The Church of Jesus Christ in Former Times
By Margie Clark
Six Features of the Church of Jesus Christ
“We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth” (Articles of Faith 1:6).
Jesus established His Church when He was on the earth. It was called the Church of Jesus Christ (see 3 Nephi 27:8), and the members were called Saints (see Ephesians 2:19–20).
When Jesus established His Church, He personally instructed and directed its leaders. He, in turn, received His instructions from His Father in Heaven.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak
to the world those things which I have heard of him.28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye
know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I
speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always
those things that please him.
Authority from God
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you.The Church Organization
The Church of Jesus Christ was a carefully organized unit. It was compared to a building in Ephesians 2:20:
...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.First Principles and Ordinances
4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Ordinances Performed for the Dead
1 Corinthians 15:29:
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?Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual gifts always exist in the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Mark 16: 17-18:
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 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.
What does the term apostasy mean?
Throughout history, evil people have tried to destroy the work of God. This happened while the Apostles were still alive and supervising the young, growing Church. Some members taught ideas from their old pagan or Jewish beliefs instead of the simple truths taught by Jesus. Some rebelled openly. In addition, there was persecution from outside the Church. Church members were tortured and killed for their beliefs. One by one, the Apostles were killed or otherwise taken from the earth. Because of wickedness and apostasy, the apostolic authority and priesthood keys were also taken from the earth. The organization that Jesus Christ had established no longer existed, and confusion resulted. More and more error crept into Church doctrine, and soon the dissolution of the Church was complete. The period of time when the true Church no longer existed on earth is called the Great Apostasy.
A Restoration Foretold
The Apostle Peter spoke of this restoration to the Jews in Acts 3: 20-21:
He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.John the Revelator had also foreseen the time when the gospel would be restored. He said in Revelation 14:6:
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.