“The Rising Church,” Liahona, March 2021
Years ago, during my first week working in the Church’s public affairs office in Mexico, we received an invitation from a radio talk show. The show, which discussed world religions, offered us 45 minutes to talk about the Church.
“What a great opportunity,” I told the Area President as I shared details of the invitation. “Whom should we send to represent the Church?”
He responded, “You, of course.”
I was new in the office and very young. I was surprised he didn’t suggest someone with more experience. Nevertheless, I prayed, prepared as best I could, and invited a companion to join me. Soon we found ourselves at the radio station.
“We have with us this evening two representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the program director said as he introduced us. Then he asked, “Why does your church have such a long name? Why don’t you use a shorter, more commercial name?”
My companion and I were happy to answer such a great question. We explained that the Church’s name was not chosen by a man. Rather, the Savior Himself revealed it through a latter-day prophet (see Doctrine and Covenants 115:4).
The program director respectfully responded, “Then we will repeat the name in its entirety with great pleasure.” And he did—numerous times.
I still remember the sweet spirit we felt as we explained the origin of the Church’s name and how that name refers to the Savior and to the members of His Church today. My companion and I answered a lot of questions, many of which centered on the Church’s name. The experience was a blessing for the Church in our area and for me.
In 2018, President Russell M. Nelson asked Latter-day Saints “to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church.” He promised that if we will do our best to follow that counsel, the Lord “will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen.”1 President Nelson renewed that promise during the April 2020 general conference.2
During the short interval since President Nelson asked us to use the Church’s correct name, his promise has already begun to be fulfilled. With millions of members now sharing the Church’s proper name, more and more people know that we believe in and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, I believe that the Church is enjoying a resurgence in influence and respect. Doors are opening, and the Restoration is moving forward.
As God’s children come to understand that revelation continues today and that the Savior’s Church has been restored with true doctrine, priesthood power, and sacred ordinances, they will want to know more about the Restoration.
Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants begins with these significant words: “The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days” (verse 1; emphasis added). Since the Church’s organization on April 6, 1830, the Lord has directed that rise through leaders He has called.
The Prophet Joseph Smith was “inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation” of the restored Church. Likewise, in our day the Lord is inspiring President Nelson to lead the Church, “build it up,” and “move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:2, 7).
During the April 2020 general conference, members of the Church saw confirmation of the Lord’s continuing guidance and His Church’s continual rise when President Nelson read “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World”:
“We gladly declare that the promised Restoration goes forward through continuing revelation,” he said. “The earth will never again be the same.”
President Nelson added, “The heavens are open. We affirm that God is making known His will for His beloved sons and daughters.”3
The Lord promised to bless early Church members who heeded His will as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Those promises extend to us as we follow the Lord’s chosen servants today: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:6).
One of the things young Joseph Smith learned in the Sacred Grove 200 years ago was that the religious professors of his day taught “for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently declared that similar “religious shortcomings” in our day “leave the hunger and hope of some unfulfilled” and that “a variety of [doctrinal] dissatisfactions are leading some away from traditional ecclesiastical institutions.”4
What the world needs, and what the Lord offers, are the sweet, saving doctrines found in their plainness and fulness in the restored gospel.
True doctrine is found in the Book of Mormon, which contains “the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:9). “It teaches of life’s purpose and explains the doctrine of Christ, which is central to that purpose. … The Book of Mormon testifies that all human beings are sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven, that He has a divine plan for our lives, and that His Son, Jesus Christ, speaks today as well as in days of old.”5
True doctrine is found in the Doctrine and Covenants, which a prophet has called “the binding link between the Book of Mormon and the continuing work of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors.”6
True doctrine is also found in the teachings of modern prophets and apostles the Lord has called in our day to protect us from deception. We know that what they speak under the influence of the Holy Ghost is the will, mind, word, and voice of the Lord (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:4).
True doctrine inspires, strengthens, and comforts because it invites the Holy Ghost, reveals the plan of salvation, and testifies of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
The Lord invites all of us to come unto Him and His Church and to receive the ordinances of salvation.7 Ordinances are essential to the Lord’s true Church, as is priesthood authority to administer them.
Among other things, those looking for the true Church of Jesus Christ should expect that the Lord has stipulated proper baptism (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, 71–74) and the duty of members after they are baptized (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:68–70). They should expect to find a lay ministry and the duties of those lay ministers. And they should expect opportunities to minister as the Savior ministered. (See Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–67; see also Mosiah 18:8–10; Moroni 6:4.)
Ministering in the restored Church sets us apart. Priesthood service means ministering to all, including those not of our faith. Ministering blesses both those ministered to and those who minister.
Finally, those looking for the Lord’s true Church should expect to find priesthood authority and ordinances that can bind families for eternity.
“What does it mean for you that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth?” asked President Nelson during the April 2020 general conference. “It means that you and your family can be sealed together forever! It means that because you have been baptized by one who has authority from Jesus Christ and have been confirmed a member of His Church, you can enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. … It means that priesthood power can bless you as you receive essential ordinances and make covenants with God and keep them.”8
What a blessing it is to be members of a Church that is rising and that is led by living prophets and apostles! May we never take for granted the Lord’s divine guidance, His restored Church, the power of the priesthood, and the ordinances that bless us now and in eternity.