I have been thinking lately of the many scriptures that talk about the apostasy. In our religion we believe that this apostasy occurred after Jesus Christ died and was resurrected. He had given the Priesthood power to his disciples to carry out the work of the gospel, but with time, each of them were killed. This time had been prophecied by Amos:
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: 12 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
Christ Himself had warned the disciples that the times ahead would be difficult:
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Paul taught the Thessalonians that a falling away would happen before the Lord would come the second time to the earth.
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
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;
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
When will this apostasy occur if it hasn't already? Those who are watching the "signs of the times" know that many of the prophecies about what would precede the Lord's second coming are already coming to pass. But what about this prophecy? When will this apostasy occur, wherein men will search from sea to sea and not find the word of the Lord. We testify that it happened after the death of the apostles. That time in history is what is commonly known as "the dark ages". There were surprisingly few advancements and inventions during that time. Why would there be dark ages? When we take away the light of the world, then the world becomes dark. When the gospel is not found on the earth, then the world groans in darkness.
But Paul also spoke of a "restitution of all things".
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.
Clearly, we can't have a restitution of something that hasn't been missing. When will this restitution of all things occur? What will be restored? We believe that the restitution has already occurred. We believe that the gospel, in its entirety was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. We believe that the Priesthood power was also restored to Joseph Smith. We testify that this restitution has already happened in preparation for the second coming of the Lord.
It is a bold assertion to state that the Priesthood was restored to this church. But let us look at the history. After the death of the apostles, the Catholic church was formed. Many of the reformists did not feel that the Catholic church held the authority of God, and that the teachings of Jesus Christ had been changed. This led them to break off and start new churches. But did they have the authority; the Priesthood? How does one get the Priesthood authority? Anyone can go to the city offices and register a new church. But does that give them authority from God? Does a feeling alone guarantee that authority has been granted?
On May 15, 1829, the resurrected John the Baptist came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and layed his hands upon their heads. He bestowed upon them the priesthood of Aaron, which included the authority to baptize. Then one month later, Peter, James and John came and bestowed upon them the higher priesthood, the priesthood held by the great high priest Melchizedek. With this priesthood was restored the authority to act in God's name, as well as the authority to perform sacred ordinances.
The name of our church, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" is significant because we believe that it is literally the church of Jesus Christ, restored to the earth. The term "latter-day saints" distinguishes us from the early church. In this church of Jesus Christ, you can find the same organization that existed in the early church with apostles and prophets leading and guiding the saints. You can find all of the ordinances that existed in the early church, including the temple ordinances. I testify that the restoration spoken of has occurred, and that this is the true church of Jesus Christ in these last days.