In his book Increase in Learning, Elder Bednar teaches that principles arise from doctrines. If we take any principle of the gospel such as faith, repentance, obedience, etc and ask the question, “Why is this necessary?” the answer will always be found in doctrine.
Think about how you would answer the question, “Why is faith in Jesus Christ essential?”
Is the way you would answer based in doctrine? How would you answer that question in a way that focuses on the doctrine or doctrines that the principle is based on?
Let’s say, for example, that a few of the following doctrines come to mind when faith in Jesus Christ is pondered:
What scriptures or teachings of modern prophets help us to obtain a more complete understanding of these doctrines?
I had a mission president that once taught “There is no such thing as ‘deep doctrine’, there is only true doctrine or false doctrine”.
Jesus Christ once said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 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)
We come to know doctrine as we are obedient to the principles of the gospel.
Patterns for unveiling answers
If we want to know ‘why faith in Jesus Christ is essential’, we need to first seek to understand the underlying doctrines. Next, we seek out the principles of the gospel that guide us in how we can exercise our faith in Jesus Christ. As we set forth to obey the principles of the gospel, the Spirit of the Lord will reveal applications, or the way we behave in response to the principles.
Fine-tuning our questions
For example, as the question about faith in Jesus Christ is pondered, we might realize that the question itself is too broad. Perhaps we might narrow it down to “Why do I need to have faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement to be forgiven of my sins?”
We might ponder the underlying doctrines and study many scriptures and prophetic counsel on those subjects.
Taking action/exercising faith
As we come to understand the doctrines, we might feel the desire to follow some particular principles of the gospel like repentance.
The Spirit might teach us how to repent. We may feel prompted to immediately drop to our knees, to seek out those we may have offended and apologize, or take a walk to a secluded area or perhaps we might be prompted to turn back to the scriptures for further study.
The actions we take in response to our desires and beliefs constitute faith.
When you receive forgiveness of your sins and know that you are clean before God, you will not only have the answer to your original question, but you will know the truthfulness of the doctrine.
As we do the will of God while following the Spirit, we will come to know whether a doctrine is of God or man.
The true power of doctrine was taught plainly by President Boyd K. Packer:
True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the Gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the Gospel. (Boyd K. Packer, CR, Oct. 1986, p. 20)
What do you think?
- How can the study of doctrines influence how we feel and behave?
- How can the study of doctrine impact what we know?
- How have certain doctrines impacted your life?