The Missionaries Will Teach...
One way that God shows His love for us is by calling prophets.
Prophets are given the power and authority to act as God's official
representatives for the salvation of His children. God tells prophets
about His plan of happiness through revelation. The prophets in turn
teaches the gospel to others and testify that Jesus Christ is the savior and
redeemer of mankind. The teachings of prophets are found in holy books
called the scriptures.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the name of God's plan for us to be happy
and successful in this life, and return to live with him in the next.
The atonement of Jesus Christ is the center of this plan. Through the
atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive eternal life by having faith,
repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift Holy Ghost, and
enduring to the end (see 2 Nephi 31:21). All people have the gift of
agency, which means they have the freedom to accept or reject the gospel of
Jesus Christ, as taught by His prophets. If you choose to accept the
gospel, you will be blessed. If you ignore, reject, or distort the
gospel, then you won't receive these promised blessings.
Whenever people choose to ignore, distort, disobey, any gospel principle,
reject God's chosen prophets, or fail to endure in faith, they distance
themselves from God and enter a state of spiritual darkness. This
eventually leads to a state called apostasy. When widespread apostasy
occurs, God withdraws His priesthood authority to teach and perform gospel
Biblical history has many examples of God speaking to prophets. It
also has many examples of apostasy. Each period of apostasy eventually
ends by God showing his love for humanity by calling new prophets, and
giving them the authority to teach and administer the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Essentially, prophets act as a steward responsible for
managing God's earthly household. Periods of time that are headed by
prophetic leadership are called dispensations.
God revealed the gospel of Jesus Christ to Adam and gave him the
authority of the priesthood. Adam learned about God the Father, His
son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Adam and Eve taught these truths
to their children and encouraged them to follow God's plan of happiness for
families. Other prophets followed Adam, but eventually the posterity
of Adam decided to reject the gospel and fell into apostasy.
That is how the first prophetic dispensation came to pass, and the
pattern is repeated throughout the history of the Old Testament. God
revealed the plan of happiness for families to Noah, Abraham, and Moses.
They were each called by Heavenly Father to begin a new dispensation.
They were each given the priesthood power and authority to act in God's
name. But sadly, in each dispensation people eventually chose to
reject the gospel and the dispensation ended with apostasy.
Some Additional Thoughts...
As the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown since its
establishment, of course it has evolved and changed. And there has
been disagreement about whether or not these changes are driven by new and
important things being revealed to the living prophets, or whether they are
driven by the leaders of the church ignoring, rejecting, and distorting the
gospel. Does the pattern of revelation and apostasy continue, or is
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints immune from the pattern that
is repeated throughout scriptural history?
The Community of
Christ: Official Home Site. This church was formed by early
Mormons, who rejected Brigham Young as the rightful successor of Joseph
The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints. (The name is "Latter Day" as opposed
to the spelling of the Utah church, "Latter-day") This group believes that a
few days before Joseph Smith died, he appointed James J. Strang to be his
successor and that the authentic priesthood authority flows through Strang's
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a apparently a shoot-off from
the Community of Christ. In describing how they are different from the
Utah church they say, "We do not now, nor have we believed the Lord ever
directed many spurious doctrines such as progression, multiplicity of gods,
Adam as a god, polygamy, and many unscriptural temples ordinances foreign to
the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Latter Day Revelation given through Joseph
Smith Jr. and his true successors in office."
Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy by Dorothy
Allred Solomon. This is a fascinating memoir of the daughter of
prominent Mormon Fundamentalist. It includes a history of how her
grandfather came to the conclusion that the mainstream church ignored,
distorted, and rejected the fundamental points of the gospel and was in a
state of apostasy.