When Jesus Christ lived on the earth, He established His Church among His followers. His Church was “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).
After Christ’s death and Resurrection, He told His Apostles to continue teaching the gospel. They did as He asked, but eventually they died and the truth of Christ’s Church disappeared during a period called the Apostasy.
The Great Apostasy
When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy.
Periods of general apostasy have occurred throughout the history of the world. After times of righteousness, people have often turned to wickedness. One example is the Great Apostasy, which occurred after the Savior established His Church. After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread wickedness, the Lord withdrew the authority of the priesthood from the earth.
During the Great Apostasy, people were without divine direction from living prophets. Many churches were established, but they did not have priesthood power to lead people to the true knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Parts of the holy scriptures were corrupted or lost, and no one had the authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost or perform other priesthood ordinances. This apostasy lasted until Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and initiated the restoration of the fulness of the gospel.
Many men and women sought the fulness of gospel truth during the centuries of the Great Apostasy, but they were unable to find it. Although many preached with sincerity about the Savior and His teachings, none had the fulness of the truth or priesthood authority from God
The Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ
We now live in a time when the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. But unlike the Church in times past, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will not be overcome by general apostasy. The scriptures teach that the Church will never again be destroyed (see D&C 138:44; see also Daniel 2:44).
In the early 1800s, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to a young man in answer to his prayer about which church to join. This young man, Joseph Smith, was told not to join any of them but that Christ’s Church would be restored through him.
This led to the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830, a direct answer to the Apostle Peter’s prophecy in the New Testament that there would be a “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).
The divine return of the Church of Jesus Christ, coupled with modern-day prophets, apostles, priesthood authority, and all gospel light and knowledge, is what members of the Church refer to as the Restoration.
The true Church of Jesus Christ is now on the earth again. No other organization can compare to it. It is not the result of a reformation, with well-meaning men and women doing all in their power to bring about change. It is a restoration of the Church established by Jesus Christ. It is the work of Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son.
When they become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, men and women can receive blessings that were absent from the earth for almost 2,000 years. Through the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, they can receive the remission of their sins and enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. They can live the gospel in its fulness and simplicity. They can gain an understanding of the nature of the Godhead, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the purpose of life on earth, and the reality of life after death. They have the privilege of being guided by living prophets, who teach God’s will in our day. Temple ordinances enable them to receive guidance and peace, prepare for eternal life, be sealed to their family for eternity, and provide saving ordinances for their deceased ancestors.
God restored His Church for a very simple reason: He loves all His children and wants them to have joy in this life and eventually return to live with Him. Through His living prophets and the truths in His restored Church, God shows us the way.