The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same gospel with its attending ordinances, covenants and priesthood, that was on the earth anciently. Throughout all dispensations of time, God has spoken to prophets. The gospel has not changed, but in every dispensation it is revealed anew for the people in that time, through the chosen prophet. The same is true in our day.
This is where Joseph Smith comes in. As a 14-year old boy, Joseph Smith had some questions about his standing before God. He was also quite overwhelmed by the religious revival that was actively going on in his part of the country. Between the contention among the different preachers and the confusion about their interpretations of the Bible, Joseph wasn’t sure how to know which church was right. One day, while studying the Bible, he read James 1:5 which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Serious reflection on this verse ultimately caused him to go to a grove of trees near his home to pray, hoping to gain some insight and clarity for the wisdom he lacked.
|Photo by Jörg Bauer on Unsplash|
Much has been written about what happened as a result of Joseph’s prayer in what we now call “the sacred grove.” For my purposes here, I will simply say that God the Father and Jesus Christ, two separate beings, appeared to Joseph Smith in a remarkable vision. Joseph was ultimately called as the prophet to usher in the current and final dispensation. Over a period of time and like previous dispensations, the gospel was revealed to Joseph Smith in its fulness.
The fulness of the gospel includes priesthood authority to perform the ordinances of salvation such as baptism and confirmation. Because of the great apostasy which took place after Christ’s apostles were killed, the authority of the priesthood was no longer found on the earth. This authority was restored to Joseph Smith by those who held it before. John the Baptist, as a “messenger from heaven,” conferred upon Joseph the Aaronic priesthood by the laying on of hands. At a later time and in the same manner, Peter, James and John conferred upon Joseph the Melchizedek or higher priesthood.
The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture that Joseph Smith was given the power to translate. It was given to him as a set of gold plates, which had been kept by ancient prophets from 600 BC through about 420 AD. Yes, we believe in the Bible, but the Book of Mormon was written for our day. It was meant to come forth in this final dispensation. Like its subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” suggests, the Book of Mormon truly testifies of Christ. With remarkably few exceptions, Jesus Christ is spoken of on every page of that sacred book.
This very generally sums up the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, what if it's true? What if Joseph Smith really was a prophet? Then we know the true nature of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They are separate beings with bodies of flesh and bone. We know that God once again speaks through a living prophet. The heavens are open! We have the Book of Mormon which helps to clarify truths in the Bible and declares truths that were lost or taken away during the apostasy. Priesthood authority has been restored to the earth. We can be baptized by one holding the same authority as John the Baptist who baptized the Savior! Families can be sealed together for eternity; it doesn't have to be "until death do us part."
All of this is possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. By suffering for our sins, He satisfied the demands of justice so that He can show us mercy if we repent and come unto Him. But we have to know the way.
God is no respecter of persons. As the literal Father of our spirits, He wants all of His children to return to Him. He is not a God of confusion so the requirements are the same for everyone; there are not multiple ways to gain salvation. And that is why we take this message to all the world! We believe everyone needs to know about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ so that they have the opportunity to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins by one who holds the priesthood, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.
Again I ask, what if it's true?
If you want to learn more, receive a free copy of the Book of Mormon, or request a visit by missionaries, start here: comeuntochrist.org
Feel free to comment or Email me if you have questions.