Article of Faith 4 of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
The Forth Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 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."
There are a number of things that we can learn from this Article of Faith. In no particular order (and this might not be a complete list):
- That the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are Faith, Repentance, Baptism and the Holy Ghost.
- That men must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
- That men must repent of their sins
- That men must be Baptized by IMMERSION and that this baptism is done for a remission of sins
- That the gift of the Holy Ghost is given by the laying on of hands.
I will discuss these items more in detail.
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We Must Have Faith
So what is faith? Is it believing or Knowing? Scripturally we have a couple of good definitions. In Hebrews 11:1 Paul writes that," Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". So based on this short definition of Faith, we can conclude that faith is believing in things we can't or don't see. In the Book of Mormon we read that, "faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."(Alma 32:21)
There is that word hope again. When we hope for something we believe it can happen or it true. Like I hope my Sacramento Kings can get back to the playoffs. It can happen, and I can believe that. We can hope that the Savior is real and that he lives, even though we do not see him.
Another point of faith is that we must realize that true faith in Jesus Christ will compel us to action. In James we read the famous verses that talk about "Faith without Works is Dead". People that have faith in Jesus Christ will have a desire to follow the commandments, and specifically repent of the sins they have committed.
We Must Repent Of Our Sins
Repentance is something I think that a lot of people misunderstand, in importance and in our ability to do this in mortality. Of course, we can't talk about repentance without discussing or mentioning the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We know that because of the Atonement we can repent of our sin and return to live with our Father in Heaven.
Now repentance is a topic that was discussed even in Old Testament times (in fact the word repent came up 33 times in the Old Testament, with the word even being mentioned in Genesis). Because man (and women) are not perfect and make mistakes we had to have a way to be cleansed, because no unclean thing can dwell with our Father in Heaven. Basically repentance is an admission of sins, asking for forgiveness, and paying back those who have been affected by the transgression(s). This can and does include ourselves, we must forgive ourselves because we know that Christ is willing to forgive us.
We Must Be Baptized by Immersion
Baptism is required for all those that believe in Christ and choose to enter his kingdom. In fact the Savior himself set the standard when he was baptised. We can read in the New Testament that John the Baptist baptised Christ. In 2 Nephi 31 we can read the following:
5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
Nephi says it much better than I can, if Christ needed to be baptized they we would we not be baptized? He was perfect and was still baptized, to show the importance of that ordinance.
Now turning back to the baptism of Christ we also see other important points. That baptism must be done by immersion. While the term immersion is not used in the bible we get a good description of it in Matt 3:16," when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water:" The only way to come out of the water is if your in it, so we can see the John did baptism Christ by immersion.
The other point I wanted to make about this baptism has to do with who he chose to perform the baptism. John had the proper authority to perform this ordinance. So we see that as we are baptised the person performing it must have the proper authority.
The Gift Of the Holy Ghost
The Gift of the Holy Ghost that is talked about is shown in the baptism of the Savior,"and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him". We also can receive this spirit after we are baptised. In the LDS church we believe that someone with authority can give you the CONSTANT companion of the Holy Ghost, as long as you are worthy to have its companionship. We believe that those that do not have this gift only have the spirit on a temporary basis, but after baptism and this ordinance one may have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Much is talked about in the scriptures as to the benefit of the Spirit. We can be lead, guided, taught and protected by the Holy Ghost. But we must be worthy of his companionship. We will not dwell with those who are not following the commandments of God (although from time to time he may give those individuals who are not in harmony with the gospel a little nudge).
Having the constant companionship is a great blessing that God has given his Children. While he is not here on this earth, he has sent the Holy Ghost to lead and guide our lives (if we let him).
About the Author
John Taylor has been a member of the LDS church his whole life. He is, in fact, an 8th generation member of the church. He is directly related with President John Taylor who was the third president of the LDS church.