My last post was about Joseph Smith’s vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ and how that was the beginning of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in our day. You might wonder why a restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ was necessary? To answer that question, we need to find out what the Church of Jesus Christ was.
During the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ, he organized His Church. In the Gospel of Mark we read that Jesus ordained twelve apostles and gave them authority to preach the gospel and baptize others (Mark 3:14-19). The apostle Paul talks of other offices in the church and why they were part of Christ’s Church, he said:
“And he agave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
What happened to the Church of Jesus Christ that was setup by Jesus and lead by his apostles after his death and resurrection? That church after the death of the apostles no longer existed. Christ and the apostles knew that this would happen. When the apostles came to Christ and asked him when he would come again, Christ said that it would not be soon. He said that they (the apostles) would be killed, that there would be many wars, famines, iniquity would abound, and that many false prophets would take their place. He also told them of many signs that would appear before his coming (Matthew 24). The apostle Paul said that Christ would not come until the Church of Christ would be destroyed (Thessalonians 2:1-3) and the apostle Peter said that Christ would not come again until after the restitution of all things (Acts 3:19-21). The second coming of Jesus Christ would not happen until his church would fall and then be restored again.
Not long after the original twelve apostle deaths, false teachings were common and taught as truth. Lost was the teaching related to the true nature of God and that we lived with him prior to being born in mortality as well as many other teachings. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a modern apostle, taught:
“When the gospel sun went down almost two millennia ago, when the priesthood was taken away … and when those on earth no longer were taught and directed by apostles and prophets, then spiritual darkness reigned.” The scriptures were often kept from public use, false creeds were adopted, numerous pagans were forced to convert, and thousands of people accused of heresy were put to death. “The terrors of the night were real and the night was long—long and dark and black.” (Preparing for the Restoration)
To restore something means to bring it back again which is different from a reformation. Martin Luther and other Christian Reformers knew that the original church that Christ had established was no longer on the earth. They tried as best as they could, but they could not bring back the true gospel of Jesus Christ, it required a restoration of the same authority that Christ had given the ancient apostles.
That restoration began in the spring of 1820, when a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees to pray and ask God which of all the churches at that time was the true church. In answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that his sins were forgiven, that the true church of Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth, and that through him the true church would be later restored. For more information on this experience you can read “Praise to the Man” from last month.
The true church of Jesus Christ today will have this same organization, teach the same Gospel that was taught by Christ and his apostles, and will not be the church of a man but be called the Church of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 27:3-11). The only church that meets all of these is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is God’s true church on the earth today and has the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet today. In addition to having a modern prophet to guide us, we also have twelve living apostles to help perfect our families and “for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”.
Your comments and questions are always welcome.