The author who wrote to the Hebrews admonished them to move towards perfection, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ. Certainly, This admonishment was not asking the Hebrews to abandon these principles, which are later enumerated; rather, he is telling them that these truths should already be understood, applied to their lives and ingrained in them, as they should be in all those who call themselves Christians.
Hebrews 6: 1-3 “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.”
According to New Oxford American Dictionary – the word Principle, as used in this reference means: “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior, or for a chain of reasoning:”
This passage in Hebrews 6 is often referred to as the principles of the Gospel, of which there are six. There is much to be said about each of these fundamental truths; however, in this article we are going to focus on one: laying on of hands.
This principle, also being an ordinance of Christ’s gospel, has many aspects. It is an ordinance that is to be performed only by those called of God, ordained by one with authority to the office of an Elder. These Elders are to use this authority, to lay their hands upon others, to bless and to serve the congregations of believers in the following ways:
1. To ordain other men, called of God, to the various offices of the ministry.
As with all manners of government and business, it requires authority to give authority, unless taken by force, which is not the way of God. We see examples of this very practice in the scripture. One in particular that comes to mind is found in Acts 13. Here in Antioch the church was meeting in fasting and prayer, and among the congregation were prophets as well as Paul (Saul) and Barnabas. The Holy Spirit spoke, calling out Paul and Barnabas to occupy as ministry. In verse 3 it states: “And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
This practice of one with authority ordaining others to have authority can also be found in the Book of Mormon:
Alma 4:1 “And now it came to pass that after Alma had made an end of speaking unto the people of the church, which was established in the city of Zarahemla, he ordained priests and elders, by laying on his hands according to the order of God, to preside and watch over the church.”
2. The healing of the sick.
As we consider this opportunity to be healed, we need to understand that the elders must exercise their faith as they perform this ordinance. Those who are sick also have a duty to exercise their faith, and seek the elders to present their need or infirmity before God to obtain the blessing. James puts it best:
James 5:14-15 “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
We must not overlook the added benefit to exercising our faith under the hands of the Elders, for it says not only will God heal us, but also our sins will be forgiven.
3. The blessing of little children.
Unlike some other Christ-based religions that practice infant baptisms, the Church of Christ adheres to scripture which tells us before anyone can be properly baptized they must first repent and have a change of heart by having no more desire to do evil. Scripture also tells us that little children have no need of repentance because they are perfect in Christ:
Moroni 8:11-16 “Behold I say unto you, that this thing shall ye teach, repentance and baptism unto they which are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children: and their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins. But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism. Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell. Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism, is in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell. For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.”
Being alive in Christ, they are loved dearly by Christ. For this reason, in both the old land of Palestine and the new land of the Americas, Christ took the little children in his arms and blessed them:
3 Nephi 8:23- 26 “And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bear record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again, and he spake unto the multitude, and saith unto them, Behold your little ones. And as they looked to behold, they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were, in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about; And they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them, and the multitude did see and hear, and bear record; and they know that their record is true, for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself;”
One might ask why we as a church practice this ordinance today; the answer is we are commanded to do all those things of which Jesus gave us the example:
3 Nephi 12:34 “Verily, verily I say unto you, This is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do;”
4. The conferring of the Holy Ghost.
Receiving the Holy Ghost is a necessary and a scriptural part of the ordinance of Baptism:
2 Nephi 13:24 “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.”
Most humans like the idea of getting gifts. If you doubt that, consider the vast amount of money spent on gifts at Christmas time! The Holy Ghost is a gift from God that works marvelous things in our life; helping us walk in the path of righteousness that we witnessed to God and before the world we were willing to do as we entered into the waters of baptism. The disciples of Jesus were concerned and worried about their future, not knowing what they would do without Jesus there to give them constant instruction and guidance. Jesus told them, “I will not leave you comfortless.” He went on to explain:
John 14:26-27 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
In Christ’s restored church, the Elders are commissioned to lay their hands upon those who have repented and been baptized by water. As they lay hands upon them, and call upon the Lord, this gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon them as an abiding Comforter. It is a gift abiding within to direct their paths and guide them through this life to help keep them in the right course that leads to eternal life:
Moroni 2:1-3 1 “The words of Christ, which he spake unto his disciples, the twelve whom he had chosen, as he laid his hands upon them. And he called them by name, saying, Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after that ye have done this, ye shall have power that on him whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles. Now Christ spake these words unto them at the time of his first appearing; and the multitude heard it not, but the disciples heard it, and on as many as they laid their hands, fell the Holy Ghost.”