Pages 3 & 4 of 7- Christ's Church 'blueprint'
Acts 1:9),3 where He sits on the right hand of God the Father and is, as the scriptures declare, in “the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3). This is the exact truth taught by Jesus’ modern prophet as part of the Restoration of Christ’s Church: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also” (D&C 130:22).
Are God and Jesus the same Being, as taught by much of the Christian world, or two separate Beings? What does the blueprint say? The number of references in the Bible to the separate identity and separate roles of the Father and Son is staggering. In the Garden of Gethsemane, recognizing the excruciating pain that was yet to be His, the Savior declared, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). This is the grandest act of submission the world has ever known. But what submission would there have been if there was no other Being to whom He could submit—if He and the Father were one and the same Being? Why does the Savior pray to the Father or cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). How could He be forsaken if there was no separate Being to forsake Him? How did Stephen see Jesus standing on the right hand of God if They are not two persons (see Acts 7:55–56)? See also, John 20:17 – when Jesus tells Mary at the tomb “… go to my brethren and say to them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father; and unto My God and your God.”
When Joseph Smith emerged from the grove of trees, he had learned for himself the truth. He had seen God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, standing side by side; he had heard the Father refer to the other as His “Beloved Son” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17). On that glorious day the heavens shattered the man-made myths of the past about the nature of God and revealed and confirmed the simple truth as originally taught in the blueprint: that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have a oneness of goals and will, but a separateness of identity.
What does the blueprint say about those who never had a fair chance to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ while on the earth? Are they damned? Are we without revealed knowledge as to their spiritual condition? No church at the beginning of the 19th century had a solution to this problem. This is a monumental question affecting billions of lives. Certainly God has spoken on this point. And in truth, He has. The blueprint contains the answer. Peter wrote, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6). This doctrine was lost in the Apostasy following the death of Christ’s Apostles, but it was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Are there three heavens or one heaven? For years the Christian world has taught there is one heaven and one hell, but what does the original blueprint teach? Paul taught, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars” (1 Corinthians 15:41). Paul subsequently confirmed the truth of this three-tiered heaven when he recounted the vision of a man “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). Could there be a third heaven if there was no second or first heaven? Again, this doctrine restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith is in exact accord with the original blueprint.
Does marriage continue for eternity or end at death? What does the blueprint say? In accordance with the power given to the Apostles that whatsoever they should bind on earth should be bound in heaven (see Matthew 18:18), Paul declared, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11), meaning that the ideal is for the man and woman to be bound together forever in God’s presence. Peter confirmed this truth. Referring to husbands and wives, he stated that they should be “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7)—not individually, but jointly walking the path as inheritors of eternal life. That is the doctrine taught in the blueprint, and that is the doctrine taught in Christ’s Church today.
The third page of the blueprint reads, “Ordinances in Christ’s Church.” The blueprint is very specific in this regard. For example, do we bless or baptize infants and little children? What does the blueprint teach?
The Savior gave the clear example for us. Speaking of little children, the scriptures read, “And he [Jesus] took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16; italics added). Matthew confirmed, as to little children, the Savior “laid his hands on them” (Matthew 19:15). The blueprint teaches that infants and little children are blessed, not baptized. In fact, there is not one account of an infant baptism occurring anywhere in the entire New Testament. Why? Because it was not an ordinance in Christ’s Church. Someone looking for Christ’s Church today would look for a church that blesses infants, not baptizes them.
Is baptism essential for salvation? What does the blueprint teach? After Christ set the example by being baptized, He declared in unequivocal terms, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5; italics added). Peter taught similarly, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38; italics added). What is taught in the blueprint is exactly what is taught in Christ’s Church today.Is baptism to be done by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion? The blueprint gives at least four evidences that baptism is to be done by immersion: First, the Savior, our great Exemplar, came up “straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16), indicating He must have first gone down into the water. Second, John the Baptist “was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there” (John 3:23; italics added). Why would he travel to a place of “much water” if sprinkling or pouring were accepted modes of baptism?
Third, Paul tells us that baptism is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (seeRomans 6:3–5). As the new convert stands in the waters of baptism, he represents the old man about to die. As he is immersed in the water, his sins are “buried” and forgiven by the symbolic cleansing power of the water. Then, as he rises from the water, he stands as a representative of the new or resurrected man in Jesus Christ. All of that symbolism underlying baptism is consistent with baptism by immersion, but it is lost—totally lost—with sprinkling and pouring.
And fourth, the Greek word from which baptism is translated means to dip or plunge in the water.
Will Durrant, a noted world historian, knew what the blueprint revealed and thus observed, “By the ninth century the early Christian method of baptism by total immersion had been gradually replaced by … sprinkling—as less dangerous to health in northern climes.”4 It should be no surprise that Joseph Smith received a revelation on the manner in which baptism is to be performed that is perfectly consistent with Christ’s blueprint (see D&C 20:73–74).
Was baptism for the dead an ordinance in Christ’s original Church? It was. The members of the Church in Corinth were participating in an ordinance known as baptism for the dead. These people, however, doubted the reality of the Resurrection. Sensing the inconsistency of what they were doing as compared to what they believed, Paul used their participation in the correct ordinance of baptism for the dead to prove the correct doctrine of the Resurrection: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29).Once someone crosses the doctrinal bridge and acknowledges that baptism is essential for salvation (which it is), then logically he is led to believe in baptism for the dead—there is no escaping it. Otherwise, how does one answer the difficult question “What about those who died without the opportunity to be baptized?” Those confronted with this question have four possible options from which to choose:
First, men and women who have not been baptized will be damned and go to hell. Such an answer, however, is inconsistent with the scriptural truths that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) and that God desires “all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Second, perhaps God did not really mean what He said—perhaps baptism is not really essential for salvation. But this is unrealistic because God always means what He says: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself” (D&C 1:38; see also Mosiah 2:24).
Third, some believe that a new condition called “baptism by desire” may be substituted for baptism by water. In other words, if someone desires to follow Jesus but did not have the opportunity to be baptized in mortality, then his worthy desire becomes an acceptable substitute in lieu of water baptism. The problem with this option is that it has no scriptural support. The scripture does not say, “Except a man be born of desire,” but rather, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5; italics added).
The fourth option is that God really meant what He said when He commanded all men to be baptized, and because of this He mercifully provided a way for all men to be baptized even if no opportunity arose in mortal life. That is baptism for the dead. That is the option consistent with the blueprint.
What does the blueprint say about the manner in which the gift—not the temporary presence, but the permanent gift—of the Holy Ghost is given after someone is baptized? Does it automatically descend upon someone following his baptism? Does it come like the rushing of the wind, or is there some divine ordinance, some divine procedure that must be followed to receive this gift? The blueprint gives the answer. After Philip baptized some new converts in Samaria, Peter and John arrived. The scriptures then reveal the manner in which that ordinance is to be performed: “Then [Peter and John] laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:17; italics added).
This same procedure was followed after Paul baptized new converts in Ephesus: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them” (Acts 19:5–6; italics added).Once again the blueprint and Christ’s restored Church are in perfect harmony.
An important ‘fruit’ of Christ’s Church was its miracles and gifts of the Spirit. They are recorded on page after page in the New Testament. They were an evidence that the power of God existed in Christ’s Church (see Hebrews 2:4). But unfortunately, with the advent of the Apostasy, the miracles waned—historians readily acknowledged it, and reformers admitted it. Paul Johnson, a noted historian, observed, “It had been acknowledged at least since imperial times [meaning the time of Constantine] that ‘the age of miracles’ was over, in the sense that Christian leaders could no longer spread the gospel, like the apostles, with the aid of supernatural power.”5
Why did the time come when there were no more miracles and gifts of the Spirit? Because the tree that bore the fruit, namely Christ’s Church, was no longer on the earth and the faith of the people diminished. John Wesley noted this absence of the gifts of the Spirit from the church in his day: “It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries.”6
Why was the world without divine guidance for so many centuries? Why was the restoration of the gospel not made before or during the reformation? … due to the intolerances, witch trials, Spanish inquisitions and political conditions, it would not have survived the inevitable suppression. … there was a departure from the true teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, as men were influenced by the Greek philosophical and pagan doctrines. Due to advancing religious freedoms, the new American nation was thus the most favorable place on earth for the restoration of the full gospel.