Sunday, January 30, 2011

Basic Principles

As it's Sunday, I felt it appropriate to go a little (actually, a lot) religious today. I have a lot of thoughts going around my head for blogging, including one actually in draft form, but I come back to this idea of the most important message I could convey.  I have this opportunity rather frequently as I teach young Aaronic Priesthood men on Sundays (14-15-year-olds in Teachers Quorum).  I also used the theme when I was Bishop. And I used all the way back through my life including when I spoke in church on my LDS Mission to Brazil.  This isn't something I came up with on my own, but had an amazing spiritual instructor when I was a young man of eighteen.  It has formed the basis of my religious life.

My freshman Book of Mormon teacher at BYU was a guy named Jeff Holland.  I only had him for the first semester or first half of the Book of Mormon.  But when we got to Second Nephi, Chapter 2, he launched into a presentation of the basic principles of the Gospel.  Jumping from Second Nephi to Third Nephi which would have normally been in the second semester, he went through Chapter 27 starting at verse 13, where the Lord Jesus Christ himself explains his Gospel to the Nephites, and listed seven basic principles:

  1. Atonement
  2. Judgment
  3. Faith
  4. Repentance
  5. Baptism
  6. Holy Ghost
  7. Endure to the End.
Or, in more of a narrative form, because Christ did the Father's will and took upon himself the sins of all mankind and was lifted up on the Cross, He has the power and authority to draw all men and women unto him to stand before him in the Resurrection and be Judged.  Those who exercise Faith in Him, Repent of their sins through His Atonement, are Baptized by His proper authority, receive the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End will be saved.

It's as simple as that.  All other principles and ordinances of the Gospel and even practices and policies of the Lord's Church rise out of these basic principles. If you are seeking to live them, everything else falls into place.  You will keep the commandments to show your faith and repentance.  You will continue to go forward in the gospel preparing to enter God's presence through Temple ordinances and seek also to perform those ordinances on behalf of our kindred dead who did not have the chance for them or even baptism in this life (the purpose of Temples).  But these principles are the most important and are worthy of a lifetime of effort.

Since that Book of Mormon class, I have been marking scriptural passages with those seven numbers when I see that pattern appearing.  They don't always appear in the same order and sometimes, maybe one or two are left out because of the context or presentation, but they keep coming back over and over again.  It is most frequently in clear order in the Book of Mormon in numerous places (I won't list the ones I have at this time, but maybe at a later date to give you a chance to find some).  It is also in the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price (well, the Articles of Faith are an obvious place, even if the numbering is different - try 1-4 and 13).  And it is in the New Testament once you know the pattern to look for.  And even in the Old Testament if you can get through the symbolism (try Numbers 19 through 21) or try Moses 6 for a purer version from the Prophet Joseph Smith.

That's it.  It's been about 35 years since Bro. Holland's class.  And I have a lot more to learn just about these basic principles!


  1. I had some similar thoughts here.

    Thanks for your post.

  2. Thanks, Rich. Yes. I believe if we all did better with basic principles, the rest wouldn't be a problem at all.


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