Thursday, October 16, 2014

Aligning our definition of Doctrine with Christ's

When Christ came to the Americas, the first thing he taught the Nephites was about His doctrine (as baptism is a part of His doctrine He also instructed them in how to do this):

2 Nephi 11:32-40
And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child and be baptized in my name or ye can in nowise receive these things.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. 

Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. 

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

The Doctrine:

According to Christ, what is necessary for salvation? Believing in Him and being baptized. It doesn't say anything about believing that any specific man is a prophet. It doesn't require tithing. It doesn't require a certain dress code, or the Word of Wisdom, even. It's as simple as believing in Him, repenting, becoming as a little child, and getting baptized in His name. That is then followed by the Father visiting us with fire and the Holy Ghost.

There is so much more to this, and how we fall short of teaching it the way the Christ Himself did, so I highly recommend you read this post, since this blogger says it better than I ever could.

In any case, this is the doctrine. There are many other teachings, principles, etc, but this is what you need to know for salvation because this is what saves.

Nephi (the first Nephi of the BoM) also gives us Christ's doctrine in 2 Nephi 31. He discusses the very same doctrine that Christ did when he visited the Americas 600 years later.

Back to Baptism:

In 3 Nephi 11:23-26, Christ instructs the Nephites on how to perform baptism. This is very interesting for reasons I will point out after:

Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them--Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.

And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:

Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.

I want to point out that within the highlighted part of the wording of this ordinance, given by Jesus Christ, preserved for our time is something which we do not say in our church baptisms.

We do not say, "Having authority given me of Jesus Christ."

This is what we say (from D&C 20:73):

The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Why is it different?

In the wording of the original revelation it is word for word like the version given to the Nephites. You can see this for yourself here in the 24th chapter of the original 1831 Book of Commandments in Verse 53.

By the time that the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants was published the 22nd verse of the 2nd chapter reads like our current D&C.

I can't account for the difference, though I am very curious. Why would it change?

In 1832, The church was put under condemnation because they were treating lightly the "new covenant, even the Book of Mormon..." (D&C 84:54-57). Would that have merited a change in the church's baptismal wording from that given by Christ in the Book of Mormon?

Does it make sense that since we weren't remembering the new covenant given in the Book of Mormon, that it was no longer given us to use?

In 1833, this was also given in revelation, "...there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are chosen." (D&C 95:5)

Could this have been the reason?

Or was the change in wording just a clerical issue?

Having Authority:

It should be noted here, that all Jesus did to grant to the Nephite disciples this authority was to say it to them. Interestingly enough in Mosiah 18:12, though Alma had been ordained under the wicked reign of King Noah, before he performed any baptisms, he "cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart. And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God..."

AFTER he had cried unto the Lord, he was able to baptize with authority from God.

It makes sense to me that if you want authority from God, you go to Him to receive it. And only He can grant it.

Similarly in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:25-40 (specifically versus 27-29) it says this in reference to Melchizedek:

And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,

It being after the order of the Son of god; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;

And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.

I realize this scripture is dealing with the high priesthood, where we began with the authority to baptize, but we see again, that something vital is conveyed by God to the man ministering in His name.

I have heard this very scripture skewed to mean that "His own voice" is the same as ordination as we practice it. That this is the same as having it conveyed on you by the hand and voice of a man. And that as long as you live righteously, that's enough and that God will honor that. It's a nice idea that fits in with our keys and authority paradigm and goes along with the 2 Nephi 28:5 scripture where it was foretold that latter-day people would erroneously say, "...the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men." It also goes directly against the scripture above that says this comes "not by man, nor the will of man."

By whom is the authority of God given?

By whom is the power of God given? The power to "break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to run them out of their course; to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will...?"

From Him.

Do you desire to baptize with His authority? Then go to Him, and cry out to Him as Alma did in purity of heart.

If I were an ordained dude, and asking this for myself, I would ask Him for His authority to baptize. If I don't feel with the certainty of the Spirit that this was being granted to me by Him, I would then ask what He would have me do to receive that.

In any case, receive the authority to do this by Him who absolutely, without dispute, has the power to grant it.

Then you will know this for yourself.

If you are directed by God, no one can tell you that you don't have the authority to do this.

...Well they can tell you. But they'll be wrong. So let them. Their rules have no bearing on God and His will, though they like to think God abides by their rules. Put your trust in Him.


Christ has given us a warning about what we are permitted to call His doctrine. It would be wise to heed that. That Christ taught more than this, it is true, and it is of great value to us, but this doctrine is where salvation lies.

Personal Note:

I have had the opportunity, as have many others in recent times, and in recent days to be baptized in living water, in the manner of the Book of Mormon, by someone having authority from God. It was a precious experience to me, and a decision that has been misunderstood and challenged.

To clarify, I did it as a witness to God of my willingness to serve Him and take His name upon me. It is in keeping with the teaching of the Book of Mormon, and I stand by it, whatever may come.

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