“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.” - Psalm 52:8
The great olive tree discourse of the Book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon offers a wealth of insight into the Church of Jesus Christ and it’s Restoration. I will not quote at length the fifth chapter of the Book of Jacob; rather, we encourage every Saint to be familiar with it. Looking into the subject under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we have found many references scattered throughout scripture to the use of the olive tree as a sign and symbol of the faithful. It is with great humility that I present my findings to all children of the Restoration.
To put it plainly, we wish to present the Restoration symbolically as a great tree and there is but one Church of which the Restoration is many branches of this great tree. The word of God is the good seed of Jesus Christ who is the perfect and just farmer. The seed was planted in these latter days by Joseph Smith, Jr. - assistant gardener (1 Corinthians 3:9) - and the tree grows as it is fertilized by Apostles and Prophets both ancient and modern (LDS D&C 86:2). It is watered by the Priesthood, breathed upon by the Holy Spirit, and given warmth by God the Father (Hebrews 12:29).
Of this seed the prophet Alma speaks (LDS Alma 16:17):
And there was no inequality among them; the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming—
That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God.
The word of God is that which exalts us and begins our great progression towards immortality and eternal life (John 10:35, Moses 1:39). Consider also the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8) in which Jesus says plainly to the Apostles “the seed is the word of God.” Receiving this word makes us the family of Jesus Christ (Luke 8:21). Those truly sent by God are sent with this word (John 8:34) and those who do not receive the word do not receive God (John 8:47). Those filled with the Holy Ghost speak the word of God (Acts 4:31, D&C 68:1-4) and the Church grows in measure by the growth of the reception of the word (Acts 6:7, 12:24, 19:20). The “ears to hear” of which Jesus frequently speaks throughout the Gospel accounts comes by receiving the word of God (Romans 10:17). The word of God comes from those whom God has chosen as apostles (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The word of God empowers us to overcome Satan (1 John 2:14).
But what precisely is the word of God? What is the valuable seed we must embrace to be counted members of His Church? It is the Spirit of God (Ephesians 6:17)! To receive the baptisms of water and fire and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost by Priesthood authority - to embrace such is to receive the word of God. There is none other way (John 3:5). The word of God is Jesus Christ Himself (Revelation 19:13). Therefore to receive the Spirit and His companionship is to receive of Jesus Christ Himself.
To receive the word, the Spirit, Jesus Christ is to become born again (1 Peter 1:23). Let us understand something about being born again. John says that whoever loves is born of God (1 John 4:7) because God is love (1 John 4:8). Let us engage in a thought experiment of two men: one of these men is a faithful Latter Day Saint who has received endowments and made temple marriage covenants, yet each day on his way to work passes the homeless man by. He holds grudges and is unforgiving in character despite the fact that he takes the sacrament and receives callings. Now there is another man who has heard neither of Joseph Smith nor of the Book of Mormon, yet he withholds nothing from those who ask of him; he holds neither grudge nor hate in his heart. Who, then, is a member of the Kingdom of God? Who is truly born of Jesus Christ?
Let us understand this about the seed. The seed must be planted and rooted in Jesus Christ Himself (Colossians 2:7). In other words, we must be planted and rooted in love (Ephesians 3:17). The vital truth of the Restoration is that we received first not doctrine but Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith did not attain understanding and salvation by theology or speculation; it came by the First Vision, the reception of Christ Himself.
Therefore understand, all of my Restoration family, this is why I said in MY PREVIOUS ESSAY that the direct experience of Jesus Christ is the supreme authority in the life of the believer. Jesus is alive today; merely believing things about Him in the past, no matter how true those things are, will not bring salvation.
It is this and this alone that gives life. Examine yourself thoroughly! In whom are you rooted? Are you rooted in Mormon theology, or Jesus Christ? Are you rooted in Reorganized doctrine, or in the Christ of whom your Reorganization bears it’s name? Are you rooted in a hope of a future temple, or in the Christ whose Church you are called? In whom are you rooted, dear family?
Those that receive the word and yet do not become rooted in Him are destined to never produce fruit or otherwise ill fruit (Matthew 13:19-22). Joseph Smith understood this. It was to him that the great Olive Leaf revelation was given, “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace (LDS D&C 88:125).”
To all who have the ears to hear, hear! If you pursue peace, if you pursue perfection in the Gospel it is love and love alone that will accomplish this. The reception of this word - this rebirth, this rooting in Jesus Christ, this total and whole embrace of love - is called the first ordinance of the Gospel (Article of Faith 1:4, Hebrews 6:1-2).
The True Vine
Now understand this: if the root is holy, so are the branches (Romans 11:16). If we need any more proof from scripture of this, let us hear from the Messiah in John 15 (emphasis added):
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
These things I command you, that ye love one another.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
John wraps up beautifully all of the scattered references to the Spirit and the word of God, it’s role in our rebirth, and the essential place of love here in this chapter. There are several promises here: comfort by the Holy Spirit, approval before God because we abide in Jesus Christ, a true and lasting witness of Christ by that same Spirit, persecution, to be hated by the world, and to be burned if we do not produce good fruit.
The Apostles and Prophets of the Restoration taught that the Restored Church is spiritual Israel because we have received the word of God (Romans 9:6). Paul spoke of these things in the Epistle to the Romans (11:17-36). I urge a careful reading by the Spirit of God (emphasis added):
And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen
It is this abiding in Christ, the true vine, becoming a part of the olive tree, with which Joseph Smith was obsessed. He did not find the Christ of which Paul spoke in Methodism, Presbyterianism, Episcopalianism, indeed not any -ism at all (and the same remains true for Mormonism today; better a Latter Day Saint of any tradition than a cultural Mormon or Prairie Saint). Rather, Joseph sought to abide in the true vine and it is this that led him to the Epistle of James and ultimately to the First Vision.
Having found satisfaction in abiding in the true vine by receiving the first principles of the Gospel just as any Restoration child today would, Joseph continued the Gospel work until his death and martyrdom. He, and all who would fight the spiritual war with him, continued to grow the olive tree and allow the Spirit to continue to breathe life into them, to be watered by the holy Priesthood, to be fed pure spiritual food by Jesus Christ, to have the pure light shined upon them by our Heavenly Father.
Now let us turn to the words of Nephi concerning spiritual and Hebrew Israel (LDS 1 Nephi 10:12-14):
Yea, even my father spake much concerning the Gentiles, and also concerning the house of Israel, that they should be compared like unto an olive tree, whose branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the face of the earth.
Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the land of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth.
And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.
The Restoration began with this hope. In the words of the Book of Mormon, Brother Joseph saw what must needs be done. He saw the day of the gathering of Israel:
Behold, I say unto you, Yea; they shall be remembered again among the house of Israel; they shall be grafted in, being a natural branch of the olive tree, into the true olive tree.
Brother Joseph saw also that it should not come until the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel. With no “true tree” - only natural branches - to be grafted into, it was clear what must be done: a complete and total Restoration of the Gospel. This Restoration became the olive tree of which we are all members, if we abide in Christ and in His pure doctrine. Yet even in Joseph’s day, the olive tree remained immature, for much growth was needed.
The Growth of Branches and Fruit
A tree cannot grow fruit without branches. Branches cannot be grown without a strong and sturdy trunk which is fed by strong and sturdy roots. Until the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, only the trunk had been growing. It was necessary for the olive tree to grow a strong root system and a thick and sturdy trunk before building its branches. That thick and sturdy trunk was the beginning of the Restoration, and remains the Restoration. To be a branch of the Restoration means we must abide in the trunk, which is fed by the roots.
Now, I say unto you: if we have all the elements of the olive tree, shall we not be considered true branches? Let us have once more primer, clearly and simply:
There is an element here which has purposely been left unaddressed until this moment. Recall the Parable of the Sower and the qualities of soil. The quality of the soil can be changed, as is abundantly clear by the word of the husbandsmen in Jacob 5:5, 27-38, and other verses.
It’s quite interesting to see how the Book of Mormon interacts with this Parable. In Alma (LDS 36:12), the prophet describes his conversion:
But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
The choice of words used for the translation is astounding; Alma says his soul was “harrowed”. What does that mean? Does that have a context that the 19th century Saints would have understood a little better? It does indeed: a harrow is an agricultural tool used for the breaking up of soil so that seeds might be planted and thus grow. Alma is an ancient example of the process of the Parable, by which the Messiah finds us as hard, packed ground and must continually break us before the seed can even be planted.
Remember that the acceptable sacrifice is a broken and a contrite spirit.
Thus it is also that we examine the history of the early Restored Church and see that the intense persecution of the Saints was no accident. God purposed this; it is written all over the Doctrine and Covenants. The Saints were refined by conflict and fire that their ground might be harrowed, that the pure seed of the word of God which was planted in them might grow up and bear much excellent fruit. We see this today also in the many conversion stories of modern Saints who relate an intense period of brokenness out of which they found themselves called to the Gospel. The author of this essay can attest to such events in his own conversion.
Let us return to an earlier point from Romans (11:18):
Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
In other words, the root supports the tree. Christ supports the Restoration; the Restoration supports the branches. The branches can claim neither to support the root, for the root can endure even if half the tree be cut down. Ask any arborist: a branch can be wholly cut off without affecting the tree negatively; in fact, sometimes the removal of a branch is beneficial for the whole tree, as is related also in Jacob 5. But, if the root is taken, all of the branches will die.
Any branch which seeks to separate the root from the tree must be broken off so that the rest of the branches, indeed the whole tree, may remain healthy and alive. The removed branch receives only what it wants: separation from the root.
Examples of broken off branches abound in the early history of the Restoration. Consider the so-called “Pure Church of Christ” organized by Wycam Clark, or perhaps any one of the “Churches of Christ” of Ezra Booth, Warren Parrish, or William Chubby. All of these are defunct. A more example of a broken branch is the FLDS Church whose “prophet” is now permanently incarcerated for child abuse; such things cannot be the fruit of a tree abiding in the pure root.
But what of grafted in branches? We have two excellent examples here in the latter days. Let us consider the congregation of Sidney Rigdon, which was baptized into the Restored Church when they obtained a knowledge and testimony of the truthfulness of the work. Such is possible even today, if any congregation is willing to receive the Restoration.
Consider also the Latter Day Saint congregations in Ghana organized by Joseph W.B. Johnson, a powerful instrument in the hands of the Lord. Johnson had obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon and took up Moroni’s Promise, learning for himself that the Book was the authentic word of God. He worked hard to spread the Restored Gospel to his countrymen, independent of any other Restoration authority. The work of these Ghana Saints - despite the fact that the Priesthood was restricted to them by the LDS Church, but not by the RLDS Church - led directly to the reception of Official Declaration 2, a principle known to the RLDS Church as early as the mid 19th century. It was even said by the Brethren at the time that the reception of OD2 involved an experience too sacred to speak of outside of the temple.
Johnson and others were baptized in 1978 following the revelation, and Johnson became Ghana’s first stake Patriarch. To those that believe that God does not work outside of a particular institution or organization, the Ghana Saints are a perfect and supreme example.
The grafting in of the descendants of Lehi - those Native Americans whom possess Nephite or Lamanite blood - is also promised (1 Nephi 15:16):
Behold, I say unto you, Yea; they shall be remembered again among the house of Israel; they shall be grafted in, being a natural branch of the olive tree, into the true olive tree.
The Restored Church as the Olive Tree
Now let us somewhat leave our metaphor and speak more plainly. I am wholly proposing that the Restored Church exists wherever the fulfillment of the olive tree criteria exists. If you, as an organization or an individual, have received the pure seed from a proper Apostolic (aka Priesthood) authority, have been nourished by Jesus Christ Himself - and not a theology of Him - have been fed by and abide in Love, and have been harrowed so that the seed might take strong root, then I cannot deny that you are a Saint. We humbly ask for your testimony so that we might learn what the Lord has done for you.
Some may bring out the argument of the difference of Priesthood authority versus Priesthood keys, that the Priesthood cannot exist without the Church structure. On the contrary, the Church cannot exist without the Priesthood structure! Remember that the Priesthood was restored in 1829, yet the Church was not organized until 1830 (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 271). This fact alone tells us that it is possible for the Priesthood to exist without the Church organization. Yet it is not possible for the Church to exist without Priesthood; were that true, so would be Methodism, Presbyterianism, Catholicism, and every other flavor under the sun.
Let us hear something of Paul out of the Inspired Version (1 Corinthians 11:19):
For there must be also divisions among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Is this not true of the Church today? Factions in the restored Church blossomed after Brother Joseph’s death, some of them remaining true branches and some of them not. This factionalization was based wholly on whom we do and do not approve of. One says, “I am of Brigham Young!” while another says “I am of Sidney Rigdon!” and still yet another declares “I am of Joseph Smith III!”, and on it goes. Yet there is a difference between factionalization and branching. Paul speaks to us further earlier in the Epistle:
For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God; ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
If we seek to divide the olive tree, we are carnal. Who then is Brigham Young? Who then is Sidney Rigdon? Who then is Granville Hendrick? Who then is Joseph Smith III?
Therefore now hear this parable: a tree that is dug up will die quickly, but maintain it’s appearance of greenery for a while. But with time, without good ground and root, the inner rot becomes wholly evident even though the raw structure of the tree may endure without root. A branch may be broken off, but the root cannot be moved (Proverbs 12:3). Do you understand? Let he who has ears to ear, let him hear.
Again, let us go to the prophet Daniel and examine closely his great vision:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
Section 24 of the 1844 edition of the D&C (65 of the LDS) tells us that this prophecy concerns the latter days and the dispensation of the fullness of times. The Restored Church is the Kingdom of God on this Earth; this is that Kingdom everlasting of which Jesus Christ is King and of which Daniel saw to be, at once, everlasting and yet shattered into pieces.
Must the prophecy be stated clearly? Brother Joseph knew what was to come, for it was told to him clearly: the Restoration would break into many pieces. These pieces are what we have thus far called branches of the olive tree, and so long as a branch abides in the tree, it must be considered a part of the tree!
We ask only what the Apostles have asked:
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
What is schism? In the Greek, it is σχίσμα, literally meaning a tear or a rend. Though the Church may be shattered into pieces that the scripture might be fulfilled, we need not tear or rend against one another because I am of one piece and you are of another!
And again, let us hear the Apostle:
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.
The State of the Restored Church
Why was this prophecy given, that the Church of Jesus Christ restored upon the Earth - the very Kingdom of God on Earth preparatory to His second coming - should be shattered into many pieces? It is so we might have a more clear and full view of He whose Body we are.
Consider the revelation given to Joseph Smith concerning the centerplace of Zion (D&C 27 in the 1844 edition, 57 in the LDS version):
Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.
Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.
Shall the word of God go out and return void? It is clear to us that God has not abandoned His purpose for this place. On the original temple lot site, at least four different Restoration branches exist. Upon the site itself stands the meetinghouse of the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), who followed Granville Hendrick’s inspired counsel to return to Jackson County for the explicit purpose of taking care of the Temple Lot.
The failed lawsuit of the RLDS against the Temple Lotters in the 1890’s is ample proof that it is certainly not God’s will for anyone except the Temple Lotters to have stewardship over this site. Yet it is equally true that God does not will for the work to be undertaken by them alone, as shown by the failure of Otto Fetting to build the temple despite his supposed revelations.
According to Joseph Smith’s Plat of the City of Zion, there will be twenty four temples upon this site. This grand effort may not happen until the Millennium. However the promised temple upon the site of which the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) is steward will most certainly be built. It will take a cooperation of the most supreme effort between all Restoration Children to complete this project. The LDS Church currently based in Salt Lake City has the resources to build this temple; the Temple Lot Church has the Temple Lot itself. The Temple should also serve the uses of worship for those who would enter into such Temple covenants out of the Community of Christ and other Restoration branches.
For the word of God will not return void. For the Messiah says (John 10:16):
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Does not the prophet Nephi echo the words of Christ? (LDS 1 Nephi 13:41, RLDS 1908 1 Nephi 3:194):
And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.
The Unity of the Restored Church
It is with these scriptures that we ask a bold question of all Restoration children. Jesus certainly ordained twelve Apostles in Jerusalem - Peter, James, John, and the others - and set up the order of the Church among them, with the fullness of the pure doctrine of Christ and the ordinances and power of the holy Priesthood. Yet among the Nephites Jesus did exactly the same, ordained Nephi, Timothy, Jonas, and others to the holy Apostleship (LDS 3 Nephi 19:4, RLDS 1908 3 Nephi 9:4). To them also He left His pure doctrine and the ordinances and power of the holy Priesthood, with all the same rights and responsibility as the Church in Jerusalem.
Are we to believe that Jesus set up two separate Churches? To think so is ridiculous. Rather, it is just as Jesus said: he came to His other sheep, and there is one fold and one shepherd.
Our God does not change and is no respecter of persons. What occurred two thousand years ago most certainly occurred with the death of Joseph Smith! The Church Restored fractured to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel without unbecoming one fold and one shepherd. Could it not be that the Priesthood leadership of each of the Restoration Churches who have not departed from the foundation of pure doctrine - which shall be duly addressed in the next essay - are perfectly valid, just as Peter was as valid as Nephi?
The claims of each branch, when carefully examined, do not contradict one another. President Thomas S. Monson is said to be the only man on Earth who possesses all of the authority and keys of the Priesthood with full ability to exercise them. This is true, for there is no other Church on Earth which has the fullness of the temple ordinances available.
Yet it is so that even within the LDS Church there are those Saints who do not embrace the fullness of the ordinances. Some do not feel called to keep a celestial law, so they make terrestrial or telestial covenants. But it is true that all who have the seed planted in them - that is, to be born again, to receive of the word, to enter into the baptisms of water and fire as we have previously discussed - may inherit celestial glory (LDS D&C 76:51, section 92 in the 1844 version) and Zion cannot be built up unless it is by celestial law (LDS D&C 105:5, section 104 in 1844 version). So it is that many in the Community of Christ will inherit the celestial kingdom if they obey this scripture and are baptized according to the order of Priesthood, for whatever is holy must come by the holy Priesthood (2 Chronicles 5:11). Yet they do not desire exaltation and shall not receive it, for they have not made such covenants. This is according to scripture; it is not for us to determine anyone’s individual salvation.
Let us also consider the Millenium. The great work of building Zion in the Restored Church as a cooperative effort is preparatory to the Millennium. There are a great many things we do not know about the Millennium; but we do know that it is the resurrection unto celestial glory, and that there is still yet to be much work done in the Millennium - even more than there is to do now! Could we not consider that all who make celestial covenants in this life may make further celestial covenants, should they so desire them?
Brother Brigham Young was correct when he said that Joseph Smith had no successor (Journal of Discourses 8:69). As Brother Brigham tends the flock, so too did all who were willing to seize hold of the iron rod and keep to the pure doctrine which was taught them through the Apostles and Prophets. Such continues even today with all who possess the holy Priesthood authority and keys, and also keep to the pure root and trunk of the olive tree.
I would like to hear the end of the matter from Mosiah (LDS 25:22, RLDS 1908 11:100):
And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God.
And from Paul, our champion of unity (1 Corinthians 1:10):
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
The whole Restored Church - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, without adjectives - has the Restored Gospel. No branch may say it possesses the roots.
Ahmed Nait-Djoudi is a faithful Muslim and self-employed citizen of Algeria. He has studied at Université Mouloud Mammeri de Tizi Ouzou. Fluent in Arabic, German, English, and Algerian, he resides in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria.