Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
The LDS claims that they alone have apostolic authority and that this proves they are the only true church. But nowhere does the Bible say that we need authority to administer the gospel or to baptize.
Although the King James Version of the Bible (which is favoured by the LDS) doesn’t use the word authority in the gospels, the New American Standard Bible does. So in order to be fair to the LDS we will quote from that version. There are several passages in the gospels that deal with the subject of authority and we’ll go through each of them carefully.
In the passage below Jesus states that He has been given all authority. On this basis He instructs His disciples to baptize people in His name as well as in the name of the Father and the Holy Spirit and to teach them the things that He had taught without giving them any authority.
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, NASB)
Christ gave the twelve disciples authority over unclean spirits and sickness:
And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Matthew 10:1, NASB)
In the next scripture authority was given only to cast out demons. They were not given authority to preach the gospel because no authority was necessary. Nowhere in the Bible did Christ ever say that anyone had to have authority to preach the gospel or to baptize. That idea was purely an invention of Joseph Smith. All Christians are expected to minister the gospel as part of their service to Christ.
“And He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons. ” (Mark 3:14-15, NASB).
In the following verse Christ only gave them authority over unclean spirits
“And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs; and He was giving them authority over the unclean spirits.” (Mark 6:7, NASB).
Next He gave them authority over the power of the enemy, serpents and scorpions. (Fallen angels or demons were sometimes described in that manner.)
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.” (Luke 10:19, NASB)
Scholars refer to the above miraculous powers as sign gifts. The were bestowed on specific people as a divine confirmation that they had been called by God for a special purpose. For instance Moses was given the gift of miracles so that the Hebrews would believe that he had been called and empowered by God to lead them to the promised land. And Christ’s apostles were given the gift of healing as confirmation that He had been sent by God. And it empowered them to establish His church after His death and resurrection.
By applying authority given for other things to authority to administer the gospel, the LDS has deliberately twisted what the scriptures actually say. Search as you may, you will never find the Bible mentioning that the Lord Jesus bestowed authority to preach the gospel or to baptize on a single, solitary soul.
Contrary to LDS teachings, all regenerated followers of Christ are expected to minister the gospel. As an example we need only look at the book of Acts. The following verse tells us that there were believers from Cyprus and Cyrene where there were no apostles, no organized church and no ties to the organized church. Without any so-called authority they began ministering the gospel of Christ to the Greeks:
“And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. ”(Acts 11:20-21, KJV)
The next few verses tell us that when the church at Jerusalem heard about this they sent Barnabas off to Antioch to investigate. When he saw how by the grace of God all these gentile souls had been saved, he rejoiced with them and encouraged them in the Lord.
“Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” (Acts 11:22-23, KJV).
The LDS claims that God restored His authority for the gospel to the LDS church, through their priesthood. But the priesthood is an Old Covenant office and the church falls under the New Covenant, not the Old. No one in the early church ever held the priesthood.
Titus pastored a church. But he wasn’t a priest or an apostle. He was an elder. (Under the New Covenant elders were never priests. The priesthood belonged to the Old Covenant. And even there priests were never elders.) Nevertheless Titus possessed the normal authority that is part and parcel of all positions of leadership. And in Titus 1:5 Paul instructed him to appoint more elders.
Had it been necessary for apostolic authority to be given in order for the church to legitimately act in God’s name after the apostles had died, then surely they would have ordained others with the necessary authority just as the LDS church does today. The apostles were dedicated, responsible, godly leaders and the book of Acts reveals that they had plenty of followers who were just as dedicated and godly as they were. So it is inconceivable that they would have neglected such an important obligation had it been necessary.
Nowhere does the Bible say that the vehicle for salvation is a church with authority. The determining factor for salvation is solely whether or not you have trusted in Christ. It doesn’t matter what church you attend or whether or not you even belong to a church: If you genuinely put your faith in the biblical Jesus Christ He will save you.
“To him [Christ] give all the prophets witness, that
through his name whosoever believeth in him
shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43, KJV)
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15, KJV)
The following are links to articles that are relevant to the one you have just read:
This site is dedicated to helping Mormons understand the Bible.
Copyright © 2013 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.