I‘m a gospel doctrine teacher at my ward in the Mormon Church. Last Sunday I was asked by a member about the difference between the church names that we find in the scriptures. Please could you clarify the following denominations for our church? (I would like to know if there are any differences beyond the established time).
1) Church of the Lamb (Igreja do Cordeiro), 2) Church of First-born (Igreja do Primogˆˆnito) and, 3) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Thank you very much!
The Church of the Lamb is mentioned in the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 14, in opposition to the church of the devil. In that scripture it says that
there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. (1 Nephi 14:10)
Here the Lord is dividing all humanity into two camps. Everyone belongs to either one church or the other. Therefore it is obvious that the Lord is not referring to any of the denominations as we know them in the world today.
But if we read further in Chapter 14, the Church of the Lamb is well defined. Verse 12 records,
I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God…
So we understand that the Church of the Lamb is composed of the saints of God. We next ask, who, then, are the saints of God? We find the answer in verse 14.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord.
In this scripture the connecting article “and” does not mean “and also,” but “and in other words.” This phrase is what is known as a synthetic parallelism, a very common literary form found in sacred writings that come from the Hebrew. (The Book of Job, for instance, is composed almost entirely of such synthetic parallelisms).
So from this scripture we understand that the Church of the Lamb of God refers to the covenant people of the Lord. Now, who are the covenant people of the Lord? The first sacred covenant that people make with the Lord is the covenant of baptism. In fact, the act of baptism is the sign (or demonstration, or witness) of that covenant. The covenant that we make at baptism is that we will take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we will obey His commandments, and that we will remain true and faithful all the days of our lives. The other sacred covenants that we make with the Lord are found and administered in His holy temples.
Now the covenant people are not those who only make the covenants, but they are those who remain true and faithful to the sacred covenants that they make. They are they who have overcome the world. All else are to one degree or another influenced by the Adversary. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the guardian and the administrator of these sacred covenants. They are to be found no where else in all the world.
A description of the Church of the Firstborn is given in the Mormon scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants 76:50-60. The term “Firstborn” is a synonym of the “The Lamb of God,” both referring to the Lord, Jesus Christ. The above scripture describes the conditions and blessings at the time of the coming of the Savior to those who remain true and faithful to their covenants. They inherit all that the Father has and become gods, even the sons of God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) is the name of the kingdom of God as it exists on the earth today. This kingdom is organized in accordance with the laws of the countries in which it exists. Those who become members of this kingdom are called to become members by the invitation of the Savior, manifested by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit to the hearts of those who will hear. Those to whom the gospel is presented and to whom it seems to be familiar, and who recognize it as eternal truth, do so as a result of a direct revelation from God. Hence, they are called the chosen people. This church is the only organization in the world to whom the Lord has given the authority of the holy priesthood to officially represent Him in preaching the gospel and administering the ordinances thereof. When this church was organized in the early 1800’s it was patterned after the Church that the Savior set up during his earthly ministry with the same priesthood authority and offices. So the kingdom of God has been restored to the earth in our day in fulfilment of ancient prophecy (Acts 3:20-24), and was given by the Lord the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (D&C 115:3)