Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Assistant and the Key

Assistant President of the Church (also referred to as Associate President of the Church) was a position in the leadership hierarchy in the early days of the Latter Day Saint church instated by revelation through Joseph Smith, Jr. The Assistant President was the second-highest authority in the church and was a member of the church's governing First Presidency. After Joseph Smith’s death, Latter Day Saints discontinued the position of Assistant President of the Church.

Oliver Cowdery

On December 5, 1834, Smith ordained Oliver Cowdery to be his "assistant-president". The minutes of this meeting state that Joseph Smith said the following words after laying his hands on Cowdery's head:
In the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified for the sins of the world, I lay my hands upon thee and ordain thee an assistant-president to the High and Holy Priesthood, in the Church of the Latter-day Saints."

At the organization of the church in 1830 , Cowdery had been designated the "second elder" of the church. After Joseph Smith organized the First Presidency in 1832, Cowdery's standing in the church hierarchy had become uncertain. Cowdery's ordination as Assistant President reaffirmed his status as second only to Joseph in church authority.

After Cowdery's ordination, Joseph explained the purpose of the position of Assistant President:
The office of Assistant President is to assist in presiding over the whole Church, and to officiate in the absence of the President, according to his rank and appointment .... The office of this priesthood is also to act as spokesman, taking Aaron for an example. The virtue of the above priesthood is to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven or of the Church militant.

As holder of the keys of the priesthood, the Assistant President of the Church was intended to be the person who would succeed to the presidency of the church upon the death of the Prophet Joesph Smith. The Assistant President ranked higher than the counselors in the First Presidency and the President and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Like the members of the First Presidency and the Twelve, the Assistant President was accepted by the church as a prophet, seer, and revelator.

Hyrum Smith

On April 11, 1838, Cowdery was excommunicated from the church and thereby lost his position as Assistant President. The position went unfilled until January 25, 1841, when Hyrum Smith was ordained to be the Assistant President. This was done in accordance with a revelation that was received on January 19, which stated:

And from this time forth I appoint unto him [Hyrum] that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph; That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery.

Hyrum Smith remained Assistant President of the Church until he and Joseph were killed on June 27, 1844. The death of both the President of the Church and his supposed successor, the Assistant President, helped contribute to the leadership confusion among the Latter Day Saints which led to the succession crisis of 1844. In most of the separate denominations that resulted from the crisis, the position of Assistant President of the Church was discontinued.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the lack of a current Assistant President of the Church has been explained in the following way:
After Oliver Cowdery fell from his high status, Hyrum Smith the Patriarch was chosen by revelation to succeed to the position of Assistant President and to stand as a joint witness with the Prophet [Joseph Smith] of the truth of the restoration. ... When these two joint Presidents of the Church sealed their testimonies with their blood, the full operation of the keys of the kingdom rested with the Twelve, and Brigham Young, the senior apostle, became the ranking officer of the Church. Since the kingdom was then fully established and the two witnesses had left a binding testimony, it was no longer necessary to continue the office of Assistant President. Accordingly, the office is not found in the Church today.

D&C 124: 94-96
94 And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph;
95 That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery;
96 That my servant Hyrum may bear record of the things which I shall show unto him, that his name may be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever.
Hyrum acted as President of the Church in Joseph's absence and was designated to be Joseph's successor if he were killed or incapacitated. Among early Church leaders, no one stands higher than Hyrum Smith save it be, The Prophet himself. Hyrum was Joseph Smith's closest confidante and advisor, the Second Elder in the Church and Patriarch to the Church. He was an Apostle. He held every right, key, power, and authority which Joseph held, and had it been the will of the Lord that Hyrum should have survived Joseph; Hyrum would have become the Presiding High Priest in the Church. He received every key, every power, and every authority held by his brother Joseph. Indeed, had he survived Joseph, Hyrum would have unquestionably succeeded him.

The Key

However, and fortunately, the twelve had previously been given all the keys and were properly charged to carry out the work if Joseph and Hyrum should die. This was done during the many meetings and sessions with the Prophet and Hyrum leading up to the last charge meeting on March 26th 1844. Joseph rolled off the responsibility to the twelve. He declared that he had now given them every priesthood key that he possessed and that it was their responsibility to shoulder the burden of the kingdom while he rested. Before they returned from the East, the two were murdered. In that last charge meeting, he (Joseph) said, “I will give you a key that will never rust. (meaning it will always work and stay true) Always go with the majority of the twelve and the records of the church.” No other denomination or break off can claim that except The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We have the key that does not rust.

The majority of the twelve held the keys and in due time they reorganized the first presidency with Brigham Young as Prophet and President. The work goes on still today with that same organization and authority passed down from prophets and apostles of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Moroni's last stand

This is an account I heard years ago in early morning seminary. It really intrigued me at the time, but I never knew the source of it. I have never heard it since that time and started to wonder the validity of it. I had searched for it in the past to no avail. Until today! I have found the source of the story of Moroni's fate after depositing the plates. For some reason I really believe this one. This is the story that first got me interested into the deeper parts of our religion. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.


At a meeting at Spanish Fork, Utah Co., in the winter of 1896, Brother Higginson stated in my presence that Thomas B. Marsh told him that the Prophet Joseph Smith told him (Thomas B. Marsh, he being then President of the Twelve), that he became very anxious to know something of the fate of Moroni, and in answer to prayer the Lord gave Joseph a vision, in which appeared a wild country and on the scene was Moroni after whom were six Indians in pursuit; he stopped and one of the Indians stepped forward and measured swords with him. Moroni smote him and he fell dead; another Indian advanced and contended with him; this Indian also fell by his sword; a third Indian then stepped forth and met the same fate; a fourth afterwards contended with him, but in the struggle with the fourth, Moroni, being exhausted, was killed. Thus ended the life of Moroni.

-Charles D. Evans, LDS Church Archives, as quoted in H. Donl Peterson, Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger, p. 77.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Photo of Joseph Smith Jr. ?

Could this really be a picture of Joseph Smith Jr. in his early to mid 30's? I found it interesting that when I was initially examining it Kaylee ran into the room and looked at the screen and said hey that's Joseph Smith. Man, kids make you wonder sometimes. Crazy! I asked her how she knew it was him and and she said hmmm... I just know, that's Joseph Smith. Whether or not it is him I don't know, but if you follow the link to a video about it, you'll find it quite fascinating. I must admit there's a possibility anyway that it could really be him, but I feel something very unsettling about it at the same time, something just doesn't feel right about it to me. If it is somehow found to be true this is big news. It was a photo that was donated to the Rlds or Community of Christ apparently taken of him in the winter of 1840 in Philadelpia. Not sure if this info is 100% acurate though. Joseph also mentions in one of his journals that a photo had been taken of him. But let's not jump to conclusions on it until we can be sure, which we may never be, until we see him standing along side Adam and other nobles at the counsel at Adam ondi ahmen just before the coming of Christ. I think it would be so awesome to have the face to go with his name and who he was. The Church has made no official position on it but have found it interesting enough to put an eye on it. There is more information on the photo over the web on youtube and other websites. Happy trails and let me know what you find or think about it.

Those piercing eyes in the photo make you think.


This one just above is also another that may or may not be Joseph Smith. I don't know much about this photo however.

What think ye?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Logic of Belief

Let’s look at some straight up logic:

Putting aside all other things but mathematical logic…

How to weigh your options:

1. Someone tells you about God and you have a choice whether or not to believe it.

If God isn’t real, and you do believe, you aren't out anything in the end.

If God isn’t real, and you don’t believe, you aren't out anything in the end.

If God is real, and you believe, you can be eternally happy.

If God is real, and you don't believe, things could be looking scary for you.

Which is the most logical option to choose?

2. Moses tells Isreal to look at the brass serpent and be healed.

If it isn’t true, and you look, you’re no worse off.

If it isn’t true, and you don’t look, you’re no worse off.

If it is true, and you look, you’ll be healed and be better off.

If it is true, and you don’t look, you might have missed you’re chance.

Which is the most logical option to choose?

3. You’re told to have faith in something (ie. Gospel/Church) despite lack of complete understanding.

If it isn’t true, and you believe, what might you have missed?

If it isn’t true, and you don’t believe, what might you have gained?

If it is true, and you believe, you gain the blessings of your faith.

If it is true, and you don’t believe, what might you have missed?

Which is the most logical option to choose?

Are the first two examples straight forward? This last one seems less logical because it is more complex with too many questions or unknowns. It is not just white or black, yes or no. There is a choice of thousands of gospels/ churches today. No small wonder the world is in complete confusion about God and where real truth lies.

What is needed to make this last choice more logical?

How do we remove the grey and make it white or black?
(Should we or can we?)
Remember there is an asumed lack of understanding.

Is there something I may be over looking?

Thank goodness for revelation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836

These articles from the LDS website are absolutley incredible. John Pratt out did himself here. I read this ages ago but just revisited it and couldn't help but post the links. Please take the time to read carefully so you can understand them. I did some of my own research into some of these discoveries and noticed the next time all these same things seem to line up is at Easter Sunday in April 2033. Hmmm... 2000 years since Christ's death and ressurection...Interesting , very interesting. Could this be a possible or plausible time of return?

I'd like to hear some thoughts.

They are long articles, but worth every line.



Monday, September 1, 2008

Work and the Glory

Recently my mind has been very much focused upon the purpose of life and the great plan of salvation. The salvation of souls. What is it all about? What do we need to do? I’ve thought much about our roles personally and collectively and most of all about missionary work. When I say missionary work, I mean to suggest the three fold mission of the church.

Well, what is it we need to do? First, I think of a scripture in the Book of Mormon found in Mosiah, Chapter 3:19. Many know it well or may have memorized it. What does it say? “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam.” Well, what does that mean? It means that from Adam’s fallen state we became mortal, subject to death and knowing good and evil, and in this state have natural desires and passions of the mortal body. Well, what are we told about passions? Bridle your passions. How? Well, going on, the natural man is an enemy of God and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless,(here comes the how) he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth off the natural man, and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child does submit to his father.” Submit to all things, what does that imply? It means exactly what it says, and if you will for a moment, those who have gone through the temple let your mind rest upon the fullness of the law of sacrifice. Need I say more, except that I suggest even, that we must be willing to give back even, the only two things that are actually ours, our life and our agency. Meaning, to submit our will for his will. Praying in all things, “Thy will be done, Oh Lord.” Christ showed us this in perfect example. “and he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt 26:39) All things. So we know what we must first do. Be humble and submissive, repentant and have faith.

Doctrine & Covenants section 4, which is well known as the missionary constitution. This is a revelation given to Joseph Smith Jr. for his father Joseph Smith Sr. in 1829. 1829. At this period the church hasn’t yet been organized . Not until the following year on April 6 1830. Here he is revealing what his father needs to know before he goes out on a mission. But it is just for proseylating? I suggest not. Well, verse 1, it starts out, “Now behold, a marvelous work and a wonder is about to come forth among the children of men.” I suggest, in the mighty vision of the lord, he knew of the great import of this revelation for missionary work all inclusive. Meaning, perfecting the saints, proclaiming the gospel, and redeeming the dead. Our three fold mission. Verse 2, “therefore, o ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before him at the last day. Well, blameless, to be blameless means to become clean, free of sin in and through the atonement of Christ being pure of heart and full of charity. Having lived a life abided in good works. Blameless.

Verse 3 “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work;” So what is the work? Well, Moses 1:39, we all know it. “This is my work and my Glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” While these two terms, Immortality and Eternal life go together, separately they are very different outcomes. What is immortality? Well, 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The fall of Adam brought death into the world and therefore we are not responsible for death. It is a gift from God that we will all be resurrected and live forever. We chose in the pre existence to keep our first estate and to take on mortality. Through Christ we will be resurrected and become immortal. That’s immortality, and different from eternal life. What is eternal life? Simply put, salvation and exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, forever and ever, without end. With our families sealed to us and with our Heavenly father and his son Jesus Christ. That is Eternal life. That is the work spoken of in section 4 of D&C, and so, back to the revelation in Verse 4, (and I see the lord giving this in much urgency and conviction because of its great import) “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store, that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.” What a promise! Bringeth Salvation, meaning Eternal life. If we but thrust ourselves into his work we will be partakers of the purpose of the work. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God and how great shall be our joy if we may bring souls unto him through baptism and fellowship. Now, some attributes that we must have. Verse 5,”and faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work”, verse 6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance,” and what does it mean to have temperance? Well, it's a lot of things, but one I’d like to suggest that I learned from Truman Madsen, is that it means balance. Balance in all things good, and in that balance enduring to the end. “Patience, brotherly kindness, Godliness, charity, (again) humility, diligence.” Then, in the last verse, the great promise we see time and time again throughout the scriptures. “Ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.” He isn’t saying, well, put in a request and if I have time and I feel like it I’ll let you know. No, no, he isn’t saying that. He is saying you will receive; it will be opened to you. Now as we know God frequently doesn’t give us the why or the when, but, I testify that he does answer. It is his promise, if we ask with faith.

It is my prayer that we obtain an inner bursting conviction of this work, the work spoken of in Moses 1:39 and the plan of salvation. That we may put off the natural man, be humble, repentant, faithful, and desire to serve god in doing this work, obtaining these attributes spoken of. They are not only requirements for the work but I suggest gifts from God. Gifts of the Spirit. Ask and ye shall receive. In so doing these things, may we endure to the end. But then again, “The End”, is kind of a paradox if you will. For we know, for those persons who follow Christ and keep his commandments, there is no end. No end to life, no end to progression, no end to seed and family, no end to knowledge or power, worlds with out end.

I bear testimony that I know this work is true. I know that the plan of salvation is the whole meaning of our life. I know our Heavenly Father lives. He loves everyone one of us. We are his children. I know that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, the only begotten of the father in the flesh. I know that he lives. He is our Redeemer and our Savior. I am thankful for his everlasting atonement which makes our return possible. He fulfilled his mission; he marked the path, and gave us his perfect example. I know this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know that he saw God the Father and his son Jesus Christ in the sacred grove and ushered in the dispensation of the fullness of times. That Christ’s true church has been reorganized. That through him the priesthood and authority of God has been restored, as well as, all the saving ordinances and principles. I know that through his faith, worthiness, diligence and seer-ship he translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates of sacred writ. I know the Book of Mormon is true. It is another testimony of Jesus Christ. With His teachings, prophesies, revelations, commandments, and the purpose of life. The Scriptures give me strength and a guide to my life and my purpose. I know these things are true by feelings of the Holy Ghost which have borne testimony to me in my heart and in my mind. I have felt the fruits of the spirit and have experienced them first hand. I have put the seed to the test and continue to do so. It is more than a belief, it is a knowledge. He bears witness of truth and light. I am grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost. He is my guide and my Companion in all things. I know he lives. I know even today we have a prophet on the earth. He is the mouth piece of the lord, a seer and a revelator who holds the sealing powers of heaven and earth, who leads this church by God's will. Christ is the Head of it. May we all have this understanding of the purpose of life unto salvation and eternal life, where there is no end. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.