The term Mormon is actually just a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The real name reflects the centeredness of Jesus Christ in the faith of the Mormon people.
Mormons are Christians, but accept the teachings of the Bible over those decided on in councils held long after Jesus and the apostles were gone. They reject the influence of Greek philosophers on Christianity. Instead, they use the teachings of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, as well as the teachings of prophets of God. Only a prophet—not a philosopher—has the right to speak for God.
For Mormons, Jesus Christ is at the heart of their faith and of their lives. The very youngest children learn a song called, “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” and are taught to learn about the life of Jesus Christ and to model their lives on His. As they grow older, they are challenged to increase their Christ-like behavior because at baptism, which occurs at age eight, they will take His name on themselves. This means they will promise to represent Him well, demonstrating through their own lives what it means to be a Christian. Even though they are young, they are old enough to know right from wrong if taught and they are old enough to choose to be Christ-like in their lives and most do it very well. They learn at church and at home to live the principles of the thirteenth Article of Faith. The Articles of Faith are thirteen statements of belief held by Mormons. It was written by Joseph Smith, the first modern prophet. This final article says:
“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
Each Sunday, Mormons take the Sacrament, which many churches call Communion, to renew their baptismal covenant and to focus on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Mormons believe Jesus Christ atoned for their sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and sealed His extraordinary sacrifice when He died on the cross, rising after three days to break the bonds of death for all of us. Mormons teach that atonement can come only through Jesus Christ and cannot be earned or had any other way.
“Our salvation depends on believing in and accepting the Atonement.Such acceptance requires a continual effort to understand it more fully. The Atonement advances our mortal course of learning by making it possible for our natures to become perfect.All of us have sinned and need to repent to fully pay our part of the debt. When we sincerely repent, the Savior’s magnificent Atonement pays the rest of that debt.
Paul gave a simple explanation for the need of the Atonement: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”Jesus Christ was appointed and foreordained to be our Redeemer before the world was formed. With His divine sonship, His sinless life, the shedding of His blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, His excruciating death on the cross and subsequent bodily Resurrection from the grave, He became the author of our salvation and made a perfect Atonement for all mankind. (See The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope by James E. Faust, October 2001. Elder Faust was a Mormon apostle prior to his death.)
The atonement provides hope for those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and gives meaning to their lives. Mormons consider themselves to owe a great debt to the Savior for His atoning sacrifice, and they work hard to keep the commandments He outlined while on earth and to give Him all their love.
Jesus Christ is central to the message of the Book of Mormon, a book of scripture Mormons use with the Bible. It serves as a second witness of Jesus Christ and testifies of His divinity.