This week I studied two doctrines taught by Articles of Faith 1:6: “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” Those doctrines concern Church Organization and Membership in the Church. Some of my insights and learning are as follows.
My first insight is found in Third Nephi 27and is the answer to my prayers in my quest to know if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the Church of Jesus Christ on earth today. After many years of membership in the Church, I had strong belief that it was true, but I had never sought a confirmation from God. I knew all the answers intellectually, so I understood that I had to find an answer that would fit my case perfectly. I found it in this chapter.
When the Nephites were seeking to know what to call their church, the Lord told them to call it in His name and to do everything that they did in His name. He said that it would be His Church if it was called in His name and built upon His gospel. The information in 3 Nephi 27:1-12 made sense to me. My quest ended when I read verse 11 about the works of men bringing joy “for a season” and their works following them. I thought of how the Church was organized with six members and had grown to millions despite much persecution and criticism. I knelt in prayer and received a burning in my bosom so bright that I felt as though I was a giant lightbulb with light coming from every part of my being. I can say that I know the Church is true because I now know that I know.
My second insight is about the priesthood and its position in the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. Some people wonder how the priesthood could be restored before the Church was organized. D&C 107:8-9 explains why the authority and keys of the priesthood had to be restored before the Church could be organized. “The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices of the church….” The Church could not be organized with a presidency without the authority to do so. The position of the restoration of the priesthood shows that it was not an afterthought. After the First Vision, only the Book of Mormon came prior to the restoration of the priesthood.
My third insight concerns the reason why God works through His Church. I appreciate the remarks of Elder D. Todd Christofferson presented at the October 2019 General Conference. His talk about why God chooses to do His work through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is interesting. We know from Moses 1:39 that His work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Elder Christofferson explained that God first did His work through family-based organizations and enlarged/changed His organization as needed. The Church of Jesus Christ was first organized in the meridian of time with the purpose of preaching the gospel and administering the ordinances of salvation. The Church of Jesus Christ was restored in our day with the same purpose of preaching the gospel and administering the ordinances of salvation with the added responsibility to do the work for both the living and the dead. I particularly appreciate his three reasons for why we need The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and why we need to belong to it.
· We create a community of Saints to assist and sustain each other, to “learn divine doctrine,” and to “experience its application” in our lives. An example given is repentance, which is an individual experience that is assisted by fellowship of Church members. Another example is the reminder that we should be converted to Jesus Christ and His gospel, which is facilitated by the Church. A third example is the family, which is strengthened by the Church and can qualify for eternal life through gospel teaching and priesthood ordinances.
· Jesus Christ works through His Church to accomplish things that individuals or smaller groups could not do. An obvious example of this reason is the humanitarian services given by the Church but funded by donations from members.
· The Church of Jesus Christ is the kingdom of God on earth. This is the best reason why Christ would work through His Church.
Elder Christofferson stated plainly that we need the Church and we need to belong to the
Church. Although our needs are similar, there may be differences in why we personally feel that we need the Church and need to belong to it. I need the counsel given by the Prophet and Apostles and the continuing guidance that I get from them. I need the various services that come from the Church, such as the gospel study apps. I also need the growth that comes from the experiences of serving in various positions and from participating in the various activities of the Church of Jesus Christ. Without the Church in my life, I could not receive the ordinances that help me gain eternal life. On a more regular level, I could not partake of the sacrament each week to renew my covenants with God. Prior to reading this talk, I had not considered the question of why I need the Church.
Even though Elder Christofferson gave three general reasons why we need the Church, both the first and the second reasons have multiple sub-reasons in his talk and others that he did not mention. I think that the third reason would include the fact that God knows everything, which means that He knows the best way to accomplish His work today.
In summary, the true Church of Jesus Christ must bear His name and be built upon His gospel. The Church of Jesus Christ must contain the authority and keys of the priesthood, and His Church must be His kingdom on earth.