This weekend, the Twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ will be speaking to the world during the worldwide General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the Church, who are also known as Mormons, will gather in meetinghouses and homes to watch and listen via TV, radio, satellite, and internet. The broadcast originates in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Church has its headquarters. It is a unique opportunity to learn from the living representatives of Jesus Christ on the earth today.
Jesus Called Twelve Apostles to be Special Witnesses
And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease (Matthew 10:1).
Jesus then sent His Twelve Apostles forth among the people to testify of Him, and to do His works:
And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew 10:7-8).
Those who accepted the testimony of the Twelve accepted the testimony of Christ Himself, and of His Father:
He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me (Matthew 10:40).
The Apostles in the Early Christian Church
After Christ’s resurrection, He spent 40 days teaching His Apostles, preparing them to lead His Church in the months and years ahead. He commissioned them to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). He gave them power to be “witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Apostles called another to replace Judas, bringing their number back to twelve. They then organized the early Christian Church, administered it by calling local leaders, and bore witness of the Savior throughout all the world as Christianity spread from nation to nation.
Tragically, the intense persecution of the early Christians soon prevented the ongoing calling and ordination of new members of the Twelve Apostles to replace the old as they were martyred. The unique calling of Apostle, along with their unique authority from the Savior, vanished from the earth with their deaths. The long period of confusion that followed is known as the Great Apostasy.
In 1830, Jesus Christ restored the calling and authority of His Twelve Apostles once again to the earth, as part of His restored Church, which He revealed to the young prophet Joseph Smith. The Savior designated that the name of His Church was to be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although it is sometimes inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon Church” in the media. Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph Smith the Prophet, who was the founder of Mormonism. They bestowed upon Joseph, by the laying on of hands, the calling and authority of the Apostleship. Joseph Smith, under inspiration from God, then called twelve new Apostles from among the new Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ in modern times. Since that day, God has chosen a new Apostle each time an Apostle has passed away, thus maintaining an unbroken chain of authority stretching back to the Savior, Jesus Christ, Himself.
There are Twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ alive on the earth today, right here and right now. They are General Authorities in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have direct authority from Jesus Christ to bear witness of Him to all the world. Their calling is to testify of Jesus Christ, and to do His works, just as the Apostles of old did.
This coming weekend, March 30-April 1, 2012, will be the 182nd annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ. The Church on the earth today is the same Church that was organized by Jesus Himself during His mortal ministry. Jesus has called a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who will preside over the conference and speak several times. The other speakers will be members of the Twelve Apostles, and of the Seventy, as well as some of the women who lead in Christ’s Church today. Mormons from all over the world will be listening via television, radio, satellite transmission, and internet. You can listen yourself if you like. Sessions begin at 10:00 and 2:00 each day on Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and April 1, 2012, Mountain Daylight Time. You can often find Mormon General Conference sessions on local TV, radio, or cable stations. A live feed is also available at lds.org. If Peter, James, John, Paul, Matthew, or one of the ancient Apostles were alive today, surely you would make every effort to hear them. Their successors are here, speaking to you this coming weekend. Come and listen.