by Scott Gordon
This week, with Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Currently, 63% of Americans identify as Christian. This is down from 75% just 10 years ago. Those who are religiously unaffiliated, sometimes referred to as “nones,” has risen to almost 30% of the US population. This is an increase of 6% in the past 5 years.
Does Religion Help?
Many of our youth see no need for Christianity, or religion in general. But, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of survey data from the United States and more than two dozen other countries, “People who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier and more civically engaged than either religiously unaffiliated adults or inactive members of religious groups…”
What Purpose Jesus Christ?
Participating in religious activities are valuable to us personally, and to society in general. I have personally witnessed people who have been burdened by things in life find relief and happiness by accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is through Jesus Christ we are forgiven, saved and redeemed.
We believe that the Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. Loosely paraphrasing from Doctrine and Covenants Section 19, God, the greatest of all, suffered infinitely, in order to save each one of us.
As I tried to explain to a group of Baptist Christians, it is through him, his suffering, death on the Cross, and resurrection, we can return to our Heavenly Father. This is done through his Grace. Grace is a gift. We are not saved by our works. We are not saved through some eternal point system. We are not saved by doing good deeds. It is only through the Atoning power of Jesus Christ that we are saved. It is through that power that Jesus Christ changes us, as we bind ourselves to Him through covenants, becoming one with Him.
The Apostle Paul boldly declared, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Romans 1:16).
Thoughts from Prophets and Apostles
Joseph Smith, who we believe was the first prophet in modern days, declared, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” 
Brigham Young, the second president of the Church, declared: “The Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world; they believe that all who attain to any glory whatever, in any kingdom, will do so because Jesus has purchased it by his atonement.”
Elder Dallin Oaks gives a fabulous discourse on this titled Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
What does the Book of Mormon Say?
In the 27th chapter of 3 Nephi, The Savior taught: “Behold, I [give] unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. …”
“And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world” (vv. 13, 16).
Further in Second Nephi 25: 26 it states, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”
Grace or Works?
There is one verse that my Baptist friends dislike.
2 Nephi 25:23, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
At a Baptist conference I attended, as soon as this verse was read, the audience let out an audible groan. They saw it as proof we denied the salvation of Christ and worked our way to heaven ourselves.
I have two thoughts about this. First, after all we can do, we are not saved. We can’t save ourselves. No man can earn his way to heaven! We can do all that we can and even be righteous, and we are still not saved without the grace of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, this verse must be read in the context of other verses where Nephi wrote about this same subject.
Nephi wrote in 2 Nephi 10:24, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.”
Both verses talk about becoming “reconciled” to God. Then after you are reconciled you become saved. The “after all you can do” is referring to being reconciled to God, not on earning your way to heaven.
We can become reconciled to God by following what is in our third and fourth articles of faith, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
“We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The principles in those articles of faith have ample New Testament scriptural support.
In our study of the Old Testament this year, many of us are seeing things through the eyes of people who were being prepared to recognize and accept a Savior and Redeemer. While the name “Jesus Christ” was not given to them, they gained faith in a Redeemer and Messiah who would come.
We have the blessing of hindsight. We have the writings of those who walked and talked with Jesus and saw his miracles. And yet, more and more people are turning away from Him.
As believers, we need to do more and to be examples sharing the joy and power that comes into our lives through Jesus Christ. We need to make an effort to recognize the good impact in our own lives, and make sure our children, family, and friends, recognize that value as well.
More Come, Follow Me resources here.
 Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 121.
 Brigham Young, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 24 April 1870, Vol. 13 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot, 1871), 328, quoted in Latter-day Commentary, 37.
Scott Gordon serves as President of FAIR, a non-profit corporation staffed by volunteers dedicated to helping members deal with issues raised by critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has an MBA from Brigham Young University, and a BA in Organizational Communications from Brigham Young University. He is currently an instructor of business and technology at Shasta College in Redding, California. Scott has held many positions in the church including serving as a bishop for six years. He is married and has five children.