Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ancient Instructions for the Past and Future

The eighth article of faith says:

8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly, we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

I remember watching the History Channel recently and I became fascinated by a story that aired about the history of the Bible. Scholars and historians alike have pointed out that over the centuries, books, pages and scripts have been lost, translations have been lost and the Bible known to the world today is very different from the original scripts centuries ago as it was in it’s purest from at that time. Also, they have noted over the centuries that the books within the Bible (scrolls) fell out of order and it is unclear to this day which order the books were intended be in.

Robert J. Matthews has stated “..error has occurred not only in the translation from one language to another, but also in the transcription of the text from manuscript to manuscript, even in the same language. The Bible has apparently suffered mostly from omissions…many important items are missing, and this in turn leaves some parts unclear.”

The prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon straight from its pure ancient characters into the English language. This book truly was written for our day and preserved for our day. We read from a translated form of the King James Version Bible and we believe this to be true as far as it has been translated correctly. Through revelation from God, the prophet Joseph was given proper translation corrections for specific sections in the King James Bible that had been lost or translated incorrectly from language to language over the years.

I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to read and study both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. They have blessed my life immensely and I have been guided through my life by the words from those ancient prophets. Did they know that their words would have such an impact on person such as me? Did they know that their sacrifices would bless nations?

I hope you take the time to read these books and feel the power that they will have in your life if you read them with your whole heart and mind. The blind will see them as “boring” and pass up great blessings. Those who see with their “spiritual eyes” will have a life changing experience and witness the powers of heaven working strongly in their life each day. These sacred books are full of answers that the Lord gave to ancient prophets centuries ago for our day. These words were intended for us. Just the very act of reading the scriptures will naturally bring you closer to the Lord. You will feel His love for you and He will reveal answers and instruction to you, that will help you immensely in your life. I Say this in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spiritual Gifts From God

The 7th Article of Faith reads:

7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues and so forth.

Gift of Tongues

The gift of tongues is the ability to speak that others might understand, and the ability to interpret spiritual truths by the power of the Holy Ghost. Its purpose is to teach the gospel to others and is bestowed upon those who desire to serve God, through the power of the Holy Ghost. When one is given the gift of tongues, it will always be given so that there is understanding between the speaker and the listener. The gift of tongues is not present in speech that cannot be interpreted

The prophet Joseph Smith cautioned the saints when he said, “Speak not in the gift of tongues without understanding it, or without interpretation. The devil can speak in tongues; the adversary will come with his work; he can tempt all classes; can speak in English or Dutch. Let no one speak in tongues unless he interpret, except by the consent of the one who is placed to preside; then he may discern or interpret, or another may.”


Though many believe that the gift of prophecy is no longer on the Earth and died with the ancient prophets and apostles, as Latter Day Saints we know it is the contrary. God loves all of his children just the same and continues to lead them through a modern day prophet. He has never left us and the heavens are open. We receive direction from President S. Monson and his Apostles monthly in The Ensign Magazine, General Conference talks, letters, and through various other sources.

From Moses we learn the gift of prophecy is not restricted to Church leaders only. “Would God,” he cried, “that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”(Num 11:29) According to John, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10). Through this wonderful gift we can know that the Savior lives and that he loves us.


Anyone in the church who is called to serve in any capacity small or large, is set apart by the laying on of hands and through the holy priesthood that they may receive revelation from God pertaining to their responsibilities in that calling. Whether they be a nursery leader of three-year-old children or bishop of a ward.

Revelation is also the gift by which we can know the choices we are making are the right ones. Those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost can receive revelation “within the sphere of responsibility and authority given to [them]” (Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, 155). Parents can receive inspiration in guiding their children. A visiting teacher can be prompted to help a sister she teaches. We may all be inspired in our daily lives.

I have received revelation many times in my life. Some of the things that were revealed to me were as clear as day as to what I should do and how I should do it. These revelations prevented me from experiencing much tragedy and trials and blessed me and my family with greater happiness.


God often reveals answers to our prayers or important direction for us through visions. Visions can occur in the form of dreams or while we are awake. Some of my pioneer ancestors recorded their personal experiences with visions. My great, great grandmother wrote of an experience in which she was a young girl in her native land of Switzerland. She had been introduced to the gospel by Mormon missionaries and was very interested. Her only obstacle was that she had never been taught to pray over food. She had a hard time understanding the teaching of “blessing food” before eating it. As she struggled over this in her mind a vision appeared before her like a video playing right before her eyes of the Savior blessing and breaking bread with his disciples. This experience felt so real to her that she knew it was an answer from the Lord and she was then baptized and made the long trek to Utah.


We know that the power of healing comes from God and is dependant upon our faith. By faith, prayer, and the power of the holy Melchizedek priesthood God heals. If we pray, believe and our faith is strong we can experience the gift of healing when we do not have the priesthood present.

In addition to physical healing there is also spiritual healing. This can be a gift bestowed upon many to help others heal from spiritual wounds and come to know their Savior.

Interpretation of Tongues

As many are able to speak in tongues very easily and understand, there is also the gift of interpretation. The ability to understand a foreign language even when you are not able to speak it is a marvelous gift. This gift is sometimes given to us when we do not understand a language and we need to receive an important message from God.


It is important to remember that Satan can also mimic these same gifts to deceive us. There are many in the world who heal, see visions, speak in strange tongues and so forth. Yes, this power is real and very convincing but it does not come from God. So how do we know so we are not deceived?

Those who have been blessed with the gift of discernment will know good from evil and where the source comes from. I have been blessed with this gift in my life and it has been revealed to me that this is a gift that will be blessing to me as long as I live close to the Lord. The Lord can help us discern good from evil through the power of the Holy Ghost. Those who do not have a close relationship with the Lord or a testimony of Him will be easily deceived. The Lord has a purpose to carry out and so does Satan. Satan is very intelligent and knows how to best deceive us. He tries to mimic the “gifts” of God to destroy God’s plan for us and lead people away.

By establishing a close relationship with God and praying for any of these gifts the Lord can bless you with what you desire. He wants to bless you with the things you will need to return to Him after this life. He wants you to be happy and to use your gifts to bless others. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Christ Restored His Church

The 6th article of faith:

6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth.

The Early Primitive Church

Jesus established his Church when he was on the earth. It was called the Church of Jesus Christ (see 3 Nephi 27:8), and the members were called Saints. Through the persecution and martyrdom of Church leaders and the general wickedness of the people, the Church of Jesus Christ was taken from the earth.

Today the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored and is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of the offices and functions of the Church in the days of Jesus are present in the Church today.


When Jesus established his Church, he personally instructed and directed its leaders. He, in turn, received his instructions from his Father in Heaven. Thus the Church of Jesus Christ was directed by God and not by men (see Hebrews 1:1–2). Jesus taught his followers that revelation was the “rock” upon which he would build his Church (see Matthew 16:16–18).

Before Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection, he told his Apostles, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). True to his word, he continued to guide them from heaven. He sent the Holy Ghost to be a comforter and a revelator to them (see Luke 12:12; John 14:26). He spoke to Saul in a vision (see Acts 9:3–6). He revealed to Peter that the gospel should be taught not only to the Jews but to the whole world (see Acts 10). He revealed many glorious truths to John, which are written in the Book of Revelation. The New Testament records many other ways in which Jesus revealed his will to guide his Church and enlighten his disciples.

The Church Organization

The Church of Jesus Christ was a carefully organized unit. It was compared to a perfectly formed building that was “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

Jesus appointed other priesthood leaders to assist the Apostles in the work of the ministry. He sent officers called seventies in pairs to preach the gospel (see Luke 10:1). Other officers in the Church were evangelists (patriarchs), pastors (presiding leaders), high priests, elders, bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons (see chapter 14, “Priesthood Organization”). These officers were all necessary to do missionary work, perform ordinances, and instruct and inspire Church members. These officers helped the members come to a “unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13).

The Apostles were commanded to go into all the world and preach. They could not stay in any one city to supervise new converts. Therefore, local priesthood leaders were called and ordained, and the Apostles presided over them. The Apostles visited and wrote letters to the leaders in the various branches. Thus, our New Testament contains letters written by the Apostles Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude, giving counsel and instruction to the local priesthood leaders.

The New Testament shows that this Church organization was intended to continue. For example, the death of Judas left only eleven Apostles. Soon after Jesus had ascended into heaven, the eleven Apostles met together to choose someone to take the place of Judas. Through revelation from the Holy Ghost, they chose Matthias. (See Acts 1:23–26.) Later, other Apostles died or were killed. Paul, Barnabas, and James, the brother of the Lord, were all ordained in their places. Jesus had set a pattern for twelve Apostles to govern the Church. It seemed clear that the organization was to continue as he had established it.

First Principals and Ordinances

The Apostles taught two basic principles: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance. After new converts had faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and their Redeemer and had repented of their sins, they received two ordinances: baptism by immersion and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. These were the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. Jesus had taught, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Everyone needed these saving ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Ordinances Performed for the Dead

Jesus has provided for everyone to hear the gospel, whether on earth or after death. Between his death and resurrection, Jesus went among the spirits of those who had died. He organized missionary work among those who were dead. He appointed righteous messengers and gave them power to teach the gospel to all the spirits of people who had died. This gave them an opportunity to accept the gospel. (See 1 Peter 3:18–20; 1 Peter 4:6; D&C 138.) Living members of his Church then performed ordinances in behalf of the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). Ordinances such as baptism and confirmation must be done on earth.

The Church of Jesus Christ in the Americas

After Jesus was resurrected, he visited the people in America and organized his Church among them (see 3 Nephi 11–28). Then he left them and ascended into heaven. For over two hundred years they lived righteously and were among the happiest people whom God had created (see 4 Nephi 1:16).

Apostasy from the True Church

Throughout history, evil people have tried to destroy the work of God. This happened while the Apostles were still alive and supervising the young, growing Church. Some members taught ideas from their old pagan or Jewish beliefs instead of the simple truths taught by Jesus. In addition, there was persecution from outside the Church. Church members were tortured and killed for their beliefs. One by one, the Apostles were killed. Because of the persecution, surviving Apostles could not meet to choose and ordain men to replace those who were dead. Eventually, local priesthood leaders were the only ones who had authority to direct the scattered branches of the Church. The perfect organization of the Church no longer existed, and confusion resulted. More and more error crept into Church doctrine, and soon the destruction of the Church was complete. The period of time when the true Church no longer existed on earth is called the Great Apostasy.

Soon pagan beliefs dominated the thinking of those called Christians. The Roman emperor adopted this false Christianity as the state religion. This church was very different from the church Jesus organized. Members of this church believed that God was a being without form or substance.

These people lost the understanding of God’s love for us. They did not know that we are his children. They did not understand the purpose of life. Many of the ordinances were changed because the priesthood and revelation were no longer on the earth.

The emperor chose his own leaders and called them by the same titles used by priesthood leaders in the true Church of Christ. Church officers were given honor and wealth. Bishops and archbishops fought among themselves to gain more power. There were no Apostles or other priesthood leaders with power from God, and there were no spiritual gifts. The prophet Isaiah had foreseen this condition, prophesying, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 24:5). It was the Church of Jesus Christ no longer; it was a church of men. Even the name had been changed. In the Americas, apostasy also occurred (see 4 Nephi).

A Restoration Foretold

God had foreseen the Apostasy and prepared for the gospel to be restored. The Apostle Peter spoke of this to the Jews: “He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 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 3:20–21).

John the Revelator had also foreseen the time when the gospel would be rest

ored. He said, “I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).

“Chapter 16: The Church of Jesus Christ in Former Times,” Gospel Principles, 101


I love this story told by President Spencer W. Kimbal in the 1978 New Era.

Some years ago a young Primary boy was on a train going to California in the days when we traveled on trains. He was all alone. He sat near the window watching the telephone poles go by. Across the aisle from him was a gentleman who also was going to California. The attention of the gentleman was called to this very young boy traveling all alone without friends or relatives. He was neatly dressed and well-behaved. And this gentleman was quite impressed with him.

Finally, after some time, the gentleman crossed the aisle and sat down by the young man and said to him,

“Hello, young man, where are you going?”

He said, “I am going to Los Angeles.”

“Do you have relatives there?”

The boy said, “I have some relatives there. I am going to visit my grandparents. They will meet me at the station, and I will stay with them a few days during the school vacation.”

The next questions were “Where did you come from?” and “Where do you live?”

And the boy said, “Salt Lake City, Utah.”

“Oh, then,” said the gentleman, “you must be a Mormon.”

And the boy said, “Yes, I am.” There was pride in his voice.

The gentleman said, “Well, that’s interesting. I’ve wondered about the Mormons and what they believe. I’ve been through their beautiful city; I’ve noticed the beautiful buildings, the treelined streets, the lovely homes, the beautiful rose and flower gardens, but I’ve never stopped to find out what makes them as they are. I wish I knew what they believe.”

And the boy said to him, “Well, sir, I can tell you what they believe. ‘We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost’ ”

The businessman was a bit surprised but listened intently, and the boy continued,

“ ‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s tra

nsgression’ ”

And the traveling companion thought, “This is rather unusual for a mere boy to know these important things.”

The boy went on to repeat articles of faith 3-5. “Would you like to know more?”

The gentleman thought that was very unusual for a boy in these tender years to know what the Church taught, and he said, “Yes, go on.”

So Johnny quoted, “ ‘We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth’ ”

That brought some other discussion. “You mean that your church has Apostles such as James and John and Peter and Paul, and prophets such as Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Daniel, and also evangelists?”

And the boy responded quickly, “Yes, even evangelists. We call them patriarchs, and they are appointed in all parts of the Church where there are stakes. And by inspiration they give to all the members of the Church, as required, what is called a patriarchal blessing. I have already had my patriarchal blessing, and I re

ad it frequently. Now we have 12 Apostles who have the same calling and the same authority as given to the Apostles in the days of old.”

The gentleman wanted to know more and the boy repeated articles of faith 7-13.

This youngster relaxed now as he finished the Articles of Faith. The gentleman was clearly excited, not only at the ability of this young boy to outline the whole program of the Church, but at the very completeness of its doctrine.

He said, “You know, after I have been to Los Angeles a couple of days, I expect to go back to New York where my office is. I am going to wire my company that I will be a day or two late and that I am going to stop in Salt Lake City en route home and go to the information bureau there and hear all the things, in more detail, about what you have told me.”


I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be the most correct church on the Earth today. It is the same church restored from the time of Christ and is headed by Christ under the direction of God.

The Savior’s gospel and doctrine are being preached throughout the world today so that all may have the opportunity to hear its message. I am grateful for missionary work and the selfless sacrifices these young people make to spread the gospel throughout the world. I am grateful for this restored gospel and the powerful blessings it has poured into my life. I know I would not be who I am today without it. The more effort I make each day to study this gospel the happier I become – it keeps getting better. I feel very blessed to have this knowledge and to be a part of this great work. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.