After His Resurrection, Jesus Christ visited the people that were living in ancient America. He ordained twelve disciples, taught His gospel and organized His church before leaving. As His disciples journeyed and taught the gospel, they were also in an attitude of fasting and prayer. The Savior appeared to them and asked them what He should give to them. They told Him that they would like to know what they should call the church.
The Lord asked them why this was such a problem for them. He reminded them that the scriptures say that they should take upon them the name of Christ and be called in His name. He told them to perform their labors in His name and to pray in His name to the Father. Then He gave instructions about the name of the church as found in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
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 (3 Nephi 27:8).
We learn from this verse of scriptures that the Lord wants His church to bear His name. The Lord gave even more explicit instructions about naming His church to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4).
Another prophet, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke about the name of the Church in the April 1990 General Conference: “Surely every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord is precious. So each word in this name must be important – divinely designated for a reason. If we study the key words in that name, we can better understand the name’s full significance.” He then proceeds to discuss each word.
Saints. Despite its use in ninety-eight verses in the Bible, the term saint is still not well understood. Some mistakenly think that it implies beatification or perfection. Not so! A saint is a believer in Christ and knows of His perfect love….
Latter-day. We live in those latter days, and they are remarkable. The Lord’s Spirit is being poured out upon all inhabitants of the earth….
Jesus Christ. By divine directive, the title of the Church bears the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whose church this is (See Doctrine and Covenants 115:3-4). He so decreed more than once. Nearly two thousand years ago, the Lord said, “Ye shall call the church in my name (3 Nephi 27:7-8).
The Church. The first two words of the name the Lord chose for His earthly organization are The Church. Note that the article The begins with a capital letter. This is an important part of the title, for the Church is the official organization of baptized believers who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ….
Therefore, just as we revere His holy name, we likewise revere the name that He decreed for His Church.
As decreed by the Lord, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears the name of the Savior. It is often differentiated from the Church that He founded during the Meridian of Times – The Church of Jesus Christ of Former Day Saints. The name of Jesus Christ is found in both names, and both Churches are/were built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.