The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians about some of the structure of the one true Church in the days of the apostles: And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Ephesians 4: 11. That organization was important to the Church which Jesus formed and that the apostles carried forward after His death and resurrection. In the following verses Paul explained why there was a need for such organization:
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Ephesians 4:12-14. Earlier, in the same epistle, Paul taught of the pivotal role to be played by the apostles and prophets in the Church organization:
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Under the leadership of Peter, the chief apostle and prophet, the Church in ancient times grew and flourished. He and the other apostles and prophets taught the gospel with authority and power as only apostles could do. (See, for example, Acts 2:14-47; Acts 3; and Acts 13-14). They resolved disputes and concerns of the Church. (See, for example, Acts 15). All were blessed by the direction of the apostles and prophets. If an apostle was lost by death or apostasy, another was called and ordained in his place. (See, for example, Acts 1:12-26)
But, as time went on, persecution came from outside the Church and apostasy occurred inside the Church. The apostles warned the members of that terrible combination. (See, for example, Acts 20:28-30). Eventually the wickedness of those within the Church caused the Lord to remove the apostles from the Church. Apostles were killed and not replaced. One writer from the early days of Christianity wrote:
The Church continued until then as a pure and incorrupt virgin. . . . But when the sacred choir of the apostles became extinct and the generation of those that had been privileged to hear their inspired wisdom had passed away, then also the combinations of impious error arose by the fraud and delusions of false teachers.
Eusebius [AD 270-340], quoting Hegesippus, Ecclesiastical History Book, XXXII, 118.
Without the apostles and prophets, Christianity plunged into confusion and apostasy. Eventually many churches emerged, none of which had apostles and prophets and the true authority and power of God.
But, consistent with ancient prophecy, God’s plan called for a restoration of the one true Church on the earth. God called Joseph Smith to be an apostle and prophet and reestablished the one true Church on the earth in 1830. Other apostles and prophets were called, and in 1835 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was reestablished as part of this restored Church. From that time to the present we have been blessed with apostles and prophets leading the Church. The Church, with apostles and prophets, will continue. The one true Church, with apostles and prophets, will be on the earth with Christ returns to earth to rule and reign.
For many years we have been blessed by the teaching and service of President Boyd K. Packer, Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Richard G. Scott as apostles and prophets. Their teachings and service have not only affected the Church, but also our individual lives. As a member of the Church I have been affected by what they have done and what they have taught. As a Seventy, I have had the opportunity to be in many meetings with them, and to go as a junior companion with each of them on conference assignments. I bear my witness to the apostolic and prophetic calling that is theirs and that they blessed us with during their long lives. But, in the last nine months, each of them has passed away and moved on to service in the Spirit World. I miss them and their positive influence on the Church and on me.
But, consistent with the Lord’s pattern, other apostles and prophets have now been called to take their places. Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Dale G. Renlund have been called, sustained, ordained and set apart to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles caused by the deaths of President Packer, Elder Perry and Elder Scott. I know and respect Elders Rasband, Stevenson and Renlund. More importantly, the Lord knows these men and has called them to be His apostles. I bear my witness that the important roles of apostles and prophets in the Church continues with the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, including these three new apostles.