I am so grateful for your well thought out testimony of your beliefs.
I will try and answer your questions, I think they boil down to First, why would we need a prophet today and Second, why would we need more scripture ex. the Book of Mormon.
None of this will matter or make sense comparing your theology to our theology, because if I am not mistaken you are a born again Christian and all you need to do is believe and confess on the Lord Jesus Christ and you are saved. Please correct me if I am wrong. What the Prophets have taught and preached since the beginning of the world is that you need to have Faith, Repent, Be Baptized, Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End. This is the Doctrine that was lost, changed, and twisted. This is the Pure Doctrine of Jesus Christ. The bible makes references to this but does not state it clearly enough. That is why with the Book of Mormon, with Living Prophets, and the Bible, we can know the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ and participate in those saving ordinances. By stating this I invite you to keep in mind that salvation is more than just a belief or a onetime confession I will explain in greater detail as to why. But just remember that your theology and ours is different.
To understand why we need a prophet today let's look at what a prophet does. They are first given the Priesthood which is the power and authority to act in the name of God for the salvation of his children, examples being Jeremiah 1:5 and Hebrews 5:4 and; with this priesthood the Prophet in entitled to receive revelation for the children of men. Through visions, dreams, and the spirit the prophets are taught the Plan of Salvation (Numbers 12:6, 1 Nephi 22:2, Amos 3:7), which is in essence the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the holy ghost, and endure to the end, then in turn they teach it to everyone else. The scriptures record the pattern wherein God repeatedly reaches out to His children by revealing His gospel through a prophet, who in turn teaches the people. All people have the gift of agency which includes the freedom to accept or reject the gospel as taught by the prophets. Some people
follow, some don't then become disobedient; others reject it outright. The Lord then takes away His priesthood and the gospel is lost. When there are those prepared to follow Him again, the Lord reveals anew His gospel and restores His priesthood. Such periods when prophets are
commanded to teach the gospel, often involving a restoration, are called dispensations. The periods of time headed by a prophetic leader, such as Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and so forth, are called dispensations. Evan the Book of Mormon also testifies of this principle here are some references: 2 Nephi 9:2, 2 Nephi 25:26, Jacob 4:4-6, Jacob 7:11, Mosiah 3:13, Mosiah 8:13-18. And some other Bible references: Acts 10:34-43, Luke 16:19-25
Evan, through much study of my own and praying the best way to describe what I now have, has already been done on our church's website here: http://mormon.org/mormonorg/
A few things I want to point out. First I know that Jesus is The Christ I know that it is only through Him and His Atonement that we can be clean and make it back to the Father. I know He walked this Earth, I know that he did in reality suffer for our sins, was crucified and died for us. He was resurrected, and broke the bands of death for us to live in His presence after this mortal life. Second he organized a Church, one church, that church having the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ being the Chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Those twelve men were giving the priesthood just like the prophets of old, by the Master himself by the laying on of
the hands. (Matthew 10:1; John 15:16; Matthew 28:19-20;) Now to explain Matthew 16:16-19, first off the Rock is revelation not Peter, Revelation is how Peter came to know that Jesus was the Christ, that is the context to which he was referring "the Rock" to. Christ fulfilled and completed the Atonement He accomplished all that his Father sent him to do. The "Gates of Hell" would not prevail over Revelation, it is impossible for that to happen, but just like in times past people used their agency to persecute the church and Jesus Christ. I'll explain.
Jesus Christ ascended into heaven leaving the eleven apostles a commission to go out and preach the Gospel to the world, and baptizing them. One of the first things they did was call a new apostle Matthias so there were twelve again (Acts chapter 1). Now this is very important to understand, that because of so much persecution from outside the church and apostasy from within the church made it very hard for the apostles to keep everyone in the unity of faith
(Ephesians 4:11-13) consider that almost every epistle written was to try and keep the early saints from going off in the wrong direction. Here are some scriptures that show evidence that this apostasy was happening and predicted and prophesied about: Matthew 24:9-11, Acts 3:19-21, Acts 20:28-30, Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:3-4, 2 Peter 2:1-2
These are ample enough scriptures foretelling of this apostasy, The twelve apostles were killed off too quickly to keep calling more, the organization to run Christ's church had crumbled, that foundation spoken of in Ephesians was no longer there. The Great Comforter the Lord Promised was still there but no one was there to administer the ordinances or keep the doctrine pure, the organization of Jesus Christ's Church was lost. The last of the Twelve apostles were killed off before the turn of the first century. No doubt that their words which they wrote were kept and inspired. Now go forward in time to 325 A.D. what happened here is what is called the Council of Nicaea, Emperor Constantine gathered all the bishops to establish the doctrine of the church. Let me point out a few things, Emperor Constantine was not even a Christian at this point and was doing this to gain political power in uniting his people under one religion. Now the bishops he gathered were not acting under the direction of the twelve apostles because there were none. They formulated the doctrine of the Trinity aka the Nicene Creed by a vote not by Revelation. This is not how God works. I will not go into the doctrine of the Trinity at this point in time.
At these Councils in later years under the dictation of the Emperor they decided on which books would be canonized and what books wouldn't be. Again this act was not under divine revelation. Please don't misinterpret what I am saying here. I know the Bible is the Word of God. Books were chosen to be put in to the Bible to best fit their views or doctrine. Take into consideration the so-called lost books of the Bible are those documents that are mentioned in the Bible in such
a way that it is evident they are considered authentic and valuable, but that are not found in the Bible today. Sometimes called missing scripture, they consist of at least the following: book of the Wars of the Lord (Num. 21: 14); book of Jasher (Josh. 10: 13; 2 Sam. 1: 18); book of the acts of Solomon (1 Kgs. 11: 41); book of Samuel the seer (1 Chr. 29: 29); book of Gad the seer (1 Chr. 29: 29); book of Nathan the prophet (1 Chr. 29: 29; 2 Chr. 9: 29); prophecy of Ahijah (2 Chr. 9: 29); visions of Iddo the seer (2 Chr. 9: 29; 2 Chr. 12: 15; 2 Chr. 13: 22); book of Jemeaiah (2 Chr. 12: 15); book of Jehu (2 Chr. 20: 34); sayings of the seers (2 Chr. 33: 19); an epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, earlier than our present 1 Corinthians (1 Cor. 5: 9); possibly an earlier epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 3: 3); an epistle to the Church at Laodicea (Col. 4: 16); and some prophecies of Enoch, known to Jude (Jude 1: 14). To these rather clear references to inspired writings other than our current Bible may be added another list that has allusions to writings that may or may not be contained within our present text, but may perhaps be known by a different
title; for example, the book of the covenant (Ex. 24: 7), which may or may not be included in the current book of Exodus; the manner of the kingdom, written by Samuel (1 Sam. 10: 25); the rest of the acts of Uzziah written by Isaiah (2 Chr. 26: 22). Now many centuries past, each generation passing on this apostasy from what the previous generation had inherited, changing and orrupting doctrine, such as indulgencies, baptism being change to sprinkling and at birth not like Jesus Christ was baptized, the crusades, the pope exalting himself saying he acts as God on earth, the mass, and the list goes on and on. This is a direct fulfillment of prophecy by Paul:
2 Thessalonians 2: 1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself
above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
Paul makes it perfectly clear that there is going to be a falling away from the truth. The evidence is the changes that were made in the doctrine, ordinances, organization, and everything that I have stated earlier. A restoration was needed, but people tried to reform the doctrine and practices, men like Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and John Calvin, were all inspired by the Holy Spirit of God to Protest and try to reform but none of them claimed priesthood authority from God. With these protestant movements that gave way for a final restitution of all things. Acts 3: 21 "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began"
This Restoration or Restitution began in 1820 when God the Father and Jesus Christ our Saviour appeared to Joseph Smith when he was only 14 years old. This is so important because men need to know the true character of God and His Son. You can read of Joseph Smith experience in his own words here: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/
The Book of Mormon is indeed what it claims to be Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It stands as a second witness that Jesus is the Christ. It was written and inspired by Holy Prophets of God just as the Bibles was. The Book of Mormon covers a 1000 year time period between 600AD and 400BC on the American Continent. There is so much to explain about the Book of Mormon and why it is important but I will not do it at this time, only will I say that it was translated by Joseph Smith into English through divine revelation. Jesus Christ stated his pure doctrine again when he manifested himself to these people shortly after his resurrection. The pure doctrine is to have Faith, Repent, Be Baptized, Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End.
So the Book of Mormon fulfills many purposes the two main ones being First for the none believer in Jesus Christ the He is the Saviour and Redeemer of the world and only through him can we be saved. Second that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, because he translated it. Jesus Christ
Warned us of false Prophets in Matthew 7: 15 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Evan the Fruit of the Prophet Joseph Smith is the Book of Mormon.
The only way to know of the Book of Mormon being true is by reading it and asking in pray if it is true. There is a promise in the end of the Book a Mormon I would like to quote for you. Moroni Chapter 10:
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these
things, and ponder it in your hearts. 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. 5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. 6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is. 7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever. This is a promise giving to all who read the Book of Mormon that they
can know for themselves that the Book of Mormon is true, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
I'll close with my testimony I know that Jesus is the Christ, he is the way the truth and the light. Wrought by his infinite Atonement, only can men be saved if they have Faith, Repent, are Baptized, Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End. I know the Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God call to restore us to the truth that was lost over centuries of time. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is indeed scripture and it is "16 All
scripture is givenrighteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughlyfurnished unto all good works."
My invitation is for you to learn more about this restoration that has taken place. It has taken me a long time to write this email, I will not be able to answer any more of your questions over email but will be more then willing to answer them in person, please read the references that I have given to the Book of Mormon and other internet sites. You can reach me at me cell phone: 519-831-0651
P.S. I apologize for it being so long.