The Articles of Faith: What We Believe

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 226


Reading the Articles of Faith
In 1842 a newspaper editor named John Wentworth asked the Prophet Joseph Smith about the history and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet wrote a letter to him, explaining “the rise, progress, persecution, and faith of the Latter-day Saints” (History of the Church,4:535). He included 13 short statements about some of the Church’s doctrines and beliefs. These statements became known as the Articles of Faith and were accepted as scripture during the October 1880 general conference ( “Introductory Note” to the Pearl of Great Price).Of the Articles of Faith, Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “They contain direct and simple statements of the principles of our religion, and they constitute strong evidence of the divine inspiration that rested upon the Prophet Joseph Smith.“I encourage each of you to study the Articles of Faith and the doctrines they teach. … If you will use them as a guide to direct your studies of the Savior’s doctrine, you will find yourself prepared to declare your witness of the restored, true Church of the Lord. You will be able to declare with conviction: ‘We believe these things’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 30; orEnsign,May 1998, 24).

Understanding the Scriptures

Articles of Faith

Transgression(v. 2)Breaking of a commandment 
Remission(v. 4)Forgiveness 
Prophecy(v. 5)Revelation 
Administer in(v. 5)Perform 
Primitive Church(v. 6)Church organized during New Testament times 
Pertaining to(v. 9)Concerning 
Literal(v. 10)Actual 
Paradisiacal glory(v. 10)A condition like the Garden of Eden, a paradise 
Dictates(v. 11)Decrees, commands 
Conscience(v. 11)Inner sense of right and wrong 
Subject(v. 12)Obedient, submit 
Magistrates(v. 12)Judges 
Chaste(v. 13)Sexual purity 
Benevolent(v. 13)Kind and charitable 
Admonition(v. 13)Advice, counsel 

Articles of Faith 1:1—The Godhead

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “In common with the rest of Christianity, we believe in a Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. However, we testify that these three members of the Godhead are three separate and distinct beings. We also testify that God the Father is not just a spirit but is a glorified person with a tangible body, as is his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 112; orEnsign,May 1995, 84; alsoD&C 130:22).

Articles of Faith 1:2—The Fall of Adam and Eve

Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught:

“Because of their transgression, Adam and Eve, having chosen to leave their state of innocence (2 Nephi 2:23–25), were banished [cast out] from the presence of God. This is referred to in Christendom as the Fall, or Adam’s transgression. It is a spiritual death because Adam and Eve were separated from the presence of God. …

“All of their posterity were likewise banished from the presence of God (2 Nephi 2:22–26). However, the posterity of Adam and Eve were innocent of the original sin [partaking of the forbidden fruit] because they had no part in it. It was therefore unfair for all of humanity to suffer eternally for the transgressions of our first parents, Adam and Eve. It became necessary to settle this injustice; hence the need for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus in His role as the Savior and Redeemer” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 13–14; orEnsign,Nov. 1988, 12; alsoDeuteronomy 24:16).

Articles of Faith 1:3—The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:

“Our Savior has redeemed us from the sin of Adam, but what about the effects of our own sins? Since ‘all have sinned’ (Romans 3:23), we are all spiritually dead. Again, our only hope for life is our Savior, who, the prophet Lehi taught, ‘offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law’ (2 Nephi 2:7).

“In order to lay claim upon our Savior’s life-giving triumph over the spiritual death we suffer because of our own sins, we must follow the conditions he has prescribed. …

“Our third article of faith describes the Savior’s conditions” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 77; orEnsign,Nov. 1987, 65; alsoD&C 19:16–19).

Articles of Faith 1:4—“The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel”

Elder Howard W. Hunter, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught:

“These four [principles and ordinances ofArticles of Faith 1:4] are only the first of all the principles and ordinances of the gospel. Returning to the words of the Savior to the Nephites, we learn that after complying with these four, there must be a lifetime of compliance with the laws and commandments of the Lord, for he said, ‘… and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.’ (3 Ne. 27:16.)

“The first principles alone are not sufficient; man is thereafter accountable in the eternal judgment for what he has done in life, whether good or evil” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 175; orEnsign,July 1973, 120; also2 Nephi 31:10–15).

Articles of Faith 1:5—How Are We Called of God?

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “The right to nominate [members to callings within the Church] rests with the superior officer or officers at whatever the level. But that nomination must be sustained—that is, accepted and confirmed—by the membership of the Church. The procedure is peculiar to the Lord’s church. There is no king for office, no jockeying for position, no campaigning to promote one’s virtues. Contrast the Lord’s way with the way of the world. The Lord’s way is quiet; it is a way of peace; it is without fanfare or monetary costs. It is without egotism or vanity or ambition. Under the Lord’s plan, those who have responsibility to select officers are governed by one overriding question: ‘Whom would the Lord have?’ There isquiet and thoughtful deliberation. And there is much of prayer to receive the confirmation of the Holy Spirit that the choice is correct” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 73; orEnsign,May 1994, 53; alsoHebrews 5:4).

Articles of Faith 1:6—The Organization of the True Church

Elder David B. Haight, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, testified: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims to the world that this church is a restoration of Christ’s church. A restoration was necessary because prophets and Apostles, who were the foundation of the Lord’s original church, were put to death or otherwise taken. The Church today is built on a foundation of prophets and Apostles, with Jesus Christ as its chief cornerstone. It is therefore not a reformation, a revision, a reorganization, or a mere sect. It is the Church of Jesus Christ restored in these latter days” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 7; orEnsign,May 1986, 7; alsoEphesians 4:11–14).

Articles of Faith 1:7—Gifts of the Spirit

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:

“In a priesthood blessing a servant of the Lord exercises the priesthood, as moved upon by the Holy Ghost, to call upon the powers of heaven for the benefit of the person being blessed. Such blessings are conferred by holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which has the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the Church (D&C 107:18, 67).

“There are many kinds of priesthood blessings. As I give various examples, please remember that priesthood blessings are available for all who need them, but they are only given on request. …

“Persons desiring guidance in an important decision can receive a priesthood blessing. Persons who need extra spiritual power to overcome a personal challenge can receive a blessing. Expectant mothers can be blessed before they give birth. Many LDS families remember a sacred occasion where a worthy father gave a priesthood blessing to a son or daughter who was about to be married. Priesthood blessings are often requested from fathers before children leave home for other purposes, such as school, service in the military, or a long trip. …

“Blessings given in circumstances such as I have just described are sometimes called blessings of comfort or counsel. They are usually given by fathers or husbands or other elders in the family. They can be recorded and kept in family records for the personal spiritual guidance of the persons blessed” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 44; orEnsign,May 1987, 36; alsoD&C 46:11–26).

Articles of Faith 1:8—How Can We Get the Most Power from the Scriptures?

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I thank the Almighty for my testimony of the Book of Mormon, this wonderful companion to the Holy Bible. … The test of the book is in its reading. I speak as one who has read it again and again and tasted of its beauty and depth and power. Could Joseph Smith, I ask you, the young man reared in rural New York largely without schooling, have dictated in so short a time a volume so complex in its nature and yet so harmonious in its whole, with so large a cast of characters and so extensive in its scope? Could he of his own abilities have created the language, the thought, the moving inspiration that has caused millions over the earth to read and say, ‘It is true’?” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 71; orEnsign,Nov. 1993, 51–52; alsoEzekiel 37:15–17).

Articles of Faith 1:9—We Believe in Continuous Revelation

Elder David B. Haight said:

“A distinguishing feature of the Church is the claim to continuous revelation from the Lord. … Today, the Lord’s Church is guided by the same relationship with Deity that existed in previous dispensations.

“This claim is not made lightly. I know there is revelation, as I am a witness to sacred things also experienced by others who administer His work.

“The principle of revelation by the Holy Ghost is a fundamental principle of the Lord’s Church. Prophets of God receive revelation by this process. Individual members of the Church may also receive revelation to confirm truth” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 7; orEnsign,May 1986, 7–8; alsoAmos 3:7).

Articles of Faith 1:10—Christ Will Reign over Gathered Israel

President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “Now, the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church and their coming to a knowledge of the true God. … Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now ks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the Saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel and is heir to all of the blessings promised the Saints in these last days” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,439).

Elder George Albert Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “God has said if we will honor Him and keep His commandments—if we will observe His laws He will fight our battles and destroy the wicked, … and this earth upon which we dwell, will be the celestial kingdom” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1942, 49; alsoD&C 45:64–71).

Articles of Faith 1:11—Religious Freedom

Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote: “We believe in, sustain, uphold, support, and advocate freedom of worship for all men. And we are bold to declare that any government, political system, church, sect, cult, or group of worshippers that either denies men the freedom to worship as they choose or imposes on them a system or way of worship by force is not of God” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith,657; alsoAlma 21:22).

Articles of Faith 1:12—Obeying the Laws of the Land

Elder L. Tom Perry said: “All members of the Church should be committed to obeying and honoring the laws of the land in which they live. We should be exemplary in our obedience to the governments that govern us. The Church, to be of service to the nations of the world, must be a wholesome influence in the lives of individuals who embrace it, in temporal as well as spiritual affairs” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 86; orEnsign,Nov. 1987, 71; alsoD&C 134:1, 5).

Articles of Faith 1:13—How Can I Be Virtuous?

President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled:

“We live in a time when the world considers virtue lightly. …

“Be clean. Watch what you read. No good and much harm can come of reading pornographic magazines and other such literature. They will only stimulate within you thoughts that will weaken your discipline of yourself. No good will come of going to movies that are designed to take from you your money and give you in exchange only weakened wills and base desires” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 58–59; orEnsign,Nov. 1981, 41; alsoPhilippians 4:8).

Group of Youth

Studying the Scriptures

Do five of the following activities (A–G) as you study the Articles of Faith.

Activity A iconAnswering Questions about What We Believe

Write five questions that you have been asked about the Church by nonmember friends or that you think nonmembers might ask. For each question, list the Articles of Faith that could be used to answer it. For example, a nonmember might ask, “Do Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ?” This question could be answered byArticles of Faith 1:1, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10.

Activity B iconMemorizing the Articles of Faith

Elder L. Tom Perry said: “What a great blessing it would be if every member of the Church memorized the Articles of Faith and became knowledgeable about the principles contained in each” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 28; orEnsign,May 1998, 23).

  1. 1.

    Write a brief paragraph explaining how memorizing the Articles of Faith could help in your life.

  2. 2.

    Memorize 4 of the 13 Articles of Faith and write or repeat them from memory to a family member.

Activity C iconTeaching the Articles of Faith

Prepare a 15-minute lesson that you could teach to your family or other group on the meaning of any one of the Articles of Faith. Use scripture stories, scripture references, questions, personal experiences, pictures, objects, or your testimony to help teach this lesson.

Activity D iconHymns and the Articles of Faith

Using a hymnbook and Primary songbook, for each Article of Faith, list at least one hymn or song that teaches the same truth or doctrine. You may want to also write the hymn number or song title next to the appropriate Article of Faith in your scriptures. (Use the “Scriptures” and “Topics” indexes in the hymnbook and the index in the Primary songbook for help, if needed).

Activity E iconPieces of the Plan of Salvation

ReadArticles of Faith 1:1–4and list the parts of the plan of salvation noted there. Draw a picture or make a chart that includes these elements and from which you could teach the plan of salvation to your family or others.

Activity F iconWhat Do Others Believe?

ReviewArticles of Faith 1:5–10and list words and phrases that describe the Lord’s Church. Ask a nonmember friend to share his or her beliefs about the ideas on your list. (Be kind and respectful of your friend’s beliefs. You are asking for information, not arguing about differences in beliefs.) Write a paragraph about what you learned.

Activity G iconRights and Responsibilities of a Latter-day Saint

  1. 1.

    In your notebook, list the following situations:

    1. a.

      Exceeding the speed limit while driving

    2. b.

      Teasing a person for wearing religious clothing

    3. c.

      Pressuring a person to listen to the missionary discussions

    4. d.

      Refusing to follow the instructions of the leaders in your country

    5. e.

      Failing to help a person who needs assistance

    6. f.

      Not being friendly to someone because he or she is not of your faith

    7. g.

      Watching a sexually explicit movie or television program

    8. h.

      Opposing the building of a place of worship in your community

    9. i.

      Using vulgar gestures and language

    10. j.

      Feeling that people in all religions except yours are wicked

  2. 2.

    ReviewArticles of Faith 1:11–13, and after each situation list an article of faith that closely relates to it and explain how it applies.

  3. 3.

    Write a personal code of conduct with at least three statements of what you will do to live according to the teachings inArticles of Faith 1:11–13. Begin your statements with “I will (do something)” or “I will not (do something).”