Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Do I REALLY Believe?

What do I REALLY believe? A connection on Facebook posed this exact question as a research topic. It's one of my favorite questions and so infrequently asked as most people don't care to understand more than, "Oh, you're Christian," or "Oh, you're Mormon." Having the duality of beliefs as some would think, poses an interesting challenge in expressing my personal beliefs, especially when conversing with so-called mainstream Christians. But since you asked, I'll take the challenge and do my best to honestly the foundation or core set of values and principles I call my beliefs.

As with any set of life guiding beliefs, a core or foundational principle must exist at the heart what you follow. As my foundation, or rock as the Bible states, is Christ, the first guiding principle that guides my everyday actions is that Christ is my personal Savior and God's Only Begotten Son. The reality of Christ's divinity provides an ensign to fixate on, focusing my inner strength on the ultimate prize rather than debasing my energies on lesser pleasures. His resurrection provides hope of a perfect union of my soul after this life and the gracious, self-sacrificing atonement and crucifixion enables me to accept a better life through repentance and acceptance of my Redeemer.

But acceptance of Christ and His name alone is fruitless without provisioning His atoning blood in my life. The Apostle James states that "faith without works is dead," meaning an acceptance of "things hoped for but not seen which are true" is well and good but will not yield any goodness if discarded or nurtured. The principle of action is an element of faith often overlooked, but for my belief in Christ to be significant, meaningful and life guiding, I must act on the knowledge of truth and do. "If ye love me, keep my commandments," Christ commanded. He did not state, "if ye love me confess my name then do as you please." The goodness manifested through love is the action of righteous works. So as one that confesses Christ's name and in order to prove my love worth of His affection, I must keep His commandments.

Lastly, so as not to give into the stereotype of a Mormon "working his way to heaven," it's important to state, unequivocally, that my works alone will always be insufficient to guarantee me an exalted place in God's kingdom. Only by and through the grace of Christ am I saved and likewise exalted. Never will I be sufficiently able to overcome all of the frailties of mortality and the corruptibility of my natural state. While I long for a perfect and righteous existence, I cannot overcome this life on my own. It is only through Christ that I am made perfect in Him. He is the only name under heaven whereby we may return to God's presence. The following guiding principle outlines well the core principle of grace and how it relates to faith and works: "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/2_ne/25/23#23)

So what are my beliefs? In order to find happiness in this life and eternal life in the life to come, we must belief in Christ, accept His name, express our faith and love through keeping his commandments and accept His grace as the only way of entering into His kingdom.
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