In the April 2013 General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon listeners (and those who are not Mormon who tuned in) heard rather a lot of talks about rules. One sermon, given by Dallin H. Oaks, did an excellent job of helping us understand that Mormon rules, which are really just God’s rules, help us to be followers of Christ. He outlined many of the teachings given in the Bible by Jesus Christ that were rules with a reason. He focused on the teachings found in the four gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Jesus’s teachings were not meant to be theoretical. Always they were to be acted upon.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry he emphasized obedience to the commandments, not just as a good idea, but as essential for admission into the kingdom of Heaven. Even more than that, though, He said that if we love Him we will keep the commandments. Obedience is necessary for our safety and our eternal salvation, but it is also a measure, when done for the right reason, of our love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Following are some of the commandments Elder Oaks discusses, all of which come directly from the four gospels in the New Testament:
Baptism is a required part of accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. It allows for the remission of sins that were committed before we had a testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Even though Jesus was perfect, He still insisted that his cousin John baptize him. Jesus obeyed all commandments, even those that seemingly didn’t apply to him. Mormons believe baptism covers those who are at an age of accountability, which they consider to be the age of eight. A child this age knows right from wrong if he has been taught. If he has not been taught, God will hold his parents accountable. For this reason, Mormons do not baptize children until they are eight and can make a free choice to be baptized. Children who die younger than age eight are protected by the atonement and go directly to Heaven. Mormons don’t believe little children can sin.
Mormons refer to Communion as the Sacrament. Jesus commanded His disciples to partake of the Sacrament as a remembrance of the atonement of Jesus Christ, a voluntary sacrifice that is the only way we are able to return home to God someday. He did for us what we could not possibly do for ourselves. Mormons take the Sacrament each Sunday during their worship service. During that time, they renew the covenants they made with God and Jesus Christ at their baptism and remember the atonement and the role it plays in their eternal life.
Jesus told His followers they were to always pray. He prayed to give them an example of how to pray appropriately. Mormons, of course, have prayers in their worship services, classes, and meetings, but they also have personal prayers at least twice a day. They pray with their families each morning and evening and also at meals. Married couples also pray together each day.
Apostles and prophets
Jesus taught that his church was to be built on a foundation of apostles and prophets. He gave the keys of authority to his apostles so the church could continue after his death. Mormons believe a person must have these keys (which are not physical) in order to lead God’s church. The Mormons are led by a prophet and the apostles, just as was Jesus’ church.
Traditional marriage and family
The Bible specifically calls for men to marry wives and to be good husbands, as well as for women to be good wives. Mormons are noted for their commitment to traditional families and have many programs in place to strengthen families. Mormons teach that family is meant to last an eternity and they make forming a family so strong nothing can tear it apart a top priority.
Jesus commanded us to be perfect, but He knew we would make mistakes. Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we are able to repent and be forgiven of our sins. This is not a one-time event. Every time we sin, we must repent and ask forgiveness. Mormons teach repentance as an essential part of our mortal lives and know that it is only through Jesus Christ that repentance is possible.
Love One Another
Jesus Christ commanded us to love one another, even those we disagree with. He taught us to show love and service to each other. We understand that we can love a person without loving everything a person does. Mormons work hard to practice this in their everyday lives, but they also have formal programs to help them serve others more effectively. They do, of course, take care of their own, as any church should. However, they also have a world-wide Mormon humanitarian aid program. This program helps people without regard to their religion. They offer a wide range of initiatives that help people live better lives and become more independent.
Read Followers of Christ to learn more about the commandments of Jesus Christ or listen to the talk.