… Joseph Smith came into this world that was crying for help; for hundreds of years it had been helpless. … It had been hundreds and hundreds of years since there had been a prophet. … And so it was time. (“Chapter 21: The Prophet Joseph Smith,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006),226–35)

Spencer W Kimball mormonWhen Peter, of Peter, James and John fame, who held all the keys of the kingdom, was crucified upside down, the last prophet on the earth, at that time, was taken up into heaven. The world fell into a great apostasy. The prophet and apostles of Jesus Christ had been murdered, one by one, and darkness settled over the world as Satan ran unchecked for centuries. Commonly known as the “Dark Ages” it was a gloomy and hopeless period of history for the world.

In 1805 a small light pierced the world with the birth of Joseph Smith, Jr., named after his father. His arrival long prophesied of (2 Nephi 3:14-16), Joseph came to this world, “at the proper time in these last days to open the doors to the great world, to give the gospel to them, to give the priesthood to them, and to give hope to them as they look forward to eternal life.” (Ibid)

In the spring of 1820, a 14-year-old boy went into the woods to pray and found himself conversing with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. That long, dark period of history of the world was over. The heavens were open once again and God conversed with man once more.

During a long night, in September of 1823, Joseph was told:, “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. (Joseph Smith History 1:33) And it has been, more so today than at any other time in the history of the world.

This significant moment in religious and secular history opened a new dispensation of revelation. President Kimball explained that God speaks to man, when He feels it necessary. Since He is the same yesterday, today and forever the heavens are not closed to man. Only when mankind walks away and locks the heavens from his side, does godly silence descend. Joseph Smith’s acceptance of his calling as the prophet of a new dispensation, his willingness to serve in whatever way the Lord asked of him, his willingness and courage to stand strong against all who attacked him allowed us to share in that new dispensation too.

Because of the way in which Joseph’s name has been bandied about, for both good and bad, I will in the next few weeks give you the prophets’ feelings and testimonies of this prophet, called as a boy and raised to a man serving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Through him revelation from heaven resumed its flow. The restoration of the priesthood of God, the restoration of the proper manner of baptism, the restoration of the gift of the Holy Ghost, the restoration of all the teachings and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, previously lost to the world were brought about by Joseph’s humility, perseverance and devotion to God.

President Kimball described feelings he had when viewing a portrait of the Prophet Joseph Smith found in a room of the Salt Lake Temple: “I look over on the front wall, and there is Joseph Smith, and I think what a great, great prophet Joseph Smith was. He was no common man. … I think of all of his persecutions and the suffering that he went through. I think of all the revelations that came from heaven to him which he gave to us. And then I gain new strength again.” (Ibid)

and he went on to say:

In our own dispensation came [such a] grand experience. The need was imperative; an apostasy had covered the earth and gross darkness the people, and the minds of men were clouded and light had been obscured in darkness [see Isaiah 60:2]. The time had come. Religious liberty would protect the seed until it could germinate and grow. And the individual was prepared in the person of a youth, clean and open minded, who had such implicit faith in the response of God that the heavens could not remain as iron and the earth as brass as they had been for many centuries [see Leviticus 26:19].

This budding prophet had no preconceived false notions and beliefs. He was not steeped in the traditions and legends and superstitions and fables of the centuries. He had nothing to unlearn. He prayed for knowledge and direction. The powers of darkness preceded the light. When he knelt in solitude in the silent forest, his earnest prayer brought on a battle royal that threatened his destruction. For centuries, Lucifer with unlimited dominion had fettered men’s minds and could ill-afford to lose his satanic hold. This threatened his unlimited dominion. (Ibid)

And so it is, one prophet’s testimony of another and his mission.

Joseph’s life was protected through all persecution and attacks on his life until his mission in life was through. On June 27, 1844 when bullets tore through his flesh, taking him from the world, the gospel of Jesus had been restored in its entirety. Although the persecutors of the Church believed if they killed Joseph Smith, Jr. the Church would fall into disarray and simply fade away, they could not have been more wrong. On April 6, 1830 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized by Joseph, the prophet of the restoration. Now, in December of 2007 there are more than 13,000,000 Mormons across the world. No, they could not have been more wrong. Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone and stands at the head of His gospel. It is Jesus Christ who Joseph worshipped. It is Jesus Christ Joseph obeyed. And it was through Joseph Smith, Jr. that Jesus Christ restored His gospel.

About Candace

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