Truth doesn't change.
That doesn't mean that our understanding is perfect from the outset. Of course our understanding is going to change somewhat as our faith grows.
So we need a solid foundation.
One of the many teachings that are found in both The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon is the metaphor of the house built on the rock, as in Matthew 7: 24, 25 and 3 Nephi 14: 24-25.
These are from the teachings we call the Sermon on the Mount, and the comparable teachings Jesus gave in the Americas after his resurrection. Collectively, these teachings form a good touchstone.
If we find a doctrine that conflicts with these teachings, we can be fairly confident that either it is wrong, or our understanding of that doctrine is wrong. Either way, we are safer in setting it aside than we would be in trying to follow or believe it. (See also Doctrine and Covenants 50: 13-20.)
Now, the Sermon on the Mount is a little bit long, and many people unfortunately fall asleep before reading it all the way through. If we had something more concise, it would help. Fortunately, we do.
First, When Jesus was asked what the great commandment of all the law was, we know he answered
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12: 30,31, but see all of verses 28-34.)
And in the Book of Mormon, we have this:
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (See Mosiah 2: 17.)
Second, we have this, from the 4th 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.
In the New Testament, these principles tend to be scattered about. We find faith, keeping Jesus' commandments, and the Holy Spirit discussed in John 14 and other places. In Acts 26, we find Paul claiming to have preached repentance and the resurrection. Jesus, Himself, often expressed a general call to repentance. (See, for example, Matthew 4: 17.) And, concerning baptism, Jesus received baptism from John to set the example for us, as shown in Matthew 3: 13-15.
We find these four priniciples collected together in the Book of Mormon in several places. My favorite is 3 Nephi 27, starting at verse 13, which also makes explicit the principle of enduring to the end which is implied in repentance.
I have friends who wince at the word, "endure", and I myself thought it was scary until the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that we endure, one way or another. (See, for example, Doctrine and Covenants 93:29,33.) We might as well try to endure in faith.
Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation that is sure. And when you find yourself concerned about your course in life, these scriptures can help bring you back to that faith.
And when even the sermon on the mount is too hard, and love is too abstract, you can get your feet back on the rock by remembering faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the prescribed ordinance of the laying on of hands.
And then you can remember to love God and to love your fellow human beings.
(Previous -- Index -- Next)