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What led one man to write about special witnesses of Christ and why those testimonies matter to us

by | Jul. 07, 2021

Editor’s note: The following excerpt comes from a book about special witnesses of Jesus Christ. You can read this chapter in its entirety at truthwillprevail.xyz as well as other chapters as they are posted. This excerpt is republished here with permission.

Special witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ walk the earth today in both humility and great spiritual power and will do so until the Second Coming. So testified President Boyd K. Packer to the Church assembled in general conference, “I certify to you that the 14 men with whom I share the ordination are indeed Apostles. In declaring this, I say no more than the Lord has taught, no more than may be revealed to anyone who seeks with a sincere heart and real intent for an individual witness of the Spirit. These men are true servants of the Lord; give heed to their counsel.”1  His words were true then and remain so now and into the future. And they do indeed know something of the future. In a separate address, President Packer said, “There are 15 old men whose very lives are focused on the future. They are called, sustained, and ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators. It is their right to see as seers see; it is their obligation to counsel and to warn.”2

President Packer’s associate in the Quorum, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson, declared to a gathering that, “I share these things with you just so that you might know that when you lift your arm to sustain the brethren as prophets, seers, and revelators you aren’t lifting your arm simply to sustain Brother Nelson, Brother Oaks, Brother Maxwell, Brother Monson, and all those brethren with all their human frailties. You sustain them because the Lord has called them, and the Lord works through them to accomplish his purposes.”

Indeed, I view the greatest of the Apostles as living and serving as close as mortal imperfect men can get to approximating a translated being (see 3 Nephi 28:4-40). As defined in the Book of Mormon, the prophets are “holy men” (Words of Mormon 1:17; Alma 3:6; 13:26).

It is a spiritual delight to hear or read an apostolic witness that Jesus lives and is the resurrected Christ, for it affirms within us the most important truth of all eternity. Again, as President Nelson expressed himself in 1992: “I now speak in a very personal tone. In my lifetime I have visited all fifty states in the United States of America. I have also set foot upon the soil of eighty-six other countries of the earth. Wherever I walk, it is my divine calling and sacred privilege to bear fervent testimony of Jesus the Christ. He lives! I love him. Eagerly I follow him, and willingly I offer my life in his service. As his special witness, I solemnly teach of him. I testify of him.” Such powerful declarations amply justify another volume venturing into the lives and testimonies of those called to be special witnesses of Christ. 

Again from President Nelson, answering the question of whether he really possessed a testimony: “Emphatically, irrevocably, and positively, yes! I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that he is the Son of the living God. I know that this is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which he directs by prophecy and revelation through his divinely appointed priesthood authority. For this testimony, I am willing to work, to live, and to die.”5  Such is the absolute conviction of an Apostle and (later) prophet of God.

If there are any readers who do not know what constitutes the holy apostleship, President Brigham Young’s definition follows: “The keys of the eternal priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God, is comprehended by being an apostle. All the priesthood, all the keys, all the gifts, all the endowments and everything preparatory to entering back into the presence of the Father and of the Son, is composed of, circumscribed by, or I might say incorporated within the circumference of the apostleship.”6  He further taught: “What made the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ witnesses? What constituted them Apostles—special witnesses to the world? Was it seeing miracles? No. What was it? The visions of their minds were opened, and it was necessary that a few should receive light, knowledge, and intelligence, that all the powers of earth and hell could not gainsay or compete with. That witness was within them.”

A Second Volume Delving into the Life and Testimony of Special Witnesses

Several years ago, when I prepared the book I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ, I did not realize that I would eventually prepare a volume 2 containing similar material—concentrated reviews of the special witness of 11 more Apostles with accompanying doctrine and teachings. I am glad the opportunity arose and I was able to provide their testimonies. These are choice declarations of personal knowledge of God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the divine mission of their prophets. As I also explained in the first volume, herein I have selected eleven (deceased) Apostles and have woven relevant material into chapters relating in some detail each one’s special witness of Jesus Christ. These vignettes therefore contain a measure of their life history, including trials and tribulations, with a generous portion of spiritual experience and powerfully expressive apostolic testimony; their special witness is paramount to all else herein.

This material is set forth anew to build faith in Jesus Christ. Such was also its original purpose when the words came from the mouth or pen of the special witness that bore testimony, that way all are edified and rejoice together (see Doctrine & Covenants 50:22). As the decades pass and the Second Coming approaches ever closer, the world will increase in wickedness and sin and filthiness. One way to combat the evils of our day is to absorb and internalize the special witness of the Apostles; our faith will be stronger and our own testimonies that Jesus lives today and guides His Church will strengthen as well. 

Read this chapter in its entirety at truthwillprevail.xyz


Notes:

1. Boyd K. Packer, “The Twelve Apostles,” Ensign, September 2005.

2. Boyd K. Packer, “The Snow-White Birds,” BYU Speeches, August 29, 1995.

3.  Russell M. Nelson, “A Call to Serve,” Salt Lake Institute of Religion fireside, March 31, 1985, 10.

4. “Jesus the Christ—Our Master and More,” CES Symposium on the New Testament, August 11, 1992, 6.

5. An Evening with Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Twenty Questions,” Address to CES Religious Educators, September 13, 1985, 7.

6. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 138.

7. Journal of Discourses 3:207. See the first volume for much more explanation and teachings about the position, office, and role of the apostleship.

Lead image: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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