24 April 2015
The Nature of God
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in God the Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. God the Father and Jesus Christ have perfected bodies, and the Holy Ghost has a body of spirit. These three beings make up the Godhead and are one in purpose.
A Christian Church
The Church is Christian, but it is not Catholic or Protestant. Rather, it is the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ as established by the Savior while He was on earth. Latter-day Saints believe that when Jesus Christ’s apostles died, priesthood authority was taken from the earth. This authority and the organization and doctrines of Jesus’s original Church were restored to the earth in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Latter-day Saints believe that God’s Church must be led by those who hold the priesthood. The priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name. Joseph Smith, the first prophet and president of the Church, taught, “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” (Articles of Faith 1:5).
The first principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ were outlined by the Prophet Joseph Smith in this way: “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.” For Latter-day Saints, baptism follows the biblical example of immersion. Since young children are incapable of sin, they are not baptized until the age of eight, when they begin to become accountable. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost follows the ordinance of baptism.
Divine revelation for the direction of the entire Church comes from God to the president of the Church. The presidents of the Church are considered by Latter-day Saints to be prophets, just as Moses, Abraham, Peter and other biblical leaders were prophets. Individuals can receive divine revelation for their own lives, and parents can receive revelation for their families.
Latter-day Saints accept the Bible as divinely inspired scripture, and they also accept three other books as scripture: (1) the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is the record of God’s dealings with an ancient people in the Americas; (2) the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a compilation of revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and other latter-day prophets; and (3) the Pearl of Great Price, which is a selection of revelations, translations and writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Purpose of Life
Latter-day Saints believe that each person on earth is literally a spirit child of God and that we lived with our heavenly parents before we came to earth. God’s plan for the eternal salvation of His children made it possible for us to come to earth to receive a physical body, gain experience and prove ourselves worthy to return and live with God forever. Through the Resurrection and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, everyone who has lived on earth will be resurrected, and those who repent of their sins, keep the commandments and accept the grace, love and mercy of the Savior will live eternally with God.
Family relationships are central to the gospel of Jesus Christ. "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," issued by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1995, proclaims that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.” The proclamation also teaches: “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally" (Ensign, Nov. 2010, 129). The Church builds temples around the world where faithful Church members can receive temple ordinances that bind families together for eternity.
Standards for Moral Living
The Church teaches its members to observe the Savior’s laws of strict morality. Church members are taught to be honest and obedient to the law. Men and women are taught to be completely chaste outside of marriage and faithful to one’s spouse within marriage.
The Word of Wisdom, a health code revealed by God to Joseph Smith in 1833, teaches Church members not to use tobacco, alcoholic beverages, tea or coffee and emphasizes the positive benefits of healthy eating habits and physical and spiritual fitness. The Church teaches against the misuse and abuse of all drugs — illegal or legal.
Tithing and Fast Offerings
The Church teaches the biblical principle of tithing, which means contributing one-tenth of one’s income to the Church. The tithes of the members enable the Church to finance the construction of buildings, as well as its education, welfare, missionary, humanitarian and other programs. Church members are asked to fast for two meals on one day each month and donate the money they would have spent on those meals, or more, to help the needy.
The Church accepts the Savior’s charge to go “into all the world” to share the blessings of His gospel (Mark 16:15). Consequently, the Church has many thousand full-time missionaries serving throughout the world. Most are college-age young men and women, but some are retired couples. All have accepted a call from Church leaders to serve at their own expense for 18 months or two years.
Prophets of God have taught that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints functions with a lay ministry, giving millions of members worldwide the opportunity to grow by giving faithful Christian service to others.