Monday, October 19, 2015

Why We Need Prophets and Apostles.

So this past couple of weekends, I was given the opportunity to teach Sunday School in church.  This last weekend didn't work out, due to lack of communication, but I don't mind.  I am grateful for the lesson that was given.  My point is that in the last two weeks, I have been able to focus a lot of my time on studying the scriptures.  I really enjoy studying the scriptures and the understanding that I gain from reading, pondering and studying.  What I really enjoy when I study the scriptures is when you get that spark of understanding, when you read something and other things are brought to your mind that help you understand the principle better than you did before.  I had a few of those this last weekend, but I only want to share one.

There is a scripture in Ephesians 2:18-22
 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
I was trying to understand why this scripture stated that the apostles and prophets are part of the foundation.  I just could not wrap my head around this scripture, couldn't quite understand.  Then I reread it and all of a sudden another scripture came into my mind.  Lectures on Faith The Second verse 20 and 26 to34
20 Having shown, then, in the first instance, that God began to converse with man, immediately after he "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," and that he did not cease to manifest himself to him, even after his fall, we shall next proceed to show, that, though he was cast out from the garden of Eden, his knowledge of the existence of God was not lost, neither did God cease to manifest his will unto him.
26 Moses also gives us an account, in the 4th of Genesis, of the transgression of Cain, and the righteousness of Abel, and of the revelations of God to them. He says: In process of time Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, an offering unto the Lord—And Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. Now satan knew this, and it pleased him. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why are you angry? why is your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door, and satan desires to have you; and except you shall hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver you up: and it shall be unto you according to his desire.
27 And Cain went into the field and talked with his brother Abel. And while they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and slew him. And Cain gloried in what he had done, saying, I am free! surely the flocks of my brother will now fall into my hands.
28 But the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel, your brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother's keeper? And the Lord said, What have you done? the voice of your brother's blood cries unto me from the ground. And now, you shall be cursed from the earth which has opened her mouth to receive your brother's blood, from your hand. When you till the ground, she shall not henceforth yield unto you her strength. A fugitive and a vagabond also, you shall be in the earth.
29 And Cain said unto the Lord, Satan tempted me because of my brother's flocks. And I was also angry: for his offering was accepted, and mine was not: My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me out this day from the face of men, and from your face shall I be hid also; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, every one that finds me will slay me, because of my oath; for these things are not hid from the Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore, whoever slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven fold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
30 The object of the foregoing quotations is to show to this class the way by which mankind were first made acquainted with the existence of a God: that it was by a manifestation of God to man, and that God continued, after man's transgression to manifest himself to him and his posterity: and notwithstanding they were separated from his immediate presence, that they could not see his face, they continued to hear his voice.
31 Adam thus being made acquainted with God, communicated the knowledge which he had unto his posterity; and it was through this means that the thought was first suggested to their minds that there was a God. Which laid the foundation for the exercise of their faith, through which they could obtain a knowledge of his character and also of his glory.
32 Not only was there a manifestation made unto Adam of the existence of a God, but Moses informs us, as before quoted, that God condescended to talk with Cain after his great transgression, in slaying his brother, and that Cain knew that it was the Lord that was talking with him: so that when he was driven out from the presence of his brethren, he carried with him the knowledge of the existence of a God: an through this means, doubtless his posterity became acquainted with the fact that such a being existed.
33 From this we can see that the whole human family, in the early age of their existence, in all their different branches, had this knowledge disseminated among them; so that the existence of God became an object of faith, in the early age of the world. And the evidences which these men had of the existence of a God, was the testimony of their fathers in the first instance.
34 The reason why we have been thus particular on this part of our subject, is, that this class may see by what means it was that God became an object of faith among men after the fall; and what it was that stirred up the faith of multitudes to feel after him; to search after a knowledge of his character, perfections and attributes, until they became extensively acquainted with him; and not only commune with him, and behold his glory, but be partakers of his power, and stand in his presence.
Lecture the Second questions and answers
Question 8: What testimony had the immediate descendants of Adam, in proof of the existence of a God?
The testimony of their father. And after they were made acquainted with his existence, by the testimony of their father, they were dependent upon the exercise of their own faith, for a knowledge of his character, perfections and attributes. (2:23-26)
Question 9: Had any others of the human family, beside Adam, a knowledge of the existence of God, in the first instance, by any other means than human testimony?
They had not. For previous to the time that they could have power to obtain a manifestation for themselves, the all-important fact had been communicated to them by their common father: and so, from father to child, the knowledge was communicated as extensively, as the knowledge of his existence was known; for it was by this means, in the first instance, that men had a knowledge of his existence. (2:35, 36)
Question 144: What testimony have men, in the first instance, that there is a God?
Human testimony, and human testimony only. (2:56)
Question 145: What excited the ancient saints to seek diligently after a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
The credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers. (2:56)
Question 146: How do men obtain a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
By devoting themselves to his service, through prayer and supplication incessantly, strengthening their faith in him, until like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses, they obtain a manifestation of God to themselves. (2:55)
Question 147: Is the knowledge of the existence of God a matter of mere tradition, founded upon human testimony alone, until a person receives a manifestation of God to themselves?
It is.
So, a bit long winded, but the point is that Paul was teaching the same principle that Joseph Smith was teaching.  The reason that Apostles and Prophets are our foundation is because they bear testimony of Jesus Christ, who is the Chief Cornerstone.  The reason having Joseph Smith seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ in the first vision was so important was because, there had not been anybody that had seen the Father and Christ, since the Great Apostasy.  Without Joseph Smith and his experience as a 14 year old boy, we could not have the hope of attaining the same.  What Father, having such an experience as Adam's or Enoch's, would not want their children to come into the presence of the Son and the Father like they did.  This is the reason they taught of the Father and the Savior.  2 Nephi 25:26, 28-29
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
 28 And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore, I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand. And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.
 29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.
Ephesians 2: 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
This is talking about us, individually, we are the temple of God.  All of these things, will help to build our temple and as they come together, we become a habitation of God.  
So this brings me to a pressing question.  Is this pattern of coming to Christ, being taught in church?  I believe not!  Our apostles and prophets do not testify of the divinity of Christ, they testify of the "name" of Christ.  Does this mean that they will never be able to? No, but it is one thing to not have this experience and it is another to teach against it or to not teach it at all.  Joseph Smith vehemently taught that we are all able to and should receive the Savior, or Second Comforter.  While I have no personal vendetta with the church or its leaders, I encourage all to pray and ask the Father, if any of these men have seen the Savior's face.  I know for myself that they have not.  I believe they can, just as we all can.  I do not hold it against them and I have no desire to tell them how to do their job better, but because I know this of myself, I am encouraged to seek Christ for myself and to ask the Father through the Spirit, to verify the things that I should be doing in my life.  Everything in the Gospel comes back to qualifying ourselves to come into the presence of the Father and no man comes to Him, but by the Savior.  Yes, listen to apostles and prophets of old, who have testified of these truths.  Who testify of Jesus Christ, who call to repentance and that we need the Savior to come to the Father. The idea that the present prophet is the most important is false doctrine, it should never have been spoken over the pulpit.  If Joseph Smith can teach what Paul taught, then so can the present prophets and apostles teach the teachings of old.  The Doctrine of Christ or the gospel, is never changing.  If it is changing, it is because of the precepts of men mingled with scripture.  There is more, plenty more, but it does not have to do with where we build or how many temples we build, it has nothing to do with changing the missionary age.  There is so much more that the Savior can teach us. The idea that we need a man or group of men, to tell us what to do to come to Christ, is false.  We are not all the same and each and every individual is different in their needs, their weaknesses and their unbeliefs, only Christ knows what we need to come to Him.  Hear His voice, He is calling, always calling, and ever present. Seek Him and you will find!