Church of Christ
The foundation of the Church of Christ is revelation (communication with God). The organization of the church always includes an Apostle and Prophet at the head. Jesus was an Apostle, Prophet, and High Priest. Peter stood at the head after the death of Jesus. Paul took his place among the twelve. When the Christians turned heathen again, there were no more Apostles and Prophets; and God never spoke again to the Gentiles; until the restoration by Joseph Smith in 1830.
“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deut. 32:4)
“10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10)
“11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [High Priests]; and some, pastors [Elders] and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 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.” (Eph. 4)
Kingdom of Heaven – Church of Christ
Two terms have been used to identify the people of God: (1) the Kingdom of God, and (2) the Church of Christ. The Church of Christ has been compared to a body. “4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching.” (Rom. 12)
The Apostle Paul referred to the gifts of the Holy Ghost received with baptism of the Spirit. These “gifts” are to assure the “body” functions properly. “7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to anotherprophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12)
Peter explained the requirements to receive these gifts on the day of Pentecost. They are to last as long as the Church of Christ is on the earth. “38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized [born of water] every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [born of the Spirit]. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2)
Their apparent existence does not prove that a group is the Church of Christ; but, their absence demonstrates they cannot be the Church of Christ. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24)
Paul also told us in 1 Cor. that those who feel called to the ministry must wait until called of God through one holding that priesthood. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4) Aaron was called to the priesthood through Moses; who held that priesthood from God.
Every officer in the kingdom of God must be called and ordained by one holding that authority. Aaron could not ordain Moses; but, Moses could ordain Aaron. Even Jesus was subject to this law. “5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he [Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee… 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5)
Before Jesus sent any to preach the gospel he “anointed” (ordained) them to such an office. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark 3:14)
“1Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9)
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)
Peter testified that none were allowed to preach the gospel of Christ without being anointed (ordained) to that authority. “21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1)
The Apostles followed the same law when they ordained elders. “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23)
The Apostle Paul noted that gospel faith is possible only through one that is properly called to the priesthood. “14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10)
How was this priesthood (authority from God) bestowed? By being called of God (by revelation) and by the laying on of hands (ordination) by one holding that authority. “3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 13) “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” (1 Tim. 4:14)
The Church of Christ has an immutable organization. “4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 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.” (Eph. 4)
Until we have all “come in unity of the faith” and have become “perfect,” these offices will continue to exist. Without the required organization and gifts of the Spirit, the Church of Christ cannot exist.
Two Orders of Divine Authority
There are only two orders of the priesthood mentioned in the Bible: (1) Levitical (Aaronic), and (2) the Melchisedec. The Melchisedec Priesthood has existed since Adam. It administers is spiritual affairs and the government of the Church of Christ; and is endless. There are two degrees in this priesthood: Apostle and Priest. There are four degrees of Apostles and two of Priests. These were foreordained as sons of God before the foundation of the earth; and their priesthood is endless.
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)
After Elijah had been translated (in effect taken out of this earthly realm), he ordained Elisha to the same office of the priesthood. As Elijah stood at the head of the Church of Christ, he could not ordain Elisha until after death. As Elijah was leaving in the fiery chariot, he ordained Elisha. (2 Kings 2:9) This could only have been possible if Elijah still held the priesthood. Once bestowed it remains in eternity; unless regularly taken away.
The Melchisedec Priesthood was given to individual prophets called of God from Moses to Malachi. After Malachi, about 400 years before Jesus, it was lost. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah; and was entitled to no priesthood under the law. After being tempted by Satan, Jesus was administered to by angels (including the Father). Jesus was called and ordained to this priesthood before He could baptize with water and the Spirit; and preach the gospel. The term “Christ” means “anointed.” He was “anointed,” ordained by the Father, “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he [Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” (Heb. 5:5) “Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22)
The Levitical priesthood administers in temporal affairs and is a priesthood of life. There are three orders in this priesthood: Priest, Teacher, and Deacon. It came into use after the rebellion of Israel at Mount Sinai; when Aaron and the tribe of Levi stood against the rest of Israel. Aaron and the line of first born sons held this priesthood to the exclusion of the rest of Israel. A primary responsibility, until Jesus, was the administration of the added law of Moses.
This priesthood was limited to temporal duties. The only exception is authority to baptize by water. The highest office in the Levitical Priesthood, that of Priest; and is holds this authority.
This is evident in the case of John the Baptism. He was the son of Zacharias, a Levitical Priest. This priesthood is also called the Aaronic Priesthood, after Aaron. It continued from Aaron to Jesus through the line of first born sons. It includes the offices of Priest, Bishop, Teacher, and Deacon.
The first thing Jesus did when He began His ministry was to go to John the Baptist. Why? John was a Priest of the Levitical Priesthood. This is the highest authority in that line of priesthood. The office of Priest in that order had authority to baptize with water; but not with the Spirit.
This first incident with Jesus tells us of the necessity of baptism and that John held the required priesthood. Even Jesus, who was without sin, was required by the law of God to be baptized. ” 13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (Matt. 3)
John, though, could not baptize with the Spirit. That is why he told Jesus that he needed to be baptized by Him. ” 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3)
Now whether Jesus was either born of the Spirit through the Father at this time, or at the hands of angels, later, is irrelevant. He had to be born of the Spirit; as He was born of the water. After being tempted of Satan, ” Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matt. 4:11)
It is also evident that Jesus restored the Melchisedec Priesthood. He was ordained a High Priest, Apostle (Heb. 3:1), and Prophet (John 6:14) at the same time. ” 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he [the Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5)
Without such an ordination to the priesthood, He would not have been qualified to preach the gospel; as He lacked divine authority to administer its ordinances. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand [among you].” (Matt. 4:17) He had to be ordained to the office of Apostle to ordain the twelve. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark 3:14)
There have been three degrees in the office of Apostle. Moses held the highest office as first degree Apostle; and passed a lower office to Joshua (Num. 27:18). Joshua, holding this second degree, was responsible for the government of the people after the death of Moses. Jesus bestowed the office of third degree Apostle on the twelve. They held no authority over the people as a whole. Their responsibility was to preach the gospel to the lost sheep of Israel. Later, after the crucifixion, they were Ambassadors of the gospel to the nations of the world.
The highest office, a first degree Apostle, is noted in the Bible as that of Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver. Moses held this office; as did Jesus. Moses passed a part of his authority to Joshua, who was a second degree Apostle and held the office of Prophet; as were others after him. Both first and second degree Apostles hold authority over the church and the people as a whole.
After the death of Jesus, Peter was ordained to a higher office; and held authority over the church. That left only ten third degree Apostles. Matthias was chosen by lot “and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:26) The twelfth position was filled by Paul; who was called directly by Jesus.
Peter, as head of church, addressed his epistles to the church. The twelve were third degree Apostles. They held authority over specific jurisdictions. Paul addressed his epistles to churches in his jurisdiction.
The office of first degree Apostle stands above, and holds every other office, of the priesthood. It is necessary to restore and stand as head of the Church of Christ. Moses, Jesus, Joseph Smith, and James J. Strang all held this office; as did many others in the Bible. They are Apostles, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, Translator, and Lawgiver.
A second degree Apostle has often stood at the head of the church. He is a an Apostle, Prophet, and Seer. Joshua succeeded Moses in this priesthood. His duties are involved with the administration of the church. He can provide guidance as a Prophet; but, cannot give laws and revelations to the church.
Third degree Apostles are Ambassadors. These are given specific jurisdictions within the church. Their chief duty is preaching the gospel in places where it has not gone. It does not appear this degree of priesthood was used prior to the twelve under Jesus. The twelve were first instructed to preach the gospel to the lost sheep of Israel. After His crucifixion, they were given jurisdiction over the nations of the world. They hold royal authority in the places and churches they are sent; but not over the Church of Christ.
There are two degrees in the office of Priest of the Melchisedec Priesthood. A first degree Priest of the is called a High Priest. There were many in the Old Testament that held the office of High Priest. Jesus, by virtue of the higher office, was also a High Priest. Those who hold this office are also called Sons of God. It was held by the first born sons from Adam to Israel (Jacob). In the New Testament this office has been confused with senior members of the Levitical Priesthood; who were called Chief Priest and High Priest.
Paul distinguishes a High Priest of the Melchisedec from that of the Levitical Priesthood. “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him… 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” (Heb. 7:1)
“11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 7)
A second degree Priest is an elder. They hold they same rights to officiate in spiritual affairs (baptism, marriage, etc.). Prophets, Apostles, and High Priests often called themselves elders; as higher offices also hold all lower offices. The Apostles ordained elders wherever they traveled to administer the ordinances of gospel. ” And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23)
Loss of Divine Authority
The kingdom of God co-exists with the church; but the church does not always co-exist with the kingdom. The kingdom of God exists all of the time (spiritually); but, is only open to man when there are authorized officers to administer gospel ordinances. The church can exist only when all of the required offices are filled; especially those of Prophet and Apostle. These hold all lower offices. When Prophets and Apostles cease to be called by God, the Church of Christ ceases to exist.
We can see this demonstrated in the Revelations of John. He described the church as a woman. “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev. 12:1)
Satan was prepared to destroy the church; as soon as it was organized, “4 …for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” The Church of Christ was taken from the earth for 1,260 years, “6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”
John was the last of the Apostles. It is believed that he died in Ephesus in 99 AD. God no longer spoke to man. The Church of Christ cannot exist without communication with Christ. Revelation is the sure foundation upon which the church is built. Without continued revelation, the church was gone; as John foretold. The Church of Christ was taken from the earth for 1,260 years.
The kingdom of God continued on the earth. The kingdom exists anytime there is one holding the required divine authority to admit souls into the kingdom. But, after destroying the church, Satan set out to destroy the remaining priesthood that could sustain the kingdom. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [priesthood], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17) “…for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10)
Finally, Satan was given power (by the apostasy), after the final form of the beast was established in 325 AD, to destroy the remaining priesthood and saints of God. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Rev. 13:7)
Who was the dragon and the beast that destroyed the church? None other than Rome. “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman [church of Satan] sitteth.” (Rev. 17:9) Only Rome has synonymously been known as the city of seven hills.
One by one, Rome murdered the Apostles. James (the major) was beheaded in 45 AD. Philip was stoned to death in 54 AD. James (the lesser) was stoned and clubbed to death in 63 AD. Mark was dragged to death in 64 AD. Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, at Nero’s order in 69 AD. Paul was beheaded in Rome, at Nero’s order in 69 AD. Andrew, Thomas, Matthew, and Matthias were martyred in 70 AD. Luke was hung from an olive tree in Greece in 93 AD. It is believed John died in Ephesus in 99 AD.
First, Satan destroyed the Apostles and the Church of God. Next, he destroyed the rest of the Melchisedec Priesthood. Finally, he destroyed every saint of God. It is estimated that Rome (including the Catholic church) was responsible for 50,000,000 martyrs.
Since the Catholic church has placed its credence on divine authority through a line of Bishops, it is necessary to address that office. The office of Bishop is an office of the Levitical Priesthood. Only the firstborn sons in the lineage of Aaron hold a right to this office. It is not an office of the Melchisedec Priesthood; and therefore ministers only in the temporal affairs of the church.
This claim of Peter being the first pope in Rome, and there being a continuous succession of such bishops has three flaws. First, the office of Bishop has no divine authority to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel; and cannot stand at the head of the church. Second, Peter was not a Bishop; but, an Apostle. Third, there was no pope in Rome until the sixth century. Even then, there was not a continuous succession of popes.
All priesthood was lost in the Christian church by the fourth century. In 325 AD, the unbaptized, pagan Roman Emperor Constantine stood as the absolute head of the church. Constantine usurped authority of God. He became the supreme head of both the Pagan Roman Empire and the new pagan Catholic Church.
“Immediately upon coming to power as the sole ruler of the empire, but only then, Constantine asserted the right to exercise ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY OVER THE ENTIRE CHURCH.” (Constantine’s Sword, p. 188) His authority was the sword. No claim can be made for Constantine receiving authority from God, to stand at the head of the church. He was not even baptized until his death bed.
The stream can rise no higher than its source. With the Catholic church having lost all divine authority, the Protestant churches could not rise any higher. Martin Luther’s response to having no authority was to claim salvation was possible only by faith. This doctrine did not really get a foothold until about 1800. The complete world of catholicity can make no legitimate claim to divine authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel. Every time they act “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” they usurp the authority of God.
” Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7)
“20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2)
Baptism by one not holding divine authority is no more effective than an ordinary bath. Jesus went to John for baptism because John held divine authority to baptize Him with water. Jesus then ordained twelve Apostles and commissioned them to preach the gospel (Mark 3:14). The Twelve Apostles then ordained elders in every city; so divine authority would exist every where they went (Acts 14:23).
” 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4)
“11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8)
“O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.” (Jer. 16:19)
Authority, Kingdom, and Church Restored
John also gave the promise that the priesthood, gospel, kingdom, and Church of Christ would be restored in the last days; after the 1,260 years. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6)
Joseph Smith has been the only man to claim such a restoration. He organized the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830. As Prophet and Apostle he stood at the head of church. The church had the same organization that existed in the days of Jesus.
The foundation of this restored church was revelation. The Church of Christ could only be restored through communication with Christ. He claimed restoration of the priesthood through administration of angels sent from God. All former divine authority had been destroyed by Constantine; when, as unbaptized, pagan Roman Emperor, he stood as the absolute head of the church. The stream can rise no higher than the fountain.
Joseph taught the same gospel as Jesus and the Apostles. Baptism had been removed from Christianity for at least 1,200 years. Without any divine authority, baptism by water and the Spirit could only be restored through a restoration of the priesthood.
Joseph claimed that through divine authority he restored the gifts of the Holy Ghost that are noted in the Bible as essential to the Church of Christ. God once again spoke man on the earth. “Thus saith the Lord.”
These commandments included those given to the former day saints. “17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6) Like the former day saints they were to have things in common, gather, and be as one. Most would not. Like the rich man, it requires great sacrifice to give up the delights of the world. Of the estimated 200,000 people that were baptized, only a few thousand ever gathered.
When a people bind themselves to God in the everlasting covenant to be His people and obey His laws, they enjoy either the blessings for obedience, or the curses for disobedience (see Deut. 28). They failed. Joseph Smith was murdered on June 27, 1844.
A new hope and light appeared. James J. Strang claimed appointment by Joseph Smith; and a calling and ordination at the hands of angels (the same as Joseph). Both of these are given as essential to standing at the head of the Church of Christ. Unless called and ordained under the direction of Christ, one cannot stand at the head of His church.
Test of the Priesthood
We have already demonstrated that divine authority was lost after the Apostolic Church. Protestant churches could not claim something their mother had not.
The first test of whether a person holds a valid office in the priesthood is the required claim to being called and ordained according to the law of God. None can question the calling of those in the Bible. Joseph Smith claimed an ordination at the hands of angels; as a first degree Apostle in 1829. Joseph was murdered on June 27, 1844.
At the very moment of his death, James J. Strang claimed to have been ordained, the same as Joseph, at the hands of angels. Over a week later he received a letter that Joseph had written before his death appointing him as head of the church.
After the death of Joseph Smith, on August 8, 1844, Brigham Young claimed there would be no successor to Joseph. He claimed the twelve had authority to stand at the head.
“Let no man presume for a moment that his [Joseph’s] place will be filled by another; for, remember he stands in his own place, and always will; and the TWELVE APOSTLES of this dispensation stand in their own place and always will, both in time and eternity, to minister, preside and regulate the affairs OF THE WHOLE CHURCH.” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 618) By what revelation were they called to such authority? The only Lawgiver they recognized was dead.
Later, on Dec. 24, 1844, he admitted that only a first degree Apostle can stand at the head; and by a vote of the people became their man-made prophet. “Still the church was rolling on rapidly, and now, at this period of the church THEY HAD TO SELECT A FIRST PRESIDENCY and they would admit the first argument of the apostates (vix., that the organization was not complete) was correct…It was moved and seconded that Brigham Young should be our First President. It was carried unanimously.”
The second test for determining the validity of ones claims to the priesthood is their works. Unlike James J. Strang, Brigham Young never offered any Revelations and laws for their church, never gave any prophesies, and never translated a single new document. His testimony remains, “I do not profess to be a Prophet. I never called myself so; but I actually believe I am, because people are all the time telling me I am.” (Journal of Discourses, 5:177)
A Near Loss
Again, the people were given similar commandments to gather and to be as one. And again, the people were slothful and cared more for the delights of the world than for rewards in heaven.
The first part of the prophecy of Micah had been fulfilled. Like the Apostolic church, the head was cut off, the Church of Christ lost, and the saints scattered among the heathen (Gentiles). “8 And thou, O tower of the flock [James], the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. [James was called of God as king in Zion on July 8, 1850; even as Moses was called as King in Israel] 9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counseller perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to [spiritual] Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” (Micah 4)
James J. Strang sealed his testimony with his own martyred blood on July 6, 1856. The property of the saints was again stolen by a ruthless mob; and they were driven from their homes. Strang’s dying words were to “take care of his [Apostle Chidester] family and do the best he could till he found out what to do.”
Some of the Apostles tried to assemble conferences on October 6, and on December 6, 1856; but, due to their scattered condition, were unable. On Feb. 10, 1857, five of the Apostles gathered, “in the wilderness 6 miles from Racine, and there prayed and communed with each other all night. We became satisfied, that the Twelve could not lead the Church without a Prophet; and concluded to take care of ourselves & families; and when occasion offered; minister to the necessities of the Saints, according to our abilities, until we have the word of the Lord to guide us on to other duties. This is truly a time of mourning, & fasting; for God has chastened us sorely for our sins, & we know not the extent of our sins, for God has not shown them unto us. The faithful among us are determined to wait upon the Lord, and trust in his Mercies: for his mercy endureth forever.” (Record of the Apostles of James, pp. 45, 46)
The Church of Christ had been lost again.
The kingdom of God exists on the earth as long as one member of the Melchisedec Priesthood remains to administer the ordinances of the gospel. Several prophecies tell that only a very small remnant will remain. Jesus said, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
“8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isa. 1)
“Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to [spiritual] Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” (Micah 4:10)
Even as the kingdom of God remained after the Church of Christ was taken from the earth, it is reasonable that a remnant of the necessary priesthood would remain. A “very small remnant” of Gentile saints is promised to remain and “be delivered” in Isa. 1:8 and in Micah 4:10. “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.” (Isa. 4:3) “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17)
Then, Jesus will return, gather Israel, and stand at the head of the church and the kingdom. “21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.” (Ezek. 37)
Hope For The Brave
Finding the kingdom, today, requires finding the gospel of Christ and the priesthood required to administer the ordinances of the gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16)
There are two personal requirements to enter the kingdom of God: faith, and repentance. There are also two gospel ordinances required to enter the kingdom of God, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
The only place we can find even a claim to the Melchisedec Priesthood is through the restoration by Joseph Smith and James J. Strang. They were both murdered and the Church of Christ lost. We must look to the history of the Strangites to discover if any such priesthood remains; as it did after the death of the Apostles and loss of the Apostolic church.
L. D. Hickey was the last of the Apostles under James. Before his death he called and ordained Wingfield Watson a High Priest. On April 14, 1919, he wrote M. M. Quaife:
“Where there was an Elder who remained faithful, he taught his children and grand children, and baptized them into the faith, and preached the gospel to his neighbors also and baptized any who were willing to receive the gospel. Besides the office of apostle there is also the office of High Priest and Elder, who holds the right to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances. It was not in the nature of things, to be expected that we could do a great work, for nearly all the men had families dependant upon them for support, and Mr. Strang’s last advice and counsel to use, was to let every man take care of himself and his family, and do the best he can until he is informed further what he shall do.”
In 1961, one group of Strangites reorganized their church into a corporation. A corporation is a “fictitious” entity that exists only in the mind of the civil law. When an organization incorporates, they give up their former identity. Many do this for the limited liability; as they exist only as a corporation. The stockholders are no longer individuals; but, are only members of the corporation. The Church of Christ had never been incorporated under either Joseph, or James. The church is the bride of Christ. They established a new order of priesthood to rule over them; and use the corporation by-laws to govern them. They have forgotten their first love; and prostituted themselves to the government of man. They are now priests of man. Vernon Swift stands as the man-made President of their church; as Constantine stood over the Christian church.
John wrote the words of Jesus to the church of Ephesus; on account of such an error. They became aligned with paganism. Jesus advised them to either repent and be re-baptized, or their candlestick would be removed.
“1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write… 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2)
The rest of the followers of James J. Strang have worked to remain faithful and obedient to the laws of God; and remember always their first love. The office of elder remains among them.
My priesthood is five generations removed from the ordination of James at the hands of angels. James ordained L. D. Hickey, who ordained Wingfield Watson, who ordained Samuel Martin, who ordained Lloyd Flanders, who ordained me an elder on July 8, 1856.
We continue to use the name Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for inquirers to more easily identify us with the restoration. Retaining the Melchisedec Priesthood, the kingdom of God remains on the earth. The door into the kingdom remains open to all who are faithful and repentant. Where the kingdom exists, so does the knowledge of God, the gospel of Christ, divine authority, the law of God, and the pathway to eternal life. “13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it…21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7)
Jesus is to return soon and take vengeance on those that have usurped the authority of God and those who followed such usurpers, “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1) “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” (Luke 17:26)
At about the time of Jesus return, He will gather His elect, the House of Israel, from the four corners of the earth; including the remnant of the last Gentile dispensation. “10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days…12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 8) As for the other Gentiles, they made their own priests and teachers without authority from God. Here is anti Christ (anti “anointed). “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.” (Jer. 16:19)