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The title of this post is from a comment made by one of the missionaries that stopped by the other day. We were discussing the church that Christ established among the Nephites. The elder was adamant that the twelve disciples selected by Christ to lead His church were not apostles and, therefore, were not as ‘important’ in terms of hierarchy and mission. I would grant that these twelve men would not be ‘judging the house of Israel’ as was assigned to the original twelve apostles at the time of Christ, but it has occupied my mind considerably these last few days just what basis should be used to assess their contribution to the kingdom of God. And by extension, what we should expect from the men who are called to lead the church of Christ today.

By my estimation, the best measure is the fruits as we read in Matthew 7:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

It would seem to me that an examination of the fruits would be appropriate in understanding the differences between the ‘disciples’ of the Nephite church and the ‘apostles’ of today’s restored church.

First, let’s look at the twelve selected to lead the Nephite church. We only know a small amount about these men. We know their names and we know how long they lived (including the three Nephites). The scriptures do tell us that these men were able to establish a Zion community as we read in 3 Nephi 26:

17 And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.

19 And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.

20 And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.

21 And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ.

These men were able to extend the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost to all the members. They were able to teach marvelous things. Perhaps most important in my mind is that the community they led was able to employ the law of consecration – they had all things common among them. This is similar to the experience of the apostles at the time of Christ. They, too, were able to see the baptism of fire among the members and they too were able to establish a community based of the law of consecration.

How close to living the law of consecration are we today? What are the leaders of the restored church doing to bring the people to this state? Should we be satisfied with the terrestrial law of tithing as a marker of the condition of the church?

Another equally important product that the disciples were able to provide is found in fourth Nephi:

5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

These men were able to work miracles among the people. The scriptures repeatedly tell us that the presence of these miracles is a marker, not of just the men who perform them but of that veracity of the church of Christ. These works, as demonstrated by the Nephite disciples, are defined as the works of God and are required of His church, as found in 3 Nephi 27:

10 And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.

11 But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.

12 For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore remember the things that I have told you.

The works of the Father are indeed the miracles as brought by the disciples. These men were able to demonstrate the works of the Father among the people to which they ministered.

So what of the apostles of today’s LDS Church? What are their fruits? Why are such miracles as described at the hands of the Nephite disciples not prevalent among the apostles of today? When was the last documented miracle by an apostle in the restored church? Why are they not blessing the church on a daily basis through these types of miracles?

What are the works of the leadership of the church? Should the building of 140 temples be counted as the works of the leadership of the church? Or the thousands of meeting houses and stake centers? Should we consider the ‘requirement’ by every apostle to publish their own words? What are the works of the corporate church? Is the billion dollar reconstruction of the area around the temple considered to be one of the major works of the men who lead the church today? These, unfortunately, are the works of men and they will only ‘have joy in their works for a season’ before they are hewn down.

In a talk given in Calgary, Alberta through the Church Educational System on May 7, 2000, Elder Dallin H. Oaks expanded the definition of miracle with these words recorded in the Church News of May 13, 2000:

Other far-reaching miracles occur as a result of obedience to the commandments of God. For example, he added, “there is something miraculous about the way the members of our Church pay their tithing so faithfully and are so blessed for doing so.”

Other large-scale miracles are occurring in the Church’s family history work, he said. “The effect of our Family Search Internet Genealogy Service in the year it has been available is truly miraculous. After one year our Internet site averages 8 million hits per day, representing daily visits by about 130,000 persons. In this same one-year period, the site registered users from 117 countries who downloaded over 410,000 copies of our Personal Ancestral File. This was an 8-fold increase in usage over the prior technology.”

Should the definition of miracles be changed to include the ‘works of man?’ Is it acceptable to the Lord that the works of God – raising the dead, healing the sick, the blind receiving sight, and the deaf receiving ability to hear – be supplemented with the works of man – the payment of tithing and the development of a popular website? As I have said before, should the condition of the church be measured on the terrestrial law of tithing, or the number of temples, or any other man-made activity? God had made it very clear that a church build upon the works of man will fail.

In summary, the lowly Nephite disciples who were called to lead the church of Christ were commanded to be ministers and servants to the people, they baptized them with water and with fire and the Holy Ghost. They were able to establish a Zion community, based on all things being common, that lasted three generations. They blessed the members of the church with mighty miracles – raising the dead, healing the sick. If I were to choose which made an adequate contribution to the kingdom of God, I would choose these disciples. They are an example of what our apostles should be today.

38 For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion.

39 And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known. (D&C 64)

What think ye?

5 Responses to “But they were not apostles…”

  • They were undoubetdly apostles. How about if the good missionary actually looked up the definition of an apostle.

    Its kind of like saying there is only ever one prophet allowed on the earth at one time, some have more authority and keys than others but we know there are multiple prophets in scriptures at the same time so whats the problem with apostles in the old world and new world at the same time? Someone had to be be in charge during the 200 years of peace whether they were all living a full law of consecration/united order in perfect harmony or not.

    The very notion that what the new world “Disciples” did was not as important as the old world “Apostles” is horribly laughable. Relating to what you have mentioned which group baptized more people? Which group had a fullness of ordinances performed for generations? This matter of not being more important or less important is crazy to me. Is the sacrament passed to you from an aaronic priesthood member of less worth than what the stake president does-I say no.

    sorry for rambling

  • David,
    I agree with you that the disciples of Christ among the Nephites were equivalent to the apostles. They led the church through many years of peace and spiritual bounty. The problem comes in that we, the common members, may expect our apostles to be held by the same guidance as Christ gave to the disciples.

    Should they be a template for the modern apostles? Yes, some things change with time but I believe that there are certain aspects of the roles and responsibilities of those to lead His church that would remain constant. The disciples were called to be ministers and servants. They were to only preach what Christ had taught them. Why would our modern apostles need to have books authored in their name? Why do they attempt to fill the bookshelves of the members with their own words? It is very frustrating to me to see how far we have moved away from the core gospel and principles of His church as defined in the scriptures…

    and I am rambling too…

    Spek

  • Jack:

    Spektator,

    Let’s not forget that there came a time when the disciples could no longer do miracles among the Nephites. That society had degenerated to the point that God had no alternative but to take them (the disciples) out of their midst. Now was this because the Nephite general authorities were off base? I don’t think so. Nor do I think this is the case with modern general authorities. And I would add that another reason why perhaps miracles are not as visible today is because of the church’s visibility in the world. Miracles happen but they usually occur where they are not accessible to unbelievers. Otherwise they would be unduly condemned by witnessing that which they are not prepared to receive.

  • Jack,
    In answer to your question: was this because the Nephite general authorities were off base?

    In 4 Nephi, verse 27, we read that they ‘did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom its had been forbidden because of unworthiness.’ Who was responsible for administering the sacred items of the church? That sounds to me like the leadership had also fallen. In verse 34, we read that the people were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches. The pride that enveloped the community was not restricted to the people. It apparently affected the leadership also.
    As far as miracles being done in secret, here is how Peter conducted a miracle in Acts, chapter 2:

    “6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
    7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
    8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
    9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God:

    I would suggest that the miracles done by the twelve disciples were also done that all could see. Was this miracle done in private? No, all the people saw it.

    In Moroni 9 we read:

    “18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
    19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
    20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.”

    First, note that the miracles were performed by the apostles. I have to assume that the children of men includes both the leadership and the general members. No matter how small the body of believers, the apostles would be able to perform miracles. When the miracles cease, I would submit that both the apostles and the members have lost it.

  • Rob:

    I agree 100% with the scriptures you used to compare the stark contrast of what it means to be lead & empowered by the Spirit of God as opposed to the Spirit of Man.

    We live in a Horrible time of wickedness when these powerful manifestaitions of God’s Presence would come as a very reassuring jesture to comfort our daily concerns with a world gone mad and our having to live in it.

    I would feel much better to feel God’s Direct Presence among us. And why would anything BUT that, be desired by God as well ?

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