Trusting the Doctrine of Christ
When we have built our houses on the foundation of a covenantal relationship with Christ, we are trusting the doctrine of Christ.
In my mind’s eye, I see the aging prophet Nephi at his desk, the plates of gold spread before him, his stylus in hand.
Nephi was in the process of finishing his last engraving on the record. He wrote, “And now, my beloved brethren, I make an end of my sayings.”1 But soon after, the Spirit urged Nephi to return to his record and write a concluding message. Under the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost, that great prophet took his stylus again in hand and wrote, “Wherefore, the things … I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words … I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ.”2
How eternally grateful we are for those “few words”3 and for the Spirit compelling Nephi to write them. Nephi’s treatise on the doctrine of Christ is a treasure to those who feast upon it. It contains a vision of the Savior’s baptism4 and the voice of the Son inviting all to follow Him5 and “do the things which [we] have seen [Him] do.”6 It contains Nephi’s witness that those who, with faith in Christ, sincerely repent of their sins and follow the Savior into the waters of baptism will “receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.”7 We also hear the voice of the Father bearing record: “Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”8
President Russell M. Nelson emphasized the singular importance of the doctrine of Christ during remarks to newly called mission leaders: “More than anything else, we want our missionaries … to have the doctrine of Christ engraved in their hearts—rooted … in the marrow of their bones.”9
Preach My Gospel summarizes five important elements of the doctrine of Christ. It says, “[We] invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”10
But the importance of the doctrine of Christ is not just for missionaries! And it is much more profound than a mere summary repetition of its five key elements. It encompasses the law of the gospel. It is the great plan for eternal life.
Brothers and sisters, if we are to accept President Nelson’s invitation to have the doctrine of Christ rooted in the marrow of our bones, we must deepen our conversion to the Lord by study, prayer, faithful living, and continual repentance. We must invite the Holy Ghost to engrave the doctrine of Christ in the “fleshy tables of [our] heart[s]”11 as deeply and as permanently as it was engraved by Nephi upon the plates of gold.
Last October, President Nelson asked, “What does it mean to overcome the world?” Among other things, he said, “It means trusting the doctrine of Christ more than the philosophies of men.”12
The word trust is defined as an “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”13 That someone is Jesus Christ, and that something is His doctrine.
So how would intentionally trusting the doctrine of Christ change the way we live our lives?
If we trust the doctrine of Christ, we will trust Christ enough to live by His every word.14 We will make a lifelong study of Jesus Christ,15 His ministry, His teachings, and His infinite Atonement, including His glorious Resurrection. We will study His promises and the conditions upon which those promises are given.16 As we study, we will be filled with greater love for the Lord.
If we trust the doctrine of Christ, we will approach our Heavenly Father every day in humble, secret prayer, where we can express gratitude for the gift of His Son and for all of our blessings.17 We can pray for the revelatory companionship of the Holy Ghost,18 pray to align our will with His,19 pray to reflect upon our covenants and renew our commitment to keep them.20 We can pray to sustain and express love for our prophets, seers, and revelators;21 pray for the cleansing power of forgiveness;22 and pray for the strength to resist temptation.23 I invite you to make prayer a priority in your life, seeking each day to improve your communication with God.
If we trust the doctrine of Christ, we will set aside the shiny things of the world so that we can focus on the Redeemer of the world.24 We will limit or eliminate time spent on social media; digital games; wasteful, excessive, or inappropriate entertainment; the allure of this world’s treasures and vanities; and any other activities that give place to the false traditions and misguided philosophies of men. It is only in Christ we find truth and lasting fulfillment.
Sincere repentance25 will become a joyful26 part of our lives—both to be forgiven for sin and to be changed in the image of Christ.27 Repentance with faith in Christ gives us access to the Atonement of Christ. President Dallin H. Oaks has taught that when the Savior forgives, He “does more than cleanse [us] from sin. He also gives [us] new strength.”28 Each one of us needs this strength to keep the commandments of God and to fulfill the eternal purpose of our lives.
In Jesus and in His doctrine, we find strength. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”29
We see this promise fulfilled in the lives of faithful people. It was a little over a year ago that I was privileged to meet Travis and Kacie. They were married civilly in 2007. At the time, Travis was not a member of the Church. Kacie, though raised in an active Latter-day Saint home, had drifted from her faith in her teens and had strayed from her foundation.
In 2018, Travis met the missionaries, and he was baptized in 2019. Travis became a missionary to Kacie, who also experienced a life-changing conversion. They were sealed in the temple in September 2020. About two years after his baptism, Travis was called to serve in the bishopric.
Travis has a rare disease that continuously forms clusters of tumors in his internal organs. He has undergone many surgeries to remove the recurring tumors, but the disease is incurable. Several years ago, Travis was given fewer than 10 years to live.
Kacie has retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disease that causes irreversible narrowing of the field of vision until complete blindness sets in.
Kacie spoke to me of her future. She anticipated the time, not far distant, when she would be widowed, blind, without financial support, and left alone to raise four growing children. I asked Kacie how she could handle such a bleak future. She smiled peacefully and said, “I have never been happier or more hopeful in my life. We hold to the promises we received in the temple.”
Travis is now the bishop. Two months ago he had another major surgery. But he is optimistic and peaceful. Kacie’s vision has worsened. She now has a guide dog and is unable to drive. But she is content, raising her children and serving as a counselor in the Young Women presidency.
Travis and Kacie are building their house on the rock. Travis and Kacie trust the doctrine of Christ and the promise that God “shall consecrate [their] afflictions for [their] gain.”30 In God’s perfect plan, suffering with faith in Christ is linked to our becoming perfected in Christ.31 Like the wise man in the parable who built his house upon a rock,32 when the rain descends and the floods come and the winds blow and beat upon the house Travis and Kacie are building, it will fall not, for it will be founded upon a rock.33
Jesus did not speak of the possibility of rain and flood and wind in our lives; He spoke of the certainty that storms will arise. The variable in this parable is not whether storms will come but how we have responded to His loving invitation to both hear and do what He has taught.34 There is no other way to survive.
When we have built our houses on the foundation of a covenantal relationship with Christ, we are trusting the doctrine of Christ, and as we come unto Him, we have His promise of eternal life. People who trust the doctrine of Christ press forward with steadfastness in Christ and endure to the end. There is no other way to be saved in the kingdom of heaven.35
I bear my personal witness of the living, resurrected reality of Jesus Christ. I testify that God our Father so loved the world He sent His Son to redeem us from sin36 and heal us from sorrow.37 I testify that He has called a prophet of God in our time, even President Russell M. Nelson, through whom He speaks and guides us.
With all my heart, I invite you to trust the doctrine of Christ and build your lives upon the rock of the Redeemer. He will never fail you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.