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The fourth Article of Faith states that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes casually called Mormons) "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."
Mormons believe that faith in Jesus Christ is a fundamental requisite to salvation. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 121).
Lectures on Faith teach that faith is a principle of action and of power, in both the temporal and the spiritual realm. Ultimately, faith is "the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things" (Lecture 1). For Mormons, the historical basis of faith comes from scripture, which is a record of God's dealings with man throughout the ages.
The Lectures on Faith explain:
- Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation:
- First, the idea that he actually exists.
- Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.
- Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Lecture 3)
The character and attributes and perfections of Christ are Knowledge, Faith (or Power), Justice, Judgment, Mercy, and Truth. By the operation of the Holy Ghost, the miracle of the Atonement, and personal sacrifice, we can develop the same character and attributes of God.
Faith in Jesus Christ means accepting Him as the Son of God and the Messiah. This includes two parts: 1) the belief that all who live on Earth are granted salvation from death (physical resurrection) through the Atonement and 2) that salvation from sin (or spiritual death) is obtained through sincere repentance, resulting in forgiveness for sin through His grace, and by following the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ. Mormons are encouraged to develop their faith through study, prayer, service, and obedience to God's commandments. Faith is a form of spiritual work and character-shaping, in conjunction with the miracle of Christ's Atonement.
Mormons often refer to their personal faith as their "testimony" and refer to telling others about their faith as "bearing testimony."