only
on the condition that we repent (Alma 7:14)." (Lesson Manual,
IF THE REDEMPTION OF CHRIST HAS THE POWER TO REMOVE OUR SINS, WHY IS IT
NECESSARY TO REPENT?
As the above verses reveal, the terms for redemption and forgiveness are
conditional upon our repentance.
All of this seems to tie back to that great debate in the pre-earthly
world. It was determined that in order for us to obtain eternal happiness
and glory, our agency to choose was a prerequisite. The Atonement
of Christ is built upon a foundation of agency. We are free to choose
our eternal reward. The Atonement of Christ is necessary for us to
return to Heavenly Father.
Let me attempt an example. If
I had an adult son that had committed some sort of crime, I would probably
go down to the police station and pay the bail in order to get him out. I would be very pleased if he learned his lesson and changed his way. If he committed the crime again, I would be less reluctant to put up the
bail. If he continued without changing his ways, I would no longer
post the bail. It would not be worth the effort. My son would
have to find another way to make the payment.
How can the Savior possibly forgive our sins if
we choose to continue in the way of wickedness? If we are willing
to exercise our agency by renouncing our sins and changing our ways, not
only will the Savior post bail, but he will pay the penalty for the crime.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT REPENTING? THE BLESSINGS OF REPENTANCE?
|The light one has received will be taken.
One must suffer as did Christ.
Cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.
The Lord to take vengeance upon the wicked.
One's sorrow will be great.
|One shall be forgiven.
The Lord will no longer remember the sin.
We don't have to face the consequences listed
in the opposite column.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "Repentance is a
rescuing, not a dour doctrine. It is available to the gross sinner as well as to the already
good individual striving for incremental improvement." (Ensign, Nov 1991, p30)
See Gospel Topic
at LDS.org for more information.
Baptism - An Essential Ordinance
"The subject of Christian baptism was much discussed
among the rival sects in the early decades of the 19th century. The purpose
of it; the proper subjects to receive it; the effects of it; the manner
in which it should be administered; by whom it could be administered, by
any Christian who understood its significance, or only by ordained ministers?
By pouring, or sprinkling, or by immersion only? All these questions were
subjects of intense controversy in the period named.
"When, therefore, in the
course of translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery
came to a passage making reference to 'baptism for the remission of sins,'
it is not surprising that they held divergent views upon the subject; but
instead of resorting to argument on the matter they agreed to inquire of
the Lord, through prayer, for the knowledge essential to a right understanding
of the subject." (Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:177-178)
As we know, Joseph and Oliver retired to the woods and knelt in prayer
with the intent to ascertain a true knowledge of baptism. In response
to that prayer they were visited by an angel, John the Baptist, and received
the Aaronic Priesthood and the power to baptize (see
WHY IS BAPTISM AN ESSENTIAL ORDINANCE?
"Repent and be baptized
in the name of Jesus Christ, according to the holy commandment, for the
remission of sins; And whoso doeth this shall receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost, by the laying on of the hands of the elders of the church."
"And as many as repent and
are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end,
the same shall be saved." (D&C 18:22)
"And again we bear record—for
we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning
them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—They are they
who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were
baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his
name, and this according to the commandment which he has given." (D&C
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR BAPTISM?
"And again, by way of commandment
to the church concerning the manner of baptism—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 that they have received of the Spirit of Christ
unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his
church." (D&C 20:37)
One must have arrived at the age of accountability
(see D&C 20:71).
behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation
of the world through mine Only Begotten." (D&C
Children must be at least eight years old (see
WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO BE BAPTIZED BY ONE WHO HAS THE PROPER AUTHORITY?
While on his mission, my son taught a sister who was
very interested in the gospel, but could not understand why she needed to be
baptized again when she was previously baptized in another church. How do we answer those with this challenge?
Section 22 is a direct answer to that challenge.
Baptism by immersion is the way the Lord has directed it be done.
See Gospel Topic
at LDS.org for more information.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
In a revelation to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, at or near Fayette in
December 1830, the Lord said: "Thou didst
baptize by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost;
But now I give unto thee a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water,
and they shall receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, even
as the apostles of old." (D&C 35:5-6)
Section 20 lists among the duties of the elders, "to
confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands
for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost" (D&C 20:41).
Joseph Smith: "Baptism by water is but half
a baptism, and is good for nothing without … the baptism of the Holy Ghost."
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE HOLY GHOST?
He is a personage of Spirit.
"The Father has a body of
flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost
has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it
not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us." (D&C 130:22)
He is a teacher and a revealer of truth.
"Ask the Father in my name,
in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy
Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children
of men." (D&C 18:18)
He is the Comforter.
"And this is my gospel—repentance
and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy
Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable
things of the kingdom." (D&C 39:6)
He is a testifier.
behold, the Comforter knoweth all things, and beareth record of the Father
and of the Son." (D&C 42:17)
I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost
shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall
He leads us to do good, walk humbly, and judge righteously.
now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which
leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously;
and this is my Spirit."
He enlightens our minds and brings true joy to our
verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall
enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy."
Through Him we are sanctified.
whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have
spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit
unto the renewing of their bodies."
He inspires us in where to go, what to do, and what
your way whithersoever I will, and it shall be given you by the Comforter
what you shall do and whither you shall go."
take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds
continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour
that portion that shall be meted unto every man."
As we review the above list of characteristics and
functions of the Holy Ghost, we should be inspired and thankful to have
access to such an enormous gift.
While living in the Puget Sound area I was fascinated by
the nearby waters and had a desire to go sailing. I loved walking out along the piers
and looking at the sailboats. Every so often I bought a sailing magazine and
looked at the boats and wondered what it would be like to wander around the
passages of western Washington or British Colombia. These magazines often carry
advertisements about sophisticated navigation equipment, including radar and GPS
(global positioning systems) that cost hundreds of dollars. If one is going to
take up sailing, it seems like a good idea to hand over the extra money and
purchase the tools that can guide a sailor through potentially dangerous waters.
If one is convinced of the importance of spending
a great deal of money on navigation equipment just to guide a boat, how
much more important is it to put our lives in order so that we may receive
the influence of the ultimate navigation system, the Holy Ghost. Clearly, we do not want to run our boat upon the rocks or get lost. Is not the life we live so much more important?
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "The
Holy Ghost will not dwell with that person who is unwilling to obey and
keep the commandments of God or who violates those commandments willfully."
(Church News, 4 Nov 1961, p14)
How blessed we are to live in a day when the authority
to bestow this great gift has been restored. How blessed we are to
access to this gift. The price we pay for this navigation system
is not made in dollars, but in living up to the baptismal covenant that we have the opportunity
to renew each Sabbath.
WHAT IS THE PRICE? (see
Take upon us the name of the Christ.
Always remember him.
Keep his commandments.
WHAT IS THE PROMISE?
"...they may always have his Spirit to be with
HOW HAS THE HOLY GHOST BLESSED YOU IN YOUR LIFE?
See Gospel Topic
Holy Ghost at LDS.org for more information.
Endure to the End
Enduring to the end is sometimes called the fifth principle of the gospel. We must endure to the
end to receive eternal life. Baptism is the door that opens the path
to eternal life. What we do on that path determines our ultimate
"And, if you keep my commandments
and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest
of all the gifts of God." (D&C 14:7)
as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and
endure to the end, the same shall be saved." (D&C
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ENDURE TO THE END?
We strive to keep the commandments throughout our lives..
"Be patient in afflictions,
for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even
unto the end of thy days." (D&C 24:8)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "To endure means
not only to last but also to bear up under stress, to 'hold fast,' even
'valiantly,' while maintaining the correct course set by God."
(If Thou Endure It Well, p1)
- Elder Maxwell:
"The challenges differ for each of us. Moreover,
the configuration and weight of our own yoke of afflictions vary during
the journey of discipleship such as in the differing seasons of our individual
lives. Unvarying, however, is the reality that only by taking upon us the
yoke Jesus assigns to us, and then enduring, will we learn most deeply
of Him, love Him the more, and become more like Him." (Ibid.,
We are so blessed to have the Doctrine and Covenants to teach us more precisely
about these principles that are essential to our eternal salvation. In the past, my studies of the Doctrine and Covenants have generally been
historical and chronological in nature. The past three lessons
have verified what a wonderful resource this work is when we seek information
on specific doctrines.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the principles of the gospel as discussed in this
lesson. What can you do to make these principles a more active part of your
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts (CHC).
Conference Reports (CR).
If Thou Endure It Well by Neal A. Maxwell.
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Saturday Night Thoughts by Orson F. Whitney.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
The Divine Center by Stephen R. Covey.
The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
27 January 2017