If you "triangulate" something, you find a distance or location using two points and measure the angles between them to find a third unknown point.
For example, when we use our cell phones, satellites triangulate our location.
The Doctrine of Christ allows us to triangulate, or navigate, our way back to God.
Defining the Doctrine One of our challenges is figuring out what, exactly, is the Doctrine of Christ. What are the "known points" that will point us toward heaven?
1. DEFINITION OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE #1
Behold, this is my doctrine― whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me.
This is what the Lord told Joseph Smith in our modern vernacular. But in order to triangulate this Doctrine, let's get another data point.
2. DEFINITION OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE #2
I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine.
(3 Nephi 11:32-33, 35)
Here we see the Lord giving the Nephites a similar definition around 2000 years ago. This is starting to sound like Article of Faith 4.
Except, what is still missing?
3. DEFINITION OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE #3
The voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me.
For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
(2 Nephi 31:12, 17)
So is the Doctrine of Christ: (1) faith; (2) repentance; (3) baptism; and (4) the Holy Ghost?
Well, those appear to be part of it, but we're not done yet! My favorite part is coming:
I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
(2 Nephi 31:19)
We see something new, or different, now. After we come unto Christ and are cleansed by water and fire, we obtain the Word of Christ, which dwells in us as a fire.
It is the Word of Christ that is given to us that causes our hearts to have "unshaken faith" in Him, for we have become witnesses of His Word and know first-hand that we can trust, or rely, completely (wholly) upon Him forever more.
Why?Because we have heard His promises to us (Personally).
So where do we go from here?
Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
(2 Nephi 31:20)
Stop the Presses!
Did we catch that? Did Nephi just suggest that "eternal life" is having the Word of Christ alive in us?
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.
*PAUSE* Wait a minute. What is the way?
Because this seems awfully important, seeing as there are no other ways into the kingdom of heaven.
Tangent on the Temple
Is it possible that modern-day temple worship is analogous to Old Testament temple worship?
I mean, we know the Jews had a temple, a priesthood, and ordinances that were highly symbolic.
Now, I wish receiving the temple ordinances punched our ticket to heaven. I wish we could guarantee our salvation by attending a two-hour ceremony.
But the temple is a means, not an end.
This is why I worry that our focus on "the covenant path" is actually a detour from "the covenant path."
What do I mean? Well, we seem to see the temple ordinances and covenants as an accomplishment rather than as an initiation.
Do we believe the ordinances save us, or that they show us the way to be saved?
Do we believe people are on "the covenant path" if they've been to the temple? Because that is no indication whatsoever of whether we are on the actual covenant path, anymore than a person who has watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on TV has actually starred in the musical on Broadway like Hugh Jackman.
After all, the temple ceremony is an attempt to convey this Doctrine through drama and symbols and ritual: the "way" to heaven by "conversing with the Lord through the veil" (i.e., feasting upon the Word of Christ, as He parts the veil and leads us by the Hand to the Father).
Why is it we spend so much energy on getting people "to the temple" but little-to-no-time on helping those who have been initiated to understand the meaning behind the symbols and rituals?
In the temple we are spectators. If we are wise, we take what we learn and use that knowledge to receive the Word of Christ in very deed.
I suspect we'll be disappointed when we arrive at the door and find it shut ― despite all of our key words and signs and tokens ― if we have not learned to recognize, hear, and follow the Word of Christ that dwells in us.
And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.
(2 Nephi 31:21)
We call it the Doctrine of Christ; but really it is the only true Doctrine of the Father, which Christ showed us how live.