A young man from my ward left on his mission a few months ago. Before he left, he was assigned to speak in sacrament meeting in various wards throughout our stake. When he spoke in our ward, his assigned topic was the 4th Article of Faith. "A very simple topic", I thought. As he began to speak, I realized how much this young man will need to lean on the truth of these principles and ordinances he's speaking of in the next few years of his life. He helped me reflect on the importance of revisiting the 4th Article of Faith, even many years after my baptism. After all, we do learn the Articles of Faith in Primary, and we're expected to know that specific Article of Faith by the age of eight in preparation for baptism. We've heard it over and over again. But I've come to realize that there are many levels to understanding the 4th Article of Faith. It reads:
"We 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; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."
This is what we teach in our Church. These steps are listed in sequence, as each one builds upon the other. The most elemental, basic principle of the gospel is developing faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. As I was skimming through my November 2009 issue of the Ensign Magazine (the General Conference Issue), I looked to see whether I could find at least one of these four (Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism/Covenants, or the Holy Ghost) in each talk. What do you think I found?
In Mosiah 18, Alma has taken a group of "believers" to the Land of Mormon. They have physically and spiritually separated themselves from sin and the evil influences in the Land of Lehi-Nephi. Now they can enter into a covenant with the Lord and be cleansed from their sin as they are baptized in the Waters of Mormon. Alma taught them the words of Abinadi, "...and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord." (Mosiah 18:7) It's very simple and basic, and necessary. Once we've developed faith in Christ, repented of our sins, and demonstrated our faith by being baptized, we can then be given the gift of the Holy Ghost—referred to in the scriptures as the Comforter—to guide us as we strive to live a Christlike life. We're covenanting to be like Him as we are "...willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places." (Mosiah 18:8-9)
The first principles and ordinances of the gospel take on deeper meanings each week as we partake of the sacrament, and even deeper as we enter into temple covenants. We understand more as we're ready to receive more, for the Lord teaches us "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little" (2 Ne. 28:30)
And "thank you" to a young missionary who inspired me with a simple sacrament talk.