The old man then looked at him and said, “Do you dance?” As the young doctor pondered the strange question, it occurred to him that perhaps his patient was a tribal medicine man who, according to ancient tribal customs, sought to heal the sick through song and dance rather than through prescribing medication. “No,” said the doctor, “I don’t dance. Do you dance?” The old man nodded yes. Then the doctor asked, “Could you teach me to dance?” The old man’s response has for many years caused me much reflection. “I can teach you to dance,” he said, “but you have to hear the music.” Sometimes in our homes, we successfully teach the dance steps but are not as successful in helping our family members to hear the music. And as the old medicine man well knew, it is hard to dance without music. Dancing without music is awkward and unfulfilling—even embarrassing. Have you ever tried it? . . . The challenge for all of us who seek to teach the gospel is to expand the curriculum beyond just the dance steps. Our children’s happiness depends on their ability to hear and love the beautiful music of the gospel. How do we do it?
Both the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church of Jesus Christ are true and divine, and there is an essential relationship between them that is significant and very important. Understanding the proper relationship between the gospel and the Church will prevent confusion, misplaced priorities, and failed expectations and will lead to the realization of gospel goals through happy, fulfilling participation in the Church. Such understanding will avoid possible disaffection and will result in great personal blessings. As I attempt to describe and comment upon the essential relationship between the gospel and the Church, it is my prayer that a perspective may be developed which will enhance the influence of both the gospel and the Church in our individual lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles, laws, and ordinances which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. Gospel principles never change. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth, administered by the priesthood of God. The Church has authority to teach correctly the principles and doctrines of the gospel and to administer its essential ordinances. . . The eternal principles of the gospel implemented through the divinely inspired Church apply to a wide variety of individuals in diverse cultures. Therefore, as we live the gospel and participate in the Church, the conformity we require of ourselves and of others should be according to God’s standards. The orthodoxy upon which we insist must be founded in fundamental principles, eternal law, and direction given by those authorized in the Church. A necessary perspective is gained by studying and pondering the scriptures. Reading the scriptures, we learn the gospel as it is taught by various prophets in a variety of circumstances, times, and places. We see the consequences as the gospel is accepted or rejected by individuals and as its principles are applied or not. In the scriptures we discover that varying institutional forms, procedures, regulations, and ceremonies were utilized—all divinely designed to implement eternal principles. The practices and procedures change; the principles do not. Through scripture study we may learn eternal principles and how to relate them to institutional resources. As we liken the scriptures unto ourselves, we can better utilize the restored Church to learn, live, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let me say to you, if it is true that no man can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of the water and of the Spirit, God must provide a plan by which those who have died ignorant of the Gospel may have the privilege of doing so, or he would appear to be a partial being. Has He provided that way? He has. The Christian world have taught, preached, contemplated, meditated, sung about and prayed for the Millennium. What are you going to do during that period, Christians? Do you know what the Millennium is for, and what work will have to be done during that period? Suppose the Christian world were now one in heart, faith, sentiment and works, so that the Lord could commence the Millennium in power and glory, do you know what would be done? Would you sit and sing yourselves away to everlasting bliss? No, I reckon not. I think there is a work to be done then which the whole world seems determined we shall not do. What is it? To build temples. We never yet commenced to lay the foundation of a temple but what all hell was in arms against us. That is the difficulty now: we have commenced the foundation of this temple. What are we going to do in these temples? Anything to be done there? Yes, and we will not wait for the Millennium and the fullness of the glory of God on the earth; we will commence, as soon as we have a temple, and work for the salvation of our forefathers; we will get their genealogies as far as we can. By and by, we shall get them perfect. In these temples we will officiate in the ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for our friends, for no man can enter the kingdom of God without being born of the water and of the Spirit.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news, glad tidings, and much more. It is the message of salvation as repeatedly announced by Jesus Christ and His apostles and prophets. It is my firm belief that all truth and light originating with God is embraced in the gospel of Jesus Christ. God, our loving Father in Heaven, has said that it is His work and glory “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” God the Father is the author of the gospel; it is a key part of God’s plan of salvation, or plan of redemption. It is called the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that makes redemption and salvation possible. Through the Atonement all men, women, and children are unconditionally redeemed from physical death, and all will be redeemed from their own sins on the condition of accepting and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ’s gospel is the only true gospel, and “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ”. The core elements of the gospel message are found in all the holy scriptures but are most clearly given to us in the Book of Mormon and in the revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Here Jesus Himself plainly declares His doctrine and His gospel, with which God’s children must comply to “have eternal life”. The gospel is clear and plain. It answers the most complex questions in life, yet even a young child can comprehend and apply it. As Nephi said: “My soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding”. . . Isn’t this wonderful! Have we not reason to rejoice?
I realize that there is nothing on this earth, except the principles of the Gospel, that reach forward into the world to come. But everything of an earthly character, the wealth, the honors, the possessions of men, perish with this life, but the principles of the Gospel are eternal. They will endure forever; and you and I who have received a testimony of the gospel, you and I that can testify that we know that Jesus is the Christ, we only can expect an exaltation in the Celestial kingdom of God, if we live worthy of the testimony that we have borne. God, our heavenly Father, after having revealed His son unto us, expects lives of righteousness. It is the duty and the obligation that we owe to Him to so order our lives that all men, seeing the righteousness of the same may glorify God our heavenly Father. We have received the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if we do not so live and order our lives that all men will rejoice and see that we are honest, see that we are sincere, see that we are pure, we are not doing our duty as Latter-day Saints. The gospel of Christ teaches every man and woman and child to be virtuous, to be upright, to be honest; and if we are not virtuous, if we are not upright, if we do not live so as to bring credit unto the work of God, then are we not living as we should live, then we are not living up to the testimony we have received. This is an individual work in which we are engaged. You cannot rob me of my salvation; I cannot rob you of yours. It is an individual labor, and I thank God that all the Saints are entitled to the whisperings of His holy spirit. I thank God that none of us are dependent upon others for the testimony of the gospel. I thank Him that each and all can obtain a testimony for themselves. I beseech you, my friends, I beseech you, my brethren and sisters, one and all, to so live that the light of the holy spirit of God may be your constant companion, enlightening your mind, quickening your understanding, inspiring within you a desire to labor with all the power, with all the ability that God has given you for the accomplishment of His purposes.