To strengthen the children’s commitment to keep their baptismal covenants and follow Jesus Christ.
As I study the lesson today, it’s hard for me not to think about the content of it in terms of “how could I share this with my friend Luke and others who need the Gospel?”
Some great talks were shared yesterday in Church about missionary work and not being afraid to share our testimonies. It also focused on being nice to others, not judging, and being willing to listen as opposed to just opening our mouths.
It caused me to reflect on what I’d shared with Luke on January 12, 2012:
Ultimately, you’re right – we do believe different things when it comes to salvation, God and Jesus Christ. What I have learned about sharing the Gospel, and what I believe Jesus did when He taught His Gospel, was to build upon common beliefs, not to immediately critique and tell others why I think what they believe is wrong or different. My intent has always been to answer your questions (within reason) without getting into debate – to build on common beliefs.
There are three main principles I believe that you don’t:
1. Apostles and Prophets: Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus leads his Church today on the earth via prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone (see Eph. 2:20).
2. Revelation: Members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe in modern-day revelation – communication between God and man. (see Amos 3:7)
3. Priesthood: Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that the priesthood has been restored giving imperfect men the right to act in the name of God. (Matt. 16:19, Mark 3:14, Doctrine and Covenants 13:1)
I can share with you many things that we believe, we can go back and forth attempting to “prove” that what we believe is true, but at the end of this conversation, it boils down to one simple truth, one experience that either happened or it didn’t – the visitation of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ to the 14 year old boy Joseph Smith.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe this happened. I believe Joseph really did want to know which church out of all the churches in his day, was the correct one. I believe he read in James 1:5-6 and got an answer to his prayer, that if he wanted to know the truth, that he should simply ask and that’s what he did.
Did Joseph make mistakes as a natural man? I’m sure he did. But my focus ultimately is on the “fruit of his labor”.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe the experience Joseph had has changed history, it’s the coming forth of the dispensation of the fullness of times (Isaiah 11:11-13, Isaiah 14:29, Jeremiah 31:31, Matthew 24:14, Acts 3:21, Ephesians 1:10), the restoration of what was lost due to the Apostasy (Isaiah 24:5).
I know that the book Joseph Smith translated by the power and authority of God is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”.
And just as Nephi in the book said, this is my invitation to you:
“10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
“11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.
“12 And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.”
I encourage you to pursue your passion for truth, and I will pursue my passion for truth as well, leaving an open invitation for you to diligently search for yourself. I know that the “truth shall make [us] free”.
I care about your eternal salvation as well and know that only in and through the true and living Christ can any of us be saved. “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” (Moroni 10:32)
Take care Luke.
One of the questions/comments/critiques Luke had was that he thought Mormons considered Jesus to be imperfect or sinful. Here’s the answer to that from 2 Nephi 31:7,9:
7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be aobedient unto him in keeping his commandments.
Another question he had was “If Mormons believe the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the Gospel, why isn’t it all in the Book of Mormon?”
The “Fullness of the Gospel” is clarified here:
Our message is unique. We declare to the world that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. We declare with boldness that the keys of the priesthood have been restored to man, with the power to seal on earth and in the heavens. The saving ordinances pronounced by the Lord as requirements for entering into eternal life with Him can now be performed with binding authority by those who worthily exercise the power of His holy priesthood. We declare to the world that this is the day referred to by biblical prophets as the latter days. It is the final time, before the coming of Jesus Christ to rule and reign over the earth.
We invite all to listen to the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ from us. Then you can compare the glorious message with what you may hear from others, and you can determine which is from God and which is from man (L. Tom Perry, “The Message of the Restoration,” Ensign, May 2007, 85–88.)
We believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration of the original Church established by Jesus Christ, which was built “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” 24 It is not a breakoff from any other church.
We believe that the fulness of the gospel of Christ has been restored, but this is no reason for anyone to feel superior in any way toward others of God’s children. Rather, it requires a greater obligation to invoke the essence of the gospel of Christ in our lives—to love, serve, and bless others. Indeed, as the First Presidency stated in 1978, we believe that “the great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.” 25 Thus, we have respect for the sincere religious beliefs of others and appreciate others extending the same courtesy and respect for the tenets we hold dear (James E. Faust, “The Restoration of All Things,” Liahona, May 2006, 61–62, 67–68.”)
“The gospel might be likened to the keyboard of a piano—a full keyboard with a selection of keys on which one who is trained can play a variety without limits; a ballad to express love, a march to rally, a melody to soothe, and a hymn to inspire; an endless variety to suit every mood and satisfy every need. How shortsighted it is, then, to choose a single key and endlessly tap out the monotony of a single note, or even two or three notes, when the full keyboard of limitless harmony can be played. How disappointing when the fullness of the gospel, the whole keyboard, is here upon the earth, that many churches tap on a single key. The note they stress may be essential to a complete harmony of religious experience, but it is, nonetheless, not all there is. It isn’t the fullness.” Boyd K. Packer, “The Only True and Living Church,” Ensign, Dec 1971, 40
What’s interesting is, as I did a bit more research on Luke’s list of questions about the “fulness of the Gospel” contained in the Book of Mormon, I found these answers:
- Does the Book of Mormon Contain the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
- One of the clearest answers is this quote:
- Martin apparently interprets “the most correct of any book of earth” to mean “the most comprehensive of any book on earth,” when correctness and comprehensiveness are obviously two separate concepts.The statement “the earth revolves around the sun” is correct, but not comprehensive. It states a simple truth without delving into the complex and differing astronomical theories of Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Kepler.Similarly, the Book of Mormon is correct in the doctrines and principles it teaches, but it does not claim to contain all truth. Its own self-described purpose is to “the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Title page), and that these teachings are “plain and precious” (1 Nephi 13:35, 40; 19:3). For the most part, the Book of Mormon does not concern itself with the deeper mysteries of God.3
The Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth,” but certainly not comprehensive.
The Book of Mormon answers this question by explaining what “the gospel” is. Jesus Christ, in his visit to the Nephites, explained:
13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 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—
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; 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.
17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
19 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. (3 Nephi 27:13-19, italics added.)
In this passage, Jesus defines “the gospel” as:
- Christ came into the world to do the the Father’s will.
- The Father sent Christ to be crucified.
- Because of Christ’s atonement, all men will be judged by him according to their works (as opposed to not receiving a judgment at all and being cast out out God’s presence by default—2 Nephi 9:8-9).
- Those who repent and are baptized shall be filled (with the Holy Ghost—3 Nephi 12:6), and
- if they continue in faith by enduring to the end they will be justified (declared “not guilty”) by Christ before the Father, but
- if they don’t endure they will be subject to the justice of God and cast out of his presence.
- The Father’s words will all be fulfilled (cf. D&C 1:38).
- Because no unclean thing can enter the Father’s heavenly kingdom, only those who rely in faith on the Atonement of Christ, repent, and are faithful to the end can be saved.
This is “the gospel.” The Book of Mormon teaches these concepts with a plainness and clarity unequaled by any other book. It has therefore been declared by the Lord to contain “the fulness of the gospel.”
Here are a few other good sources:
So, yes, I got a bit off topic, but this is fascinating information and stuff I’d hoped to find answers to eventually.
Will I share them with Luke? Probably not because I don’t think he really wants to know. But, they are great points and help me understand where Luke and others are coming from regarding the “fullness of the Gospel” question.
Hasta mañana (where I really will study out the lesson more)!