We make many decisions, some decisions are without consequence, while others change the course of our entire life. When I was fourteen years old I made a decision that changed my life. I decided to stop going to church. This decision was made in part because of something I learned at church. There are three kinds of doctrine: 1) true doctrine, 2) false doctrine, and 3) incomplete doctrine. I left church because of a doctrine that was taught incompletely.
No one in my family was active so it wasn’t a big deal when I stopped going to church. I left, in part, because I got tired of hearing about how wonderful it was to be born in the covenant and how those who were must have been among the great and noble spirits in the preexistence. Problem was, I wasn’t born in the covenant, my father wasn’t even a member. So the message to me was, “you’re a second class spirit”. I agreed and left church thinking I’d never return. It wasn’t because of unbelief, I believed.
I really did feel second class because of what I had been taught at church. The church and its leaders didn’t provide what I needed at that time in my life. When the family is breaking down like mine was, the church can’t always make up the difference.
Embracing Truth by Throwing Off Falsehoods
Heavenly Father has revealed many things about himself. Among these revealed truths we learn one of His chief characteristics—“he is no respecter of persons”. The Lectures on Faith teaches in order, “to exercise faith in God we must first have ‘a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes’.” The prophet listed six of these, and number five says: “God is no respecter of persons, meaning that all his children in all ages will be taught the same gospel and granted the same privilege to enjoy its blessings.”
What does this bit of knowledge mean to you and me? What use is it–what can you do this very hour with this knowledge–to help you acquire greater faith? I’d like to offer a few ideas in answer to these questions.
Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “No member of the Church is esteemed by the Lord as more or less than any other…The Lord is ‘no respecter of persons.’” Boyd K. Packer, The Weak and the Simple of the Church, Ensign, Nov 2007, 6-9.
We are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. He doesn’t love one person more than the other. The newest member of the church in a far away land has the same privilege as you or I, or as President Monson, to apply the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, and thereby begin the journey back to Father’s presence.
Each of us has equal access to the path. We may not be at the same place on the path, but we’re all promised the same blessings if we will be faithful.
Ideas mean something; especially revealed ones. They are powerful sources of faith when we understand and believe them. I hope that all of us will understand and believe that Heavenly Father is no respecter of persons, and that we’ll act on this revealed knowledge.
For example, this very moment, with the authority of this revealed truth, we can throw off some of our self imposed chains of untruth, and replace them with truth. If we have believed or assumed that because we are lacking in some area, we’re are not as acceptable to Heavenly Father as another, then we can unchain ourselves from this destructive falsehood.
I know of members who believe a high profile church calling makes them more acceptable to the Lord than those who have run of the mill callings. Others feel that if they weren’t born into the covenant, then they are lacking in comparison to those who were. Still others believe that education, personal appearance, wealth, or notoriety of some kind, are symbols of those more beloved by Heavenly Father. The Book of Mormon addressing those of us who get entangled in these false ideas says, “humble followers of Christ…are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” 2 Nephi 28:14
Let’s detect these errs and listen to the Lord’s counsel and believe Him when He says, “I Am No Respecter of Persons”.
To repeat what I said in the introduction. There are three kinds of doctrine: 1) true doctrine, 2) false doctrine, and 3) incomplete doctrine.
As a youth, the leaders and teachers that I listened to taught me “incomplete doctrine” without realizing it. They emphasized the blessings of being born in the covenant. However, they failed to teach that if one wasn’t born in the covenant the Lord provided temple work, so all could have access to the promised blessings.
All members of the church need to understand the doctrines of the church, especially the basic doctrines such as the Lord is no respecter of persons. It is vital that members understand the Lord’s character, otherwise, we will be led to err because of the precepts of men.