In our Bible Dictionary, the word “church” is from the Greek word Ecclesia meaning “an assembly called together.” But we know that Jesus had more in mind than just assembling people together for meetings. We see His intentions to form a community of believers and doers. He often referred to this community as a kingdom, or “the kingdom of God.”
The Lord, Jesus, proclaimed possession of the Church by declaring it as His own…“my Church” were His words. And He has stated His desire to build up this Church, this community of Saints, this kingdom of God on earth, unto the most holy faith, and that each member might reach the measure of the stature of His fulness—in other words, to become like Christ. He wants to perfect each and every one of us so that we might eventually obtain membership in the kingdom of heaven.
WHY A CHURCH…WHY THIS CHURCH?
How does this Church accomplish this?
1) It provides many true doctrines that we might understand things as they really are, as they were in the past, and as they are to come.
2) It provides saving ordinances (including our receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost) that put us in partnership with God.
3) It provides fellowship with like-minded believers among whom we can both give and receive encouragement in our daily walk as well as confirmations of faith.
4) It offers growth through service in the kingdom.
These are the features, and benefits, and privileges of membership in this Church. These are things the Church offers us. However, the Church is limited as to how much it can do for us.
SALVATION IS IN A PERSON
For instance: the Church cannot give salvation. The temples cannot give salvation. The scriptures cannot give salvation. Salvation is not in a church. It is not in a building or in a book. Salvation is in a Person. And that Person is Jesus Christ.
Abinadi asked the priests of Noah: “Doth salvation come by the law of Moses? What say ye? And they answered and said that salvation did come by the Law of Moses. But now Abinadi said unto them: I know if ye keep the commandments of God ye shall be saved….
“…but I say unto you,….salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people,….they must unavoidably perish….[for] there could not any man be saved except it were through the redemption of God” (Mosiah 12: 31-33; 13: 27-28, 32, emphasis added).
Abinadi knew that keeping the commandments of God would lead the people of his day to salvation, but he also knew that only Christ could give that salvation. Therefore he felt it necessary to preach of the atonement of the Redeemer. As well, we know that keeping the commandments of the Lord in our day will lead us to salvation, but only through the atonement of Christ—only Christ can offer that salvation. So I ask you, are we speaking enough of the Savior? Are we giving Jesus equal time?
During our testimony meetings, we most often hear the words: “I know the Church is true.” Many say: “I know President Monson is a true prophet.” Certainly, a testimony of these things is important. However, other things go unsaid, and are often not even mentioned during the course of an entire meeting. What things? The glad tidings of great joy! Testimonies about our rescue from death and the effects of sin wrought by Jesus Christ. Where are our passionate testimonies of Him? Where is the abundance of our heartfelt expressions of gratitude for Him?
THE BOOK OF MORMON
We have often heard that the Book of Mormon was written for our day, and that it serves as a model for us in many ways. It prepares us against the specific temptations of our day; it teaches us about strategies and warfare against sin; it encourages trusting in God in the midst of great difficulties and persecutions. It also serves as a great model of the frequency of our expressions of Christ. How often do you mention Christ in your own testimony? How often does He find a place in your own private thoughts? Is He mentioned in your personal conversation with trusted friends and family…just sitting around the table? The Book of Mormon mentions the Savior on the average of about once every 1.7 verses. (See Susan Easton Black, Finding Christ Through The Book Of Mormon, 1987, p. 5.) What about you and me? Are we following the Book of Mormon model?
Nephi said: “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write [of Christ], that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25: 26). Do you rejoice in Christ? Does God, your heavenly Father feel the full intensity of that rejoicing? Does He receive “all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess” for sending His Beloved Son into the world that you might be saved from death, Eternal punishment, and the captivity of the devil? (See Mosiah 2: 20, emphasis added.)
In this Church, we talk so much from our pulpits about what we know, but not so much about how we feel.
How do you feel about Jesus?
(to be continued…)