Friday, February 11, 2011

Why 1820?

There are several people that come across our path who ask us, "If a restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was necessary, why did the Lord wait until the year 1820 to do it?" I’d like to build a historical case for why I believe why 1820 was the only time the Gospel of Jesus Christ could have been restored and survive on the earth. This is going to be a little quick, but it will be accurate nonetheless. I want to first preface this by referencing John 6:66-69. It says, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." There was an apostasy, or rejecting of the truth. "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?" That's a very pointed question. I think Peter, the chief apostle, was a little shocked by this question. "Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." We learn from this that the apostles were not going to abandon Jesus, but that everybody else did because there was heavy persecution going on at this time.

I got this from a man named Hyrum W. Smith. You may never see a time line like this again:

Year 0: the Savior was born. It wasn’t really the year 0. Five centuries later, they decided it ought to be the year 0 because that was a significant event, so it is now, in our calendars, the year 0.

30 A.D.: The Savior is now a grown man. We don’t know a great deal about His first thirty years. We have a scripture in Hebrews that says He grew in stature and wisdom and that sort of thing, but we don’t know a lot about His first thirty years.

33 A.D.: Three years after His ministry He had established a church. He called and established a specific form for that church. Rejected by the people and He was crucified. At that point, it was the charge of the apostles and the organization of the church at that point to go throughout the world to strengthen and build the church.

42 A.D.: Peter went to Rome and established the Church in Rome. He ordained a bishop in Rome by the name of Linus. Bishop Linus is the man to whom the Catholics retrace their historical lineage.

43 A.D.: Paul, performing the function that apostles still perform, went back to Rome to see how the church was doing. He discovered that in one short year, the church under the Bishop Linus had completely apostatized from what Peter had established. Read the first chapter of Romans in the New Testament, understanding that that chapter was written upon Paul’s return from Rome and described what he found there. As a result of this apostasy that had taken place in Rome, Paul established a new leader of the church in Rome, a deacon by the name of Linus as well. History kind of gets messed up here between the two Linuses but understand that Deacon Linus was the authorized leader of the Church of Jesus Christ in Rome. Bishop Linus was an aberrant church already.

64 A.D.: Nero, then in charge in Rome, had Linus the deacon killed. When Linus the deacon was killed, the Church of Jesus Christ – the authorized, sanctioned Church of Jesus Christ – disappeared from Rome. The Christian church under the Bishop Linus was still there and surviving.

70 A.D.: The Roman Tenth Legion came down through the Armageddon Valley under the direction of General Silva. They destroyed the city of Jerusalem. Between 70 A.D. and 1948, the Jewish people had no place to call home. They were spread throughout the world. No homeland for the Jews until 1948.

About 78 A.D.: I say about because we’re not sure of the actual date – it was about 7 or 8 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. The Bishop Linus – at that point, the church was called the Church of Rome – received a letter from one of his people, and in this letter the person said, “You know, we really are a universal church.” And Linus thought about that and said, “You know, we really are a universal church. We are trying to appeal to everyone in Rome. Why don’t we call ourselves the universal church?” At that point, they became known as the Roman Catholic Church.

96 A.D.: John, the Revelator, was banished to the isle of Patmos. Understand that up to that point it was the role of the apostles to go out through the world and build the church. They had some success but not a lot. All of the apostles, save John, were killed, many of them in ugly ways. Peter, for example, was crucified in Rome. He didn’t feel worthy to be crucified the same way the Savior was so he asked if they would mind turning him upside down. They graciously accommodated him and he died on his head on a cross. In 96 A.D., John is the last one left. He goes to the isle of Patmos. Between 96 and 101, the books of Revelation, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John are written and John disappears. Until latter-day revelation, no one ever knew what happened to John. But in 101 A.D., the apostasy was complete. No one on the earth now authoritatively capable of saying, “Thus saith the Lord” because no one on the earth was speaking to the Lord. The apostasy now complete.

Nicea and the first Nicene council was held. The charter was given to these people by Constantine, and it was, “I want you to describe God. Define God. You tell me what God is all about and that’s the way everybody will believe.” They went away for several weeks and came back and presented Constantine with a document that is known as the Nicene Creed. That document is the basic document now that is accepted by most of the Christian faiths in the world as a description of God.

We find now, in the beginnings, the Roman Catholic church now becomes the formal church of state. Up until this time, it was just trying to survive. Now it becomes the church and this is the way people are going to believe. A period of history begins now called the Reign of the Popes. This was not this a religiously tolerant time. The popes were not just ecclesiastical leaders. They became emperors and kings as well.

785 A.D.: Empress Irene was in charge. She had another council in the same place. She sent her learned people off to Nicea. In the Second Nicene Council, the canonization of saints takes place. Idol worship enters into the Catholic Church. (Understand that you cannot read European history and Catholic history as two separate histories. They are the same. Who wrote history back then? The only ones who could read and write were primarily the clergy, and a few wealthy.)

About 900 A.D.: The exact date is not pinpointed, but there was a woman pope. The Catholic Church denies this; the Lutheran Church has detailed documentation. There was a pope in charge. Four years into that reign as pope, this pope became pregnant. This was very embarrassing to the Catholic Church and she is known as Pope Joanna. She just disappeared.

1100 A.D.: There were three popes. They broke off from each other, three different European cities. They all excommunicated each other and then went to war to prove who was the only true and living pope.

NOTE: I’m not here making fun of Catholic history. I’m here helping us understand. We need to understand the fact that the Apostasy was very real.

1200 A.D.: Two significant events took place. First, the advent of the printing press. Up until 1200 A.D., not many people could read. The printing press surfaces and has a major impact on the culture in Europe in the next hundred years. We’ll talk about that in a moment. The next event, the man in charge in Rome: Pope Innocent III. Pope Innocent III was known in history as The Boss Pope. He was fighting wars all the time. He was fighting on three fronts. Started to run out of money. Decided he needed a creative way of raising money for his wars. And so he initiated in the church a money-making program called the Sale of Indulgences. This was a significant event 300 years later; we’ll discover why in a moment. The Sale of Indulgences simply means you can pay to have your sins remitted. It even got to the point where you could prepay sins.

1300 A.D.: A revolution begins in Europe, not a revolution of knives and swords, but a cultural revolution. That revolution is known and we refer to it now as The Renaissance. European culture turns upside down. One of the reasons was the advent of the printing press. More people had more information. Questions started to be asked that never had been asked before and the culture turns upside down.

1492 A.D.: Columbus, a product of the Renaissance, was part of a growing number that said, “You know, this is not a flat world. It’s round.” And so he conned the queen out of three boats and he finds the New World.

1515 A.D.: Martin Luther surfaces. Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, one of the highest orders in the Catholic Church, a product of the Renaissance, had access to many of the ancient documents. He had a major problem. His problem was the Sale of Indulgences. He said, “I don’t think that’s right. I can’t find anything in the ancient writings that the Savior said anything about the Sale of Indulgences.” Ultimately, he developed 95 questions that bothered him a lot. He nailed these questions to the door of the cathedral in Wuttenburg, Germany. That’s how he communicated. Took several weeks for people to wander by and see the questions. It bugged the church a lot. He was then pulled before several church courts and told, “Back off with your questions or you’ll be excommunicated.” Understand that excommunication in the 14th, 15th centuries was tantamount to death. Martin Luther did not want to destroy the Catholic Church. He loved the Catholic Church. He wanted to get back to what was being taught at the time of Christ. The next several
years were not a good experience for Martin Luther. He would not back off from is questions. The Reformation starts as well.

1523 A.D.: Martin Luther was excommunicated from the church and the church put out a proclamation, saying, “We will not consider it murder to kill Martin Luther.” They put out a papal hit on Martin Luther. He had to go into hiding. He was protected by a group of wealthy German princes. The German princes, I don’t believe, were particularly interested in his theology, but they were not interested in paying tribute to Rome any more. And so they created a church. Finally they talked Martin Luther into heading that church. He didn’t want to at first, but when they started trying to kill him, he decided he would. He became the head of the Lutheran Church. If there is a people on the planet today that have a testimony of the Apostasy, it’s the Lutheran Church. That’s why they exist. They have documented it very carefully.

1534 A.D.: King Henry VIII in England had a problem with his wife. He wanted to divorce her. And so he went to the pope and said, “I want to divorce my wife.” The pope said, “You can’t do that. There is no divorcing in the church.” He looked over at Germany and said, “You know, Luther’s doing all right. I think I’ll create my own church.” And so he created the Church of England and it breaks from the Catholic Church. Was that a popular decision in England? Really wasn’t. Many wars resulted. There ugly, terrible battles as a result of that decision. He was able then to get rid of his wife. No revelation. No saying, “I talked to somebody in heaven.” But he said, “I want to get rid of my wife.” A church starts. What church in America today is the Church of England? The Episcopal Church.

1540 A.D.: I’m just mentioning a couple of the major reformers. There had been some earlier reformers but the major beginning of the Reformation really goes through Martin Luther. A man by the name of John Calvin in Switzerland and France starts an organization called the Huguenots. He was a disciple of Martin Luther. He didn’t agree with everything that Luther was doing, but he said, “I think he’s on the right track, but something’s wrong.” The Huguenots begin. Presbyterians in America today.

1560 A.D.: In England, John Knox, a disciple of both Calvin and Luther, says “You know, I think they’re on the right track but they’re not totally on the right track. I think I’ll start my own church.” And the Puritans begin.

1575 A.D.: An event took place in Paris, France, called Bartholomew Day. This was not an isolated incident, but I plug this in here to give you an idea as to how the Reformation was being received in Europe. Bartholomew Day, a holocaust took place in Paris, France. The Catholics rose up and destroyed every Protestant they could find. There was a bloodbath in Paris. Bartholomew Day. The Reformation was not a popular movement.

1620 A.D.: The Puritans come to America. Fed up with the lack of the freedoms that they wanted, they came to America. 1620, a nation is invented. It was discovered by Columbus. It was invented by the Puritans. The United States of America has its humble beginnings. Between 1620 and 1776, a nation is born.

1776 A.D.: We’d had enough. We wrote a letter to King George. It said something like this: “We’re tired of your taxes. We don’t like your troops over here. In fact, we don’t like you. Will you take them home. We’re going to be our own group.” Now that paraphrases the Declaration of Independence a little bit, but that’s basically what it said. The Revolutionary War begins.

1781 A.D.: The war ends.

1785 A.D.: A meeting begins in Philadelphia. They discover the Articles of Confederation are not working. We need another document. It took two more years, until 1787, to finish the Constitution. For the first time, in the incorporating papers of any nation on the earth, a guarantee of the freedom of religion was written into the constitution. In 1787, it is signed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

1805 A.D. Now, maybe, the Church can survive again on the planet. The Prophet Joseph Smith is born in upstate New York.

1812 A.D.: The War of 1812. That’s a significant war. Why? This time, we beat the British with some definite win. We had our own navy now. The US Constitution had been commissioned in 1797. We had a major win. They came up the Potomac River, leveled the White House, we didn’t like that very much and we won soundly this time. We threw them off and we said, “No one will ever fight a war against us again on our own land.”

1820 A.D.: Joseph Smith, goes into a grove of trees, wanting to know: “Something’s wrong. There are a lot of people teaching different things. Which church should I join?” And God and Jesus Christ appear to him and the Restoration (not Reformation) begins.

1830 A.D.: The Church is formally established on the earth. You might be interested to know that in 1830, in Washington, DC, the US Patent Office was closed. You can read in the congressional record for that year, “We’ve decided to close the patent office because everything has been invented that could possibly be invented.” It’s been opened since. There has been more progress on this planet since 1830, than in all 5,000 years past. I wonder why...

This is the basic outline for why the Lord didn't restore His church until 1820. Why was the Gospel restored in 1820? Why didn’t the Lord appear to a young man in a grove of trees in Europe in 1512? If Martin Luther had come out of a grove of trees and said, “I just talked to God and Jesus Christ and you know that they said? We don't have it right!” How long would he have survived? Twenty minutes, maybe? Not very long. I would suggest to you that the reason the Lord restored His Church in 1820 is because that is the only time that it could possibly have survived on the planet. And it almost didn’t survive then. Was there religious freedom in America in 1830? No. Was Joseph Smith welcomed with, “You talked to God and Jesus Christ? Boy, that’s exciting! Tell us what they had to say.” No, they weren’t excited about that. Ultimately, they had to leave the confines of the United States and go to Salt Lake City to survive.

There is another date we need to superimpose, Go back to 1817 A.D.: Karl Marx is born. You know who Karl Marx was, I trust. Is there any coincidence that the opposition raised up its leader the same time the Lord raised up His? I don’t think there was a coincidence. Who’s winning? How many LDS people are there today? Over 14 million. About  There are about 1,576,068,749 communists today. Is there a work for us to do?

I would like to suggest to you today that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in 1820 because that’s the only time it could have survived. I know that this Gospel, and by implication, this Church and ministry, is the only true and living Church that has the authority to say "Thus saith the Lord" because we have a prophet who speaks with Him. This is just another testimony to me that everything I believe and know to be true, really is true.

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