His Servants the Prophets

It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets, but it is a greater thing to believe in the living prophets.” – President Marion G. Romney, “Nurture a Testimony,” General Conference, April, 1953.

From the Garden of Eden to the present, God has spoken to mankind through prophets. Whenever our Eternal Father has something significant to convey to His children, He speaks through prophets. Whenever the Lord wants to establish His Church and expound the points of His Gospel, He does so exclusively through prophets. The intention of this article is to explain the signature role of prophets in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to share my personal witness that the Lord speaks to us today through prophets.

prophet2

The Bible uncategorically affirms the importance and necessity of prophets. The prophet Amos recorded this wonderful statement:

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Amos taught that the Lord speaks through prophets. That is His eternal pattern. He uses mediators to deliver His words, to warn of impending judgments, to instruct, and to officiate in essential saving ordinances and covenants like baptism.

Before we go any farther, let’s define what a prophet is. The word prophet comes from the Greek work meaning spokesman, or one who speaks in behalf of. In this case, prophets speak for God. When a prophet is inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so, his words are the equivalent of God’s own words; they are what the Lord wants people to know at that precise moment and are as equally binding upon the hearers as if God Himself was speaking. A true prophet, therefore, is the Lord’s spokesman or mouthpiece.

The Bible Dictionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives us this insight:

The work of a Hebrew prophet was to act as God’s messenger and make known God’s will . . . He taught men about God’s character . . . He was to be, above all, a preacher of righteousness. When the people had fallen away from a true faith in Jehovah, the prophets had to try to restore that faith and remove false views about the character of God and the nature of the Divine requirement. In certain cases prophets predicted future events, e.g., there are the very important prophecies announcing the coming of the Messiah’s kingdom; but as a rule a prophet was a forthteller rather than a foreteller. In a general sense a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost.” (Bible Dictionary, Prophet”).

A prophet reveals God to his fellows. He reveals the true character and nature of the Being we worship. He helps us know our Father and His Son Jesus Christ – and really knowing Them is “eternal life” (John 17:3). A prophet, like any true friend, helps bring us to Jesus Christ (though ultimately the individual is responsible for receiving his own personal witness, through the Holy Spirit, of the Lord’s divinity). A prophet is also a seer and a revelator and, when it is the Lord’s will, he can reveal future events and authoritatively warn of coming judgments.

What’s more, a prophet is a legal administrator of the essential saving ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is one who possesses authority from the source of all power and authority – God Himself. God’s authority is called the Holy Priesthood. There is a higher (Melchizedek) and a lower (Aaronic or Levitical) Priesthood, but I will refer to them both in a collective sense.

At any given time, the Lord’s prophet is the man chosen and ordained to exercise all the authorities and powers of the Holy Priesthood for all people on earth. He, and he alone, presides over saving ordinances. He can delegate this power to local authorities such as bishops, elders, and priests, just as Jesus delegated His authority to His apostles, but the ultimate presiding authority resides in the man who at any given time is the president of the Holy Priesthood on earth.

It is through the Priesthood channel that revelation for mankind is given. Private individuals are not entitled to receive revelation for mankind (though they can of course receive personal revelation for themselves and their family); but a prophet can receive universal revelation by virtue of his office. In a helpful sermon on the two lines of communication God uses to speak to mankind, the personal and private lines, President Dallin H. Oaks, one of the Lord’s chosen apostolic witnesses in our day, explained:

The priesthood line is the channel by which God has spoken to His children through the scriptures in times past. And it is this line through which He currently speaks through the teachings and counsel of living prophets and apostles and other inspired leaders. This is the way we receive the required ordinances. This is the way we receive calls to service in His Church. His Church is the way and His priesthood is the power through which we are privileged to participate in those cooperative activities that are essential to accomplishing the Lord’s work. These include preaching the gospel, building temples and chapels, and helping the poor.

In respect to this priesthood line, our belief and practice is similar to the insistence of some Christians that authoritative ordinances (sacraments) are essential and must be performed by one authorized and empowered by Jesus Christ (see John 15:16). We believe the same but of course differ with other Christians on how we trace that authority.

Some members or former members of our church fail to recognize the importance of the priesthood line. They underestimate the importance of the Church and its leaders and its programs. Relying entirely on the personal line, they go their own way, purporting to define doctrine and to direct competing organizations contrary to the teachings of prophet-leaders. In this they mirror the modern hostility to what is disparagingly called “organized religion.” Those who reject the need for organized religion reject the work of the Master, who established His Church and its officers in the meridian of time and who reestablished them in modern times” (President Dallin H. Oaks, “Two Lines of Communication,” General Conference, October, 2010).

There have always been those who reject the prophets and the Lord’s organized Church with its formal officers, leaders, ordinances, and doctrines. Yet, in spite of objections throughout the Protestant world, God has always led His people through prophets. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

It should be understood that there is no salvation without ordinances. Yes, it is Jesus Christ who saves us through the mercy which He is capable of extending because of His atoning sacrifice, but He has appointed a pattern which includes ordinances. The ordinance of baptism, for instance, is so essential that the Lord taught:

Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . .

. . . Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. . . .

. . . Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 5, 7).

Jesus282

This teaching ought to dispel the incorrect notion that salvation can come without ordinances because, naturally, there is no salvation outside of the Kingdom of God. This doctrine should cause us to seriously search for the Lord’s legal administrators endowed with the authority to perform such saving ordinances. Again, common sense dictates that no ordinance is recognized by God unless it is performed by His authentic authority.

There are many who say “Lord, Lord,” but not all are in the path of righteousness (Matthew 7:21). Those who hold the Lord’s legitimate authority are members of His Holy Priesthood. They are legal administrators of salvific Gospel ordinances. And only at their hands can saving ordinances be received. This should cement in our minds forever the necessity of prophets.

Prophets are engaged in the work of salvation. They are the laborers in the vineyard of whom the Lord spoke in His parable in Matthew chapter twenty. As such, they are on the Lord’s errand and must work in the Lord’s approved manner and by His authority. Among other things, prophets, as well as all other Priesthood holders in their various offices, were never intended to labor for money. Their time was to be an offering to God. It was to be selfless service with no monetary or worldly reward; only the reward of helping others, doing the right thing, and serving in the mode of the Savior.

Peter instructed his fellow elders in the Priesthood:

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Those in the Church who worked for money (i.e. “filthy lucre”) or who worked to make themselves popular like the Jewish Pharisees, were then, and are today, guilty of priestcraft. Priestcraft is not a word used much among most Christians, but it is a perfect description of Christian churches throughout the world – especially the so-called “mega” churches. Additionally, those who sell saving ordinances, or offer forgiveness, in exchange for money are also guilty of priestcraft and are in direct violation of Peter’s words.

In the book of Acts, the Apostle Philip was ministering to the people in Samaria. A magician named Simon saw Philip’s legitimate miracles, such as casting out evil spirits and healing the sick, and temporarily believed the Gospel message. Some of those who had been previously bewitched by Simon were converted and were baptized. Hearing the good news, Peter and John traveled to Samaria and began conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost on the newly baptized members in the correct “laying on of hands” fashion. We then find this exchange between Simon and Peter:

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.

. . . thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Repent therefore of this, thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:5-23).

prophet19

As an interesting note of history, this very Simon, Simon Magus or Simon the Sorcerer, later apostatized and became the founder of Gnosticism. The same sin of which he was guilty, which is thinking that God’s ordinances, blessings, gifts, authority, or power can be bought with money, is rampant in Christendom. Forgiveness, let alone the gift of the Holy Ghost or the Holy Priesthood, cannot be purchased with money. Also, the Holy Ghost cannot be conferred on people in any other manner but through the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17).

Similarly, no one can claim, of themselves, the right and authority to preach the Gospel or perform ordinances. No true prophet in history has ever called himself to that position. Not one. Not Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Malachi, Jonah, or Peter. A prophet is, rather, called by revelation from God through approved Priesthood channels or by direct manifestation or visitation of God.

This means that every self-appointed pastor, bishop, priest, evangelist, chaplain, reverend, cleric, or minister who created his own church, who invented his own “ministry,” or who was hired the same as any other worker is, rather than being called by revelation through a Priesthood authority, holds no legitimate authority or calling. While there are numerous sincere pastors who work for money, despite the Bible decrying paid a clergy who labor for “filthy lucre,” ultimately these are not called of God and hold no lawful Priesthood administrative authority.

Furthermore, earning a degree in theology does not qualify one for any ministry or calling in Christ’s legitimate Church. Were any of the Savior’s apostles theologians? Not a one of them. They were fishermen and laborers – average folks from the poorest parts of Palestine. For them, preaching the Gospel was not a profession; it was a sacred calling. They did not choose it; the Lord chose them. He said as much:

I am the vine, ye are the branches. . . .

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you” (John 15:5, 16).

This is the pattern for all time and for all prophets. Not one true prophet or legitimate priest/pastor/bishop calls himself to the work. It has simply never happened. Rather he is chosen, through revelation via the proper channels, by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is ordained to his special calling through the Lord’s Priesthood. In the case of the original twelve apostles, the Lord – the true vine – ordained them. Later, these same apostles, via the same Priesthood authority given to them by Jesus Christ, selected and ordained others to fill vacancies in their quorum.

When the apostles needed to fill the void left by Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and gory suicide, they chose two possible candidates. They then “prayed and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen” (Acts 1:20-26). What were the apostles doing? They were, of course, seeking revelation. They did not merely vote and use their flawed human wisdom to select the next apostle. They understood that the Church of Jesus Christ was not their Church – it was the Lord’s and that the Lord alone has the right to call and appoint its leaders. The same is true in our day.

prophet9

Isaiah

Some believe that in order to be a prophet or apostle, one must have lived in the days of Christ and have personally witnessed His resurrection. They quote Acts 1:22 for this false belief. That verse, in part, states that a new apostle had to be taken from among the Christian brethren and must be “ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” To believe that prophets and apostles had to have lived only 2,000 years ago is to misunderstand this verse or to deny other relevant scriptures.

The verse in question simply means that the office of an apostle is to bear witness of Jesus Christ. An apostle’s official capacity is as a special witness of the Savior’s life, resurrection, and divinity. It is His Church, after all. Can individuals learn these glorious truths today? Can we, through the Holy Spirit, gain personal testimonies and witnesses of the Savior just as the early Christians did? Yes, we can!

Peter, who walked and talked with the Savior, gained his personal witness through the Spirit and not because of His firsthand knowledge. He did not gain a witness by literally viewing Jesus with his own eyeballs. Speaking of Peter’s witness, Jesus clarified that “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17). And since we can today receive a spiritual confirmation of the truth as easily as the apostles could in Christ’s own day, men can presently be ordained to be legitimate apostolic witnesses.

This notion is further verified by a correct understanding of another verse of scripture. It was in the context of Heavenly revelation to Peter that Jesus said “and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The verse does not refer to Peter as the rock, though Peter was the first president of the Lord’s Church and the man authorized by the Lord to receive revelation for the ancient Saints. Rather, revelation from the Lord is the rock upon which the Church of Jesus Christ must be built. And the apostles were sent out as messengers to declare to the world the truths they had learned through personal revelation.

Dr. Hugh Nibley, a brilliant scriptorian, scholar, and professor who mastered fourteen languages and penned numerous books, spoke of the unique station of prophets, and the general antipathy towards their holy work, in his book The World and the Prophets. He wrote:

A prophet is no ordinary person; he makes no ordinary claim; and he does not ask people to believe him, but to test him. God is not authoritarian: He asks no on to believe; but invites the world, as his prophets do, “Prove me herewith.”

When the Lord was upon his earthly mission, he greatly angered and upset men by forcing them to decide whether he was a true prophet or not . . . The Lord insists that we make up our minds one way or another regarding is calling.

. . . a prophet is a witness, not a reformer. Criticism of the world is always implicit in a prophet’s message of repentance, but he is not sent for the purpose of criticizing the world. Men know the world is wicked, and the wickedest often know it best . . . It was not the Sermon on the Mount that drove men to crucify the Lord. It was not for their moral tirades that the prophets of old and the Apostles were stoned . . .

What, then, did Christ and the Apostles do and say that drove men into paroxysms of rage? They performed tangible miracles such as could not be denied, and they reported what they had seen and heart. That was all. It was as witnesses endowed with power form on high that they earned the hatred of the world, of which John speaks so much: “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness” (John 3:11). . . .

And as soon as the Apostles said, “We are his witnesses of these things,” the council of the high priests “were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them (Acts 5:32-33; italics added). Again, we are told that the multitude “were cut to the heart” when Stephen accused them of rejecting what had brought “by the dispensation of angels” (Acts 7:53-54). But the last straw was when he had the effrontery to say, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him” (Acts 7:56-58). If Stephen had spent his life, as innumerable philosophers have, denouncing the vices and follies of the age, he might have died peacefully in bed. But those fatal words, “I see,” were his death warrant. And what did Paul say to make the Jews cry out in utter horror: “Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live,” as “they . . . cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air?” (Acts 22:22-23). What indeed? These were the unforgivable words that made him unfit to live: “Suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest” (Acts 22:6-8). Paul could have won his audience over by speaking as a scholar, but when he bore witness to what he had seen and heard, he was asking for trouble” (Hugh Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 12-15).

prophet16

The key thing to draw from this excerpt is that a prophet is a man with personal, firsthand knowledge of God – a bold witness who bears his simple testimony of the truth which he personally knows and which he has had confirmed to him by the Holy Spirit. Prophets do not speak from theoretical knowledge or scholarly learning. Rather, they speak from their firsthand experience with their Savior Jesus Christ.

Oftentimes, prophets have face-to-face or visionary encounters with the Lord, as did Paul, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Enoch, Adam, Jeremiah, and others. They frequently hear the voice of the Lord. They see Him in dreams and manifestations. And, more importantly, they all receive spiritual confirmation of the truth through the power of the Holy Ghost. No matter how God is revealed to them, they know of His reality, His divine mission, and of the true points of His Gospel. Their task, when called by the Lord to do so, is to share their witness of Jesus Christ.

The book of Acts gives us a wonderful description of a prophet’s role. Peter testified:

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing. . . .

And we are witnesses of all things which he did. . . .

Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly. . . .

And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

To him give all the prophets witness, that through is name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:38-40, 42-43).

All of the prophets who have ever ministered or who ever will minister have testified of Jesus Christ. At times they referred to Him as Jehovah, the Lord, or the Messiah, but it was the Man Jesus, the Son of the Living God, of whom they preached, taught, and bore special witness. As Dr. Nibley observed above, prophets are so hated precisely because they give personal witness and don’t speak theoretically. They force us to make a judgment, either for or against, regarding the veracity of their testimony. And as the scriptures show, correctly discerning the truth of a prophet’s words and aligning ourselves with them makes all the differences.

Artwork by Alex Levin, Israel.

Jeremiah

The existence of prophets in Old Testament times cannot be disputed. But what of the New Testament era and our own modern day? Some claim that prophets were done away with after the resurrected Christ’s Ascension. This is false. I again cite the scripture: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

The Lord very clearly intended that His Church should be guided, as it always had been in former times, by a duly called prophet wielding Priesthood authority. He also established apostles. The word apostle means “one who is sent” or, in other words, a messenger or emissary. A prophet is an apostle as well, just as an apostle is a prophet, but the prophet at any given time heads the body of apostles and presides in the Lord’s Priesthood.

Before His Atonement, the Lord chose Peter, James, and John to be the governing body within the large quorum of twelve apostles. Peter was the ranking and presiding authority among the apostles, or, in other words, the prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul gave us a glimpse into the structure of the Lord’s Church. He wrote:

[Y]e are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:19-20).

He again explained:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Yet another time, to a different group of Saints, he likewise testified of the different callings and stations in the Church:

For the body is not one member, but many. . . .

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . . .

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 12:14, 18, 28).

Paul is clear – the Lord established a Church with a set hierarchy and a neatly organized structure that includes prophets, apostles, elders, priests, teachers, patriarchs, members with spiritual gifts, and so forth. The presiding authority was Peter and, with him, the apostles.

prophet6

If Paul’s writings are not authoritative enough, the record shows that the mortal Messiah plainly called twelve apostles, endowing them with Priesthood authority, and established groups of seventy elders to hold office beneath the apostles (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1; Luke 10:1). If apostles and prophets were necessary for the Gospel ministry and for the edifying and perfecting of the members of the Lord’s Church two-thousand years ago, are they not also necessary today?

And if they are no longer necessary, as most Christians now believe, when did this start? Where is the formal revelation abolishing the quorum of twelve apostles set up by Christ? Where is the prophetic declaration announcing that the carefully designed structure of the Lord’s Church no longer applies or has been superseded with a better divinely-approved construct? Surely, if the Lord personally set up a Church with apostles and prophets, He intended the system to continue. It appears obvious on the face of it that without these governing bodies and the Priesthood which gave them authority to minister, heal, preach, baptize, and speak in the Lord’s name, there simply is no Church of Christ.

Since history bears out that the quorum of the twelve apostles did not continue past the First Century after Christ, and since the Catholic Church and Protestant organizations deny that prophets and apostles lead Christ’s Church today, we have to ask why. The scriptures have the answer. The Old and New Testaments both warn of an apostasy. Paul predicted a great “falling away” that would occur (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He warned:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

He spoke of Christian apostates as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Paul in fact said that this apostasy was already beginning during his day. He wrote to the Galatian Church members: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Galatians 1:6). He also noted:

[A]fter my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

prophet5

Lehi preaching in Jerusalem, 600 B.C.

Peter, the chief apostle of his day, also foretold of apostasy:

[T]here 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; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:1-2).

Finally, the Apostle John castigated false teachers and apostate churches in the book of Revelation, naming many of them. He was also given a revelation that condemned “them which say they are apostles, and are not” (Revelation 2:2).

Other New Testament witnesses, including the Lord Himself who talked about a coming age of false prophets (Matthew 24:24), could be appealed to. Even Old Testament prophets like Isaiah who prophesied of a time when “darkness shall cover the earth” (Isaiah 60:2) and the Lord’s followers would “draw near [to the Lord] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour [Him], but have removed their heart far from [Him]” (Isaiah 29:10, 13), could be noted. However, these are sufficient to show that the Bible foretells, quite unmistakably and frequently, of an apostasy. Those who honestly study the history of Christendom are also struck by the palpable reality of this great apostasy and the many changes made to Christ’s Church structure and to His doctrine.

T. Edgar Lyon wrote of these tragic changes to the Lord’s organization in his book Apostasy to Restoration. I excise a passage about the apostleship and what it meant that the apostles were eventually martyred:

As long as the original apostles of Jesus Christ were alive they gave church-wide supervision to His Church. By the close of the first century, however, there appears to be no apostolic leadership in the church. Furthermore, there is no recorded evidence that any plan had been adopted to perpetuate the apostleship or any other type of general church leadership. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 and 12, stated that the apostles and prophets had been placed in the Church of Jesus Christ by Christ Himself, to be His leaders on earth. When they disappeared, the leadership was gone. Without the authority from Christ to lead His Church, no organization could then rightfully be called the Church of Jesus Christ. That an organization survived, is self evident. That it perpetuated for some years some of the fundamental teachings such as faith in God, immersion baptism and belief in the resurrection of true Christianity, no one can deny. That there were sincere believers and dedicated leaders, history testifies. That they considered themselves to be the Church of Jesus Christ, the members affirmed through their faith and suffering. But that it was Christ’s Church, when it was without divine authority, is not in keeping with early Christian understanding” (T. Edgar Lyon, Apostasy to Restoration, 3).

Jesus171

As I have been attempting to convey, prophets and apostles are absolutely essential to the Church of Jesus Christ. Without them, there is no Church of Christ. Without the Priesthood authority held by correctly called and appointed leaders, no saving ordinances can be properly and lawfully performed. Without a prophet to receive direction for the entire Church, such as when Peter received the revelation that the Gospel was to be taken to the Gentiles (Acts 10), there could be no Church. Without a prophet to speak in Christ’s name, an organization simply cannot be considered His Church.

It is also crystal clear from any honest reading of history that many innovations were made in Church organization and doctrine that did not harmonize with what the Lord had personally made known and which His apostles had expounded in their ministry. In fact, these changes harmonized with popular paganism at the time, such as Mithraism. A modern prophet of the Lord put it this way:

Notwithstanding, the disciples of Jesus, excepting John the Revelator, suffered ignominious deaths, they sowed the seed of the Gospel among, and conferred the Priesthood upon men, which remained for several generations upon the earth, but the time came when Paganism was engrafted into Christianity, and at last Christianity was converted into Paganism rather than converting the Pagans. And subsequently the Priesthood was taken from among men, this authority was recalled into the heavens, and the world was left without the Priesthood—without the power of God—without the Church and Kingdom of God” (President Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22, 44, February 6, 1881).

As sad as this idea is, and as offensive as it may be to some sincere Christians, it is nevertheless an historically and scripturally substantiated truth. The Great Apostasy did occur and most of the world is still covered by darkness. Key doctrines were changed, such as the mode of baptism, how the gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred, the importance of marriage, how Church leaders are called, the nature of God, and so forth. In particular, the Nicene Creed and other church counsels presided over by uninspired men transformed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into a monstrous three-in-one creation not found in the Bible.

On the essential doctrine of the nature of God, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained the apostate idea compare to the scriptural truth:

In the year A.D. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea to addressamong other thingsthe growing issue of God’s alleged “trinity in unity.” What emerged from the heated contentions of churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries came to be known (after another 125 years and three more major councils) as the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. These various evolutions and iterations of creedsand others to come over the centuriesdeclared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, immanent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.

We agree with our critics on at least that pointthat such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible. With such a confusing definition of God being imposed upon the church, little wonder that a fourth-century monk cried out, “Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, … and I know not whom to adore or to address.” How are we to trust, love, worship, to say nothing of strive to be like, One who is incomprehensible and unknowable? What of Jesus’s prayer to His Father in Heaven that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”?

It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion. We extend to all the same respect for their doctrine that we are asking for ours. (That, too, is an article of our faith.) But if one says we are not Christians because we do not hold a fourth- or fifth-century view of the Godhead, then what of those first Christian Saints, many of whom were eyewitnesses of the living Christ, who did not hold such a view either?

We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephento name just four” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” General Conference, October, 2007).

I quote this seeming aside for two reasons. First, the fact that the early Christians could not understand the nature of God and had so much contention on the issue illustrates their fallen condition. As sincere as they no doubt were, they lacked prophetic guidance and did not have the benefit of the Priesthood line of communication.

Gospel35

Second, the confusion regarding the nature of our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ could never have happened in a Church where a living prophet presided and spoke on behalf of the Lord. Again, the fact that this issue literally shattered Christendom into pieces, with each side excommunicating, excoriating, and persecuting the other, demonstrates their lack of prophetic leadership and proves the reality of the Great Apostasy foretold in the New Testament.

The careful Bible reader will readily acknowledge that the Old Testament records numerous periods of time – sometimes spanning hundreds of years apiece – when the Lord’s ancient people devolved into a state of apostasy in which He revoked His Priesthood authority and ceased calling prophets to lead them. After each period of darkness, however, the Lord called new prophets. He always appeared to the first new prophet in a personal visitation to inaugurate the new Gospel dispensation. There are at least six Gospel dispensations recorded in the Bible. The founding prophets of each dispensation are: Adam; Enoch; Noah; Abraham; Moses; and Jesus Christ.

Each of these men is extraordinary, even among prophets. The Lord is the ultimate Prophet. It was He, as Jehovah, who personally called Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses to head up new dispensations. He gave these wonderful men Priesthood authority to officiate in saving ordinances, additional revelations to add to past revelations from former dispensations, and new instructions adapted to their specific circumstances. This is the pattern for opening a new Gospel dispensation. The Lord followed this identical pattern in modern times when He initiated what is the final Gospel dispensation, the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times (Ephesians 1:10).

One of the hopeful messages of the Holy Bible is that the night of dark apostasy long foreseen would be shattered by the revelation of further Gospel light at a future day. The ancient prophet Ezekiel, peering prophetically through time, spoke of a day when the scriptural record of the Jews would be joined with another scriptural record written by Israelites from the tribes of Joseph. Together, these equally true records would constitute the holy scriptures and be “one” in the Lord’s hands:

[T]ake one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:

And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. . . .

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 37:16-17, 19).

Isaiah referred to a future day in which “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:2).

Micah similarly prophesied of the future establishment of the Lord’s Kingdom, or Zion:

[I]n 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 claw shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:1-2).

Isaiah specifically spoke of the Great Apostasy and followed it up by foretelling of a latter-day Restoration of the Lord’s Church, which he called a “marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14).

Peter spoke of “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21).

Jesus180

The Savior also said that before His Second Coming in glory: “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:11).

And, perhaps most convincingly of all, the Apostle John prophesied of an angel who would once more bring the Gospel to mankind:

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 nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).

Isn’t it curious that the Apostle John foretold of a day when there would be a need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be delivered to mankind once again by angels? Most Christians believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been on the earth for two-thousand years and does not stand in need of being restored, yet this contradicts John’s prophesy. There would simply be no need of an angelic minister to give the Gospel to those who already had it. When we factor in the reality of the Great Apostasy, however, we understand the significance of John’s prophesy.

In 1820, almost two-hundred years ago to the month, the prophesied Restoration of the “everlasting gospel” commenced in New York state when a fourteen-year-old man named Joseph Smith went into a small thicket of trees to pray to God to know which of all the competing churches was His one true Church. I invite you to read my article “Joseph Smith – Praise to the Man” for more about this wonderful servant of the Lord. Suffice it to say that because of his simple faith and sincere prayer, he received a divine manifestation of the Father and the Son. Brother Joseph later recounted:

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

. . . 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!

. . . 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”” (Joseph Smith – History 1:16-19).

Joseph Smith18

This marvelous manifestation, eclipsing even Abraham’s and Moses’ manifestations in its grandeur, inaugurated what we call the Restoration of the Gospel. Joseph Smith was told by the Lord that he was to be an instrument in His hands to bring the truth back to the world. In due time, in direct fulfillment of John’s writings, an angel named Moroni appeared to tutor Joseph Smith in Heavenly things and inform him of the record of the tribes of Joseph which Ezekiel spoke of. With the power of God, Joseph Smith translated this divine record. It is today called The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and is used in conjunction with the Bible to bring people to the Savior.

John the Baptist, as well as Peter, James, and John, appeared to Joseph Smith and others to restore the Holy Priesthood. Other angelic ministers, Moses and Elijah to name only two, appeared to give their Priesthood authorities and keys to Joseph Smith. Eventually, the Lord’s house – that is, His holy temple – was built once again. Not surprisingly, the chief of these modern temples sits today in the top of the mountains as foreseen by the Biblical prophets.

On April 6, 1830, the Lord’s Church was formally restored to the earth again as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Saints suffered extreme persecution. They were driven from state to state, murdered by mobs, and had an extermination order placed upon them by Governor Boggs of Missouri. In 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot to death by a ravenous mob while unjustly imprisoned in Illinois. Their spilled blood served as their final testimony of the truthfulness of the Restoration.

Yet, because it was not Joseph Smith’s church, but in actual fact the Church of Jesus Christ, it survived and has flourished and expanded throughout the globe at a miraculous pace. It is still led today by a prophet and a council of twelve apostles. It contains within it not only prophets and apostles, but also the quorums of seventy established by Jesus, the teachers and elders spoken of by Paul, and the gifts, authorities, and powers that always accompany the legitimate Priesthood authority of the Master. On every point of comparison in doctrine, structure, and origin between the Lord’s Church established in the Bible and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is a beautiful harmony that powerfully touches the honest seeker of truth.

To these claims of new revelations, new scripture, new prophets, and a divinely-restored Church of Jesus Christ, the world is emphatically opposed. I bear my personal witness, given to me by the Holy Spirit, however, that it is the truth. These events fulfill the prophecies of Biblical prophets. The Everlasting Gospel has indeed been restored to the earth!

Jesus298

Whenever the Lord gives new light, Satan intensifies his disinformation campaign. He sends false prophets to oppose the real ones. He disperses false dogmas to compete with revealed truth. He establishes counterfeit priesthoods to the real Priesthood. He erects alluring churches to draw people away from the true Church of Jesus Christ. And he inspires wicked people to persecute the Lord’s prophets.

President Brigham Young, the successor prophet to Joseph Smith, warned of Satan’s counterfeits to the restored Church of Jesus Christ:

If true principles are revealed from heaven to men, and if there are angels, and there is a possibility of their communicating to the human family, always look for an opposite power, an evil power, to give manifestations also: look out for the counterfeit.

There is evil in the world, and there is also good. Was there ever a counterfeit without a true coin? No. Is there communication from God? Yes. From holy angels? Yes; and we have been proclaiming these facts during nearly thirty years. Are there any communications from evil spirits? Yes; and the Devil is making the people believe very strongly in revelations from the spirit world. This is called spiritualism” (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, 240, September 1, 1859).

Another modern apostle, the brilliant Bruce R. McConkie, wrote of those who reject the Lord’s light:

In the very nature of things, persecution of true prophets includes the acceptance of false prophets. It is a philosophical impossibility to reject truth without accepting error, to depart from true teachers without cleaving to false ones, to reject the Lord’s ministers without giving allegiance to those who follow the other Master” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 37).

It is the Lord’s modern prophets, however, which Christendom declares “false.” They cite Paul’s warning: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any bother gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). This claim falls flat, however, when you honestly study the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ and that revealed in modern times and realize how stunningly consistent they are. It is also out of harmony with John’s prophesy that an angel will restore the Everlasting Gospel to mankind.

We should at least have one thing clear in our minds: “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He therefore cannot be the God of the various religions of the world, including Protestantism. For all its merits, two of the fundamental Protestant creeds are: 1) That it doesn’t matter which church a person belongs to because one’s personal relationship with Christ is all that matters; and 2) there can be no prophets or hierarchy because each individual can commune directly with God and needs no mediator. As I have demonstrated earlier, these notions are unBiblical, wrong, and are contradicted by the words of Peter, John, Paul, and other New Testament writers.

The Apostle Paul also noted that universal revelation is not subject to private interpretation. There must be an interpreter who proclaims the will of the Almighty. Imagine if there was no hierarchy and no order. It would be mass confusion with everyone claiming to speak for God, yet offering different interpretations of doctrine and proposing differing policies.

prophet1

The current First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles in the visitor center at the Rome, Italy Temple

As He did anciently, God has again called prophets to act as His spokesmen, to teach correct doctrine, to expose falsehoods, to shine light on humanity, and to bring people to Jesus Christ. It is our challenge today to listen to these humble prophets. I say “challenge” because it is generally harder to listen to a living, breathing prophet in your own land than to an ancient Hebrew prophet long since dead. The same Elder McConkie cited above wrote:

The real test of one’s beliefs is not how much he purports to believe of what the dead prophets have said, but what he accepts from the lips of the living oracles of the same God who inspired those of old. Salvation comes through belief in the doctrines taught by the true disciples sent as legal administrators in our day. Needless to say, their teachings conform to those of their ancient fellowservants; in addition, modern disciples have the present power to perform the ordinances of salvation so they will be binding on earth and in heaven” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 27-28.

Ezra Taft Benson, whom I’m fond of quoting in my writings, penned a stirring testimony of the revealed Gospel. As one of the Lord’s modern apostolic witnesses, his words take on added meaning. He declared:

The world has generally revered the ancient dead prophets and rejected the living ones. It was so with Joseph Smith. Truth is often on the scaffold, error on the throne. But time is on the side of truth, for truth is eternal. The message of Mormonism is a world message. It is the truth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a world organization.

The message of Joseph Smith – the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the message of Mormonism – is the most important message in the world. And Joseph Smith the Prophet, who lives today, continues to have an important part in its direction here on earth.

The Church is a world organization – the true Church of Jesus Christ restored to the earth in its fulness – and is intended to bless all of our Father’s children. These things I know, and to them I bear humble witness.

God lives, Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world, with his latter-day base of operations here in America, and Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of the living God.

This is my witness and testimony to all the world” (Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, 40-41).

Yes, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is again on the earth in its bright fulness! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by prophets – men called of God by revelation and anointed via the Holy Priesthood to their positions. These prophets have come from many walks of life, yet they are all selected by the same Lord and they all bear witness of His divinity.

Gospel22

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James, and John

One of the Lord’s recent apostles gave us this insight into the type of people called to preside in the Lord’s Church:

What is a living prophet? His age? He may be young or old. He need not wear a tunic nor carry a shepherd’s staff. His physical features are not important. A prophet need not have advanced educational degrees nor come from any special social class. He may be rich or poor. He needs no credentials from men.

What is it, then, that qualifies a man to be a prophet?

Foremost, God must choose him as his prophet! . . . .

A prophet, then, is the authorized representative of the Lord. While the world may not recognize him, the important requirement is that God speaks through him. A prophet is a teacher. He receives revelations from the Lord. These may be new truths or explanations of truths already received.

It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets. Many people do. For some mysterious reason there is an aura of credibility about them. It is not so with the prophet who lives among us, who must meet life’s everyday challenges. But it is a great thing to believe in the living prophets. Our salvation is contingent upon our belief in a living prophet and adherence to his word. He alone has the right to revelation for the whole Church. His words, above those of any other man, ought to be esteemed and considered by the Church as well as by the world. One day this truth will be understood” (Elder A. Theodore Tuttle, “What Is a Living Prophet?Ensign, July, 1973).

Nelson25

President Russell M. Nelson

The man who has been called today by Jesus Christ to lead His Church and to speak on His behalf is Russell M. Nelson. This great servant of the Almighty was recently called “Moses in a business suit” by University of Virginia religious studies professor Kathleen Flake. He has been called by others a “Renaissance Man.” President Nelson is a ninety-five-year-old man of wisdom, experience, and boundless energy. A father of ten children, a world-renowned heart surgeon, a speaker of six languages, an author, and a world traveler who has met with presidents, popes, and kings, he would be a wonderful choice to head any organization. However, far more importantly than his worldly laurels, he has been called of God and he bears emphatic testimony of our Redeemer Jesus Christ. President Nelson is the man of the hour for the world, the chief apostle, the mortal captain of the Church of Jesus Christ.

I bear testimony that the Lord has called prophets in the modern age. From my head to my feet, I know without a doubt, through the Holy Ghost, that prophets walk the earth today and speak for the Lord! I know President Nelson is an inspired man and that the apostles who serve at his side are special witnesses of Jesus who have been endowed with the Holy Priesthood. It is also my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ will never again fall into apostasy. To bolster this important point, I appeal to a statement by one of the most brilliant of the Lord’s modern prophets:

Now, brethren, I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.

An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be. . . .

Now, brethren, these things are true. The Lord is with his people. The cause of righteousness shall prevail. Our cause is just, and the Lord will guide and direct us and bring us off triumphant in the end.

I testify that if we shall look to the First Presidency and follow their counsel and direction, no power on earth can stay or change our course as a church, and as individuals we shall gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal glory in the world to come. And I say this to you, my good brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (President Joseph Fielding Smith, “Eternal Keys and the Right to Preside,” General Conference, April, 1974).

In an address titled “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” Ezra Taft Benson gave us these accompanying truths:

The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore the most important prophet so far as you and I are concerned is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each month in our Church Magazines. Our instructions about what we should do for each six months are found in the General Conference addresses which are printed in the Church magazine.

Nelson17

Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence. . . .

. . . it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. “Even in the Church,” said President Kimball, “many are prone to garnish the sepulchres of yesterdays prophets and mentally stone the living ones.” (Instructor, 95:527.)

Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or worry about their own affairs. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on. . . .

There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelation of God and reasoning of menbetween the prophet and the professor.”

President Benson also added this wide counsel which each of us should apply to ourselves:

How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness. . . .

If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captainhow close do our lives harmonize with the Lord’s anointedthe living ProphetPresident of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” BYU Address, February 26, 1980).

Each person in the world who hears the proposition that God has again sent prophets to teach and lead mankind must make a decision whether it is true or false. That decision will largely determine his or her standing before God. Remember that prophets, when inspired by the Holy Spirit, speak for God. To reject a true prophet is to reject the true God. To accept a true prophet is to accept the true God.

Every six months, the prophet and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather in what is called General Conference to give talks on Gospel doctrine. They speak of the Lord, His Atonement and resurrection, His divinity and perfection, His right of Kingship over the earth, and the reality that He is returning to His earth sooner than later. They speak of the central importance of families and marriage to our Heavenly Father’s great Plan of Salvation. They speak of specific points of doctrine, whether it be baptism, prayer, scripture study, and so forth. I have never gone away from a Conference without feeling uplifted, strengthened, and more committed to follow Jesus Christ.

Jesus37

This April 4 and 5 will be the next General Conference of the Savior’s Church. His prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, will preside and address the world. Living apostles will speak and share their testimonies and instruct the humble Saints of God throughout the earth. I invite you, dear reader, to tune in and prayerfully watch the broadcasts. Listen to the Holy Spirit and see what He prompts you to do about the messages. Investigate the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints and read The Book of Mormon. You will be uplifted and inspired if you do so. If you are reading this article after April 4 and 5, fear not, the Church has a massive archive system housing the General Conference addresses of the past fifty years on its website https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/

The Lord Jesus Christ is shining light into the world at an increasing rate. The Devil is also belching out mists of darkness at an unprecedented pace. We must stay close to the Spirit, hold to the commandments, walk on the covenant path the Savior walked, and bind ourselves to God’s will if we are to survive these days. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it alone – the Lord has given us living prophets to show us the way to our Redeemer.

Jesus is the light and life of the world. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the One who presides over the earth and the One who shows His prophets how to direct mankind for their benefit. If we wish to come to Jesus, we must first come to His prophet, who at this time is President Russell M. Nelson. It is he who holds the keys of presidency in the Holy Priesthood. It is at his authorization that local missionaries and authorities can baptize us into the Lord’s Church, confer upon us the gift of the Holy Ghost, and initiate us into higher saving ordinances – such as the ordinance of eternal marriage – in the Lord’s temples. What a blessing!

I close this article with my witness of Jesus Christ and His servants. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He bled and suffered and died so that you and I could repent, improve, and eventually receive exaltation in our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom. We are the literal sons and daughters of our Eternal Father and Jesus is our Elder Brother and Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. They love us with a familial bond and wish the best for us. They love us more than we can fathom; more than we love ourselves or our dearest relatives. Out of this great love, the Lord has sent prophets into the world in our day. Of this I testify with all my heart and invite you to investigate my claims for yourself.

Go to the Father in prayer and ask Him, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether or not this is true. If you are humble and prepared to act on any revelation you might receive, you will receive it. And then you will know for yourself, independent of all other sources, and in the face of opposition and mockery, that Jesus lives and that prophets also live and speak in His holy name.

I close with a statement from President Russell M. Nelson, the Lord’s prophet, which I encourage everyone to read and heed:

Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.

Nelson12

I bless you to raise your voice in testimony, as I do now, that we are engaged in the work of Almighty God! Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church, which He directs through His anointed servants. I so testify, with my expression of love for each of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Let Us All Press On,” General Conference, April, 2018).

Zack Strong,

March 19, 2020

My Witness of Christ

“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16).

My faith in, and personal witness of, the divinity of the Savior Jesus Christ is the central plank in my life’s creed. More than any other thing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has informed my principles, my politics, and the most decisive decisions of my life. I see and judge all things through the Gospel lens. It is no exaggeration to say that I am who I am primarily because of the pure and simple doctrines of the Son of God. I ask your indulgence as I share my personal feelings about my Savior and His Gospel and the profound influence they have been in my life.

At the outset, I want the reader to know that I do not bear testimony simply of things I have read in a book, that I heard a pastor preach, or that my parents taught me. My testimony does not come from intellectual reasoning alone. Rather, I can stand before the world and declare that my witness comes from the Holy Spirit. It is a personal and private witness that I have independent of every other person on earth. I gained this knowledge through the Spirit after sincere searching, study, fasting, and prayer.

Christ215

I have always believed in Jesus Christ from the time I was a child and heard my parents teach of Him. However, mere belief – as important as belief is – is not equal to knowledge. A person can read something in a book and believe it. He may hear a professor lecture on a topic and have faith that he has just heard the truth. However, only the knowledge imparted to one’s spirit by the Holy Ghost can rightly be called a witness or a testimony. Therefore, when I bear my testimony or witness of Jesus Christ and the points of His doctrine, please know that I am speaking not from my secular learning or out of mere hope, but from the spiritual confirmations that have been whispered to my soul on numerous occasions by the Holy Ghost.

Of the many things I can bear witness of, I first testify of the reality and existence of God the Father. He lives and governs in the Heavens. He is the literal Father of Jesus Christ. He is also the literal Father of our spirits. We are His literal sons and daughters. We lived with Him before it was our appointed time to come to earth to be tested for our faithfulness to His teachings.

In our glorious pre-earth home, we learned of our Father, walked with Him, talked with Him, felt of His love, experienced His embrace, and enjoyed His divine presence. There we learned of His Plan for our progression. Like any good father, our Eternal Father wants us to become like Him and to possess everything He possesses. The Apostle Paul affirmed this truth when he taught:

“The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17).

If we follow the steps outlined in the Gospel of the Son of God, we can become the “heirs of God” and receive the fulness of His blessings and glory and exaltation alongside our Savior Jesus Christ.

In the pre-mortal state of existence, we were taught the particulars of our Father’s Plan, called alternatively the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness, including the need for a Savior to redeem us from our inevitable failures. The scriptures attest that we “shouted for joy” at the prospect of coming to earth to prove ourselves and, through our faithfulness, qualify to enjoy eternal life with our Father (Job 38:7). I testify and affirm that I know we lived before and that we will live still after the death of our mortal bodies. So emphatically do I know the reality of our pre-earth existence that I wrote an entire book – The Lineage of the Gods – to witness of it and to teach the plain truth.

Lucifer was also in the beginning. The Bible confirms that he was there when the Father presented His Plan to His children. Lucifer thought he knew better and proposed an amended version of the Plan – a version which denied our right of individual agency and accountability but which, he claimed, would lead to the salvation of every soul. Through his plan, Lucifer intended to became the Savior and turn everyone’s hearts toward him. He secretly wanted to “exalt [his] throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13) and claim the position of Deity.

War in Heaven5

Angels do not have wings, but it is a good image of Lucifer’s defeat nonetheless

Naturally, Lucifer’s self-serving and Freedom-destroying plan was rejected by our Father. Upon being rejected, Lucifer rallied his supporters and rebelled against the Father. John stated that this caused “war in heaven” (Revelation 12:7). One-third of Heavenly Father’s children sided with Lucifer while two-thirds rejected the Adversary’s plan and sided with Jesus Christ and their Eternal Father (Revelation 12:4).

You and I were among the two-thirds who originally chose the Lord and rejected Satan. Now we are here on earth, with our memories of those earlier times deliberately veiled, to prove whether we will again choose the Father’s Plan for our eternal happiness. The great quest of life is to again learn about the Father’s Plan, as well as Lucifer’s plan which is embodied in communism, and to choose the correct path. This quest is difficult because Satan hates us and is waging relentless war against us (Revelation 12:17). However difficult to follow, the only correct path is that which leads back to the Father through our Mediator Jesus Christ.

I testify that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Anointed and Chosen One. Before His mortal birth, He was Jehovah of the Old Testament. When He was born of Mary, He became known as Jesus. He is the literal Son of God in both body and spirit. While fully human as to His flesh, He was also fully God. Because of this, He was and is the only One empowered to fulfill the Father’s Plan.

Jesus3

The Lord fulfilled the Plan of Salvation by sacrificing Himself to appease the demands of eternal justice and broken laws. Because He was the only sinless One, He stood outside the grasp of justice and the curse of broken laws. The sacrifice of His guiltless blood appeased justice and gives the Lord the power to extend mercy and grace to those who believe in His name, repent of their sins, become baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, and who follow His commandments with sincere heart to the end of their lives. The Savior’s sacrifice is called the Atonement which means that by His blood and mercy we are again made one with God.

Elder Richard G. Scott, a modern apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, eloquently explained the necessity of Jesus’ Atonement:

“Each of us makes mistakes in life. They result in broken eternal laws. Justice is that part of Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness that maintains order. It is like gravity to a rock climber, ever present. It is a friend if eternal laws are observed. It responds to your detriment if they are ignored. Justice guarantees that you will receive the blessings you earn for obeying the laws of God. Justice also requires that every broken law be satisfied. When you obey the laws of God, you are blessed, but there is no additional credit earned that can be saved to satisfy the laws that you break. If not resolved, broken laws can cause your life to be miserable and would keep you from returning to God. Only the life, teachings, and particularly the Atonement of Jesus Christ can release you from this otherwise impossible predicament.

“The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God . . . The Redeemer can settle your individual account with justice and grant forgiveness through the merciful path of your repentance. Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience. Through His mercy you can resolve the consequences of broken laws” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” General Conference, October, 2006).

Jesus29

The scriptures amply attest that Jesus Christ is the only One through whom we may receive forgiveness of sins and return back to our Father one day. The Atonement not only secures the salvation of those who repent and follow Christ, but it offers the Savior’s help, mercy, love, and blessing in times of need, distress, depression, sickness, and persecution. Paul gave one of my favorite statements when he insisted:

“For we have not an high priest [Jesus] which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrew 4:15-16).

The ancient prophet Alma likewise testified of “the throne of grace.” Said he:

“[B]ehold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all – for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people. . . .

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

“Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of the people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me” (Alma 7:7, 11-13).

While working out the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior took upon Himself the terrible weight of guilt felt by those who sin. What’s more, He took upon Himself the physical and mental pains, anguish, and suffering we experience through sickness, abuse, accidents, etc. He felt our heartbreak, feelings of loss, depression, confusion, anger, and betrayal. He felt everything horrible you have ever experience or will ever experience. He not only felt and experienced that all that you have experienced, but all that everyone has experienced or caused others to suffer. There is nothing you have ever felt that He doesn’t fully understand from His own personal experience. The Spirit intellectually comprehends everything, but the Savior voluntarily took upon Him all our physical suffering so that He could actually comprehend it and therefore know how to alleviate our pain and mend our broken hearts, minds, and bodies. He truly is the Great Physician.

Christ203

It is this same Jesus who is the Lord of lords and King of kings. It is He whose name we must take upon ourselves. It is He in whose holy name we pray. It is He who calls us to Him and offers His mercy on terms of repentance and faithful obedience. It is Jesus Christ who will soon return to earth to cleanse the earth, heal the persecuted, and claim His right to rule. Though I do not and cannot comprehend the depths of suffering He endured in Gethsemane and on the cross in order to be able to offer me His forgiveness, mercy, and love, I thank Him for His gift! I know He is the Son of God, the Redeemer of Mankind, and the only One before Whom I will bow and worship.

I also testify of the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost. Each member of the Godhead – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is a separate and individual Being. These three souls are united in their efforts, desires, and goals. Their great work is to help us return to Them and to become like Them. This would be impossible without the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Ghost who confirms truth to our minds and hearts. Without His confirming whisperings, we could know nothing of God or the Savior. All revelation comes through the workings of the Spirit. When a person testifies that they know Jesus is the Redeemer, they can only do so after having the Holy Ghost testify this same verity to them.

The priceless and incomparable blessing of the companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost comes to us only after we have been baptized into the Lord’s Church and have had authorized Priesthood holders place their hands upon our head and direct us to receive the Holy Ghost. This gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the chief blessings in mortality. It is this member of the Godhead who teaches us of Christ, gives us a testimony, guides us through life’s dark times, sanctifies us from sin, and prepares us to return to our Father in Heaven. I testify that, though I have at times ignored His soft voice, the Holy Spirit is a reality – a real Being whose sole mission is to testify of the Father and Son and bring us to Them.

I further give my witness of the divine origins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This organization is the Lord’s true Church established again in our present day. The Savior established His Church when He was upon the earth and directed Peter, James, John, and His apostles to spread it to the world. This they faithfully did. However, both the historical and scriptural records are painfully clear that the Lord’s Church, after just a couple generations, went astray and ceased to bear the divine stamp of approval.

The New Testament is full of warnings about impending apostasy. Paul warned that there would be a “falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). Peter, the Lord’s chief apostle, testified that there would be “false teachers” in the Church which would preach “damnable heresies” and lead the Saints into error (2 Peter 2:1-3). Even in Old Testament times prophets foresaw the future and noted that there would a mass apostasy from the truth. Amos, for instance, prophesied:

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

Gospel11

The martyrdom of Peter

The apostasy happened as predicted. The wayward Christians “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). The Lord’s apostles were tragically martyred, ending the chain of Priesthood authority needed to perform vital saving ordinances like baptism. The lack of authorized prophets ended the flow of formal revelation between the resurrected Redeemer and His Church.

As unbelief and false ideologies ensnared the Saints and the prophets were killed one-by-one, the Lord’s Church ceased to exist. Because there were no prophets to speak in the name of the Lord and expound correct doctrine, the Lord’s simple teachings became confused, perverted, and mixed with pagan traditions. All of these things made necessary a full restoration of the Priesthood, prophets, and the organization of the true Church.

From the beginning of man, whenever the Lord has had dealings with us, He has operated through prophets. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Lord called a man to be a prophet when He saw the time was right to restore His Church. The young man whom He called was named Joseph Smith. This humble Christian was searching for the true Church when he took the advice found in James 1:5 and prayed to know the answer to his problem.

The Father of us all responded to Joseph Smith in a powerful, unprecedented manner. The Father, accompanied by the Son of God and the palpable power of the Holy Ghost, appeared to the fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith as he knelt in humble prayer in a now sacred grove of trees in New York state. Joseph Smith asked the Heavenly Beings which church He should join. The Savior answered that Joseph should join none of them because they had all perverted His Gospel. Joseph was informed that he was to be the instrument in the Lord’s hands to restore His ancient Church, complete with its powers and Priesthoods and doctrines.

Joseph Smith12

Throughout the years, a large number of skeptics have mocked Joseph Smith for his account of this monumental vision. They have mocked him for claiming to be a prophet called of the Almighty to establish a Church and bring forth scripture and declare doctrine and prophesy with the authoritative words “thus saith the Lord. . .” Yet, notwithstanding the skeptics and all their spurious, hate-filled books and films and pamphlets attempting to demonstrate that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a liar, the Spirit confirms the truth to honest truth-seekers. And the truth is, as confirmed to my soul, that Brother Joseph was a good man, a man chosen of the Lord, a prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ. I honor and revere his name and happily bear witness of his calling as prophet of God and restorer of Christ’s Church.

The Prophet Joseph Smith defended himself and his vision of God the Father and His Son in these words:

“I soon found . . . that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me. . . .

“However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

“So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation” (Joseph Smith History 1:22, 24-25).

Joseph Smith10

Watch a film about Joseph Smith’s remarkable life and mission here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xVw6PsSinI&t=2476s

What integrity and sincerity! I find in Joseph Smith a pure heart and noble motives. The Savior told us to judge a man by his fruit. If we apply this to the Prophet Joseph Smith, we must judge that he was a true Christian who did good, served his fellow man, promoted goodness and righteousness, condemned evil and spoke against corruption, and spent his short life bearing witness of truth.

Joseph’s sincerity is not to be doubted for, in the final equation, he refused to recant his testimony and was murdered alongside his brother for it. No man would suffer so much and give so much for a lie. There are much easier ways to become rich, famous, and powerful, if that was truly his intention. Yet, I declare my witness that Joseph Smith was a thoroughly good man who did more to uplift and elevate humanity than any man since Jesus Christ. Much of his work is embodied in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which, through God’s Priesthood authority bestowed upon his head by the hands of angels and resurrected beings, he restored to the world.

Apart from a life of Christian service and love, the Prophet Joseph Smith left us tangible proof of his divine call to be a prophet and restore the Savior’s Church. He left us The Book of Mormon. Most people who reject and condemn The Book of Mormon do so without ever having seriously examined the book and without having sincerely prayed about its authenticity. The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture similar to the Bible. It does not replace or do away with the Bible and it certainly doesn’t contradict the Bible when the Bible is properly interpreted and understood. Together with the Bible, The Book of Mormon bears witness of Jesus Christ and confirms His true doctrines. The two witnesses have become “one” in the Lord’s hand, as Ezekiel foresaw (Ezekiel 37:16-19).

Book of Mormon6

See Ezekiel 37:16-19

Whereas the Bible is a collection of writings and revelations from Hebrew prophets living in the Old World, The Book of Mormon is a compilation of writings made by ancient Israelite prophets living in America. They lived on this very land, a land which the Lord has declared to be a Promised Land “choice above all others” (Ether 2:10). It was America that was the location of the Garden of Eden and many other historical events. It is a chosen and special land that has been inhabited for millennia by peoples specifically brought here by the hand of God. These ancient peoples had prophets and were led by the voice of Jehovah Himself. The culminating event among one of these peoples – the Nephite people – was a visitation by the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ after His Ascension in the Holy Land.

A 1960 publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says this of The Book of Mormon:

“The Book of Mormon tells the same truths about God and His work that are told in the Bible, though in many cases in a more simple and plain way. . . .

“Jesus is the central figure of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Everything was written to emphasize His mission as Redeemer and Savior of the world. While the Nephites were camped at the Red Sea, three days’ journey from Jerusalem, Nephi saw in vision many of the great events that would happen down to our own time. Most importantly, however, was his vision of Jesus. Nephi saw Him as a babe in Mary’s arms. He saw Him as a man baptized by John in the Jordan River. Nephi saw Jesus with the twelve apostles going among the people healing their sick and ministering comfort and consolation to all alike. Finally, Nephi saw Jesus crucified on the cross for the sins of all men. All this happened in Palestine just as Nephi saw it in vision six hundred years earlier.

“The Book of Mormon picks up the message and story of Jesus right where the Bible ends. It tells of His visits to America after his resurrection in Jerusalem. It tells how Jesus organized His Church among the Nephites with apostles at the head just as He had done in Palestine. To the Nephites He proclaimed the same principles of salvation, faith, repentance and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins as they are taught in the New Testament. He blessed little children and said they need no baptism because they are innocent and already free from sin. Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon foretells the coming of Christ in the last days to reign personally upon the earth.

“The great message of the Book of Mormon, then, is the same as that of the Bible; that Jesus lives and is the author of salvation to all who will believe and follow Him” (M. Lynn Bennion and J.A. Washburn, History of the Restored Church, 18-19).

Christ201

The Book of Mormon is, without any question, my favorite book. I have learned more from this one 500-page volume of scripture than all the other books I have ever read combined. There is a true power in The Book of Mormon. The Spirit resides in its sacred pages. It testifies of Christ at nearly every turn. It refers to the wondrous Atonement dozens of times and explains its doctrine in a pure and simple manner. It explains the nature of man’s Fall, the necessity of a Savior, the reality of the Savior Jesus Christ, the truthfulness of the Atonement, and testifies that salvation only comes through the Lamb of God.

A particularly powerful passage from The Book of Mormon expels any thought that the book is not a Christian book. The ancient prophet Nephi proclaimed:

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

“Wherefore, we speak concerning the law [of Moses] that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

“. . . the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.

“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Nephi 25:26-29).

Yes, Jesus is the Christ! The Book of Mormon brings people to Christ. It points its readers’ minds and hearts to the Redeemer. It encourages us to keep the commandments, to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, to meet together to worship the Lord, to love God and our fellow man, to sustain the Bible as God’s word, to sustain the prophets which the Lord sends among us, to gain a personal witness of truth for ourselves rather than relying upon the words of men, and a thousand other useful and correct things. I love The Book of Mormon!

If The Book of Mormon is not true, then everything I have testified of is a lie. But The Book of Mormon is true. I know this because the Spirit has confirmed it to my mind, heart, and spirit on numerous occasions. I can stand before the world and declare the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, the integrity of the Prophet Joseph Smith who translated it from an ancient record, and the importance of the book’s message.

One of the most important messages of The Book of Mormon is to warn us of Satanic threats to Freedom. My second book, Red Gadiantons, is partially devoted to explaining these prophetic warnings of secret conspiracies that anciently existed and which the past prophets saw would exist in our day and threaten the overthrow of the world. Elder Hans Verlan Andersen, a past General Authority of my Church, stated:

“It appears that one of the main purposes of the Lord in giving us the Book of Mormon was to warn us against destroying ourselves through the adoption of Satan’s form of government. Two mighty civilizations were destroyed on this land choice above all other lands and the cause of destruction was the same in each case – the corruption of the government by wickedness” (Hans Verlan Andersen, Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen, 64).

In modern times, prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have warned that the ancient record is true – a Satanic conspiracy bent on mankind’s destruction does exist. They have identified this Satanic conspiracy as communism. Much of my life’s work has been devoted to fighting communism for this very purpose. More to the point, when I was twelve years old I received a personal witness from the Holy Ghost that communism was not dead and the Soviet Union never collapsed, as the world assumed, and that communism remained the greatest threat to the world.

That knowledge fired my soul and I have worked endlessly to open people’s eyes to the truth I learned through the Spirit and have confirmed by thorough research and my experience living in Russia as a missionary. It is not merely a point of speculation, but a part of my actual knowledge that communism is the wickedest and most powerful enemy facing mankind and that it will consume us if we do not actively oppose it.

Captain Moroni12

Captain Moroni waving his Title of Liberty

The Book of Mormon not only discusses the workings and goals of Satan’s secret conspiracies, but provides a vibrant account of the antidote to its spiritual and political poison. My hero from The Book of Mormon is a great warrior called Captain Moroni. Moroni single-handedly saved his nation from defeat and subjugation in a series of bloody wars. It was this great man who rallied his people. He did so with a slogan he called the Title of Liberty. It read: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (Alma 46:12).

This Title of Liberty was hoisted upon every tower and loudly proclaimed throughout the land. Captain Moroni and his army fought valiantly to secure the Freedom of their people. They fought to defend the free government God had given to them and the right of the people, under that government, to make their laws and select their own leaders. It is a free government supported and defended by a righteous, Christian populace that has the power to thwart the machinations of evil individuals like modern communists.

The account of Captain Moroni and his fellow Freedom Fighters is inspiring. I draw tremendous strength from it. One of Moroni’s most trusted generals was a man named Teancum. One day, I wish it will be said of me what it was said of him upon his gut-wrenching death: “[H]e had been a man who had fought valiantly for his country, yea, a true friend to liberty” (Alma 62:37). It has always been one of my highest aspirations to be like the Nephite Freedom Fighters Captain Moroni, Teancum, Lehi, and Lachoneus. I intend to do my utmost to see that the flame of Freedom is never extinguished and that my own countrymen look to God, their religion, their Freedom, their peace, their wives, and their children and do whatever it takes to preserve them.

I bear my witness of Freedom. It is an eternal principle. The Lord is more interested in extending the blessings of Freedom than any mortal who ever lived. His Atonement and sacrifice for us is the ultimate defense of Freedom. It represents Freedom from the grave, Freedom from sin when we repent, Freedom from despair as we turn our hearts, and so forth. As Paul told us, we have “been called unto liberty.” Because of this, we ought to “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Galatians 5:1, 13). Freedom – the most precious word in the English language!

To ensure Freedom in these last days of turmoil when Satan rages upon the earth making war against the Saints, the Lord inspired a group of men to establish a free country and Constitution. I bear my witness that the Founding Fathers of the United States were humble men of faith and goodness, that they were inspired by the Almighty to break away from tyrannical Britain and establish a free Republic, and that the Holy Spirit rested upon them and inspired them in crafting the Constitution. I revere the Constitution and consider it equally valid as any declaration of holy scripture. It is part of my religion. The principles of Liberty are part and parcel of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Christ4

In modern revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord declared that He inspired the Constitution. He specifically commanded His followers to importune for a redress of their grievances through the appointed Constitutional method, or:

“According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

“That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

“Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80).

The Lord Himself established the Constitution. He did it to ensure the Freedom of “all flesh.” He wants us to be free and to be accountable for our own choices. The Constitution, when correctly administered and interpreted, provides exactly this. So correct and important are the provisions of the U.S. Constitution that the Lord also revealed that anything “more or less” than them “cometh of evil.” Specifically, He revealed:

“And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

“And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:5-7).

If at times I seem fanatically devoted to the Constitution and the men who crafted it, it is because it is part of my religion. I can witness of the truthfulness of the Constitution’s principles and of the integrity of the Founding Fathers as strongly and confidently as I can witness that Jesus is the Christ. I will die before I recant that testimony. As I live, it is true. And I will spend my days promoting the principles of the Lord’s Constitution, come what may.

President Nelson10

President Russell M. Nelson

Though I brushed upon it earlier, I want to stress that I have an emphatic, burning testimony that there are literal, living prophets in our midst today – men like Moses, Abraham, Elijah, and Peter who receive revelation for mankind in the name of the Lord and who hold the same Priesthood authority to direct the affairs of the Savior’s Church in our day. The most powerful witness I have ever received from the Holy Spirit in fact is the witness that prophets again walk the earth. I witness and testify that this is true.

At the present time, the man called of Christ to be the earthly president of His Church, and the man who holds the office of prophet, seer, and revelator for the world, is Russell M. Nelson. The Spirit reconfirms the truth that we have a living prophet whenever I hear him speak. I am so incredibly grateful to know – and I again declare that I know it with all my soul – that there is a prophet on earth. He is a man I can look to for sure guidance, wisdom, and inspired counsel. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece on earth – our captain and president. The entire world would benefit immeasurably from knowing and heeding the words of the Lord’s modern prophets, including President Russell M. Nelson.

I close my witness by repeating my unshakeable testimony of Jesus Christ. In Him all my faith and hope center. He is the Son of God. He lives as a perfected, resurrected, exalted Being of flesh and bone. He offered His own blood for a sacrifice in order to appease justice and grant you and me a chance to repent. This Atonement is the greatest event ever to transpire on this or any other world created by the hand of our Master. Through repentance and obedience to the laws and ordinances of His Gospel, we can receive His mercy and forgiveness, our wounds can be healed, our hearts can be changed, our families can be strengthened, and our world can be transformed.

Christ5

By calling upon our Heavenly Father in Christ’s holy name, we can receive answers to our most pressing prayers and perplexing questions. Yes, we can even receive a firm personal witness through the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Messiah! With this witness etched in your soul, nothing can ever come between you and the Savior. I love Him and testify of Him and His present work to gather, save, and free mankind, in His sacred name. Amen.

Zack Strong,

August 4, 2019.

Click the following link to watch a well-made series about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/bible-videos/videos?lang=eng