4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
After they were baptized AND were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost they were numbered among the people of the Church of Christ. That's different from what we do now. We have the baptismal ordinance, then we confirm them a member, then we "admonish" them to receive the Holy Ghost.
It's far more helpful to read the Book of Mormon outside of our current traditions. Otherwise we miss the entire message.
In Moroni's time it was the Church of Christ. Baptism was something for elders priests and teachers 1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.
How did they become an Elder, priest, or teacher yet were not baptized? We as a church don't even ask these questions because we tend to project our current religion onto the Book of Mormon. It was supposed to be the other way around. The verse teaches that baptism was administered to those who brought forth fruit. We of course in our day assume that means the same thing as passing an interview.
The last part of verse 6 I found very interesting. "relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith". Relying alone upon the merits of Christ.... That's pretty clear. You'd almost have to cut and paste different text over that text to to misunderstand that phrase. They didn't rely on an institution, a prophet, a leader, or anyone else. Who was relied on is unmistakable, it was not the church organization, although they formed part of it because of their "fruits". Membership in the church didn't save them and it won't save us either. Hence the only thing they relied upon was Christ. It was Christ, His merit. No doubt they would rightly follow the voice of The Spirit, as well as heeding prophet's inspired words. Of course they would repent, live righteously, and meet together for obvious reasons. Of course they would sustain their leaders. What I think is important is they didn't rely on any of the many possibilities, which historically is all too common, they relied alone on Christ.
I think Moroni has inspired words. They ring true. I imagine such folk who rely alone on the merits of Christ will form part of the Lords church, not just because of membership status or family tradition, or calling, but because of who they are, and who they become because of Christ. That's what defines the "church". The "Church" has nothign to do with a corporation. It's correctly defined in scripture in D&C 10:67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. The people are the Church.
Interesting. The Book of Mormon is very clear I've noticed. The words are about as clear as you can put into English. But yet it's still possible to read them, and have modern mental pictures which are completely different from what the verse is saying.