Many years ago after his resurrection in the Old World, Jesus Christ visited the Americas and taught this simple but amazing doctrine recorded in the eleventh chapter of 3rd Nephi:
32 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.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
Easy to say. Not so easy to do.
A little further in the chapter the Savior says:
40 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; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
Simple isn’t it? Believe and be saved. Don’t believe and be damned. But I was at first puzzled by verse 40. How could this be? The Church of Jesus Christ teaches a great deal more than this simple doctrine, doesn’t it? Does that mean it “cometh of evil?” I just cannot believe that. Is not this Church the one that brought forth the Book of Mormon and these words in the first place? What would we know about the Savior’s teachings in ancient America if it were not for this Church?
Then it struck me. The gospel as taught by the Savior’s only true Church is 1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 2) Repentance, 3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and 4) receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Isn’t this just another way of saying the same thing. I think it is.
The Savior said “believe” and ye shall be saved. But what did he mean by believe? He said to be baptized. Could it be that the word “believe” means “believe enough to be baptized?” I have noticed that in the scriptures the word “believe” is sometimes used differently than we use it in 21st century English. The word “believe” carries with it the connotation of having faith. And faith by nature demands action, in this case the action to be baptized. The Savior might just as well have been saying “Have faith in me” and be saved. If a man says he has faith in Christ or that he believes in Christ and then refuses to keep the Savior’s commandments, does he really believe or is he merely giving lip service?
I don’t believe a man has faith in Christ unless he makes his best effort to keep the Savior’s commandments. And the first of those commandments is to be baptized. If a man does not have enough faith in Christ to be baptized, he doesn’t have enough faith to be saved because he doesn’t really believe in Christ. “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” the Savior said in the 14th chapter of John. If we do not do our best to keep his commandments we are proving that we do not love him, that we do not have faith in him, and that we do not believe in him.
The Savior has made his doctrine clear. We cannot deny it or we will be damned by His own words.