Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Apostasy and Restoration

The Prophet Amos prophesied, "11 ¶ 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:" Amos 8:11 Has this famine happened? Others prophesied of this "falling away" also. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;" 1 Thess. 2:3. Another term for this falling away is the apostasy.

In the ancient church, the Priesthood of God was conferred upon men by one holding the authority, by the laying on of hands. Jesus called His Apostles, and ordained them to the Priesthood. They then had the authority to act in His name. Through the Priesthood which they held, they also healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out evil spirits. But after the crucifixion of Jesus, the apostles began to experience persecution. With time, they were each killed. Then came what Paul had prophesied; a falling away from the truth that Jesus had established.

It's no wonder that the period of time following the apostasy is known as the "Dark ages". Without the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and without the Priesthood of God on the Earth, the world was in spiritual darkness. In addition, the ordinances were changed, and much of the knowledge was lost. In speaking of these ordinances and teachings that were changed, Pres. James E. Faust taught, "Among these were baptism by immersion; receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; the nature of the Godhead—that They are three distinct personages; all mankind will be resurrected through the Atonement of Christ, "both … the just and the unjust"; continuous revelation—that the heavens are not closed; and temple work for the living and the dead.." (James E. Faust, "The Restoration of All Things," Ensign, May 2006, 61–62, 67–68) During this time of apostasy, the Bible was preserved, although it came at great cost on the part of those who strove to preserve it. In addition, some of the "plain and precious" parts were lost.

Not only were the ordinances changed, and truths lost, the Priesthood of God was also lost. Pres. James E.Faust taught, "In the centuries that followed, religious men came to recognize that there had been a gradual falling away from the Church organized by Jesus Christ. Some of them suffered greatly for their beliefs, in what came to be called the Reformation, a sixteenth-century movement that aimed at reforming Western Christianity. This resulted in the separation of the Protestant churches from the main Christian church.
Among these reformers was the Reverend John Lathrop, vicar of the Egerton Church in Kent, England. Incidentally, the Prophet Joseph Smith was descended from John Lathrop. In 1623 the Reverend Lathrop resigned his position because he questioned the authority of the Anglican church to act in the name of God. As he read the Bible, he recognized that apostolic keys were not on the earth. In 1632 he became the minister of an illegal independent church and was put in prison. His wife died while he was in prison, and his orphaned children pleaded with the bishop for his release. The bishop agreed to release Lathrop on condition that he leave the country. This he did, and with 32 members of his congregation he sailed to America.
Roger Williams, a seventeenth-century pastor who founded Rhode Island, refused to continue as pastor in Providence on the grounds that there was "no regularly-constituted Church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any Church ordinance; nor could there be, until new apostles were sent by the great Head of the Church, for whose coming he was seeking." (James E. Faust, "The Restoration of All Things," Ensign, May 2006, 61–62, 67–68)

Because of this condition of the world, a restoration of the Gospel was needed. Peter prophesied of a restoration. He taught, 19 ¶ Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21)

In 1830 the fullness of the Gospel was restored through Joseph Smith. In addition, the Book of Mormon was translated and helped to restore many of the plain and precious truths that had been lost from the Bible. The same organization that had existed in the early church was also restored through Joseph Smith. The Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days was restored with a foundation of apostles and prophets who lead the church by revelation. Ancient temple ordinances were also restored.

What you will find in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not only the restored organization of the early church, or the ordinances of the Gospel, or the truths that were lost from the scriptures anciently, but you will find on-going revelation to help us through these troubling times. You will also find that the more you learn, the more the pieces all fit together. You will find the fullness Gospel, restored in all its glory.

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