In the book of Daniel, that great prophet interpreted a dream had by King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel described the “great image” seen by the king as “terrible” (Daniel 2:31). He recounted:
“This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay” (Daniel 2:32-33).
The body of this “great image” was odd, disjointed, and terrible. Of course, what the king saw was not a real man made of gold, silver, brass, iron, and clay. Those are symbols. The image represented a series of evil kingdoms that would be set up by Satan to oppose God’s work of salvation among men.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul used a similar analogy to sketch the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church is described as a “body” comprised of different members. Though the parts of the body served different functions, they operated together as “one.” He said:
“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.
“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. . . .
“But now are they many members, yet but one body.
“And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
“Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. . . .
“That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. . . .
“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 12:12-14, 20-22, 25, 27-28).
Paul taught that the “body of Christ,” which is the Church of Jesus Christ, is one. It is not splintered into 45,000 denominations and sects. It cannot permit schism. A divided body of Christ is no body of Christ at all.
Moreover, no part of the body can say to the other parts that they aren’t necessary. If bishops say apostles are no longer necessary, those bishops are in error, have denied the faith, perverted the Plan of God, and mangled the body of Christ. If you find a church that denies apostles and prophets, you can rest assured that it is not the Church of Jesus Christ and that it is out of harmony with the Bible.
The “body of Christ,” or, rather, modern Christendom, is misshapen, disjointed, deformed, contradictory, and corrupt. It bears no resemblance to Biblical Christianity. Protestantism is nothing but schism, division, and chaos. It is a smorgasbord or buffet approach to salvation – whatever you want goes. Every preacher, pastor, or minister thinks he is called of God and goes off and forms his own church. By what authority? Certainly not God’s! Do you recall how the Savior conferred His authority to His apostles? Let me refresh your memory:
“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” (Luke 9:1-2).
The significant point is that Jesus called His apostles – they didn’t call themselves. He empowered them and endowed them with authority – they didn’t endow themselves with authority. He sent them to preach His Gospel – they didn’t send themselves to preach their own version of salvation.
Herein lies the difference between the true Church of Jesus Christ with its legal administrators of Gospel ordinances and all other denominations, sects, and churches that – however sincere they might be – are unauthorized and unapproved by the Lord. The Lord has only ever authorized one Church to bear His name, preach His Gospel, and officiate in His saving ordinances. He taught this doctrine and the apostles taught it after Him.
The great Thomas Jefferson, who affirmatively declared himself to be a “real Christian” (Thomas Jefferson to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816), wrote a letter wherein he observed:
“no doctrines of [Jesus] lead to schism. it is the speculations of crazy theologists which have made a Babel of a religion the most moral and sublime ever preached to man, and calculated to heal, and not to create differences. these religious animosities I impute to those who call themselves his ministers, and who engraft their casuistries on the stock of his simple precepts” (Thomas Jefferson to Ezra Stiles, June 25, 1819).
Unity is one of the hallmarks of the true Church of Jesus Christ. Disunity, discord, and division are hallmarks of Satanic influence and apostasy. It is absurd to believe the twelve apostles branched off and created their own churches. Obviously, they did not. They remained intact, united, and under one head. It was only after the apostles were hunted down and murdered by the Jews and Romans that an uninspired bishop in Rome and other conniving sophists in other parts of the world derailed the Church by severing its moorings connecting it to the pure doctrine of Christ, eventually leading to monumental schisms, religious wars and persecutions, and centuries of spiritual darkness and apostasy.
I repeat that the body of Christ, His Church, is deformed and disfigured today because of schisms, persecutions, and apostasy spanning a full 1,700 years. Yet, it is incorrect to say that the Church of Jesus Christ is divided. His Church never can be divided for He is at its head. Those professing allegiance to Him, however, have divided themselves among warring factions.
About 1.3 billion people have chosen the Catholic Church as their spiritual home, though who can honestly claim they are united? The Catholic faith is perpetually at war with itself – and with the Bible. Research “anti-popes” to convince yourself that no unbroken line of apostolic succession from Peter could have ever existed in the Catholic Church. Consider also that the office of “pope” is unBiblical. And what of apostles and prophets, seers and revelators?
It is basic history that the bishop of Rome illegitimately usurped authority from the apostles. The apostle John, the last living and highest-ranking apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ, was alive when the bishop of Rome, Linus, claimed authority over the Church. Catholics variously claim that Linus received authority either from Peter or from Paul (and some say Clement was the first bishop). At any rate, Linus’ claim was false. It was a usurpation. Power is not merely granted. No prophet chooses his own successor – only God chooses who will lead His Church.
Besides these facts, no bishop has authority to govern the Church of Jesus Christ because the office of bishop is a lesser authority and does not hold the keys to officiate over the Church. Only apostles hold those keys. By denying apostles, the Catholic Church denies and contradicts its own claim to be the Church of Jesus Christ.
Let’s be clear, the Catholic Church rejects the idea that their popes have been or are apostles. From the Vatican’s own documentation, I quote the following:
“Bishops, therefore, with their helpers, the priests and deacons, have taken up the service of the community, presiding in place of God over the flock, whose shepherds they are, as teachers for doctrine, priests for sacred worship, and ministers for governing. And just as the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles, is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors, so also the apostles’ office of nurturing the Church is permanent, and is to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops. Therefore, the Sacred Council teaches that bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ.”
In the Catholic view, bishops somehow “succeeded to the place of the apostles,” replacing the office altogether. This is a blatant usurpation. Where in holy writ was the office of apostle or prophet discontinued? Where in the Bible is the office of bishop elevated to the status of apostle or granted the same authority to preside? It is convenient for the Catholic Church that hundreds of years after the true apostles were martyred that bishops magically elevated themselves to a position of leadership over the Church of Jesus Christ.
Logic, scripture, and history dictate that the Catholic claim to leadership over the body of Christ is flawed, unscriptural, and unhistorical. Did not Christ teach the following?
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
“Wherefore by their afruits ye shall know them.
“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” (Matthew 7:15-21).
This passage condemns the Catholic Church as an organization. Many of its members have been the salt of the earth, and I personally know many Catholics whose values I happily share and whose friendship I cherish, but, regardless, institutional corruptness has produced bitter, rotten, detestable fruit. It has produced a “body of Christ” that is “terrible” like the monstrous figure interpreted by Daniel.
History testifies to the effusion of blood, the cries of persecution, the blinding of minds, the reveling in debauchery, and the centuries of schism that the Catholic Church has produced. Numerous popes have been debauched, adulterers, murderers, warmongers, persecutors, and the vilest of sinners; Alexander VI, Leo X, Boniface VIII, John XII, and Sergius III, to cite only five of many.
And what of “anti-popes”? All Catholics know that there have been periods in its church’s history where there have been competing claims to the throne. Where in the Bible do you find such contention? Where do you find the apostles competing over who will lead? Where do you find the prophets killing each other and buying off voters to gain power? History condemns the Catholic claim to supremacy and legitimacy.
Sometimes Catholics blame Protestants for the great schisms that occurred in Christendom. How so? The schisms began 1,700 years ago when Constantine – a fake Christian who introduced paganism to the Catholic Church and fused it together with a perverted version of Christianity that is completely unBiblical – who used the state to mandate his own creedal version of Christ’s Gospel and then persecuted dissenters who rightly rejected it.
And what of the Greek and Russian versions of the Catholic Church? Those broke away long before Protestants arrived on the scene. It was because of so many centuries of bitter division and mass confusion that a few men like Martin Luther – who bothered to read the Bible – began to question the Catholic Church’s man-made doctrines created after the apostles died, man-made offices (such as pope), and man-made ordinances not found in the Bible.
However, in a sense, Protestantism made the situation even more confusing and impossible. Instead of there being several major denominations, there sprang up hundreds, and then thousands, and now tens of thousands. All of them are false because they all come out of the Catholic Church. If the Catholic Church was wrong, how could its children be right? If the Catholic tree produced corrupt fruit, how could a branch from that tree produce good fruit?
Protestantism, as worthy as its idea of getting back to Bible-based Christianity was, did not provide a solution to the problems of disunity in the body of Christ, disharmony in Christian doctrines, or the issue of authority. Let’s take each of these three problems individually.
First, by their very existence and exponential multiplication, Protestant churches have further fractured the “body of Christ,” dividing this group from that, disowning this part or that, and creating great havoc. No one knows the exact number of Christian churches in the world, but it is around 45,000. That is a staggering number and perfect evidence of the continuing dark day of apostasy that enveloped Christendom at least 1,700 years ago.
It is self-evident that not all of these 45,000 churches can be right. It is impossible. Each believes its own doctrine laid down by its own leaders. Each pastor teaches his own unique dogmas, relying on his own learning and understanding and not on the scriptures and the Holy Ghost which is the source of all truth.
Second, the disharmony of Christendom is rampant. Baptists disagree with Methodists, Presbyterians disagree with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Congregationalists disagree with Lutherans, Pentacostals disagree with Episcopalians, and on it goes. Each has a unique mode of baptism, laying on hands, paying tithes, calling/electing leaders, preaching, giving confessions, worshiping, etc. Each church chooses its own doctrines, ordinances, policies, and programs. They take what they like and discard the rest. They preach their own wisdom; all other ideas be damned.
What is there in this mode of Protestant operations that accords with how the Lord’s Church functioned in Biblical times? Most Protestants, like Catholics, deny the need for apostles and prophets. Taking it further than Catholics, however, Protestants often deny the need for any church structure, Priesthood hierarchy, or organization. Who can read the New Testament’s clear teachings on how Christ organized His Church by calling apostles, seventies, and others, sending missionaries out two by two, requiring baptism and the laying on of hands, and so forth, and yet belong to a church that doesn’t admit prophets and apostles or that changes what the Lord instituted?
Protestantism is synonymous with confusion; Catholicism isn’t any better, though they at least admit the need for a Priesthood hierarchy as confirmed umpteen times in the Bible. It seems that Protestants are hellbent on believing the Bible, but only the parts they agree with. They preach the Bible, as they interpret it, and they allow others (within reason) to believe whatever they’d like as well. There’s no unity, no harmony, no brotherhood of faith. It’s every man for himself. Is not this precisely what the Lord warned about when He said:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Protestants fancy themselves the “few there be that find it,” yet none of them agree on anything. How can they flatter themselves they are on the straight and narrow when they are wandering in strange paths that lead in every direction and there is no unity among them? The Bible rebukes them and rejects their doctrines. If the Lord were here today, they were reject Him just as they have already rejected His Gospel and have left the covenant path of salvation.
Third, it is farcical for Christians to claim to teach or perform saving ordinances without authority to do so given to them from God. Be assured, reader, your preacher does not have this authority unless he can directly trace it back to Jesus. He can’t claim to have felt “called” or “led.” That is delusion, fantasy, and folly.
The apostles did not call themselves to the ministry; Jesus called them directly. Abraham, Elijah, Moses, Samuel, Peter, Paul – none of them called themselves; they were called by the Lord through revelation. They didn’t merely feel a burning in their heart and go out to preach; they received an actual call, either through an authorized servant of God who visited them in person or by direct revelation or visitation from the Lord Himself. Moses had his burning bush, Abraham had visions, Peter was invited and called by the mouth of the Lamb of God. Your pastor had what – a “feeling”? Nice try.
The issue of authority is perhaps the biggest of all. Either the Lord sent your leader and authorized Him to preach and save through ordinances, or He did not. If He did, it should be easy for them to show their Priesthood line of succession back to Christ. If they can’t, they are false teachers who must repent and whose congregants who follow them are being led to damnation unless they check themselves and get on the true path led by shepherds called by the True Shepherd.
Catholics have no legitimate claim to the Lord’s Priesthood authority because their founding bishops were usurpers who did not follow John, the last living apostle, and who have formally denied the office of apostle with its presiding authority. They have elevated bishops above what the Bible allows, twisting the word of God. Yet, their claim is closer than the Protestants’ claim. Protestants have zero claim to Christ’s Priesthood authority because they came out from the Catholics and were a millennium and a half removed from the Savior and don’t even pretend to trace their Priesthood lineage to Peter.
If Catholics and Protestants don’t have authority, how do they baptize? How do they lay their hands on heads and allegedly confer the gift of the Holy Spirit? How do they pretend to officiate in ordinances and in the affairs of the Church (which of the 45,000 churches, anyway)? How do they administer to the sick or cast out evil spirits? How do they lead by revelation which they usually deny? How can they pompously claim authority when they know full well they have no such authority and couldn’t trace it back to Christ if their lives depended on it?
No ordinances entered into are valid unless they are solemnized by the legitimate Priesthood authority of Almighty God. The last presidency of men who held this Priesthood was Peter, James, and John. This authority was shared by the twelve apostles and those who were later added to the apostleship like Matthias and Paul. But Peter, James, and John presided by Christ’s command. When they were martyred, their authority did not devolve onto others and, as one Catholic writer put it, the “Apostolic age [was] over.”
If all of the evidence was not enough to prove apostasy and a revocation of divine authority, an intriguing fact misunderstood by most Christians seals the deal. John the Beloved did not die, but, like Elijah, Enoch, and others who were taken to God, remained. The resurrected Lord, in fact, had said that John “shall not die” but that he should “tarry till I come” and it became a general saying throughout the primitive Church (John 21:21-24). If John still tarries on earth and will remain until the Lord comes, how is it that Linus or any other bishop in Rome claimed to lead the Church of Jesus Christ? John never abdicated his Priesthood. It was a flagrant usurpation of John’s rightful authority for a lesser bishop to claim to succeed Peter.
With all of these facts in mind, it’s impossible not to conclude that the current body of Christ is deformed and disfigured beyond recognition. Were Christ to return today, He would not recognize the mass of confusion that bears His holy name. This is what Thomas Jefferson concluded, and who can disagree with his statement? He said:
“I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw. they have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognise one feature” (Thomas Jefferson to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816).
It is historical fact that the Catholic authorities engrafted Gnostic, Hellenist, Platonic, and other pagan philosophies, forms, titles, and rites onto primitive Christianity, perverting it and changing it. It now resembles Mithraism more than Christianity. Creeds were concocted that diverge from scripture and, in fact, outright deny its plain truths about the nature of God, the nature of man, and the doctrines of Christ. While rejecting most of the outward forms and rites, Protestantism has retained the corrupted doctrines and creedal dogmatism.
If Catholics and Protestants are all wrong, have departed from the correct path, and lack authority to perform the most basic saving ordinances, where do we turn for truth and salvation? And let’s be clear, salvation has never been found outside of a revealed and organized Church structure. Never. Not in ancient times, not in the Savior’s day, and not during the age of the apostles. Where, then, do we turn?
It was the faith of learned men like Thomas Jefferson that there would be a “restoration” of pure Christianity. Not a new Reformation, which clearly didn’t work despite its noble intentions, but a Heaven-led Restoration. In a letter to James Smith regarding the advance of Unitarianism and the emergence of civil religious Freedom, Jefferson said:
“I have to thank you for your pamphlets on the subject of Unitarianism, and to express my gratification with your efforts for the revival of primitive Christianity in your quarter. no historical fact is better established than that the doctrine of one god, pure and uncompounded was that of the early ages of Christianity; and was among the efficacious doctrines which gave it triumph over the polytheism of the antients, sickened with the absurdities of their own theology. nor was the unity of the supreme being ousted from the Christian creed by the force of reason, but by the sword of civil government wielded at the will of the fanatic Athanasius. the hocus-pocus phantasm of a god like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads had it’s birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs. and a strong proof of the solidity of the primitive faith is it’s restoration as soon as a nation arises which vindicates to itself the freedom of religious opinion, and it’s eternal divorce from the civil authority. the pure and simple unity of the creator of the universe is now all but ascendant in the Eastern states; it is dawning in the West, and advancing towards the South” (Thomas Jefferson to James Smith, December 8, 1822).
Little did Jefferson know that two years prior to this letter, the most glorious event since the Ascencion of the Savior in the Holy Land occurred in upstate New York and formally began the “restoration” of “primitive Christianity” and the bringing of a glorious body of Christ to the earth.
In 1820, a young man walked into a grove of trees to pray. He had read in the epistle of James, first chapter, fifteenth verse, this promise:
“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” (James 1:5).
This young man had been tossed on the current of Christian revival. He saw one sect condemn all others and each preach its own unique interpretation of scripture. He expressed his concern that “the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.” He wrote:
“At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
“So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. . . .
“After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
“But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
“It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
“He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time” (Joseph Smith – History 1:12-20).
This event is known to those of us who believe it and know it to be true by the power of the Holy Ghost as the First Vision. In 1820, the Eternal Father and the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ appeared in glorious vision to a young man who prayed to know the truth in sincerity and humility. They told this lad, Joseph Smith, that an apostasy had overtaken the Church of Christ and that Joseph was to be an instrument in Their hands to restore the truth and authority of Heaven.
Before I say another word, I want to testify to you that I have zero doubt about this happening. I know with every particle of my soul that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called by Jehovah to restore and preside over His Church in these last days. I testify that this Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that it possesses the only authentic Priesthood authority on the face of the earth. I witness that the “dispensation of the fulness of times” that Paul foretold (Ephesians 1:10) is now and that it was ushered in when the Father and Son appeared to Joseph Smith in upstate New York in 1820.
On April 6, 1830, after years of heavenly tutoring at the hands of angels, Joseph Smith organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1829, he received the Priesthood keys and authority to minister and officiate in the Gospel of salvation when John the Baptist first, and Peter, James, and John next, appeared to him and Oliver Cowdery and placed their hands on their head and conferred them. Thus, the Priesthood line initiated by the Savior during His Ministery, which was alive in John, continued through Joseph Smith.
This line of authority continues today through an unbroken chain of apostles and prophets. The full keys and authorities are exercised today by the presiding apostle, President Russell M. Nelson. The presiding authorities – the chief apostles or prophets – of this Dispensation are: Joseph Smith; Brigham Young; John Taylor; Wilford Woodruff; Lorenzo Snow; Joseph F. Smith; Heber J. Grant; George Albert Smith; David O. McKay; Joseph Fielding Smith; Harold B. Lee; Spencer W. Kimball; Ezra Taft Benson; Howard W. Hunter; Gordon B. Hinckley; Thomas S. Monson; Russell M. Nelson.
These men are true messengers from Heaven; duly authorized servants of the living Lord who appeared to Joseph Smith. I testify with all my soul that I know through the Holy Spirit’s sacred manifestations to me that these men were called by revelation and that they are led by the Master. I sustain them and support them because I sustain and support the One who called them and whose Priesthood authority they bear.
Only through the Priesthood authority is salvation found. Yes, salvation comes through Jesus Christ. He is the author of salvation. His Atonement makes it possible. However, He has mandated that we pass through ordinances – that is how we access His divine grace and achieve salvation. For instance, did He not say: “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). No one can baptize or be baptized without proper authority. You could be baptized every day the rest of your life and it wouldn’t wash your sins away or open the gate to the Kingdom of God unless the one administering the ordinance had authority from the Savior to perform it.
And what about being born of the Spirit? We know very well how the Spirit is given as a gift after baptism. Acts chapter 8 teaches us the process:
“[W]hen they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. . . .
“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
“Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
“(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
“And when Simon [the sorcerer] 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 8:12, 14-20).
This shows perfectly the order of the Church of God. Who baptized the people of Samaria? Philip – an authorized apostle. The report of his baptisms was given to higher authorities – Peter and John. They arrived and laid their hands on the baptized individuals to confirm them members of the Church of Jesus Christ and to grant the gift of the Holy Ghost. If Philip did not have authority to baptize, the baptisms would have meant nothing. If Peter and John would not have had authority to lay on their hands, they could not have given the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Also note that the Holy Ghost did not magically come upon the baptized individuals. In only one instance recorded in the Bible did the Holy Ghost ever fall upon people. That was the case of Cornelius, the Gentile. To open the eyes of the Jews to the fact that the Gentiles were also permitted to receive the Gospel and enter His Church, the Lord poured out the Holy Ghost upon the Gentiles. Read Acts 10 for the account.
It “astonished” Peter and the others because it was highly irregular – a singular sign that departed from the usual order. After the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, Peter ordered those who received it to be baptized – showing that the laws and ordinances of God must be complied with at all time. Thus, even this incident proves the necessity of authority. The Holy Ghost would have fallen upon these Gentiles in vain if they had not then complied with the ordinance of baptism ordered by Peter who was God’s recognized and chosen authority.
Again, I say, that there is no salvation outside of ordinances, and no ordinances are acceptable to God unless they are completed in His way and by His authority. A random believer cannot take another person down into his local river and baptize him and expect it to be recognized in Heaven. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s unauthorized by the Savior, and, thus, null and void.
Can your pastor, priest, preacher, minister, or guide trace his Priesthood authority back to Jesus? All Latter-day Saint Priesthood holders can. We can trace our Priesthood to Joseph Smith who received the lower Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist and the higher Priesthood through Peter, James, and John. Peter, James an John received their higher Priesthood directly under the hands of the Author of that Priesthood – the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and thus become candidates for the Kingdom of Heaven, only a duly-authorized Latter-day Saint Priesthood holder may officiate in those ordinances according to the revealed pattern.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a Protestant organization formed from schisms or attempts to repair what was broken; it is a restored organization. It did not come because a man studied in books and had a different idea, but because the God of Heaven appeared to him and elected Him to be His instrument in taking His truth to the world. This was prophesied in the Bible, but few Bible believing Christians recognize it or interpret the numerous references wrongly.
For example, Paul spoke of the “dispensation of the fulness of times” in which all things would be gathered in one in Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
John testified of the Gospel being revealed anew from Heaven in the last days before Christ’s return: “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).
Isaiah spoke of a future apostate age in which people would honor the Lord with their lips but will have “removed their heart far from me.” This age of apostasy would be interrupted by an inspired man that would receive another book of scripture that would be given to him from Heaven and which would commence a “marvellous work and a wonder” that would defy the so-called wisdom of the self-wise (Isaiah 29:10-14).
Ezekiel also saw this book of scripture and said that it would join the Bible and be one in the Lord‘s hands: “Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand” (Ezekiel 37:19).
Malachi said that Elijah would appear before the Lord returned; but what Christian denomination claims such a visitation? (Malachi 4:5-6).
Micah foretold that “in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:1-2). Where is the house of God set up in the mountains and where is the law that issues forth from a Zion that is clearly not the same as Jerusalem?
Finally, Daniel prophesied of a “stone cut out of the mountains without hands” that is His Church, or Kingdom. “[T]he God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44-45).
What other church beside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fulfills each of these divine requirements from the Bible? Which other church is built on a foundation of apostles and prophets, seventies and elders, patriarchs and teachers, and sends men and women two by two into all the world in their tens of thousands to preach the everlasting Gospel? Which other church practices the laying on of hands to give the Holy Ghost, to administer to the sick, and to perform sacred ordinances? Which other Christian denomination worships in holy temples as the Lord and His apostles did?
It simply defies reason to reject The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s claims to be the Lord’s only true and living Church. If it is not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then please show me the other organization that fulfills all of these requirements, that is led by apostles and prophets with Priesthood authority they can trace back to the Savior, that can show when an angel brought them the everlasting Gospel, that can show when and where Elijah returned, that has another book of scripture that has joined the Bible as a witness of Christ, that has houses (or temples) of God set up in the mountains of Zion, or that fulfills any of the other glorious promises about restoration and uniting all things in Christ.
Modern Christendom is more like the disfigured and terrible man of brass, iron, and clay than the unified body of Christ spoken of by Paul. Truly, all of the 45,000 sects that claim Christ are incorrect except one. There can be only one. If it was not the Catholic Church, and it clearly was not, then it cannot be any Protestant church or Orthodox church that broke off of it. Instead, we must look for a Kingdom set up without hands by God through heavenly manifestations, revelations, and angelic visitations. We must look for a new book of scripture that complements and confirms the Bible and stands as another witness for Christ. We must look for new apostles and prophets and the Priesthood authority to perform miracles, officiate in ordinances, and lead the Church of Jesus Christ.
I submit that only one institution fits the bill. That is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of His Church and His restorative work initiated with Joseph Smith in these last days the Lord testified to the world via revelation in this manner. His words offer a stinging rebuke, but hold out the hand for all to search these things, learn the truth, and join themselves to His Church and prepare for His coming:
“For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape. . . .
“And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.
“And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these clast days.
“And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them.
“Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the book of my commandments [The Doctrine and Covenants], which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth.
“Wherefore, fear and tremble, O ye people, for what I the Lord have decreed in them shall be fulfilled.
“And verily I say unto you, that they who go forth, bearing these tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth, to them is power given to seal both on earth and in heaven, the unbelieving and rebellious;
“Yea, verily, to seal them up unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked without measure—
“Unto the day when the Lord shall come to recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man.
“Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear:
“Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh;
“And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.
“And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;
“For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth fold and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
“Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
“And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
“The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
“But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
“That faith also might increase in the earth;
“That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
“That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.
“Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
“And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
“And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;
“And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent;
“And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.
“And after having received the record of the Nephites, yea, even my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon.
“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased. . . .
“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
“For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth bideth forever and ever. Amen” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:2-30, 38-39).
I again bear my personal, independent testimony that I know the Lord has spoken in these last days through Joseph Smith. I know that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a companion to the Holy Bible and that it witnesses of Christ’s divinity, mission, and Atonement. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only Church of Christ on earth. I know that God’s Priesthood is on the earth and that all men and women who want to be saved must humbly receive the ordinances of salvation under the hands of authorized Latter-day Saint Priesthood holders. And I witness that the Lord directs this marvelous work via revelation through prophets and apostles, the chief of whom, at present, is President Russell M. Nelson.
My witness is unimpeachable because it is from the Holy Ghost. The Spirit does not lie. These truths fill me with light and joy and expand my understanding of who I am, my relationship to Heavenly Father, and the reality and nature of my Redeemer Jesus Christ. They are good fruits from a good tree. I invite everyone to join me in feasting upon the truths of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The body of Christ is not divided or deformed, however wavering and feeble some of its professed members may be. Its doctrines emanated from Heaven. Its scriptures came through revelation and by angels. Its Priesthood was conferred by the ancient apostles who received it from Christ, and is held by living prophets. The fullness of the everlasting Gospel with its sacred covenants and saving truths and ordinances is in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints only. Of this, I bear my personal witness which I have from God.
May 28, 2023