God sent His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, into the world so that all of God’s children would have the possibility of experiencing joy and peace in this world and everlasting life in the world to come with their families. Additionally, through Jesus Christ all God’s children will live again when their bodies and spirits are reunited in the resurrection (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:40–42).
As the result of Adam and Eve’s transgression, death is experienced by all people. And because all people have made mistakes and sinned, they are unable to return to live with God because “no unclean thing can dwell” in His presence (1 Nephi 10:21).
However, through the Savior’s grace and mercy we will live again as resurrected beings and can be clean from sin so that we can live in our Heavenly Father’s presence. Becoming clean from sin is being healed spiritually (see 3 Nephi 9:13; 18:32).
Because of the Savior’s sacrifice, known as the Atonement of Christ, all people will be brought back into the presence of the Lord to be judged according to their works and their desires (see 2 Nephi 9:10–16; Helaman 14:15–18; 3 Nephi 27:14–22; Doctrine and Covenants 137:9) and will be raised from the dead. We will be judged according to the laws of justice and mercy.
Justice is the unchanging law that brings consequences for actions—blessings for obedience to God’s commandments and penalties for disobedience. We all commit sin. Sin makes us unclean, and no unclean thing can live in God’s presence (see 1 Nephi 10:21; 3 Nephi 27:19; Moses 6:57).
The Savior satisfied the demands of justice for those who repent of their sins and endeavor to keep all of His commandments when He stood in our place and suffered the penalty for our sins. This act is called the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because of this selfless act, Christ can plead with the Father on our behalf. Heavenly Father can apply mercy, withhold punishment from us, and welcome us into His presence. Our Heavenly Father shows mercy when He forgives us of our sins and helps us return to dwell in His presence.
However, Jesus did not eliminate our personal responsibility. He forgives our sins when we accept Him, repent, and obey His commandments. Through Jesus Christ’s Atonement and living the gospel we can enter the presence of our Heavenly Father permanently. We show that we accept Christ and that we have faith in Him by doing His will and keeping His commandments, including obeying the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. Nephi refers to these principles and ordinances as “the doctrine of Christ” (2 Nephi 31:2–32:6).
The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:12). It also contains the clearest presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes referred to as the doctrine of Christ (see Jacob 7:6), found anywhere in scripture.
According to the Book of Mormon the gospel of Jesus Christ includes five key points: (1) faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) repentance through the Atonement of Christ; (3) baptism by immersion in Christ’s name; (4) the gift of the Holy Ghost; and (5) enduring to the end (see 2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 11; 27).
Additionally, the Book of Mormon teaches us what we must believe about Christ in order to have faith in Him (see 3 Nephi 27:13–15).
The gospel of Jesus Christ begins with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Having faith in Christ includes having a firm belief that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. It is to believe there is no “salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There are other things that we need to believe if we are to have faith in Christ (see 3 Nephi 27:13–15).
We recognize that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father only by relying on His Son’s grace and mercy. When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings. We trust Him and what He says. We know that He has the power to keep His promises. We can develop faith in Christ through humility and doing His will and keeping His commandments. Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to listen to and obey His Son.
Faith in Christ leads to action. It leads to sincere and lasting change. Having faith causes us to try as hard as we can to learn about and become more like our Savior with “unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19). We want to learn His will and keep His commandments. Even though we will still make mistakes, we show our love for Him by striving through the power of Christ’s Atonement to keep His commandments and avoid sin.
We believe in Christ, and we believe that He wants us to keep all His commandments. We show our faith by obeying Him. We pray in faith for strength to conquer temptation. As we live a specific commandment, we learn the truthfulness of it by experience (see John 7:17). We also grow in faith by hearing and reading the word of God (see Romans 10:17; Helaman 15:7–8).
As we obey God, He blesses us. He gives us power to meet life’s challenges. He helps us change the desires of our hearts. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, He can heal us, both physically and spiritually.
Repentance through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is another important principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our faith in Christ and our love for Him lead us to repent, or to change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with His will. Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world. When we repent, we feel godly sorrow and return to Him with full purpose of heart. We stop doing things that are wrong and continue doing things that are right. Bringing our lives in line with God’s will through repentance and faith on Jesus Christ is a central purpose of our lives. We can return to live with God the Father only through Christ’s grace and mercy, and we receive Christ’s mercy on the condition of repentance.
To repent, we recognize our sins and feel remorse, or godly sorrow. We confess our sins to God. We also confess very serious sins to God’s authorized Church leaders, who will support us as we truly repent. We ask God to forgive us. We do all we can to correct the problems our actions may have caused; this is called restitution. As we repent, our view of ourselves and the world changes. As we change, we recognize that we are children of God and that we need not continue making the same mistakes over and over. If we sincerely repent, we turn away from our sins and do them no more. We resist any desire to commit sin. Our desire to follow God grows stronger and deeper.
Sincere repentance brings several results. We feel God’s forgiveness and His peace in our lives. Our guilt and sorrow are swept away. We feel the influence of the Spirit in greater abundance. And when we pass from this life, we will be more prepared to live with our Heavenly Father and His Son.
Even after we have accepted Christ and repented of our sins, we may fall short and sin again. We should continually try to correct these transgressions, remembering we “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth” us (Philippians 4:13). In addition, we should continually improve—develop Christlike qualities, grow in knowledge, and serve more effectively. As we learn more about what the Savior wants for us, we will want to show our love by obeying Him. Thus, as we repent daily, we will find that our lives will change and improve. Our hearts and our behavior will become more Christlike. We will come to feel great joy in repenting daily.
Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance prepare us for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God.
God has always required His children to make covenants. A covenant is a binding and solemn agreement between God and His children. God promises to bless us, and we promise to obey Him. God sets the terms of gospel covenants, which we either accept or reject. Keeping covenants brings blessings in this life and exaltation in the life to come.
Covenants place us under a strong obligation to honor our promises to God. We should desire to worthily receive the covenants that God offers us and then strive to keep them. Our covenants remind us to repent every day of our lives, relying upon Jesus Christ. By loving the Lord, keeping His commandments, and loving and serving others we receive and retain a remission of our sins through “Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5).
Covenants are usually made by means of sacred ordinances, such as baptism. These ordinances are administered by priesthood authority in the name of Jesus Christ. Through the ordinance of baptism, for example, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. As we keep our part of the covenant, God promises the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of our sins, and being born again.
Through sacred ordinances, such as baptism and confirmation, we learn about and experience God’s power (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:20). Jesus taught that we must be baptized by immersion for the remission, or forgiveness, of our sins. Baptism is an essential ordinance of salvation. No person can enter the kingdom of God without being baptized by the Lord’s authorized servant. Christ set the example for us by being baptized.
Baptism by immersion is a symbol of the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Savior. In a similar way, it represents the end of our old life of sin and a commitment to live a new life as a disciple of Christ. The Savior taught that baptism is a rebirth. When we are baptized we begin the process of being born again and become spiritual sons and daughters of Christ (see Mosiah 5:7–8; Romans 8:14–17).
We must be baptized to become members of His kingdom on earth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to eventually enter the kingdom of heaven. This ordinance is a law of God and must be performed by His authority and in His name (see Matthew 28:19–20). A bishop or mission president must give a priesthood holder permission to perform a baptism or confirmation.
Little children do not need to be baptized and are redeemed through the mercy of Jesus Christ (see Moroni 8:4–24). They are not to be baptized until they reach the age of accountability, which is eight years of age (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:27).
Before baptism we show our willingness to enter a covenant to keep all the commandments for the rest of our lives. After baptism we show our faith by keeping our covenant. We also regularly renew the covenant we make when baptized by partaking of the sacrament. Partaking of the sacrament weekly is a commandment. It helps us remain worthy to have the Spirit with us always. It is a weekly reminder of our covenant. Jesus Christ introduced this ordinance to His Apostles just before His Atonement. He restored it through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Savior commanded that priesthood holders should administer the sacrament in remembrance of His body and His blood, which was shed for us. By partaking of the sacrament worthily we promise always to remember His sacrifice, we renew our promises, and we receive anew the promise that the Spirit will always be with us.
Jesus taught that we must be baptized of water and also of the Spirit. Baptism by water must be followed by baptism of fire and of the Spirit or it is incomplete (see 2 Nephi 31:13-14). Only when we receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost can we receive a remission of our sins and become completely spiritually reborn. We then begin a new spiritual life as disciples of Christ.
The Holy Ghost has a sanctifying, cleansing effect upon us. Through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, we can receive and retain a remission of sins through continued faith in Christ, repentance, and following the will of God and obedience to His commandments.
Those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and remain worthy can enjoy His companionship throughout their lives. The Holy Ghost testifies of Christ and helps us recognize the truth. He provides spiritual strength and helps us do what is right. He comforts us during times of trial or sorrow. He warns us of spiritual or physical danger. The Holy Ghost provides the power by which we teach and learn. The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of our Heavenly Father’s most precious gifts. Through the power of the Holy Ghost we can feel God’s love and direction for us. This gift is a foretaste of eternal joy and a promise of eternal life and exaltation.
After a person is baptized by water, one or more authorized priesthood holders lay their hands upon the person’s head and confirm the person a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They then confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The priesthood authority needed to perform this ordinance, which was lost centuries ago through the death of the Savior’s Apostles, was restored through angelic administration to a modern prophet, Joseph Smith. Only through membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can one receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, the right to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. This authority makes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints different from any other religion in the world. By the Lord’s own declaration, it is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).
The gospel of Jesus Christ includes obtaining and increasing our faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, being baptized by immersion by an authorized servant of the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ, receiving baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and enduring to the end.
Enduring to the end does not simply mean holding on until we die. Enduring to the end includes obtaining Christlike attributes through the Savior’s Atonement. Enduring to the end includes following the Father’s will and obeying His commandments, fasting, prayer, scripture study, observing the Sabbath day, repenting, and making and keeping sacred temple covenants.
Once we have entered the strait and narrow path by our faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, we must exert every effort to stay on the path. We do so by continually exercising faith in and relying upon Jesus Christ, repenting, making commitments, and following the Spirit.
Once we have been forgiven of our sins, we should try every day to remain free from sin so that we can always have the Holy Ghost with us. In the covenant of baptism, we promise our Father in Heaven that we will obey His commandments for the rest of our lives. If we fall short, we must repent in order to retain the blessings of the covenant. We promise to do good works, serve others, and follow the Savior’s example. In the scriptures this lifelong commitment is often called “enduring to the end.”
By following the gospel path, we can draw closer to God, conquer temptation and sin, and enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost more abundantly. As we patiently, faithfully, and consistently follow this path throughout our lives, we will qualify for exaltation (see page 53 for additional information regarding the difference between salvation and exaltation).
Faith in Christ; repentance; making, renewing, and keeping covenants; and being cleansed by the Spirit become a pattern of living. Our actions in daily life are shaped and governed by these principles. Peace and joy come by following this way, and we gradually grow in Christlike attributes. Eventually, as we follow this way and “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ … and endure to the end,” we are promised, “Ye shall have eternal life” and exaltation (2 Nephi 31:20; see also Doctrine and Covenants 132:17).
This section has ideas for you to use in preparing for and teaching the information in this lesson. Pray for the Spirit’s guidance as you decide how to use these ideas. Add the ideas you select to your lesson plan. Keep in mind that these ideas are suggestions—not requirements—to help you meet the needs of those you teach.
What questions do you have about what we have taught?
What does it mean to repent?
Why is the gift of the Holy Ghost an essential part of the gospel?
Why is it important for you to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?
Was there anything about our Church meetings that you did not understand?
What did you enjoy about our Church meetings?
Confirmation: The laying on of hands by those holding the Melchizedek Priesthood in order to become a member of the Church and to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Covenant: An agreement between God and His children. We do not act as equals in the agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and we agree to do what He asks us to do. God then promises us certain blessings for our obedience. We receive ordinances by covenant. When we make such covenants, we promise to honor them. For example, members of the Church covenant with the Lord at baptism and renew that covenant by partaking of the sacrament. We make further covenants in the temple. The Lord’s people are a covenant people. We are greatly blessed as we keep our covenants with the Lord.
Endure to the End: To remain true to the commandments of God and be true to the endowment and sealing ordinances of the temple despite temptation, opposition, and adversity throughout life.
Exaltation: To live forever as families in God’s presence (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:19–20). Exaltation is God’s greatest gift to His sons and daughters.
Gospel: God’s plan of salvation, made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The gospel includes the eternal truths or laws, covenants, and ordinances needed for mankind to return to the presence of God.
Grace: The enabling power from Jesus Christ that allows us to obtain blessings in this life and to gain eternal life and exaltation after we have exercised faith, repented, and given our best effort to keep the commandments. Such divine help or strength is given through the mercy and love of Jesus Christ. We all need divine grace because of Adam and Eve’s Fall and also because of our weaknesses.
Mercy: The spirit of compassion, tenderness, and forgiveness. Mercy is one of the attributes of God. Jesus Christ offers mercy to us through His atoning sacrifice on conditions of repentance.
Restitution: The return of something that has been taken away or lost.
Clean from sin
Strait and narrow path