The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the re-establishment, or restoration, of Christ's ancient church, with the same organization and doctrine as He established during His ministry on earth. Many sects of Christianity do not think that Christ organized the ancient church, but that it was organized by the apostles after Christ's death. Mormon beliefs testify that Christ did organize His church on earth, and after His resurrection, visited branches of Israel in the Americas and the Ten Lost Tribes, where He also organized His Church after the same pattern with twelve apostles having authority to act in His name, and led by direct revelation.
The Lord's house is a house of order. He establishes His authority and chooses His people. In ancient times He spoke through prophets in order to prepare His children for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Mormon belief is that all the prophets beginning with Adam testified that Jesus would be the Messiah. Everything in the Law of Moses, therefore, symbolizes the Savior.
This scripture from the Pearl of Great Price shows how the Lord taught Adam:
- And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence. And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
- And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore (Moses 5:4-8).
And the following scripture about the Law of Moses from the Book of Mormon:
- Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them (Alma 25:15).
Thus, Mormon beliefs center on the knowledge that the Lord's plan for us was framed before this earth was created, and that the true gospel has been given by revelation to prophets since Adam. They all understood and testified of the whole plan, which centers upon the atonement of Jesus Christ.
The Creeds of Christianity Are the Creations of Man, not God
Mormon belief rejects the idea of a trinity wherein God is a spirit, and Christ and the Holy Ghost are aspects of that God. Modern revelation, and revealed scripture clarify and uphold the Bible when it identifies God the Father as a separate being, and the Father of Jesus Christ, to whom He prayed while on the cross, and the Holy Ghost as a personage of spirit. For trinitarian belief to be true, the resurrected Christ would have to give up His body and rejoin God the spirit. Mormon belief holds that resurrection to a perfect body, immortal and incorruptible is the ideal universal form for us, and that Christ kept His resurrected body and rules from heaven as a resurrected man, the same form that God the Father also enjoys.
Life is Eternal
Mormon belief holds that life is eternal, as are we. We lived before we came into this mortal existence in a spiritual realm, and God is the Father of our spirits. Literally, we are children of God. God's plan is to make us like Him. We have an eternity to do this. Friends of other faiths are bothered when Mormons say we can become like God, but we have millions of years in which to do it, and eternity is meant for our progression and learning. Christ has said that the righteous will become "co-heirs" with Him. He means for the righteous to share in His holy attributes, knowledge, and power.
Families are Forever
One reason we are on this earth is to form relationships, especially in families. Through righteous living and eternal covenants made in holy temples, families can be eternal units, and marriage can last eternally. The concept of eternal families relates to the highest of heavenly glory. No wonder the LDS Church is bound by God to uphold and support the traditional family unit, for the benefit of society and God's children on earth and in heaven.
God Has Never Stopped Speaking to His Children
Revelation from God to His children on earth began in the Garden of Eden and has never ceased. If revelation continues, then men of God who write the revelations they have received are writing scripture. Though the Mormon Church has much scripture, including the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, there is more to be revealed, and much that has already been written that is currently lost and will be found, including scriptures produced by the Ten Lost Tribes, predicted to return. As an example, Mormon scriptures reveal that Joseph (who was sold into Egypt) wrote scripture, as did John the Baptist — valuable writings that are not in our hands at this time. Also, part of the Book of Mormon was sealed and withheld by the Lord from Joseph Smith, because the earth is not ready to receive it. The Holy Biblerefers to many prophets and scriptures that have been lost and may be found.
Prophets beginning in this final dispensation of time before the Second Coming of Christ have clarified many doctrines for us in our day. Paul, for instance, mentioned Baptism for the Dead, and modern prophets have clarified that doctrine. Christ said that part of His mission was to release the captives from prison. A vision of Mormon prophet Joseph F. Smith has taught us about Christ's visit to the Spirit World during the three days He laid in the tomb. Elijah had the power to seal the heavens and seal ordinances on earth. His return as a heavenly messenger in modern times has been anticipated by the Jews for hundreds of years. His return has occurred, and he has conferred the sealing power on modern prophets.
Do Mormon beliefs diminish the character of God? No, rather, they expand it. God has an eternal plan for us, and we are eternal beings who eternally progress. God not only has the power to make us like Him, if we are willing, but to always give revelation and create scripture. As He has said,
- ...many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.... Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
- Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
- And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever (2 Nephi 29:3, 7-9).