By what authority do you or your Christian pastor perform gospel ordinances, such as baptizing new believers or laying hands on someone to receive the Holy Spirit? Mormons often challenge Christians with this question because they believe that gospel “authority” was lost when the apostles died and that it had to be “restored” through their Prophet Joseph Smith. But what does the Bible say?
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus told His followers, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
Because Jesus holds “All authority” and has promised to be “with” Christians “always, to the very end,” how could gospel priesthood authority be lost from the earth for eighteen centuries until Joseph Smith “restored” it?
Not only was authority not lost with the death of the apostles, it had been transferred to thousands of new believers in Acts, who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the moment that they first believed. This priesthood authority of all believers, or “power” as it is also called, has allowed Christians of all centuries to carry the message of Christ to “the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
This is why the “authority” to carry out gospel ordinances that Jesus transferred directly to the apostles, was no longer limited to them, and as a result, that authority was never lost when they died. Indeed, we can be confident that Jesus fulfilled His promise to us when he said that He would build His church and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Acts 3:19–21 speaks of the “restitution of all things” and is often presented as biblical proof for the Mormon restoration. Yet, this passage discusses a restitution that will occur just before Jesus’ second coming and says that heaven must receive Him “until the times of restitution of all things.” The Apostle Paul explained that at the “glorious appearing” of Jesus Christ, Jesus will “redeem” and purify His people, the sons and daughters of God. Then, when these children of God are manifested, all of creation “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” due to the curse (Romans 8:19-22). Thus, the context of Acts 3:19-21 has nothing to do with a “restitution” of the “gospel,” but rather, it is talking about the prophesied “restitution of all things” in creation when it will be delivered from the curse when “he shall send Jesus Christ” (Acts 3:20) back to earth to reign.
 See Titus 2:13-14.
 See Daniel 7:14; Revelation 19-22.
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