Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

True Church of Christ

                As we began the countdown to Christmas Day, I thought it might be interesting to write about the true teachings of Jesus Christ.  I found a list of the seventeen points of what the true church of Jesus Christ would teach.  I have seen this list numerous times but have never felt the need to study them more closely or to enlarge on them until now.  I personally believe there are many more “points” that could be discussed, but I will stick with the listed ones.

                The list of “Seventeen Points of the True Church” was supposedly created by a group of people – students, servicemen, scientists, etc. -- studying the Bible.  They based their studies on the church that Jesus Christ established while He was on earth.  According to the story I read, when the members of the group went their separate ways, they each searched diligently for a church that met their seventeen points.  After many years, they discovered that they had all discovered the same church.  The seventeen points were based on actual scriptures in the Bible, but other scriptures support the points also.  The final or eighteenth point answers the question:  Why are these things important?

                Point #1Christ organized the Church.  “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:
                “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
                “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:11-14).
                This was the description of the Church of Christ in New Testament times.  I know that many churches have one or more of these officers, but I know of only one church that has all of them.

                Point #2:  The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ.  “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:  and he is the savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).
                “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
                There are many scriptures that mention taking the name of Jesus Christ upon us, but they do not mention the actual name of the church.  Here is a scripture that leaves no doubt as to the name of the church.
                “Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name?  For by this name shall ye be called at the last day; …
                “Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
                “And how be it my church save it be called in my name?  For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 27:5-8).
                I know of only one church that bears the complete name of Jesus Christ.

                Point #3:  The true church must have a foundation of Apostles and Prophets.  “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens 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).
                I know of only one church that claims to have both prophets and apostles.

                Point #4:  The true church must have the same organization as Christ’s Church.  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11; See #1 above).

                Point #5:  The true church must claim divine authority.  “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
                “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.
                “As he saith also in another place, Thou are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec….
                “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
                “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
                “Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 5:4-10).
                I know of only two churches that claim divine authority; one claims the authority was passed down from Peter and one claims that it was restored by Jesus Christ and his servants.

                Point #6:  The true church must have no paid ministry.  “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways:  he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 45:13).
                “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” (1 Peter 5:2).
                I know of only one church that has no paid ministers.

                Point #7:  The true church must baptize by immersion.  “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
                “But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
                “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now:  for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.  Then he suffered him.
                “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water:  and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
                “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).
                I know of at least two churches that baptize by immersion.

                Point #8:  The true church must bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.  “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
                “Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
                “(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them:  only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
                “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17).
                I know of several churches that use laying on of hands.

                Point #9:  The true church must practice divine healing.  “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him and that he might send them forth to preach,
                “And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:14-15).
                There are numerous churches that claim to have the healing power.

                Point #10:  The true church must teach that God and Jesus Christ are separate and distinct individuals. 
                “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
                “And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).         
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father:  but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17).

                I know of only one church that teaches that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are separate Personages.  “… I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
                “It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.  When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him!  (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith – History 1:16-17).

                Point #11:  The true church must teach that God and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bone.
                “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:  and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
                “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
                “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit.  Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).

                Point #12:  The officers must be called by God.  Hebrews 5:4 (See #5 above.) 
                “And take thou unto thee Aaron, thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons” (Exodus 28:1).
                “And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
                “And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:
                “Ad thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office:  for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
                “Thus did Moses:  according to all that the Lord commanded him, so did he” (Exodus 40:13-16).

                Point #13:  The true church must claim revelation from God.  “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

                Point #14:  The true church must be a missionary church.  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;
                “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20).

                Point #15:  The true church must be a restored church.  “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
                “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that 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.
                “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:  for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:1-3).
                “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).

                Point #16:  The true church must practice baptism for the dead.  “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?  Why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29). 

                Point #17:  By their fruits ye shall know them.  “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
                “Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
                “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
                “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
                “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
                “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).

                Point #18:  Why are these things important?  “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
                I know that Heavenly Father loves all His children, no matter when they live on earth or where.  I know that He wants all of His children to have the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know that these eighteen points represent true principles taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I also know that all eighteen points are taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know that this church is “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” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).  I know this because the truthfulness of it has been borne to me by the Holy Ghost. 

                Ancient prophets and apostles have borne witness of Jesus Christ, and modern-day prophets and apostles bear testimony that He is our Savior and lives today.  

                Modern-day prophets and apostles also testify of the true and living church:  “I bear you my solemn witness that this is the true and living Church of Jesus Christ.  Heavenly Father will answer your fervent prayers to know that for yourself.  You can have a witness that the calls which you sustained today were from God.  Even more, you can know that within this Church, ordinances are performed which can cleanse souls and bind on earth and in heaven, as they were in the days of peter, James, and John.  Those keys and ordinances are now restored in their fulness through the Prophet Joseph Smith and have been passed on through his successors.  Jesus is the Christ.  He lives.  I know that.  I testify that Thomas S. Monson is His living prophet.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and it lives on.  I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ” (President Henry B. Eyring of The First Presidency, “The True and Living Church,” Liahona, May 2008).  

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