Thursday, August 26, 2010

Your Sermon

I've been reading the Doctrine and Covenants, and Church history this summer in preparation for teaching seminary this year, and I have been interested to read about the men in the early days of the church who were called to go out and preach the gospel. Specifically, many of them were counseled to preach to congregations of other churches. I think that in those days, it was common to allow visiting preachers from other churches preach, because what I have read leads me to believe that it was not an unusual occurrence. I began to wonder what it was like for these men to preach to congregations of other churches. I wondered what I myself would say if I were asked to speak to another church congregation. I went over some scriptures in my mind, and was wondering which passage would be the most important to share. I told my husband about my thoughts, and he told me that he has been reading a biography of one of those early church leaders, Parley P. Pratt.

He said that Parley P. Pratt spent much of his time preaching about the second coming of Jesus Christ, and the signs that would precede it. One of the important signs that Elder Pratt preached about was the "restoration of all things". He then would teach about Joseph Smith's vision, and testify that the ancient church had been restored to the earth through him. He would also teach about the importance of the Book of Mormon as a second witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ. He was a very powerful missionary, and taught boldly with the spirit.

As I personally thought about what I would share, I couldn't help but think of the 13 articles of our faith. I've written about these before, but as a refresher, here they are again.

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Joseph Smith

The wonderful thing about these articles is that they build upon each other. So if I were to speak to another congregation, I could begin with the first one, and thenafter explaining it, I would have built a foundation that allowed me to move on to the next one. This would give a great overview of our beliefs for others.

But I also couldn't help but want to share a passage from the Book of Mormon. In particular, I thought of this passage which was written before the Savior's birth. I feel like it contains the very basic doctrine of Christ's gospel, but proclaims it in a much clearer way than the Bible:

"9 But behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth.
10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.
15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.
16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me. "
Alma 7:9-16

So here is a sort of challenge for you. What would you teach if you were given the chance to preach to the congregation of a church different from your own?


Inklings said...

When I was a senior in high school a guy in our ward and I were asked to go speak to a youth group at another church and explain what we believe. I don't remember anything we said, except that it was mostly a question/answer format, but it was an interesting experience.
Then also, when I was a senior in high school, I went to Fort Worth with a boyfriend who was a Southern Baptist. We went to church with his parents, and his pastor called me up to explain what Mormons believe. Also an interesting experience, albeit a bit uncomfortable.
The pastor pulled my boyfriend aside afterward to warn him not to date Mormons.
We broke up a month later. I think our mothers prayed us apart. :0)
I think The Articles of Faith is a good starting point, though.

Mr. Giggles said...

I think if I were asked to speak to members of another church, I would simply start with this: That Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the World, lives. He is the literal son of God the Father, and heir to His kingdom. He atoned for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He died for us on the Hill Golgotha. He was then resurrected and lives today.

I think that I would leave my simple testimony at that for my first address. It is the common ground we share as Christians. Let more come later, if I were asked back, but none can deny the power of those great facts.