What Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
The gospel of Jesus Christ is our Heavenly Father’s plan for the happiness and salvation* of His children. It is called the gospel of Jesus Christ because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is central to this plan. According to His plan, our Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to show us how to live meaningful and happy lives and experience eternal joy after this life. Through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, you can become clean from sin and enjoy peace of conscience. You can become worthy to live in Heavenly Father’s presence after this life.
To receive this peace and strength, you must learn and follow the principles and ordinances of the gospel. A principle is a truth that can be applied in life; an ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood and is often a means of entering into a covenant with our Heavenly Father. The first principles of the gospel are faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. The first ordinances of the gospel are baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost.
After you learn and follow the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, you seek to follow Christ’s example throughout the remainder of your life. This continued faithfulness is called “enduring to the end.”
Faith in Jesus Christ
Faith is a strong belief that motivates a person to act. Faith that leads to forgiveness of sins is centered in Jesus Christ, whose Atonement makes forgiveness possible. Faith in Jesus Christ is more than a passive belief in Him. It means believing that He is the Son of God and that He suffered for your sins, afflictions, and infirmities. It means acting on that belief. Faith in Jesus Christ leads you to love Him, trust Him, and obey His commandments.
Faith in Jesus Christ leads you to want to change your life for the better. As you study the gospel, you recognize that you have sinned, or acted against the will and teachings of God. Through repentance, you change those thoughts, desires, habits, and actions that are not in harmony with God’s teachings. He promises that when you repent, He will forgive your sins. When you repent you:
Recognize that you have sinned and feel sincere sorrow for what you have done.
Stop doing what is wrong, and strive never to do it again.
Confess your sins to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. Doing so relieves a heavy burden. If you have sinned against another person, you also ask that person for forgiveness.
Make restitution. You do all you can to correct the problems your actions may have caused.
Keep the commandments. Obeying God’s commandment brings the power of the gospel into your life. The gospel will give you strength to abandon your sins. Keeping the commandments includes giving service, forgiving others, and attending Church meetings.
Acknowledge the Savior. The most important part of repentance is the realization that forgiveness comes because of Jesus Christ. Sometimes you may have felt that God will not forgive serious sins. But the Savior suffered for our sins so they can be put behind us, even the serious ones. The result of true repentance is forgiveness, peace, comfort, and joy.
Repentance does not always mean making big changes. Often it simply requires an increased commitment to live according to God’s will. True repentance does not always happen quickly; be patient with yourself as you strive to do what is right and correct mistakes you make. As you repent, you will experience a change of heart. You will no longer desire to sin. You will come to know that you are a child of God and that you need not continue making the same mistakes over and over. Your desire to follow God will grow stronger and deeper.
Baptism and the Holy Ghost
Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance prepare you for baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ taught that everyone must be baptized of water and of the Spirit (the Holy Ghost) for the remission, or forgiveness, of sins. Through baptism by one who holds priesthood authority and through receiving the Holy Ghost, you will be spiritually reborn.
Why Do I Need to Be Baptized?
Jesus Christ set the example for us by being baptized to “fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). When you are baptized, you receive a remission of your sins (see Acts 2:38). You make a covenant, or promise, with God: you promise to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, to follow Him, and to keep His commandments. If you do your part, your Heavenly Father promises to forgive your sins. When you are baptized by proper authority, your sins are washed away.
Baptism involves a brief immersion in water. This is how Jesus Christ was baptized. Baptism by immersion is a sacred symbol of the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; it represents the end of your old life and the beginning of a new life as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Why Do I Need to Receive the Holy Ghost?
While baptism washes you of your sins, the Holy Ghost sanctifies, or purifies, you. If you remain faithful to your baptismal covenants, you can have the Holy Ghost with you always. All good people can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, but only those who are baptized and who receive the Holy Ghost have the right to His constant companionship throughout life.
The Holy Ghost helps you recognize and understand truth. He provides spiritual strength and inspiration. He comforts you in difficult times and guides you in making decisions. You can feel God’s love and influence in your daily life through the Holy Ghost.
Your ability to enjoy this divine gift depends on your obedience to God’s commandments. The Holy Ghost cannot remain with those who do not live according to God’s teachings. They lose the privilege of His guidance and inspiration. Always strive to be worthy of the companionship and direction of the Holy Ghost.
You receive the Holy Ghost after baptism. In an ordinance called confirmation, one or more authorized priesthood holders lay their hands on your head. They confirm you a member of the Church and bless you to receive the Holy Ghost. This ordinance normally takes place in a church service soon after baptism. When you are baptized and confirmed, you become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints.
After you are baptized, you can renew your baptismal covenants each week by partaking of the sacrament. During the sacrament service, bread and water are blessed and passed to the congregation as a reminder of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The bread represents His body, and the water represents His blood. As you renew your baptismal covenants, you are promised that you will have the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost, with you always.
Enduring to the End
You become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. After you become a member of the Church, you will continue to grow in understanding. You will continue to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, renew your baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament, and follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost. These first principle sand ordinances of the gospel are a pattern to follow throughout life. This lifelong commitment is often called “enduring to the end.”
Enduring to the end brings direction, peace, and happiness to life. You will feel the joy of trying to become more like Jesus Christ as you serve and help those around you. You will better understand your relationship with your Father in Heaven and feel His perfect love for you. You will feel hope and a sense of purpose in an often unhappy and troubled world.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a way of life.
“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.”
How Can I Know?
The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored through revelation from God to the Prophet Joseph Smith and to other prophets.
You can know for yourself that these things are true by asking your Heavenly Father in prayer. He will answer you through the Holy Ghost, who is also called the Spirit of God. The Holy Ghost witnesses, or testifies, of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost confirm truth through feelings, thoughts, and impressions. The feelings that come from the Holy Ghost are powerful, but they are also usually gentle and quiet. As taught in the Bible, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23).
These feelings are a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that this message is true. You will then need to choose whether you will live in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through Joseph Smith.