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Teaching Ideas
Article of Faith 4
First Principles and Ordinances
Faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost are referred to as the first principles and ordinances of the gospel because this is where our spiritual journey from spiritual death back to the presence of God begins.  The first step in this journey is faith.  Our faith must be centered in Christ, that he is the one who makes the Father's plan possible, that because of him we can be cleansed from our sins and that because of him we can be resurrected and return to live in God's presence.  We must have faith that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is his church and has the authority to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel.  Faith gives us the hope to repent, knowing that we can receive the Spirit back into our lives and eventually qualify for the celestial kingdom.

With the proper faith in Christ, we will desire to repent and become right with God and our fellowmen.  To repent, we must first recognize the mistakes we have made and the full impact they have had on others.  We must feel truly sorry, not merely for the pain it has brought to us, but more importantly for the pain it has caused others.  We must desire to change and be willing to go before them and make things right.  Finally, we must forsake the sins and be willing to forgive others.

Faith and repentance will lead directly to the desire to be baptized into Christ's church and receive the blessings of his atonement.  If we have properly prepared, the Lord has promised that we will be forgiven.  Baptism is very symbolic and is to be done by immersion.  It symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the death of the old person we were and the birth of the new person we have become.  When we are baptized, we covenant or promise to obey God and serve him.  He promises in return to bless us with his Spirit and to give us eternal life.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed after baptism by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It brings us back into God's presence through his Spirit.  As long as we live worthy, we can have the Spirit to be with us to teach, guide, comfort, protect and assure us.  We must continue to learn, repent and grow to be like God throughout our lives.  We weekly renew our baptismal covenants as we repent and partake of the sacrament.

(For additional insights, read The Articles of Faith by James E. Talmage.)
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