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Lesson 8 Class Preparation Material: The Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ
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“Lesson 8 Class Preparation Material: The Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)

“Lesson 8 Class Preparation Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material

Lesson 8 Class Preparation Material

The Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ

What does your membership in the restored Church of Jesus Christ mean to you? As you study this lesson, consider how your participation in the Lord’s Church can lead to greater blessings for you and your family, as well as others you come in contact with throughout your life.

Section 1

How is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unique among all other churches and religions?

Standing beside a stream on April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith “witnessed the baptisms of his mother and father into the church. After years of taking different paths in their search for truth, they were finally united in faith. As his father came out of the water, Joseph took him by the hand, helped him onto the bank, and embraced him.

“‘My God,’ he cried, burying his face in his father’s chest, ‘I have lived to see my father baptized into the true church of Jesus Christ!’” (Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, vol. 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 [2018], 86).

After Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and received priesthood authority from heavenly messengers, the Lord directed him “by the Spirit of Prophecy and revelation … to organize [Jesus Christ’s] Church once again, here upon the earth” (Joseph Smith, in History, circa June 1839–circa 1841 [draft 2], 29, josephsmithpapers.org). On April 6, 1830, about 60 people gathered in the home of Peter Whitmer Sr. in Fayette, New York, to witness the “rise of the Church of Christ in these last days” according to “the will and commandments of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:1).

On the day the Church was organized, the Saints sustained Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery as their leaders, took the sacrament, witnessed the ordination of men to priesthood offices, and saw those who had previously been baptized receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and be confirmed members of the Church.

Of this day, the Prophet Joseph Smith observed:

Brother Joseph

After a happy time spent in witnessing and feeling for ourselves the powers and blessings of the Holy Ghost, through the grace of God bestowed upon us, we dismissed with the pleasing knowledge that we were now individually members of, and acknowledged of God, “The Church of Jesus Christ,” organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by Him. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 138)

The Lord designated through revelation the precise day His Church was to be organized again on the earth (see Doctrine and Covenants 20, section heading), and He later gave the name by which the Church should be called.

Read the Scriptures Icon

Study in Preparation for Class

Read Doctrine and Covenants 115:4–5.

About a year and a half after the Church was organized, the Lord declared that He had given Joseph Smith and others power “to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).

Symbols

Ponder in Preparation for Class

How has being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ influenced your life?

Section 2

What are some reasons that the Lord declared this to be “the only true and living church”?

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency taught:

Dallin H. Oaks Official Portrait 2018

Three features—(1) fulness of doctrine, (2) power of the priesthood, and (3) testimony of Jesus Christ—explain why God has declared and why we as His servants maintain that this is the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth. …

Because so much had been lost in the Apostasy, it was necessary that the Lord restore the fulness of His doctrine. …

The doctrine of Jesus Christ, understood in its fulness, is the plan by which we can become what children of God are supposed to become. …

The second and absolutely essential characteristic … is priesthood authority. …

As a result of our having the power of the priesthood, the leaders and duly authorized members … are empowered to perform the required priesthood ordinances. …

The third reason why we are the only true Church is that we have the revealed truth about the nature of God and our relationship to Him, and we therefore have a unique testimony of Jesus Christ. Significantly, our belief in the nature of God is what distinguishes us from the formal creeds of most Christian denominations. (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Only True and Living Church,” New Era, Aug. 2011, 3–5)

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles further explained that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “is a living church because of the workings and gifts of the Holy Ghost” (“Receive the Holy Ghost,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 97).

Brother Tad R. Callister, former Sunday School General President, has also taught:

Tad R. Callister

[The Lord’s declaration in Doctrine and Covenants 1:30] does not mean that other churches do not have some truth, for certainly they do. It does not mean that other churches do not render good, for they render much good. What it does mean is that this is the only church that has all the truth that has been revealed thus far in this dispensation—the only church that has the ordinances necessary for exaltation and the only church that has the priesthood of God to perform those ordinances with divine validity. What evidence do we have of this assertion? …

If one were to match the blueprint of Christ’s original Church against every church in the world today, he would find … it will only match one—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Tad R. Callister, “What Is the Blueprint of Christ’s Church?” [Church Educational System devotional for young adults, Jan. 12, 2014], ChurchofJesusChrist.org)

It is important to understand that being a member of the “only true and living church” of Jesus Christ does not mean that we believe we are better than other people. But our membership does include a responsibility to love others and invite them to come unto Christ and receive the blessings of His restored gospel.

Symbols

Ponder in Preparation for Class

What experiences have helped you come to know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s true and living Church?

Section 3

What might I share with someone who feels he or she can be religious or spiritual without participating in the Lord’s Church?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

D. Todd Christofferson

There are those who consider themselves religious or spiritual and yet reject participation in a church or even the need for such an institution. Religious practice is for them purely personal. Yet the Church is the creation of Him in whom our spirituality is centered—Jesus Christ. …

… The ancient purpose remains: that is, to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and administer the ordinances of salvation—in other words, to bring people to Christ. …

… It is important to recognize that God’s ultimate purpose is our progress. His desire is that we continue “from grace to grace, until [we receive] a fulness” [Doctrine and Covenants 93:13] of all He can give. That requires more than simply being nice or feeling spiritual. It requires faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism of water and of the Spirit, and enduring in faith to the end [see 2 Nephi 31:17–20]. One cannot fully achieve this in isolation, so a major reason the Lord has a church is to create a community of Saints that will sustain one another in the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” [2 Nephi 31:18]. …

If one believes that all roads lead to heaven or that there are no particular requirements for salvation, he or she will see no need for proclaiming the gospel or for ordinances and covenants in redeeming either the living or the dead. But we speak not just of immortality but also of eternal life, and for that the gospel path and gospel covenants are essential. And the Savior needs a church to make them available to all of God’s children—both the living and the dead. (D. Todd Christofferson, “Why the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 108, 110)

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, who served as Young Women General President, taught that participation in the Church also helps us become more like the Savior by giving us opportunities to serve and minister to others:

Oscarson, Bonnie Lee Green

It is true that we attend our weekly Church meetings to participate in ordinances, learn doctrine, and be inspired, but another very important reason for attending is that, as a ward family and as disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ, we watch out for one another, encourage one another, and find ways to serve and strengthen each other. We are not just receivers and takers of what is offered at church; we are needed to be givers and suppliers. …

Ask your Heavenly Father to show you those around you who need your help and to inspire you on how to best serve them. Remember that the Savior most often ministered to one person at a time. (Bonnie L. Oscarson, “The Needs before Us,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2017, 26)

Symbols

Ponder in Preparation for Class

How can actively participating in the Lord’s Church help you to become more like Him and your Heavenly Father? What can you do to participate more fully in the Church of Jesus Christ?