Why is it so important to be a member of the Mormon Church? Isn’t it enough to be a good person and believe in Christ? Aren’t all churches true so long as they teach Christ? These are the questions my nephew’s mother and aunts have asked him to try to dissuade him from serving a mission.
Are all the churches true so long as they teach Christ? What do we mean by a true church? It would appear to me that for a church to be true it must first of all believe in and teach the truth. Secondly the true church must have incorporated within its structure the ordinances and covenants that were taught by the Savior as being essential to salvation. Thirdly, the true church must have the proper authority given by God to act officially for God in administering the ordinances and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in His name to the people. Let’s see how the various churches stand up against this criteria.
“Aren’t all churches true so long as they teach Christ?”–We could go through all the principles of the gospel, and define them one by one in terms of what is revealed about them in the scriptures, and we would end up writing a book. But let’s try one or two as examples. The principle of faith—
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:14-18)
We see here that faith is a principal of action. The implication of this scripture is that faith is necessary for salvation, and we learn that directly from both Timothy and Peter—
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)
Any church that preaches that all we need to do is to confess Jesus and we are saved cannot be the true church, and therefore cannot provide for the salvation of its members, because it teaches falsehoods that cannot be honored by God.
The principle of baptism—
Is baptism essential to salvation? John tells us—
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-5)
John tells us that you cannot come into the kingdom of God without being baptized. So if any church teaches that baptism is not required for salvation, it cannot be the true church because except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Authority to represent God through the power of the holy Melchizedek priesthood—
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
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; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (Acts 19:1-6)
The group of people who Paul confronted, twelve in all, had been baptized. Because, by the their own admission, they had not been baptized properly, i.e., by one who had the priesthood authority to perform this ordinance, Paul baptized them all again, and in recognition of the validity of Paul’s baptizing them again, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Such a list as this could be multiplied many times demonstrating that the true church must teach correct principles and have the authority from God to do so, or it can in no way provide for the salvation of its parishioners.
“Isn’t it enough to be a good person and believe in Christ?”—
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
So it is certainly not enough to just be a good person to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is necessary to do the will of the Father. To do His will, we must know it is that He wants us to do, and we must comply with it.
“Why is it so important to be a member of the Mormon Church?”—
The Mormon Church is the same organization that existed in the primitive Church. That organization, founded by the Savior, disappeared from the earth through the apostasy of its members and the death of its officials. That apostasy was even prophesied by the early apostles—
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)
The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the last days was also prophesied in the New Testament. In the words of Paul—
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days (Acts 3:19-24)
Those powerful statements by Paul demonstrate unequivocally, the necessity of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ by a prophet of God. That prophet was Joseph Smith, who was visited in one of the most remarkable visions of all time by both the Father and the Son, and was commissioned by God to restore the kingdom of God to the earth. That restoration took place on the 6th day of April, 1830, and is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is known by many people only as the Mormon Church We are not ashamed to use that appellation as Mormon was such a great prophet, and it speaks to the understanding of so many people who know God’s church only by that name.