I often hear pastors and parishioners of all stripes encourage people to “find a church” they like. I want to take a moment today to ask these doubtless honest Christians if perhaps they should not instead be encouraging folks to “find the Church” of Jesus Christ.
One of the major flaws I see in Christendom is the unscriptural idea that it doesn’t matter which church you belong to so long as you believe in Christ. One denomination is as good as the next for the believer who has Christ in his heart – this is the attitude. Arguably, more Christians have been lulled to sleep or led into crooked paths by this false doctrine than by any other.
I sometimes wonder how an “any-denomination-is-fine” Christian feels when he reads scriptural declarations like the following:
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
“Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-8).
“I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).
“13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
“For the body is not one member, but many.
“If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? . . . .
“. . . God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . . .
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:13-15, 18, 27-28).
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
“And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
“And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.
“And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.
“And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them” (Luke 9:1-6).
“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. . . .
“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. . . .
“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:1, 17, 19).
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11).
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, abut he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
“Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
“But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8:17-20).
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon fa rock:
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one call things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:9-10).
“And 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 enation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).
“[A]t the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11).
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:21-23).
“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30).
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
There is nothing in these rather straightforward verses that suggests that the Lord’s Church is divided into numerous opposing denominations with contradictory doctrines, leaderships, priesthoods, translations and interpretations of scripture, and ordinances. There is nothing that implies one church is as good as the next, that multiple churches may be exist and be equally valid at the same time, or that it doesn’t matter which church you belong to.
Instead, I see nothing but unity – unity of leadership, authority, organization, doctrine, and membership. I see the word “one” several times, not only implying unity of spirit and intention, but unity of doctrine, structure, and Church body.
In these prophetic passages, I see references to prophets, apostles, seventies, approved Priesthood authority, and ordinance work carried out by those holding said Priesthood authority. I see citations stating clearly that the Lord will not accept everyone just because they claim to be His followers. I see clear reference to certain ordinances, like baptism, that are required to enter Heaven. I see order, unity, and oneness.
In light of the fact that the Lord’s Church was not divided in His day or in the time of the Twelve Apostles, is it reasonable to think it should be divided today? If baptism was necessary in Christ’s day, why would it not be necessary today? If the Savior called apostles, prophets, and other authorized servants to preach His Gospel and perform ordinances, are we so arrogant to toss out this system today? If the ancient apostles said there is only “one faith” and described all Christian believers as being linked together in “one body” under prophets and apostles, how can be honestly subscribe to anything different and yet still claim to be Biblical Christians?
This brings up another problem – the Bible itself. The Bible is the word of God. There is no doubt about it. However, there are myriad translations of that holy book. And there are even more interpretations of its passages, each different from the next. It is utterly impossible, then, to simply read the Bible and use our own reason to comprehend which of all the 45,000 different sects is the “one.” We need a higher and holier witness.
That witness comes only from God through the Holy Spirit. Recall that when Jesus asked His Apostles who they thought He was, Peter responded: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;” to which the Lord responded: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17).
It was not enough for Peter to walk with the Savior and witness His miracles, hear His teachings fall from His lips, or feel His divine presence. Peter needed to gain a witness from the Holy Ghost. All of us must also receive a witness from the Holy Spirit or we remain in ignorance and can never testify that we know the truth.
Through the Holy Spirit, we can learn not only that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, but which church of all the thousands that exist is His Church containing His authority, ordinances, and doctrines that are necessary for salvation through His blood.
Most of my friends and acquaintances are not members of the Church I belong to. Some are not members of any church and are not religious at all. I still love them and treat them the same as anyone. We are all at different points on journey of finding the Lord’s one true path or working our way down it. That said, I can’t close this article without sharing my personal witness and testimony of what I have come to know through the same Spirit that confirmed to Peter that Jesus is the Christ.
I know by virtue of the Holy Ghost that Jesus of Nazareth was the premortal Jehovah, the Creator of earth, and the Lord of lords. I know that He lived a sinless life, that He atoned for my sins and for yours, and that He was crucified as the final sacrifice to fulfill the ancient law He gave to Israel. I know that He rose from the tomb three days later and stands today with a resurrected body at the right hand of God the Father.
I also testify that I know through the Holy Spirit that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s “one” Church. While we can learn many things from many churches, and while numerous good and upright believers exist in other organizations, only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the Priesthood authority to officiate in saving ordinances.
I witness that this Church was revealed from Heaven by an appearance of the Father and Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith and that numerous angels subsequently brought additional knowledge, Bible-supporting scripture, and keys of authority. I testify that three of these divine figures were the Apostles Peter, James, and John, who conferred their keys, rights, and authority of the Lord’s Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1829 and that it has continued in unbroken succession to President Russell M. Nelson who presides as prophet, seer, and revelator over the Lord’s Church.
I give my personal, sacred witness that the “everlasting gospel” that John saw being delivered to men on earth was this same Gospel of Christ restored through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith in these last days. I witness that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a volume of holy scripture that substantiates the Bible’s testimony of Jesus and points people’s souls to Him, calling them to repentance, faith, and good works.
I know that Jesus is the Christ, my Savior, Master, and King. I invite all to come to Him, to seek knowledge from the Holy Spirit, and to investigate the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ which has brought so much conviction and satisfaction to my soul. It is time to not only find a church, no matter how lovely and enlightened it may be, but to find and join ourselves to the Church of Jesus Christ.
June 12, 2022