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To be a special witness of Christ

My sister works for an apostle. Obviously she sees and knows quite a lot about the men who lead this church. She has a lot of respect for their privacy and is a trusted employee. Because of that trust, she is very careful about what she shares with family members.

Oh sure, we’ll hear about family vacations and where an apostle is visiting, but really nothing other than that. I appreciate that. I don’t ask her to share more than she does. I know she appreciates that. The only thing I’ll occasionally ask for are conference tickets.

I’ve often thought about how hard it must be to serve as an apostle these days. They seem to be the lightning rod for a lot of criticism by disaffected church members. I’m not quite sure why that is. Perhaps they are looking for someone to blame for their unhappiness.

Apostles I have known

Think about the apostles you have known. Perhaps you have met one in a stake conference. Perhaps one visited your mission. Maybe one is your neighbor. Most members of the church will never meet an apostle. That’s sad in some ways. I know they wish it were otherwise.

I claim no special insights into the lives of our current apostles. I miss the old apostles from my youth and childhood. I enjoy the counsel and leadership of our current quorum of the twelve. They are mortal men and some are very old. We will probably lose one or two in the near future.

I’ve often wondered what kind of preparation these men received to serve in the callings they now enjoy. I am convinced that the majority of their preparation was in the pre-earth life. They just seem to have something about them that exudes authority and confidence in spiritual things.

The Lord’s anointed

You can read the biographies of most of the apostles of this dispensation somewhere online. If you dig enough you can find some interesting stories about them that you won’t hear in General Conference. Like you and me, these men are imperfect and pass through trials and tests of life.

These men did not place themselves in the positions they are in. They were also not voted in by a popularity contest. They served faithfully in every calling they were given and were noticed by other priesthood leaders for their faithfulness, diligence, love of the Lord and their fellow man.

If you have ever met an apostle, I’m sure you can appreciate that they have something special about them. They are the Lord’s anointed, meaning that they have been ordained and set apart in the priesthood to represent the Lord as special witnesses. That’s a very significant term.

Representing the Lord

I wonder how many people really understand what an awesome responsibility it is to represent the Lord. Priesthood holders have a taste for it every time they act in an official capacity to bless or to counsel, especially as a bishop. But to be a special witness – what does that mean?

I’ve read many things over the years about this phrase – special witness. Many have written that a requirement is to have received an open vision of the Savior. Oliver Cowdery taught that the ordination to the Apostleship is not complete until God has laid his hand upon them.

In other words, there are some things that can be and are received by revelation that are too sacred to reveal. They are too personal to share because they are between you and the Lord. I have written about this previously, but my witness is not that of an apostle or special witness.

Acting on behalf of the Lord

It hurts me when I read some of the things disaffected members of the church write about the current leadership of the church. I wonder how many of them really know what these men are like. I know that they have your best interests at heart. They want only what the Lord wants.

I think that’s a hard concept for some people to understand, especially disaffected members. They want only what the Lord wants. Think about that. I promise you there is no desire for personal gain or recognition in their hearts. All they do is motivated by a love of the Lord.

If they are physically able, I know they are happiest when they are out among the people in some capacity to carry on the Lord’s work – a large conference of some sort or a leadership meeting. Most of them are great orators but their words in private are filled with just as much love.

Sustained by the church

We raised our hands to sustain these Brethren as Prophets, Seers and Revelators. I know they appreciate that. I also know that they need and appreciate our prayers. It is impossible for us to write them individually or to meet with them regularly but we can do something for them.

These men need our prayers. Because they represent the Lord as the visible leadership of His church on the earth, they are often the target of mean and vicious written attacks. It is a sad and very unfortunate thing. It is not a small matter and it seems to be getting worse lately.

I hope that we pray regularly for our apostles and prophets. They have told us often that they feel our prayers on their behalf. When they stand up for things that are unpopular and hard to hear, they are blessed by the Lord because, like Lehi, they asked us to repent or do hard things.

Summary and conclusion

Like many of you have observed lately, we are seeing a distinct separation within the church over the First Presidency’s endorsement of the Marriage Protection amendment in California. The faithful, covenant members are striving to do as the First Presidency has asked.

The disaffected members are complaining, some bitterly, that this is wrong and they will not do it. Fine, just don’t fight against the Lord’s anointed. You don’t want to be on that side when the time comes to explain to the Lord how you stood when the Prophet asked you to do something.

I am confident that we can trust the leadership of our prophets and apostles. I am certain that they represent the Lord well in what they have asked us to do. I don’t believe this is a small matter – it has eternal consequences. It is a difficult matter and for some, it is a hard thing to do.

Comments

Jeffrey said…
Thank you for this wonderful post!! I really appreciate your testimony.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Tim.

Lately, when I hear talk about 'the Brethren' that makes them sound like some kind of star chamber, I recall that these men are President Eyring, and Elder Holland, and Elder Wirthlin, and Elder Faust, etc. Then I know where my loyalty lies.

~
Anonymous said…
"We raised our hands to sustain" I can't wait to do that again.
Anyway, one of the new Seventy called lately Elder aussé) was my home teacher when I was a child and he is the one who did my preparation for baptism. Oops...let's not tell him about my current membership status;o)
I really don't remember a thing of anything but the fact that he was extremly soft spoken. My mother recalls him as someone very shy.
He married one of the daughter of the bishop (Bishop Babin) who was a really fine man. My mother loved this bishop so much that she had a hard time with the following one Bishop Tavella.
Once bishop Tavella talked to her during an interview and told her that he realized that she did not like him very much. and don't remember what he told her but from then she loved him as much as Bishop Babin and they remain in my memory as two of the htree best bishops we ever had (the other one being the first one and became a patriarch).

Having talked previously with you about this gay marriage issue made me "touch" something important for me.
I don't know what it is exactly that make me feel uncomfortable about this subject but here is the thing:
I need to support our first presidency point of view because it is a part of what it means when I raise my hand to sustain them and even more: we know that God's house is a house of order. If we all start preaching our own little version of the gospel according to our own sensitivity it is soon going to be a mess.
Supporting my religion's position in this matter does not mean that I am going to go burn down gay bars or that I am not going to hire someone who is openly gay if I am ever in the position to. It does not mean either that I will refuse someone my friendship and my love just because of their sexual orientation.
It means something else. It means that I am ready to stand for anything the presidency of the church takes a position in because either it is right and I am doing what I should, or it is wrong and first God will take care of it in His own due time and waiting for this time I am not prevented from showing my love in the most Christlike way I am able to.
I am sorry that it has become such a big issue for people that it is eventually leading to more pain than discussion.
But I am happy to see people like you who stand on their position without closing their heart to deep and meaningfull talks.
Anonymous said…
Could you correct the name of the seventy please????? I typed too fast and the "C" did not print: Elder Caussé!!!!
Dan Knudsen said…
“Many have written that a requirement is to have received an open vision of the Savior. I disagree with that definition. I may be wrong, but I am convinced that the witness of the Holy Ghost is more powerful. In other words, there are some things that can be and are received by revelation that are too sacred to reveal. They are too personal to share because they are between you and the Lord. I have written about this previously, but having received them doesn’t make me a special witness.”

When Oliver Cowdery gave the original twelve their marching orders he said it was a requirement for them to have seen the Lord, just like the twelve Jesus called had seen Him, and they were to get their lives in order so it would happen. (I can’t look up the reference tonight, but it’s not unknown.)

While on my mission I heard two apostles verify that: Spencer W. Kimball (November 11, 1962, at a stake conference in Gridley, California) and Thomas S. Monson (August 15, 1964, at a mission conference at the Multi-Stake Center, next to the temple, in Oakland).

Whether the Holy Ghost’s witness is more powerful than actually seeing the Lord is beside the point. You gave the answer to your own statement in the last three sentences quoted above, as whatever you’ve received doesn’t make you a special witness (even if your experiences were more powerful), but what they’ve received does, and that’s the difference in being a special witness.
Tim Malone said…
Hi Dan,

Thanks for clarifying the meaning of special witness. I enjoyed by gospel study this morning looking for that quote from Oliver Cowdery. Section 18 given in June of 1829 contains the commandment to Oliver to search out the Twelve. However, the twelve were not chosen until February of 1835. It's interesting that the Twelve Apostles were chosen, called and ordained by the Three Witnesses, who were special eyewitnesses of sacred things.

The Bible Dictionary definition of Apostle, which I believe was written by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, contains this phrase, "The calling of an apostle is to be a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world, particularly of his divinity and of his bodily resurrection from the dead.

Also from Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine, "An apostle is a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ who is sent to teach the principles of salvation to others. He is one who knows of the divinity of the Savior by personal revelation and who is appointed to bear testimony to the world of what the Lord has revealed to him."
Dan Knudsen said…
Here is the source for my statement last night:

“It is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book Of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God....Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same.” (Acts Of The Modern Apostles by Wilburn D. Talbot, pages 14 and 15.)
Tim Malone said…
Thanks again Dan. I was so impressed with that phrase from the quote that I change the original essay to refer to it. "Your ordination is not full and complete until God has laid His hand on you." It is also found in the History of the Church, vol II, pages 195-196. That is incredibly significant and meaningful. It gives a more complete level of understanding to the term Special Witness.
Gurunath said…
NICE.........See gallery from India

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