We always teach this totally wrong version of the doctrine of Christ. We teach that the doctrine of Christ is to have faith, repent, get baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. This makes the doctrine of Christ into a checklist: faith (check!), repentance (check!), baptism (check!), was given the gift of the Holy Ghost (check!), endure to the end. The last one isn’t checked off, but is taught as meaning that one must endure in the sense that one must not let anything move one out of the church or out of activity and don’t lose one’s testimony.
This doctrine is as flat as a pancake. It is a dead carcass in the hot sun, and it stinks.
That is not what the doctrine of Christ is at all. That is the doctrine whereby we are saved in our sins rather than being saved from them. It has no power to save anybody. It is, if anything, yet another substitute for the doctrine of Christ.
The doctrine of Christ is the doctrine Christ has given us whereby he makes us one with him, one with the Father, and whereby he makes us a son or daughter of God. The doctrine of Christ is that we have faith, repent, are baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and as we press forward diligently we receive the Holy Ghost in very truth and it makes us one with the Father and the Son.
Note how completely different that is. The fake, flat, dead, worthless substitute that we usually pawn off on each other as the doctrine of Christ is salvation with requiring transformative change. It doesn’t require that we make the changes in our life necessary to truly receive the Holy Ghost. It doesn’t require, as Nephi put it, “the Holy Ghost will show you all things what ye must do”. And that is a crucial difference, because for the Holy Ghost to show us what we must do requires that we make changes, transformative changes. It requires diligently pressing forward. The crucial, life-giving point of the doctrine of Christ is that we press forward diligently enough to really grow into the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is world of difference between a doctrine that requires that we receive the Holy Ghost as a checklist item and then endure in the sense that we stay in the church, and a doctrine whereby we are required to press forward so diligently that we receive the Holy Ghost through our lives and so he becomes a companion bearing record of the Father and the Son to us. The record he bears of the Father and the Son is not a record of their existence. That is not the issue. He bears record to us of the Father and the Son because we come to know them through him.
But he will not do that for meager effort. Nor will he do so if we are engaging in that which offends him.
The false doctrine we pawn off on each other as the doctrine of Christ reduces the doctrine of Christ to nothing more really than “join the church and stay active”. No longer are we required to “become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things”. We just have to become a saint in name, and not stop attending.
The real doctrine of Christ fundamentally requires that we press forward so diligently that we receive the Holy Ghost. It requires the Holy Ghost bear record and make us successively more one with the Father and the Son. It cannot be accomplished without the Holy Ghost, and so it requires us to press forward diligently in order that he will accompany us, for the only way to receive the Holy Ghost is to press forward with diligence.
The real doctrine of Christ requires working out our salvation with fear and trembling, so that the Holy Ghost will come into our lives in such a way that we will, by that means, come to know our God.
By that means, Christ saves us from our sins, changing who we are.
The fake version of the doctrine of Christ is that he will save us in our sins. It is that we can just be good enough to stay in the church and that is all that is needed.
The real doctrine of Christ is Christ’s doctrine to transform us and make us joint heirs with him, by making us one with him, through the Holy Ghost. It is the doctrine that the resurrected Christ taught the Nephite apostles: What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am. It can only be fulfilled by growing into the gift of the Holy Ghost, which can only happen as we press forward so diligently that the Holy Ghost will be with us.
The real doctrine of Christ is also the doctrine whereby we press forward and prove ourselves until the father can say to us “Son, thou shalt be exalted”, which is what is being referenced when we read “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” in the 2 Nephi 31 discussion of Christ’s doctrine.
In its fullness, the doctrine of Christ is the gospel of Christ. It is the doctrine by which we become one with the Father and the Son, and can therefore enter into the celestial kingdom in the resurrection.
The real doctrine of Christ is as different from the fake version as the true church is from false churches. False churches offer all the ear marks of the true church, but they cannot offer change by the power of the Holy Ghost. The real doctrine of Christ requires fundamental change through the Holy Ghost. There is no substitute, and the only way to obtain that change, is to press forward diligently and put off anything that is offensive to God so that we might receive the Holy Ghost in successively greater measure, to that extent that it will bear record of the Father and the Son, making us more like them, making us into the Sons and Daughters of God.
And that is the doctrine of Christ. It is a doctrine that requires transformation. It is the doctrine of how we obey the commandment to put off the natural man and become a saint, through the atonement of Christ. It is Christ’s invitation to us to become one with him, which can only be brought about with utmost diligence. That diligence is the condition under which we can receive the Holy Ghost. And the Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and the Son, making them known more and more to us, the more we receive him throughout our lives.