THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
PART 9: THE FULL GOSPEL AND CHURCH RESTORED
All of the ancient prophets from Adam to Moses held the Melchizedek Priesthood. It enabled those who received it to act for God and administer in sacred ordinances and perform miracles. It was given only by those having the authority to do so to those who were worthy and “called of God as was Aaron.” Abraham received the priesthood from the high priest Melchizedek. Moses received it from Jethro. After Moses, the higher priesthood was taken from the rebellious Israelites and they were left with a lesser priesthood, called the Aaronic Priesthood. During Christ’s ministry, He gave the Melchizedek Priesthood to the twelve apostles. After they were killed, rebellion and apostasy followed, causing the priesthood to be taken from the earth once again. During the long period of apostasy, the Catholic and Protestant churches developed their own versions of the priesthood.
On May 15, 1829, the resurrected prophet, John the Baptist, the same prophet who had baptized the Savior, appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery along the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood with these words: “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of the Messiah I confer the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.”
The following month, three other heavenly messengers, Peter, James and John, the leaders of the original twelve apostles, appeared to Joseph and Oliver and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood, which “holds the rights of presidency and has power and authority over all the offices in the Church—the apostolic authority.
Divine authority to administer all the ordinances required for exaltation and eternal life were once again upon the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. With priesthood authority now restored, Joseph Smith was instructed to re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ that was lost 2000 years ago.
On April 6, 1830, in a log cabin near Fayette, New York in the presence of some 50 witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially established on the earth. The name, given by direct revelation from the Lord, was so designated to distinguish the restored Church from that of the early saints.
Subsequently, in the following months, Joseph re-established The Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and the other essential priesthood offices, ordinances, and divine principles found in the original Church. With the keys of priesthood authority and direct revelation from heaven restored once again on earth, Jesus can prepare a people to receive Him at His Second coming.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which began in a log cabin with six members today numbers over 15 million members and 29,000 unified congregations throughout the world. It is currently growing at the rate of about 23,000 new members each and every month. To accommodate the growth, the Church builds and dedicates more than one new church building per day somewhere in the world. This is accomplished without the Church incurring indebtedness of any kind.
The Prophet Joseph Smith was murdered in 1844. In his brief lifetime, he received a vast amount of information from heaven. Besides translating The Book of Mormon, he received revelations restoring the essential doctrines of salvation plus regular instructions for the operation the Church. All of these are recorded in The Doctrine and Covenants. He also was given the revelations found in The Pearl of Great Price. These three books along with the Bible constitute the four standard works of the Church. In addition, Joseph commenced to translate the Bible which he only partially completed before his death.