(The following document is taken from the class handouts entitled “The Church” from the late Elder Jim Robbins)
In the Christian religion there are two main divisions: Roman Catholic and Protestant which is comprised of several denominations. The Catholic Church claims to be the only true representative of Jesus Christ on this earth; they base their claim on unbroken apostolic authority succession with the apostle Peter as the beginning. One of their chief scriptures for support of this concept is found in
Matthew 16:19 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
They contend that the “rock” upon which Christ will build His Church is Peter. The Protestant reformation had its inception in the early 1500’s with Martin Luther (a Roman Catholic priest) and other men such as John Calvin, John Knox, and others. From the courageous stance that these men took came forth various “Protestant” denominations.
The Protestants’ claim is that the Roman Catholic church lost its authority to represent Jesus Christ as His church due to their corrupting the Gospel with false and perverse traditions which eventually superceded the authority of the scriptures.
The Protestants also claimed that their justification to break away from the “apostate mother church” was based on conscience and their understanding of the scriptures. Unfortunately, as far as the protestant movement is concerned as each strong leader arose and gained a following which ultimately resulted in yet another protestant denomination that leader greatly influenced the theological stance of that denomination.
In other words, if the leader is not entirely accurate in his understanding of the scriptures then that denomination would ultimately find themselves in the throes of “apostasy” which basically means: falling away from the truth. Isn’t it ironic that the very reason for the inception of the protestant movement would eventually become the very same snare?! Historically it can be well established that the Roman Catholic church was able to consolidate not only its ecclesiastical authority over the entire earth by the mid to late 500’s A.D. but also political authority.
For nearly 1,000 years this church held sway over the entire earth with an iron fist. It literally decided what was truth and what was not truth and determined what was to be taught and what was considered “heresy”. This thousand year period was indeed etched in scarlet(the blood of dissidents and heretics). By the 1500’s A.D. for various reasons the Roman Catholic church had lost much of its political power which then allowed the rise of Protestantism.
To those of the modern-day world who have never studied theological history it would be hard to accept the fact that at one time there was only one church on this earth and that church ruled for over 1,000 years with as much oppression and blood-letting as any military dictator had ever achieved. I’m confident that the protestants of the 1500’s if in our midst today could share with us some testimonies that would sicken and terrify us.
You may ask the question, “What is the point of all this?” “Is it because you enjoy bashing another denomination?” To answer the second question let me emphatically say, “No” It is not my intent to bash another church; hopefully, the remainder of this hand-out will vindicate my approach.
To the first question my reply is, “To clearly show why there would be a need of a Restoration of Christ’s Church and not a reformation” The foundational basis of our belief regarding the Church is that Jesus Christ RESTORED His Church in 1830 (April 6th).
The Church: What Is It?
Various names are used in the scriptures to denote the “church” such as The Saints, Body of Christ, Bride of Christ, The Woman, The Disciples, etc.
The term “saint” denoted the true believers in God (in the O.T.) and the believers in Jesus Christ (in the NewTestament).In Hebrew Qadosh or Qadash were the words for “saint” which meant sacred, sanctified, purified, or consecrated. The element of “separateness” is inferred in these words, i.e. something or someone set apart for holy purposes.
The Greek word for “church” is Ekklesia, which means “the called-out ones” In both Hebrew and Greek the word “saint” which can denote “the church” Infers “separateness”—note
II Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye the separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you The term “Christian” was originally a term of derision coined by Greek non-believers at Antioch (Acts 11:26).
A similar experience is found in the Book of Mormon
Alma 21:45 Yea, all those who were the true believers in Christ, took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians, as they were called, because of their belief in Christ, who should come; and therefore, at this time, Moroni prayed that the cause of the Christians, and the freedom of the land might be favored.
Another term is Bride of Christ. Based upon my understanding of the scriptures the chief function of the Church of Jesus Christ (The Bride of Christ) is to become married to Him (has not as yet happened)
Revelations 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. in order to give birth to the “man-child” which is Zion or the Kingdom of God to be established upon this earth (Rev.12:l-7).
Revelations 12:7 And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ.This in my opinion is the chief purpose and function of Christ’s Church.
Body of Christ which denotes His Church can be found in:
I Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.
I Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
See also ICor.12:12-28, Eph.l:22~23, Eph.4:ll-14, Coloss.1:18~24.
From these passages of scripture one can conclude that Christ’s Church had a discernible form with various priesthood offices contained therein (although not all of these offices have to be present at all times).
The reason why I have made these comments is to counter a modern-day popular concept which is rather wide-spread. The concept is: The Body of Christ (His Church) is a nebulous non-structured entity composed of all the true believers in Jesus Christ. In other words, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is part of the Body of Christ regardless of their denominational (if any) or theological foundation. Basically, this concept is but another version of “It doesn’t matter what you believe so long as you believe-there are many “ways” back to God.”
I Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
That God is not the author of confusion and yet in the world of religion confusion reigns—everyone has their own cherished “way” back to God!! Another concept I’ve encountered is—church membership or even church itself is not too significant; what really counts is our personal relationship with Jesus Christ regardless of church affiliation.
Here is a classic example of a half-truth that has tripped up many. Yes, it is of utmost importance to have a right relationship with Jesus Christ (church membership without a true commitment to Jesus Christ will not save you); however, to say that the church is not important contradicts what the Apostle Paul stated in Eph.5:25-27--Jesus Christ Died For His Church!!
Acts 2:47... And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.--the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved!!
Don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking that the Church of Jesus Christ isn’t important.
So then, after all that I’ve written thus far the logical question should be: Is there just one true Church or are all churches legitimate “brides”? One other question perhaps that should be asked is: How would one recognize the “True Church” if indeed there is only one?
To these questions I hope to present some meaningful answers.
The Church: One or Many?
In the early Spring of 1820 a 15 yr. old farm boy in western part of the state of New York was perplexed as to which church he should join.
There was being held in his area a revival in which 3 of the major Protestant denominations were represented (Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian).
On subsequent nights the 3 different ministers would present their beliefs(based on Bible authority)and urge the people to align themselves with their denomination.
Some of Joseph’s family were leaning toward one of the sects while others of his family were leaning toward another.
Joseph’s testimony is that he simply did not know which to join because all 3 used the Bible as their authority and yet the 3 differed drastically in their theology which left Joseph in a real quandary. He testifies that one day while pondering the matter he was reading in the book of James in the New Testament
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
The Apostle James admonishes a person to ask God for enlightenment when they lack wisdom in making a proper decision. Joseph Smith resolved to do that very thing. A brief time after having read that passage of scripture, Joseph secluded himself in a grove of woods not far from his home and put that scripture to the test—he asked God which of those 3 churches should he join.
The very first thing that happened was that a power of darkness seized him with such astonishing force that he thought he was literally going to be destroyed; in total desperation he cried out to God for deliverance from this very real force of darkness and suddenly there came down from heaven a shaft of brilliant light which dispelled this dark being.
After Joseph gathered his wits he gazed upon this shaft of light and saw two personages each being perfectly identical to each other. The one being turned to the other and said,
“This is my beloved Son, hear ye Him”
As you can well imagine Joseph was awed to silence for a few moments but finally gained his composure to ask the question for which he had come to the woods, i.e. “Which church should I join”.
To this question the Lord Jesus Christ answered,
“Join none of them, for their creeds are an abomination in my sight for they teach for doctrine the commandments of men.”
Joseph was also told that some day He would Restore His Church through Joseph.HARD TO SWALLOW?? Quite frankly it is unless you either have had an experience with God in which He has confirmed the truthfulness of that claim that Joseph made or you have chosen to accept that experience strictly on faith with the confidence that someday that faith shall be confirmed in knowledge.
I personally am one who fits in the second category; I cannot honestly say that I know that Joseph’s testimony is true but I have never doubted it and have chosen to accept it as true with an inner confidence that one day my faith shall be vindicated in knowledge. Perhaps my faith in Joseph’s testimony is akin to my faith in accepting the stories of the parting of the Red Sea, Daniel in the lions den, Peter walking on water, Jesus resurrected after being killed, etc. In other words, I believe in a God of miracles who according to Isaiah:
Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
The Lord doesn’t do things the way we (man) would. For a task as monumental as Restoring His Church I would not have chosen Joseph Smith who has been an embarrassment to many church members(because he was not a polished theologian) but that is probably the very reason why God did as He did.
Perhaps a very fitting scriptural text is found in
I Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Thus, to the R.L.D.S. the answer is: There’s just one true church.
The Church by Definition
Somee pertinent scriptures which define what is the Church, make this concept more understandable.
From the Book of Mormon: Mos.ll:128-9 the Lord is speaking to Alma in response to a deep concern he had in this matter of the Church and how it should be governed. Vs.128 is very significant in that the Lord explains to Alma who would qualify for membership in His Church; namely:
Mosiah 11:128 And he that will hear my voice, shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church; and him will I also receive.
The word “Hear” in Hebrew means to hear and obey that which you hear (a very important concept to understand!).
The word Voice is defined in D&C 83:7a,b,9a** (Mos.11:136), D&C 85:17** John 6:62, D&C 68:1c, 2Ne.14:4 Ps.119:105, Mos.3:17.
The word Sheep can also be used interchangeably with the word Elect which denotes the true followers of Jesus Christ—D&C 28:2c, D&C 34:5b, John 10:2-5, Alma 3:105.
I want to also analyze vs.Alma 3:108
Alma 3:108 I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church, I speak by way of invitation, saying, Come, and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life.
which I believe shall shed additional light and appreciation for what the Lord was revealing to Alma. The Lord clearly declares who or what is His Church, i.e. those who hear (obey) His word are His sheep (elect), but then He goes a step further and declares that those who are His Church are baptized unto repentance.
We have hopefully dealt with the essentiality of baptism but I want to key in on the word Unto Repentance.
The word “Unto” denotes being associated with or resulting from. This definition of “Unto Repentance” harmonizes perfectly with
Moroni 8:29 And the first--fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith, unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins; and the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart, cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.
which states that the first fruits of repentance is baptism. Isn’t it marvelous how the scriptures tie together?!!
So, the Lord tells Alma in Mos.11:128- 9 that His Church are those who obey His scriptures(an exercise in faith), repent (re-think or desire holiness instead of worldliness), and are baptized.
Another reference in the Book of Mormon which I would encourage you to read but I’ll not elaborate on it is found in Mos.9:30-64.
Turning now to the Bible I want to refer to Matt.16:14-15 in which Jesus tells His apostles that upon this “rock” He would build His Church. What is this “rock”??
Let’s consider a few passages of scripture that perhaps shall define what is the “rock”. I’ll list some scriptures then I’ll make some observations on the topic: Deut.32:4,31 2Sam.22:2,3,32 Ps.18:2 ,Isa.28:16,(ICor.3:11, IPet.2:6-8, Ps.118:22) Ps.62:6, ICor.10:l-4, Helaman 2:74,75.
From these scriptures it should become clear that the “rock” upon which Christ’s Church would be built would be Jesus Christ Himself and His written word. For further scriptural verification we’ll now turn to the Doctrine & Covenants.
From the D&C the following scriptures unequivocally state that the “rock” or “Rock” upon which Christ’s Church would be built is Jesus Christ and His scriptures: D&C 10:llb** 16:lc~d 32:3a~b** 36:10g 50:8f,g**.
One final scripture I want to refer to is 3Ne.10:7 in which Jesus says He is the law. That is simply another way of saying what John said in John 1:14; Jesus is the word (law) made flesh. Jesus is what God speaks and does.
Can you see how much more logical it is when you understand that an institution as important as His Church which is to ultimately give birth to the Kingdom of God would be built upon Jesus Christ Himself rather than upon fallible man?!
I want to further the concept of the Church from the book of Doctrine & Covenants.
In D&C l:5e the Lord tells us that He is bringing His Church out of obscurity and out of darkness and is the only church upon the face of this earth which He is well pleased with (collectively speaking).
In D&C 3:16a the Lord states that His doctrine (remember the importance of doctrtne-2Johnl:9!!) is: whosoever repents and comes unto Him is His church.
There have been some church members who have wrested this scripture to make it say that any Christian of whatever persuasion who comes to Christ is His Church. However, let me analyze this passage of scripture to show what was the real intent of the Lord’s thought in the matter Consider the word “doctrine”. In D&C 39:1c~2b we read that he receives Christ’s gospel receives Him and then very clearly He states that His gospel is repentance and then water baptism and then spiritual baptism.
On the flip side of the above listed scripture He states that he who does not receive His gospel does not receive Him. One might raise the question,D&C3:16a uses the word “doctrine” but in D&C 39:2a~b the word “gospel” is used. Isn’t there a contradiction here?”
My answer would be, “No, if you understand that the words “doctrine” and “gospel” are synonymous.” For verification of this refer to Jacob 5:9 INe.4:18,19 3Ne.5:29-~2 2Ne.13:3.Consider next the word “repenteth”.
In D&C 58:9d we find perhaps one of the clearest definitions of what is true repentance. Referring again to Moro.8:2 we find that baptism follows those who truly repent. In Mos.11:129 which we previously dealt with the Lord tells Alma that His Church are those who are baptized unto repentance.
The last part of D&C 3:16a I want to deal with is the phrase “and cometh unto me.” In 2Ne.13:24 we read that the gate (means of entering or coming unto) is repentance and baptism. In 3Ne.4:50~51 the Lord says that one must come unto Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and as a little child; repentance is once again a part of these two passages of scripture which then will lead to baptism.
Then in conclusion I refer you to section 20 of the D&C. This revelation was given shortly after the Church was officially organized on April 6,1830. This revelation was the Lord’s reply to a pressing question which confronted some of the missionaries who were sharing the Restored Gospel with non-members; apparently many were accepting the truths being presented until they were told that they must be baptized in order to become members of Christ’s Restored Church.
They felt that their previous baptism in whatever church they had previously attended was authoritative and adequate and balked at re-baptism; to this dilemma Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord and received this revelation. Simply stated, the Lord said that the only authoritative baptism He would recognize would be the baptisms performed by the priesthood of His Restored Church; all other baptisms He considered to be “dead works”.
I have now stated my case
for my belief that the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
is the only true Church, which Jesus Christ claims as His own on this earth. And even though there presently is quite a schism
among the church members (over doctrine) I still believe that the R.L.D.S. Church shall one day become married (she is
presently engaged to Him) and give birth to the Kingdom of God which is known
THE COURSE OF THE APOSTASY
185 AD URANIUS SAID TO BAPTIZE BABIES
2OO AD PRAYERS OFFERED FOR THE DEAD
232 AD TERTULLIAN SAID BAPTIZING INFANTS IS DAMNABLE
254 AD IMANDATORY CHILD BAPTIZISM... OR GO TO HELL
325 AD CELIBACY OF THE PRIESTHOOD RECOMMENDED
431 AD MARY BECAME THE MOTHER OF GOD
500 AD PRIESTS BEGAN TO DRESS DIFFERENTLY
583 AD JUSTINIAN SAID THE POPE IS INFALLIBLE
593 AD PRAYERS OFFERED TO THE VIRGIN MARY
593 AD PURGATORY PLACE OF PUNISHMENT FOR SIN
682 AD HOLY WATER INTRODUCED
7O8 AD THE RITUAL OF KISSING THE POPE’S TOE WAS INTRODUCED
754 AD TEMPORAL POWERS POPE STEPHEN II CROWNED PEPTIN KING OF THE FRANKS
847 AD DECRETALS OF ISIDORE. INSURES POWER OF ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP INCLUDING BISHOP OF ROME
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