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Today in church our bishop and some of his family members shared experiences they had while visiting Uganda, Africa. It impressed me how he shared his testimony of how the love of God is shown in all people throughout the world and how he was so grateful for his relationship with God and Jesus Christ.
His experiences and testimony reminded me of a scripture in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 26:33, which reads:
…for he (the Lord) doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he ainviteth them ball to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he ddenieth none that come unto him, black and white, ebond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the fheathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
This scripture reminded me of another statement made by the Baptist Preacher who believes in the Book of Mormon, John Ridenour. In this statement, he submits that God is non-denomonational and that God doesn’t really care about doctrine as much as he cares about how we treat each other. A part of his statement is included below:
How does God think?
When He looks down over my city, Kansas City, Missouri, He doesn’t see Baptist churches or Lutheran churches or Catholic churches or Pentecostal churches or Mormon churches. He sees His children. That’s it. God is not “denominational.” We have over 100 denominations in our city but I submit-the Lord recognizes none of them. That is, His Church is built upon the rock of revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 13). I submit-when the Lord looks down upon any city, He sees His Church-and all who have had a personal revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, are members of His Church. I’m saying–I want to view His church as the Lord sees His church–based upon a revelation of His Lordship, not doctrinal agreement. Why wait ‘till we all get to heaven to think like God thinks?
I’m also saying-too often we’re divided by doctrine. That ought not be. He who has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior is my brother in the faith. Fellowship is centered around His Lordship, not doctrine. Again–all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives, regardless of creed, color, or class, are my brothers and sisters. I like the way C.S. Lewis said it in his classic book “Mere Christianity.” Lewis says, “…it’s not that we Christians disagree; it’s that we disagree on the importance of our disagreements…” How true! Example…
For some of the brethren, it’s very important that we believe in baptismal regeneration before we will fellowship; for others it’s very important that we believe in irresistible grace (the Calvinist point of view of Salvation) before we can fellowship; with others, the will of man (Armenian point of view) plays a crucial role in one’s salvation. With some of us, we embrace the “second blessing” typically known as “the deeper life experience.” Methodists call it sanctification. Others of us do not believe in the second blessing experience. Some of us believe in the “baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit” with the evidence of glossalalia; others of us don’t. Some of us are pre-millennial regarding our views on the Second Coming; some of us are post-millennial; a few of us are amillennial. A few of us think esoteric temple rites have a role to play in the afterlife.
See what I mean? Fellowship too often is based upon doctrine.
We as mortals will never come close to seeing things the way that God does, but I think that the Book of Mormon scripture along with this statement by John Ridenour are very positive steps in starting to see things the way God does. One of the beauties and magnificence of God is that he sees all people the same whether they believe or not. He loves unconditionally in a way that we will never comprehend and His arms are always stretched out ready to receive us. I believe that God blesses all people, and those who take steps of faith towards Him come to know and love Him. As a result, we come to love and appreciate all people and see them as God sees them.
Now, I’m sure most people will agree that God loves everyone and is not partial towards one group of people, as the Bible teaches, but it leaves the questions: which doctrines and religions are recognized by God? Which ones are not? Does it even matter?
All I can speak from is personal experience, and I firmly believe the path I’m on is the correct path. I believe that God appeared to Joseph Smith and re-established the Church of Jesus Christ. I believe this as a result of personal study and sincere prayer and many experiences. However, I do not believe that the LDS church has a monopoly on truth and there are many things which haven’t been revealed to us as to how heaven works.
I know many people in other faiths who say they’ve had just as personal of experiences and a witness from God that their path is the correct path. I don’t doubt that God has just as close of a relationship with them as He does with me. But if we believe there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism, etc. how can we say that God is not denominational?
For those of you who are interested in statistics, I thought this was intersting. It’s found on the LDS Newsroom website. I shows stats on how many members the church has, how many missionaries, how many members in each country, how many countries we’re doing humanitarian aid for, etc. Here’s the site:
I recently read a blog today from a person I don’t know, but that I can tell is an earnest seeker of truth.
His post was entitled “Restructuring the Church for Explosive Growth.” In his post he poses the question “What if we were to build a system from scratch that was simply designed to make disciples, create community and fully release each other’s gifts? What would the church look like? The church would look strangely similar to the first church.”
In his blog, he also suggests that a true church of Christ needs three things to work, namely:
Structure One – Body Church. This is a group of people (15-25) who live life together (like a body), regular share meals (like a family) and consistently gather in homes to build each other up under the direct headship of Christ.
Structure Two – Discipleship Training Center (the city church) – This is the School of Tyrannus idea where the teachers and trainers of a cluster of body churches (3-5) hold constant trainings designed to “make disciples” “teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded” and would be overseen by a group of city-wide elders.
Structure Three – The Apostolic Team – This is a diverse team of people with apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching gifts that take responsibility for the health and well-being of many different city and body churches while using most of their resources to expand into new areas without ever neglecting the needs of existing works.
I agree with his analysis and suggestions of the three ways to have a church more closely aligned with Christ’s original church. The good news is that this church already exists. A short analysis of the three points and how they relate to this church are included below:
All members of this church are assigned other members to visit and care for in each others’ homes as well as instruct each other through the scriptures as led by the Holy Spirit. In addition, every member is required to pay a tithe and fast offering which goes towards the needy in the congregation similar to the original Church of Christ.
“Discipleship Training Center”
He proposes that a group of Elders from various congregations within the same city come together to teach and train each other under the direction of Jesus Christ. Again, this organization is found in a church in existance today. The congregations are called ”wards” and a group of wards within a city are called a Stake. Elders from the stakes and wards meet regularly and train each other as directed by the Holy Ghost. Weekly the elders in a ward meet as a quorum and quarterly they meet together as a stake to be instructed and led.
In this church there is a prophet and twelve apostles that lead and direct the church as a whole. The whole church has over a thousand stakes and each stake has an evangelist, or patriarch that gives patriarchal blessings…prophetic blessings in a sense, to the members of the stake. In addition, the apostles and the quorom of the seventy in this church share the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
I appreciate the insights made on this blog as to what the true, original church of Jesus Christ should look like. In addition to what has been stated, I will add a few more scriptures and insights from the Bible as to what the true Church of Jesus Christ should look like.
According to the Bible, the original church was organized with Jesus Christ as the head, twelve apostles, and a quoroum of the seventy. After Jesus died, Peter became the authorized leader of the church under the direction of Jesus. The apostles ordained Elders, Pastors, Prophets, Teachers, and Evangelists (see Ephesians 4:11) in the original Church of Jesus Christ.
In addition, the members of the church lived the law of consecration and had “all things in common,” and “sold their possesions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”(Acts 2:45)
The original Church of Jesus Christ aslo had the following characteristics: the members were called saints (Ephesians 4:11-14); saints received church callings by the laying on of hands (Acts 13:1-3); people healed by the laying on of hands and anointing with oil (Mark 6:13) (James 5:14); temple worship (Acts 2:46); the saints saw visions of angels on numerous occasions (Acts 12:7-9; 27:23-24) and Stephen even saw a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ (Acts 7:55); baptism was essential for salvation and one was baptized before receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37-39); the structure of the church had one chief apostle or prophet, which was Peter and then twelve apostles were essential (Acts 1: 15-26). For more information on what was found in the original church, see “17 Points of the true Church.”
The good news is that the original Church of Jesus Christ has been restored again. I invite this person to view the restored Church of Jesus Christ’s websites and to pray for guideance from the Holy Spirit as to whether this church is the true church. I promise that if his approach is sincere with a desire to follow the Savior, he will know through the Holy Ghost that this church is indeed the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
From personal experience as a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, I can testify to my fellow friend of another faith that this is indeed the restored original church of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen many miracles and felt overwhelming feelings of joy and love while serving others in this church. This church is what he is looking for if he’s seeking an organization that is the same that existed in the original church. If he approaches the investigation with faith and nothing wavering he will receive a confirmation that this is the true church.