1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1: The Gospel = Word and Power

                Paul addresses the Thessalonians and explains that he came unto them in word and power;

                “For our gospel, came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

                This chapter, although short, is very powerful. Paul explains that he is not just a minister of word, but actually has POWER from God. This power or “Authority” is necessary in the ordinances of the gospel and is needed for the TRUE Church of Jesus Christ.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the power of the Priesthood and its restoration began on May 15, 1829 when the resurrected John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon them.

Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4: Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ

Paul opens this letter by explaining that there is “…one body, and one Spirit…” (Ephesians 4:4), which means that there is one purpose behind all of God’s works. Paul goes on to further exclaim that there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:5)

                What is Paul saying here? He is saying that there is only one God, One Savior [Jesus Christ], and one baptism… which also means there can only be one Authority. Paul explains that there is “One God and Father of all… unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:6-7) So we learn that there can only be one Lord, one faith and one baptism… so the question arises; Why are there so many religions? Different Faiths? Different Baptisms?

Paul goes on to explain the organization of Christ’s Church: “…he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be not more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may group up into him all the things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-15)

From these five verses we learn a lot about how Jesus Christ’s Church must be set up; it must have an organized body to administer His Church on the earth, including: Apostles, Prophets, Pastors and Teachers. Those who hold those positions are CALLED to them, and do not receive money for being in them. These people called to the work and given the authority from Jesus Christ himself can guide the church and receive revelation for the Saints [members] in the church, that they might edifying the body [the members] of Christ. The reason for God calling Prophets and Apostles is simple, so that we can be guided by men called of Christ and not just those men who ‘lie in wait to deceive’. This is the reason there are so many religions, churches and faiths… because it is profitable. Over thousands of years since the death of Jesus Christ there have been evil men who distort doctrines and confuse the masses. Because of this we have so many religions today… when in reality there can only be one.

Paul explains that one day, when everyone is united and everyone believes on Jesus Christ, that there will be no reason for this same organization because Christ will reign as King. Paul urges the Saints to “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth… let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you… by ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving… even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:29, 31-32)

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3: The Love of Christ

                Paul opens his letter to the Ephesians by explaining that through Apostles and Prophets, God has “…made known unto me [Paul, an Apostle] the mystery… whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ…” (Ephesians 3:3-4)

Paul explains this so that we can understand the importance of not only the prophets, but their teachings [the scriptures], so that we can understand and know the mysteries of Christ. Paul goes on to explain that in times before, those mysteries were “…not made know unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit;” (Ephesians 3:5) This further helps us to understand the importance of prophets that we can continue to reveal more of those mysteries through modern day Apostles and Prophets.

Paul explains to the Saints [the members of the Church], that they can overcome their own personal tribulations in this life, through faith and love in Jesus Christ; “…faint not at my tribulations for you… That he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit.” (Ephesians 3:13,16) 

Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2: Saved by Grace through Faith

                Paul explains that we are saved by grace that we might “…sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 4:8-9)

                We are indeed saved by grace, through faith on the name of Jesus Christ and not from works. In order to understand the FREE gift of Grace, we must understand what it means to have Faith in Jesus Christ. Having Faith in Jesus Christ means that we accept Him in our hearts, which means that we accept all of His teachings! If we say we accept Jesus Christ and then ignore His commandments, we are not accepting his grace through our faith. Paul does say that grace is not achieved through works, and this is absolutely true… you cannot only do good works and never accept Jesus Christ. You have to do both, but like he said… to not do them unto boasting.

Jesus Christ Himself said; “Not every one that saith unto, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21) See what Paul is trying to say after we read what Jesus said in Matthew? Being saved is not just about a verbal; “I accept Jesus Christ” neither is it a “I do good works, so I should be given grace”… rather it is about having Faith in Jesus Christ and desiring to live like Him!

Jesus goes on to state; “Many will say to me in that day [the day of judgment]. Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have we cast out devils? And thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23) Jesus clearly tells us that if we don’t have true Faith in Him, it does not matter how many times we claim to be doing good in His name, nor does it matter how many times we say His name, or say that we accept Him. It is a combination of good works that are brought on by our faith in Him.

Paul explains that if we do what is right and follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, following the example He gave to us, we can be saved. He then tells the Saint in Ephesus that they “…are not more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone;” (Ephesians 2:19-20)

                As Saints [members of Christ’s church] are not strangers, but fellow citizens of His household, which is built on the foundation of Apostles and Prophets. This is the same organization that exists in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1: Saints Foreordained/Restoration of the Gospel

                Paul writes a letter to the Ephesians, he starts by explaining that he is an Apostle of the Lord and explains that we are all God’s children, for God “…hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, what we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ… In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (Ephesians 1:4-5, 7) We learn from Paul that we are not only children of God, but that Jesus Christ will adopt us and through His atoning sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and His Crucifixion, we can be forgiven of our sins.

Paul goes on to explain that God will make known “…the mystery of his will…” (Ephesians 1:7) Essentially Paul is telling us that ONE DAY we will have answers to the questions of our soul, like: Where did we come from? Why are we here and where are we going after death? Paul explains that in the ‘dispensation of the fulness of times’ we will come to this knowledge;

“…the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” (Ephesians 1:10)

What is the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times?

                First, what is a ‘Dispensation’? Dispensations are periods of time in which the gospel of Jesus Christ is administered by Holy Prophets, who are ordained by God. Through these Prophets, God can speak to His children and administer the affairs of His kingdom on Earth. Dispensations begin with the calling of a prophet, by God. Dispensations end, when the people reject the prophets and kill them.

The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times began in 1820, when Joseph Smith had the First Vision. During this time God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ spoke to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet. Through Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ was restored back to the earth. In modern day scripture we read; “It is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18).

                So we learn that through Joseph Smith, the Father and the Son ushered in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, where all dispensations from Adam to Present are linked together to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Paul ends his letter to the Saints in Ephesus, and prays that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ given them the “…spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; The eyes of your understanding being  enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:17-18) Paul was urging them to open their minds and hearts to being filled with knowledge and enlightenment over the doctrines of Jesus Christ. Today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asks the same thing, for people to open their hearts and understand that the Church, Jesus Christ personally established when He was on the earth… is now Restored with modern day Prophets and Apostles.

1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12: Organization of the Church

                Paul speaks about Spiritual Gifts, and explains that there are a variety of gifts that can be given, a variety of administrations and diversities… but only one Spirit. Paul explains that “…no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Examining what Paul said; ‘…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.’ This means that no one can claim to believe in Jesus Christ, without feeling the Holy Ghost testify of Him. Therefore we learn a very important principle; Spiritual knowledge can only be found through Spiritual means. Sure, someone can go and testify of Jesus Christ as being the Lord and someone listening to that knowledge can be converted. But, until the person being converted receives the knowledge Spiritually they cannot know and will not truly be converted. For this reason many do not believe in Jesus Christ, some even think believing in God is foolish. Why is this? Because they learn about God or Jesus through worldly knowledge and do not accept the knowledge that can only be gained spiritually.

Paul testifies that; “…by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or fee; and have been all made to drink into on Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) This scripture is similar to one we read later when Paul addresses the Ephesians, which reads: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:5)

                So the question that has caused contentions throughout the world for 1,000’s of years… who is right? Which of all the churches, sects, religions is correct? Paul teaches that the church he belongs to (the one Jesus Christ established) was the correct church and because of that we can only be baptized into one body (or church) and there is only One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism. He said this to both the Corinthians and the Ephesians to convert them to the true church, because they were joining false religions that taught in contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is where Paul teaches about the TRUE ORGANIZATION of the Church of Jesus Christ;

“And God hath some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps [administrative offices, programs and provisions in place to help the saints], governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28)

Today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) claims to be the TRUE church of Jesus Christ. LDS Doctrine believes that the Church Jesus Christ setup before He departed the world, slowly eroded until the last Apostle died and the power and Authority that He had given to them was no longer in the world. This period of time without the Authority (or priesthood) on the Earth was known as the Great Apostasy, which accounts partly for the time we know as the Dark Ages. After centuries of having no Authorized servant on the Earth, God decided to bring forth His church once more in the Last Days. God called a prophet and through that Prophet Jesus Christ restored His church on the earth. That church is known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that has the same organization Christ originally intended; Prophet, Apostles, Teachers, Evangelists and so forth.

1 Corinthians 9

1 Corinthians 9: Preaching without Cost

                “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1) Paul tells the Corinthians that he is a Special Witness of Christ, why? Because he has seen Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are His disciples, because they are disciplined to follow His commandments. However, those who are Apostles are called of God and given Authority to act in His name. They are also known as the Twelve Apostles (see Matthew 10) Paul also explains that Apostles are FREE, meaning they don’t make money from their work.

Paul explains that as an Apostle he needs to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ; “…the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel, should live the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14) For this reason, those who are called to the Apostleship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are called to that position for life. Usually these men are retired and financially stable on their own accord as to not charge for their work as Apostles. The Church also, DOES NOT support the Apostles financially, nor does the church support any of the leaders financially throughout the church. Why? Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be taught free of charge. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all those who work as leaders, teachers and ministers are called voluntarily. Most have full time jobs and families while they serve in these holy callings.

The main teachers throughout the church are the Full-time Missionaries who are called throughout the world. These men and women serve 1 ½ to 2 years and support their missions personally, or through friends and family. They serve these full-time positions to focus solely on their mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are free from the day-to-day distractions of the modern world, so that they may be more effective teachers and servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul humbly explains his mission as an Apostle; “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain more.” (1 Corinthians 9:16-19) Paul tells the Corinthians that he is a servant of the Lord and servant unto all men without reward. He preaches the gospel willingly and because he does this, the only reward he receives is a warm feeling of joy and happiness for following the commandments of the Lord and bringing more souls unto Him.

Paul makes the Corinthians think when he says; “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1Corinthians 9:24) What is the prize? It is Eternal Life, it is Salvation, it is joy and happiness that only the Lord can give us. It is important to note that it is not bad to want something so great. It is only bad when we do it against our will, we should have a desire to obtain it for the right reasons.

1 Corinthians 2

1 Corinthians 2: “The Mormons” – We have the Mind of Christ

                When I was serving a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Honduras, I was often ridiculed for my faith. I would run into people that would tell me that I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. I would point out to them that the Church has the NAME of Jesus Christ in it. But usually that wouldn’t be enough. For those who are reading this now… I testify that Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.ka. “Mormons”) absolutely believe in Jesus Christ. He is central to the Plan of Happiness and ONLY through Jesus Christ can we be saved. I know He is my redeemer, He is MY Savior and He is YOUR Savior. For this purpose, I always called this chapter of 1 Corinthians “The Mormons” – We have the Mind of Christ. Because we do, we believe on Him.

                Paul comes to the Corinthians and explains that he is not perfect, but that through the Spirit and through the Power of God, he came to them as an Apostle of the Lord;

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

                Even in during this time, False teachers had come forth… enticing men by the slight of their words. Paul explained that he was a simple man, called of God to preach the Gospel. He knew that he was flawed, but knew that God was there for him. He came demonstrating the Power of God, not of Men.

Sometimes when we think of God and His dealings with us, we sell ourselves short. The bottom line is that, GOD LOVES US! We are His children and He would do ANYTHING for us. When we are sad, He is sad! When we are happy, He rejoices with us. Paul reminds us that; “…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

                Paul goes on to explain that we can receive the Spirit of God, which is FREELY given to us. With this power we can have the ability to speak with the wisdom that comes from the Holy Ghost and not from the wisdom taught of men. Paul explains that Spiritual matters need to be compared, understood and taught I a Spiritual manner. Those who have the natural man, do not receive the Spiritual things of God, for they are foolishness to them!

                “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-15)

                Essentially Paul is saying that if you want to know if something is of God, you must come to that knowledge not through the wisdom of God, but through the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, the Spiritual Wisdom.

Paul closes by saying that the Church has the mind of Christ; “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Acts 20

Acts 20: Apostasy

Paul travels through Greece and Macedonia, where he arrived at Troas. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” (Acts 20:7) For this purpose the first day of the week is Sunday, and therefore the Sabbath Day is Sunday. While preaching a certain woman brings a young man who is ‘sleeping’ to see Paul, his name is Eutychus. Paul raises Eutychus from the dead.

Paul then travels to Miletus and sends for the elders of the church in Ephesus to meet him there. Paul says he will face imprisonment and tribulations preaching to Jerusalem. However, Paul is undeterred, because testifying of the gospel fills him with joy. Paul warns about the coming Apostasy in the church; “…after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30; see also Acts 28-30) Shortly after the apostles had been killed, the church started to fall in Apostasy and with time, evil men did lead away the members of Christ’s church, destroying it. Therefore, it was needful that a Restoration of His same Church, the Church of Jesus Christ would be restored in the last days, before His second coming. That church is known today as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Acts 13

Acts 13: Saul = Paul

                In the church at Antioch, the Holy Ghost calls Barnabas and Saul to missionary work. They are both set apart by the Holy Ghost to administer this missionary work (see Acts 13:2). This act of ‘separating’ them for the work is the same way LDS Missionaries are set apart for 18-24 months to preach the Gospel throughout the world.

Barnabas, John and Saul depart for Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos and during their travels they encounter a man named Bar-jesus, who was a false prophet and a sorcerer. Another man named Sergius Paulus, who was a prudent deputy of the country desired to hear the word of God from Saul and Barnabas. However, Bar-jesus [Elymas, as it was being interpreted] desired to turn him away from the faith. Saul, who is also called Paul looked at Elymas and said; “…O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10) Sergius wanted to learn about Jesus and the His Gospel; however those with evil intent were trying to say him away from hearing the truth. Paul causes Elymas to go blind for a season. When Sergius saw this, he believed. John departs back to Jerusalem and Paul and Barnabas continue on to Perga where Paul delivers a sermon in the synagogue on the Sabbath day.

Paul gives a extended history of Israel, and explains how Jesus came from the lineage of David. Paul preaches the risen Christ. When the Jews see the popularity of Paul’s message, they become envious. Paul quotes Isaiah, saying that Christ is a light to the gentiles. Paul explains that they need to be careful if they don’t want the wrath of God, as promised by the prophets of old. Paul explains that God will “…work a work in your days, a work which ye shall no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (Acts 13:14, see also Habakkuk 1:5) Paul is explaining the great Restoration the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will happen in the Last. Many will not believe of the great work, even if someone were to tell them. That Restoration has already occurred, and the Church of Jesus Christ is back on the Earth today; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These statements angered the Jews, which causes them to expel Paul and Barabas from the region; they shake the dust from their shoes, and move on to Iconium.