(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”. Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉
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 Gost.
4th Article of Faith
I can’t help but think back to one of the many things I’ve had to build in my life, you know, one of those projects that come with a list of instructions… furniture, doll houses, bikes, whatever it may be. Being a guy, and the sort of person I am – a moron (that’s moron, not Mormon, although I am that too), I’ve often simply set to out trying to put it together… without looking at the instructions.
In truth, usually I glance at them and see how simple they appear, and then, confident in my ability to just figure it out, I often get several steps into the process before I realize that something is wrong. The pieces just don’t fit together, or it doesn’t look quite right (which usually means I’ve been trying to just compare it to the picture on the box).
Anyway, my first inclination is to curse the manufacturer. It’s funny how often I’ve done this; you’d think I’d learn. Now, forced into a corner, I end up going back and reading the instructions, usually only to find I missed some small, simple (but crucial) step.
So often this is the case with the gospel. The first principles and ordinances are indeed simple, and because of their simplicity, they’re overwhelmingly overlooked.
It’s the attitude of “Yeah, yeah, faith… I get it. Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost – great, now let’s get on with something more interesting…” that’s what dooms us.
These first principles and ordinances are foundational – that’s why they’re first. They’re the basis upon which ALL other principles and ordinances rely.
When we’re so quick to move past them without the benefit of a thorough understanding, appreciation, and testimony of them, then how often we find ourselves, long after, realizing that something is not fitting. We come upon a principle or doctrine or an event in life that just doesn’t “look right”, and finding ourselves in a corner, we blame the manufacturer.
When in reality, it was simply that we had failed in the first step, to understand the simplest points of the gospel.
It’s much like the people of Moses, as they were set upon by serpents. He raised the serpent staff and told his people that if they’d but look upon it, they’d be saved. But so simple was the task that alas, many did not, and perished.
So too must we continually remember to focus on the core – faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost, if we want to be saved from the serpents of life. Let not the simplicity or commonness of these betray our judgment – a foundation is only as valuable as it is solid.
So we should ask ourselves… how well do we understand the immeasurable power of faith, and how often do we implement it in our lives, and in the lives of others? How often do we find ourselves in the process of sincere repentance, and how clearly do we understand and appreciate how it is even possible? Have we been baptized and born of God, and if so, how regularly do we renew those covenants and how serious do we take them? What role does the Holy Ghost play in our daily life? How sensitive and perceptive are we to its promptings and communication? How well established is our capacity to recognize His promptings?
These are the things that we must return to regularly, for all the remaining steps of life rely on how firmly we’re able to grasp these few things.
P.S. Because of the tremendous importance of these foundational elements of the gospel, I’m going to dedicate a post to each of them, both because each are worth an individual exploration, and also because there are bound to be numerous responses to each of these. This organization will better allow us to explore each one independently. If you have comments about one of these in particular, please add them to the specific post to which they apply, and reserve comments on this post to the general direction/commentary about this article of faith. I’ve gone ahead and added the post skeleton for each of these so you can go ahead and add comments now if you already know what they are (hehe), and I’ll fill in the commentary today and tomorrow. Thanks, and I hope to enjoy some more healthy discussion on each of these!
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