by Delisa Hargrove, cross-posted from LDS Blogs
In much of the northern hemisphere, September begins a season where many transformations occur. Leaves change colors and fall from the trees. Many plants and flowers lose their vibrant leaves and petals and become dormant. The morning chatter of birds gives way to wind’s blustery chatter. Warm weather turns to chill. These transformations are an important natural part of the seasonal cycle.
During the Halloween season, playful, temporary transformations occur, too, as children and adults transform into superheroes, or witches, or dinosaurs, or a host of other individuals or things. “Who do you want to be?” Costume and makeup complete the transformation. And for a season, we expect to see people transformed into something they’re really not.
Transforming Themselves into the Apostles of Christ
I thought about various kinds of transformations as I read Paul’s warning voice in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14.
For such are , deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for himself is transformed into an of light.
The only other time the word “transform” is used, Paul directs the Romans to prove the will of God and present themselves as a living sacrifice.
And be not conformed to this what : but be ye by the of your , that ye may is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, of God.
According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek translation of “transformed” in Romans 12:2 indicates a “change after being with,” “changing form in keeping with inner reality,” “metamorphosis,” and “transfigured.”
However, the word referring to transforming into apostles connotes a “change in outward appearance, the dress, the form or presentment of something,” “disguise,” “transition but no absolute solution of continuity.”
False apostles…transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
How does someone transform himself or herself into an apostle of Christ?
Who Are Apostles?
An apostle is one sent by another to represent him or her in some way; a messenger, someone sent on a mission with power and authority to act in the sender’s name.
In His ministry, Jesus Christ served as an apostle of God the Father.
For I not to do mine own . , but the of him that sent medown from heaven,
In Jesus Christ’s Church, an apostle is
“[O]ne sent forth.” It was the title Jesus gave (Luke 6:13) to the Twelve whom He chose and ordained (John 15:16) to be His closest disciples during His ministry on earth and whom He sent forth to represent Him after His Ascension into heaven. The calling of an Apostle is to be a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world, particularly of His divinity and of His bodily resurrection from the dead (Acts 1:22; D&C 107:23.)
An ‘apostle’ is an ordained leader in the Melchizedek Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Apostles are chosen through inspiration by the President of the Church, sustained by the general membership of the Church, and ordained by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by the laying on of hands. … In addition to serving as witnesses of Jesus Christ to all the world (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23), as Jesus’ apostles did, members of the current Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold the keys of the priesthood—that is, the rights of presidency (Doctrine and Covenants 107:35; cf. 124:128)(Encyclopedia of Mormonism , 1:59–60.)
So an apostle is called by God through someone having authority. They are ordained to that same power and authority (the priesthood) and sent to the world as a special witness of Jesus Christ’s name and divine purpose.
What Would Transforming into an Apostle Look Like?
What would constitute a false apostle?
Strong’s Concordance for the Greek word meaning “false apostle” translates the word as “one who falsely claims to be an ambassador of Christ,” “pretended preacher, false teacher.” Strong’s translates the verse as “For such are false apostles, workers deceitful, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”
Disguising themselves. “Disguise” reminds me of the scriptural wolf costume.
Beware of , but , which come to you in clothing they are ravening .
So a false apostle would claim to be sent by Jesus Christ without being appropriately called and ordained to that purpose. A false apostle posits a special witness of the Savior and His mission without being sent by Him. False apostles assert an extraordinary ministry, sometimes citing miraculous personal works, visions, or angelic ministrations.
Jesus Christ Promised False Teachers Would Arise
Jesus prophesied that false representatives in disguises would show up—not possibly show up, but absolutely show up.
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; it not.
For there shall arise it were possible, they shall the very . , and , and shall shew great and wonders; insomuch that, if
Behold, I have told you before.
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the chambers; believe it not.
The Lord and His apostles can be found, according to His word and patterns.
And this shall be a law unto you, that ye ; not the of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments
And this I give unto you that you may not be, that you may know they are not of me.
For verily I say unto you, that he that is of me shall come in at the and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.
Because there is opposition in all things, if there are true prophets and true apostles, there must be false prophets and false apostles. We can expect them in and out of the Church. President Ezra Taft Benson, quoting President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., warned:
“Even within the Church we have been warned that ‘the ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing, because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood.’
The Lord holds us accountable if we are not wise and are deceived. ‘For they that are wise,’ he said, ‘and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day’” (Doctrine & Covenants 45:57).
Ours is the task to be aware of the danger, to watch steadfastly, and to be guided by the Holy Ghost so we can identify anyone in “disguise” in our lives and discern the Savior’s true apostles.