Skip to main content

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.


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

Popular Posts

Facebook Discussion Group for Latter-day Commentary

At the request of my bishop, I have created a new space for those who wish to discuss posts from this blog on a closed Facebook group rather than in the comments below. You can find it at this link: I hesitated a long time before creating this group. I feel strongly such a move should not have been necessary. If you are LDS and are even halfway awake you should be interested in learning more about the mysteries of the kingdom and discussing them. But apparently the "tone" of my posts has upset too many people. Best Vacation I've Ever Enjoyed I just returned from two Denver Snuffer lectures in Las Vegas and St. George, then spent three days at the Salt Lake 2014 Sunstone Symposium. This was absolutely the best vacation I have ever enjoyed. I can't remember the last time I was able to take two weeks off without having to put out some sort of IT fire at work every night from the hotel via Remote Desktop. Some people l

Do This in Remembrance of Me

  On that fateful Passover night in the Meridian of Time before Gethsemane , the Savior instituted the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The Sacrament was a change from the way His disciples were used to observing the Passover. Therefore, the Messiah gave them a commandment to do the things which they had seen him do, that is, break bread and partake of wine “unto the end.” In the Book of Mormon, the Lord gave  another commandment to his disciples, “that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily … if ye know that a man is unworthy … ye shall forbid him.” Thus, in our modern Church Handbook of Instructions, we find the same injunction. You also find there the restriction of the sacrament as a punishment. I would like to investigate the idea of restricting a man from partaking of the sacrament as an appropriate inducement to change his way of thinking. Frankly, I disagree with this idea, and have taken many opportunities to counsel bishops with whom

Cry Mightily Unto the Lord

The Brother of Jared took sixteen small stones to the mountain . We know they were small because he carried them in his hands. They were certainly smaller than an egg. Perhaps he had eight in each hand. When he came down from the mountain he had eighteen stones. The Lord gave him two more to be used by future prophets to read and translate the words the Brother of Jared would write of the Savior. After the Brother of Jared cried unto the Lord in a prayer of great faith and sound reasoning, the Lord touched the stones one by one with his finger. The record does not say the Brother of Jared placed the stones on a rock in front of him as we see depicted in the painting by Arnold Friberg. I like to think he held them in his hand as he cried unto the Lord in mighty prayer saying, “Lord, see these stones…” Assuming he held the stones in his hands, I wonder what that would have felt like as the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched them one by one. The Brother of Jared would have felt the

What to Expect When You’re Excommunicated

If you’re drawn to this blog post by the title, I ask you to look past that to the subtitle. It is “The Believing Mormon’s Guide to the Coming Purge.” Although this will be a review of Rock’s book , I hope it will also provide background and detail on why long-time members of the LDS Church would be willing to lay it all on the line in defending an idea that many find shocking. The idea is this: The LDS Church is in a state of apostasy and has been since before the death of Joseph Smith. The first time I posted about Denver Snuffer , I invited dialog on his teachings. I certainly did receive it – from both sides. One comment in particular stuck with me. I have been pondering it for years, wondering if it represented an accurate summary of Denver’s message. This is the comment: “Snuffer’s position can be summed up as follows: I was personally visited by Christ who made my calling and election sure, told me I was part of the true church within the dead church, that he would soon call oth

Concluding Testimony at my Disciplinary Council

I shared my testimony in our regular monthly testimony meeting this morning. I wanted to make sure the Bishop and a member of the Stake Presidency present - he’s also in our ward – heard me say I sustain the general authorities and local authorities of the church. Of course these words were in addition to sharing comments reflecting my love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior. Covering All the Bases Carol asked me afterward if I did that to offset whoever it was that complained about my blog a few months ago. I assured her I was sincere, but yes, I wanted the whole ward to know of my feelings for those who lead this church. I continue to sustain them with my prayers and with my money. Yes, I know my tithing is used to pay their salary. It also helps pay my sister’s salary. Follow the Bishop’s Counsel As far as I know, I’m not under any priesthood leader’s watch list for an impending disciplinary council, but a few of my friends and fellow bloggers have been surprised, so I’m being care

A Mormon Reviews The Afterlife of Billy Fingers

Storytelling in a Non-Fiction Book The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan is a wonderful book. I give it five stars. One of the Amazon reviewers said she read the 191 page book in 90 minutes. It took me about three hours. I had to stop often to wipe away the tears. The book was an emotional and spiritual roller-coaster. Thank you, Annie for that superb and captivating storytelling in a non-fiction book. Messages From the Spirit World The book extends three challenges to its readers: First, is it fiction or fact? Annie didn’t have to expend a great deal of effort and energy to persuade me it really happened. I was convinced right away by the down-to-earth, day-to-day events of Annie’s life as she dealt with the loss of her older brother Billy to a tragic accident. I have no doubt Billy came to her to share his transition. Traditional Heaven and Hell Missing Second, you will need to re-examine what you know about the after-life, especially if you have accepted traditional heaven

Cut Off From Among My people

When one is excommunicated from the LDS Church, he is provided instructions by the Bishop or Stake President as to what he can and cannot do. Given that the church just severed the relationship with the individual excommunicated you would think the instructions provided are no longer applicable. It is assumed they are given with the intention of helping the individual make their way back to baptism again within a short period of time, even as little as one year. Instructions Provided When Excommunicated It has been my sad duty over the years to write and deliver the notice to appear, then to write the summary of the disciplinary council for the report sent to Salt Lake, and the instructions given to the individual who has been the subject of church discipline. Frankly, I have found it a difficult process. It requires that I listen intently and take copious notes so as to capture the essence of what transpired, what was considered, what was decided and finally, what instruction was

The True Order of Prayer

I’m not sure if I can write the things I feel in my heart right now. I am simply overwhelmed with emotion. I’ve asked the Lord’s permission to share this and He said yes. It’s a sacred experience to me. I hope the spirit bears witness. I’ll give you a little bit of background first, share what the Lord allows me and conclude tomorrow with what He asked me to write on a different subject. A Forty-Year Search On Sunday, I culminated a forty-year search for understanding of The True Order of Prayer. Yes, I was seventeen when I first learned about this, even before I was endowed. You see, my parents were both incredibly active in Temple service. Mother ’s life work was to do her family history. I have her patriarchal blessing where it’s stated it was her calling and election. She made it sure. My Mother’s Calling and Election Before she died, mother published multiple books of family history, genealogy and research on some 25,000 ancestors. She and my father personally did most of the ordi

A Dialogue About the Devil

I spent way too much time on this dialogue about the devil to not share it publically. I know. It's a terrible subject to contemplate. Why are we discussing these ideas when there are so many other areas of light that would be more worthy of our time and attention? You can skip this if you want. We all have to be selective about where we spend our time and energy. I open it up for public discussion, or more likely, for public correction. See if you can spot and correct any false doctrine here. Hello Brother Malone, I have no scriptural reference for my thoughts I share with you regarding Lucifer but wondered if in your studies and readings you have heard this scenario before. We are taught Lucifer was esteemed as per the Savior in the pre-existence before his apparent fall. Is it possible he did not fall and that like the Savior he chose to accept the calling of being Satan as Jesus accepted the calling of being Savior, that the great council was more about a communal and loving di

Keys of the Kingdom Revisited

Carol and I have had a running conversation since Sunday about the succession crisis at the death of Joseph. To me, it has become the crux of the matter when considering the legitimacy of the LDS Church as the Kingdom of God on the earth. We have both been taught all our lives that Brigham had the Keys of the Kingdom and therefore nothing was lost when Joseph was killed. Before I present anything may I remind everyone that this is the blog of a private member of the LDS Church and in no way represents the official viewpoints or doctrines of the LDS Church. For that, go to where you can read the official narrative of how the succession between Joseph and Brigham took place. I won’t review it here. I assume you are familiar with the story. Second point: if my writing about this bothers you, please don’t read it. I am simply trying to understand our history more perfectly. If the history of our Church is not something that has anything to do with your faith or your willingness t