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, January 22, 2022

Why Is the Doctrine of Christ Central to God’s Plan of Salvation?

            My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me deep into the book of Moses. This week’s studies covered Genesis 5 and Moses 6. In Genesis 5, Moses wrote all the generations between Adam and Eve and Noah. There are a lot of names but not much information on the individuals. Enoch came six generations from Adam, and he was described as follows: “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

This sounds like an interesting story, but Moses continued the list of generations without any further explanation. We are blessed because the Lord revealed details of Enoch’s story in Moses 6. The following information is from Come, Follow Me – For Individuals and Families.

Thankfully, Moses 6 reveals the details of Enoch’s story – and it’s quite a story. We learn of Enoch’s humility, his insecurities, the potential God saw in him, and the great work he performed as God’s prophet. We also get a clearer picture of the family of Adam and Eve as it progressed through the generations. We read of Satan’s “great dominion” but also of parents who taught children “the ways of God” and of “preachers of righteousness” who “spake and prophesied” (Moses 6:15, 21, 23). Especially precious is what we learn about the doctrine these parents and preachers taught: faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost (see Moses 6:50-52). That doctrine, like the priesthood that accompanies it, “was in the beginning [and] shall be in the end of the world also” (Moses 6:7).

            Like most chapters in the scriptures, Moses 6 contains numerous principles. The principle that I have chosen to discuss tonight is “The doctrine of Christ is central to God’s plan of salvation.” Through the book of Moses, “we know that God has been teaching His children how to find forgiveness and redemption ever since the beginning.” In 2 Nephi 31:13-21, these teachings are called the “doctrine of Christ.” What are the specifics of the doctrine of Christ?

            The first doctrine that we must understand is that the Fall of Adam and Eve was part of Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning. Because of the Fall, all mankind will suffer two kinds of death. Physical death is the separation of the immortal spirit from the mortal body. Spiritual death is the separation from the presence of God.

In addition, Lucifer (Satan) was cast down to earth without a body. Because of his rebellion against God, he will never receive a physical body. Therefore, he tempts mortals in an attempt to take over their bodies. Because we are mere mortals, we yield to the temptations of Satan and become “carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God” until we repent (Moses 6:49).

The second doctrine that we must understand is that the Atonement of Jesus Christ was part of Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning also. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind will overcome physical death and can overcome spiritual death (see Romans 3:23; Mosiah 16:3-4; Alma 11:42-43; Helaman 14:14-18; Moses 6:52).

A third doctrine that we must understand is the great gift of agency given to each of us in our pre-mortal life (see Moses 7:32). Moral agency allows us to choose between good and evil and to experience the consequences of our choices (see 2 Nephi 2:14-16, 25-29; Doctrine and Covenants 101:78). God will do all that He can do to help us qualify to return to His presence, but He will never force anyone. He honors our agency and allows us to choose where we want to spend eternity.

This doctrine includes the principles of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by emersion for the remission of sins, and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Moses 6:57-68 tells us that Enoch saw that Adam and Eve were baptized. We know that they had faith in Jesus Christ because they knew Him from the Garden of Eden. We know that they repented of their sins, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained how birth and baptism are similar and essential.

Two births are essential to salvation. Man cannot be saved without birth into mortality, nor can he return to his heavenly home without a birth into the realm of the Spirit…. The elements present in a mortal birth and in a spiritual birth are the same. They are water, blood, and spirit. Thus every mortal birth is a heaven-given reminder to prepare for the second birth….

In every mortal birth the child is immersed in water in the mother’s womb. At the appointed time the spirit enters the body, and blood always flows in the veins of the new person. Otherwise, without each of these, there is no life, no birth, no mortality.

In every birth into the kingdom of heaven, the newborn babe in Christ is immersed in water, he receives the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and the blood of Christ cleanses him from all sin. Otherwise, without each of these, there is no Spirit-birth, no newness of life, no hope of eternal life….

… These elements were again present in [Christ’s] death. He sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane as he took upon himself the sins of all men on conditions of repentance. This same agony and suffering recurred on the cross. It was then that he permitted his spirit to leave his body, and it was then that blood and water gushed from his riven side (A New Witness, 288-89).

            There are numerous names for the plan of salvation. Sometimes it is called the plan of happiness or the plan of redemption. Other times it is called the plan of restoration, the plan of mercy, the plan of deliverance, or the everlasting gospel. According to President Russell M. Nelson, the designation is not as important as the fact that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the “enabling essence of the plan” (“Constancy and Change,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 33).

            The Creation of the earth, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ (including His death and resurrection) are the three pillars of eternity upon which rests Heavenly Father’s plan for the eternal happiness of His children. We are blessed that Heavenly Father saw fit to reveal the book of Moses to Joseph Smith in these latter days. This book contains many doctrines and principles necessary for us to know and live to prepare us to return to the presence of God.

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