The Doctrine of Christ

by Don R. Hender


    " . . . the principles of the doctrine of Christ . . . the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of the laying on of hands [for the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost], and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." ~ Hebrews 6:1-2

     Thus has Paul summarized that which entails the Doctrine of Christ, which I would also so consider to be able to be labeled the Gospel of Christ. In going on to being perfect as is God, the lists of requirements and steps would be quite endless. But as Paul states, the is the 'FOUNDATION' of the Gospel or Doctrine of Jesus Christ, Christ being the chief cornerstone according to which all is correctly aligned. All else may be added there to line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little as revealed through and by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Perhaps a summary of these foundational principles is also had in the LDS Church's 4th and 3rd articles 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."

    "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." ~ 4th & 3rd Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, PoGP, AoF, #4 & 3

I purposefully listed the fourth article first and the thrid article second to align with how Paul listed them as being the foundation of the Doctrine of Christ, the 'general salvation' which apllies to all mankind being also contained in the concept that by the power of Christ's Atonement, all men will be resurrected from the dead to live united body and soul throughout all immortality. Paul also addes to thouse primary foundational principles and ordiances that of 'eternal judgment' by which men are to be judged according to their works and rewared in degree of glory and kingdom according throughout all eternity.

Again this is the 'foundation' of the Doctrine of Christ, upon and by which all else may be so built and founded upon unto the completed structure of perfection in God. Certianly the mere foundation is not the complete and perfected structure and a foundation left unused accomplishes nothing. It must be placed into use and the foundation of the Doctrine of Jesus Christ is such as a design of continuous action by which all else may be built and added thereto. As one is active in their faith in Jesus Christ, that which they next must do, step by step, little by little, begins to be unfoled to them. Such things as priesthood and priesthood callings and position, temple endowment and cellestial marriage are not such foundational principles and ordiances but a part of the additional and perfected structure of becoming even as God is. One's understanding of the various depths of meaning and required compliance to the laws, commandments and ways of God above the ways of men may be given and revealed by the Holy Ghost when and as a person is ready to recieve them. This process of building girder by girder is facilitated and ministered by the weekly commitment to God in the sacremental ordinacne of the Lord's Supper, wherein we covenant to always remember Jesus and his atoning sacrifice, that we do and will take his name, the name of Jesus Christ upon us, and that we will keep the commandments which he has thus far given us and will continue to give us, and this to the end that his Spirit, the Spirit and functioning of the Holy Ghost will always be with us in guiding us and showing us the way that we must follow in order to achieve that eternal goal of perfection in God.

Unlike the foundation of a real building which is but the solid base upon which the structure does stand, the foundational system of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a living and functioning foundational base which is utilized in the gaining the ever developing structure unto perfection; girder by girder, rivet by rivet, little by little until our course and structure is complete unto the glories structure of perfection as God is.

The Fulness of the Gospel in the Book of Mormon

Wherefore it is not realistically feasible for any such limited text to cover a 'completeness' of all that is so required in the perfection of becoming as God Is. But when speaking of a 'fulness of the Gospel', it in truth can begin with and reside in but what is so termed as the Doctrine of Christ, the foundation upon and by which the 'temple' of perfection of God may be built. And this is what lays the foundation of a Gospel plan of action which can eventually lead one unto eternal life. And it in itself need not be all inclusive to be fully fuctional. But in reality it needs to only school one in the way or system and its cycle of steps of performance that will eventuate and lead man to the 'completeness' of God and unto the perfection of God. This functional foundational design which may lead to perfection is also frequently refered to as the 'strait [straight] and narrow way'. Lehi's dream and also Nephi's subsequent vision of the tree of life and it attainment pictured that staight and narrow path including the hand rail of aid and support of the iron rod or the word of God.

We are told as memebers of the LDS Church that the Book of Mormon contains a fulness of the Gospel of Christ. This is not that it does contain every detail unto perfection in God. It does not contain such as Temple or Celestial Marriage. It does not contain such as performance of proxy ordinances for the dead. It does not contain numberous items which are needful to become like God is. It does not even contain the secret and ordinance of the working of the resurrection. But it does contain a fulness of the Gospel Plan and system which one must walk in and operate according to in order to make one's way to perfection and eternal life. It contains the full system and plan of what Nephi like Paul also teaches to be the doctrine of Christ. Nephi's summary of that doctrine of Christ is contained in 2 Nephi chapter 31. When Jesus Christ came to visit the more righteous people of the Book of Mormon, did teach them the same as he had taught them in the lands of Jerusalem. In the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 12-14 he teaches them basically the same sermon as found in Matthews gospel chapters 5-7, the Great Sermon on the Mount. In America that sermon begins with the presentation of required baptism by water and by the spirit as no doubt much of his teaching did in the lands of Israel, for he/his disciples did baptise more than did John the Baptist as a part and function of their ministery. And in that grand sermon, Jesus expounded upon the building upon that foundation in just how the commandments of God ought to be lived and at a higher level of compliance that merely the words of the Ten Commandments but according to the higher laws which they represented in living up to and according to the very spirit of those basic commandments in becoming more like God is and unto perfect as HE IS.

When Nephi taught his perspectives and version of understanding of the basic and foundational Doctrin or Gospel of Christ and some of its logical extentions, he asked a very direct and meaning question which he answered in a manner which emphasized the need to continue in the path or way of the Gospel proecess. While some take comfort in and passive security in the mere attainment of membership by the 'churched membership of baptism' having entered in by that gate and those basic ordiances and priciples, Nephi asks:

    "And now , my beloved brethern, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done?" [And then Nephi continues:] "Behold, I say unto, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save."
    "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
    2 Nephi 31:19-20

And thus we may see that Nephi understood well the very functionality of the foundational principles and ordinances of the Doctrine and Gospel of Jesus Christ and how through the application of such one may advance and move forward pressing on, leaving the gate but the the application of the principles behind as one does travel the 'striat and narrow path' of living by the very Word of God, enduring to the end and thus gaining the reward of eternal life, which is perfection in and as is God. Speaking in reference to this concept Elder Bruce R. McConkie also stated that, 'As far as our responsibility as members of Christ's Church is concerned, if we so die being found in the way of that strait and narrow path, in the life to come we will never be removed from it but continue upon it, to eventually become even as God Is.'

The Way of the Strait and Narrow Path
(The Lord's Progression System)

The simpleness of the way in Christ unto salvation is found in those foundational and primary principles and ordiances of the Gospel. It is not hard to think and perform in term of exercising fatih in Jesus Christ, in the repenting of wrong ways into the right ways of God, and coming unto a 'newness' of life leaving the 'old man' behind and becoming the 'new man' as baptism represents though gradual and step by step the process may be, and continuing in the light of the Holy Ghost obtaining the fire of the spirit in additional light, Knowledge and understanding unto implementation and pactice. Those are four simple and cyclical processing steps continuously repeatable unto obtaining greater and higher achievements in life as one advance toward the higher ways of God. Certainly God's ways are not man's ways. They are higher than the ways of man. But just as certain man may change his ways and gradually become ever increasingly more like God. And though that process extends beyond this life and the grave, we may be assured that if we are found in the way and not apostate and inactive from it at the time of our death, we may continue in the way until as Jesus prayed unto the Father, that we too may become one in them even as Jesus and the Father as also on in that state of perfection and completeness of being.