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"I Testify to You That I Know the Mormon Church is True... Because We are the Only Church that has 12 Living Apostles."
Apostles of the First Century
The First 12 (the Bible)
When he began his public ministry in Israel after his baptism, Jesus personally selected his twelve apostles. After one (Judas Iscariot) betrayed Christ, his office was filled by another (Acts 1:12-26). The resurrected Jesus appeared to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus and explained what was written in all the scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:27).
After his ascension, the remaining eleven Apostles met to fill the vacancy. Peter reminded the other ten apostles, "Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take" (Psalms 69:25 and 109:8).
These scriptures foretell that only Judas would be replaced. There are no biblical references foretelling or referring to the replacement of any other apostles. The scripture implies that Judas was different than the other disciples and needed to be replaced due to his betrayal of Jesus unto death.
It is not recorded that any other apostle ever committed suicide. The Bible appears to be teaching that Judas' ordination as an Apostle was revoked, and that he was no longer consideredone of them (John 13:27; 17:12).
The biblical requirements for filling this vacancy are stated in Acts, Chapter One: "...men which have companied with us...from the baptism of John, unto...he was taken up from us." Thus, this replacement disciple was to be an eye-witness, with the other 11, of Jesus' ministry and resurrection. The method they used allowed God to choose the replacement. The Apostles prayed and asked the Lord to show them which of the two candidates He had chosen. The lot fell to Matthias, who was ordained and numbered among them (Acts 1:12-26); the new total was still 12.
The Apostle Paul claimed to be an apostle (1 Cor. 1:1) (that's why we call him the Apostle Paul). He was chosen directly by the resurrected Jesus Christ in a vision of blinding light. He was called on the Road to Damascus by Jesus, in a different manner from the Twelve (Acts, Chapter 9). Paul had not been with Jesus during his ministry. This may have been why he did not consider himself to be part of the original 12 Apostles, but claimed to be an apostle abnormally born (1 Cor. 15:8-9).
God gives us an illustration of only 12 apostles in heaven. After God's final judgment, His heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, has 12 walls. The names of the 12 apostles are written on the foundations of the 12 walls (Rev. 21:27). This number matches the number of eye witness apostles who could testify of Jesus' ministry and resurrection in Israel.
The Book of Mormon states that after Jesus' ascension, he returned to earth and appeared on the American continent. He personally hand-picked and trained twelve Nephite disciples, and commissioned them to minister unto the rest of the Nephites (3 Nephi 12:1, 15:11-12). It is clear that, according to the Book of Mormon, these Twelve Disciples ministered among the Nephites in an ordained apostolic capacity (3 Ne. 18; 19; 27; 28; Moroni 2:2). "In writing about the Book of Mormon, the Prophet [Joseph Smith] said
that it 'tells us that our Savior made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection; that he planted the gospel here in all its fullness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, and same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings as were enjoyed on the eastern continent.' (History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 538)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 47).
There is a difference in the Book of Mormon; new disciples were ordained to replace those who died (4 Nephi 14). According to the Book of Mormon, Jesus personally chose a total of 24 apostles. In Mormon 3:19, they are called, "the twelve whom Jesus chose in this land," and "the other twelve whom Jesus chose in the land of Jerusalem."
According to the Book of Mormon, Jesus gave 3 of the Nephite apostles the power over death so that they could "bring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall yet stand." These Nephite Apostles will never die, but will live until Christ comes in his "glory with the powers of heaven." Only then will they "be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality" (3 Nephi 28).
According to the Doctrine & Covenants, John the Beloved, one of the original 12 Apostles, also was allowed to live and tarry until Jesus comes in glory from heaven (D&C Sect. 7). If these scriptures are true, John and the three Nephite apostles have been roaming the world winning souls to Christ to this very day. This guarantees that a minimum of four full-fledged Apostles have been on the earth since their ordination,continually fulfilling their extended life-long mission of evangelism. Since these four Apostles never died (according to the Book of Mormon and the D&C), they can never be replaced or restored.
First 4 Hand-Picked by Revelation
Joseph Smith was apparently ordained as an apostle by revelation from God, in March of 1829 (D&C 5:6). The History of the Church (HOC) records that his ordination was apostleship (Vol. 1, p. 65, point 2.). This made him an apostle before the church was organized in April 1830 (D&C 20). Three other apostles were personally called by revelation of Jesus Christ. These were the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, who wereapparently called to be part of the First Presidency (HOC Vol. 2, p. 188).
Jesus instructed the Three Witnesses, through a revelation, to choose the first twelve apostles of the restored church. This was the first time three apostles were ever assigned to pick twelve more apostles. This was apparently not completed until nearly five years later, in February of 1835 (D&C 18:37, History of the Church 2:187-8, Times and Seasons 6:868). It appears that the church was originally reorganized with four apostles who eventually selected 12 more. When they completed their assigned task, the restored total was 16.
The 12 apostles who were hand-picked by the three witnesses were not hand-picked by Jesus Christ (according to D&C 18:9). The selection of these man-picked apostles had disastrous results. By 1846, the Three Witnesses had all left the church, and only six of the original twelve remained in their office as an apostle (Orson Pratt, one of the remaining six, had been reinstated after losing his original position through excommunication). These twelve were "called to go into all the world to preach my gospel to every creature" (D&C 18:28).
According to the Bible, there can only be twelve eye witness apostles with no further replacements. Also, Paul was not replaced. The biblical total forever is 12 in one category and one in the other. According to the Book of Mormon, the true church continually replaced its apostles who died (4 Nephi). In order to be a true restored Book of Mormon church, the restoration must have 12 apostles in the Old World and 12 in the New World (Mormon 3:19) for a total of 24.
Here's How the Numbers Add Up
1) 12 Apostles currently alive 12
2) The First Presidency (the
Prophet and his two counselors) + 3
Subtotal = 15
3) John the Beloved} "Missing" 1
4) The three Nephites} In Action" + 3
Present-day Total = 19
12 15 16 19 24 ?
Today, the Mormon church claims it is the only true church because it has 12 living apostles (at any one time). Apparently, the Mormon church is forgetting to count the three in the First Presidency.
They also are apparently not counting the three Nephites and John the Beloved who can never die and therefore can never be replaced.
But even if they were to start counting all these, they appear to be short five apostles, according to the Book of Mormon. According to the Bible, they appear to have 19 too many living apostles and far too many dead ones.
How can the "restored church" be the "true church" with a false number of apostles?