"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."
PRINCIPLE: COMING TO CHRIST REQUIRES THAT WE EXERCISE FAITH IN HIM AND SOW OUR COMMITMENT BY ENTERING INTO COVENANTS WITH HIM
APPLICATION: THINK OF YOUR OWN FAITH. WHAT WILL YOU DO TODAY TO SHOW YOU ARE GROWING IN YOUR FAITH AND OBEDIENCE TO YOUR COVENANTS?
The Apostle Paul defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for [and] the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Alma declared that faith is not a perfect knowledge; rather, if we have faith, we “hope for things which are not seen [but] are true” (Alma 32:21). Additionally, we learn in the Lectures on Faith that faith is “the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness” and that it is also “the principle of action in all intelligent beings.”
These teachings highlight three basic elements of faith: (1) faith as the assurance of things hoped for that are true, (2) faith as the evidence of things not seen, and (3) faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings. I describe these three components of faith in the Savior as simultaneously facing the future, looking to the past, and initiating action in the present. (Elder David A. Bednar, “Seek Learning by Faith”, September 2007)
Faith as the assurance of things hoped for looks to the future. This assurance is founded upon a correct understanding about, and trust in, God and enables us to “press forward” (2 Nephi 31:20) into uncertain and often challenging situations in the service of the Savior.
Faith as the evidence of things not seen looks to the past and confirms our trust in God and our confidence in the truthfulness of things not seen. We stepped into the darkness with assurance and hope, and we received evidence and confirmation as the light in fact moved and provided the illumination we needed. The witness we obtained after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6) is evidence that enlarges and strengthens our assurance.
As we again turn and face forward toward an uncertain future, assurance leads to action and produces evidence, which further increases assurance. Our confidence waxes stronger, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.
Repentance is one of the first principles of the gospel and is essential to our temporal and eternal happiness. It is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. It is motivated by love for God and the sincere desire to obey His commandments.
We Need Repentance
The Lord has declared that “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 11:37). Our sins make us unclean—unworthy to return and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father. They also bring anguish to our soul in this life.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our Father in Heaven has provided the only way for us to be forgiven of our sins (see Forgiveness). Jesus Christ suffered the penalty for our sins so we can be forgiven if we sincerely repent. As we repent and rely on His saving grace, we will be cleansed from sin.
The Baptismal Covenant
Those who are baptized enter into a covenant with God to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37). Church members renew this covenant each time they partake of the sacrament (see D&C 20:77, 79).
Those who keep the covenants they made at baptism are blessed by the Lord for their faithfulness. Some of the blessings include the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, the remission of sins, and the privilege of being spiritually reborn. If they continue faithfully, they are promised eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31:19–20).
“At baptism we make a covenant with our Heavenly Father that we are willing to come into His kingdom and keep His commandments from that time forward, even though we still live in the world. We are reminded from the Book of Mormon that our baptism is a covenant to “stand as witnesses of God [and His kingdom] at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life” (Mosiah 18:9; emphasis added).
When we understand our baptismal covenant and the gift of the Holy Ghost, it will change our lives and will establish our total allegiance to the kingdom of God. When temptations come our way, if we will listen, the Holy Ghost will remind us that we have promised to remember our Savior and obey the commandments of God.” (Robert D. Hales, “The Covenant of Baptism”, November 2000).
GIFT OF HOLY GHOST
All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel. However, the fulness of the blessings given through the Holy Ghost are available only to those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and remain worthy.
The gift of the Holy Ghost is different from the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before baptism, a person can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time and through that influence can receive a testimony of the truth. After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a person has the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead if he or she keeps the commandments.