This article was originally published with LDS Blogs in 2008 by our beloved, and since departed, former editor, Terrie Lynn Bittner. We are still being blessed by your light and testimony, Terrie, and we are forever grateful for you.
There are many people who don’t believe in God, and there are many others who believe in Him, but believe that once Jesus’ earthly ministry ended, God decided His work was done and lost interest in the people yet to come until after they died.
3 For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—
4 And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.
5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;
6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work. (2 Nephi 28)
At no time has God ever turned His back on His children. He’s our Father in Heaven and He loves us. There have indeed been times when the fullness of the gospel wasn’t on the earth and there were no prophets to guide us. For instance, after the Savior and his apostles were gone, there were no more prophets for a time, due to the way the world had treated the Savior and His followers. They killed the Savior and those who tried to carry on His work, so God stopped calling prophets. Had they reacted differently, an apostasy wouldn’t have occurred.
However, even during this time, God didn’t abandon us. We’ve always been able to turn to God on a personal level. People throughout history have prayed at critical moments in their lives and in the history of the world. Through the Light of Christ, God could allow even those without the gift of the Holy Ghost or access to a prophet to know what was true and right if they chose to ask.
The late Joseph B. Wirthlin, who was a high-ranking church official known as a General Authority, said:
“As the sun gives life and light to the earth, a spiritual light gives nourishment to our spirits. We call this the Light of Christ. The scriptures teach us that it “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” 2 Thus, all mankind can enjoy its blessings. The Light of Christ is the divine influence that allows every man, woman, and child to distinguish between good and evil. It encourages all to choose the right, to seek eternal truth, and to learn again the truths that we knew in our premortal existence but have forgotten in mortality.
The Light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the Light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The Light of Christ will lead the honest soul to “hearkeneth to the voice” 3 to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Unspeakable Gift,” Ensign, May 2003, 26)
God knew we needed prophets to get us through the first days of the world and to prepare us for the arrival of the Savior. The final days are equally important and also require the guidance of prophets. God has restored the fullness of His gospel to help us prepare for the return of the Savior to the earth and is actively guiding His church.
While in the past, we had to seek out all answers from God on a personal level, we can now turn again, as did the people of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, to the prophets for guidance.
Of course, we are still free to turn to God individually, and in fact, He has instructed us to do so. He expects us first to find out who the prophet is and to know for ourselves what is true. Then He asks us to continue our personal relationship with God, integrating that with our willingness to follow the prophets He has lovingly sent us.
Would you like to find out how you can personally confirm the identity of God’s own prophet, receiving the answer from God Himself? Visit How Can I Know This is True?
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.