Sunday, October 4, 2015

Witnesses of Christ

Conference weekend for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is always a great uplifting weekend but this conference was especially exciting. Three new Apostles were sustained in the Saturday afternoon session. This is the first time since 1906 that three new apostles were sustained in the same conference and only the fourth time since the quorum’s formation in 1835. With the death of Elder L. Tom Perry on May 30th 2015, President Boyd K. Packer on July 3, 2015, and Elder Richard G. Scott on September 22, 2015 there were three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve. Another historic significance is the three new apostles will be the 98th, 99th, and 100th apostle since the restoration of the church in 1830 (see Deseret News Article)

The three new Apostles (in order of ordination) Elder Ronald A. Rasband (formerly of the Presidency of the Seventy), Elder Gary E. Stevenson (formerly of the Presiding Bishopric), and Elder Dale G. Renlund (formerly of the First Quorum of the Seventy).

In the first chapter of Acts the remaining eleven Apostles met together to chose a new apostle to replace Judas. The scripture tells what qualifications the person needed:

Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:21-22)

To qualify to be the newest member of the twelve in the ancient church, the person needed to be a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.

To the modern church the Lord Jesus Christ gave this description for the calling of an apostle:

The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling. (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23)

Thus an apostle is a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world. The members of the Quorum of Twelve and the First Presidency are sustained by the members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as prophets, seers and revelators. The First Presidency is comprised of the president of the church (the senior apostle) and two counselors (also from the Quorum of the Twelve) thus in total there are 15 apostles that are at the head of the church. Apostles serve full-time for the remainder of their lives. President Boyd K. Packer said “When the call came, each has put down his nets, so to speak, and followed the Lord." (“The Twelve”)

President Packer told of an experience he had with President Spencer W. Kimball in Copenhagen, Demark when they went to visit the Vor Frue Church, where the Thorvalsen statues of the Christus and of the Twelve Apostles stand. He said:

To the front of the church, behind the altar, stands the familiar statue of the Christus with His arms turned forward and somewhat outstretched, the hands showing the imprint of the nails, and the wound in His side very clearly visible. Along each side stand the statues of the Apostles, Peter at the front to the right and the other Apostles in order.

Most of our group was near the rear of the chapel with the custodian. I stood up front with President Kimball before the statue of Peter with Elder Rex D. Pinegar and Johan Helge Benthin, president of the Copenhagen stake.

In Peter’s hand, depicted in marble, is a set of heavy keys. President Kimball pointed to those keys and explained what they symbolized. Then, in an act I shall never forget, he turned to President Benthin and with unaccustomed firmness pointed his finger at him and said, “I want you to tell everyone in Denmark that I hold the keys! We hold the real keys, and we use them everyday.”

I will never forget that declaration, that testimony from the prophet. The influence was spiritually powerful; the impression was physical in its impact.

We walked to the back of the chapel where the rest of the group was standing. Pointing to the statues, President Kimball said to the kind custodian, “These are the dead Apostles.” Pointing to me, he said, “Here we have the living Apostles. Elder Packer is an Apostle. Elder Thomas S. Monson and Elder L. Tom Perry are Apostles, and I am an Apostle. We are the living Apostles.

“You read about the Seventies in the New Testament,and here are two of the living Seventies, Elder Rex D.Pinegar and Elder Robert D. Hales.”

The custodian, who up to that time had shown no emotion, suddenly was in tears.

I felt I had had an experience of a lifetime.

“We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” (“The Twelve”)

It is our testimony to the world that we do have modern prophets and apostles, special witnesses of the name of Christ to all the world. When the Lord Jesus Christ called the Twelve Apostles anciently he gave them the priesthood authority to govern the church. Peter, James and John (the First Presidency of the ancient church) came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in May 1829 and gave them the keys of the same priesthood they had been given. Since that time there has been an unbroken transfer of those priesthood keys to the present time. President Thomas S. Monson has all those keys as do all of the other Apostles today.

The Lord has called his modern apostles and prophets and has given them the priesthood keys, the same as he did in the ancient church. Christ is the head of this church and Kingdom of God on the earth today. The Holy Ghost bore witness to me again as I raised my hand to sustain the newest apostles and the other prophets, seers and revelators. These prophets and apostles are not just for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but for all the world. The Lord has called them so their teachings are the same teachings that the Lord Jesus Christ would give us if he were here speaking to us for he has said “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken…whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38). I invite you to watch or listen to what these prophets and apostle have said by going to the October 2015 general conference web page. 

Your comments and questions are welcome.


  1. I am so excited that those same statues are going to be replicated, from the same stone quarry, for the Italy temple visitor's center.


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