Monday, February 28, 2011

We Believe: Continuing Revelation

Article of Faith #9: We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.  

We believe in all that God has revealed, both through ancient prophets and the former prophets of this time.  The scriptures are full of prophecies about Christ and about things that are going to take place in these days.  Prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel foretold events pertaining to both the birth and second coming of Christ.  John the Beloved had his great vision recorded in the Book of Revelation found at the end of the New Testament, which is all about the last days and things that are to come.  Prophets in our time have given us warnings and counsel from God on how we can best prepare for upcoming events in our world.

We believe that God continues to reveal His words today.  We are led by a prophet who reveals God's will in these times for us.  Every six months we have a General Conference of the Church in which the prophet, apostles, and other church leaders address us and direct us in what we should do. 

We believe that along with revelation coming through God's prophet and the General Authorities, we are each entitled to personal revelation from God.  These revelations are for us in our own personal lives, things we should do, people whom we can give aid, places and situations that are dangerous, and a witness about truths of the gospel from the Holy Ghost.  Elder Oaks, speaking of these two kinds of revelation in our day said, "We must use both the personal line and the priesthood line in proper balance to achieve the growth that is the purpose of mortal life...The children of God need both lines to achieve their eternal destiny. The restored gospel teaches both, and the restored Church provides both (Ensign Nov. 2010)."

We believe that God will yet reveal many things necessary for us in our days.  Just as God did not reveal to Adam how to build the ark nor to Moses the plans to build the Salt Lake City temple, God has not revealed everything necessary for us.  The heavens are not sealed, which is one of the greatest truths brought back through the Restoration of the Gospel.

I am grateful for revelation in my life.  I love the words of Joseph Smith when he said “Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it (History of the Church, 3:389)."  I have been blessed in my life greatly from the revelations of God, both in times past and in the present time.  I know I have received revelations on how I can be better and am taught each day by the Spirit as I continue to serve God and to try and stand a little taller each day.  As the Proverb teaches us, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart...and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We Believe: Scriptures

Article of Faith #8: We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. 

We believe in the Bible as the word of God.  The Old Testament is the record of God's dealings with the ancient Israelites and their journeys to the promised land as well as the history of what happens afterwords.  The Old Testament is also the collection of prophecies concerning the coming of Christ.  The New Testament is the record of Christ's life and the miracles that he performed.  It also contains the epistles, or letters, written by the apostles to the church during that time.

We believe in the Book of Mormon as some more of God's words to his people.  As the Introduction to the Book of Mormon says, "The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel."  The Book of Mormon begins with the story of Lehi and his family as they leave Jerusalem in 600 B.C.  and leave for the American continent.  The Book of Mormon contains their history and the history of their descendants.  It too, like the Bible, contains prophecies of the coming of the Savior to the world and the climax of the Book of Mormon is when Jesus Christ appears to the people in the Americas after His resurrection and ascension.  That is why the subtitle to the Book of Mormon declares it as "Another Testament of Jesus Christ".

We believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon go hand-in-hand.  Just as in using a GPS to find a destination requires two coordinates, our journey back to Heavenly Father needs these two volumes of scripture.  The Bible compliments the Book of Mormon and the Book of Mormon answers questions the Bible leaves unanswered.  As the Savior himself declared, "Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.  And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever (2nd Nephi 29:8-9)."  

We believe that along with these two volumes of scripture, God has continued to reveal His word and that we have more scriputes.  We believe in the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a collection of revelations given through Joseph Smith and other modern day prophets.  We believe in the Pearl of Great Price, which contains some of the writings of Moses and Abraham along with Joseph Smith's testimony.  These four volumes, the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, compose the standard works.

I am grateful for the scriptures in my life.  I have received guidance and answers to prayers to help me on my way.  I have been blessed with a knowledge of the truthfulness of the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon.  The great message is that you too can know for yourself.  The promise found at the end of the Book of Mormon declares, "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:4-5)."  The Holy Ghost truly does bear record of the scriptures and teaches us all that we must know to find peace and happiness.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We Believe: Spiritual Gifts

Article of Faith #7: We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

We believe in all of the gifts of the Spirit; or in other words, the gifts that come from the Holy Ghost in our lives. Because there are so many different spiritual gifts, it would take too long to write enough about each one.  So instead, I am going to focus on just a few of them.

We believe that healing is a gift from God.  The Savior went about doing good and healed many people.  Two of the gifts of the Spirit that go hand-in-hand are the gifts of having the faith to heal and the faith to be healed (see D&C 46:19-20).  Both gifts are necessary in order for a person to be healed of their afflictions.
Peter healing a crippled man
We believe in the gift of tongues and in the interpretation of tongues (see D&C 46:24-25).  Just as with the spiritual gifts for healing, these two gifts are intertwined.  The gift of tongues is given to men at times when it is necessary to speak the gospel in a language that is unfamiliar to us.  The Lord blesses us for a time to be able to express are thoughts in that language.  At times, it is also important to receive a message from God in a language we do not understand.  In those circumstances, we may receive the gift of interpretation of tongues so that we may know what God's will is.

We believe in the gift of discernment (see D&C 46:23).  This is a gift of the Spirit that allows men to discern whether something is of God or of the devil.  The Lord can also bless us to understand a situation and grant us the knowledge to know what His will is.

We believe in the gifts of knowledge and wisdom, along with the gift to be able to teach (see Moroni 10:9-10, 1st Corinthians 12:8).  These gifts of the Spirit help us understand people and circumstances as well as how to handle them.  The knowledge of God and His plan comes only through the Holy Ghost.  Paul wrote, "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost (1st Corinthains 12:3)."

How grateful I am for the different gifts of the Spirit.  The gifts of the Spirit allow us to bless the lives of each other (see D&C 46: 16, 26).  I have been blessed in my life by many who exercise their spiritual gifts on my behalf.  I know that the gifts of the Spirit are given so that we may all learn and find peace in this life.  They truly are gifts from God to help prepare us to receive the greatest gift, that of eternal life (see D&C 14:7).

Monday, February 14, 2011

We Believe: Prophets and Apostles

Article of Faith #6: We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

We believe that when Christ organized His church on the Earth, He built it upon a foundation of apostles and prophets (see Ephesians 2:20).  He did so, as Paul taught, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:12-14)."  The
role of apostles and prophets were to teach the people and to keep the gospel pure; that all who believed in Christ would be following the Savior's doctrine.  Christ also called seventy other men to help preach the gospel (see Luke 10:1).  He gave unto them the authority to help teach the doctrines and to be of service to the Twelve Apostles.

We believe that this organization is the same organization Christ's church has had since the beginning of the time.  We know that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many others were called as prophets to teach the people during their times.  We read of how Moses called seventy men to help him watch over the children of Israel (see Numbers 11:16-17, 24-25).  

We believe that now the same organization has been restored.  Joseph Smith, Jr., was called as the first prophet of these last days.  As the Restoration of the Gospel continued, the quorum of the Twelve Apostles was again established as well as the quorums of the Seventy.  The church is led on a local level by Stake Presidents, Bishops, and the Presidents of different organizations in each congregation.  Through both the local organizations and the general or world-wide organization, we can receive the guidance and support we need in our lives.

One of the greatest things about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its organization.  I marvel that it was organized in such a way that it can support and maintain the church as it is now, but that it can grow to accommodate a growing church.  I know that it is inspired of God and not just the thought of men.  I know that Jesus Christ is at the head of His church and guides it through the living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson.

To see the current General Authorities of the Church, click here

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We Believe: Priesthood Authority

Article of Faith #5: We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

We believe that before the world began, the priesthood authority of God came into play.  The Priesthood was the power that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ used to organize matter into a world for us to come.  Men were foreordained to the priesthood on account of their faithfulness in the pre-existence (see Alma 13).

We believe that any time the gospel of Jesus Christ has been on the earth, the priesthood authority of God has accompanied it.  Prophets such as Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, and all others held the priesthood.  Aaron, the brother of Moses, and his posterity were set apart and ordained by Moses to the priesthood office (see Exodus 28).  Through that authority, the posterity of Aaron was able to serve the people by offering sacrifices.

We believe that when Jesus Christ came to the earth to establish His church once again, He restored the priesthood.  He called men and gave them the authority to act in His name to bless the sick and administer the ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism (see Luke 9:1-2).  However after Christ's crucifixion, the apostles were hunted down.  Eventually the priesthood was lost as the apostles were martyred and the authority to act in the name of God was nowhere to be found on the Earth.

We believe that along with the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, the priesthood authority was brought back to the earth.  John the Baptist restored the Aaronic priesthood and Peter, James, and John restored the Melchizedek priesthood.  With the priesthood back on the earth, men now have the authority to act in the name of God once more to heal the sick and to perform the saving ordinances of the gospel.  It is the Savior's priesthood and all those who hold it can trace their authority back to Him.

How grateful I am for the priesthood in my life.  I have gained a testimony for myself that it is a very real thing.  I have seen miracles performed through the proper use of it.  As Paul wrote, no one can take it unto themselves; God has an established pattern where everyone can know whom to turn to for aid (see Heb. 5:4).  Through that pattern, we can know the path on how to return to live with God.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We Believe: Gospel of Jesus Christ

Article of Faith #4: 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.

We believe that faith is the foundation for everything in the gospel.  As Paul taught, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)" and as Alma taught, "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true (Alma 32:21)."  It is not enough to have just a passive belief in the Savior; we must act on those things which we feel and know are true (see James 2:17-18).  Our faith must be growing and continue to progress.  I love how Peter explains the importance of our faith be tried and tested.  He wrote, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1st Peter 1:7-9)."  Faith is the power by which miracles are wrought among us and how God can touch each of our lives (see Moroni 7:37).

We believe that one of the first actions we take because of our faith is to repent of our sins.  Repentance means to change, or to turn around in a course of action.  When we repent of our sins, we confess them to our Heavenly Father and ask for His forgiveness.  We then make restitution, or pay back for our mistakes to the best of our ability.  The most important step in the process of repentance is we promise to never do it again.  The Lord gives us an amazing promise as we repent.  He says, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more (D&C 58:26-27)."

We believe that the first major ordinance, or saving ordinance, we participate in is that of baptism by immersion.  As we are baptized, our sins are washed away.  We literally begin a new life as a follower of Jesus Christ and start with a clean slate.  We make certain promises to God, such as promising to keep the commandments and to always remember Jesus Christ.  In return, our Heavenly Father promises us that we may always have His Spirit to be with us if we are living righteously and that if we endure, we can have eternal life.
We believe in the words of the Savior when He taught, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5)."  After we are baptized, hands are laid upon our head and we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Before we receive this gift, the Holy Ghost can touch us to bear witness of truth and to teach and guide us.  Once we receive this great gift, we can have the constant companionship with the Holy Ghost as long as we are living worthy of his presence.  What a great blessing it is to have that guidance and that support from the third member of the Godhead in all that we do.

I love being able to teach others this message of the gospel.  I have seen changes come into the lives of many people as they develop faith, repent of their sins, are baptized both by water and the Spirit, and continue to strive to do the best they can.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ truly is "good news" (see Bible Dictionary: Gospel).
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