The Prophet Joseph Smith instructed us that in order to be saved we must become just like our Savior. “Where shall we find a prototype into whose likeness we may be assimilated, in order that we may be made partakers of life and salvation? Or in other words, where shall we find a saved being? For if we can find a saved being, we may ascertain without much difficulty what all others must be in order to be saved — they must be like that individual or they cannot be saved… We ask, then: Where is the prototype? Or where is the saved being? We conclude as to the answer of this question there will be no dispute among those who believe the Bible that it is Christ.” (Teachings and Commandments section 110 Lectures on Faith, 7:9) Then if we are to become like Christ how do we do that?
The purpose for the Lord coming to this world in the flesh was to be our exemplar, to show us the path that we are to follow to become like Him, which included His teachings, power, atoning sacrifice, death and resurection. “As many as perceived the Light in Him, to them He gave knowledge to enable them to follow the path to become like Him, begotten children in the family of the Most High God. This is only possible for those who believe through His name. Those who believe through His name are no longer born of blood to follow the appetites of flesh, nor the ambitions of man, but are able to become, like Him, the offspring of God.” (Teachings and Commandments, Section 171-Testimony of St John (TSJ): 1:3) “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. Therefore, the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 1:13 RE; 1 John 3:1-2 LE)
The Lord refers to the path as being straight and narrow. Nephi is instructed by the Lord on how to enter the path: “And now I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfill all righteousness in being baptized by water? Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he sheweth unto the children of men that according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments. Wherefore, after he was baptized with water, the holy ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove. And again, it sheweth unto the children of men the straitness of the path and the narrowness of the gate by which they should enter, he having set the example before them. And he said unto the children of men, Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? And the Father said, Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son. And also the voice of the Son came unto me, saying, He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the holy ghost like unto me. Wherefore, follow me and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (2 Nephi 13:2 RE; 2Nephi 31:6-12 LE) The Lord set the example for us in how to follow the path, we must repent and be baptized then shall we receive the holy ghost, then follow Him and do what He does. Baptism is the first step onto the path. What do we do now?
His primary instructions on following the path were given to us in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at Bountiful. As I was praying one morning and asking about the path the Lord has asked us to follow, the Sermon at Bountiful came strongly into my mind. I think in the past we have seen these sermons as nice attitudes to have but maybe not essential. We have considered the 10 commandments as our blueprint to follow. As I, again, read the Sermon at Bountiful the importance of these instructions seems more clearly stated.
The Lord prefaces the sermon by stating His doctrine: “Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me… and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men everywhere to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved, and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily I say unto you that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father. And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also, and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the holy ghost. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the holy ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me, for the Father and I and the holy ghost are one. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily I say unto you that this is my doctrine.” (3 Nephi 5:9 RE; 3 Nephi 11:31-39 LE) Notice how He repeats His doctrine three times in this one paragraph? It must be important! His doctrine is how we enter the path and are His commandments to us, to repent, be baptized in His name, become as a little child, then the Father will bear record of Him by visiting us with “fire and with the holy ghost”.
Herein lies part of my struggle, if all I have to do is repent, believe and be baptized why have I not yet received the baptism of fire and the holy ghost? Maybe there is a little more. After the bulk of the sermon He tells us that the Law of Moses has been fulfilled in Him and we must live the commandments that He is giving at this time. “And behold, I have given unto you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you and the law is fulfilled. Therefore, come unto me and be ye saved. For verily I say unto you that except ye shall keep my commandments which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven. (3 Nephi 5:23 RE; 3 Nephi 12:19-20 LE) So, now I also have to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. All I need to do is believe, repent, be as a little child, and approach Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, anything else? Simple, right? Where does the sermon play into this?
He parenthesizes His sermon to the people in Bountiful with His doctrine and the law and commandments of the Father which I believe is placing focus on the elements of the sermon as the means by which we become as a “little child” and have a “broken heart and a contrite spirit”. In the sermon is He not telling us to be teachable, humble and meek, to be empathetic toward those who are suffering in body mind and spirit, and to hunger and thirst after righteousness? Doesn’t He encourage us to be merciful by forgiving our brothers (and sisters) their trespasses and by doing so we will obtain mercy (forgiveness) from Him? Isn’t He asking of us to be pure in heart or in other words to true, honest, just, and conduct our lives with integrity and honor? Can we see ourselves being peacemakers and choosing not to contend or intentionally cause hurt or affliction? Should we not be concerned with fitting in to the world’s mold and hold true to our Lord and Savior? What does it mean for us to be the “salt of the earth”? or to be a “light” to His people? Do we know people whose very presence and example give flavor and texture and light to the lives of all those around them? I’m wondering if these instructions are to guide our walk once we enter the path through repentance and baptism.
The path that I refer to is not new to this creation, it is the path that all have followed who want to be as God is. “Truly, truly I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do; for whatever things he does, the Son likewise does these also, for the Father loves the Son and shows him all things that he himself does.” (John 5:4 RE; John 19:-20 LE) Much has been said and written about learning to love one another and become precious to each other. Do you think we have become so precious to the Lord that He was willing and indeed desired to fulfill His role as Christ to help us along our journey to become like Him?
The Lord assured His apostles that He would be with them as they continued their journey along this path and helped them to understand what the end destination is. “Do not allow your heart to be troubled. You are devoted to God and are also devoted to me. In the journey through my Father’s realms are many stages with temporary abodes. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare an abode for your upward journey. And when I arise, I will prepare places for you, but I will be your companion again and visit each of you, so that where I travel, you may journey to also. And the path I follow upward you know, and the way of ascent you also know. Thomas said to him, Lord, we don’t know where you are going; how can we know the way? You have not told us. Jesus said to him, I am the way, the record of the truth, and the means for Eternal lives, worlds without end: no man comes to the Throne of the Father without me. If you follow me, you will come to the Father’s Throne through me and will thereafter be like him forever.” (T&C 171 (TSJ) 10:9) Our journey is through many realms and worlds without end if we desire to come to the Father’s Throne. However, it is only possible through the Lord Jesus Christ and following Him along the path that leads there.