What Is A Mormon?
A true Mormon is a devout and true Christian. They believe their lives should perfectly agree with the will of God. The term “Mormon” when properly translated means more good. It has been used in derision against the followers of Jesus under Joseph Smith; even as the name Christian was used against the followers of Jesus under Peter. Christian is defined as a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ. Joseph Smith taught, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”
“Mormonism” is a term applied to the collective beliefs of the latter day saints. What is a Mormon is explained in their unique beliefs, demonstrated by their devout life style, and evidenced by their persecutions. The term Mormon originated with the Book of Mormon published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Joseph Smith claimed that through angelic calling and revelation he recovered and translated a record of the former inhabitants of the Americas —Native Americans. The record was published in 1830, as the Book of Mormon. It was given that name because it is an abridgement of the record of that people made by the Prophet Mormon. The latter day saints believe in the authenticity of this record. They do not believe that it replaces the Bible; but that it adds an additional testimony of Jesus; and it is the record of a people whom Jesus identified as “other sheep” that were of the house of Israel (John 10:16 ). A Jewish Prophet by the name of Lehi was commanded of God to lead his family out of Jerusalem in 600 BC. It tells of this people living in Central and North America , of their cities, and of their temples. Knowledge of such a people was never known in America until the work Antiquarians, in Central America by Stephens and Catherwood published in 1843.
The term Mormon is not a proper term because they are not followers of Mormon; but, of Jesus Christ. The most proper name for the true followers of Jesus under Joseph Smith and James J. Strang is latter day saints; even as the followers of Jesus in all ages of the world have been called saints. The term LDS or latter day saint will be used in this work. The term “saint” is used 97 times in the Bible to describe the followers of Jesus. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12)
The latter day saints believe in the admonition, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) Truth is a singularity. Modern Christianity, since its organization by Constantine, has been a mass of conflicting doctrines. The Reformation turned Christianity into an endless mixture of churches and doctrines. Some churches even claim to be non-denominational; but, in fact form their own denomination. “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33)
Two opposing doctrines can be false; but, only one can be true. No one can claim to be in possession of truth without an open mind and an insatiable desire for truth. Truth has no fear of investigation. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) We must be willing to lay our beliefs on the table and examine them; because before we can claim our beliefs are true, we must admit there is always the possibility of error. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20) If you have an open mind and an earnest desire for spiritual truth, follow me through an examination of the beliefs of Catholic, Protestants, and Mormons.
Table Of Contents
- God and Jesus
- Priesthood Called of God
- Officers of the Kingdom of God
- Gospel of Christ
- A Gathered People
- Gathering of Israel
- A Devout People
- Life, Death, and Eternity
- A Persecuted People
Different Mormon Groups
The term Mormon is not a homogeneous term. After the murder of Joseph Smith on June 27, 1844, the church split into three groups called the Strangites, Rigdonites, and Twelvites (later Brighamites). These are not appropriate terms; but, have been popularly used and form a means of distinguishing the different groups.
Before we can understand succession in the Prophet Office claimed by the heads of the various churches, we must first understand the office of Apostle. In the office of Apostle there are four degrees. Only first and second degree Apostles are Prophets. Moses and Jesus were first degree Apostles. Joshua succeeded Moses as a second degree Apostle.
(1) Apostle and Prophet, Lawgiver, Seer, Revelator, and Translator,
(2) Apostle and Prophet, Counselor, Seer, and King,
(3) Apostle and Ambassador, and
(4) Apostle and Evangelist.
Joseph Smith was ordained a first degree Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver, like Moses, Jesus, Peter, and others before him. This office is also referred to as First President. It stands at the head of the executive, judicial, and executive branches of the church. There can be no temporal ruling authority without the President (Doctrine and Covenants, 107:10, 33). Joseph claimed to have been ordained under the hands of Peter, James, and John, who held this office successively in the flesh after Jesus. As a Lawgiver, Joseph was empowered by God to give revelations and commandments to the people like Moses and Jesus before him. James J. Strang was called of God through Joseph and ordained at the hands of angels to this same high calling. As this is a singular office, only one person can hold it in the flesh at the same time. Elisha had to wait for Elijah to be translated and enter the chariot before he could be ordained to this same office held by Elijah. Jesus was ordained to this office under the hands of the Father (Heb. 5:5).
Several were ordained second degree Apostles and Counselors under both Joseph Smith and James J. Strang. With the First President they formed the First Presidency. Sidney Rigdon and others stood as Counselors in the Presidency. These were Prophets; but, were Counselors and administrators; and not Lawgivers. In the event of an interim between Lawgivers, the senior second degree Apostle can stand at the head; but, cannot give laws and commandments to the people. When James J. Strang was ordained a first degree Apostle and Lawgiver, Sidney Rigdon lost any right to stand at the head. Only the First President is empowered to stand at the head and give laws and commandments from God. The body of Christ (Church of Christ) can have only one head on the earth.
The twelve Apostles were Ambassadors to the nations of the world. They held no ruling authority over the church in America. The Twelve were not Prophets; and held no authority from God to stand at the head. There were no fourth degree Apostles under Joseph and James.
Joseph received four revelations that provided in the event he was to die that he would appoint “another” in his stead. “4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. 5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; 6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. 7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before [at the hands of angels], to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 43). See also D&C 28:2, 6, 7; 35:17, 18; and 90:3, 4)
The Missouri gangs followed Joseph into Illinois, where they were able to get Joseph arrested on false charges. The Governor of Illinois placed Joseph under the protective custody of the state. On June 27, 1844 , the militia left; and the mob, with the help of the government, murdered Joseph and his brother Hyrum. Their murderers never spent a day in jail for this black deed.
The Strangites were the first group that was organized after the death of Joseph Smith. On June 18, 1844 , Joseph wrote a Letter of Appointment in which he told of his forthcoming death; and appointed James to stand at the head of the people. It was mailed the next day from Nauvoo. The same hour Joseph died on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois, James J. Strang claimed an angelic ordination (the same as Joseph); as his successor in the Prophetic Office (although 400 miles away in Wisconsin). The prophecy of Joseph was fulfilled. The probability of James having any knowledge of the death of Joseph except through divine revelation is zero.
Joseph wrote, “I have long felt that my present work was almost done, and that I should soon be called to rule a mighty host, but something whispers me it will be in the land of spirits, where the wicked cease from troubling and the bands of the prisoner fall off. My heart yearns for my little ones, but I know God will be a father to them, and I can claim face to face the fulfillment of promise from him who is a covenant keeping God, and who sweareth and performeth and faileth not to the uttermost.
“The wolves are upon the scent, and I am waiting to be offered up, if such be the will of God, knowing that though my visage be more marred than that of any, it will be unscarred and fair when archangels shall place on my brow the double crown of martyr and king in a heavenly world.”
“The Almighty came from his throne of rest. He clothed himself with light as with a garment. He appeared, and moon and stars went out. The earth dissolved in space. I trod on air, and was borne on wings of Cherubims. The sweetest strains of heavenly music thrilled in my ear, but the notes were low and sad as though they sounded the requiem of martyred Prophets.”
“And now behold my servant James J. Strang hath come to thee from far for truth when he knew it not, and hath not rejected it, but had faith in thee, the Shepherd and Stone of Israel, and to him shall the gathering of the people be, for he shall plant a stake of Zion in Wisconsin, and I will establish it; and there shall my people have peace and rest, and shall not be moved, for it shall be established on the prairie on White River, in the lands of Racine and Walworth.”
The Letter of Appointment arrived by regular course of mail on July 9, 1844; twelve days after the death of Joseph. It was properly recorded by the Post Office in Chicago and in Burlington, Wisconsin. The page for that date had been mysteriously removed from the Post Office record in Nauvoo. This was the first official news in Wisconsin that Joseph had been martyred. The letter is now in Yale University Library. The church is still known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. James J. Strang is the only man that claimed to be appointed by Joseph and ordained under the hands of angel(s). He fulfilled all the duties of a Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator. In 1850, he translated the most sacred book of Scripture, the Book of the Law of the Lord.
In 1854, James wrote, “As First President, I have regularly presided over the Church and took the direction of its affairs in all the world, according to the law of God.
“As prophet, I have foretold in the name of God, the ills that were coming on men, and directed all who received the word of the Lord how and where to come out from among the wicked, that they receive not of their plagues.
“I have obtained covenants and promises of God and at his hand obtained an everlasting inheritance for the Saints, which I have divided among them by lot, without cost or price. God is our God and we are his people forevermore.
“As a Seer, I have seen the visions of the Almighty, and as a Revelator have received knowledge of his purposes and commandments, and made them known among the children of men. As a translator, I have brought forth hidden treasures, and revealed the old record to all who love the truth, and seek unto it. The visions of the past and the hidden lore of future ages are laid by the side of present hopes and future knowledge.
“As an apostle I have borne a faithful testimony of the kingdom and the coming of the Lord Jesus. I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith. I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God. In the treasure‑house of the Almighty there is laid up for me a crown of glory richer than all diadems of earthly kings.
“Of all that dwell on earth, God has made me the most happy. From men I fear no evil. May God bless you abundantly with the same blessings, and especially with the love of the truth.
“Truly and sincerely,
“JAMES J. STRANG.”
On June 16, 1856 , the US Steamer Michigan docked at Beaver Island. The captain called for James to come on board; as he had done in the past. This time two apostate Strangites were waiting on the dock. When he stepped on the dock, they shot him; and then went on board the Michigan where they were protected by government officers. The surgeon from the Michigan pronounced the wounds of James mortal. His assassins were taken to Mackinac, given a mock trial, and released. James was taken back to Voree, Wisconsin, where he died on July 9, 1856. The saints were driven from the island and their property stolen. The Melchisedec Priesthood restored by Joseph and continued through James remains today; although the office of Apostle is gone. James ordained L. D. Hickey one of the Twelve, who ordained Samuel Martin a High Priest, who ordained Lloyd Flanders a High Priest, who ordained Samuel E. West an Elder.
Sidney Rigdon had been ordained a second degree Apostle and Prophet under Joseph; as was Joshua under Moses. This office is one of administrator; and is not permitted to give laws and commandments to the people. He usurped the office of First President; and his followers became known as the Rigdonites. If James J. Strang had not been called and ordained of God to succeed Joseph in a higher office, Rigdon would have had a legitimate claim to stand at the head. He was not called of God through Joseph; and was not properly ordained to any higher office than Counselor. His followers later turned against his teachings and followed Bickerton.
Two and half months after Joseph’s murder, Brigham Young claimed that Joseph would never have a successor; and that the twelve (lower order) Apostles held authority to stand at the head. On August 15, 1844, Brigham Young wrote that the twelve held authority, “to Preside over all the affairs of the church in all the world… Let no man presume for a moment that his [Joseph’s] place will be filled by another.” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, p. 618)
The Twelve were known as the Twelveites. They were not Prophets; but, were Ambassadors whose duty was to preach the gospel to the world. They held no ruling authority in America. The Kirtland council Minute Book (Page 72) contains the exact ordination of Brigham Young and the Twelve. God had previously admonished them for attempting to exercise authority over the people in America. “The Twelve are a Traveling Presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, agreeable to the institution of heaven; to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 107:33) Without the Presidency, they have no ruling power anywhere in the world.
At a general conference in Council Bluffs, on December 24, 1847, Brigham admitted the Church of Christ had to have a Prophet at its head, “in our unorganized state… they had to select a First Presidency and they would admit the first argument of the apostates (viz., that the organization was not complete) was correct.” How did they resolve this deficiency? “It was moved and seconded that Brigham Young should be our First President. It was carried unanimously.” James J. Strang later wrote, “To pretend that such an election is a fulfillment of that law which requires the leader of this Church to be called by the voice of God, and ordained as Joseph was, by the hand of Angels, is so utterly bald that it needs only to be stated, not answered.” (Prophetic Controversy, p. 6)
James J. Strang labored with Brigham Young for almost two years; but was finally forced to summon those of the twelve who followed him to appear before a High Council (like a spiritual Supreme Court) on January 13, 1846 . They refused to appear and answer the charges against them. On April 7, 1846, the High Council tried those of the twelve that followed Brigham. “It is adjudged that Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Willard Richards, and George A. Smith, be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”
Brigham made a slight change in the name of the church to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young was never appointed by Joseph as his successor; and was never ordained at the hands of angels; according to the law of God. Although Brigham was elected by the voice of man to be Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator, there is no record of his ever fulfilling that office. He saw nothing, revealed nothing, prophesied nothing, and translated nothing. Brigham Young later commented on several occasions that he was not a Prophet. “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)
Brigham Young departed from the original doctrines of the church, developed many new doctrines, and fell back into some of the false doctrines of the Catholic Church. Brigham taught that Adam was actually the Almighty Father and that Eve was a wife from another planet. A later Apostle clarified one of his basic teachings on God: as man now is God once was, and as God now is man may become. It requires little knowledge of the Bible to understand the error of this doctrine. “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:6) The doctrine that God was once a man like us is to bold an error to be worthy of a reply.
A later group was organized by two apostate Strangites claiming that Joseph Smith’s son had a right to stand at the head because of his lineage; and organized a new church in Beloit, Wisconsin, in 1852. Joseph Smith’s son did not accept leadership of this group until 1860; when he was elected First President. This group originated as the ReOrganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The law of God does not provide for the Prophetic Office to pass from father to son. Young Joseph Smith was never appointed to succeed his father; and was never ordained to that office according to the law of God.
In 1985, this group divided. The main stream group changed their name to the Community of Christ and joined the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC). This caused a dramatic change in their doctrines. They were no longer strictly tied to LDS beliefs. Richard Price has attempted to hold members of the original RLDS church together. Other Mormon groups splintered off from these three original groups.
This author accepts James J. Strang as a Prophet of God and successor to Joseph Smith. Of all those who claimed to succeed Joseph, only the teachings of James are in full agreement with those of Joseph and the Bible. All references to LDS doctrine in this article are to those of Joseph Smith and James J. Strang; but, not necessarily to those of the other LDS groups.
Unlike Catholic and Protestant churches, Mormon Beliefs originated with revelations from God. Their doctrines on God and Jesus are diametrically opposed to Catholic and Protestant doctrines that are based on the Babylonian Trinity. Their beliefs on living according to the will of God go far beyond those of catholicity. It is the only Christian religion that perfectly agrees with the Bible (to the extent it has been translated correctly). Its doctrines conform entirely to those taught by Jesus, the Apostles, and the Prophets of old. Before we can fully understand the doctrines of the latter day saints, it is requisite to understand what happened to the original Christian religion.
The Bad News
Rather than the Gentiles accepting the gospel after Jesus, there was to be a great falling away. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [return of Jesus] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thes. 2:3) The Bible, ecclesiastical historians, and church leaders have all recognized this falling away. It had begun even in the days of the Apostles, “7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. …11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth.” (2 Thess. 2)
Jesus gave the Gentiles a final warning, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works [baptism]; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:5) They did not; and after John God no longer spoke to the Gentiles. Why? “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. 59:1)
“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isa. 24:5)
“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: 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 8:11, 12)
“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)
John the Revelator gave us the best description of how this falling away would be realized. “1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun [Church of Christ], and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars… 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 [1260 years.” (Rev. 12)
The sins of the Gentiles caused God to give Satan dominion over the saints. First, he destroyed the Church of Christ (Rev. 12:6). Next, he destroyed the holy priesthood, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [the holy priesthood], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17:17) “…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10) Finally, he destroyed every saint of God; and was to maintain this dominion for 1260 years. “5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months [1260 years]… 7 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)
Only Rome has been synonymously known as the city of seven hills. Only Rome led in the persecution of the saints and of the Jews. “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman [church of Satan] sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen [Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece], and one is [Pagan Rome], and the other is not yet come [Pagan Christian Rome under Constantine]; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space [325 to 476 AD]. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth [Papal Rome], and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” (Rev. 17:9-11)
Few realize that the Christian church was completely reorganized by the un-baptized, pagan Roman Emperor, Constantine, in the early fourth century. After conquering Rome by the sword, he sought to stand as god on earth. “…about the year 320… Constantine fully understands himself by now as ‘the vice-regent of God.’” (Constantine’s Sword, James Carroll, p. 187) That is, as god on earth.“ Constantine asserted the right to exercise absolute authority over the entire Church.” (Ibid., p, 188) The holy priesthood, once called of God as was Aaron, now originated with Roman authority. Constantine cared nothing about the law of God. “Thou shalt not take the name [authority] of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7)
Throughout Scripture no man acted in the name of God without being called of God by prophecy and by ordination by one holding the holy priesthood. This principle is so inclusive that not even Jesus could take the priesthood upon Himself. He was ordained to the Melchisedec Priesthood under the hands of the Father. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 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.” (Heb. 5:4, 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 [minister] with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22 ) “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)
Constantine violated this law by standing at the head of the Christian church while he was an unbaptized, pagan Roman Emperor. He was not baptized until on his deathbed. The holy Melchisedec Priesthood is required for any person to enter the kingdom of God. John the Baptist was a Priest of the Levitical Priesthood; but, only held divine authority to baptize with water. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11) Jesus was called and ordained to the Melchisedec Priesthood with divine authority to baptize with the Spirit.
Jesus then organized the kingdom with all of the officers of the Melchisedec Priesthood. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [High Priests]; and some, pastors [Elders] 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.” (Eph. 4:11-13) This priesthood was required “for the work of the ministry;” and “for the perfecting of the saints.”
The loss of this priesthood is the most glaring evidence that the Gentile Christians fell away from the gospel; and became destitute of the divine power required to baptize and confirm people into the kingdom ofGod. They even removed baptism by changing the ordinance to sprinkling. Rather than baptizing penitent adults they sprinkled little children. “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:14) All of the early true Christian writers note that baptism was administered only to adults. See the Martyrs Mirror, “An Account Of The Baptism Of The Holy Martyrs In The Second Century” (p. 100). The first writer was Dionysius who permitted only adults to be baptized. After him was Justinus, who “treats of it throughout as of the baptism of Christ, which was administered to adults.”
Constantine established his state religion at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. The creed established by this council is known as the Creed of St. Athanasius. Constantine was a loyal follower of the sun god. TheRoman Empire was less than ten percent Christian. He knew that he could not change their beliefs and traditions. The Christians had already fallen to a great extent back into pagan traditions and beliefs. He elected to adopt the pagan doctrines into Christianity by giving them Christian names. The bishops, under threat by Constantine, adopted the Trinitarian code of the sun god worshipped by the mystery religions of Rome. It was invented by Nimrod, King of Babylon. Three hundred and eighteen Bishops argued and quarreled over the identity of God and Jesus for a month. The Holy Spirit cannot exist where there is such controversy. “Some affirm that it was the necessity of circumstances, or the fear of the emperor, not the conviction of his own mind, that compelled Eusebius to subscribe to the Nicene Council.” (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Life of Eusebius)
He changed the identity of the Biblical God into the pagan sun god. “As seen in Constantine’s originating piety, that supreme deity would have been associated with the sun, and pagans would have recognized, with reason, their own solar cult in such Christian practices as orienting churches to the east, worshipping on the ‘sun day,’ and celebrating the birth of the deity at the winter solstice.” (Constantine’s Sword, p. 183)
Consider the source. “In the unity of that one Only God of the Babylonians, there were three persons, and to symbolise that doctrine of the Trinity, they employed, as the discoveries of Layard prove, the equilateral triangle, just as it is well known the Romish Church does at this day. In both cases such a comparison is most degrading to the King Eternal, and is fitted utterly to pervert the minds of those who contemplate it, as if there was or could be any similitude between such a figure and Him who hath said, ‘To whom will ye liken God, and what likeness will ye compare unto Him?” (The Two Babylons, pp. 16, 17)
He changed the true identity of Jesus into that of a demigod. Belief in gods begetting children upon virgin females was a common pagan doctrine. It did not fit Jesus; as the law required Him to be of the seed of Abraham, the seed of Judah, and the seed of David. Only the male carries the seed of man. “For he [Levi] was yet in the loins of his father [great grandfather], when Melchisedec met him.” (Heb. 7:10) “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” ( Rom. 1:3) “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:17)
Constantine was most likely ignorant of the fact that only a man could redeem mankind. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. …For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Rom. 5:12 )
Matthew gave the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to Joseph his father. Joseph was of the tribe of Judah. Mary was of the tribe of Levi. Joseph and Mary were married (espoused) before the conception of Jesus. Mary, what do you have to say about the father of Jesus? “And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” (Luke 2:48) John, what do you have to say? “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45)
This mystery of Babylon was readily acceptable among the pagans; but, had Jesus taught such a doctrine, the people would have been justified in rejecting Him. No ghost or spirit can beget the seed of man upon woman. If such is true, no man could be sure who fathered his children; as Satan and his spirits were loosed upon the earth (Rev. 12:7-9).
Constantine changed the Sabbath to “the venerable day of the sun.” The Sabbath was given by God to man as a perpetual law; and as a sign between Him and the people of God forever. “Wherefore the children of Israelshall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Ex. 31:16, 17) Jesus did not change the Sabbath. The Apostles did not change the Sabbath. The early Christians did not change the Sabbath. The pagan Roman Emperor Constantine changed the Christian Sabbath to honor the sun god.
Constantine adopted all of the pagan doctrines, rites, institutions, and festivals by giving them Christian names. Christmas is one of the most honored Christian holy days. Yet, it did not originate with the Christians. It was a pagan holiday that celebrated the birth of the sun god. After December 25, the days grew longer in Rome. Biblical scholars agree that Jesus was most likely born in the spring. True latter day saints do not accept the doctrines of man that were invented by Nimrod, passed down to Greece and Rome, adopted by Constantine, inherited by Christians through tradition, and accepted by most presumed Christian churches.
Mosheim, the noted ecclesiastical historian, wrote of the fourth century, “The rites and institutions, by which the Greeks, Romans, and other nations, had formerly testified their religious veneration for fictitious deities, were now adopted, with some slight alterations by Christian bishops, and employed in the service of the true God.” (Mosheim, Ecclesiastical History, Century 4, Part 2, chap 4:1, 4)
John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, writing about the loss of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, commented on the loss of the Christian faith. “The cause of this was not, as has been supposed, because there was no more occasion for them, because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian. The real cause of it was that the love of many, almost all Christians, so-called, was waxed cold. The Christians had no more of the spirit of Christ than the other heathens. The Son of Man, when He came to examine His Church, could hardly find faith upon earth. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian church–because the Christians were turned heathens again, and only had a dead form left.” (John Wesley’s Works, Vol. 7, 89; 26-27)
The Church of England in the Homily Against Peril of Idolatry, first published about the middle of the sixteenth century, admitted of the great Christian apostasy. “So that laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women, and children of whole Christendom— a horrible and most dreadful thing to think– have been at once drowned in abominable idolatry; of all other vices most detested of God, and most damnable to man; and that by the space of eight hundred years and more.”
Martin Luther was the first to realize a Reformation of some of the evil practices of the Catholic Church. He could not, though, turn a piece of clay into gold. He could improve it; but without revelation from God, without the holy priesthood, it remained the work of man. Others could do not better. Some understood that none had been baptized for hundreds of years after baptism was changed to sprinkling. Others understood the true Sabbath. But, none could restore the original priesthood of God and the gospel.
The Good News
John the Revelator told us that the Church of Christ, the holy priesthood, and the gospel would be taken from the earth for 1260 years. This could only begin with the last form of the beast—Papal Rome in 570 AD (Rev. 13:11, 12). Exactly 1260 years later on April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith organized the Church of Christ in accordance with the freedom of religion provision of the Constitution.
John saw the end of the kingdom of God on the earth. “7 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) He also saw the return of the original gospel of Christ. Enter Joseph Smith. “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) The gospel would not have to be preached “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” unless it no longer existed on the earth. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto [against] all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14)
Restoration of the Melchisedec Priesthood by Joseph Smith is a corner stone of LDS beliefs. When Joseph Smith was only fifteen years old (1820), there was a great excitement and controversy among the various churches. Joseph had only about a third grade education; but, had read the Bible and the admonition of James (1:5) to “ask of God.” He retired to a field and called upon God to answer which of all the churches was true. “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
“It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other–This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)–and which I should join.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’” (History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 16)
In May, 1829, while translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph and Oliver Cowdery went into the woods to pray concerning baptism. A heavenly messenger appeared to them and ordained them to the Levitical Priesthood. “The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized.” (Ibid., 1, p. 71)
Joseph claimed that he was later ordained under the hands of Peter, James, and John; who stood at the head of the Melchisedec Priesthood successively after Jesus. He was ordained an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver of the Melchisedec Priesthood the same as Moses and Jesus before him. Holding this highest office he was empowered by God to preach the gospel, administer its ordinances, and organize the kingdom of God on the earth. The church was organized with Apostles, Prophets, High Priests, and Elders; as it had been under Jesus.
Joseph Smith taught the fountain of spiritual life is revelation. Joseph wrote, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom ofGod.” The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a living God who always communicated with His people, when they were worthy.
The Bible is a compilation of accounts of God’s communication with man from Adam to John the Revelator. There is no “thus saith the Lord” in Babylon. Without revelation no man can either know God or the things of God. Revelation only ceases through a lack of faith and obedience. “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. 59:1)
The critical importance of revelation is demonstrated in at least four ways. First, it is impossible to have faith in God and know God without personal revelation. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. 2:11) Without faith in the God of Israel, no one can enter the kingdom of God. Second, every minister of God must be called by the spirit of prophecy. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4) Aaron was called by a revelation from God to Moses; and ordained by Moses who held higher office in the holy priesthood. The Apostle Paul told his son Timothy, “Neglect not the gift [of the priesthood] that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” (1 Tim. 4:14) Third, all of the gifts of the Holy Ghost—promised to every saint of God—are possible only through revelation. “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) Without revelation there can no faith in God, no ministers of God, and no salvation.
Saints of God throughout the Bible enjoyed revelation; and many other blessings from God. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you [by revelation] into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13) “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:1)
Without revelation man is no better than the beasts of the field. He knows not what tomorrow brings. Why was there no warning from God of the great Indian Ocean Tsunami? “24 And they [the Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. …32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21) The times of the Gentiles was fulfilled in 1967, after the six day war. Biblical generations are forty years.
Direct Revelation from God will soon return. “And I will bring you [house of Israel ] into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. 36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt , so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezek. 20:35) “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17 )
God and Jesus
Joseph Smith restored a correct knowledge of God and Jesus. There can be no subject of greater importance than this understanding—it is the foundation of all doctrine and the greatest law given to man. The un-baptized pagan Roman Emperor Constantine, in 325 AD, adopted the doctrine of the Trinitarian sun god as the foundation of catholicity. Those who believe this doctrine declare it to be a mystery. It is more of a mystery how anyone who reads it can imagine that it could be true. This mystery originated with the King of Babylon, Nimrod; and was brought into the mystery religions that dominated Rome. Ambrose, a Bishop near the time of Constantine, wrote, “…when God is though of, our thoughts should dwell on no material reality whatever.” (Constantine’s Sword, James Carroll, p. 200) This is the god Constantine adopted, forced on all Christians with threat of the sword, and declared those who did not adopt this mystery as truth would “perish everlastingly.”
The Creed of St. Athanasius declares, “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.” The Bible teaches, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) Without a correct knowledge of God, man cannot have faith in God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6) Jesus was the “…brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” (Heb. 1:3)
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:15 ) is a living God. Man was made in the image and likeness of God. If you want to know what God looks like, just look in the mirror. Although man lost his divine character, the resemblance is still reasonable. God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Abraham mistook Him for a man and invited Him into his tent to eat; and offered to wash His feet (Gen. 18).
Jacob worshipped the same God. After wrestling with Him, he tells us that he saw God face to face (Gen. 32:24, 28, 30). Moses conversed with God face to face, as a man converses with a friend (Ex. 33:11). Moses wanted to see God in all His glory. God told him that no man can look upon the face of God in all His glory and live. God did allow Moses to see his back parts in all His glory (Ex. 33:22, 23). Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel saw God (Ex. 24:9, 10). The appearance of God was that of a man, when He appeared to Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:26, 27). It is easy to understand how a correct knowledge of God was passed from Adam to Abraham. Abraham knew Noah. Noah’s father knew Adam. But, alas, this knowledge was soon lost after Constantine.
Some say that we must know the name of God. Various expressions and words have been used in place of the name of God. The term Jehovah came into use by a Catholic Priest in the sixteenth century. His secret name was only written in that copy of the Law kept in the Ark of the Testimony. It was never spoken out of the Sanctuary, nor above the breath, and then only between three High Priests after the order of Melchisedec (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 1, 12:4) The thought that this holy name would be written in a book for all the heathen to read defies imagination. We have been given a name to use. “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Ex. 3: 14:15 )
Joseph Smith was visited by this same God. There was great religious strife when Joseph, only fifteen, had an earnest desire to know which of the churches was right. He took his prayers to God. He later wrote that while praying, “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
There were two personages—the Father and the Son. Man was no longer left in the dark about the character and identity of God; and the fact that God speaks to man when he is worthy. A similar event occurred at the baptism of Jesus. “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) At the transfiguration of Jesus we are told, “And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Luke 9:35)
When Constantine adopted the pagan Trinity in place of the God of Israel, the mysteries of Babylon could only be applied in name only. The terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were easily adapted to the pagan Trinity. The doctrine did not originate in Israel; but, in Babylon by King Nimrod; and was passed down through Greece and Rome to Constantine’s Catholic Church.
The Creed of St. Athanasius defines to whom the Trinitarian creed was directed, “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary he hold the Catholic faith.” This Trinity makes such declarations as, “we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. …The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. …So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. …The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. …And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another. …He therefore that will be saved, must think of the Trinity.” This creed makes the Father the first entity, the Son second, and the Holy Ghost third; and yet declares none is afore or greater than another. Let us test this creed against the Bible.
The Bible leaves no doubt the Almighty Father stands alone as GOD; and is above Jesus in immortality, authority, and perfection. GOD is one and not three. “And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he.” (Mark 12:32 ) “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.” (1 Cor. 8:6, 7) “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5)
“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Isa. 46:9, 10) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:6)
Jesus always spoke of God as an identity separate from Himself. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28) Clearly God and Jesus are not the same identity.
God alone has immortality. He has neither a beginning, nor an end. “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” (1 Tim. 6:14-16) Eternities to us are as moments to Him. A thousand years is as a day. Jesus had a beginning; and was the beginning of this creation—the only begotten of the Father in this creation. Jesus lived as a spirit like us before His birth into the world, He died, and He was raised from the grave by the Father.
God alone has omniscience. Only God has perfect knowledge of all things and all times. He never sleeps. He is light and there cannot be any darkness before Him. “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning.” (Isa. 46:9, 10) Only God knows the exact hour of Jesus’ return. “But of that day [return of Jesus] and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32 )
Through perfect knowledge, God is able to save every one of his creatures. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29-31) Without a perfect knowledge of God, man cannot exercise perfect faith in Him to salvation.
God alone has omnipotence. God is the superior and governing force over the entire Universe. “Which in his times he [Jesus] shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” (1 Tim. 6:15) Jesus has dominion over only a speck amid all the worlds and creations in the Universe.
Jesus had a beginning; and WAS the beginning of this creation. Jesus told John, “17 …Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Rev. 1) All men, including Jesus, were first created as spirits. “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13)
Jesus was the only spirit brought forth by God. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9) He is not Almighty GOD; but, He is the God of this creation.
The rest of creation was the work of Jesus in liaison with the Father. “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [of this creation]. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) It is obvious that GOD and Jesus are separate persons. “And God said, Let us [God and Jesus] make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” (Heb. 1:1, 2)
Although God cannot change, Jesus did change many times. He began as the only begotten spirit of the Father of this creation in the spiritual beginning. Through Him and God came all of the rest of creation. Like Adam, His spirit was united to a physical body with the breath of life; as a newborn baby. “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Heb. 2:17, 18) Jesus was raised from a helpless infant. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” (Heb. 5:8)
Jesus was born in the flesh alien to the kingdom of God, the same as all other men. He had to be brought into the kingdom according to the law of God. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) “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: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:16, 17)
Some have been led to believe through the doctrines of Constantine that Jesus was God. GOD cannot be alien to His own kingdom. The Father was speaking from heaven, the Son was rising up out of the water, and the Holy Spirit was descending upon Jesus. It is not possible that these three different entities, originating at different times and in different ways, and in three different places at the same time can be one and the same identical person—GOD. GOD is one and not three.
After His Baptism and fasting for forty days, Jesus was tempted of Satan. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13)
Jesus was ordained to the Melchisedec Priesthood BY THE FATHER. Jesus was given authority from God to act in the name (authority) of God. After being tempted of Satan and before Jesus began His ministry, “angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matt. 4:11) What did they minister? “And no MAN taketh this honour [of the priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he [the Father] that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5:4-6) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he [the Father] hath anointed [ordained] me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18)
God holds all authority in the Universe. The Father “is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” (1 Tim. 6:15) It would certainly not be necessary for God to receive authority from anyone; much less Himself.
Jesus became the Son of God in the flesh through ordination to the Melchisedec Priesthood. “Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.” He was ordained an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver like unto Moses; and was therefore a High Priest after the order of the Sons of God. “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” (Acts 3:22 )
Jesus died and went to hell. God cannot die, “Which in his times he [Jesus] shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality.” (1 Tim. 6:15, 16) Jesus was mortal; He suffered, was crucified, died, spent three days with the spirits in prison (hell); and was resurrected by the Father. “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40) “I came forth from the Father [as a spirit], and am come into the world [as a living soul]: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father [as the first fruits of the resurrection and holding the keys of the resurrection for all others].” (John 16:28) “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison [hell].” (1 Pet. 3:18, 19) He opened a dispensation of the gospel to the spirits in prison that they, too, might hear and obey the gospel. “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 4:6) Those who accept the gospel must then be baptized according to the law of God. They cannot be baptized in the spirit; so a mortal must be baptized for them. Do Christians today baptize for their dead? “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29)
Jesus became the Son of God in eternity through the resurrection; and holds this priesthood for eternity. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” ( Rom. 1:4)
Jesus is subject to the Father, who holds superior authority. “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28) “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) “And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” (Matt. 20:23)
Jesus was resurrected by GOD, given all power in this creation by God, and sits at the right hand of God. He received of the grace of God at His baptism, at His ordination to the Melchisedec Priesthood, at the transfiguration, and at His resurrection. Only GOD had power to raise Jesus from the dead. “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:14 , 15)
For the first time, Jesus had an immortal, physical body. He became the first fruits of the resurrection. Was it God or Jesus that appeared to the disciples after the resurrection of Jesus? “39 Behold my hands and my feet that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24) He received all power from the Father. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto mein heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28:18) “I am he that LIVETH [from the beginning], and was DEAD [spend three days in hell]; and, behold, I am ALIVE for evermore [as a resurrected Savior], Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Rev. 1:18)
“3 Who [Jesus] being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high… 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. 13 But to which of the angels said he [the Father] at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1)
James J. Strang wrote, “20. It is no wonder that those who preach this doctrine declare it a mystery. It is a greater mystery that men have been found to believe it. Well did John the Revelator name the Church in which it originated, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth.’ (Rev. xvii, 5.)
“21. She was once the Apostolic Church; the Lamb’s wife; but when she lost the Apostolic Priesthood, and went off in an unholy union with the Kingdoms of this world as her Lord, she became what the Angel declared her to be, a whore; as all her daughters, prostituting themselves to the various national governments, without ever being lawfully joined to Christ are only harlots.
“22. To make their Creeds as ridiculous as they are infidel; false as they are heathenish; Catholics teach that Christ’s mother is the “Mother of God;” as though God was begotten by himself, on a creature of his hands, that he might be eternally begotten.
“23. And Protestants, not willing that Catholics should monopolize all the folly and all the falsehood, have invented, or borrowed from their mother, the doctrine of an infinite atonement, by means of infinite sufferings in the crucifixion of one of these three gods.
“24. And, as by their faith, these three gods are one and the same god, it follows that the Lord God Almighty, uncreate, incomprehensible, and eternal, became a Priest unto himself, and offered himself a sacrifice unto himself, to make propitiation unto himself for sins against himself, and became a mediator between himself and his rebellious creatures; and has risen from the dead, though he alone hath immortality, and ascended on high, where he has received all power from himself, and sat down at his own right hand; where, with his human body, flesh and bones, and all that pertains to the perfection of man’s nature, raised to immortality and everlasting life, he ‘is the express image of the invisible God,’ (Col. i, 15. 2d Cor. iv, 4,) ‘and the express image of his Father’s person,’ (Heb. 1, 3,) who has not any such body or any part of it, and is nevertheless the same identical person with himself.
“ 25. This is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Ye shall not bow down to the God of Babylon, for the God who spoke in Sinai, said, ‘Thou shalt not bow down unto, nor adore anything that thy imagination conceiveth of; but the Lord thy God only.’
“26. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was not the offspring of adultery; nor was he born of woman; he was not carried about in a nurse’s arms, nor dependent on his mother’s milk for sustenance; he never died, nor did he cry to himself, and find no helper. (Matt. xxvii, 46. Mark xv, 34.) Eternal ages are but pulsations in his lifetime, and his might is omnipotence.” (Book of the Law, pp. 57, 58)
Compare the teachings of the Bible and the true identity and character of God and Jesus with those of the pagan Trinity. Through the teachings of Joseph Smith and James J. Strang you can have a correct knowledge of God. You have only to ask of God; and call upon His holy ministers. “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? 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! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ( Rom. 10:14-17)
Priesthood Called of God
Joseph wrote, “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.” Not even Jesus was exempt from this law. Jesus was ordained an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver under the hands of the Father before He began His ministry (Matt. 4:11). “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 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.” (Heb. 5:4, 5) Aaron was called by a revelation to Moses and ordained by Moses. Paul advised his son of the same, “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 Catholic Church claims their divine authority comes through a succession of popes beginning with Peter. Peter was an Apostle and not a pope. The successor of an Apostle is an Apostle. History attests the first Pope in Rome was not until 570 AD. Since they make no claim to the Melchisedec Priesthood, their followers have no claim to the kingdom of God. The twelve Apostles were inferior to Jesus in authority. How can a bishop called by the vote of man be superior to Jesus?
“The pope is of so great dignity and excellence, that he is not merely man, but as if God. The pope alone is called most holy, divine monarch, and supreme emperor, and King of Kings. The pope is of so great dignity and power, and he constitutes one and the same tribunal with Christ, so that whatever the pope does seems to proceed from the mouth of God. The pope is as God on earth.” (Guiness, Romanism and the Reformation, pp. 25, 26)
Martin Luther broke with the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century. Had the Catholic Church held divine authority, they used it to excommunicate him. As they held no such authority, Luther had no fountain of authority to draw from. His resolution of this dilemma was to form a new gospel: man can be saved by faith alone. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8) Again, without the Melchisedec Priesthood none can enter the kingdom of God.
If there is one thing more than faith that is required to enter the kingdom of God, his new gospel was a fraud. “17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4) “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) “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53) “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10) “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) The very fact that man can fall from grace is evidence they are not saved until after death. “He that overcometh [in life] shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son [after death]. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:7, 8)
“11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2) “19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 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)
Some modern preachers have thought to take upon themselves authority to preach the gospel on the basis of the commission given to eleven Apostles. They call it the Great Commission. They vainly attempt to apply a specific ordinance to everyone; and in so doing violate a basic law of God, “Thou shalt not take the name [authority] of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7) Jesus did not give some great commission to all who would take the name of God upon themselves. This commission was specifically given to the eleven Apostles who remained. “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them [the eleven], Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:14 , 15)
No man can assume authority on the basis of another holding such authority. Jesus was ordained to the same royal priesthood as Moses; yet the ordination of Moses had no effect on the ordination of Jesus. “Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be [individually] ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22 ) Since these ministers make no claim to the Melchisedec Priesthood, their followers cannot be members of the kingdom of God .
Joseph Smith was called by revelation of God and ordained an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver by angelic administration—the same as Moses and Jesus before him. He restored all of the offices of the Melchisedec and Levitical Priesthoods. Before his death, he wrote James J. Strang, told him of his impending death, and appointed him (according to the law, Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 43) to stand at the head of the people. At the same hour Joseph was martyred, James J. Strang (400 miles away) was ordained under the hands of angels, the same as Joseph, to stand in the same office at the head.
Officers of the Kingdom of God
Joseph Smith taught the same as Jesus, that the kingdom of God is possessed of specific officers that are required to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances. Joseph wrote, “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church , namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”
There are only two orders of the priesthood noted in the Bible. The Melchisedec Priesthood is a priesthood of an endless life and administers to the spiritual affairs of the people. It existed as the priesthood of the Sons of God from Adam to Melchisedec. In honor of Melchisedec—and to reduce the use of the name of God—it was changed to the Melchisedec Priesthood (see Heb. 7). The Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood was instituted in the days of Moses to administer the added temporal law.
The Melchisedec Priesthood was lost about 400 years before Jesus. Jesus restored all of the offices; and taught of the importance of this priesthood. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [High Priests]; and some, pastors [Elders] and teachers.” (Eph. 4:11)
We find this evident when Jesus began His ministry. Jesus had to obey the law 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) He went to John the Baptist for baptism of water because John was a Priest of the Levitical Priesthood. John, though, could not baptize with the Spirit. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11)
Jesus had to hold a higher office in the priesthood than John the Baptist to baptize with the Spirit. He could not take the honor of the priesthood upon Himself. After His baptism and forty days in the wilderness, “angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matt. 4:11). What did they minister? “4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he 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) Jesus was an Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver like unto Moses (Acts 3:22 ). Holding this highest office, he also held all lower offices; including that of High Priest. He called and ordained Apostles, High Priests, and Elders to officiate in the kingdom. After His ordination, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand [within your reach].” (Matt. 4:17)
The Apostles maintained the same organization. Peter was called to stand at the head as Apostle, Prophet, and Lawgiver after Jesus (John 21:15 -17). The Apostle Paul was called to take his place among the twelve lower Apostles. “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God.” (Heb. 5:1) “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 ) “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 )
Satan began his attack on the Church of Christ at an early time (Rev. 12:3, 4). He destroyed the Church of Christ (Rev. 12:5, 6, 14). He then attacked the holy priesthood (Rev. 12:17). Finally, he destroyed every true Christian (Rev. 13:5-7). Not one person was to enter the kingdom for 1260 years (Rev. 13:5, 7). The final form of the beast of Revelation (Rev. 13:3; 17:9-11) was Papal Rome, established in 570 AD. Even knowledge of the holy priesthood was lost among professed Christians.
Joseph restored the Melchisedec Priesthood with the same offices that Jesus had organized the kingdom almost two thousand years earlier. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [High Priests]; and some, pastors [Elders] 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.” (Eph. 4:11-13) Have we all “come in the unity of the faith”? These officers are required “for the work of the ministry” and “for the perfecting of the saints.” None can enter the kingdom of God; except through their administration. “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19) Through revelation from God, Joseph Smith and James J. Strang organized the kingdom in the latter days with these same officers. The offices of Apostle, Prophet, and High Priest have been lost due to the disobedience of the saints. The kingdom of God continues when there is at least one active Elder remaining to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel.
Gospel of Christ
Joseph Smith taught the same gospel as Jesus and the Apostles. “16 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) “5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power (Melchisedec Priesthood), and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance [faith]; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” (1 Thess. 1)
Joseph wrote, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” “5 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) “38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized 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. 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) “53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6)
Jesus and the Apostles declared that it is necessary to repent, to be born of water and the spirit, to partake of the Eucharist, and to live faithfully and obedient to the law of God to the end of life to be saved. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:22) “19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 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) “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:22)
The Apostle Paul wrote, “If by any means I might attain unto the [first] resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:11-14)
Other Christian churches would have us believe the wondrous gifts given to the former day saints have been done away. Lacking revelation they were done away for them. But, they were restored to the latter day saints. “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17 , 18) “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:14, 15)
Joseph wrote, “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.” “1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. …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 another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Cor. 12) “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:1)
Joseph and James both taught of the necessity of knowing God, honoring Jesus, obeying the gospel, and remaining faithful and obedient to the laws of God. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.” (1 John 2:6, 7)
James J. Strang, in his Pastoral Letter of January 21, 1847, wrote, “I desire, therefore, that all the saints, individually, may participate in the bonds of union, the fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, and may not rest satisfied, without knowing for yourselves the things that pertain to the kingdom of God, and that you be no longer conformed to the world, but transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the renewing of your minds, and turned from darkness to light. Wait for and patiently receive the word of God, which shall be as a shining light unto you; then will you be enabled to see and to walk in the path of duty.
“I charge you that you steadfastly seek to commend your profession of faith by keeping ALL THE COMMANDMENTS of God, and truly following him who was meek and lowly in heart. In the exercise of a tender and enlightened conscience, maintain an upright testimony to the purity and intellectuality of his religion, though it be through suffering. Be careful, that neither for the sake of worldly reputation, from a love of ease, nor from a fear of being plundered of your possessions, you incur the condemnation conveyed in the words, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not up his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me.”
A Gathered People
Joseph Smith taught the principle that the people of God are a gathered people. “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:16-18)
Abraham, whom God covenanted that out of his loins would come the elect people of God, was commanded to take his family, leave his home, journey in the wilderness, and be separate from the Gentiles. AfterIsrael had spent four hundred years as captives in Egypt, they were delivered by Moses and again became a separate people.
The people were not only to be gathered; but, were to have all things in common; even as was commanded under Jesus. Remember the story of the rich man? “21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor [actually to the common property], and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matt. 19:21) “Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 70:14, November, 1831)
The people were first gathered to Kirtland, Ohio. Next, God established Independence, Missouri, as the center stake for the gathering of the saints. When they failed (as a whole) to gather and abide by all the laws of God, they were driven from Illinois by mobs under the leadership of the Governor of Missouri, who had issued an extermination order against the Mormons based solely on religious discrimination. After fleeing Missouri, God established Nauvoo, Illinois, for the gathering of the people. Again, the people failed to gather; and Joseph was martyred.
A new gathering place was established by God through Joseph Smith in his Letter of Appointment to James J. Strang. The saints were to gather to Voree (near Burlington), Wisconsin. This was given as a garden of peace, if the saints would live entirely by the will of God.
The people failed; and the gathering was moved to Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan . Persecution returned. The residents of the area were of the lowest moral character. Their primary trade was selling Indian Whiskey to the Indians. Once again, the Gentiles failed to live by the will of God. Two apostates from among their own people, with the help of officers of the U. S. Government and the US Steamer Michigan, shot James. His murderers were taken back to Mackinac, given a mock trial, and released. James was taken back to Voree where he died on July 9, 1856 . The saints were driven from the island and their possessions were stolen.
Gathering of Israel
Joseph Smith taught the literal gathering of Israel. Joseph wrote, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”
Jesus is not returning to Rome, London, or New York. He is returning to His elect—the house of Israel. “And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.” (Ezek. 20:35-37) “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” (Zech. 14:4) “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Jer. 32:37, 38)
What is to happen to all the Gentile Christians who believe they are God’s own? “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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:22-23) In 70 AD the Gentile army of Rome murdered over ninety percent of the Jews; and sold the rest into captivity. “For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen [also translated Gentile]: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.” (Obad. 1:15, 16)
The Gentiles had been given the Melchisedec Priesthood after the crucifixion of Jesus; and again under Joseph Smith and James J. Strang. “For if God spared not the natural branches [Israel], take heed lest he also spare not thee [Gentiles]. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Rom. 11:21-25)
Jesus prophesied of when the times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled (ended). “24 And they [Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. …32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21) This prophecy was fulfilled after the six day war in 1967. Biblical generations are forty years. Rather than the Gentiles being converted and becoming a branch of Israel, they rejected the gospel twice; and face an awful desolation.
James J. Strang wrote, “22. The whole course of prophecy indicates that the nations of the earth will not be converted to Godliness; but that they will increase in wickedness, and be destroyed. The day has not yet come, but is in the future, which ‘shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble,’ and shall be burnt up, leaving neither root nor branch; when they that fear the Lord shall tread down the wicked, as ashes beneath their feet. (Mal. iv, 1, 3.)
“23. Paul assures us that the coming of Christ shall be ‘in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.’ (2d Thess. i, 8, 9.) Isaiah says, the earth shall be made empty, and few men left. (Isa. xxiv, 1, 3, 6.) Those days are days of vengeance, when Christ shall tread the wine press of the wrath of God, and the blood shall flow unto the horses’ bridles. (Rev. xiv, 20.) As those times are approaching, the judgment is pronounced on Babylon, ‘Reward her as she hath rewarded you, and double unto her double, according to her works.’ (id. xviii, 6.) Then shall the Saints execute vengeance on the heathen. (Ps. cxlix, 6, 7.)” (Book of the Law, p. 213)
The land of Zion is North and South America (Isa. 18); and most particularly America (the north country). Here are the isles of the sea. The center of America, Independence, Missouri, will be the New Jerusalem. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2) “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.” (Jer. 31:8-12)
A very small remnant of the final Gentile dispensation of the gospel will remain to be united with the house of Israel. “In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth [daughter of Zion], and I will gather her that is driven out [ten tribes], and her that I have afflicted [Native Americans—seed of Joseph]; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. And thou, O tower of the flock [James J. Strang], 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 [ July 8, 1850 ]. 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. 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 4:6-10)
“And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion [remnant of Gentile dispensation], and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.” (Isa. 4:3) “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion AND in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, AND in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (Joel 2:32) “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice fromJerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.” (Joel 3:16, 17)
A Devout People
Joseph Smith taught the people of God should live by the law of God. “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul–We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
If there is any single message that is repeated throughout the Bible, it is that man must live by the will and law of God. Israel had the opportunity to stand as a nation of priests and kings to the nations of the world; but, they would not. The command remains the same. “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth.” (Deut. 28:1) “And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Ex. 20:6) “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)
It would require a volume to include all of the references in the Bible that command men to remain faithful and obedient to the law of God. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.” (1 John 2:6, 7) “He that overcometh shall inherit all things [is sanctified by the law]; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:7, 8)
James J. Strang, in his Pastoral Letter of February 3, 1848, wrote, “For as much as it hath pleased God to reserve unto himself a people to serve him in these times, when the whole world is sunk in wickedness, and the fullness of the Gentiles is very nearly come in, and the time is near that God will pour out his wrath on them without pleasure, it behooves us that we commune oft with one another, and communicate spiritual treasures, such as God bestows upon us: and especially that we gather together and strengthen one another’s hand, lest we be overcome of Satan and perish in the destruction of the ungodly.”
“This we offer to the saints as the home of the poor and the asylum of the oppressed. Here we propose to share each other’s joys, and each other’s sorrows; each other’s toils, and each other’s possessions: and to teach mankind that LOVE and TRUTH WINS WITH peace and sweetness, what FORCE and FRAUD labors in vain to COMPEL. Here we intend to gather a COMMUNITY WHO SHALL BE EQUAL IN THEIR TEMPORAL THINGS: WHO SHALL DO TO OTHERS AS THEY WOULD BE DONE BY: AND WHO SHALL LOVE THEIR NEIGHBORS AS THEMSELVES. HERE SALVATION SHALL BE PRESENT, and the GOSPEL A PRACTICED REALITY. HERE PEACE SHALL REIGN.
“The Lord and His saints say come. Let him that heareth say come. He that is poor and needy, let him come. Yea, come buy food, raiment and habitation, a perpetual inheritance in Zion, without money and without price. And whosoever will, let him come and possess the land with us freely.”
The latter day saints were persecuted everywhere they gathered because their devout life style conflicted with that of the lower moral class that also settled on the western frontier.
James J. Strang translated an ancient copy of the Book of the Law that was included with the plates recovered by Joseph Smith. The Bible prophesied of two latter day works. “Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph [Book of Mormon], which is in the hand of Ephraim [Joseph Smith], and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah [Book of the Law], and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.” (Ezek. 37:19)
The Book of the Law of the Lord was the single most important book of Scripture. It is noted by name over twenty times; and as the law of God hundreds of more times. It was written by the finger of God and kept in the Ark of the Testimony. Public copies of those parts of the law that applied at that time were distributed among the people. The Book of the Law was held to sacred to fall into the hands of the Gentiles. Before the Babylonian captivity in 588 BC, the Ark of the Testimony was hid. Public copies were destroyed. One copy, though, was brought to America by a Jewish Prophet in 600 BC, was recovered by Joseph Smith, and later translated by James J. Strang in 1850.
This Book of the Law includes the only extant copy of the Ten Commandments given to Moses. Christian churches divide the nine commandments found in Exodus and Deuteronomy to make ten. They fail to understand that Jesus identified their missing commandment. “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:39) The Book of the Law requires, “Ye shall, therefore, read in it all the days of your lives.” God commanded, “Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.” (Lev. 22:31) Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
The third commandment is to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy… the Lord thy God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it: thou shalt keep it holy unto him, that thou forget not the Law.” (Book of the Law, p. 22) The seventh day Sabbath was kept from Adam to Jesus, by the Apostles after Him, and by the early Christians. It remained until the unbaptized, pagan Roman Emperor Constantine, in the early fourth century, changed it by the power of Rome to “the venerable day of the sun.” Most Christians have blindly followed the edict of man, without challenging the validity of his action.
The Sabbath was commanded by God to be kept as a perpetual law. It is a sign between God and His people. There are some Christian churches which understand the importance of the Sabbath. Only true latter day saints keep the Sabbath and all other laws of God. “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Ex. 31:16, 17)
Life, Death, and Eternity
Joseph Smith restored a true knowledge of life, death, and eternity. Jesus was the beginning of this creation. He was the only spirit begotten by the Father. He was the morning star (spirit). “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev. 3:14) “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Rev. 22:16)
All of the rest of this creation was through Jesus in liaison with the Father. “And God said, Let us [God and Jesus] make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [of this creation]. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) The Lord told Jeremiah, “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)
We were created as spirits by Jesus before the foundation of the earth. “Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars [the first created spirits] sang together, and all the sons of God [spiritual saints] shouted for joy?” (Job 38:6, 7) Adam and all mankind were first created spiritually. The spirit of every person is eternal.
Lucifer was among the first spirits created. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isa. 14:12) A third of all the spirits followed him; and was cast down never to receive a physical body. After the resurrection of Jesus, Lucifer was cast down to the earth with his followers. (Rev. 12:7-9) “And his tail drew the third part of the stars [spirits] of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.” (Rev. 12:4)
The second creation of Adam and all mankind is physical; when our spirits are united with a physical body at birth. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [his spirit]; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man [Jesus] which is in heaven.” (John 3:13)
Few men are afforded the great blessing of understanding God, Jesus, and the gospel during this mortal life. These were the morning stars and sons of God who were found worthy and for-ordained to this blessing. “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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13, 14) “4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated [for-ordained] us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Eph. 1)
When man dies, His spirit, being eternal, lives on; and is taken back to Jesus for judgment. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecc. 12:7) The spirits of man then reside either in the bosom of Abraham (with saints of God), or with the spirits in prison (inappropriately termed hell) to await their resurrection. “23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. …26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16) Those who did not live by the good in life must suffer the mental anxiety of knowing what could have been theirs. This life is like a snap of the fingers compared with eternity. The seven commandments which hang on loving your neighbor are known by all mankind.
The first doctrine of the new Catholic Church was, “This is the Catholic Faith; which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.” (Creed of St. Athanasius) Not so! All men who suffer through this mortal existence will receive an immortal, physical body. They will share in the grace of God. “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” (1 Tim. 4:10) All men will come forth either in the resurrection of the just, or a thousand years later in the resurrection of the unjust.
What about all the men that have died without an opportunity to even hear of God and the gospel? After Jesus died, as a spirit He went to the spirits in prison (hell); where He opened a dispensation of the gospel and preached for three days. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. 3:18, 19) Why did He preach the gospel to them? “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 4:6)
How can they live when they have not been baptized? After Jesus opened the gospel to the spirits in prison, Peter opened a dispensation for baptism of the dead. “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29)
Those who have obeyed the gospel either in the flesh or in the spirit will come forth in the first resurrection. They will live with Jesus for a thousand years on an earth restored to its original paradisiacal glory. “But the rest of the dead [that obeyed not the gospel] lived not again [physically] until the thousand years were finished.” (Rev. 20:5)
In our spiritual estate we live as one being spirits for eternity, in death we live as two (bosom of Abraham or hell) awaiting the resurrection, and in eternity we live as three (celestial, terrestrial, and telestial glories). After the Sabbath of Creation and mortal man comes to an end, we enter eternity.
Joseph Smith was given a vision in which he was given an understanding of the condition of man in eternity. He was told those who obey the gospel and endure faithful and obedient to the will of God during life will receive bodies in the celestial glory. The glory of the celestial is one, like the glory of the sun. The honorable men of the earth that accept the gospel in the spirit inherit the terrestrial glory. The glory of the terrestrial is one, like the glory of the moon. All others inherit a glory in the telestial glory. The glory of the telestial is as numerous as stars; as men are judged without the forgiving grace found through obedience to the gospel. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev. 20:12) The sons of perdition will be disembodied, suffer a second death, and spend eternity with Satan and his followers without any association with the rest of creation. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Rev. 20:14)
This is not a new doctrine. “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun [celestial], and another glory of the moon [terrestrial], and another glory of the stars [telestial]: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Cor. 15:40-42)
In eternity the earth will enter its celestial glory; and will become the inheritance of saints of God who endured faithful and obedient to the end of life. Read Revelation 21 and 22. Heaven will be here on the earth in its celestial glory. “7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. …22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21)
Truly, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that was taught by Joseph Smith and James J. Strang is not a respecter of person; but, is loving, merciful, gracious, and abundant in goodness. He is also a God of justice and judgment. Although God built His law upon the foundation of love, we cannot imagine for a moment that He can either look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, or that He will not punish the disobedient. Opportunity for life and goodness does not end at death; but, only begins again. We can only live in a particular glory, if we live by the law of that glory.
A Persecuted People
A great evidence of the truth of any person lies in the willingness of that person to be martyred for what he believes. It is not perfect evidence of truth; but, it is a companion with truth. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12) “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Heb. 12:6-8)
Israel not only persecuted their prophets; but, they also martyred them. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 23:29-38)
Jesus said of John the Baptist, “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet [preacher] than John the Baptist.” (Luke 7:28) The man who baptized Jesus with water was martyred in 27 AD, after admonishing King Herod Antipas of his great sin in killing his own wife and marrying Philip’s wife. James the Greater was the first Apostle to be martyred by Rome in 40 AD. One by one the Apostles were martyred. Only John remained, whom Jesus allowed to tarry on the earth until His return (John 21:22 ).
Exactly forty years after the Jews had Jesus martyred by Roman law; the Roman Army under the leadership of Titus fell upon Jerusalem. The terrifying account is found in The Complete Works of Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Chap. 9. Writing only of Jerusalem, Josephus tells us, “Now the number of those that were carried captive during this whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of those that perished during the whole siege, eleven hundred thousand (11,000,000).” Many thousands of Gentile Christians were martyred under the sword of Rome.
After Joseph received his first vision advising him about Christian religions of the world, the greatest persecution fell upon him. He wrote, “I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects–all united to persecute me.” (History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 7)
The devout life style of the latter day saints and their Biblical beliefs caused them the most severe persecutions. They were persecuted everywhere they tried to settle. They gathered to Independence, Missouri. The Governor of Missouri actually issued an extermination order against the Mormons based solely on religious discrimination. Many were killed and the rest were robbed of their possessions and sent away in the middle of winter. Nauvoo, Illinois was given by God as the gathering place for the saints. Joseph Smith was murdered on June 27, 1844 , while in the protective custody of the Governor of Illinois. After Brigham Young rebelled against the authority that God had set in the church, and failed to gather to Voree, they were driven from Nauvoo under the worst conditions.
When the saints gathered to Beaver Island in Northern Lake Michigan, they again fell under severe persecution. The citizens of the area dealt primarily in fish and selling whiskey to the Indians. James J. Strang strongly prohibited the sale of whiskey to the Indians in accordance with the laws of land. He was finally shot by two apostate saints with the help of government officials aboard the US Steamer Michigan. The captain of the Michigan requested James to come on board. When he stepped on the dock, Wentworth and Bedford shot him. He was carried back to Voree, where he died on July 9, 1856 . The US government was involved in the murders of Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, James J. Strang, and many of the saints. Their murderers never spent one day in jail.
These were black and bloody pages in the history of a government that pretended equal protection under the law. An abridged account of these persecutions was published in the official church newspaper, The Northern Islander, on June 5 to 20, 1856.
“The 6th day of April, 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized at the town of Fayette, in the State of New York, consisting of only six members, two of whom, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, were Elders; being the only true and living Church existing by the commandment of God on earth.
“The members of this Church, guided by revelations of God, have always sought to come out from among unbelievers, and be separate. Knowing that others were offended with their religion, they endeavored to avoid giving offence by removing from among them, keeping the commandment, ‘Come out from among them, that ye be not partakers of their sins, and receive not of their plagues.’
“Almost immediately after the organization of the Church, the Saints commenced assembling at Kirtland, Ohio, for a temporary rendezvous; but at the same time a few went up to Missouri, to locate a permanent residence, and selected the site of Independence, Jackson county, as their future home, and commenced a settlement there.
“Agreeable to a commandment which God gave them, they purchased large quantities of lands of the government of the United States, and paid the full price therefore to the officers of the United States, the ministers of your predecessors in office. Upon these lands our brethren, the saints, made extensive settlements, continually showing themselves the most industrious, peaceable and law-abiding citizens of that section of the country.
“At the time of which we speak no one among them was accused of any violation of the law, or of a want of attachment to the constitution and government of the United States, or of the state of Missouri.
“Notwithstanding these facts, and the legal rights of our brethren, a numerous meeting of citizens of Missouri was held at Independence, in Missouri, which decreed the expulsion of the saints from that part of the State. This meeting issued a manifesto to the public, giving to the world the reasons for banishing from their neighborhood a numerous class of citizens; the entire church of the Latter Day Saints.
“In giving these reasons they stated that our religious sentiments and domestic habits were incongruous with theirs, and that it was necessary for their happiness that our brethren should leave; and as the grievances of which they complained were not recognized by the laws, and the saints had not violated any existing law whereby they were subject to regular prosecution in the courts, therefore they would take redress into their own hands, and compel us to leave the country, peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must. This decree was carried out by the expulsion of the saints from Jackson Co., Missouri.
“They then settled in various counties on the north side of the Missouri river, but continual collisions took place, till finally they were banished from the State by authority of a mandate guilty issued by Lillburn W. Boggs, acting Governor, distinctly commanding that the saints (in derision called Mormons) be banished from the State, or exterminated. We are perfectly aware that this mandate of the acting Governor was unauthorized by the law, and in violation of the constitution of the State of Missouri.
“But the Legislature of that State, in failing to impeach the Governor, and by appropriating the money to pay the expense of executing his order, has affirmed and adopted the act as the crime of the State. In accomplishing this expulsion ten thousand persons, men, women and children, were plundered of their possessions, exiled from their homes, and driven in destitution, hunger, and want, in mid winter, to a distant land, passing much of the way in the midst of hostile foes, who not only refused them shelter and food, but kept them in continual danger.
“Many were separated from their families and incarcerated in prison, whence, after long detention, they escaped only by paying large sums of money to prison keepers, judges and lawyers, as the price of their enlargement. Besides a feeble few, who, after learning that their persecutors were without compassion, were slain while defending their wives, their children and their firesides; eighteen persons, unarmed, and engaged in the worship of God, were murdered unresisting, and in cold blood, in the early part of these persecutions; one of them a mere child, who died mixing together the words of his prayer to God, and his supplication for mercy from his murderers; another, an old man, bowed down with suffering and sorrow, scarred with the wounds he had received fifty-seven years before in defense of American liberty and American independence; all yielding up their lives for the name of Jesus, and the witness of the gospel. Others, at different times, shared the same fate; how many, we know not.
“Subsequently the saints settled in great numbers in the State of Illinois, and built up, besides many villages, the city of Nauvoo, at one time the most populous city in that State. At their first settlement they were kindly received; but after building up flourishing towns, becoming numerous as a religious people, and strong in their political influence, religious prejudice, political interests and commercial rivalry combined together to destroy them.
“On this occasion our persecutors sought to justify their violence by accusing the saints of enormous crimes, and the most astounding corruptions. That these accusations were utterly unfounded is clearly shown by the fact that with courts, jurors and prosecuting officers constantly and assiduously selected from among our persecutors, few of the saints were ever prosecuted on criminal charges, and very few indeed ever convicted.
“That the best informed and most intelligent men of the nation are fully aware of their entire innocence, is shown in the fact that territorial government has been organized under an act of Congress, possessing as full powers as any other territorial government can, organized under the jurisdiction of the United States; giving its entire executive and legislative power to the same people then exiled; and the men among them who exercised most influence and control in their affairs, and who if they were criminal were most guilty, have received the offices of Governor, Marshall and Secretary of a Territory, as well as numerous minor appointments under the United States government both Whig and Democratic administrations.
“The very high character given them by Senator Douglass who presided over the criminal courts of the Mormon District of Illinois, during the period of their sojourn there; by Col. Kane of the United States army; who witnessed their expulsion; and Captains Stansbury and Gunnison, of the Topographical Engineers, who spent a year with a large body of them in their new mountain home, have dissipated all suspicion in the minds of intelligent men that they had given any occasion for the harsh treatment which they received at the hands of the people of the State of Illinois.
“The unequivocal testimony of Thos. Ford, Governor of Illinois, at the time of their expulsion, who was present most of the time at the scene of action, is that their character and conduct were far better than those arrayed against them.
“Nevertheless this persecution was carried on until our fellow servants, the prophets, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, were martyred; the houses of hundreds of the saints burned down before their eyes; the entire community amounting to 25,000 banished from that section of the State, and four millions of dollars worth of property sacrificed.
“After the banishment of the Saints from Illinois, a few of them came into Michigan, and commenced settlements on the Islands of the Great Lakes, then uninhabited, but occasionally occupied by roving borderers, engaged in fishing and selling liquor to the Indians, in violation of law, and in criminal courses still more reprehensible.
“The attempt to build up permanent and populous communities in the midst of these valuable lake fisheries, especially at Beaver Island, where there is an excellent harbor, and every facility for an extensive and prosperous commerce, excited the jealousy of those who at Mackinac had for a long time monopolized the entire Indian and fishing trade.
“The wretched men of the borderers who had sought a home beyond the haunts of civilization, that they might indulge in unrestrained debauchery and enjoy impunity in crime, could only regard settlers who sought good order and legal government as invaders and enemies. They early exhibited a hostile disposition, and a determination to prevent the establishment of legal government.
“As early as 1849 we were subjected to numerous injuries, for which it was impossible to obtain redress. Women were insulted, and men assaulted with impunity. At the same time a concerted effort was made throughout the lake country to render us infamous, by telling false tales upon us. The numerous whiskey dealers on the fishing grounds, whose entire income was derived through criminal means, joined by most of the merchants at Mackinac, who were most seriously alarmed at the growing up of a commercial rival at Saint James, engaged in the undertaking and enlisted the officers and men on nearly all the boats and vessels in the upper lake trade, by means of their acquaintance with them. Every manner of false tale was thus continually put afloat, and no matter by what falsehood originated, was circulated through respectable newspapers, on what was taken for good authority.
“By such means, in a short time the mass of the public were persuaded that the Saints at Beaver Island were the offscourings of all things, and the dregs of the inhabitants of the earth.
“Under these circumstances, with no means of becoming generally known to the public, except through the representations of those thoroughly enlisted against us, in 1850, extensive preparations were made throughout the fishing region for an armed assault upon us, by a force more than four times as numerous as we could furnish for defense. The Saints were thoroughly schooled in the practice of nonresistance, and were unarmed.
“But by the prophecies and commandments, it appeared that having three times fled before their persecutors, it was now our duty to withstand them, and that in doing so God would give us the victory. We resolved to repel force with force, and return blow for blow, and stroke for stroke, publicly announced one determination and prepared for the issue; and our enemies gave way without bloodshed.
“In 1851 they succeeded in enlisting the United States government in a violent and lawless crusade against us, in the course of which immense quantities of private property was seized, and taken from us; numerous individuals were arrested on charge of felonies and misdemeanor of almost every manner, and carried prejudged and foredoomed, to distant places for trial, in the courts of their enemies; the United States military and naval force was put in requisition to awe our families in the absence of nearly all the men, while numerous armed bands of our persecutors were left to roam undisturbed through our settlements, taking and destroying what they pleased, and insulting and assaulting when they would.
“From all these perils God delivered us. Every one of the accused were acquitted. Though numerous persons were assaulted and cruelly beaten, every one recovered. Only a small portion of the property which had been taken from us was ever restored; but the justice of our cause was vindicated by the decision of the proper officers that we were entitled to all of it, and the actual loss was by the outright stealing of public officers.
“While these acts were going on, a few people from Mackinac, and a numerous horde of border ruffians, sometimes under pretence of legal process, but oftenest by mere force of arms, seized nearly all the movables of value possessed by our population. For these acts we pursued many of them at law to final judgment, who have abundance of executable property, but in very few of these cases have we been allowed to make collections on executions.
“This persecution resulted in separating our enemies from among us, and leaving us the undisturbed occupancy of a territory sufficient for our use for many years to come; and at the next session of the Legislature acts were passed for establishing the necessary municipal authorities in that territory, organizing town and county government, and a regular judiciary.
“Irritated at this, and suffering a great loss of trade by our growing prosperity, the people of Mackinac set on foot an armed invasion, for the avowed purpose of resisting all legal government in the county of Emmet, a purpose not concealed, but declared in the resolutions of their public meetings, and published in the newspapers.
“A conflict ensued in which several of the Saints were wounded, and several thousand dollars of property destroyed; but the invasion failed, and the invaders fled as the wicked often do, when no man pursued. The criminals engaged in this invasion were duly indicted, but by the connivance of officers and citizens they were able to escape a trial and have gone unpunished. But their flight from this region left us in the enjoyment of peace and undisturbed order.
“But the action of the State Legislature, at its next session in cutting up the county of Emmet, legislating its officers out of office, and denying a judiciary to the new county of Manitue, indicated a settled determination to deny us legal protection, and secure from punishment those who had committed crimes against us.
“For all these wrongs the laws and institutions of the country offer us no redress. It is vain to answer that such acts are contrary to law, and that the courts are open to us. There is a law in the land stronger than statutes–more potent than the usages of courts. The will of the masses, however vicious and partial, no matter by what influences produced, has been able to trample on all precedent, and ride down all law. It has done more. It has produced legislation according to its wishes, in violation of all constitutional securities; and not merely contrary to precedent, but destructive of natural right.
“This unrecognized law, found only in the will of the masses, has been enforced in destroying houses, offices and valuable papers of some of the most distinguished citizens of the country, public buildings of various kinds, printing presses and rail roads owned by wealthy companies, churches and convents of the most ancient and numerous religious denomination in the country, and to overthrow contracts which had stood the vicissitudes of two hundred years, the ordeal of civil war and national revolution, though defended by the sanctity of constitutional and statute law; usages older than the language we speak; the power of a great State; the wealth that seven generations of thrift had accumulated; and backed by an aristocracy made honorable by deeds of benevolence, justice, patriotism and valor as boundless as the sources of its greatness.
“If these cannot resist the power of this new element of national and state government mob law, how shall we? We are aware that our name is cast out as evil, as a kind of apology for the uncounted injuries which have been heaped upon us. But you will not forget that in early times among all the most polished nations the name christian was looked on as a name for fanaticism and debauchery; that the learned Greeks and victorious Romans held them cannibals, and that, even now, in half the civilized and christian nations democracy is considered synonymous with anarchy and lawlessness–how justly, you can judge.
“And if the sanctity of the ancient christian faith, and the greatness of your nation have not protected them from these aspersions, what shall protect us from equal wrongs? We protest against this nearly universal practice of assuming that we are guilty of great crimes, as an excuse for denying us the regular protection of the government in our legal rights. But when we examine the evidence of the truth of these assumptions, they are most conclusively falsified.
“Joseph, the martyred prophet, whose blood stains on the jail at Carthage are as indelible as those of Jesus on the cross, has been arrested thirty-nine times on criminal charges. Thirty nine times he has been tried in the courts of his enemies; many times at the bar of men who advocated his murder. And thirty-eight times, in such courts, at the bar of such men, has he been acquitted.
“The only offence of which he was ever convicted is that of unlawful banking–an offence committed with impunity by other men in nearly every State in the union. Nor did he escape conviction by the testimony of his brethren. Such men would stop their ears against it. If this is not a sufficient vindication of him as a law-abiding man, no array of facts could be.
“That the charge on which he was finally arrested and imprisoned was merely trumped up for the purpose of seizing upon him and detaining him till a convenient time for his destruction, is as clearly proved as any fact whatever in the history of the country.
“And when we add that his murderers were indicted, arraigned and acquitted at the instance of their own friends, without any attempt to introduce the necessary evidence against them, and merely for the purpose of interposing a legal bar to their punishment, in some more healthy period of the public mind, we think it will not require argument to convince all mankind that, the State of Illinois has adopted that murder as its own.
“In this place, during the persecutions of 1851, ninety-nine men were arrested on false charges, taken to distant places and tried in the courts of their accusers, and though prejudged and foredoomed, were every one of them acquitted.
“For all these wrongs we are denied redress. We have not forgotten that there are tribunals in which causes partially similar in kind, immeasurably less in aggravation, are sometimes examined, perhaps occasionally righted. But these tribunals are closed against us by the law now, and at all times by the power of that law already referred to, which is above statute, precedent and right.
“If a period cannot be put to these wrongs, then there is presented to the world the melancholy spectacle of the greatest republic on earth, a christian nation, acknowledging itself powerless to judge; unable to protect the right; a nation on whose righteousness half the earth rest the hopes of man, confessing that there is a power above the law, riding down the constitution, which stalks abroad to plunder and banish the citizens, and none to rebuke; murders the unoffending innocent, and none to say, “why do ye so?” which sanctifies its deeds of violence, even in the eyes of religious men, by blackening the fame of the glorious dead, with the name of crimes which in their life time it dared not attempt to prove, even in its own tribunals.
“The administrators of the government have been appealed to in vain. Unless the wrongs redressed, they must rest on the nation forever, and bring down the wrath of God on those who have done, and those who have permitted them? If you fear not God, how will you answer to mankind and to posterity, for such a desecration of republicanism, in a christian country.
“For all these wrongs we do not ask a grant of lands, nor a State or Territorial government–We acknowledge that we have had enough of these. We shall never sell the lands of our brethren and ourselves, the inheritance of the martyred and of their children, for new grants of which we are equally liable to be deprived by some new act of violence.
“There is now in the States of Missouri and Illinois four millions of dollars worth of houses and lands purchased with the money and produced with the skill and industry of our brethren the saints, which they are not permitted to occupy.
“Courts, State Legislatures, and State executives are deaf to us. When we speak, they cannot hear. When we ask justice, their faces are turned from us. True, when they do speak, their voice is for us. But it comes after the deed is done, or it is so faintly heard that the lawless do not think it earnest. The forms of law hold us as victims, and the power that is above law overwhelms us. Thus have two of our prophets died in the hands of public officers, and under the destroying protection of a State Governor, personally superintending the proceedings, and no one act of public indignation has rebuked the deed. By every form of .judicial proceeding known to the laws of the land, the perpetrators have been legally shielded from the punishment which the law itself denounces against such crimes.
“The fact that our brethren are the owners of large tracts of land, purchased of the United States, and secured to us by the name and seat of the President, which they have never sold, and which they are not permitted to occupy, by the powers actually existing, and that our brethren have been banished and murdered, and their persecutors are unrebuked, and positively and legally screened from punishment, is as indelibly stamped on the history of the country as the declaration of independence, or the victory of Buena Vista.
“We do not ask compensation in money or land for the blood of the dead, or the persecutions of the living. The lands we have been robbed of, we shall continue to claim for the banished, and for the widows and orphans that murders have made, till the day when the judgment of God shall be revealed on the nation, and his wrath no longer slumbers; and they shall go up and possess it, though the nation ceases.
“But these things admonish us that we are not to expect peace or protection in the midst of the people who have done us this iniquity. Both by the commandment of God and from the necessity of our situation, we are seeking a home in a land where religious sects and political parties are far removed from us, a land uninhabited.
“We have not been suffered to live with other men. Shall we not be permitted to live alone? God made the earth for all men. Of the vast all he has given us a few little islands. They are the work of his hands; not man’s. Why should man sell God’s work?
“For nine years our communities have dwelt here in peace among themselves. The few small schisms which have arisen, have yielded to the ordinary course of discipline, and the wrong doers have either amended or departed from among us, doing us very little injury, except as they were abetted by public officers, religious boobies, the newspaper press, and bands of lawless men. Yet we are pursued from day to day with continual threatening. An effort is continually made to convince us that we are to have no rest forever.
“Three times have we fled before our persecutors, because we would not repel injuries by force. We understand by the word of God that it is our duty to flee no further. We do not learn from the divine writings that it is our duty never to resist evil deeds.—The time has come when forbearance is no longer a virtue.
“While men around us have for years threatened us with fire and blood, and we only asked legal justice, they have been continually commended for the forbearance, and we continually menaced with invasions, expatiation and death.
“We have ceased to take to ourselves any trouble about these matters. We have known for years what our persecutors seem so anxious to impress upon us, that, when the public vengeance is waked up the law will not protect us and that among an angry people innocence is no shield.
“We do not expect Governor or President to protect us against mobs. We live in the continual assurance that any one of us might be murdered in a neighboring county, and not a magistrate could be induced to issue process against the murderer.
“Yet we trust in God. We walk in conscious security. We laugh in bitter scorn at all these threats. And we tell these wolf hounds, marshal your myrmidons, and send them along, to make a spoil of beauty and booty, as soon as you please. We bid them a bloody welcome to hospitable graves; over which, each year, we will pile stones, with a muttered curse, against the day of the resurrection of damnation.
“We will neither purchase temporary peace and future calamities by dishonorable trafficking with political jugglers, nor will we yield our homes to enemies. If we live, here will we live. If we die, here will we die, and here shall our bones be buried, expecting in the resurrection of the just to possess the land forever, and dwell with the righteous during the lifetime of the Eternal. “God judge between us and all men.
“Saint James, June 1, ’56 .”
A Special Invitation
You would do well contemplating our time and season; and the desolation that is even now on our doorstep. The times of the Gentiles ended in 1967, after the six-day war (Luke 21:24 ). All things are to be fulfilled in this generation ( 21:32 ). Biblical generations are forty years. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matt. 24:21, 22) “Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man… For after today cometh the burning–this is speaking after the manner of the Lord–for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 64:23-25)
During the many days that I have spent taking the gospel door to door, there is one sentiment that appears dominant. People are contended. That admit they do not know what is going to happen; but, they feel by following many others they must be safe. The very fact there are many others with the same beliefs should serve as a great warning. Only a few are to survive. I have watched swarms of fish gather together only to be all consumed. “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.” (Matt. 7:13) Without the Melchisedec Priesthood, none can enter the kingdom of God. Did the person who baptized you hold the Melchisedec Priesthood; according to the law of God? If not, you have not been born of water and the Spirit. Soon, Jesus will return, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (2 Thess. 1:8, 9)
The gate is still open. James J. Strang ordained L. D. Hickey one of the twelve Apostles, who ordained Samuel Martin a High Priest, who ordained Lloyd Flanders a High Priest, who ordained me an Elder.
You’re invited to walk on the path of light and know the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Discover the truth about the real Jesus and His sacrifice. Obey the gospel of Christ; and become a member of thekingdom of God. If you are able to understand this special invitation, you have been given the greatest opportunity ever given to man in the flesh—an opportunity to inherit the earth with the Father and the Son; and enter eternal life in the celestial glory. “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27) “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Rev. 21:7)
Here is a truly special invitation. The kingdom of heaven is at hand (within your reach). Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will be born of the Spirit, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enjoy all the blessings prepared for saints of God.
Apostle W. W. Phelps wrote Joseph Smith in January, 1843:
Go with me, will you go to the saints that have died,-
To the next, better world, where the righteous reside;
Where the angels and spirits in harmony be
In the joys of a vast paradise? Go with me.
Go with me where the truth and the virtues prevail;
Where the union is one, and the years never fail;
Not a heart can conceive, nor a nat’ral eye see
What the Lord has prepar’d for the just. Go with me.
Go with me where there is no destruction or war;
Neither tyrants, or sland’rers, or nations ajar;
Where the system is perfect, and happiness free,
the life is eternal with God. Go with me.
Go with me, will you go to the mansions above,
Where the bliss, and the knowledge, the light, and the love,
And the glory of God do eternally be?-
Death, the wages of sin, is not there. Go with me.
You are invited to go with us.
Samuel E. West
Elder in latter day Zion