– The Doctrine of Christ: there is only one way

There are many deceptions swirling around us in the world today, but only one powerful life saving truth. Unfortunately, some of the deceptions are slight twists of the truth that seem harmless enough. There are others that are a toxic brew of worldly philosophies mixed with scripture. Some counterfeits present themselves as being the enlightened way to follow, and try and convince people that times have changed and that we know better today and “don’t need those outdated Bible stories”. There are even counterfeit Christianity’s that deny Christ.

“For the time will come when people will not tolerate healthy doctrine, but with itching ears will surround themselves with teachers who cater to their people’s own desires. They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3,4 ISV

The ultimate in deception that is being taught today is that there is a higher power in the universe and we each pick our own path to channel that. They offer the false notion that all paths in life lead to salvation.

The scriptures however, teach that the way is straight and narrow. There is one and only one way to travel on this journey and that way is through faith in Jesus Christ by accepting him as Lord and Savior.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John 14:6

This is the Doctrine that Christ taught, that there is one single way to come back to live with God, the Father of our spirits. Christ is “the way” in a literal sense because of his life death and resurrection.

Don’t give up on this journey my friends. It must become perilous right now toward the end in these last days. But if anything is true, it is that God loves us and sent his son to die for us to bring us salvation. Here is one such testimony from someone that was there.

“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:16-19 NIV

If you are feeling discouraged, take out this one offensive weapon – the scriptures. Paul the apostle uses an interesting analogy in the sixth chapter of Ephesians. It is there that Paul instructs us to put on the figurative Armor of God. Most of the implements Paul instructs us to put on are protective and defensive in nature. One of them however is an offensive weapon. The one offensive weapon is the sword which he describes as the “word of God”, because it is truly “quick and powerful”.

“For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

We read in Genesis at the start of the Old Testament that God spoke and the world was created. The power of His being is ultimate and His spoken word is enough to cause the elements to come together or to be scattered.

This power even extends to the words of God as contained in our scriptures. As we read them, their inspired words can be utilized to bring hope and power into our lives.

– Have you experienced the Gift of the Holy Ghost?

The New Testament Greek word that was eventually translated into “Holy Ghost” in the English language has as its meaning “Breath” or “Wind”. This conveys the idea of the fluid nature of the third member of the Godhead. Just as it is hard to detect where the wind is coming from, so it is with the Holy Ghost.

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8

The Holy Ghost is truly a “gift” from God to guide us in all ways. The Holy Ghost also enables a person to be a “new creature” in Christ (see 2 Cor 5:17) to bring about a mighty change in their countenance.

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38

Paul laid his hands on people, and they received the Holy Ghost. This laying on of hands is significant and the ordinance cannot be performed in any other way. The physical ordinance is required in strict adherence as the scriptures instruct. Done under the right authority, this becomes an outward sign that the heavens will honor.

“And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” – Acts 19:6
Holy Ghost reveals things:

The Holy Ghost reveals things to us as a teacher. One of the most important things that a Christian can do is to seek out this power. It is essential to be lead in our lives in everything we do to keep us on the straight and narrow path. We can know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” – John 14:26

The most important truth that the Holy Ghost can teach and testify of is that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God.

“no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor 12:3).

Are you experiencing this guidance and comfort in your life? Why be alone any more? Accept Christ and be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost.

– A is for Adam, B is for Baptism, C is for Covenant

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:15, 16

This verse contains the last charge that Christ gave to his apostles as he told them to go forth and preach. He gave them as part of that charge what they were to accomplish by their preaching. The warning given is harsh and states that people (all the posterity of Adam) who hear the gospel message and reject it will be damned. Damnation in this context means that they cannot live with God eternally. Those that do believe are asked to show their belief by submitting to the ordinance of baptism and are those that will be saved.

Baptism is for Identification:

The New Testament writings of Paul talk about being baptized into one “body” (see 1 Corinthians 12:13). That has reference to the “body of believers”, or the “body of Christ”. Baptism is for the purpose of identification with Christ through which we become a part of the church. It is your invisible badge that you wear.

This event of baptism is really just the beginning of a journey. It is the making of a covenant (promise) to God that for your part you will take the name of Christ upon you, which means you will be an example to the world of someone living the true Christian life by traveling on the strait and narrow path. We are thus separated out from society and made “one in Christ” in this special group.

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:27

Repentance and the Holy Ghost:

Baptism is meant to be symbolic. One of its symbolisms is that of being washed clean. It is not however the physical act of the water baptism that is cleansing the person. It is the power of the Holy Ghost that sanctifies us and cleanses us.

We are sanctified by the Holy Ghost through the power of God. Redemption comes through the atoning blood of Christ that allows this cleansing to take place. The sanctification by the Holy Ghost is what makes us pure and spotless before God.

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38

You can’t fool God

Many Christians are well aware of and have experienced a water baptism. This physical baptism in water does not accomplish the actual sanctification of a person. This is only half of the process. In order for the process to be complete, one must experience a baptism of the Spirit. This is also referred to as baptism by fire.

The day of Pentecost in the ancient church was an extreme case of the baptism by fire happening where the Holy Ghost descended and actual fire and a rushing noise was experienced. Through the baptism of fire, sin is burned out of the repentant sinner. This is related to the person being born again and becoming a new person in Christ.

The insincere cannot fool God. They may have the water baptism, but will not receive the baptism of the spirit. The baptism by fire is the experience resulting from receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:5

I invite you to read about baptism and to seek out one in authority to administer this ordinance. Don’t stop there, because the physical act is the outward sign. The true effect of it will be a baptism of the spirit.

– What are you aiming for?

In both Greek and Hebrew, the word “sin” literally means to “miss the mark”. Imagine an arrow being shot from a bow and being off aim of its target. A person breaking God’s commandments is not on the narrow path aiming for Eternal Life.

Let’s now look at the word “repentance”. The Greek literally means to “change one’s mind” or to “turn around”. In reference to the sinner, it would involve the correcting of their aim back towards the straight and narrow path leading to Eternal Life with God.

“For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd…” – 1 Peter 2:25

This verse above refers back to the more ancient verse in Isaiah 53:6 which reads – “All we like sheep have gone astray”. The analogy is that Christ is the shepherd and mankind are the wayward sheep. He never gives up on us and is continually calling after us. In our act of repenting we turn to Christ and return to the fold. The prodigal son was always a sheep even when he was in the pig pen. He heard the voice of God and came back home. To repent, a person must turn from something, to something. This involves both the mind and the heart of an individual.

The story of the children of Israel being afflicted by the bite of the poisonous snakes teaches us a great lesson on faith. All that the people had to do in order to be healed from the venomous bite was to look up to the image lifted on the pole and they would be saved. It takes the overcoming of our worldly pride and fleshly tendencies to take that step and look to Christ. God certainly knows our hearts and can discern those that are making the honest attempt and are exercising faith in Christ.

Why repentance is needed

Nothing unclean can dwell with God. Without the atonement, we would all be subject to death and hell. The fundamental gospel teaching is that Christ died for our sins to make it possible for us to be forgiven through faith in him. Forgiveness comes through the blood of Christ which will cleanse us from our sins. We are raised from our corruption to incorruption. Through the blood of Christ we can become white, meaning pure before God. The blood of Christ keeps on cleansing us – “I have been saved, I am being saved and I will be saved.”

“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” – Rev 7:14

The work of sanctifying of a person is accomplished through the Holy Spirit which is the power emanating from God the Father to accomplish His work and apply the Atonement in our lives. Once you have left the pig pen, don’t go back.

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” – Heb 10:26

What are you waiting for? Have you heard His voice calling you home?

– Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone

Faith is a principle of action. We say we have faith in Christ and are saved, but that is just the beginning of the path that Christ has asked us to follow.

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

The scriptures here and elsewhere show that the Law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ and done away with. The law was never intended to be followed to bring salvation, only to point people to Christ and to focus their faith on Him in order to be saved. It was specifically put in place to be a method of schooling the people. In fact, the law was really impossible to keep and only showed how short we had come. It was as a mirror to show our imperfections.

Of course we can ask – what about works in general, outside of the Law of Moses, such as acts of service? What would we consider things like visiting the sick and lonely, or giving time and means to the poor? Of course these “works” are not the same as the “works” in the Law of Moses mentioned in these verses. The Law of Moses required specific rituals and requirements to teach the people. We can simply say that the good works that a person performs brings rewards. Ultimately, as we find in Titus 3:5 we are justified by the grace of Christ:

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” – Titus 3:5

Ok, so don’t be confused. I keep saying and quoting scripture that clearly states that all we need is faith alone to be saved by the mercy of God. So it is truly Jesus Christ alone that saves us as we have faith in him. Yet faith will never be alone in our lives. It must always be accompanied by something else. We will see fruits of righteousness appear in our life. Paul taught that faith must also be accompanied by charity, which is a pure love as Christ has for each of us.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal…And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.” – 1 Cor 13:1, 13

Charity is mentioned as the most important of all! Without it, our faith would be in vain and is just a little “tinkling cymbal” or a “sounding brass”. “Sounding brass” was an ancient means of using hollow resonating wood or metal chambers to help amplify the sounds in outdoor theaters. Our faith is hollow if we are not also filled with charity.

It seems tricky to interpret the true meaning behind this doctrine in the New Testament, but don’t get hung up on it. It really is simple. We must perform good works as a manifestation of our faith, but that is not what saves us in Christ. Charity is a natural outcome of being a Christian where we should want to reach out and help people. Christ often went out of His way to minister to someone.

“shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” – James 2:18

– An interesting by-product of the Civil war‏

The Mormon prophet Joseph Smith ran for President in 1844. He did so with the goal of bringing more power to the federal government and to unite the nation in its liberties. In those days, mobs had been free to persecute the Mormons. It was up to the individual states to make their own freedom guarantees, and so far none had come to the aid of the Mormons. The federal government had not even been able to mandate Rights for all people in all states. The Bill of Rights that was ratified in 1791, did not actually apply everywhere. Even the first amendment, that guaranteed religious freedom, and the second amendment, that gave people the right to bear arms, was not being respected. Joseph had experienced first hand the lawlessness that existed in the United States. He had sought redress for the suffering Saints, and was told that the federal government had no power to intervene.

Tragically, the prophet Joseph Smith was assassinated in 1844 before he could carry out his full campaign for president. His political platform outlined how he would empower the US president to send an army to suppress mobs violating the rights of US citizens. He also stated that he would eliminate slavery and “pay every man a reasonable price for his slaves out of the surplus revenue arising from the sale of public lands, and from the deduction of pay from members of Congress.” Before running for president, he had spent several months in Washington D.C. meeting with the President Van Buren, senitors and congressmen and also writing all the main men running in the upcoming presidential election. He received no commitments or interest from anyone on his views. Joseph stated the following.

“[I would not have run for president] if I and my friends could have had the privilege of enjoying our religious and civil rights as American citizens, even those rights which the Constitution guarantees unto all her citizens alike. But this as a people we have been denied from the beginning. Persecution has rolled upon our heads from time to time, from portions of the United States, like peals of thunder, because of our religion; and no portion of the Government as yet has stepped forward for our relief. And in view of these things, I feel it to be my right and privilege to obtain what influence and power I can, lawfully, in the United States, for the protection of injured innocence.” – Joseph Smith

With the prophet Joseph dead, and no one else on the horizon to pursue changing the nation as a whole, there was no other course for the country other than to face a terrible civil war. What then was the result of that war? Was it simply to end slavery? That was big part of it. But in addition, it created a stronger federal government that could now guarantee the rights of its citizens. No longer would it be possible for states to completely disregard the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Temples could then dot the land, and people were free to worship. Joseph tried to lead the nation on an easier path, but that was not to be, and the country had to go through some trying times in order to repent and become one again.

– Some interesting facts about President Lincoln, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon‏

I recently read a fascinating book that presented some interesting information connecting Abraham Lincoln and the Book of Mormon. The book is entitled “The Lincoln Hypothesis” by Timothy Ballard. I will not give you all of the details, as you might wish to do further reading from the book on your own. Here is the main point of the book – President Lincoln was influenced by the Book of Mormon and was strengthened from what he read during the darkest days of his life while he was president during the civil war.

Lincoln was president from March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865, the date he was assassinated. Lincoln had won his parties nomination in an unlikely contest that was from the start a rather lopsided contest against him. The election victory thus went to Lincoln, an obscure backwoodsman. Abraham Lincoln was prepared and lead by God in a miraculous way to accomplish a great work in America. God had placed Abraham Lincoln as president and now God would further qualify him for his great work.

The Confederates attacked Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and the North enthusiastically rallied behind the Union and president Lincoln. Lincoln then concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war. His primary goal was to reunite the nation. All of this stress of the civil war weighed heavily on president Lincoln. Then, a personal tragedy struck the Lincoln home. His eleven year old son Willie  contracted typhoid fever and suddenly died on Feb 20, 1862. President Lincoln spoke of him, saying “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die.” Mary Lincoln was too devastated to function anymore.

With the stress and tragedies of life, Lincoln suffered bouts of depression. He often could not sleep and paced the hallways. To help out, a new nurse was hired to care for their remaining son . This woman was Rebecca Pomroy and was a deeply believing Christian. She often conversed with Lincoln and guided him to seek a more spiritual life. Lincoln at this time started spending a lot of time reading pocket copy of the New Testament he had in his possession. President Lincoln also happened to have a copy of the Book of Mormon during this time. He started to spend much time in prayer.

In November of 1861 Lincoln personally walked into the Library of Congress and signed the ledger to check out a copy of the Book of Mormon. The ledger still exists with Lincolns signature in it. He then kept the book in his possession for more than eight months and finally returned it in July 1862. But why had he checked it out? Did he read the whole book, and what influence did it have on him?

It is possible that even the exact Book he checked out is still in the rare books collection also. The author of the book I read actually went there and asked to see the book that was possibly checked out by Lincoln. It had several pages that had obviously been dog eared. One page had actually been folded three times to specifically mark it. That page is in Second Nephi where Isaiah chapter 5 is quoted. Interestingly enough, in 1865 when President Lincoln was sworn in for his second term, he asked to have a large Bible brought out for him to lay his hand on for the swearing in and had it opened to Isaiah chapter 5. People present later recorded that after the ceremony, he picked up the book and kissed verse 25. Here is that verse:

“Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” – Isaiah 5:25

A few weeks after returning the Book of Mormon, Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet on the date of July 22, 1862. He had fully come to realize that all who inhabit the American land should be free and that the country needed to repent of its sins.

In the end, Lincoln was assassinated, but in the process, the nation became unified and adopted the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments that ensured that the Bill of Rights pertained to all citizens and to abolished slavery.