My Reply to a Question on Salvation
and Accepting Modern Prophets
May 29, 1998
(Based on an email conversation)
"Can I just believe and accept Jesus Christ, but not accept the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and the LDS Prophets and still be saved and still inherit the kingdom of God?"
The gist of the question was this: Can I just believe and accept Jesus Christ, but not accept the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, LDS Prophets and the Temple and still be saved and still inherit the kingdom of God? This email is going to be long, because it covers a lot of subjects.
Let me first start of by giving you this scenario. Could a man live during the time of Moses, not accept Moses as a prophet, but still be received by God into his Kingdom? The answer is yes and no. Let me explain. Through the atonement, mercies, and grace of the Savior, all mankind will be resurrected. The apostle Paul teaches us that there will be different types of bodies in the Resurrection: "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another."(1 Corinthians 15:40)
He is explaining that depending on which Glory you receive, that will determine what body you get. If you receive the telestial kingdom, you will receive a telestial body. Or if you receive the Celestial Kingdom and exaltation you will receive a Celestial Body. John 5:28-29 further teaches that all will be resurrected.
"Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
Damnation is, of course, being cut off from the Presence of God and receiving the telestial kingdoms.
Now since the man rejected Moses, who is a prophet of God, he will still be saved into a Kingdom but he will not be received into the Celestial Kingdom, which is the Kingdom of God. Do you believe that a person can profess a belief in Jesus Christ, as the Savior, but only accept certain parts of the Bible and still be saved? Of course not. The Bible is the word of God, and if we reject God's word, we are rejecting God. Luke 10:16 reads, "He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."
Jesus is telling those that He just ordained to the Priesthood in the Council of Seventy that if the people reject them, they are both rejecting Him and God the Father. So in essence if we reject the words of men who have been ordained to the high offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood, we are rejecting God. The scriptures, and men ordained with proper priesthood authority (such as Apostles and prophets), show us and lead us the way to God and salvation. If we pick
and choose which prophets we will believe or which scriptures we will accept we are picking our own plan for salvation, instead of covenanting with
God and following the path He set forth before the foundations of the world.
Jacob 6:8-9 states: "Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets; and will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you? Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God?"
I like this quote from Orson Pratt, an Apostle back in the 1800's. He said "The same arguments might have been used in the days of the flood--'Enough has
been given; Enoch has been saved and translated, and if we follow the revelations given to him, why may we not be saved without having any thing new?'
But Noah would have answered, and very properly too, 'God designs to accomplish something now that he did not accomplish in the days of Enoch, nor in the days of Abel and Seth, nor in the days of any of those ancient worthies--he intends to bring destruction on all flesh that will not repent, by overwhelming this world of ours in a flood of water."(Journal of Discourses, Vol.15, p.100 - p.101, Orson Pratt, August 4, 1872)
I love this quote because it points out that it is just as important to listen to the teachings and counsels of the prophets in the current day as it was the previous prophets. The Pharisees rejected Christ claiming that all they needed was Abraham and Moses. I'm sure there were a lot of people in Biblical times who rejected the teachings of their living prophets and stuck to a previous prophet. God's word is God's word. If we reject it, we risk rejecting God. I'm sure you'll agree that we cannot just pick and choose which words of God we will believe. I know that there are some churches that reject the Old Testament and stick only with the New. In doing so they are cutting out a wealth of precious information, and limiting God's influence in their lives. I had a really good quote but I can't find it now about reading the scriptures. The basic idea of the quote was that many great men sacrificed their lives to make sure that sacred writings survived, and who are we to discard their sacrifices so lightly.
So the answer to your question is, if you reject the prophets and scriptures and priesthood ordinances then; yes, through the atoning blood of Christ you will be resurrected, but if you do reject his prophets, and don't receive all the ordinances of the priesthood, such as baptism, the gift of the holy ghost, and the priesthood blessings of the temple, you will not inherit His Kingdom, but will receive a lesser glory for your reward.
I mentioned in a previous email that the key is the authority of the priesthood. Let me elaborate on that now. The Priesthood is the Power and Authority of God. The Priesthood was the power used when God commanded the universe to organize and form and is the force holding the universe together. The priesthood and specific keys of the priesthood are given to mankind to enable us to pass through this life and receive all the ordinances necessary to return to the presence of the Father. We read in Hebrews 6:20 that while Christ was on Earth He held the office of High Priest in the Melchizedek, or higher priesthood, with all the keys and authority pertaining to that priesthood. All priesthood ordinances, including baptism, bestowing the holy ghost by laying on of hands must be performed by someone who has been ordained to the priesthood by someone holding proper priesthood authority. In the Articles of Faith when it talks about the laying on of hands, this is what it is referring too. Here is an example, am I able to walk into a courtroom and start passing judgments and sentences on the accused there? Of course not, because I don't have authority to do so. This is the same with the priesthood. If someone doesn't have the authority to perform an ordinance, that ordinance is void. A person can't ordain someone to the priesthood of God if they don't hold the priesthood themselves. It's common sense - someone can't give what they don't have. There are several key scriptural passages that refer to Priesthood authority and how is it given. Numbers 27:22-23 "And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses."
Moses is performing a priesthood ordination by the laying on of hands, passing on what he already possesses.
When Christ ordained the 12 Apostles and the Seventy, He gave them the authority to exercise the priesthood in His name. In the Book of Acts, there is the story of two men who try to cast out a devil, but since they didn't have the proper authority, they were possessed instead. In Acts 8:17 we read about the Apostles giving the gift of the holy ghost, which was done by the laying on of hands. Verse 17 reads: "Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
Until then those people hadn't received it. In Acts 19:3-6, Paul re-baptizes people because he questions the authority they were baptized under because
they hadn't received the Holy Ghost. He then confers the gift by the laying on of hands and they receive it. We know that baptism is essential for
salvation because among other verses 1 Peter 3: 21 teaches that "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us". So we must be baptized by someone having authority, like all priesthood ordinances.
In the 4 Gospels, Christ ordains the 12 apostles and gives them the keys to bind on earth and in Heaven. Meaning that whatever they do by authority of their priesthood and in the Name of Jesus Christ, it will be honored on earth and in heaven. Doctrine & Covenants 132:7-10 reads: "And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion. Will I accept of an offering, saith the Lord, that is not made in my name? Or will I receive at your hands that which I have not appointed?"
This Church is a Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. The same church He organized during his earthly ministry. It was organized and restored through a modern day Prophet, Joseph Smith. Christ restored the Priesthood authority that was lost to humanity through corruption in the church after the death of the Apostles. All priesthood holders in the church, including myself, can trace a straight line of priesthood authority back to Joseph Smith, who received the priesthood by the laying on of hands from Peter, James, and John, who received the Priesthood from the hands of the Savior, Himself.
This is what the restoration refers to. The restoring of the necessary authority and keys of the priesthood to bring about the salvation and eternal
life of mankind. You can learn more about the restoration at www.lds.org.
This email has gotten to be wayyyyy long. So I am going to leave you with this. I bear my solemn testimony to you, that all I have taught you is true. I affirm that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives, that He is the Savior of us all. Jerry, I know that you and I are children of the Living God! Sent here to prove ourselves in all things, so that we may receive all the blessings that our Father in Heaven has in store for us. I affirm that Joseph Smith was called by Him, to be a prophet, to bring forth the Book of Mormon and other scripture to help us along the straight and narrow path. I sustain Gordon Hinckley is a living prophet of God today, the only man who holds all the keys of the priesthood. The Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are the words of God, spoken to us through his holy prophets through the ages, from Adam till present day.
The magazine you have in your possession [Ensign May 95 conference report] holds the words of the living Apostles and Priesthood holders, sent to guide, teach, inspire, warn, and exhort us. I bear testimony to you that this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true and living church on the earth today. It is the only church which holds the priesthood authority and keys to salvation.
Jerry, I have had too many experiences, and my family history is too filled with stories for me to not believe this. I cannot deny the Christ nor his Church, and this is HIS church. He is at the helm. I have felt the influence of the adversary in my life from an early age trying to lead me astray and destroy me. But I have had several firm spiritual witnesses, that if I ever were to deny my faith, I would deserve to be cast into outer darkness. I know that the priesthood that I hold is the Melchizedek Priesthood of God. I know that if I honor and keep the covenants I have made with God, that I will enter back into His Presence. I know that through the Holy Spirit of Promise I will be with my family through time and all eternity. Jerry, I believe these things to be true, not because of physical evidence, but because the holy spirit of God has confirmed it's truth to me, and if I ever deny it, may God have mercy on my wretched soul.
I know words are only words. I sure that you have met just as many people that I have, who you quote and teach to, but they just don't care. The only time words matter is when they are backed up by the spirit. Please don't take my word alone for all this, pray! Read the words of the prophets. Read the Bible, and the Book of Mormon cover to cover. And after you read each night pray to our Father in Heaven, in the Name of Jesus Christ, and ask if what you read is His word. Through this method of study and prayer your knowledge will expand and your testimony in the living God will solidify. I have felt knowledge come to me. I have a firm testimony of personal revelation through the Holy Ghost. Doctrine & Covenants 10:5 reads:
"Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work."
These things are true, Jerry, and I seal my testimony to you by authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood that I hold, and in the Name of Jesus Christ, our savior, redeemer, and mediator, amen.