"Go ye into all the world and
preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15)
The Kingdom of God on earth
The ancient prophecies have been fulfilled. The original gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored.
After 1260 years of darkness, the lost truths have been returned. And not just the truths, but the apostolic authority and all the keys that were lost in the First Century. It has happened, just as the Bible said it would.
|Modern Church history
Christianity in general around 1830
Periods of trial, plus the Kirtland temple
1844 in prophecy
So-called "Mormon Fundamentalists"
The twentieth century in prophecy
|What is the church?|
"The word 'church' in the New Testament simply meant a body of believers."
This is true! But this fact is sometimes used in order to argue that the church does not need a structure. Let us think about that.
The believers believe what Jesus said.
Jesus prayed that his followers would be one. See the great prayer in John chapter 17:
(verse 6) I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. . . .
(20-23) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Paul saw the divisions begin in his own time (1 Corinthians 1:10):
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
How can Christians be one if they attend different buildings and so do not even know each others' names?
Jesus told his followers to have prophets, apostles, etc. (Ephesians 4:11-14)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
"tossed to and fro... with every wind of doctrine" perfectly escribes the church without prophets and apostles. And for their words to mean anything, these prophets and apostles have to have clear lines of authority. Otherwise any false teacher could arise and claim to be a true prophet.
Jesus told us to live by the word of God, which means the living words. How can we know who to listen to, without some kind of authority?
Finally, the body of believers, in New Testament times, always had leaders with the authority to create new scripture.
So the fact of a church implies a structure, led by living prophets.
"We only need to follow the Holy Spirit"?
Modern Christians like to believe they are following the Holy Spirit, but how do they know? Satan is very crafty. It is the easiest thing in the world to think you are right when you are wrong. The more we sin, the more strongly we feel that we are right and the more we will feel approved by God. That is human nature. That is why prophets and apostles are essential.
Jesus set in order a perfect system of checks and balances - personal inspiration, and a physical structure so we can know when we are not personally "in tune". Rejecting either is a sure path to apostasy.
|The LDS Church: Basic facts|
The church is the stone cut without hands,
rolling forth to fill the earth
(see Daniel chapter 2)
|Daniel prophesied that the church, the kingdom
of God on earth, would fill the earth. For the past 170 years (since
1830), growth has averaged between 3% and 4% per year. For 170 years,
critics have said that this could not last. For 170 years they have
Ten million is still a minority church. But the signs are that this growth will continue, particularly as the church grows larger. Other churches tend to slow their growth as they expand, but this one is different.
Prospects for future growth
This is looking at the church from an outside observer's viewpoint. Actually, the truth is much simpler - God is in charge, and if he wishes the church to grow large, it will. End of story. But from an observer's point of view, why should we expect growth to continue when, country by country, the church has already attracted the first wave of converts?
First, the programs of the church are designed to help every area of a member's (and their neighbours') life - this is no "Sunday church". Where where are more members, the church works more efficiently.
Second, the church is not tied to the solutions of dead prophets - it has living prophets. Like the New Testament church, it can adapt without losing its identity.
Third, its key beliefs benefit from new scientific discoveries. Where other churches come into conflict with science and tend to lose people after they choose higher education, this church is different. There is not space here to explore the figures, but suffice it to say the church has never been in a healthier position.
A statistical forecast
As I said, the church has grown at more than 3% per year for the past 170 years, despite the many critics. Let us extrapolate this to the next 170 year. If you have a spreadsheet program, why not check this for yourself? Start at ten million, and add 3% per year:
187 million is a lot of people, but is still comparable to the larger Protestant churches, and nothing like the Roman Catholic church. Will the LDS church settle down as just another Christian sect? No. The doctrine will not allow it. God will not allow it! Like the church in New Testament days, the church in Latter Days is a missionary church. With a membership of nearly 200 million, we can expect to see around one million full time (unpaid) missionaries. With a world population of between ten and twenty billion at this time (UN minimum estimates), they will still have their work cut out! But nothing is impossible with God...
Remember, this is a conservative estimate of 3% growth per year. If the figure had been 4%, the figure after another 170 years would be almost eight billion people - perhaps half of the (then) world population!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not just another church.