The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel

Lesson 7  


This lesson will help us understand and seek the blessings that come from the first principles and ordinances of the gospel: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and confirmation.


D&C 128:21 teaches that the Lord restored the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith “line upon line, precept upon precept”.  Some of the first truths to be restored were the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.


Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle.

·         The restoration began with an act of simple faith as a prayer was offered


·         Strengthening our faith in Christ is a constant challenge of Latter-Day Saints.  We strengthen our faith gradually, not in one special experience, and then we must nourish it to keep it strong. See D&C 19:23; 88:118; Alma 32:27


·         We can demonstrate our faith in Christ as indicated in D&C 20:69 and James 2:14-17. Faith in Christ affects our desire to do good works.


·         D&C 8:10; 35:9; 42:48-51; and 63:9-11 teach us what we can accomplish with faith and what cannot be done without faith.


·         The D&C stresses the importance of praying with faith.  D&C 10:46-52 indicates that the ancient prophets had “faith in their prayers“ that the Book of Mormon would be preserved.


Through sincere repentance, we can partake of the blessings of the Atonement.

·         Repentance is a major theme of the Doctrine and Covenants—it teaches the doctrine, emphasizes the need, and promises blessings for sincere repentance.

·         D&C 58:42-43 teaches that repentance is the process of being cleansed and receiving forgiveness through the Savior’s Atonement.  This involves recognizing the sin, feeling remorse (godly sorrow), refraining from sin, confessing to the offended and authorities as required, making restitution, being obedient to the commandments, and turning to God for strength to retain the remission of sins.

·         Repentance is not just breaking a bad habit.  Pres. Ezra Taft Benson explained: “Repentance means more than simply a reformation of behavior….True repentance is based on and flows from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no other way.  True repentance involves a change of heart and not just a change in behavior.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 71)

·         Elder Neal A. Maxwell: ”…repentance requires both turning away form evil and turning to God.” (Ensign, Nov 1991, 30)

·         D&C 18:11-13 and D&C 19:16-19 teach about the Savior’s love for us.  We need to understand that we cannot cleanse ourselves because justice must be paid and only the Savior’s atonement can substitute mercy for justice.

·         D&C 1:33; 19:17-18; and 29:17 identify some consequences of failing to repent of sins. Other consequences include estrangement from God and others, guilt, low self-esteem, rationalizing other sins, and being unforgiving.

·         D&C 1:32; 58:42; and 109:53 promise blessings for the truly repentant.

·         Barriers to repentance include procrastination, pride, discouragement, and complacency.

(“I’ll do it later when I’m not so busy, but even then it probably won’t help, and frankly, I don’t much care.”)

·         Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Repentance is a rescuing, not a dour doctrine.  It is available to the gross sinner as well as to the already good individual striving for an incremental imropvement (Ensign, Nov 1991, 30)




Baptism is an essential ordinance.

Faith and repentance lead to baptism, the first ordinance of the gospel. The D&C reveals the purposes, qualifications, and instructions for baptism.

·         D&C 18:22; 49:13-14.  Purposes of baptism include commitment to the Savior, remission of sins, membership in the Church, opening the door to the path of exaltation, and preparing to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

·         D&C 20:37 teaches about the qualifications required for baptism: humility, desire, broken heart and contrite spirit, witness of true repentance, willingness to take upon them the name of Christ, determination to serve God to the very end, and good works that indicate the receipt of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of sins.

·         D&C 76:51 teaches that baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as the burial of our old self and our rebirth in Christ. Additionally, it symbolizes being cleansed from sin.


Through confirmation, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

·         D&C 130:22 mentions attributes of the Holy Ghost.

·         D&C 33:15 and 35:5-6 show that Church members receive the gift of the Holy Ghost through the ordinance of confirmation.

·         D&C 20:41 calls this ordinance the “baptism of fire”.

·         The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without…the baptism of the Holy Ghost”. (TPJS, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 314)

·          Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught: “Manifestations of the Holy Ghost are given to lead sincere seekers to gospel truths… The gift of the Holy Ghost is more comprehensive…[It] includes the right to constant companionship, that we may always have his Spirit to be with [us].” (Ensign, Nov 1996, 60)

·         Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The Holy Ghost will not dwell with that person who is unwilling to obey and keep the commandments of God or who violates those commandments willfully” (Church News, 4 Nov 1961, 14)

·         Functions of the Holy Ghost include:

ü       D&C 18:18; 39:6; 42:14; 75:10    He is a teacher

ü       D&C 39:6   He is the Comforter

ü       D&C 42:17; 100:8    He is a testifier

ü       D&C 11:12  He leads us to do good, walk humbly, and judge righteously

ü       D&C 11:13; 76:10  He enlightens our minds and fills our souls with joy

ü       D&C 84:33  Through Him we are sanctified

ü       D&C 31:11; 75:27; 84:85  He inspires us where to go and what to do and say.


We must endure in faith to the very end to receive eternal life.

Our baptism alone is not enough—no single experience will transform us.  Remember that we need to strengthen our faith daily, repent of our sins, keep our baptism covenants, and live worthily to keep the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  If we endure faithfully to the end in these pursuits, we will receive exaltation.



“The shield of faith” (D&C 27:17)

D&C 27: 15, 17 was the basis of Elder Boyd K. Packer’s remarks when he said: “[The] shield of faith is not produced in a factory but at home in a cottage industry.  The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured of exaltation in the presence of Heavenly Father…. Therefore our leaders press members to understand that what is most worth doing must be done at home.  Some still do not see that too many out-of-home activities, however well intended, leave too little time to make and fit on the shield of faith at home(Ensign, May 1995, 8-9)




Lesson website: