What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #5

The Calling of the Twelve ApostlesWe believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

This statement of Mormon beliefs contains three parts:

1)  It is God who calls men to positions of authority.
2)  This call will come by way of prophecy to someone in authority.
3)  This call will be carried out by the laying on of hands by someone in authority.
 

This tells us that man cannot take unto himself the authority to teach and administer in the name of God, but rather that God will call whom He chooses to administer in His name.  He will reveal such call to one who is known to have authority, after which, said calling will be conferred to the recipient by the laying on of hands.  This follows the pattern which Jesus set in His calling of the twelve apostles and is in accordance with the order by which God operates.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #6–Mormon beliefs regarding the organization of Jesus Christ’s church.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

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Let Us Remember!

I did not set out to leave the television off today.  I just did not feel any eagerness to again watch the images that filled me with so much anguish a decade ago.  Life was so different then.  My small children were near me and as a mother I could not help but be concerned for their future.  Now they are all adults living away from home.  With just a few exceptions, most of my interaction with them is over the telephone.  It was in one such conversation today that I realized my aversion to the television was no accident.  It was not that I did not want to remember, but as a friend posted on Facebook today, “Remembering and reliving are [two] different things.”  Although I do not fault anyone for having a desire to connect to their fellow citizens across this nation in a day of remembrance, I knew that for my particular personality, I could not relive these events.  This afternoon, however, I found myself in a conversation with my daughter, JaNae.

At first the subject was discussed inquisitively in regards to whether or not there was any discussion of the 9/11 anniversary in each of our churches today.  Of course, each question led to an answer, an insight, or a memory.  I did not realize that my emotions would be so close to the surface so when my throat tightened up and the tears begin to well in my eyes, I was a bit surprised.  In our conversation, I reflected upon a picture I had seen this week; one that I do not recall having seen before.  It was a closeup picture of one of the towers focused on the floors just above those impacted by the plane.  The people on these floors had gathered in groups at the windows.  They were climbing on the ledges.  Although the expressions on their faces are not visible, I could sense their desperation by the way they were crowding those window openings seconds before their death.  It was in recounting this image to my daughter, that the tears first began to flow.  How could anyone do such a thing to another human being?

We also discussed an article I had read this week about ‘the jumpers’.  I was surprised to learn that for the most part this was a group which had been forgotten.  People simply did not want to admit the reality that people chose to jump rather than go down with the building.  Families who were told that one of their loved ones may have been among the jumpers refused to accept it because suicide was against their religion.  To them it showed cowardice.  How can anyone possibly believe that these jumpers committed suicide?  Personally, I believe that they simply had a hope for survival.  It may have been an irrational hope, but who among us would not be irrational at such a time.  Nevertheless, to see an image of a person falling from such a height is greatly disturbing!

In discussing these two images, I, for a moment, did relive what to me was the most disturbing image of that day ten years ago.  It was not of those gathered at the windows, nor was it the image of the jumpers.  In fact, it was not even the horrific images of the collapsing towers or even the tear stained faces of those who were searching for loved ones.  The image, after ten years, that I still cannot shake, is the image of little children celebrating such an evil act by dancing in the streets.  How can any of us, God-fearing or otherwise, teach children to celebrate an event that would bring such extreme sorrow into the hearts of thousands upon thousands of fellow human beings?

Yes, it was a heart-wrenching period for the citizens of this nation!  It was hardly bearable for the ordinary citizen of this country little lone those who paid such a personal price as losing the life of a loved one.  It seemed to be a time when many people came to God, but many also turned away wondering how could He let such a terrible act happen.  Certainly it can be a mystery for us mere mortals, but I can testify that during that time I felt God’s presence.  I felt His compassion and understanding towards those left behind.   He was and is aware of our aching, our confusion, our loss.   To us, the loss of life was such a tragedy that day, but to Him, death is just bringing these souls back into His presence.  The sorrow is only for those left behind; those of us who someday will also be brought back into His presence.  Today my heart again remembers and feels great compassion for those who lost so much that day and for those whose lives have been lost in the wars since.  Please remember today and everyday, not by reliving, but by reaching out in love to all those around us.  There is no better way to honor those whose lives were lost because of hate than to flood the world with love.  Everyday, let us all Remember!

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #4

BaptismWe believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

When one accepts Jesus Christ, he is willing to follow Him and keep His commandments.  This Article of Faith tells us some of the basic ways in which we do this.  First, we must exercise faith in Jesus Christ.  To have faith in Jesus Christ means that we believe that He is the Son of God.  It also means that we trust Him.  As we keep His commandments, we will come to know that our trust in Him is well placed.  This will enable our faith in Him to continue to grow until it becomes unshakeable.

Mormons also believe that a disciple of Jesus Christ is willing to repent of his sins.  Repentance means that one has a godly sorrow for having transgressed the commandments of God.  He desires to bring his life in accordance with God’s will and is willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish this goal.  He will confess his sins before God and before any person whom he may have injured by his actions.  He will also be willing, when possible, to repair any damage he may have caused by his mistakes.

Jesus being BaptizedAs an outward symbol that one has accepted Jesus Christ, he is willing to be baptized.  Mormons believe that the proper mode of baptism is that of immersion.  When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, Matthew 3:16 tell us that “[He] went up straightway out of the water” (italics added).  Thus, we follow Jesus Christ’s example when we are baptized by immersion.  Baptism by immersion is symbolic of the death and burial of the old man as he goes down into the water and the birth of the new man as he comes forth out of the water–one who is free from sin and willing to follow Jesus Christ by keeping His commandments.

When one has exercised faith in Jesus Christ, repented of his sins, and been baptized, he is then ready to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead who has many roles.  He is a personage of spirit whose influence is without end.  He is the comforter whom Jesus promised to send to His disciples.  The Holy Ghost also testifies of truth and can bring all things to remembrance.   When one receives the gift of the Holy Ghost through properly authorized priesthood authority, he has the privilege of having that influence always with him.  This is one of the greatest gifts we can receive in this life.

To learn more about the fourth Article of Faith and one example of showing faith in Jesus Christ, please read “The Lord’s Wind” by John H. Groberg.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #5–Mormon beliefs regarding who is authorized to administer the ordinances of Jesus Christ’s gospel.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #3

We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

Mormons accept Jesus Christ as the literal Son of God and as our personal Savior and Redeemer.    We believe that because of Jesus Christ’s ability and willingness to lay down His life and then to take it up again, He has broken the bands of death and has thus provided a way for the spirits of all mankind to be reunited with their bodies at the time of resurrection.  This gift is offered freely to all mankind, both old and young, both bond and free, both wicked and righteous.  In addition, because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, which includes He having taken upon Himself the sins of the entire human race, all mankind is offered the opportunity to be forgiven of their sins and thus be worthy of eternal life (the ability to live in God’s presence).  This gift is contingent upon one’s desire to receive it as manifested by his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Redeemer.  It is also conditioned upon one’s willingness to keep the commandments and to repent of his sins with a broken heart and a contrite spirit as often as he transgresses.  Mormons believe that it is only in and through Jesus Christ that one can be forgiven of his sins and thereby be worthy of eternal life .

In summary, we believe that all mankind, regardless of their personal righteousness, will be resurrected.  The gift of eternal life, however, is reserved for those who are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer, follow Him, keep His commandments, participate in the ordinances of His gospel, and repent of their sins.  It is Jesus Christ that makes both of these gifts possible and without Him there would be no hope of a resurrection and eternal life.

To learn more about Mormon beliefs regarding the resurrection see the article “Resurrection” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.  Also, enjoy the short video “He Lives” found below.

Nest Week:  Article of Faith #4–Mormon beliefs regarding the basic principles of Jesus Christ’s gospel.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #2

Adam and EveWe believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.

This statement simply teaches that each person is responsible for his or her own sins.  We will not be punished for the sins of our parents or any other person, including the ‘original’ sin of Adam and Eve.  With this in mind, we believe that infant baptism is unnecessary since an infant bears no responsibility for being exiled from the presence of God.  Because God is just, he has provided a way for each of us to enter back into his presence. The atonement of Jesus Christ is sufficient for infants who die before they reach eight years old, the age of accountability.

Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “Because of their transgression, Adam and Eve, having chosen to leave their state of innocence, 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. 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.”

To learn more about Mormon beliefs regarding the Fall, see a talk given by Elder Spencer J. Condie entitled ‘The Fall and the Infinite Atonement’.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #3–Mormon beliefs regarding the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #1

First VisionWe believe in God, the Eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

This is the most important doctrine that we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, embrace.  It is such a simple statement, yet one which contains a wealth of importance.  Within it, we find the answer to the question for which the world yearns, “Who or what is God?”  God is a personage with a glorified perfected body of flesh and bone.  He is literally the father of our spirits.  Thus, we know that He loves us as His children and is interested in our lives here upon the earth.  Jesus Christ is His son, both in the flesh and in the spirit.  This makes Him our elder spirit brother.  The Father and Son are two separate and distinct beings who are one in purpose and mind.  The Holy Ghost, who is also a member of the Godhead, is a spirit personage without a physical body.  Among some of the Holy Ghost’s purposes is to testify of truth and to be a source of comfort to Heavenly Father’s children.

Gary J. Coleman gives a wonderful talk entitled “Mom, are we Christians?” that gives further insight into this principle.  Please take time to read it.

I know that having an understanding of the true nature of God allows us to exercise faith in Him.  I am grateful to know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves and cares about me.

Next Week: Article of Faith #2–Mormon beliefs regarding Adam and Eve and The Fall.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What is The Book of Mormon?

The Book of MormonRecently, ‘The Book of Mormon’ has received a lot of attention because of the Tony Award-winning production ‘The Book of Mormon’.  Although perhaps entertaining, I assume the production did little in helping its audience to understand exactly what ‘The Book of Mormon’ really is.  Therefore, it is still the source of a great deal of misunderstanding.  For instance, there are those who believe that for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons), ‘The Book of Mormon’ is a substitute for the Bible (see ‘Are Mormons Christian?’ to learn why we are referred to as Mormons).  Actually, this could not be further from the truth.  Because ‘The Book of Mormon’ has played such a key role in my own life, I would like to help others understand what it is and why we, as a church, consider it to be sacred.

‘The Book of Mormon’ is a volume of scripture that is comparable to the Bible.  Just as The New Testament is a record of Jesus Christ’s ministry in the Holy Land, ‘The Book of Mormon’ is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.  It was actually written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.  Their words were written on gold plates and eventually quoted and abridged by the ancient prophet-historian Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations.  One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites.  The other, the Jaredites, came much earlier at the time the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel.

The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection.  During His mortal ministry, Jesus stated in John 10:16 “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”  We believe that the Nephites on the American continent were among those to whom He referred in this statement.

After Mormon completed his abridgement of the record, he gave the plates to his son, Moroni, who wrote a few more words and then buried the plates in the hill Cumorah.  On September 21, 1823, this same Moroni, then a glorified resurrected being, appeared to Joseph Smith giving him instructions regarding the translation of the ancient record into English.  In due time, the record was delivered to Joseph Smith who translated them by the gift and power of God.  The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the law and ordinances of the gospel may be saved.

We, therefore, cherish ‘The Book of Mormon’ as a companion to the Bible witnessing that Jesus is indeed the Christ.  It fulfills the law of witnesses found in the Bible and repeated by Jesus in Mathew 18:16 “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”  I can testify that as I have read both ‘The Book of Mormon’ and ‘The Holy Bible’ side by side, I have felt a confirming power that Jesus is the Christ, my Savior and my Redeemer.  Therefore, I can add my own witness that “the [Broadway] production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”  I am grateful for the blessing it has been to me and my family.

For More about ‘The Book of Mormon’ see this wonderful message by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:  ‘Safety for the Soul.

Reference:  ‘The Book of Mormon’ Introduction page.

Coming up:  With the 2012 Presidential Campaign having two Mormon Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, there is and will be more talk about Mormons.  But, what do Mormons really believe?  If you are interested in learning more about Mormon beliefs in a ‘non-threatening’ manner, over the next few months I will be posting a weekly discussion regarding basic Mormon beliefs.  These doctrines come from a document known as ‘The Articles of Faith’.   The ‘Articles of Faith’ help people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to understand how our Church is different from other churches. ‘The Articles of Faith’ do not contain all of the teachings and beliefs of the Church, but they do explain some of our most important beliefs.  Each week I will focus on one of the thirteen articles contained in the document with a very short discussion following each one.  I will also, at times, provide links for further information.  I welcome your comments and questions, but ask if you leave comments that you do so in a respectful manner.  Otherwise, I will not approve them for publication.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]