Why did Heavenly Father go to all the trouble to set up his church and sacrifice his only begotten . . . in the process, just to let it dwindle after only 1 generation before practically [anyone] (in the grand scheme of things) had an opportunity to benefit? Then wait nearly 2000 years before restoring it? In the thousands of years of human civilization, the gospel has only been on the earth for a couple hundred years. Doesn't that strike you as odd? That fact gives me great pause.He raises an important and puzzling point that many of us have pondered.
Many mainstream Christians struggle with questions about why God would choose so few to even have a chance of hearing about Christ. In the LDS perspective, the kindness and mercy of God is made available to all through the great work of preaching the Gospel to the dead, allowing all an opportunity to hear the Gospel. For those who can accept it, there is also an opportunity to receive the blessings of baptism through baptism for the dead. With this beautiful perspective, we recognize that living and dying in a land or time devoid of the full Gospel of Jesus Christ does not result in guaranteed damnation, but we rejoice to know that God is not a "respecter of persons" and that He loves all His children and will treat them fairly.
But even with that perspective, we can wonder why did God wait so long to establish the Church of Jesus Christ, why did He wait so long to restore that Church after a rapid falling away, and why have so few been able to even have a chance at enjoying the blessings of the Gospel in mortality? I understand far too little to second-guess the Lord. But here are some points to consider:
- First, we believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was available and was preached long before Christ came. It was taught to Adam, who was baptized with Eve, and they taught it to their children. It was taught by Abraham, and others, including Moses, but the fullness of the Gospel was withdrawn due to the rebellion of Israel, and they were given the lower law to prepare them eventually for the higher. It was had in the New World also, among at least some of the Jaredites as well as the later Lamanites and Nephites. And we understand that Christ has ministered to other groups anciently, whose records are not yet available to us. All this shows a pattern of the Lord reaching out to many peoples throughout history.
- The entire world benefits from the Atonement of Christ through resurrection. And all can benefit from the opportunity in this life or the next to hear and possibly accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Our ability to be tested and to turn toward God does not require that the Church itself be present, though it is a great benefit. Of course, the love of God for each soul and the meaning of their journey through mortality is not predicated upon membership in a formal religious organization.
- While the authority of the original Church was soon lost, not by God's will or neglect but by the actions of men, Christianity in various forms with many precious parts of the Gospel did spread across the world and brought the basic message of Christ and the forgiveness of sins to millions. We must always be grateful to those of other religions who have so valiantly worked to spread the word and to preserve the Word over the centuries.
- I believe that God seeks to bless His children in all nations with as much light and truth as He sees fit to give or that they are ready accept at the time. Inspiration and spiritual guidance from the Lord, though diluted with the teachings of men, may have made important contributions to the spirituality of people in many nations over the centuries, both Christian and non-Christian. The light of Christ has enlightened and blessed many, both Christian and non-Christian.
Yes, the presence of the Church in our day now is certainly a great blessing, one that I wish had been available to more generations in the past. But in any case, the presence of the Church in our day is also brings with it a great responsibility. It is hear to accomplish a great work. We cannot afford to be quiet or to be inactive in advancing the cause of Jesus Christ, now that we have this treasure in our midst. Those who fight it should soften their hearts and no longer bash their heads against Mount Zion, and those who sit on the sidelines should repent and serve the Lord with all their heart and might. This is the day to labor. Many are called, but the laborers are still too few.
I don't know why the Lord waited until 1830 to restore the Church, but it has been restored, and now is the time to build it up, in my opinion.