Lesson 4: The Gospel of Jesus Christ: What does Jesus expect of us?
Justice – Justice is a law of God that requires consequences for actions.
Mercy – The spirit of compassion, tenderness, and forgiveness. Jesus Christ offers mercy to us through His atoning sacrifice on conditions of repentance.
Grace – The enabling power from Jesus Christ that allows us to obtain blessings in this life and to gain eternal life after we have exercised faith, repented, and given our best effort to keep the commandments.
Ordinance – A sacred way that we show outwardly that we are making a covenant with God.
Covenant – A binding two-way promise between God and Man. God sets the terms for all gospel covenants. As we do what God asks, He promises us blessings.
The Holy Bible – any good translation can be used. Mormons typically use the King James Bible, and quotes in the text will come from that translation, but if you have a different translation it is okay.
The Book of Mormon – A companion volume to the Holy Bible which was translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith from ancient records. If you do not have a copy, you may get a free copy online at Mormon.org. You may also either contact the local Mormon missionaries or see the text of the Book of Mormon online at http://www.lds.org/scriptures?lang=eng. The Book of Mormon will be explained in more detail later.
The Doctrine and Covenants – The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. . . . Most of the revelations in this compilation were received through Joseph Smith, Jun., the first prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Others were issued through some of his successors in the Presidency. (“Introductory Note,” Doctrine and Covenants) You can see the text of the Doctrine and Covenants online at http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc?lang=eng.
Lesson 4: The Gospel of Jesus Christ: what does Jesus expect of us?
Christ is the Only Way
Jesus Christ explains why He was sent to the earth in 3 Nephi 27:14. He said:
And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil-
Because Christ died for us and was resurrected, all of us will also be resurrected and stand before God to be judged. We learned in lesson 2 that we are judged by our thoughts, our words, and our works. We will be judged according to the laws of justice and mercy. The law of justice requires consequence for actions including blessings for righteous works and punishment for sin. The punishment for sin is spiritual death or separation from God. This separation from God would be permanent if there was not a way to be cleansed from our sins. Jesus Christ made it possible for us to become clean. He took upon Himself our punishment by His suffering. He stands between us and justice and makes it possible for us to be forgiven by God and receive mercy (see Mosiah 15:9). In the Book of Mormon, we learn from the prophet Lehi that only through Jesus Christ are we able to be cleansed from our sins. He said,
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. . . .
There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise (2 Nephi 2:6, 8).
Jesus Christ made it possible for us to become clean but He did not take away our personal responsibility. He has asked us to live His gospel in order to become clean and return to live with our Father in Heaven. Jesus summarized His gospel in 3 Neph1 27:19-20:
And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
Jesus taught five steps in this scripture that we must do in order to be cleansed. These five things will be the topics of this lesson. They are:
1. Faith in Jesus Christ
3. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins
4. The gift of the Holy Ghost
5. Enduring in faithfulness unto the end.
Faith in Jesus Christ
What is faith?
Faith is believing in something we cannot see. When we have faith in Jesus Christ we believe that He is our Savior and that only through Him can we return to live with our Father in Heaven. We accept Him and His teachings. He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). We believe that following Him and His commandments is the only way to true happiness. We should strive to live like Jesus Christ did and keep His commandments.
What does faith lead us to do?
Faith leads to repentance. As our faith in Jesus Christ grows we recognize the things that we are doing wrong, and we desire to change. Faith leads us to action. We act on our desire to change and stop doing things that we know we are not supposed to do. Faith leads us to strive daily to improve and become more like Jesus Christ.
How does faith grow?
In the Book of Mormon Alma compares the word of God to a seed that is planted in the heart. The analogy can apply to the word of God recorded in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and spoken of by modern prophets. Alma explains clearly the process of growing faith. Read Alma 32:26-43 and answer the following questions:
How does a desire to know truth lead to faith?
How will I know that the word is from God?
What do I need to do to get an answer?
What will happen to my faith if I don’t nourish it with continued study and prayer?
How do I keep my faith strong?
Our faith grows as we study the scriptures and come to a greater understanding of who God is and what He desires for us. Our faith is strengthened as we keep the commandments in spite of trials and as we act upon the promptings of the Spirit. Heavenly Father blesses us as we exercise our faith and keep the commandments. The Lord knows that we can’t resist temptation on our own. In 3 Nephi 18:18 He teaches us that we can resist temptation with His help.
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
In John 7:16-17, Christ taught that we can know if a principle is true by living it. He said to the people,
My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
We can apply this to any principle of the gospel. If we have a hard time accepting a specific commandment, we first need to live it, and then we will know that it is from God. For example, if we don’t understand why God asks us to keep the Sabbath day holy, we should dedicate the day to Him and see the blessings that come into our lives. This principle is also taught in the Book of Mormon. In Ether 12:6 we read,
Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to the second principle of the gospel which is repentance. Repentance is the process by which we change from a state of sin to a state of righteousness.
How do we repent?
Doctrine and Covenants 58:43
2 Corinthians 7:9-10
We learned in lesson 2 that repentance is one of the central purposes of our life on earth. Repentance is a process. The first step in repentance is recognizing that we have sinned. When our faith grows, we recognize the things that we are doing wrong and feel godly sorrow. We love God, and we feel sorrow that we have disobeyed his commandments. We desire to change and become more like our Father in Heaven. We then act upon this desire. We must confess our sins to God through prayer and ask Him for forgiveness. We then forsake our sins, or stop doing them. We change our thoughts, desires, beliefs, and actions. It is not enough just to stop doing wrong. We must press forward doing that which is right. For repentance to be complete we must make restitution. This means that we do all that we can to fix the problems that we have created by sinning.
As our faith grows we fight our desire to commit sin. Our desire to please God and keep His commandments increases. We continue to make mistakes but constantly strive to correct these mistakes. We strive to follow the example Christ set and live as He did.
How does repentance help us receive mercy?
Alma 42:13, 21-24
What blessings are we promised when we repent?
Doctrine and Covenants 58:42
Doctrine and Covenants 61:2
As we repent we receive God’s forgiveness. We feel peace in this life and are more prepared to live with God after this life. Repentance provides us with the opportunity to be redeemed and live with God again. God promises that when we truly repent, He will remember our sins no more. Our life becomes joyful as we strive to align our will with God’s will through repentance.
Baptism by Immersion and Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost
For our sins to be completely washed away, we must be baptized by immersion and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. These two ordinances must be performed by someone who holds the proper priesthood authority. Baptism is a sacred ordinance. An ordinance is a sacred way that we outwardly show we are making a covenant with God. A covenant is a binding two way promise between God and man. God sets the terms for all gospel covenants. Certain ordinances and covenants are required for salvation. Baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost are two of these saving ordinances. As we do what God asks, He promises us blessings. The baptismal covenant is outlined in the sacrament prayers and in other scriptures.
Doctrine and Covenants 20:77
What do we promise God?
What does God promise us?
What must a person do to prepare to be baptized?
Doctrine and Covenants 20:37
The authority to baptize was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith by John the Baptist. Peter, James, and John (three of Christ’s original Apostles) restored the authority to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. This priesthood authority is found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The manner of baptism has been clearly outlined by the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 20:72-73. It reads:
Baptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent-
The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
One of the blessings of the baptismal covenant is that “[we] may always have His Spirit to be with [us]”. This promise is fulfilled when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred in an ordinance known as confirmation. This is when we officially become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The gift of the Holy Ghost is often referred to as baptism by fire or baptism by the Spirit. Baptism by water is incomplete without the baptism of the Spirit. It is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us in this life. It enables the Spirit to dwell with us all the time, as long as we are living righteously. The Holy Ghost provides guidance in our everyday decisions. It can warn of us danger and lead us down the path of righteousness and safety. He comforts us when we are going through hard times, testifies of Christ, and helps us to feel God’s love.
How is the gift of the Holy Ghost given?
Doctrine and Covenants 35:6
What is the role of the Holy Ghost?
3 Nephi 27:20
As we keep our covenants we will receive blessings in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
Endure to the End
We read in 2 Nephi 31:18 that when we are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we enter the gate to the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life. The next two verses explain what we must do after being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
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 (2 Nephi 31:19-20).
To receive eternal life we must endure to the end. To endure to the end we must strive to live as the Savior lived and keep the covenants we have made. We continue to develop and exercise our faith, repent of our sins, renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament weekly and by following the guidance of the Spirit. Although we will still commit sin, we must strive to avoid sin so that we can enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost.
What blessings are we promised for enduring to the end?
3 Nephi 15:9
3 Nephi 27:16
The Savior atoned for us so that we can be cleansed from our sins. There are certain steps that we need to follow to apply the Atonement and receive a remission of our sins. We must develop and exercise faith, repent of our sins, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure in faithfulness to the end of our lives.
Continue to study the scriptures daily to build your faith. Continue reading the Book of Mormon. You may want to study Alma 32 about faith and 2 Nephi 31 about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Evaluate your life. Decide what needs to be changed in your life for you to come closer to Christ. Repent of the things in your life that are not in harmony with God’s teachings.
Attend Church on Sunday.
Prepare yourself to receive the blessings that come from baptism and confirmation. Talk with the Mormon missionaries about a day that you can be baptized and receive a remission of your sins.