“True doctrines are always found in the Lord’s true Church, because the channel of communication between God and His people is open” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., 204). The truths of salvation include the teachings of the true scriptures, plus the principles of pure religion revealed directly from God to His prophets. The gospel has been restored in order to reestablish lost truths of the gospel and to confound false doctrine.
“The true doctrine of Christ is that all men must come unto Him, gain faith, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure in faith to the end in order to gain salvation” (McConkie, 204).
“My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,” the Savior proclaimed. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16-17).
“They have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men” (2 Nephi 28:14).
It is because of the confusion introduced by the precepts of men—many of them sincerely trying to do their best, but lacking the certainty of direct revelation from God—that the Lord has brought about a restoration of the true gospel. A summary of the true, restored gospel is contained in the Articles of Faith which outline Mormon doctrine.
Prophet Joseph F. Smith said, “I have no fears in my heart, or mind, that that which is called “Mormonism”— which is indeed the gospel of Jesus Christ—will not bear the scrutiny of science and the researches of the learned and literate into all truth. The gospel of Jesus is founded in truth. Every principle of it is susceptible of demonstration beyond any just reason for contradiction. The Lord is doing His work and will do it, and no power can stay it….We are willing to receive all truth…for truth will stand, truth will endure. The truth must be at the foundation of religion, or it is in vain and it will fail of its purpose. Truth entirely permeates this great work of the Lord that was established through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith, the prophet” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 1).
Joseph F. Smith, in his writings, elucidated on many of the Mormon doctrine and core truths of the restored gospel:
- Gospel principles are eternal; the Plan of Salvation was established before the world was.
- Man is immortal; God is unchangeable.
- Continuing revelation is necessary to keep men on the path to salvation.
- The free agency of man is an eternal, incorruptible principle.
- God is a glorified, perfect, all-powerful, all-knowing, resurrected man; Christ is His first-born in the spirit, and His Only Begotten Son in mortality; Christ is a separate, corporeal being; the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit and does not have a body.
- Man is created in God’s image and has the potential to become like Him.
- The first principles of the gospel are faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- The Church is led by a prophet and organized according to the original Church of Christ, with twelve apostles and assisting groups of seventies.
- Priesthood authority—the authority and power to act in God’s name—has been restored to the earth. This priesthood authority is the only authority on earth that has this gift. All other churches operate under the authority of men; their ordinances are bound on earth, but not in heaven.
- Wherever the true authority of God is manifest, the spiritual gifts follow. All spiritual gifts are found in the true Church.
- Obedience is a foundational principle of the gospel, bringing light and freedom to the followers of Christ.
- Personal prayer is a right and a privilege granted by God. Sincere prayers are always heard and answered.
- Faithful members of the True Church are always charitable. Obedience to all other gospel principles avails nothing if charity is not at the center of one’s efforts. Tithing and offerings are meant to build up the kingdom of God and support the poor.
- Followers of Christ should be temperate and keep the Sabbath day holy.
- The family is the center of life on earth. Through eternal covenants made in Holy Temples, husbands and wives and their families can be sealed together throughout eternity.
- Once a person has a testimony of and an understanding of the tenets of the true gospel, he has a responsibility to warn his neighbor. Thus, missionary work is an important aspect of the True Church.
- Missionary work is also done among the dead, in the “Spirit
- World.” Mormons have a responsibility to act as proxies for the dead in receiving gospel ordinances which can only be performed with a physical body. The dead have the agency to decide whether or not they will accept those ordinances.
- The atonement of Christ is the central event in the history of the earth. According to Mormon doctrine in what is called the Plan of Salvation, all men who repent and come unto Christ can partake of the blessings of the atonement.