Gospel Teachings: Why Attend Church?

Gospel Teachings:

Why attend Church?

D. Todd  Christofferson

keyIt is worth pausing to consider why Jesus Christ chooses to use a church, His Church, to carry out His and His Father’s work.

jesus-rock1Throughout my life, general conferences of the Church have been exhilarating spiritual events, and the Church itself has been a place to come to know the Lord. I realize that there are those who consider themselves religious or spiritual and yet reject participation in a church or even the need for such an institution. Religious practice is for them purely personal. Yet the Church is the creation of Him in whom our spirituality is centeredJesus Christ. It is worth pausing to consider why He chooses to use a church, His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to carry out His and His Father’s work “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”1

 

adam-eve-altarBeginning with Adam, the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached, and the essential ordinances of salvation, such as baptism, were administered through a family-based priesthood order.2 As societies grew more complex than simply extended families, God also called other prophets, messengers, and teachers. In Moses’s time, we read of a more formal structure, including elders, priests, and judges. In Book of Mormon history, Alma established a church with priests and teachers.

Cornerstone

 

jesus-christ-cornerstoneThen, in the meridian of time, Jesus organized His work in such a way that the gospel could be established simultaneously in multiple nations and among diverse peoples. That organization, the Church of Jesus Christ, was founded on “apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.3 It included additional officers, such as seventies, elders, bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons. Jesus similarly established the Church in the Western Hemisphere after His Resurrection.

Following the apostasy and disintegration of the Church He had organized while on the earth, the Lord reestablished the Church of Jesus Christ once again through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The ancient purpose remains: that is, to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and administer the ordinances of salvation—in other words, to bring people to Christ.4 And now, through the instrumentality of this restored Church, the promise of redemption is placed within reach even of the spirits of the dead who in their mortal lifetime knew little or nothing of the Savior’s grace.

Ancient Purposes

How does His Church accomplish the Lord’s purposes?

Jesus-bcome-disciple-lds-church1) It is important to recognize that God’s ultimate purpose is our progress. His desire is that we continue “from grace to grace, until [we receive] a fulness”5 of all He can give. That requires more than simply being nice or feeling spiritual. It requires faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism of water and of the Spirit, and enduring in faith to the end.6 One cannot fully achieve this in isolation, so a major reason the Lord has a church is to create a community of Saints that will sustain one another in the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.7

“And [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

“… For the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”8

Jesus Christ is “the author and the finisher of [our] faith.”9 Uniting ourselves to the body of Christ—the Church—is an important part of taking His name upon us.10 We are told that the ancient Church “did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls”11 “and to hear the word of the Lord.”12 So it is in the Church today. Joined in faith, we teach and edify one another and strive to approach the full measure of discipleship, “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” We strive to help one another come to “the knowledge of the Son of God,”13 until that day when “they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, … saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”14

Application

In the Church we not only learn divine doctrine; we also experience its application. As the body of Christ, the members of the Church minister to one another in the reality of day-to-day life.

All of us are imperfect; we may offend and be offended. We often test one another with our personal idiosyncrasies. In the body of Christ, we have to go beyond concepts and exalted words and have a real “hands-on” experience as we learn to “live together in love.15

1) This religion is not concerned only with self; rather, we are all called to serve.

youth-serve3We are the eyes, hands, head, feet, and other members of the body of Christ, and even “those members … which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.”16 We need these callings, and we need to serve.

One of the men in my ward grew up not only without parental support but with parental opposition to his activity in the Church. He made this observation in a sacrament meeting: “My father cannot understand why anyone would go to church when they could go skiing, but I really like going to church. In the Church, we are all on the same journey, and I am inspired in that journey by strong youth, pure children, and what I see and learn from other adults. I am strengthened by the association and excited with the joy of living the gospel.”

Sabbath—a Time of Renewal

The wards and branches of the Church offer a weekly gathering of respite and renewal, a time and place to leave the world behind—the Sabbath. It is a day to “delight thyself in the Lord,”17 to experience the spiritual healing that comes with the sacrament, and to receive the renewed promise of His Spirit to be with us.18

jesus-repentanceReprove, Repent, and Improve

One of the greatest blessings of being part of the body of Christ, though it may not seem like a blessing in the moment, is being reproved of sin and error. We are prone to excuse and rationalize our faults, and sometimes we simply do not know where we should improve or how to do it. Without those who can reprove us “betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,”19 we might lack the courage to change and more perfectly follow the Master. Repentance is individual, but fellowship on that sometimes painful path is in the Church.20

About the Body of Christ

04-GCoct-SundayAM2In this discussion of the Church as the body of Christ, we must always bear in mind two things.

1) One, we do not strive for conversion to the Church but to Christ and His gospel, a conversion that is facilitated by the Church.21

The Book of Mormon expresses it best when it says that the people “were converted unto the Lord, and were united unto the church of Christ. ”22

2)Two, we must remember that in the beginning, the Church was the family, and even today as separate institutions, the family and the Church serve and strengthen one another. Neither supplants the other, and certainly the Church, even at its best, cannot substitute for parents. The point of gospel teaching and priesthood ordinances administered by the Church is that families may qualify for eternal life.

2) Achieve needful things that cannot be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups.

There is a second major reason the Savior works through a church, His Church, and that is to achieve needful things that cannot be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups. One clear example is dealing with poverty. It is true that as individuals and families we look after the physical needs of others, “imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.”23 But together in the Church, the ability to care for the poor and needy is multiplied to meet the broader need, and hoped-for self-reliance is made a reality for very many.24 Further, the Church, its Relief Societies, and its priesthood quorums have the capacity to provide relief to many people in many places affected by natural disasters, war, and persecution.

Jesus5000Without the capabilities of His Church in place, the Savior’s commission to take the gospel to all the world could not be realized.25 There would not be the apostolic keys, the structure, the financial means, and the devotion and sacrifice of thousands upon thousands of missionaries needed to carry out the work. Remember, “this Gospel of the Kingdom [must] be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.”26

 

3) The Church is, after all, the kingdom of God on the earth

 

The final reason I will mention for the Lord to have established His Church is the most unique—the Church is, after all, the kingdom of God on the earth.

As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was being established in the 1830s, the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for unto you the kingdom, or in other words, the keys of the church have been given.”28 In the authority of these keys, the Church’s priesthood officers preserve the purity of the Savior’s doctrine and the integrity of His saving ordinances.29 They help prepare those who wish to receive them, judge the qualification and worthiness of those who apply, and then perform them.

 

Revealed Truth

daniel-dream-babylon-kingWith the keys of the kingdom, the Lord’s servants can identify both truth and falsehood and once again authoritatively state, “Thus saith the Lord.” Regrettably, some resent the Church because they want to define their own truth, but in reality it is a surpassing blessing to receive a “knowledge of things as they [truly] are, and as they were, and as they are to come”30 insofar as the Lord wills to reveal it. The Church safeguards and publishes God’s revelations—the canon of scripture.

When Daniel interpreted the dream of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, making known to the king “what shall be in the latter days,”31 he declared that “the God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all [other] kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”32 The Church is that prophesied latter-day kingdom, not created by man but set up by the God of heaven and rolling forth as a stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” to fill the earth.33

Lamb and Lion resizeWMIts destiny is to establish Zion in preparation for the return and millennial rule of Jesus Christ. Before that day, it will not be a kingdom in any political sense—as the Savior said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”34 Rather, it is the repository of His authority in the earth, the administrator of His holy covenants, the custodian of His temples, the protector and proclaimer of His truth, the gathering place for scattered Israel, and “a defense, and … a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.”35

“Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth.

“Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth, that thine enemies may be subdued; for thine is the honor, power and glory, forever and ever.”36

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Gospel Teachings: Jesus Christ, Cornerstone

Gospel Teachings: Jesus Christ, Cornerstone

Defining Moment

keyold“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;“In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:“In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:19–22

christ-cornerstoneFacts about the Cornerstone

L. Tom Perry (1922–2015)

What it is.

A cornerstone is the first stone placed upon a building’s foundation, in a corner of the structure.

What it does.

A cornerstone bears much of the weight of a building’s outer structure, and it connects and unites two of the walls. After it is placed, all other stones and their angles are measured out from it.

What its characteristics are.

Anciently, a cornerstone would normally be one of the largest, most solid stones a builder had to work with. The builder would examine his stones carefully and select the best one as a cornerstone, rejecting any stones that didn’t appear suitable.

What We Can Learn

A cornerstone:

Is the first. Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of all the Father’s children (see Colossians 1:15–17; Hebrews 1:6; D&C 93:21), the first to be resurrected (see 1 Corinthians 15:20), the one who was to “go to prepare a place for [us]” in His Father’s house (John 14:2), the “Beloved and Chosen from the beginning” (Moses 4:2), and “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

Unites. Jesus Christ “inviteth … all to come unto him” (2 Nephi 26:33). The Atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to repent, become sanctified through the Holy Ghost, and be reunited with Heavenly Father. The Apostle Paul showed that Jesus Christ, as the cornerstone, was the connecting point for the two “walls” of the Church in that day: the Apostles of the New Testament and the prophets of the Old Testament, perhaps illustrating the mix of Gentile and Jewish converts (see Ephesians 2:20). The prophets and apostles of today, along with those of old, help unite us in Christ—in His doctrine, His service, and His Church.

Aligns. Jesus Christ “marked the path and led the way, and ev’ry point defines” (“How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns, no. 195). He is our guide and our lawgiver, the one whose commandments we obey and whose words we heed.

Strengthens. Jesus Christ has taken upon Himself our sins so that we can be forgiven if we will repent. In this way, He strengthens us by removing the ill effects of sin. In addition, “the enabling power of the Atonement strengthens us to do and be good and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity” (David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, Apr. 2012, 42–43).

Open to All

“Our community of Saints is not one of exclusion but one of inclusion, built upon a foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. It is open to all of us who love, appreciate, and have compassion for our Father in Heaven’s children.”

Bible Facts

Psalm 118:22 refers to the Messiah, saying, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” Jesus quoted this scripture in reference to Himself (see Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17), suggesting that although He would be “despised and rejected of men” in His day (Isaiah 53:3), He was in fact the Messiah and would bring salvation.

After the Savior’s Resurrection, Peter quoted this psalm when testifying of Jesus Christ to the people of Jerusalem (see Acts 4:11–12). He quoted it again in his first epistle, where he also mentioned another Old Testament verse that compares the Messiah to a cornerstone (see 1 Peter 2:6–7; Isaiah 28:16).

Dinner Topics Newsletter: Jesus Christ, Cornerstone

March 2016 Dinner Topics Newsletter: Jesus Christ, Cornerstone

Culture-Wars

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Epicworld Dinner Topics!

wave2gopvictoryON A BEAUTIFUL BEACH IN AUSTRALIA, a group of young men stood scowling and talking angrily as they looked out at large waves breaking in the distance.

When asked by a passerby what was the matter, one of them replied, “We came thousands of miles on a trip of a lifetime so we could surf the biggest waves in the world, and somebody put barriers out there so we can’t surf. Our trip is ruined.”

Meanwhile, nearby, an older man, obviously local, seemed to be growing impatient as he listened to the loud complaints about the barrier. Finally, he walked over to them, and without a word, handed them a pair of binoculars.

binocularsshark-fins-australiaWhen the observer’s turn came, he saw something that he had not been able to see before with the unaided eye—dorsal fins of sharks.

As he walked away, the older man parted with these unforgettable words: “Don’t be too critical of the barrier. It’s the only thing that’s keeping you from being devoured.”

Everyone’s perspective suddenly changed. Rather than a rigid restriction and curtailment to all the fun, now the barrier represented protection against the danger that lurked beneath the surface, offering safety and peace.

jesus-christ-cornerstoneIf Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith, how can he be a rock of offense? (Isaiah 8:14)

Probably the simplest way to define the cornerstone of Judeo-Christian civilization is in the Ten Commandments. Many see this as a damper, spoiling all their fun.

“But sharks are beautiful and exciting,” we are told by the multitude of “experts,” with their fraudulent doctrines on life. “There is no such thing as good or bad, black or white, moral or immoral,” they say. “Live in the gray area where it is most comfortable. What does it matter what you do with your body, as long as it feels good? It’s no big deal.” This is called moral relativism.

moral-relativism-generalWho really cares about your happiness—the humble, far-sighted man with the binoculars, or the world’s self-serving “experts”?

What these “experts” don’t tell you is that this morally gray lifestyle is the prescription for misery. This has been discovered to their sorrow, by many who have lost their moral compass and been swept up in the veritable tsunami of moral corruption.

 

judeo-christian2-10-commandmentsbednar-truth-192x192“You cannot break the law of God; you can only break yourself upon it,” said D. James Kennedy, who was referring to the perils of ignoring moral absolutes.

I have seen firsthand the devastating and heartbreaking aftermath of moral bankruptcy.

Does this sound harsh and unyielding? Let me put this another way. Where do you feel safest—on solid rock or on shifting sands? Whom can you trust—Jesus Christ or the pied piper?[1]

Life is going to get harder. You may face ridicule, persecution, and abuse for your faith in God; in fact, the very winds of hell may beat against you. No one said it is easy to build on the rock of Christ, but in the long run it is easier. How can I say that? jesuswoundhandLong after the naysayers have fallen by the wayside, long after they have withered as grass, yet He is there for you. He will never forsake you. You can trust Him.

“Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. ~Isaiah 49:15,16

Finally, let us not overlook the promise of Isaiah 8:14—“And He shall be for a sanctuary.” Honest and faithful Christian leaders see what we may not see, because they use spiritual binoculars. Therefore, you can trust them absolutely when they exhort you: “Keep the Commandments—in this there is safety and peace.”

Highlights

  • Obedience to God brings happiness
  • A visual journey of the last week on earth of Jesus Christ
  • The Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • A Compassionate Immigration Plan
  • A Guide to Colleges: How to avoid wasting money on the tyranny of political correctness

 

In this dangerous world, may you find peace and safety in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thanks for visiting. Come often; Stay Late,

Christine Davidson

News and Updates:

Start your free Constitution 101 course today.

hillsdalecollege1The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans — yet very few know exactly what it says, and what freedoms it protects. Hillsdale College is dedicating this year to educating millions of Americans about this critical document. That’s why the College is offering its most popular course, “Constitution 101” for free, when you sign up now. 

NEW PAGE!

If you missed the newsletter, or just want an inspirational message on cultural topics, you can visit our new Inspiration Page . Topics include Biblical Worldview, Eternal Perspective, American Dream, and more, plus theme-related quotations.

Current Events

news_flag_hdr5Big Picture—What do Americans really Want?

They want their country back, and will do whatever it takes

What about compassion for American Citizens?

This year, this section will contain Truth Zone posts. The mainstream media is now blatantly lying, savaging only those Americans who speak truth and truly want to protect our country. They ignore history and facts. The wicked take the truth to be hard.

Pray that God will raise up someone who understands that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Pray that we would be transformed back to a nation that honors God. ~Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association

It isn’t about ideology anymore.  It isn’t about conservatism and being thoroughbred conservative.  It’s about stopping what has been put in play by Barack Obama and the Democrat Party.  A majority of the American people continue to hear Barack Obama and the Democrat Party and Hillary Clinton, and they know that if this party continues to win, the things that have been done that damaged this country are going to continue. ~Rush Limbaugh

TRUTH: Immigration moratorium is already part of U.S. law. There is nothing illegal or unconstitutional about it.

Truth Zone: History Facts and Immigration Laws

If you are wondering if it is wise to temporarily ban Muslim immigration so that potential terrorists can be properly vetted, here are some facts you need to know.

ISIS Threat: Islamic State Facts Every American Must Know

 

Theme Quotes for March: Jesus Christ, Cornerstone

buildingrocksandThe barriers established by the Lord create for us a safe harbor from evil and destructive influences. ~Von G. Keetch

“Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. ~Isaiah 49:15,16

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. ~Helaman 5:12

. . .ye are . . . fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

quote-maynes-gospel-christ-centerAnd are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. ~Ephesians 2:19, 20

Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence, and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. ~Romans 9:33

And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence. ~Isaiah 8:14

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~Proverbs 3:5,6

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. Isaiah 32:17

Jesus and ChildrenAnd all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. ~Isaiah 54:13

Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right and of my righteousness. ~Isaiah 41:10

If you love me, keep my commandments. ~John 14:15

Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of p***ography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. ~Thomas S. Monson

Stress Relief Tip of the Month: the Unchanging God

trustThis is nothing new, but still true, as are all the moral absolutes. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You can trust Him absolutely; He does not change with the whims of man. The commandments of God are like signs along the road of life; they keep you out of the danger zones. ~C.D.

Classical Music this month provided by: Chopin, Vivaldi, and Haydn

March Preview

The Dinner Topic Theme March: Jesus Christ, Cornerstone

Featured Topics

The Parenting Value for this month: Charity

Defining Moment: Cornerstone

Famous Birthdays: Chopin, Michelangelo, Vivaldi, James Madison, Louis L’Amour, and Haydn

Culture Wars: How to avoid wasting money on colleges under tyranny of political correctness

Training Christian Leaders

Compassionate Immigration Plan

Jesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887Faith: Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Why go to Church?

Happiness in obedience To God

A Picture Journey of Easter Week

Family: Parents’ rights, protecting children from culture and education system gone out of control

Imprimis: Charitable Giving and the Fabric of America

U.S Constitution Series 25: Avoid Entangling Alliances

Moral Solutions—always looking for reasons for optimism: Training Christian Leaders

Truth Zone: More facts on Immigration, issue of the century

You will see added emphasis in Truth Zone from now on. We hope you will find that we are a reliable source of Truth in your search for information amidst the sea of lies, corruption, mass deception, and cover-ups spewing from politicians and media. Instead of Tea Party updates, we will highlight important news items.

And as always—current events, updates, and analysis

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Ongoing

1. Let Us Educate Ourselves

2. Home Education—Let’s Teach our Children!

culture-war3-reagan“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”–Ronald Reagan

Seeing the widespread injury done in any given week, (many incidents go unreported), stay aware of important news and insights at Epicworld Dinner Topics.

Traditional Bible-believing parents may have to consider withdrawing their children from public schools to protect your family spiritually and financially from the rising tide of persecution and ruinous lawsuits by anti-Christian fascists.

If it is not possible for you to home school, try to teach your children Judeo-Christian values at home. The easiest way to do this is to tell stories and discuss principles at the family dinner table. I hope these dinner topics help you with this vital effort. Just don’t give up! Our precious children are worth fighting for!

3. Study the U.S. Constitution!

Start your free Constitution 101 course today.

constitution1The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans — yet very few know exactly what it says, and what freedoms it protects. Hillsdale College is dedicating this year to educating millions of Americans about this critical document. That’s why the College is offering its most popular course, “Constitution 101” for free, when you sign up now. 

It is the last remaining safeguard of our precious freedoms! A good way to do this is to study the monthly Constitution series from The 5,000 Year Leap. To access this series of posts, type US Constitution Series in this site’s search bar. Also, look for posts that refer to the Constitution in current events.

Thanks for all you do,

C.A. Davidson

Parents’ Resources

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Epic Heroes Quest

Plus—Empowering keys found in each dinner topic; Preparing for the Epic Journey of Life;

Epic Heroes in Training 

Parent Resources

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[1] Pied piper—one that offers strong but delusive enticements; a leader who makes irresponsible promises.