On April 6, 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded. From its first meeting of six men in a shack in backwoods New York state, this organization has flourished and now includes nearly 17 million members worldwide and is one of the fastest-growing faiths in existence. Because of what it signifies and what has happened on this day, the sixth of April is a sacred day to be remembered with gladness by all the peoples of the earth.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth, the very Son of God, came to earth and restored the Gospel He had previously given, as Jehovah, to the ancient Hebrews. He also added upon it, revealing new knowledge and establishing new offices to help officiate in the ordinances of the Holy Priesthood. These include apostles, seventies, patriarchs, bishops, priests, deacons, missionaries, and others (Ephesians 4:11-12). The early Christians, led by the apostles (who themselves were led through divine revelation), took the Gospel to multiple continents.
Less than a century later, all of the apostles had been murdered (except John who was granted a different fate and special mission by His Master). This jarring lack of leadership catapulted the Church of Jesus Christ to certain apostasy. Long before the apostles had been hunted down, the various branches of the Church were already in rebellion and false prophets were already among them. This cannot be denied if one believes the testimony of the New Testament writers, such as John who relayed the word of the Lord to multiple branches of the Church, reproving them and singling out several apostate sects like the Nicolatians and others who “hold the doctrine of Balaam.” He even warned that there were those “which say they are apostles, and are not” (Revelation 2).
Peter, the chief apostle, concurred and foretold that “there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways” (2 Peter 2:1-2).
The Apostle Paul likewise repeatedly warned of apostasy, lamenting “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Galatians 1:6) and warning “after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:28-30). I testify that ravening wolves did enter the flock and have dominated it for nearly two millennia.
It’s a matter of basic history that the Roman Catholic Church, and other churches that later split from them, changed doctrine taught by Jesus and His apostles and combined the mangled remains with pagan dogma and Greek philosophy. This is routinely acknowledged by Catholic scholars, though not by the clergy or by the lay members. It is borne out by any honest rendering of history. If these facts offend you, it’s time to learn true history and embrace reality instead of your cozy and comfortable, but erroneous, beliefs.
I cite only five of dozens of doctrines or practices that have been altered or abandoned by Christendom – both Catholicism and Protestantism:
1) The gift of the Holy Ghost was once given only to baptized members of the Lord’s Church “through the laying on of the apostles’ hands” and in no other way (Acts 8:14-23).
2) The Lord’s Church was directed in the way He established, which was by revelation through a divinely called – not elected or hired – council of Twelve Apostles and prophets, flanked by groups of seventy elders, bishops, priests, deacons, and so forth (Luke 9:1-2; Luke 10:1; John 15:16; Ephesians 4:10-12; Ephesians 2:20).
3) The Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit were once properly recognized as three separate Beings and only in the Fourth Century did an uninspired and contentious council convened by political leaders concoct the doctrine of the Trinity – the three-in-one myth that has so confounded the world – and split with the three-hundred year old acknowledged fact that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three distinct Beings united by purpose, not by substance (Genesis 1:26; Matthew 3:16-17; John 14:28; John 20:17; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 3:14; 1 John 5:7).
4) The false idea that God is only a spirit without a perfected physical body. The resurrected Christ ate food and told His disciples to touch His body as a witness that He was not a mere spirit Being (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:26-28; Genesis 1:27; Genesis 32:30).
5) Marriage was once acknowledged as not only good and right, but as a commandment of Almighty God. In order to become a bishop in the Lord’s Church, for instance, one had to be married. The Apostle Paul, whose words are fallaciously twisted to support the Devilish doctrine of celibacy, actually taught that “marriage is honourable” (Hebrews 13:4). Peter, as the scriptures show so clearly, was married (Mark 1:30). And, of course, the Lord commanded Adam and Eve – and by inference, all of humanity – to marry and become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-25). Marriage is a prerequisite for exaltation and intentional celibacy or deliberate singleness is damnable (Matthew 19:4-9; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
Not only did these, and many other, heresies become engrafted onto Christ’s true Church after the martyrdom of the apostles, completely bastardizing it, but the bishop at Rome decided to usurp authority and centralize all power in his office after the death of Peter. Catholic popes claim Peter was the first “pope” and claim their authority came down to them from Peter. This is erroneous on its face for anyone who has a basic historical chronology in front of them.
After Peter was killed, John remained alive. John, then, was the highest ranking apostolic authority in the Church. The authority would have devolved upon him to lead the Church. For the much lower bishop of Rome to claim the right to rule in the Church is a blatant usurpation of John’s legitimate authority. Yet, the Lord took John away from the apostates who called themselves “Christians” and permitted His Church to spiral into total apostasy, eventually including the Greek, Roman, and pagan mysteries as part of formal “Christian” dogma.
The conduct of the popes likewise betrays the fact that they were often uninspired and certainly not called to their post by the Lord. The Catholic Church came to deny revelation, which was the lifeblood of the Church Jesus Christ established. Indeed, in ancient times, the Lord revealed that His Church would always have a prophet at its head. Any church that denies continuing revelation or which doesn’t claim to be led by a living prophet is, simply, a false church. They may have some good followers and do good works. Many of their doctrines may be correct. But they lack the Priesthood authority to officiate as legal administrators of Christ’s Gospel with its myriad of sacred covenants.
Many philosophers and religionists alike acknowledged the need for some sort of course correct. This acknowledgment sparked the Reformation. The Reformation accomplished much good and freed people from the tyranny of the popes. Yet, as well-meaning as the Reformers were, and as righteous as many of them were, their efforts were only half-measures and lacked God’s ratifying seal of approval.
Three centuries after the Reformation began, learned men were still eagerly awaiting the rise of true Christianity. In 1822, for instance, Thomas Jefferson remarked that he was “happy in the prospect of a restoration of primitive Christianity” (Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Waterhouse, July 19, 1822). This “restoration,” he often said, would lead to the “disbandment of the unintelligible Athanasian jargon of 3. being 1. and 1. being 3.” (Thomas Jefferson to Wells & Lilly, April 1, 1818). Jefferson had correctly accused the clergy of using “the whimsies, the puerilities, & unintelligible jargon” of Plato to create a despotic system of oppression that confused people into believing they needed the priests to tell them every little thing and micromanage their lives. Or, in the Sage’s own words:
“[T]he Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from it’s indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power & pre-eminence. the doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained” (Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, July 5, 1814).
John Adams responded to Jefferson that his views on Plato “perfectly harmonize with mine.” He also said: “If the Christian Religion as I understand it, or as you understand it, Should maintain its Ground as I believe it will; yet Platonick Pythagoric, Hindoo, and cabballistical Christianity which is Catholic Christianity, and which has prevailed for 1500 Years, has recd [received] a mortal wound of which the Monster must finally die; yet So Strong is his constitution that he may endure for Centuries before he expires” (John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814).
Check mate, Plato. What honest and informed person can deny these piercing observations? The Great Apostasy really did exist. Catholicism really did combine Kabbalism (Jewish mysticism), paganism, and intellectually bankrupt Platonism. Though the Reformation struck a severe blow to the monstrous Catholic dogma, the Apostasy persisted and necessitated a total restoration of the Lord’s doctrine and Church – a restoration that could only be effected by the Lord Himself.
When the time and setting were right, the Lord indeed spoke again from Heaven. In 1820, the veil was parted and the Lord again called a prophet to not merely reform, but to fully restore His Church, complete with all the authorities, offices, and ordinances it had formerly possessed before the murder of the apostles. Though Thomas Jefferson didn’t know it at the time, the momentous “restoration of primitive Christianity” he dreamed about was already underway.
The man chosen by the Lord to wear the prophetic mantle and usher in the final Gospel Dispensation was a young man in backwoods New York named Joseph Smith, Jr. Joseph Smith was chosen by the Savior to be His representative on earth – a prophet, seer, and revelator. The ancient apostles who last held the Lord’s Priesthood authority – John the Baptist, who held the lower Priesthood, and Peter, James, and John, who held the higher Priesthood – appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and, following the ancient pattern, laid their hands on their heads and conferred upon them the Holy Priesthood.
This started once more the chain of authority that began with Jesus Christ during His mortal ministry. The same Priesthood that He possessed and which He gave, through the laying on of His holy hands, to Peter, James, and John, continued onward with Joseph Smith. The Prophet Joseph Smith became the successor to John, the final apostle of the early Church. Through divine inspiration, the Prophet brought forth additional scripture to complement and bolster the Holy Bible’s witness of Jesus Christ and to clarify how ordinances like baptism were to be properly performed. On April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith formally restored the Church, calling it “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” which name he received through revelation.
Like the ancient apostles, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum Smith, were unjustly imprisoned and murdered by a mob in their jail cells in 1844. In spite of their tragic deaths, the Church continued forward. This is because it was not Joseph Smith’s church, but The Church of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s power was upon it. His Priesthood authority directed it. The prophetic mantle transferred automatically from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young. It has continued down to this day to a man named Russell M. Nelson who stands as the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I testify with all the fervor of my soul that this Church is the Lord’s Church and that it is led by prophets who hold the identical authority held by Peter, James, and John. I know this truth through the Holy Spirit and I dare not deny it. It’s true! I’m an independent witness.
No one likes being told their beliefs aren’t true. It’s a hard thing to accept. Yet, if the world is to save itself from darkness, it must acknowledge that the Great Apostasy is ongoing; that the version of “Christianity” that’s popular in the world is a false and altered form; and that the Lord’s true Gospel has once more been restored to the earth and is directed by legal administrators who officiate in the ordinances of salvation.
In April, 2020, the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a rare proclamation commemorating the Restoration of the Lord’s Church. They stated:
“In humility, we declare that in answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph [Smith] and inaugurated the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) as foretold in the Bible. In this vision, he learned that following the death of the original Apostles, Christ’s New Testament Church was lost from the earth. Joseph would be instrumental in its return.
“We affirm that under the direction of the Father and the Son, heavenly messengers came to instruct Joseph and re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ. The resurrected John the Baptist restored the authority to baptize by immersion for the remission of sins. Three of the original twelve Apostles—Peter, James, and John—restored the apostleship and keys of priesthood authority. Others came as well, including Elijah, who restored the authority to join families together forever in eternal relationships that transcend death. . . .
“We declare that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, organized on April 6, 1830, is Christ’s New Testament Church restored. This Church is anchored in the perfect life of its chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ, and in His infinite Atonement and literal Resurrection. Jesus Christ has once again called Apostles and has given them priesthood authority. He invites all of us to come unto Him and His Church, to receive the Holy Ghost, the ordinances of salvation, and to gain enduring joy.”
Truly, the Lord invites all people to come to Him, learn of Him, live like Him, and partake of the grace and love He offers through the ordinances of His Gospel. John the Revelator saw that the Gospel would be preached by angels from Heaven once more in the last days:
“I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).
Clearly, it would be superfluous and improper for an angel to bring the Gospel to earth again if it had remained and no Apostasy happened. But the Great Apostasy did occur. And so did the Restoration! The Restoration of the Gospel is one of the most important events ever to transpire. Joseph Smith was the instrument the Lord used to start the process of the “restitution of all things.” That process is ongoing as the scattered Israelites are gathered, through missionary work, back into the fold of Christ. There is revelation yet to be revealed. There are momentous things yet to happen. There are more miracles in our future.
April 6th is a sacred day, a day of rejoicing and gladness. For those of you who have already joined yourselves to the Lord’s Church, give thanks to the Savior. Those of you who have not yet joined, I invite you to investigate the restored doctrines of the Lord’s Church. Investigate them prayerfully. Don’t feast on the bilge of dissenters, but go to the source – the scriptures themselves and the Lord. You can write to me and I’ll help guide you to sources that can help you in your personal search. More importantly, ask Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, to reveal to you by the Holy Spirit whether or not these things are true. And when you receive your answer, which I can testify will be in the affirmative, find a modern legal administrator of the ordinance of baptism and embrace membership in the Savior’s earthly Kingdom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
God bless you to feel and know the truth for yourself as you contemplate the “marvelous work and a wonder” that is the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ.
April 7, 2021