From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley
This section tells a story shared by President Hinckley in 2000 about a visit to the Sacred Grove and a spiritual witness he received there about the First Vision.
We can all receive a spiritual witness of the First Vision, just as President Hinckley did, and we don’t have to go to Palmyra!
One by one, the apostles were killed as they went out to preach the gospel in foreign lands. At first, successor apostles were chosen such as Matthias (Acts 1:22), James (Acts 12:7; Galatians 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and Paul (Acts 14:14; Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 9:1).3
These were called before A.D. 50. But neither scripture nor other historical evidence gives us any indication of the calling of others.
Peter, Philip, Andrew, Jude, Bartholomew, and Simon were crucified;
- James the son of Zebedee was beheaded;
- Matthew was slain by a spear and a battle-axe;
- James the son of Alphaeus was beaten and stoned by the Jews;
- Matthias was stoned and then beheaded;
- Thomas was thrust through with a spear.
While the exact dates of death are not known in many cases, it is believed that with the exception of John, all met their deaths well before the end of the first century.
Eventually there were no authorized priesthood keys upon the earth. Fragments of the original teachings and remnants of the original ordinances remained, but the priesthood, the power that gave the Church its spiritual life and sustenance, was gone. As prophesied the Church dwindled in unbelief and over time the doctrines became corrupt.
The Roman Empire which had first persecuted the Christians later adopted and adapted Christianity. The Emperor Constantine worshipped the Sun God but recognized the growing influence of the new religion of Christianity and saw the political advantage to be gained by adopting Christianity as the state religion.
Important religious questions were settled by Councils rather than by revelation. The simple truths taught by the Saviour were debated and changed. Plain and precious doctrines were removed from the scriptures.
What truths were revealed in the First Vision?
Discuss Elder James E. Faust’s answers to that question:
“1. The existence of God our Father as a personal being, and proof that man was made in the image of God.
“2. That Jesus is a personage, separate and distinct from the Father.
“3. That Jesus Christ is declared by the Father to be his Son.
“4. That Jesus was the conveyor of revelation as taught in the Bible.
“5. The promise of James to ask of God for wisdom was fulfilled.
“6. The reality of an actual being from an unseen world who tried to destroy Joseph Smith.
“7. That there was a falling away from the Church established by Jesus Christ—Joseph was
told not to join any of the sects, for they taught the doctrines of men.
“8. Joseph Smith became a witness for God and his Son, Jesus Christ.” (In Conference Report, Apr.1984, pp. 92–93; or Ensign, May 1984, p. 68.)
- The Godhead
- Priesthood authority and Church organisation
- The family
- The innocence of little children
- Salvation for the dead
- The nature, purpose and potential of God’s children
- Modern revelation
How have these truths blessed your life?
David W. Bercot, a student of the early Christian authors, wrote a book entitled Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up::
When I first began studying the early Christian writings, I was surprised by what I read. In fact, after a few days of reading, I put their writings back on the shelf and decided to scrap my research altogether. After analyzing the situation, I realized the problem was that their writings contradicted many of my own theological views. . . . They frequently taught the opposite of what I believed, and they even labeled some of my beliefs as heretical. . . .
If there’s any single doctrine that we would expect to find the faithful associates of the apostles teaching, it’s the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. …… In fact, we frequently say that persons who don’t hold to this doctrine aren’t really Christians. However the early Christians universally believed that works or obedience play an essential role in our salvation.
Clement of Rome, who was a companion of the apostle Paul, . . . wrote, “A person who does not do what God has commanded shows he really does not believe God.'”
Polycarp, the personal companion of the apostle John, taught, “He who raised Him up from the dead will also raise us up—if we do His will and walk in His commandments.“
The letter of Barnabas states: “He who keeps these [commandments] will be glorified in the kingdom of God.”
David Bercot concluded: “In fact, every early Christian writer who discussed the subject of salvation presented this same view.” Bercot was careful to note that the early Christian writers also taught that we cannot be saved without the grace of Christ. In other words, he noted that grace and works are inextricably tied together.
Which is precisely the LDS view – because that is the truth taught by the Saviour.