Who claims to be God’s prophets? Has God given them power? Have they come from the presence of God with a message? Have they been ordained priests after the holy order of the Son of God? JST, Hebrews 7:3 If so, by whom were they ordained? Alma 13:1 Have they received the sealing power from God, been given authority by Him to speak in His name, and publicly proclaim a binding message from heaven to His people? Helaman 10:6-11
Or do they teach the philosophies of men mingled with scripture Colossians 2:8
and change His ordinances? Isaiah 24:5 Do they modify the doctrine of Christ to conform to public opinion so they can fit in with the world? Do they pretend to know Christ, proclaim to speak for Him, and take his name in vain because, in reality, they don’t know Him at all? D&C 112:25-26 Do they really proclaim the mind and will of God? Or do they declare their own mind and broadcast the will of the world? Is there any difference between a son of God speaking with simplicity, precision, and power and an imposter with a continuous flow of useless drivel coming from the mouth?
Before proclaiming the things of God in His name, would it be wise to get His point of view, approval, and endorsement? Is it important for a prophet of God to obtain the keys whereby he may ask God, who is the source of all understanding, and receive clear answers? Joseph Smith acquired it D&C 132:45-50, and Hyrum obtained it too D&C 124:95. Joseph received from God the higher priesthood after the holy order of the Son of God, obtained the voice of Jehovah, and talked with Him. He could ask questions and get direct answers from God.
Joseph connected with heaven, communed with Deity, and was given authority by God to do His work. He spoke in the name of Christ with power and authority, and he knew it, nothing doubting. He presided over the true and living church, dispelled darkness, and pointed others to Christ. Joseph taught others how to rend the veil, be redeemed from the fall, and come unto Christ, who is the only One who has the power to save.
Here is the present claim of modern Mormonism regarding priesthood authority found on the Web:
“Prior to the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith received priesthood authority at the hands of John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John who received that same “power and authority” from Jesus Christ Himself (Luke 9:1). These men appeared as angels and bestowed the priesthood upon Joseph Smith. The prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, is the authorized successor to Joseph Smith. He and the Church’s other Apostles trace their priesthood authority back to Jesus Christ in an unbroken chain of ordinations.”
If I understand correctly, the current claim of the Church is that the greater priesthood was conferred in an unbroken chain from prophet to prophet as follows: Jesus Christ, (Peter, James, and John), Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley, and finally to Thomas S. Monson, the current and 16th President of the Church.
Joseph Smith obtained the fullness and possessed the greater priesthood. If it were possible for President Brigham Young to receive, by succession, the fullness of the priesthood, then this greater priesthood should have allowed him access to God D&C 84:19-22, but he admitted his access to God was denied. He even lamented sometimes throughout his life that he was unable to obtain audience with the Lord and know His will:
“I have flattered myself, if I am as faithful as I know how to be to my God, and my brethren, and to all my covenants, and faithful in the discharge of my duty, when I have lived to be as old as was Moses when the Lord appeared to him, that perhaps I then may hold communion with the Lord, as did Moses. I am not now in that position, though I know much more than I did twenty, ten, or five years ago. But have I yet lived to the state of perfection that I can commune in person with the Father and the Son at my will and pleasure? No—though I hold myself in readiness that he can wield me at his will and pleasure. If I am faithful until I am eighty years of age, perhaps the Lord will appear to me and personally dictate me in the management of his Church and people. A little over twenty years, and if I am faithful, perhaps I will obtain that favour with my Father and God.” JD 7:243
Brigham reaffirmed he never had any being, angelic or otherwise, from a higher sphere speak with him. “I think it likely that after a while I may be able to so humble myself and become like a little child, as to be taught more fully by the Heavens. Perhaps, when I am eighty years of age, I may be able to talk with some Being of a higher sphere than this. Moses saw the glory of God at that age, and held converse with better beings than he had formerly conversed with. I hope and trust that by the time I am that age I shall also be counted worthy to enjoy the same privilege.” JD 10:23 (As a side note: Brigham Young died at the age of 76. Born June 1, 1801. Died August 29, 1877)
The greatest purpose of the fullness of the priesthood is to have the ability to ask a question and receive an answer from God. From the statements of Brigham Young, we learn that He was never able to commune with heaven or see God. At times, he would ask God a question, but he was unable to receive revelation and could not get an answer.
As recorded, Brigham explained what he did when he was left without revelation and lacked a clear answer from God: “If I do not know the will of my Father, and what He requires of me in a certain transaction, if I ask Him to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in life, or in regard to my own course, or that of my friends, my family, my children, or those that I preside over, and get no answer from Him, and then do my very best that my judgment will teach me, He is bound to own and honor that transaction, and He will do so to all intents and purposes.” JD3:205
When his access to God was not allowed, he was left without heaven’s direct answer. He did not know the will of the Father, therefore, Brigham used his own judgment and moved ahead. He figured if God did not give an answer of approval or disapproval, then his own way would suffice and must surely be the will of the Lord. He even claimed God was then “bound to own and honor” his (Brigham’s) best judgment and will.
Since the leadership of Brigham Young, most church leaders have used this same method of administration and often have called it inspiration. It has evolved into a style of one’s own and continues to circulate today.
I have personally been caught in this particular false tradition of men. I remember when I was called as the president of a church auxiliary; I had no idea who to choose for my counselors. My mind was blank. I walked through the neighborhood asking for divine guidance. When no recognized answer came, I just chose two counselors. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but did the best I could. This idea causes individuals to be less reliant and dependent on Christ, which leads to confusion, uncertainty, and disappointment. Well meaning people many times feel pressured to act like they have an answer from God, when God has not spoken.
By trusting in and declaring one’s own agenda, thoughts, ideas, attitudes, values, beliefs, and traditions, while claiming them to be of God, a man takes the name of the Lord in vain and leads himself and others astray. Without being led or supported by God, people tend to be disoriented, disconnected, and lost. They are inclined to seek approval from the world, be persuaded by peers, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness.” Ephesians 4:14
Nephi saw our day, warned of false prophets who pervert the right way of the Lord, and gave them three wo’s. “O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!” 2 Nephi 28:15
After all, the Lord did say, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 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.”Matthew 7:21-23
What is the difference between false prophets who pervert the right way of the Lord and His true messengers authorized by Him? How do we distinguish and tell the difference between the two? Why did Jeremiah rebuke latter day prophets?
Are disciples of Christ humble men of sound understanding who are waxing strong in the knowledge of the truth? Does it have something to do with searching the scriptures diligently that they might know the word of God? How about afflictions and suffering much, both in body and in mind, such as hunger, thirst and fatigue? What about performing much labor in the spirit? Is giving themselves to much prayer and fasting, having the spirit of prophecy, and possessing the spirit of revelation characteristics of a true and living prophet, who communes with Jehovah? By the power of their words, are there people brought before the altar of God to call on his name and confess their sins before him? When they teach, do they teach with authority of God or do the spoken words fall to the ground without power or effect? Alma 17:2-5
Do true messengers point others to Christ, the Redeemer? Or do they seek to draw attention to themselves and receive the honors of men? Do they clearly set Christ up as the light of the world and the only possible source of salvation for mankind? Do they teach and practice the doctrine of Christ and seek the welfare of Zion? Or do they engage in priestcrafts, preach the precepts of men, and “set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion?” 2 Nephi 26:29
Why does doctrine seem to change so often, today? Why do teachings of churches ebb and flow? Why does the variance of doctrines depend heavily upon public opinion, traditions, popularity, who you listen to, and when you happen to hear it? What source can be relied upon to declare true, constant, unpolluted, and sure doctrine of salvation that actually works? Institutions? Organizations? Clubs or associations? Men? Women? Churches? All churches? Any church? Church leaders? Some leaders? Others? Are all “modern day prophets” a reliable source of truth? If so, why do they teach doctrines that contradict each other? What gives? If not, which prophets can you count on? Any? How can you be sure? True Messengers? Angels? God?
Who teaches and shows us the way to live the doctrine of Christ and personally demonstrates the blessings that flow there from? Who is the perfect prototype of salvation? Who is the only One who has the power to save another? D&C 76:41-44 Why is there a famine in the land of hearing the words of the Lord? Amos 8:11 Why do many wander from sea to sea, from the north even to the east, run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and not find it? Amos 8:12
Is it really necessary to connect with heaven to be able to receive unwavering, steadfast, and correct doctrine with surety? Is every individual required to know God and commune with the heavens to know His doctrine, receive the fullness of His gospel, and to obtain authority to declare the mind and will of God to His people?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know the truth, the whole truth, and the Lord, God, Omnipotent? Wouldn’t it be useful to have the ability to discern between truth and error, differentiate doctrines, and know the source from whence they come?
Elder Christofferson quoted J. Reuben Clark Jr., and I think he is right: “… The Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’; and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest.” (J. Reuben Clark Jr., “Church Leaders’ Words,” 10)
Who is declaring the word of the Lord? “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” D&C 1:38