This week for my Come, Follow Me studies included one of my favorite chapters in the scriptures. It is important to me because it helped me to receive confirmation of the Church of Jesus Christ. In previous weeks I have discussed how Jesus Christ visited the inhabitants of ancient America after His resurrection and ascension into heaven. He appeared to the Nephites, taught the Sermon at the Temple (similar to the Sermon on the Mount), introduced the sacrament to them, and taught them about baptism, faith, repentance, prayer, and many other principles.
One day the disciples of Jesus Christ were journeying in their travels to preach the gospel that had been taught to them. They were “gathered together and were united in mighty prayer and fasting” (3 Nephi 27:1). While they were praying, Jesus Christ appeared to them and asked them what they wanted to receive from them.
They wanted the answer to an essential question: what do you want us to call your church? He wanted to know why this was such a problem for them that it would cause them to murmur and dispute among themselves. He asked if they had 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” (3 Nephi 27:5).
The Savior further explained that anyone who taketh His name and endureth to the end will be saved at the last day. Then he answered their question plainly.
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 ten 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 27:7-8).
After Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820 and restored the Melchizedek Priesthood, Joseph was instructed to organize the Church of Jesus Christ on earth. The Lord revealed to Joseph the name that He wanted His church to be called: “For 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).
In recent years President Russell M. Nelson learned that the Lord was not pleased because members of His church had allowed other people to call us Mormons and had even used the name ourselves. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was world famous, and the main website for the Church of Jesus Christ was lds.org. Over several months, almost every organization and website were renamed to remove the name “Mormon” and/or to insert the name of Jesus Christ. The famous choir is now known as the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and “The Church of Jesus Christ” pops up when I enter LDS.org.
Elder M. Russell Ballard, now Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the name of the Church.
I have thought a lot about why the Savior gave the nine-word name to His restored Church. It may seem long, but if we think of it as a descriptive overview of what the Church is, it suddenly becomes wonderfully brief, candid, and straightforward. How could any description be more direct and clear and yet expressed in such few words?
Every word is clarifying and indispensable. The word The indicates the unique position of the restored Church among the religions of the world.
The words Church of Jesus Christ declare that it is His Church [see 3 Nephi 27:8] ….
Of Latter-day explains that it is the same Church as the Church of Jesus Christ established during His mortal ministry but restored in these latter days. We know there was a falling away, or an apostasy, necessitating the Restoration of His true and complete Church in our time.
Saints means that its members follow Him and strive to do His will, keep His commandments, and prepare once again to live with Him and our Heavenly Father in the future. Saint simply refers to those who seek to make their lives holy by covenanting to follow Christ” (“The Importance of a Name,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 80).
Other prophets and apostles have spoken about the name of the Church of Jesus Christ. In his first conference address after becoming the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about the sacred association of the Church, its name, and its accompanying responsibilities.
This church does not belong to its President. Its head is the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name each of us has taken upon ourselves. We are all in this great endeavor together. We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence. All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others (Ensign, May 1995, 71).
The name of the Church is of great importance. It is THE Church of Jesus Christ and should bear His name. We live in the latter days, and we strive to follow Him and do His will. Therefore, we are Latter-day Saints. Thus, the name of the Church defines it: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.