(by Dennis B. Horne)
[Readers desiring to obtain their own hardback copies of volume one of I Know He Lives: How 13 Special Witnesses Came to Know Jesus Christ can find copies on sale here Softbound copies can be purchased here, on sale. An ebook (Kindle) edition is available on Amazon here, for cheap. The Amazon page also includes the Introduction and first chapter of volume one for free.]
My first and primary ordination is to testify of
Christ and to be a special witness of Him.
(Elder Neal L. Andersen)
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. “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.” So testified President Boyd K. Packer to the Church assembled in general conference. His words were true then and remain so now and into the future. And they do indeed know something of the future: “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.”
Elder Packer’s associate in the Quorum, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson, declared to a gathering that, “I share these [miraculous] 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 Apostles 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 Christ, for it affirms within us the most important truth of all eternity. Again, as President Nelson expressed himself: “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.” 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.” 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. . . .” (See the first volume for much more explanation and teachings about the position, office, and role of the apostleship.)
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 D&C 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.
A brief explanation about the first volume
In the Introduction to the first volume of I Know He Lives I explain in detail how I handle the treasured material described by the below subheadings:
-The sacredness of the subject considered – I followed counsel to only prepare full chapters on deceased apostles, for reasons given, and treat these witnesses with the utmost respect.
-Apostles use of Indirect Language for a Reason – I explained why apostles seldom declare bluntly that they have seen the Lord Jesus Christ, but instead use carefully chosen wording that only those prepared to receive will recognize; unbelievers remain unknowing, unedified and argumentative.
-Concentration of testimony herein – I concentrate and contextualize the selected apostles’ special witness, not to exploit or sensationalize, but to reassure, reaffirm, and proclaim again.
-Bearing witness in a wicked world – The Apostle’s mouths are not shut by the devil who rules today in our wicked world, yet neither do they cast pearls before swine. They declare what the Holy Spirit allows them to. “There are limits to what the Spirit permits us to say,” noted President Boyd K. Packer.
-The modern fad of doubt and disbelief – I included only a small section on this issue in the first volume; herein the issue gets a chapter filled with apostolic messages condemning doubt.
-The supposed revelations and testimonies of false prophets and teachers – As has long been prophesied, false prophets and teachers continue to deceive even the very elect; such is why the apostles warn against them with great power.
-Preserving and remembering the Special Witness of the Apostles – This is one reason for the preparation of the first volume and also this second. It doesn’t take long for memory of them and their testimonies to fade.
Content of the First Volume
The first chapter also addresses such subjects as “What is the Apostleship?”, “The Keys of the Priesthood,” “Called to Labor for Life,” “Tried by the Adversary,” “Special Witnesses are eligible to become Sons of Perdition,” “Special Witnesses make their Calling and Election Sure,” “Apostolic Blessings,” and “The Seventy,” Therefore, other than where these items are brought up incidentally, the material is not reviewed again in this second volume.
I recommend readers peruse the first volume if they have further questions on these matters, which I believe to be important. When dealing with the special witness of the modern apostles of Jesus Christ, due recognition and care for the sacred should be and is observed. As with the first volume, in the following pages, accounts of the apostles seeing and speaking with the Lord Jesus Christ are shared with the hope that they may strengthen faith in Him and bless the lives of others. If they are not preserved and shared, they no longer do anyone any good.
The first volume reviewed the special witnesses of the following apostles and prophets:
President Boyd K. Packer
Elder Bruce R. McConkie
President Harold B. Lee
President Marion G. Romney
Elder David B. Haight
President James E. Faust
President Joseph Fielding Smith
Elder Matthew Cowley
Elder James E. Talmage
Elder Melvin J. Ballard
President George F. Richards
President George Q. Cannon
The Prophet Joseph Smith
I estimate this second volume repeats perhaps one percent or less of the text found in the first volume. Such repetition was unavoidable since the same subject is under consideration.
The Apostolic Charge
The first volume contains a chapter reviewing what is known as “the Apostolic Charge.” This charge is given to incoming members of the Quorum of the Twelve to educate them on their chief responsibilities. These are to freely give their views in Quorum meetings, but to unite with the consensus when a decision is reached; to devote their lives to their calling in preference to all else; to live pure and undefiled even in this wicked world; and to become special witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because the Apostolic Charge is so key to defining the work of the Twelve, and so informative in explaining what that service entails, excerpts from the charge given to two new members of that Quorum (in 1897) by President George Q. Cannon are here related:
“The highest authority that the Lord bestows on man on the earth is the Apostleship, and it comprehends all the authority in the church. The Apostle, if he magnifies his office, is a prophet, a seer, a revelator, and it is his privilege to live so as to receive those gifts. The Apostles were sustained at the general conference as prophets, seers and revelators, and it was their high privilege to be in very deed all that those names implied. It is your privilege . . . when you shall be ordained Apostles, to receive those gifts according to your stations, that is, in the sphere in which you move. . . .
“It is important that you should have a proper comprehension of your authority so as to exercise it in a right manner, and to do it so you will have the spirit and power of God, and to be sustained in that which you do, because there is an order in the church and kingdom of God, and that order must be observed by all. You are called to be witnesses of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“It is your privilege to know Jesus, and to see him, to know that He lives; it is your privilege to live so you can have the revelations of Jesus personally. This is the privilege of an Apostle. You no doubt know it now, and you can bear testimony that you know that Jesus lives because of the witness of the Spirit in you. It is a very proper thing for you to abstain from pre-arrangements concerning business or anything you may desire to have carried out. To speak personally, I may say that when I became acquainted with the quorum of the Twelve I was struck with the reverence paid by each other to Presidents Young, Kimball and Wells. I was impressed with another thing, that is, when the Apostles met together they met with their minds free from bias and preconceived opinions or desires, or from having caucused together with a view to wanting things to go their way or as they would have them go. Each man came into council with his mind as free as a child, without having consulted or talked with each other as to how they wanted certain things done; they came into council perfectly free for the Spirit of God to operate upon their minds. . . . You ought to come in here free from bias, desiring in your hearts that the Spirit of the Lord may enlighten you as to how things should be done, and when you are in this frame of mind the spirit of revelation will rest upon you; and if you do not do this your minds will be so influenced that the Spirit of God will not have power over you and you will therefore not be likely to come to a right conclusion.
“It is right and proper, when you meet with the Apostles, that you express your views, but not commit yourselves to them. It is right for you to tell your feelings and express yourselves freely in the proper spirit, and after doing this it is not your right to contend. After all of the members of the Council have expressed their views on any given subject, it is the prerogative of the president of the Council to decide that which is right, it being his privilege to have the mind of the Lord, and it is our privilege to give our mind as the Spirit influences us. He listens to all, and there should be no interruption, and there should be no argument; everyone should listen with respectful attention to each other and to the president of the Council; and when this is the case, after he decides, you can then see clearly that it is the will of the Lord. And we all should be agreed. There should be no difference of opinion after we get through. Whatever the decision may be, and whatever your views may be, it is your duty, after expressing yourselves, to submit to the decision of the President, and to treat him with that deference due to the man whom God has chosen to be his mouthpiece. If you do this you will be filled with light. As I said before, you should never come into council prepared to carry out any particular view; and I repeat, by taking a course of this kind the Spirit of God will rest upon you, and you will know that whatever may be done is right.
“It is not right, when in council, to get up and leave the council whenever it can be avoided. It is supposed that you are all engaged in the Lord’s business, and that one man can sit and devote himself as well as another. These are some of the duties devolving upon you. This is the holiest calling man can receive in the flesh. The powers bestowed upon an Apostle, the best of us cannot comprehend them fully. It is your duty, my brethren, to live so that the power of this office will be with you, that you will live up to the requirements of the office, having the gifts that belong to the office. God has not chosen you to stand and not grow, but He has chosen you that you may attain to the powers that belong to this office, with all earnestness and faith, that you may possess them, so that you may be filled with the power of God in your sphere. The word of God should be sought more diligently. You should seek to know the will of God according to the privileges you have connected with your Priesthood. . . .
“This is the requirement made of you; that you shall be prompt and in every respect endeavor to fill to the extent of your ability the position which you are about to occupy. It is a very important thing that this should be done. For us to sit still because we have received the Apostleship, and go along easily and quietly, exercising but little if any faith, we would be slothful servants, and God would reject us. We are not chosen to be slothful. You cannot sit still, and be idle; you must be industrious, and you must, to the extent of your ability, magnify this office in the sight of God and your brethren. When this is the case the people will see that God is with you, and that you were not only called Apostles in name, but that you have the gifts and powers of the Apostleship. In no other way can we be acceptable before God than this. We must realize the weight of responsibility resting upon us as Apostles; unless we do we may depend upon it God will not favor and bless us, and He will not crown us with His power; but He will do this if we are faithful and diligent.
“You should seek by prayer and the exercise of faith to have angels minister to you, and to have the power of God with you always. This is your privilege, and you cannot magnify your office without you are diligent in these things, so that you can be witnesses among the people that the Lord has restored the gift of prophecy, that the Lord has restored revelation, and that he ministers to men through the means of angelic beings, and that you can testify to this because of your own personal experiences.
“It is a solemn obligation you are about to take upon yourselves. If you do not feel to assume the responsibility of this priesthood and calling, do not permit our hands to be laid upon your heads; say, No, it is too great—unless you are determined by the help of God that you will seek after this power, the power that belongs to the holy Apostleship, and every gift connected with it. But if you are desirous and willing to put your trust in the Lord, and desire from the inmost recesses of your hearts to labor as you may be directed to save the souls of the children of our God—if you have that feeling when you are ordained, you will go forth with power and be truly God’s ministers to man. Do not indulge in the least in ambitious desires, do not give way to that kind of feeling that will destroy the influence of the Spirit of God within you, and his power will not attend you. But if your eye be single to the glory of God, if you are determined to serve God and have an eye single to his glory and not your own glory; when you preach well, give God the glory; when the sick are healed under your hands, give God the glory, and do not take credit to yourselves, but think how weak and powerless you must be, and what little worth you are unless God gives you the gifts to accompany your administration. Be careful on this point, for the other spirit kills the Spirit of God. God does not want us to take credit to ourselves. Pray to God to show you your weaknesses that you may see and know them, and through humility and prayerfulness fortify yourselves against them, and then you will be strong and mighty in His strength. If you take glory to yourselves God will not bestow these gifts upon you, and the measure of His Spirit that you have will be withdrawn from you.
“Now brethren, take these things to heart, and help us who are already in this ministry. Give us your strength and power, and be one with us. Listen to the counsels of your president—a man of God, whom God has honored and blessed, and be one with him and your fellow Apostles, and I promise you that you will become indeed and of a truth servants of the living God and special witnesses of His Son to the whole world; for God will sustain you and deliver you and bring you off conqueror, and you will receive at last exaltation and glory in the presence of God and the Lamb, . . .”
Note on Sources
Many of the quotations found in this work come from general conferences. The notes contain the references for those who wish to pursue the context or peruse the entire talk. With today’s technology, all anyone has to do is type the reference into a search engine and immediately find the original source material. This is also true of BYU Speeches citations. Brigham Young University maintains a website containing video, audio, and textual speeches. I wish the site had more speeches on it, since I know of a number of speeches that were given but have not been posted, for unexplained and therefore unknown reasons.
Most cited materials are publicly available online or in a library, although some are not. The diaries of George Q. Cannon are easily found on the Church Historian’s Press website. It soon becomes clear that the Apostles’ special witnesses are spread throughout Latter-day Saint literature, both public and private. For quotation from church magazines and some other online sources, I have not included page numbers, since most readers will look them up online where page numbers are not used.
 Boyd K. Packer, “The Twelve Apostles,” Ensign, September 2005.
 Boyd K. Packer, “The Snow-White Birds,” BYU Speeches, August 29, 1995.
 Russell M. Nelson, “A Call to Serve,” Salt Lake Institute of Religion fireside, March 31, 1985, 11.
 “Jesus the Christ—Our Master and More,” CES Symposium on the New Testament, August 11, 1992, 6.
 An Evening with Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Twenty Questions,” Address to CES Religious Educators, September 13, 1985, 7.
 Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 138.
 Journal of Discourses 3:207.
 “The Twelve Apostles,” Ensign, September 2005.
 George Q. Cannon diary, October 7, 1897. Some slight minor editing and paragraphing added for clarity. See also George Q. Cannon diary, October 7, 1889, for another sizeable example of Pres. Cannon giving the apostolic charge to new members of the Quorum.
I'm definitely looking forward to the 2nd volume. Please also let me say that I appreciate your blog postings very much. I eagerly look forward to them.ReplyDelete
I hope that you are doing well. If you ever want to correspond personally, my email is mtowns (at) gmail.