The Savior taught His doctrine while He lived on earth. His Apostles struggled to preserve the doctrine, but serious and widespread apostasy was well underway, even while the Apostles were still living, due to false traditions and philosophies. Centuries passed before the doctrine of Christ was restored once again to the earth
The Restoration started when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in answer to his prayer. Their visit – described as being in “a pillar of light … above the brightness of the sun” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:16) began the flood of revelation that restored the doctrine of Christ.
Jesus Christ plainly taught His doctrine to ancient Americans in these words recorded in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus: “Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
“And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
“And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
“And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost....
“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them” (3 Nephi 11:31-39).
Nephi was an ancient American prophet who lived 600 years before Christ, and he explained the “doctrine of Christ.” He wrote in his record that obedience, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, feasting on the words of Christ, enduring to the end, and following the Savior’s example are all part of the “doctrine of Christ.”
Nephi wrote, “… Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
“And the father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
“And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism – yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost….
“And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 31:10-13, 16).
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of His gospel. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we also have a firm belief that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We understand that our only way back into the presence of Heavenly Father is by relying on the grace and mercy of Christ. We show our faith in Him by accepting and applying His Atonement and His teachings in our lives. We put our trust in Him and in His word. We understand that faith is an action that leads to sincere and lasting repentance.
Repentance is the second principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our faith in Jesus Christ and our love for Him influence us to repent of our sins. Repentance means to change our thoughts, our beliefs, our words, and our actions that are not in harmony with His teachings. Repentance brings us a new view of ourselves, of the world, and of God. Part of repentance is to feel godly sorrow for our sins or the type of sorrow that God feels; when we feel truly sorry for the sin we stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things. In this way we can slowly but surely bring our lives in line with God’s will. By repenting and relying on the Savior’s grace and mercy, we can return to live with God once again.
By exercising faith in Jesus Christ and repenting of our sins, we become prepared to receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. Baptism is an ordinance – a sacred ceremony or rite – that shows we have entered into a covenant with God. Baptism is the first covenant we make with God. God has always required His children to make covenants or binding and solemn agreements with Him. Covenants are two-way promises: God promises to bless us, and we promise to obey Him. God makes the terms of gospel covenants and gives us the freedom to either accept or reject them. When we accept and keep our covenants, God blesses us. If we break the covenant, then God is no longer bound to bless us. We must be baptized in order to become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Little children do not need baptism until they reach the age of accountability, which is eight years of age.
Jesus Christ taught that we must be baptized by immersion in water and then be baptized by the Spirit in order to receive a remission of our sins and become spiritually reborn. Our rebirth is the beginning of a new spiritual life as disciples of Christ. The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed on us by authorized priesthood holders after we are baptized. The elders lay their hands on the head of the newly baptized person and confirm them as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; then they confer the gift of the Holy Ghost. Only members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The priesthood authority to bestow this gift makes the Church different from any other religion in the world. Those who receive the gift of Holy Ghost and remain worthy can enjoy His companionship throughout their lives.
Once we have been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, we have entered the strait and narrow path back to God’s presence. We must stay on the path by continuing to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins, making and keeping commitments, and following the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Nephi described the process in these words: “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost….” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 31:20-21).
The “doctrine of Christ” is that all men everywhere must have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. The doctrine of Christ is the only way to be saved in the kingdom of God. The doctrine is pure; it is clear; it is easy to understand. It is so easy to understand that even little children can understand it. It is the foundation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the central message of its missionaries. We invite all to receive this message.