Articles of Faith V: Called of God

The fifth article of faith:

We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

This statement centers around our belief in a required priesthood authority.

We read in Hebrews 5:4, And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

Ordinances such as baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost must be done under the correct authority. A man must be called of God, meaning that he must be given the authority from another that possesses it. This is done by the laying on of hands, something that is mentioned numerous times in the Bible.

Christ gave the priesthood authority to His apostles.

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)

Talking specifically to Peter, Christ speaks of the priesthood authority as keys,

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

The priesthood holds authority over the things pertaining to the earth as well as the heavens. Understanding this will help one to understand why Mormons are sealed in the temple for time and all eternity, and also why we do proxy baptisms for those no longer living on the earth.

In a nutshell, the priesthood is God’s power and authority. In these last days, He has reached out in love and restored it. Given to man, it allows man the right to act in His name. It is necessary to operate Jesus Christ’s church, to preach the gospel with the utmost power and spirit, and to perform saving ordinances such as baptism.

The King, the Heir, and the Called

Why did Jesus walk all the way to John the Baptist to be baptized? What exactly was the power Christ gave His apostles so they could heal and cast out unclean spirits? Why did Peter and John need to lay their hands on the people to give them the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Authority is the answer. Christ went to John because John, through his lineage, held the priesthood authority to baptize Him. Priesthood authority is what Christ gave to the Apostles, allowing them to heal and cast out spirits. This same authority is what Peter and John used to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Jesus Christ’s church is His kingdom. I like to think of this as a literal thing, like a medieval times type of thing. God the Father is the ultimate king over all the land. Jesus Christ, being His Only Begotten Son, is the Prince, the rightful heir to the kingdom. His blood is royal blood, and through it He holds the authority to conduct the affairs of the kingdom. This authority can be passed down to us, but only through the proper way.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (Hebrews 5:4)

No one can just say they have the authority. It must be given to them, and they must be called of God. Christ gave this royal authority to His chosen apostles, allowing them to conduct the affairs of The Church, His kingdom.

The apostles were not received well however, and were eventually disposed of. Because of this corruption, the authority was not passed down in the correct way and was lost. But it was restored. The King (God the Father) and the Heir (Jesus Christ) visited a young boy named Joseph Smith. This young boy was called of God and the priesthood authority was given to him by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John, as resurrected beings.

For centuries, the royal authority was lost, but it has been restored. The Prophet Joseph Smith was called of God, and the authority, the right to officiate in Christ’s church, was restored through him. The Church of Jesus Christ is again on the Earth! The proof is a record known as the Book of Mormon. By reading it, pondering it, and praying about it, you can know if the priesthood authority was restored through Joseph Smith.

Pop, You’re “Poifect!”

The 20th of June is my birthday… right around Father’s Day. I always felt kinda bad about that, feeling like it kinda… you know… took the focus away from Father’s Day. But this year is different! I’m some forty miles away from the Canadian border. That’s definitely too far away to have a family dinner and some cake. Dad, you’re welcome! This year, it’s all you, baby!

But seriously, fathers are awesome. Just like a mother, a father has a special place within the family. That place cannot be filled by another. Traditionally, the father is the head of the household. He is the provider, the bread maker if you will, and the protector. He is the patriarch. In a typical LDS family, the father holds the priesthood and presides over them. He uses his priesthood to guide his family and administer to them through priesthood blessings and obeying what the Lord wants him to do for them.

Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said,

There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the higher priesthood, than that of the father. The patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity. There is then a particular reason why men, women, and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation of His children. In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount.

I am grateful for my dad, and the blessing of having a father who holds the priesthood authority of God. He has been an incredible example of strength to me, and his love for me and the rest of my family is astounding. He has sacrificed much so my siblings and I could have the blessings we enjoy right now. And he’s got a great sense of humor too. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

If you no longer have a father here on the earth to celebrate Father’s Day with, remember that you still and will always have your Father in Heaven. He is the greatest Father there is, and He is certainly worth celebrating on Father’s Day as well, and every day.

Dads are awesome, and I’ve got the best one.

The Glass Table Analogy III: Restored

Joseph Smith grew up in Palmyra, New York, during the early 19th century. During this time, there was an excitement about religion, at least in the town of Palmyra. Preachers stood outside their meetinghouses and called out to passersby. Joseph’s father was partial to the Methodist faith, while his mother aligned herself with the Presbyterians. They were both devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and raised their children as such, reading and learning from the Bible.

At a point in his childhood, Joseph became concerned for the welfare of his soul. He desired to join one of the churches in his town, but he didn’t know which one. They were all confusing to him, and they all seemed to contradict each other. Unfortunately, an argument on a particular doctrine couldn’t be settled by the Bible, because all the preachers interpreted it differently. The Bible seemed more like a battle ground than common ground.

Young Joseph was reading one night in the epistle of James, first chapter, fifth verse, which reads,

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

He pondered these words, and then he decided to take James up on his promise. You can read my post about Joseph Smith’s First Vision here.

Joseph saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. Together, They appeared to him. He asked them again which church to join, and Jesus Christ answered him and said that he should join none of the churches. For although there is truth in them all (pieces of the glass table), they don’t have the full doctrine of Christ (the original table).

Joseph Smith was later called as a prophet, and through him Jesus Christ would restore His church to the earth by restoring the keys of the kingdom, or the priesthood authority. By doing this, ordinances such as baptism could be done with the proper authority from God. It is the Church of Jesus Christ, and because we are in the latter days, or the last days, it is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him (Ephesians 1:10)

We are living in the fulness of times, and Jesus Christ has restored His church. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet called of God. And how can we know this? Matthew stated that by their fruits we may know if a prophet is truly called of God, or if he is fake. The Book of Mormon is the “fruit” of Joseph Smith. By reading it, pondering it, and praying about it, one can know of its divinity.

I know the Book of Mormon is true. If you have not read it, I challenge you to do so. It’s the only way you can know if Christ’s church has been restored. This is my testimony, and I give it in the name of Jesus Christ, that His church is restored.

 

The Glass Table Analogy II: Broken Pieces

The Apostles and the Seventy are out spreading the teachings of the Master, Jesus Christ. The glass table can still stand with its remaining three legs: apostles/prophets, priesthood authority, and revelation. Unfortunately, things do not go well for the Christians. Just like the prophets of old, the people reject Christ’s disciples. Through persecution and eventually murder, the Apostles and other disciples are eleminated. Jesus Christ knew this would happen, and He warned His disciples,

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations formy name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (Matthew 24:9-10)

With the disciples gone, however, the priesthood authority eventually diminished. No one was left to transfer the authority by the laying on of hands. The world fell into a Great Apostasy, a time of spiritual darkness. To use a more secular term, the world entered the Dark Ages.

The Apostle Paul could see this time clearly,

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The shattering of the glass table left broken pieces. In their ignorance and wickedness, people took those pieces and began to put their own ideas around them, forming philosophies and theologies that were missing important parts of Christ’s doctrine. Without revelation from prophets and apostles, there was no one to guide them. The Church of Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth. Only fragments of truth existed among the man-made religions.

This time on the earth had actually been prophecied of long ago.

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 wordsof 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)

The word of the Lord would not be found because His church and His doctrine in its fullness would not be on the earth. The glass table was broken. No man could hope to repair it. Even if one could somehow find all the pieces and bring them together, the glass would still be shattered. No power on earth could restore Jesus Christ’s church. It would take the Savior Himself to bring His gospel back in its fullness. Only He could restore the glass table to its original form.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19)

By the power of the Holy Ghost, Peter knew Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, AKA Revelation. Hence, upon this rock, meaning revelation, would Christ build His church, giving Peter the keys of the kindgom, AKA priesthood authority. And the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it, for The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored in these latter days. This is where a young farmboy named Joseph Smith comes into play…

The Glass Table Analogy

What many people don’t understand is that Jesus Christ set up a church. No, not just some good ideas practiced by His followers, but a real, established organization. He called the Twelve and gave unto them priesthood authority, or the right to act in God’s name. Being the Son of God, Christ held it by right, and thus, He passed it onto His apostles.

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)

God’s priesthood authority isn’t something that can just be taken. It must be given under authority.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (Hebrews 5:4)

Christ also called others to preach His gospel.

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. (Luke 10:1)

And why did He, Christ, establish this organization?

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12)

So Jesus Christ called and ordained apostles, prophets, teachers, seventies, and so forth. He gave them His priesthood authority, or the right to act in God’s name. The right to heal and perform miracles. The right to administer in ordinances such as baptism by immersion and receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.

We can think of The Church of Jesus Christ as a round, glass table with four legs. One leg is Jesus Christ, another is priesthood authority, another is prophets and apostles, and the last is revelation received through those prophets and apostles. These four things hold up the table, the Church. Let’s say that Christ is the center leg, and the others form a triangle around Him. As we know, Jesus Christ was crucified. This removes the center leg. The table still stands just fine, but the center support is now gone. Of course, Christ was resurrected and appeared to His apostles, and others, but He is no longer physically present with them all the time.

With the Savior’s given authority, the apostles, and others Christ ordained, set out to spread the Word of God. Unfortunately, they were not received well by most. The world was soon about to fall into spiritual darkness, the Great Apostasy. The glass table would soon fall and shatter.

The Power and the Gift

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. You can read more about Him and His role here, in one of my previous posts. In the Church of Jesus Christ, when one is baptized, he or she receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is a difference, however, between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost can descend upon anyone, guiding him or her in whatever way God wants. There’s a simple anology that can be made. The power of the Holy Ghost is like a bolt of lightning. You can imagine life as a journey through a dark forest. Everything is black; nothing can be seen. Just as lightning may strike, illuminating the path for a second, the Holy Ghost may dwell for a moment and give needed guidance to continue onward.

Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is like receiving a flashlight. It’s constantly with us, lighting the trail every second of the way, so long as we are worthy of it.

We can see instances of this in the scriptures.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the wordof 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)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (Acts 19:5-6)

I know that only through the complete authority, found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can one be endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that said gift is needed to enter into the kingdom of God.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)