I remember the day like it was 10 minutes ago. It was a hot, sunny day in August, right before the start of my senior year in high school. A mechanical roar echoed throughout the neighborhood.
Something was rolling up our driveway.
I turned the corner of the house and there it was, a 1968 Ford Mustang coup with my dad behind the wheel. The thing was covered in rust and multiple colors–a victim of abandonment and several botched paint jobs. My stepped out of the Mustang with a smile on his face.
“What do you think?” he said.
“It’s awesome! But also the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.”
He patted my shoulder, walked by, and said, “One man’s trash…”
My dad, like most dads, is sneaky. He told us he bought it to restore it and make a few bucks, but the man never touched the car. It sat in the driveway and quietly waited for some TLC. My dad waited too. One day, I went out the to that decrepid Mustang and started tinkering under the hood. It was the first move of a long relationship.
I played around with the Mustang more and more through the fall of that year until one day I asked my dad, “Hey, what do you think about me giving the Weather Map (that’s what we called it because it had so many colors) a paint job?”
My dad grinned and said, “If you can pull it off, the Mustang is yours.”
Long story short, I spent every spare moment working on the car. Turned out, the local community college was hosting a body work class in its garage. Me and my high school best friend were there every week pouring our sweat, blood, and treasure the Weather Map into a deep, shimmering blue.
When the Elders of my local Latter-day Saints branch (my Mentors) taught me about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, I immediately thought of the Weather Map. I know that sounds pretty irreverent, but hey, the analogy works to some degree.
Here’s the concept:
Heavenly Father pre-ordains and sends prophets to mankind who teach us the gospel and about God’s way. Every once in a while, the people reject the prophets and their teachings–often killing them–and subsequently fall into a state called “apostacy.” Due to apostacy, the people lose most if not all knowledge about the gospel. In addition, the “priesthood keys,” or the authority to act and teach in the name of God, is taken from man. Without these teachings and authority, man cannot stand rightly with God.
It’s like sailing without a spiritual compass.
This apostacy happens throughout history. In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites (descendents of the Jewish prophet who led his people to “the land of promise” from Cannan to the Americas) fell into apostacy and were thereafter overrun and destroyed by neighboring people (Lamanites). All of this occurred after the resurrected Jesus showed himself to them and handed them the priesthood keys.
The same happened after Jesus’ ministry in 1st century Palestine. Jesus established his church with apostles and prophets as the foundation and himself as the cornerstone (Ephesians 2: 20). He also ordained said apostles, chief among them Peter, to carry out his work and the will of God on earth (Mark 3: 14). In addition to the apostles, Jesus set up additional personnel to the body of the priesthood for leadership and guidance among the faithful.
But, just as before when mankind is given the priesthood keys, we often drive the vehicle of salvation like a teenage boy and wreck the whole thing. The apostles were killed, one by one, until the line of priesthood authority vanished from the earth. Paul of Tarsus, a recent convert, did well to spread the message of Christ, however he was not hold the priesthood authority or keys to act in God’s name and continue the line of apostles and prophets. Starting with the church in Rome, the church spent the next 1800 years in a constant state of flux and division.
We were in a new state of apostacy.
Enter Joseph Smith. As we learned in a previous post, Joseph Smith received a vision and instruction from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in 1820 to restore the church to its original and intended form. This included the priesthood authority, ordaining apostles and a living prophet. Thus, Joseph Smith received ordination into the lesser priesthood (Aaronic) by John the Baptist, and later to the higher priesthood (Melchizedek) by the original apostles, Peter, John, and James. Joseph Smith then spread the message of the restored gospel and with the newly appointed authority bestowed upon him, reestablished the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
God had returned the keys to our Weather Map gospel and asked us to use this new authority and blessing to maintain Christ’s church on this earth until the final return of Jesus Christ. With this new, shiny paint job, dual exhaust, and cherried out engine, we are called to teach the restored gospel to everyone. Heavenly Father is trusting us with the keys to his most precious vehicle once again.
Let’s not wreck our pimped out ride.
Question: if you are a Christian of another denomination, how do you feel about a church that claims to have the correct or restored gospel? I challenge you to read the scripture passages I reference above and see if the church Jesus set up during his time on earth resembles the one you attend.