The following comes from the church magazine, "The Ensign". It is a regular feature in the magazine, wherein people send in their questions, and someone is asked to answer it. Here is the question that was asked:
How do we support the position that Christ organized a church with various officers, particularly in view of Matthew 18:19–20 and 1 Corinthians 12:12–14?
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
Robert J. Woodford, Institute instructor, LDS Business College. “I Have a Question,” Ensign, July 1986, 29–30
" At first glance, these two passages of scripture might seem to show that an organized church and its ordinances are unnecessary. Many people, interpreting these passages out of context, have concluded that it is necessary only to accept Christ as the Savior, and that all who do so—regardless of their church membership—belong to a “church of believers.” This, they reason, is the one true church spoken of in the scriptures. These people believe that an organized church of Christ, with ordinances and authorized officers, is optional.
But a closer look at the context in which these passages of scripture were given actually confirms the fact that the Savior did organize a church with authorized leaders and essential ordinances.
Consider first Matthew 18:19–20:
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” [Matt 18:19–20]
The Savior spoke these words to his Apostles—to those he had already called to lead his church. Shortly after the Transfiguration (see Matt. 17:1–13), the Apostles had asked the Savior who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. This passage is part of his response. The Savior had called to their attention that they had the power to seal and loose, both on earth and in heaven. (See Matt. 18:18.) Now he told them that whatever two of them agreed concerning anything, and it was right, that it would be done for them by the Father. (See Matt. 18:19.) He also gave them the promise that he would be with his disciples whenever they met in his name. (See Matt. 18:20.) This last promise seems to be meant for all disciples, not just the twelve Apostles. In either case, it clearly applies to those who have already entered Christ’s church, not to just anyone who might meet in the Savior’s name.
The second scripture, 1 Corinthians 12:12–14, reads as follows:
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
“For the body is not one member, but many.”
Paul had learned that the Saints at Corinth were contending over points of doctrine—with each faction aligning itself behind the church leader they supposed taught the views they espoused. Paul opened his letter by reproving them:
“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
“Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:12–13.)
He then taught them the truth concerning some of the disputed doctrines and urged them to unite with all the leaders God had set in the Church. (See 1 Cor. 12.) Specifically, he mentioned Apostles, prophets, and teachers (see 1 Cor. 12:28), but this obviously is not intended to be a complete listing. Paul used the figure of the human body to illustrate the relationship the Saints have with the Church leaders and the Savior. He says that just as no part of the body can claim that it has no need of another part, so no member of the Church can claim not to need any other part of the Church, whether it be another member, Church leader, or the Savior.
Paul used this same figure in his letter to the Ephesians to teach them the same principle:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:11–16.)
Paul had already explained this relationship to the Ephesian Saints using a different figure. In language both beautiful and expressive, he likened the Church to the household of God:
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
“In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
“In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19–22.)
Wherever Paul labored as a missionary he organized branches of the church and ordained elders to preside. (See Acts 14:23.) Thus, we have in the epistles of Paul many scriptures concerning Church leaders and their duties. As examples, Paul instructed Titus to ordain elders in every city in Crete where there were members. (See Titus 1:5.) He taught Timothy about the qualifications of bishops and deacons (see 1 Tim. 3:1–13), and he referred to high priests in the letter to the Hebrews (see Heb. 5:1, 8:3).
It was the Savior who initiated the formal organization of the Church when he ordained the twelve Apostles. (See Mark 3:14.) He also appointed seventy men to assist the Apostles in their work. (See Luke 10:1.) Shortly after his death, the Apostles perpetuated the number in their quorum by choosing Matthias to replace the fallen Judas. (See Acts 1:23–26.) They also enlarged the organization of the Church when they chose seven men to aid in the temporal affairs of the Church. (See Acts 6:1–7.)
The Bible does not record all of the officers in the Church and their specific duties at the time of the Savior, nor does it provide much detail on how that organization developed as the Church grew and spread. But we see ample evidence from these scriptures that there was a formal organization, with men authorized to perform specific duties within the Church.
As Latter-day Saints, we “believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” (A of F 1:6.) The duties of these officers in the Church today are given to us through our Latter-day scriptures and the words of our living prophets. We also believe that those who act in an official capacity within that organization “must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands.” (A of F 1:5.) We also believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same church that was organized by the Savior, restored in these latter days. And finally, we believe that after making the commitment to follow the Savior, a person must be baptized by one who has authority in order to obtain a remission of sins and to be admitted into the Lord’s church. (A of F 1:4.) Then he must labor in the church and kingdom of God, serving both God and his fellow-men even as did the Savior. (See 2 Ne. 31:13–21.)