Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

What Principles and Ordinances Are Necessary for Salvation?

            I studied the doctrines found in Articles of Faith 1:4 this week. The article says, “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.” I appreciate the genius and/or inspiration that caused Joseph Smith to write the Articles of Faith as he did. The doctrines of salvation for the living and dead build on the doctrines of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and applying it into our lives.

            My first insight came from the video with lesson that explains about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Last week’s video said, “Jesus Christ’s triumph over spiritual and physical death by His suffering, death, and Resurrection is called the Atonement.” This week’s video said, “Although all people will be resurrected, only those who accept the Atonement will be saved from spiritual death.” To me, these sentences are saying that everyone will be resurrected regardless of how they feel about Christ. However, only those who accept Christ and His Atonement will be saved from spiritual death. The video then explained that we accept Christ when we exercise faith in Him, repent of our sins, are baptized in His name and by His authority, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end by keeping His commandments and the covenants we make with Him. This is the Doctrine of Christ. It is beautifully simple and simply beautiful. It teaches us what we must do to put the power of Christ’s Atonement into our lives to make it possible for us to be saved from both physical and spiritual death.

            My second insight concerns D&C 128:6-8, 15-18 where Revelation 20:12 is quoted. It says that the dead will be judged out of the books that are written here on earth and the book of life that is kept in heaven. This scripture also tells us that what is recorded on earth is recorded in heaven. It also says that the dead cannot be saved without our help, and we cannot be saved without them. I cannot read this scripture without thinking about my father. He was active in family history and temple work and had many wonderful experiences. However, he studied this scripture and determined to write his personal history. He said that he wanted to have input into the books that are written if he is going to be judged by them. This is a good reason for all of us to write our personal histories and to be active in family history work.

            My third insight comes from D&C 132:19-24. This scripture tells us that those couples whose marriages are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise will become gods. It says that eternal life is to know Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. It seems to me that anyone who qualifies to become a god would be like Heavenly Father. This means that they would “know” Him because they would think, feel, and act as He does. This also tells us that the fourth Article of Faith is important because it tells us what we must do to reach the level of godhood.

            Other insights come from Doctrine and Covenants 137 and 238. Doctrine and Covenants 137 tells us that all who die without knowing the doctrine of Christ will be heirs of the Celestial Kingdom IF they would have received it in this life. Alvin Smith, the oldest brother of Joseph Smith, encouraged Joseph to continue in the work of the Lord and would have received the gospel if it had been available before his death. This section explains why the intent of our hearts is as important as our works.

This scripture tells us that all children will be saved in the celestial kingdom if they die before they reach the age of accountability. It also lists numerous people who are already in the Celestial Kingdom: Adam and Abraham as well as Joseph Smith, Sr., Lucy Mack Smith, and Alvin Smith. It teaches that all of us will be judged according to our works and the desires of our hearts. It tells us that we must not only do good works, but we must desire to do good works also. In other words, we must have good attitudes about the works that we perform.

            Doctrine and Covenants 138 is the vision given to President Joseph F. Smith and continues the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the previous section. It is a beautiful vision in and of itself, but it also teaches us how to receive revelation for ourselves. President Smith studied the scriptures and pondered over them. He reflected on their teachings about the mission of Jesus Christ. He was rewarded – and we were blessed – when he received his vision about the ministry of the Savior to the spirit world. This vision tells of the “vast congregation of the righteous” (verse 38) who were assembled and waiting for the Savior. He saw Adam, Eve “with many of her faithful daughters” (verse 39), Abel, Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Elias, Malachi, Elijah, Nephite prophets, and many others who had taught and testified of the Savior. 

This section teaches the importance of our physical bodies. President Smith saw that “the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage” (verse 50). It teaches us the importance of caring for our physical bodies and gaining control over them because they are a significant part of our eternal progression.

            I appreciate the article about the experience of Susa Young Gates because it has much historical information. I did not know previously that President Joseph F. Smith lived in the Beehive House. This little bit of information causes me to wonder what other Presidents lived there. This article also shows the value that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints place on women. Sister Gates was a “prominent” leader among women and young women, and the Brethren were obviously aware of her good works. She led out with genealogy and temple work for more than a decade and was well situated to receive more information about it. She knew of the lack of interest in doing family history work and could have been discouraged about it when she visited President Smith that evening. His comment that she was “doing a great work, greater than you know anything about” must have comforted and blessed her. The crowning touch was to read the President’s vision of the spirit world, and she wrote of her feelings, “No words of mine can express my joy and gratitude.” She was hopeful that the vision would spur more interest in genealogy and temple work. She was also mindful of the emphasis on women in the vision and their labors in the kingdom of God.

            There are numerous scriptures that teach the doctrines of salvation for the living and the dead. All of them teach that we must meet the requirements set out by the Lord for salvation. The requirements include faith in Jesus Christ, repentance of sins, baptism by immersion for remission of sins, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.

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