Ten Core Truths of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ

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Ten Core Truths About God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Meaning of Life, Holy Temples, Families, & Salvation

Joseph Smith Mormon Prophet
Joseph Smith, Mormon Prophet

In 1842, George Barstow was writing a history of New Hampshire and wanted to include a chapter about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living there. At that time the Church was headquartered in Nauvoo, Illinois. Barstow asked John Wentworth, a Chicago newspaper editor, to contact Joseph Smith, Prophet and President of the Church and ask him about the beliefs of the Church. Joseph responded with what has become known as the “Wentworth Letter.” Written to people not of the LDS faith, the last part of the letter contained 13 succinct basic beliefs of the Church—the Articles of Faith.

1. God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate personages

The first of these Articles of Faith states, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” In other words, members of The Church of Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate personages. The Father and the Son have glorified, physical bodies of flesh and bone, while the Holy Ghost has a spirit body.

2. Men and women are responsible for their own sins and transgressions

The second Article of Faith, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression,” introduces the concept of Agency—freedom of choice. Mormons believe that the Old Testament is literal in that Adam and Eve were put in the Garden of Eden without foreknowledge of their life before mortality. They chose to succumb to Satan’s temptations. As a result, “The Lord God sent [them] forth from the garden of Eden. . . . So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23–24). Thus forbidden to return to the Garden, mortality came upon Adam and Eve and all their descendants.

However, all of God’s children have the ability to choose for themselves which course they will take in mortality. They are born without the stigma of Adam’s transgression. As the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi taught,

“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27).

3. The Plan of Salvation

The third Article of Faith explains what Lehi meant with “through the great Mediator.” It reads, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” This is what Mormons call the Plan of Salvation, or the Plan of Happiness. It provides a way for death to be overcome and sins to be forgiven without suffering eternal consequences. In the pre-mortal life, Christ accepted the mission to fulfill the requirements of this plan. As the Son of God, He would come to earth and be born of Mary, minister to His fellow men and women, and in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary, take upon Himself all the sins of the world that had been or would ever be committed. Thus Christ atones for all our sins. Our part is to repent of those sins and promise not to commit them again.

By this atoning act, Christ is the Mediator who saves all God’s children from having to suffer the eternal consequences of those sins and transgressions. Another Book of Mormon prophet, Alma, explained this,

“For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made” (Alma 39:4).

Ultimately, if we repent, the Atonement gives all mankind the opportunity to become clean and return to live with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as resurrected beings.

Jesus Christ second coming

The tenth Article of Faith deals with the Second Coming of Christ, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.” The promises given to Israel in the Old Testament will be fulfilled.

4. Principles to live by

Repentance is a crucial part of the fourth Article of Faith, “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.”

Mormons believe that faith in Christ and His Atonement are essential as a first step to gaining eternal life. And if a person has faith in Him, they will want to repent of their sins. Membership in The Church of Latter-day Saints is effected by baptism by immersion performed by an authorized Priesthood holder. Baptism is a physical sign of cleansing of sin. A person emerges from the baptismal font as if reborn,

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 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 3:3–5).

And following that baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred upon the new member by the laying on of hands again by authorized Priesthood holders.

When Christ taught His disciples about His coming death and resurrection, He promised them “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). Mormons believe that the Holy Ghost is a guide to direct their path through the thorny paths of mortality.

5. Families are Forever

The fifth Article of Faith deals with the authority given by God to His Priesthood holders to perform the necessary ordinances for salvation:

“We 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.”

Among these ordinances are baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost mentioned above. But the crowning ordinances of The Church of Jesus Christ are found in the temples of the Church. In temples, Mormons perform sacred ordinances that are rooted in antiquity (see Exodus 29:4–7), first for themselves and then on behalf of those who have died without having the opportunity to receive these saving blessings themselves.

In temples of the Church, Latter-day Saints are married, not just “until death do [they] part,” but for time and for all eternity. The concept that families can be forever is a sacred one that gives Mormons joy and hope, tools to endure the trials that earth life brings. Life is not an ephemeral existence that starts with birth and ends with death; it is eternal stretching before we were born to after we die.

6. Revelation and the organization of the Church

The ninth Article of Faith affirms that revelation is ongoing and a vital blessing in the daily lives of Latter-day Saints: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” The ability to receive direct revelation to help with important choices is a pivotal part of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through the gift of the Holy Ghost, Mormons are entitled to receive revelation for themselves and for those over whom they have stewardship: their families, members over whom they have leadership roles, members of their ward whom they are assigned to have watchcare over. The Prophet of the Church alone receives revelation for the whole Church.

7. Miracles have not ceased

The seventh Article of Faith deals with phenomena that can only occur through divine means: “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.” The same gifts that existed in the Church that Christ established are manifest in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see 1 Corinthians 12). Received quietly, through the Priesthood, when needed, these gifts bless the lives of Mormon families.

8. The Bible and the Book of Mormon

“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God,” so reads Article of Faith #8. The Book of Mormon has as its subtitle, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” Latter-day Saints treasure all scripture. Each Sunday in congregations throughout the world, the same curriculum is studied. Over a four-year cycle, the Church studies the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history, and the Book of Mormon. The Pearl of Great Price, the fifth scripture in the canon of the Latter-day Saints, since it has writings that deal with the Old and New Testaments and Church history, is covered during the relevant courses of study. Mormons revere the Bible. However, knowing the Book of Mormon was received by direct revelation from God, gives confidence in the truths contained therein.

9. Freedom of Worship

The eleventh Article of Faith has to do with how Mormons worship God, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” The freedom to worship is basic to any free country.

10. How Mormons conduct themselves

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (see Philippians 4:8).

The last two Articles of Faith have to do with respect: respect for the government and laws of the nations in which Latter-day Saints live; respect for the basic values of life; respect for their fellow beings; respect for nature. All this with the common aim of so living in mortality, being forgiven of sins and transgressions through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, eventually to gain eternal life: living with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the eternities.

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