The Only True Church

The Only True Church:

see also “Joseph Smith” post at https://richardsonstudies.wordpress.com/category/joseph-smith/

see also “The Restoration” post at https://richardsonstudies.wordpress.com/category/the-restoration/

 

-“To possess a testimony of Jesus is to know that the Church, which He established in the meridian of time and restored in modern times is, as the Lord has declared, “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” (D&C 1:30.) (Benson Teachings Ch. 6 https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-ezra-taft-benson/chapter-6-jesus-christ-our-savior-and-redeemer?lang=eng)

-“We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.) Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.” (The Book of Mormon, Introducion page)

-“It is our firm conviction that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, as the revelations state, “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” (D&C 1:30.)….We did not invent the doctrine of the only true church. It came from the Lord. Whatever perception others have of us, however presumptuous we appear to be, whatever criticism is directed to us, we must teach it to all who will listen.

The Lord commanded the Latter-day Saints that “notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you,” the Church must “stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world.” (D&C 78:14.)

In obedience we remain independent. While we cooperate with others to reach mutual objectives, we do it in our own way. We do not recognize the ordinances performed in other churches. We will not exchange baptisms, a practice which has become commonplace in the Christian world.

We do not join associations of clergy or councils of churches. We keep our distance from the ecumenical movements. The restored gospel is the means by which Christians must ultimately be united.

We do not claim that others have no truth. The Lord described them as having “a form of godliness.” Converts to the Church may bring with them all the truth they possess and have it added upon.

We are not free to alter this fundamental doctrine of the gospel, not even in the face of the tribulation prophesied in that revelation (D&C 78.) Popularity and the approval of the world perhaps must remain ever beyond our reach…..I would teach the truth with quiet confidence, for I have a testimony of the truth. If some must come from the meeting unsettled and disturbed, it would not be me (referring to a group he was to teach the gospel to at Harvord University). Let them be disturbed, if they would….It was as the Spirit foretold. Some shook their heads in amazement, even cynical amusement, that anyone could believe such things.

But I was at peace. I had taught the truth, and they could accept it or reject it as they pleased.

There is always the hope, and often it is true, that one among them with an open mind may admit one simple thought: “Could it possibly be true?” Combine that thought with sincere prayer, and one more soul enters a private sacred grove to find the answer to “Which of all the churches is true, and which should I join?”

As I grow in age and experience, I grow ever less concerned over whether others agree with us. I grow ever more concerned that they understand us. If they do understand, they have their agency and can accept or reject the gospel as they please.

It is not an easy thing for us to defend the position that bothers so many others.

Brethren and sisters, never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Never apologize for the sacred doctrines of the gospel.

Never feel inadequate and unsettled because you cannot explain them to the satisfaction of all who might inquire of you.

Do not be ill at ease or uncomfortable because you can give little more than your conviction.

Be assured that, if you will explain what you know and testify of what you feel, you may plant a seed that will one day grow and blossom into a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ….If we can stand without shame, without hesitancy, without embarrassment, without reservation to bear witness that the gospel has been restored, that there are prophets and Apostles upon the earth, that the truth is available for all mankind, the Lord’s Spirit will be with us. And that assurance can be affirmed to others. Of this I bear witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “The Only True Church”, Conference Report, Oct. 1985 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1985/10/the-only-true-church?lang=eng )

-“The Church of Jesus Christ, nicknamed Mormon, is the only true and living church which is fully recognized by God….Most of the world disbelieves it, ministers attempt to disprove it, intellectuals think to rationalize it out of existence, but when all the people of the world are dead, and the ministers and priests are ashes, and the high trained are maundering in their graves, the truth will go forward, the Church will continue triumphant and the gospel will still be true.” (President Spencer W. Kimball, Church News, Sep. 10, 1977, p.3)

-“Members of the Church, especially our missionaries, often hear this statement: “If there is anything I resent, it is those that say they are right and everybody else is wrong.” They object, of course, to the declaration concerning the exclusive delegation of authority in this church.

Now I understand, of course, why one would feel that way. Nevertheless, I would say to him: “Hold on, think for a moment. Surely you can’t believe that in the great confusing variety of religious beliefs, not one of them is true, is right.”

Such a proposition generates atheism. When I think of an atheist, I believe with Sister Carol Lynn Pearson in what she wrote in her verse dedicated to the atheist:

“God must have a huge sense of humor

So righteously to resist

The temptation of turning the tables

On your pretending he does not exist.”1

The other view, the one most widely held, is that all of them are right, that they are all alike. If there is a typical response to our missionaries, it is, “I already have a church. One is just as good as another and it doesn’t matter really which one we belong to, or if we belong to any. We will all end up in the same place anyway.”

Surely no one who really thinks would hold to that position. Nevertheless, many people accept it when they would not for a moment apply it or relate it to any other phase of their life. They would not, for instance, take the same position with regard to education. Who would not smile at a statement that all schools are alike, that one is just as good as another, and that a person deserves the same diploma no matter which school he attends, or which course he takes, or for how long?

Would you agree to send students to just any school, taking any variety of courses, and then award them specialized degrees, anything they wanted—in architecture, law, medicine? Such an attitude would suggest that a man would be just as good a surgeon by not studying for it as he would by following the prerequisite courses. No person who has given it real substantial thought would take such a position, and neither you nor I would want to be under the knife of a surgeon who had been trained, or maybe I should say “untrained,” in such a pattern.

Isn’t it strange, then, that so many are able to apply such a view toward religion. They advocate: Go to any school, take any course, or go to no school at all, and we’ll all end up in the same place with the same heavenly diploma.

That just isn’t reasonable, nor is it true.

The position that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church upon the face of the earth is fundamental. Perhaps it would be more convenient and palatable and popular if we were to avoid it; nevertheless, we are under a sacred obligation and a sacred trust to hold to it. It is not merely an admission; it is a positive declaration. It is so fundamental that we cannot yield on this point.

Now to those who think us uncharitable, we say that it was not devised by us; it was declared by Him, for he gave commandments to the early brethren, and I quote:

“… to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.” (D&C 1:30.)

Now this is not to say that the churches, all of them, are without some truth. They have some truth—some of them very much of it. They have a form of godliness. Often the clergy and adherents are not without dedication, and many of them practice remarkably well the virtues of Christianity. They are, nonetheless, incomplete. By his declaration, “… they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JS—H 1:19.)

The gospel might be likened to the keyboard of a piano—a full keyboard with a selection of keys on which one who is trained can play a variety without limits; a ballad to express love, a march to rally, a melody to soothe, and a hymn to inspire; an endless variety to suit every mood and satisfy every need.

How shortsighted it is, then, to choose a single key and endlessly tap out the monotony of a single note, or even two or three notes, when the full keyboard of limitless harmony can be played.

How disappointing when the fullness of the gospel, the whole keyboard, is here upon the earth, that many churches tap on a single key. The note they stress may be essential to a complete harmony of religious experience, but it is, nonetheless, not all there is. It isn’t the fullness.

For instance, one taps on the key of faith healing, to the neglect of many principles that would bring greater strength than faith healing itself. Another taps on an obscure key relating to the observance of the Sabbath—a key that would sound different indeed, played in harmony with the essential notes on the keyboard. A key used like that can get completely out of tune. Another repeats endlessly the key that relates to the mode of baptism and taps one or two other keys as though there were not a full keyboard. And again, the very key he uses, essential as it is, just doesn’t sound complete when played alone to the neglect of the others.

There are other examples, many of them where parts of the gospel are endlessly stressed and the churches build upon them, until alone they sound nothing like they would if blended with the full measure of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t say that the key of faith healing, for example, is not essential. We not only recognize it—we rely on it and experience it; but it is not the gospel itself, nor its fullness.

We would never hold that baptism is not essential, absolutely essential, for it constitutes the official enrollment in the church and kingdom of God. If that key, however, is played alone, without the counterpart key of authority, the fullness and the harmony are gone and it becomes dissonant. And without the key of faith and of repentance, it is meaningless, and perhaps worse, it is counterfeit. This happens when the authority we speak of is lacking.

Now we do not say they are wrong so much as we say they are incomplete. The fullness of the gospel has been restored. The power and the authority to act for Him is present with us. The power and the authority of the priesthood rests upon this church. The Lord revealed:

“… this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

“Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

“And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.” (D&C 84:19–21.)

Now in these last days when the consummate power of evil moves against us, the great apostasy spoken of in the scriptures moves to its inevitable conclusion. The Christian churches that should be the bulwark against it seem to provide little substance for their members or for their clergy. And we see the frightening specter of empty churches and a clergy promoting causes they, above all, should resist.

In these last travels I mentioned, it has been frightening to me to see the churches closed, boarded up, with weeds growing in the yard, or open but empty. We face the frightening thought of a generation raised without any contact with scripture.

It is not unusual to find people who take an interest in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but give only casual attention to the ideal that the fullness of the gospel is here.

They become attracted by a single key, a doctrine, often one to which they take immediate exception and object to. They investigate it by itself alone. They want to know all there is about it without reference, in fact, with specific objection and rejection, to anything else.

They want to hear that key played over and over again. It will give them little knowledge unless they see that there is a fullness—other complementary ideals and doctrines that present a warmth and a harmony, and a fullness, that draw at the right moment upon each key, which if played alone might seem discordant.

Now that danger is not limited to investigators alone. Some members of the Church who should know better pick out a hobby key or two and tap them incessantly, to the irritation of those around them. They can dull their own spiritual sensitivities. They lose track that there is a fullness of the gospel and become as individuals, like many churches have become. They may reject the fullness in preference to a favorite note. This becomes exaggerated and distorted, leading them away into apostasy.

I counseled, think about this matter. More than that, I would urge you to pray about this matter. Thinking alone can be the basis for man’s wisdom. There is another more perfect manner of communication through the spirit: “… for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10.)

Paul, speaking to the Corinthians, said: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:13–14.)

Any soul has the right, indeed the obligation, to make an appeal through prayer for the answer to this question: Is there a true church? That is how it all began, you know, with a fourteen-year-old boy who went into a grove. Two questions: Which of all the churches is true? and Which should he join? There he experienced a marvelous vision of the Father and the Son, and the dispensation of the fulness of times was ushered in. Subsequently the authority to act for Him was restored and rests yet with this church. We heard in this meeting a prophet of God, Joseph Fielding Smith.

I bear witness that he is a prophet of God. I have a witness that Jesus is the Christ. He lives. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the face of this earth, of which I bear witness in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, ‘The Only True and Living Church’, Conference Report, Oct. 1971 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1971/10/the-only-true-and-living-church?lang=eng&query=only+true+church#watch=video)

-“There are times when the only way to get from A to C is by way of B.

“Having grown up in southern Utah and enjoying all the wonders and beauties of southern Utah and northern Arizona, I wanted to introduce my son to that and I wanted to show him places that I had seen and enjoyed when I was his age. So, his mother packed a little lunch for us, and we took his grandfather’s pickup truck and headed south onto what we call the old Arizona Strip.

“Noting that the sun was going down, we decided that we’d better get back. But we came back to a particular fork in the road, really the only one that at that point was absolutely unrecognizable. I asked my son to pray about which road to take, and he felt strongly that we should go to the right, and I did as well. And we went to the right, and it was a dead end. We went four or five or six hundred yards and it was an absolute dead end, clearly the wrong road.

“Turned around, came back out, took the other road. And clearly the road to the left was the correct road.

“Somewhere along the way, Matt said, ‘Dad, why did we feel, after praying about it, that the right road was the proper one to take, the correct one to take, and it wasn’t?’ And I said, ‘I think that the Lord, His wish for us there and His answer to our prayer was to get us on the right road as quickly as possible with some reassurance, with some understanding that we were on the right road and we didn’t have to worry about it. And in this case, the easiest way to do that was to let us go 400 yards or 500 yards on the wrong road and very quickly know without a doubt that it was the wrong road and, therefore, with equal certainty, with equal conviction that the other one was the right road.’

“I have absolute certain knowledge, perfect knowledge that God loves us. He is good. He is our Father and He expects us to pray and trust and be believing and not give up and not panic and not retreat and not jump ship when something doesn’t seem to be going just right. We stay in, we keep working, we keep believing, keep trusting, following that same path, and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, ‘I told you it’d be OK, I told you it’d be all right.’” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Wrong Roads,” Mormon Messages video; lds.org/media-library/video. See also https://www.lds.org/pages/mormon-messages?lang=eng see also https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/ces-devotionals/2014/01/tuning-our-hearts-to-the-voice-of-the-spirit?lang=eng#7-PD10050686_000_11 )

on blog up to this point:

-see also this man’s search for truth Wilford Woodruff realizing there was an apostasy and only one true Church on earth today. see https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-07-02-a-search-for-truth?lang=eng

-see also President Packer on Priesthood in the home via the authority of the restored Priesthood https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/worldwide-leadership-training/2012/01/priesthood-power-in-the-home?lang=eng&query=only+true+church

-“Nothing matters in time or eternity like the gospel of Jesus Christ [and] the saving ordinances of the only true Church on the face of the earth. And God turns its future over to a bunch of 19-year-olds. There is no precedent for it on the face of the earth.” (Elder Jeffery R. Holland, Elder Holland Testifies of Gospel in Sierra Leone; Contributed By By Heather Whittle Wrigley, Church News and Events 24 FEBRUARY 2012 https://www.lds.org/church/news/elder-holland-testifies-of-gospel-in-sierra-leone?lang=eng&query=only+true+church)

-“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30).

“What does this mean?” asked Elder Callister. “It does not mean that other churches do not have some truth, for certainly they do,” he said. “It does not mean that other churches do not render good, for they render much good. What it does mean is that this is the only church that has all the truth that has been revealed thus far in this dispensation, the only church that has the ordinances necessary for exaltation, and the only church that has the priesthood of God to perform those ordinances with divine validity.”…Drawing an analogy from the construction blueprint for a house, Elder Callister said, “In a similar way Christ built a home to best accommodate the spiritual needs of His children. It was called His Church.”

Occasionally, Christ’s blueprint requires a “change order” in accommodating changing needs, and that is provided for in the principle of continuing divine revelation, Elder Callister said.

If one desired to discover Christ’s Church today he would want to match the spiritual blueprint found in the New Testament against every Christian church in the world until he discovered a church that matched the blueprint—organization for organization, teaching for teaching, ordinance for ordinance, fruit for fruit, and revelation for revelation,” he said.

“In so doing he might find some churches that had some similarities—a teaching or two that overlapped, an ordinance that is the same, some offices that bear common names, but he will only find one church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that matches the blueprint in every material respect.”

He said the current Church of Jesus Christ should have the same organization that existed in Christ’s original Church, subject to revelatory changes. “Therefore, each of these offices is present in our Church today.”

He said Christ’s blueprint is very specific regarding ordinances that are to be performed in His Church, particularly baptism. “Otherwise, how does one answer the difficult question: what about those who died without the opportunity to be baptized?”

Elder Callister suggested that the fruits of Christ’s Church are an element of His blueprint. Among those fruits, he said, are being healthy as a people, miracles and gifts of the Spirit, and divine visions and visitations from angels.

He said, “The question should not be, How can The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints be the true Church with its alleged angels and visions? Rather the question should be, How can any church today claim to be Christ’s true Church unless it has angels and visions—just as was the case in Christ’s original Church, just as it is revealed in His blueprint?”

Missionary work, morality, and being family centered were other fruits Elder Callister identified.

If one were to match the blueprint of Christ’s original Church against every church in the world today, he would find that point for point—organization for organization, teaching for teaching, ordinance for ordinance, fruit for fruit, and revelation for revelation—it will only match one: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said.

Moreover, “If one rejects this Church after studying the blueprint, then it will likely ruin him for any other church because he knows too much,” he said.

If someone turns from the Church, where will he go to learn about the restored truths concerning the nature of God as revealed in the Sacred Grove, the preaching of the gospel to the dead, the three degrees of glory, and eternal families?” he asked. “Where will he go to get the ordinances that can save and exalt him? Where will he go to have his wife and children sealed to him for eternity? Where will he go when he wants a priesthood blessing of comfort or healing for a family member? Where will he go to find a prophet of God? He will look in vain for those doctrines and those ordinances and those powers and those prophets, as they are unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Callister asserted, “One cannot have the doctrines and ordinances as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith without accepting Joseph Smith and the underlying history that is the basis for such. They are inseparable. They go hand in hand. You cannot call the fruit good and then call the tree bad.”

Regarding criticisms that some make against the Prophet and the work he accomplished, Elder Callister said, “The historical or social concerns that some may have, the alleged scientific conflicts—these are the sideshow; the center stage is the doctrines, ordinances, priesthood power, and other fruits of our Church, many of which have been discussed tonight.”

He noted that in responding to such criticisms, “questions go both ways.”

“First,” he asked, “how did Joseph Smith know to restore the doctrines and ordinances from the Bible, such as the doctrine of the premortal existence, the true nature of God, the gospel being preached to the dead, baptism for the dead, and many others discussed tonight, when such doctrines and ordinances were not being taught by other contemporary churches of his time? Why was Joseph Smith the only one to discover them and restore them? Even when he is considered a theological genius, were there no other such geniuses in the 1,800 years following the Savior’s ministry who could likewise follow the blueprint with precision?”

He also asked why this Church has the same fruits as Christ’s original Church if it is not Christ’s Church.

“Certainly,” he said, “many more questions on cross-examination could be asked. There are certain questions, however, that trump and transcend all others—in essence, they form the crux of an issue. Suffice it to say, some questions are simply more important than others in discovering the truth. If you come to know that Joseph Smith restored the biblical teachings and ordinances referred to above, if you come to know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the same fruits as Christ’s original Church, or if you come to know that the Book of Mormon is of divine origin, then you know that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and if Joseph Smith is a prophet then this is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth. All other questions pale in comparison.”” (Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy, Church News “Elder Callister Teaches Spiritual Blueprint of True Church, contributed by R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer, CES devotional on January 12, 2014; see https://www.lds.org/church/news/elder-callister-teaches-spiritual-blueprint-of-true-church?lang=eng&query=only+true+church)

-“Chapter 17: The Church of Jesus Christ Today

Gospel Principles, (2011), 94–100

The Church of Jesus Christ Was Taken from the Earth

  • • Why was the Church of Jesus Christ removed from the earth shortly after the Savior’s death and Resurrection?

When Jesus lived on the earth, He established His Church, the only true Church. He organized His Church so the truths of the gospel could be taught to all people and the ordinances of the gospel could be administered correctly with authority. Through this organization, Christ could bring the blessings of salvation to mankind.

After the Savior ascended into heaven, men changed the ordinances and doctrines that He and His Apostles had established. Because of apostasy, there was no direct revelation from God. The true Church was no longer on the earth. Men organized different churches that claimed to be true but taught conflicting doctrines. There was much confusion and contention over religion. The Lord had foreseen these conditions of apostasy, saying there would be “a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. … They shall … seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11–12).

The Lord Promised to Restore His True Church

  • • What were some of the conditions in the world that prepared the way for the Restoration of the gospel?

The Savior promised to restore His Church in the latter days. He said, “I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14).

For many years people lived in spiritual darkness. About 1,700 years after Christ, people were becoming more and more interested in knowing the truth about God and religion. Some of them could see that the gospel Jesus taught was no longer on the earth. Some recognized that there was no revelation and no true authority and that the Church that Christ organized did not exist on the earth. The time had arrived for the Church of Jesus Christ to be restored to the earth.

  • • In what ways is the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel a “marvellous work”?

New Revelation from God

  • • When Joseph Smith received his First Vision, what did he learn about God?

In the spring of 1820, one of the most important events in the history of the world occurred. The time had come for the marvelous work and wonder of which the Lord had spoken. As a young boy, Joseph Smith wanted to know which of all the churches was the true Church of Jesus Christ. He went into the woods near his home and prayed humbly and intently to his Heavenly Father, asking which church he should join. On that morning a miraculous thing happened. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. The Savior told him not to join any church because the true Church was not on the earth. He also said that the creeds of present churches were “an abomination in his sight” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19; see also verses 7–18, 20). Beginning with this event, there was again direct revelation from the heavens. The Lord had chosen a new prophet. Since that time the heavens have not been closed. Revelation continues to this day through each of His chosen prophets. Joseph was to be the one to help restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • • Why was the First Vision one of the most important events in the history of the world?

Authority from God Was Restored

  • • Why was the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods necessary?

In restoring the gospel, God again gave the priesthood to men. John the Baptist came in 1829 to confer the Aaronic Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (see D&C 13; 27:8). Then Peter, James, and John, the presidency of the Church in ancient times, came and gave Joseph and Oliver the Melchizedek Priesthood and the keys of the kingdom of God (see D&C 27:12–13). Later, additional keys of the priesthood were restored by heavenly messengers such as Moses, Elias, and Elijah (see D&C 110:11–16). Through the Restoration, the priesthood was returned to the earth. Those who hold this priesthood today have the authority to perform ordinances such as baptism. They also have the authority to direct the Lord’s kingdom on earth.

For teachers: Bearing testimony invites the Spirit. As part of this lesson, bear your testimony of the Restoration and give others the opportunity to do the same.

Christ’s Church Was Organized Again

  • • What events led to the organization of the Church on the earth again?

On April 6, 1830, the Savior again directed the organizing of His Church on the earth (see D&C 20:1). His Church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see D&C 115:4). Christ is the head of His Church today, just as He was in ancient times. The Lord has said that it is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased” (D&C 1:30).

Joseph Smith was sustained as prophet and “first elder” of the Church (see D&C 20:2–4). Later the First Presidency was organized, and he was sustained as President. When the Church was first organized, only the framework was set up. The organization would develop as the Church continued to grow.

The Church was organized with the same offices as were in the ancient Church. That organization included apostles, prophets, seventies, evangelists (patriarchs), pastors (presiding officers), high priests, elders, bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons. These same offices are in His Church today (see Articles of Faith 1:6).

A prophet, acting under the direction of the Lord, leads the Church. This prophet is also the President of the Church. He holds all the authority necessary to direct the Lord’s work on earth (see D&C 107:65, 91). Two counselors assist the President. Twelve Apostles, who are special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ, teach the gospel and regulate the affairs of the Church in all parts of the world. Other general officers of the Church with special assignments, including the Presiding Bishopric and the Quorums of the Seventy, serve under the direction of the First Presidency and the Twelve.

The offices of the priesthood include apostles, seventies, patriarchs, high priests, bishops, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. These are the same offices that existed in the original Church.

The Church has grown much larger than it was in the days of Jesus. As it has grown, the Lord has revealed additional units of organization within the Church. When the Church is fully organized in an area, it has local divisions called stakes. A stake president and his two counselors preside over each stake. The stake has 12 high councilors who help do the Lord’s work in the stake. Melchizedek Priesthood quorums are organized in the stake under the direction of the stake president (see chapter 14 in this book). Each stake is divided into smaller areas called wards. A bishop and his two counselors preside over each ward.

In areas of the world where the Church is developing, there are districts, which are like stakes. Districts are divided into smaller units called branches, which are like wards.

Important Truths Were Restored

  • • What important truths have been brought back with the Restoration of the Church?

The Church today teaches the same principles and performs the same ordinances as were performed in the days of Jesus. The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost (see Articles of Faith 1:4). These precious truths were returned in their fulness when the Church was restored.

Through the gift and power of God, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, which contains the plain and precious truths of the gospel. Many other revelations followed and have been recorded as scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price (see chapter 10 in this book).

  • Other important truths that the Lord restored include the following:
  • 1. Our Heavenly Father is a real being with a tangible, perfected body of flesh and bones, and so is Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit.
  • 2. We existed in premortal life as spirit children of God.
  • 3. The priesthood is necessary to administer the ordinances of the gospel.
  • 4. We will be punished for our own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.
  • 5. Children do not need to be baptized until they are accountable (eight years old).
  • 6. There are three kingdoms of glory in the heavens, and through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, people will be rewarded according to their actions on earth and according to the desires of their hearts.
  • 7. Family relationships can be eternal through the sealing power of the priesthood.
  • 8. Ordinances and covenants are required for salvation and are available for both the living and the dead.
  • • How have these truths influenced you and others?

The Church of Jesus Christ Will Never Be Destroyed

  • • What is the mission of the Church?

Since its restoration in 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown rapidly in membership. There are members in nearly every country in the world. The Church will continue to grow. As Christ said, “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31). The Church will never again be taken from the earth. Its mission is to take the truth to every person. Thousands of years ago, the Lord said He would “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, … and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

  • • How have you helped in the work of the kingdom of God? What can you do to continue this work?

Additional Scriptures

CHURCH, SIGNS OF THE TRUE (Guide to the scriptures see https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/church-signs-of-the-true?lang=eng)

See also Church of Jesus Christ; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The; Sign

Doctrines and works of a church that show it is approved by God and is the means the Lord has established for his children to gain the fulness of his blessings. Some of the signs of the true Church are as follows:

Correct understanding of the Godhead

First principles and ordinances

  • Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit:John 3:3–5;
  • Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ:Acts 2:38;
  • Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost:Acts 8:14–17;
  • Become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ:Gal. 3:26–27;
  • Repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son:2 Ne. 31:11–21;
  • They who believed were baptized and received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands:D&C 76:50–53;
  • Proper priesthood is needed to baptize and to give the gift of the Holy Ghost:JS—H 1:70–72;
  • The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are described:A of F 1:4;

Revelation

  • Where there is no vision, the people perish:Prov. 29:18;
  • The Lord reveals his secrets to his prophets:Amos 3:7;
  • The Church is built upon the rock of revelation:Matt. 16:17–18; ( D&C 33:13; )
  • Woe unto him who shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation:3 Ne. 29:6;
  • Revelations and commandments come only through the one appointed:D&C 43:2–7;
  • We believe all that God has revealed:A of F 1:9;

Prophets

Authority

  • Jesus gave his disciples power and authority:Luke 9:1–2; ( John 15:16; )
  • Nephi, the son of Helaman, had great authority from God:Hel. 11:18; ( 3 Ne. 7:17; )
  • The prophet is to receive commandments for the Church:D&C 21:4–5;
  • No one may preach the gospel or build up the Church unless he is ordained by someone who has authority:D&C 42:11;
  • The elders are to preach the gospel, acting in authority:D&C 68:8;
  • Any who preach or administer for God must be called of God by those in authority:A of F 1:5;

Additional scriptures to come forth

  • The stick of Judah will be joined with the stick of Joseph:Ezek. 37:15–20;
  • The coming forth of latter-day scripture was foretold:1 Ne. 13:38–41;
  • We believe that God will yet reveal many great and important things:A of F 1:9;

Church organization

  • The Church is built upon the foundation of Apostles and prophets:Eph. 2:19–20;
  • Apostles and prophets are essential to the Church:Eph. 4:11–16;
  • Christ is the head of the Church:Eph. 5:23;
  • Christ’s Church must be called in his name:3 Ne. 27:8;
  • We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church:A of F 1:6;

Missionary work

  • Go ye therefore, and teach all nations:Matt. 28:19–20;
  • Seventy were called to preach the gospel:Luke 10:1;
  • They were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature:Mosiah 28:3;
  • Elders are to go forth, preaching my gospel, two by two:D&C 42:6;
  • The gospel must be preached unto every creature:D&C 58:64;

Spiritual gifts

Temples

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