The LDS Church claims that one of the things “restored” by Joseph Smith was the way in which the church was originally organized.
“You will find in His church the same officers ministering among men: namely, prophets, apostles, bishops, seventies, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. The Church will be directed on earth by a prophet of God.” (Delbert L. Stapley, General Conference, 1977)
One of the passages of scripture most often quoted to support this organization of the church is found in Ephesians.
Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Another is found in 1 Corinthians:
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
The first thing that stands out to me is the fact that the apostles come first, not the prophets (which are plural, not singular). Another thing I find noteworthy is that here, as elsewhere, the “church” is equated with “the body of Christ.” (v27)
So while the LDS Church treats “the church” as an individual, easily identifiable “organization”, to which believers should be joined, that is not how the scriptures treat the subject. In the scriptures “the church” is “the body of Christ”. This means that “the body of Christ” is “the church”. And it is within this body that God has set “first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers” for “the edifying of the body”, as we see in Ephesians. And, clearly, not all are apostles or prophets or teachers of workers of miracles. (v29) Notice also, that Paul does not say that there already exists “a unity of the faith”, but that these are given “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
Let us look at what Jesus said of the prophets, as it relates to those whom God sent to be mediators between man and God until the time of reformation spoken of in Heb 9:10..
Mat 11:11-15 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Here, Jesus says “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” Recorded, again, by Luke.
Luk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
The law and the prophets were until John and since that time the kingdom of God is preached. Preached by whom? Wasn’t the gospel given to the Apostles to preach, that they might make disciples of all men?
And didn’t Jesus say that the blood of the prophets would be required of that generation?
Luk 11:46-52 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
Notice that when Peter speaks of the prophets he is referring to those who came before.
2Pe 3:1-2 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
It is to “the law and the prophets” that Jesus appealed when he preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. So did Paul. This is consistent throughout the New Testament. The Apostles consistently referred to that which was written, which carries the words of the Prophets who prophesies of Jesus Christ!
We even see the same in the OT with Jeremiah and Hananiah, both called prophets, both of whom spoke before the people. But Jeremiah, referring to the prophets that came before him to establish the validity of his words, proved Hananiah to be a false prophet, whose end was destruction or death.
So while it is true that God gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some pastors and teachers, the only Prophet leading the church today is Jesus Christ (Col 1:18), who is “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.” (Heb 3:11)
When it comes to prophets and apostles today, Paul said: “Ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” (1Co 14:31) We are to let two or three speak and let the others judge. (1 Co 14:29)
And how are we to judge that which others speak?
2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
We are to do just as the Bereans did!! We are to “search the scriptures” to see whether or not what they say is true.
Act 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
We are to study to show ourselves approved of God, workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth!
2Ti 2:14-19 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
The foundation has already been laid and there is NO OTHER FOUNDATION upon which man can build!!
1Co 3:9-11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul did not come preaching some new revelation (nor did any of the other Apostles of Jesus Christ). They were not coming with some new word, but were sent to unveil that which had already been revealed through the prophets who came BEFORE them.
Just as Jesus opened up the scriptures to those two men walking on the road after His resurrection, so did Peter and Paul (and all of the apostles of Christ) open up the scriptures and reveal “the mysteries of God.”
Many of the things “restored” by Joseph Smith are things that have long since been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. And many of the things “revealed” by Joseph Smith are things for which there is no prior witness in the law and the prophets. Therefore, Joseph Smith is proven to be a false prophet.
Let us not forget that every word of God is pure!! And if we add to His words He shall reprove us and we shall be found “a liar”
Pro 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
The LORD says for those who have His word to speak His word faithfully!
Jer 23:28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
Jesus said that those who do not love him will not keep his sayings (which words are not His, but the Father’s). And just as we are told to prove all things, we are told how He proves us!!
Duet 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
And He is, here, speaking even of those who come with signs and wonders!!
Recall that Paul speaks of “him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” We are not to go after them!!
Speaking one’s own words and attaching “the Lord saith” to them is rebellion, which is “as the sin of divination” (or witchcraft), as we see in 1 Sam 15:23. Paul even speaks of those who have been “bewtiched” by those who lead them away from the truth and back under the law.
When it comes to those who preach the gospel, we are to PROVE THEM for God uses them TO PROVE US, to KNOW whether or not we love the LORD our God will all our heart and with all our soul!!
Let us not be deceived!! And let us not go to a prophet asking for confirmation of that which we have already set in our own hearts as an idol. For the scriptures say that God will answer us according to the idols of our own heart, even by sending us strong delusion that we might believe a lie, if we believed not the truth and take pleasure in unrighteousness.
If we reject the word of the LORD, he will reject us and we will be turned over to satan.
So, let us not put our trust in men or the words of men.
If we are to be justified in OUR SAYINGS the words that we speak must be HIS WORDS (Rom 3:4) because it is “by our words” that we will either be justified or condemned (Mat 12:37). Let us be justified! Let us stick to His words, for “the words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psa 12:6)
There is no need to add to His words, which is something the apostles and prophets of the LDS Church have done repeatedly and unapologetically.
This is another reason I believe Mormon Doctrine fails.