Elder Tad Callister lays out the most powerful, logical, sensible comparison of Christ's original church and the LDS faith I have ever heard. Studying this talk has strengthened my testimony, both through clear logic of the correlations and the Spirit I feel as I read it. The talk is called:
"What Is the Blueprint of Christ's Church?" (CES Devotional, January 12, 2014)
Click here to watch or read the whole talk. See below for a printable handout of his points.
Here are my favorite take-aways.
I love this. Elder Callister gave an analogy of his house blueprint which he and his wife created that was unique to their home, complete with change orders authorized by them, the home owners. If you tried to match that blueprint to any house on the planet, you would find similarities, but only one house would match it exactly - their house.
Likewise, Christ created a home for his children - His Church. The blueprint for Christ's Church is in the New Testament, complete with change orders of revelation authorized by God, the Church owner, like when God told Peter it was now time to preach to the Gentiles and not just the Jews. If you try to match that blueprint to any church on the planet, you would find similarities, but only one church would match it - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Callister uses five "pages of blueprints" to compare Christ's original church with churches of today.
1. Organization of Christ's Church
- Christ's original Church was founded on apostles and prophets. (Ephesians 2:20, Acts 1:22-25, Ephesians 4:13-14)
- The Savior chose other men called Seventy to help preach the gospel. (Luke 10)
- There were other offices in Christ's Church like bishops (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1:7), elders (Acts 12:23, Titus 1:5), deacons (Philippians 1:1), evangelists (Ephesians 4:11) meaning patriarchs, pastors (Ephesians 4:11) meaning such men as bishops and stake presidents who preside over flocks of Christ's sheep. (See also Articles of Faith 1:6)
- Christ's Apostles and other officers were chosen from the rank and file - a lay ministry (fishermen, tax collectors, tent makers), not from the highest graduates of theological schools.
- Christ's Apostles and other officers didn't apply for church leadership - they were called by Christ. (John 15:16)
- Christ gave these men priesthood power to act in His name and do His work. (Matt 10:1, Luke 9:1, Mark 13:34)
- The name of Christ's Church would logically be His name, since we pray in His name, are saved in His name, take His name upon us, and He is the chief cornerstone of the Church. Paul clarified this. (1 Corinthians 1:12-13, 3 Nephi 27:8)
2. Teachings of Christ's Church
- Christ has a body of flesh and bones, and is not just a spirit. (Luke 24:39-43)
- God the Father and Jesus Christ are one in purpose and will but are two separate Beings. (Luke 22:42, Mark 15:34, Acts 7:55-56)
- People without a fair chance to accept the gospel in this life are not damned; they get a chance to accept it in the next life. (1 Peter 4:6)
- There are three heavens, not just one. (1 Corinthians 15:41, 2 Corinthians 12:2)
- God's plan is for marriage to continue for eternity, not to end at death. (Matthew 18:18, 1 Corinthians 11:11, 1 Peter 3:7)
3. Ordinances in Christ's Church
- Christ blessed infants and little children, and did not baptized them. (Mark 10:16, Matthew 19:15)
- Baptism is essential for salvation (John 3:5, Acts 2:38)
- Baptism was done by immersion, not sprinkling or pouring water. (Matt 3:16, John 3:23, Romans 6:3-5)
- Baptism for the dead was an ordinance in Christ's original Church. (1 Corinthians 15:29, Acts 10:34, 1 Timothy 2:4, John 3:5)'
- The gift of the Holy Ghost is given after someone is baptized by laying hands on them. (Acts 8:17, Acts 19:5-6)
4. Fruits of Christ's Church - "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20)
- Healthy people. Our bodies are to be treated as temples for the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:19) and the early church members had certain health laws about things like drinking wine (Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3). Latter-day Saints are among the healthiest people on the planet.
- Miracles and gifts of the Spirit. (Hebrews 2:4)
- Angels. An angel announced Christ's birth to Mary and the shepherds; angels visited Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration; an angel freed Peter and John from prison; an angel warned Paul of a coming shipwreck; an angel visited John the Revelator.
- Visions. Stephen's vision of the Father and the Son, John the Revelator's vision of the last days before the Second Coming.
- Christ created a missionary church. The apostles were commanded to "teach to all nations." (Matthew 28:19) Today our church has over 80,000 missionaries fulfilling this command.
- A moral church. Christ's early church members were told to dress modestly and keep the law of chastity.
- A family-centered church. (Ephesians 5:23-25, Ephesians 6:1, 1 Timothy 3:4-5)
- Without divine revelation, or communication from God any church is a man-driven organization governed by reason and not God's will. (Amos 3:7, 2 Corinthians 12:1, Acts 1:2)
- Revelation is how God makes "change orders" in His Church from time to time. Some New Testament examples of this:
- When God told Peter it was time to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and not just the Jews.
- When Christ told the Jews to stop doing sacrifices by the shedding of blood.
- When Christ changed from the law of Moses to His higher law. (See Matthew 5)
Elder Callister said, "If one were to match the blueprint of Christ's original Church against every church in the world today, he would find that point for point, organization for organization, teaching for teaching, ordinance for ordinance, fruit for fruit, and revelation for revelation, it will only match one -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Four of my favorite quotes from the talk
"...Some questions are simply more important than others in discovering the truth. If you come to know that Joseph Smith restored the biblical teachings and ordinances discussed tonight, if you come to know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the same fruits as Christ’s original Church, or if you come to know that the Book of Mormon is of divine origin, then you know that Joseph Smith is a prophet. And if Joseph Smith is a prophet, then this is the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth. At that point, all other questions pale in comparison. It is like the Supreme Court ruling on an issue. All decisions of lower courts to the contrary become immaterial. Likewise, all questions of the critics, however probing or puzzling or entertaining they may be, become immaterial in the equation of truth. Why? Because you have already answered the key questions—the critical questions, the transcending questions—that are the foundational pillars for knowing the truth.
"Suffice it to say, I can live with some human imperfections, even among prophets of God—that is to be expected in mortal beings. I can live with some alleged scientific findings contrary to the Book of Mormon; time will correct those. And I can live with some seeming historical anomalies; they are minor in the total landscape of truth. But I cannot live without the doctrinal truths and ordinances restored by Joseph Smith, I cannot live without the priesthood of God to bless my family, and I cannot live without knowing my wife and children are sealed to me for eternity.
"That is the choice we face—a few unanswered questions on one hand versus a host of doctrinal certainties and the power of God on the other. And for me, and I hope for you, the choice is an easy one and a rational one.
"I bear witness that [this] Church ... bears Christ’s name because it does have His approved organization, His teachings, His ordinances, His powers, His fruits, and His constant revelation, all of which are referred to in His divine blueprint. May we have the spiritual eyes to see the corollary between that blueprint and Christ’s restored Church today, for it is one of God’s compelling witnesses to us" (Elder Tad R. Callister, "What Is the Blueprint of Christ's Church?" CES Devotional for Young Adults, January 12, 2014, emphasis added).
FHE idea for older kids or teens
You could brainstorm a list together of similarities of Christ's original Church, and then give each family member a copy of the talk, assigning each family member a "blueprint page" or two to read. This would work individually or in pairs. Have each person look up and mark several scriptures. Then everyone share what they learned, adding more to the brainstorm list. It really builds your testimony to see how long the list of comparisons is! Update: We did this for FHE last night, but we forgot to close with our testimonies of what we just discussed. That's the most important part because the Spirit bears witness of what you learned. Learn from our mistake, and end your lesson by testifying to your family that you know is true!
Click here for a printable summary that's the right size to glue into your scriptures, perhaps at the front of your New Testament.
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