His Servants the Prophets

It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets, but it is a greater thing to believe in the living prophets.” – President Marion G. Romney, “Nurture a Testimony,” General Conference, April, 1953.

From the Garden of Eden to the present, God has spoken to mankind through prophets. Whenever our Eternal Father has something significant to convey to His children, He speaks through prophets. Whenever the Lord wants to establish His Church and expound the points of His Gospel, He does so exclusively through prophets. The intention of this article is to explain the signature role of prophets in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to share my personal witness that the Lord speaks to us today through prophets.

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The Bible uncategorically affirms the importance and necessity of prophets. The prophet Amos recorded this wonderful statement:

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Amos taught that the Lord speaks through prophets. That is His eternal pattern. He uses mediators to deliver His words, to warn of impending judgments, to instruct, and to officiate in essential saving ordinances and covenants like baptism.

Before we go any farther, let’s define what a prophet is. The word prophet comes from the Greek work meaning spokesman, or one who speaks in behalf of. In this case, prophets speak for God. When a prophet is inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so, his words are the equivalent of God’s own words; they are what the Lord wants people to know at that precise moment and are as equally binding upon the hearers as if God Himself was speaking. A true prophet, therefore, is the Lord’s spokesman or mouthpiece.

The Bible Dictionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives us this insight:

The work of a Hebrew prophet was to act as God’s messenger and make known God’s will . . . He taught men about God’s character . . . He was to be, above all, a preacher of righteousness. When the people had fallen away from a true faith in Jehovah, the prophets had to try to restore that faith and remove false views about the character of God and the nature of the Divine requirement. In certain cases prophets predicted future events, e.g., there are the very important prophecies announcing the coming of the Messiah’s kingdom; but as a rule a prophet was a forthteller rather than a foreteller. In a general sense a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost.” (Bible Dictionary, Prophet”).

A prophet reveals God to his fellows. He reveals the true character and nature of the Being we worship. He helps us know our Father and His Son Jesus Christ – and really knowing Them is “eternal life” (John 17:3). A prophet, like any true friend, helps bring us to Jesus Christ (though ultimately the individual is responsible for receiving his own personal witness, through the Holy Spirit, of the Lord’s divinity). A prophet is also a seer and a revelator and, when it is the Lord’s will, he can reveal future events and authoritatively warn of coming judgments.

What’s more, a prophet is a legal administrator of the essential saving ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is one who possesses authority from the source of all power and authority – God Himself. God’s authority is called the Holy Priesthood. There is a higher (Melchizedek) and a lower (Aaronic or Levitical) Priesthood, but I will refer to them both in a collective sense.

At any given time, the Lord’s prophet is the man chosen and ordained to exercise all the authorities and powers of the Holy Priesthood for all people on earth. He, and he alone, presides over saving ordinances. He can delegate this power to local authorities such as bishops, elders, and priests, just as Jesus delegated His authority to His apostles, but the ultimate presiding authority resides in the man who at any given time is the president of the Holy Priesthood on earth.

It is through the Priesthood channel that revelation for mankind is given. Private individuals are not entitled to receive revelation for mankind (though they can of course receive personal revelation for themselves and their family); but a prophet can receive universal revelation by virtue of his office. In a helpful sermon on the two lines of communication God uses to speak to mankind, the personal and private lines, President Dallin H. Oaks, one of the Lord’s chosen apostolic witnesses in our day, explained:

The priesthood line is the channel by which God has spoken to His children through the scriptures in times past. And it is this line through which He currently speaks through the teachings and counsel of living prophets and apostles and other inspired leaders. This is the way we receive the required ordinances. This is the way we receive calls to service in His Church. His Church is the way and His priesthood is the power through which we are privileged to participate in those cooperative activities that are essential to accomplishing the Lord’s work. These include preaching the gospel, building temples and chapels, and helping the poor.

In respect to this priesthood line, our belief and practice is similar to the insistence of some Christians that authoritative ordinances (sacraments) are essential and must be performed by one authorized and empowered by Jesus Christ (see John 15:16). We believe the same but of course differ with other Christians on how we trace that authority.

Some members or former members of our church fail to recognize the importance of the priesthood line. They underestimate the importance of the Church and its leaders and its programs. Relying entirely on the personal line, they go their own way, purporting to define doctrine and to direct competing organizations contrary to the teachings of prophet-leaders. In this they mirror the modern hostility to what is disparagingly called “organized religion.” Those who reject the need for organized religion reject the work of the Master, who established His Church and its officers in the meridian of time and who reestablished them in modern times” (President Dallin H. Oaks, “Two Lines of Communication,” General Conference, October, 2010).

There have always been those who reject the prophets and the Lord’s organized Church with its formal officers, leaders, ordinances, and doctrines. Yet, in spite of objections throughout the Protestant world, God has always led His people through prophets. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

It should be understood that there is no salvation without ordinances. Yes, it is Jesus Christ who saves us through the mercy which He is capable of extending because of His atoning sacrifice, but He has appointed a pattern which includes ordinances. The ordinance of baptism, for instance, is so essential that the Lord taught:

Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . .

. . . Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. . . .

. . . Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 5, 7).

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This teaching ought to dispel the incorrect notion that salvation can come without ordinances because, naturally, there is no salvation outside of the Kingdom of God. This doctrine should cause us to seriously search for the Lord’s legal administrators endowed with the authority to perform such saving ordinances. Again, common sense dictates that no ordinance is recognized by God unless it is performed by His authentic authority.

There are many who say “Lord, Lord,” but not all are in the path of righteousness (Matthew 7:21). Those who hold the Lord’s legitimate authority are members of His Holy Priesthood. They are legal administrators of salvific Gospel ordinances. And only at their hands can saving ordinances be received. This should cement in our minds forever the necessity of prophets.

Prophets are engaged in the work of salvation. They are the laborers in the vineyard of whom the Lord spoke in His parable in Matthew chapter twenty. As such, they are on the Lord’s errand and must work in the Lord’s approved manner and by His authority. Among other things, prophets, as well as all other Priesthood holders in their various offices, were never intended to labor for money. Their time was to be an offering to God. It was to be selfless service with no monetary or worldly reward; only the reward of helping others, doing the right thing, and serving in the mode of the Savior.

Peter instructed his fellow elders in the Priesthood:

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Those in the Church who worked for money (i.e. “filthy lucre”) or who worked to make themselves popular like the Jewish Pharisees, were then, and are today, guilty of priestcraft. Priestcraft is not a word used much among most Christians, but it is a perfect description of Christian churches throughout the world – especially the so-called “mega” churches. Additionally, those who sell saving ordinances, or offer forgiveness, in exchange for money are also guilty of priestcraft and are in direct violation of Peter’s words.

In the book of Acts, the Apostle Philip was ministering to the people in Samaria. A magician named Simon saw Philip’s legitimate miracles, such as casting out evil spirits and healing the sick, and temporarily believed the Gospel message. Some of those who had been previously bewitched by Simon were converted and were baptized. Hearing the good news, Peter and John traveled to Samaria and began conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost on the newly baptized members in the correct “laying on of hands” fashion. We then find this exchange between Simon and Peter:

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

. . . thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Repent therefore of this, thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:5-23).

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As an interesting note of history, this very Simon, Simon Magus or Simon the Sorcerer, later apostatized and became the founder of Gnosticism. The same sin of which he was guilty, which is thinking that God’s ordinances, blessings, gifts, authority, or power can be bought with money, is rampant in Christendom. Forgiveness, let alone the gift of the Holy Ghost or the Holy Priesthood, cannot be purchased with money. Also, the Holy Ghost cannot be conferred on people in any other manner but through the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17).

Similarly, no one can claim, of themselves, the right and authority to preach the Gospel or perform ordinances. No true prophet in history has ever called himself to that position. Not one. Not Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Malachi, Jonah, or Peter. A prophet is, rather, called by revelation from God through approved Priesthood channels or by direct manifestation or visitation of God.

This means that every self-appointed pastor, bishop, priest, evangelist, chaplain, reverend, cleric, or minister who created his own church, who invented his own “ministry,” or who was hired the same as any other worker is, rather than being called by revelation through a Priesthood authority, holds no legitimate authority or calling. While there are numerous sincere pastors who work for money, despite the Bible decrying paid a clergy who labor for “filthy lucre,” ultimately these are not called of God and hold no lawful Priesthood administrative authority.

Furthermore, earning a degree in theology does not qualify one for any ministry or calling in Christ’s legitimate Church. Were any of the Savior’s apostles theologians? Not a one of them. They were fishermen and laborers – average folks from the poorest parts of Palestine. For them, preaching the Gospel was not a profession; it was a sacred calling. They did not choose it; the Lord chose them. He said as much:

I am the vine, ye are the branches. . . .

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you” (John 15:5, 16).

This is the pattern for all time and for all prophets. Not one true prophet or legitimate priest/pastor/bishop calls himself to the work. It has simply never happened. Rather he is chosen, through revelation via the proper channels, by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is ordained to his special calling through the Lord’s Priesthood. In the case of the original twelve apostles, the Lord – the true vine – ordained them. Later, these same apostles, via the same Priesthood authority given to them by Jesus Christ, selected and ordained others to fill vacancies in their quorum.

When the apostles needed to fill the void left by Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and gory suicide, they chose two possible candidates. They then “prayed and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen” (Acts 1:20-26). What were the apostles doing? They were, of course, seeking revelation. They did not merely vote and use their flawed human wisdom to select the next apostle. They understood that the Church of Jesus Christ was not their Church – it was the Lord’s and that the Lord alone has the right to call and appoint its leaders. The same is true in our day.

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Isaiah

Some believe that in order to be a prophet or apostle, one must have lived in the days of Christ and have personally witnessed His resurrection. They quote Acts 1:22 for this false belief. That verse, in part, states that a new apostle had to be taken from among the Christian brethren and must be “ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” To believe that prophets and apostles had to have lived only 2,000 years ago is to misunderstand this verse or to deny other relevant scriptures.

The verse in question simply means that the office of an apostle is to bear witness of Jesus Christ. An apostle’s official capacity is as a special witness of the Savior’s life, resurrection, and divinity. It is His Church, after all. Can individuals learn these glorious truths today? Can we, through the Holy Spirit, gain personal testimonies and witnesses of the Savior just as the early Christians did? Yes, we can!

Peter, who walked and talked with the Savior, gained his personal witness through the Spirit and not because of His firsthand knowledge. He did not gain a witness by literally viewing Jesus with his own eyeballs. Speaking of Peter’s witness, Jesus clarified that “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17). And since we can today receive a spiritual confirmation of the truth as easily as the apostles could in Christ’s own day, men can presently be ordained to be legitimate apostolic witnesses.

This notion is further verified by a correct understanding of another verse of scripture. It was in the context of Heavenly revelation to Peter that Jesus said “and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The verse does not refer to Peter as the rock, though Peter was the first president of the Lord’s Church and the man authorized by the Lord to receive revelation for the ancient Saints. Rather, revelation from the Lord is the rock upon which the Church of Jesus Christ must be built. And the apostles were sent out as messengers to declare to the world the truths they had learned through personal revelation.

Dr. Hugh Nibley, a brilliant scriptorian, scholar, and professor who mastered fourteen languages and penned numerous books, spoke of the unique station of prophets, and the general antipathy towards their holy work, in his book The World and the Prophets. He wrote:

A prophet is no ordinary person; he makes no ordinary claim; and he does not ask people to believe him, but to test him. God is not authoritarian: He asks no on to believe; but invites the world, as his prophets do, “Prove me herewith.”

When the Lord was upon his earthly mission, he greatly angered and upset men by forcing them to decide whether he was a true prophet or not . . . The Lord insists that we make up our minds one way or another regarding is calling.

. . . a prophet is a witness, not a reformer. Criticism of the world is always implicit in a prophet’s message of repentance, but he is not sent for the purpose of criticizing the world. Men know the world is wicked, and the wickedest often know it best . . . It was not the Sermon on the Mount that drove men to crucify the Lord. It was not for their moral tirades that the prophets of old and the Apostles were stoned . . .

What, then, did Christ and the Apostles do and say that drove men into paroxysms of rage? They performed tangible miracles such as could not be denied, and they reported what they had seen and heart. That was all. It was as witnesses endowed with power form on high that they earned the hatred of the world, of which John speaks so much: “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness” (John 3:11). . . .

And as soon as the Apostles said, “We are his witnesses of these things,” the council of the high priests “were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them (Acts 5:32-33; italics added). Again, we are told that the multitude “were cut to the heart” when Stephen accused them of rejecting what had brought “by the dispensation of angels” (Acts 7:53-54). But the last straw was when he had the effrontery to say, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him” (Acts 7:56-58). If Stephen had spent his life, as innumerable philosophers have, denouncing the vices and follies of the age, he might have died peacefully in bed. But those fatal words, “I see,” were his death warrant. And what did Paul say to make the Jews cry out in utter horror: “Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live,” as “they . . . cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air?” (Acts 22:22-23). What indeed? These were the unforgivable words that made him unfit to live: “Suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest” (Acts 22:6-8). Paul could have won his audience over by speaking as a scholar, but when he bore witness to what he had seen and heard, he was asking for trouble” (Hugh Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 12-15).

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The key thing to draw from this excerpt is that a prophet is a man with personal, firsthand knowledge of God – a bold witness who bears his simple testimony of the truth which he personally knows and which he has had confirmed to him by the Holy Spirit. Prophets do not speak from theoretical knowledge or scholarly learning. Rather, they speak from their firsthand experience with their Savior Jesus Christ.

Oftentimes, prophets have face-to-face or visionary encounters with the Lord, as did Paul, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Enoch, Adam, Jeremiah, and others. They frequently hear the voice of the Lord. They see Him in dreams and manifestations. And, more importantly, they all receive spiritual confirmation of the truth through the power of the Holy Ghost. No matter how God is revealed to them, they know of His reality, His divine mission, and of the true points of His Gospel. Their task, when called by the Lord to do so, is to share their witness of Jesus Christ.

The book of Acts gives us a wonderful description of a prophet’s role. Peter testified:

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing. . . .

And we are witnesses of all things which he did. . . .

Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly. . . .

And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

To him give all the prophets witness, that through is name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:38-40, 42-43).

All of the prophets who have ever ministered or who ever will minister have testified of Jesus Christ. At times they referred to Him as Jehovah, the Lord, or the Messiah, but it was the Man Jesus, the Son of the Living God, of whom they preached, taught, and bore special witness. As Dr. Nibley observed above, prophets are so hated precisely because they give personal witness and don’t speak theoretically. They force us to make a judgment, either for or against, regarding the veracity of their testimony. And as the scriptures show, correctly discerning the truth of a prophet’s words and aligning ourselves with them makes all the differences.

Artwork by Alex Levin, Israel.

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The existence of prophets in Old Testament times cannot be disputed. But what of the New Testament era and our own modern day? Some claim that prophets were done away with after the resurrected Christ’s Ascension. This is false. I again cite the scripture: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

The Lord very clearly intended that His Church should be guided, as it always had been in former times, by a duly called prophet wielding Priesthood authority. He also established apostles. The word apostle means “one who is sent” or, in other words, a messenger or emissary. A prophet is an apostle as well, just as an apostle is a prophet, but the prophet at any given time heads the body of apostles and presides in the Lord’s Priesthood.

Before His Atonement, the Lord chose Peter, James, and John to be the governing body within the large quorum of twelve apostles. Peter was the ranking and presiding authority among the apostles, or, in other words, the prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul gave us a glimpse into the structure of the Lord’s Church. He wrote:

[Y]e are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:19-20).

He again explained:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Yet another time, to a different group of Saints, he likewise testified of the different callings and stations in the Church:

For the body is not one member, but many. . . .

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . . .

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:14, 18, 28).

Paul is clear – the Lord established a Church with a set hierarchy and a neatly organized structure that includes prophets, apostles, elders, priests, teachers, patriarchs, members with spiritual gifts, and so forth. The presiding authority was Peter and, with him, the apostles.

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If Paul’s writings are not authoritative enough, the record shows that the mortal Messiah plainly called twelve apostles, endowing them with Priesthood authority, and established groups of seventy elders to hold office beneath the apostles (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1; Luke 10:1). If apostles and prophets were necessary for the Gospel ministry and for the edifying and perfecting of the members of the Lord’s Church two-thousand years ago, are they not also necessary today?

And if they are no longer necessary, as most Christians now believe, when did this start? Where is the formal revelation abolishing the quorum of twelve apostles set up by Christ? Where is the prophetic declaration announcing that the carefully designed structure of the Lord’s Church no longer applies or has been superseded with a better divinely-approved construct? Surely, if the Lord personally set up a Church with apostles and prophets, He intended the system to continue. It appears obvious on the face of it that without these governing bodies and the Priesthood which gave them authority to minister, heal, preach, baptize, and speak in the Lord’s name, there simply is no Church of Christ.

Since history bears out that the quorum of the twelve apostles did not continue past the First Century after Christ, and since the Catholic Church and Protestant organizations deny that prophets and apostles lead Christ’s Church today, we have to ask why. The scriptures have the answer. The Old and New Testaments both warn of an apostasy. Paul predicted a great “falling away” that would occur (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He warned:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

He spoke of Christian apostates as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Paul in fact said that this apostasy was already beginning during his day. He wrote to the Galatian Church members: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Galatians 1:6). He also noted:

[A]fter my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

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Lehi preaching in Jerusalem, 600 B.C.

Peter, the chief apostle of his day, also foretold of apostasy:

[T]here were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:1-2).

Finally, the Apostle John castigated false teachers and apostate churches in the book of Revelation, naming many of them. He was also given a revelation that condemned “them which say they are apostles, and are not” (Revelation 2:2).

Other New Testament witnesses, including the Lord Himself who talked about a coming age of false prophets (Matthew 24:24), could be appealed to. Even Old Testament prophets like Isaiah who prophesied of a time when “darkness shall cover the earth” (Isaiah 60:2) and the Lord’s followers would “draw near [to the Lord] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour [Him], but have removed their heart far from [Him]” (Isaiah 29:10, 13), could be noted. However, these are sufficient to show that the Bible foretells, quite unmistakably and frequently, of an apostasy. Those who honestly study the history of Christendom are also struck by the palpable reality of this great apostasy and the many changes made to Christ’s Church structure and to His doctrine.

T. Edgar Lyon wrote of these tragic changes to the Lord’s organization in his book Apostasy to Restoration. I excise a passage about the apostleship and what it meant that the apostles were eventually martyred:

As long as the original apostles of Jesus Christ were alive they gave church-wide supervision to His Church. By the close of the first century, however, there appears to be no apostolic leadership in the church. Furthermore, there is no recorded evidence that any plan had been adopted to perpetuate the apostleship or any other type of general church leadership. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 and 12, stated that the apostles and prophets had been placed in the Church of Jesus Christ by Christ Himself, to be His leaders on earth. When they disappeared, the leadership was gone. Without the authority from Christ to lead His Church, no organization could then rightfully be called the Church of Jesus Christ. That an organization survived, is self evident. That it perpetuated for some years some of the fundamental teachings such as faith in God, immersion baptism and belief in the resurrection of true Christianity, no one can deny. That there were sincere believers and dedicated leaders, history testifies. That they considered themselves to be the Church of Jesus Christ, the members affirmed through their faith and suffering. But that it was Christ’s Church, when it was without divine authority, is not in keeping with early Christian understanding” (T. Edgar Lyon, Apostasy to Restoration, 3).

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As I have been attempting to convey, prophets and apostles are absolutely essential to the Church of Jesus Christ. Without them, there is no Church of Christ. Without the Priesthood authority held by correctly called and appointed leaders, no saving ordinances can be properly and lawfully performed. Without a prophet to receive direction for the entire Church, such as when Peter received the revelation that the Gospel was to be taken to the Gentiles (Acts 10), there could be no Church. Without a prophet to speak in Christ’s name, an organization simply cannot be considered His Church.

It is also crystal clear from any honest reading of history that many innovations were made in Church organization and doctrine that did not harmonize with what the Lord had personally made known and which His apostles had expounded in their ministry. In fact, these changes harmonized with popular paganism at the time, such as Mithraism. A modern prophet of the Lord put it this way:

Notwithstanding, the disciples of Jesus, excepting John the Revelator, suffered ignominious deaths, they sowed the seed of the Gospel among, and conferred the Priesthood upon men, which remained for several generations upon the earth, but the time came when Paganism was engrafted into Christianity, and at last Christianity was converted into Paganism rather than converting the Pagans. And subsequently the Priesthood was taken from among men, this authority was recalled into the heavens, and the world was left without the Priesthood—without the power of God—without the Church and Kingdom of God” (President Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22, 44, February 6, 1881).

As sad as this idea is, and as offensive as it may be to some sincere Christians, it is nevertheless an historically and scripturally substantiated truth. The Great Apostasy did occur and most of the world is still covered by darkness. Key doctrines were changed, such as the mode of baptism, how the gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred, the importance of marriage, how Church leaders are called, the nature of God, and so forth. In particular, the Nicene Creed and other church counsels presided over by uninspired men transformed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into a monstrous three-in-one creation not found in the Bible.

On the essential doctrine of the nature of God, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained the apostate idea compare to the scriptural truth:

In the year A.D. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea to addressamong other thingsthe growing issue of God’s alleged “trinity in unity.” What emerged from the heated contentions of churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries came to be known (after another 125 years and three more major councils) as the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. These various evolutions and iterations of creedsand others to come over the centuriesdeclared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, immanent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.

We agree with our critics on at least that pointthat such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible. With such a confusing definition of God being imposed upon the church, little wonder that a fourth-century monk cried out, “Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, … and I know not whom to adore or to address.” How are we to trust, love, worship, to say nothing of strive to be like, One who is incomprehensible and unknowable? What of Jesus’s prayer to His Father in Heaven that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”?

It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion. We extend to all the same respect for their doctrine that we are asking for ours. (That, too, is an article of our faith.) But if one says we are not Christians because we do not hold a fourth- or fifth-century view of the Godhead, then what of those first Christian Saints, many of whom were eyewitnesses of the living Christ, who did not hold such a view either?

We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephento name just four” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” General Conference, October, 2007).

I quote this seeming aside for two reasons. First, the fact that the early Christians could not understand the nature of God and had so much contention on the issue illustrates their fallen condition. As sincere as they no doubt were, they lacked prophetic guidance and did not have the benefit of the Priesthood line of communication.

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Second, the confusion regarding the nature of our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ could never have happened in a Church where a living prophet presided and spoke on behalf of the Lord. Again, the fact that this issue literally shattered Christendom into pieces, with each side excommunicating, excoriating, and persecuting the other, demonstrates their lack of prophetic leadership and proves the reality of the Great Apostasy foretold in the New Testament.

The careful Bible reader will readily acknowledge that the Old Testament records numerous periods of time – sometimes spanning hundreds of years apiece – when the Lord’s ancient people devolved into a state of apostasy in which He revoked His Priesthood authority and ceased calling prophets to lead them. After each period of darkness, however, the Lord called new prophets. He always appeared to the first new prophet in a personal visitation to inaugurate the new Gospel dispensation. There are at least six Gospel dispensations recorded in the Bible. The founding prophets of each dispensation are: Adam; Enoch; Noah; Abraham; Moses; and Jesus Christ.

Each of these men is extraordinary, even among prophets. The Lord is the ultimate Prophet. It was He, as Jehovah, who personally called Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses to head up new dispensations. He gave these wonderful men Priesthood authority to officiate in saving ordinances, additional revelations to add to past revelations from former dispensations, and new instructions adapted to their specific circumstances. This is the pattern for opening a new Gospel dispensation. The Lord followed this identical pattern in modern times when He initiated what is the final Gospel dispensation, the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times (Ephesians 1:10).

One of the hopeful messages of the Holy Bible is that the night of dark apostasy long foreseen would be shattered by the revelation of further Gospel light at a future day. The ancient prophet Ezekiel, peering prophetically through time, spoke of a day when the scriptural record of the Jews would be joined with another scriptural record written by Israelites from the tribes of Joseph. Together, these equally true records would constitute the holy scriptures and be “one” in the Lord’s hands:

[T]ake one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:

And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. . . .

Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand” (Ezekiel 37:16-17, 19).

Isaiah referred to a future day in which “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:2).

Micah similarly prophesied of the future establishment of the Lord’s Kingdom, or Zion:

[I]n the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.

And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the claw shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:1-2).

Isaiah specifically spoke of the Great Apostasy and followed it up by foretelling of a latter-day Restoration of the Lord’s Church, which he called a “marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14).

Peter spoke of “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21).

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The Savior also said that before His Second Coming in glory: “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matthew 17:11).

And, perhaps most convincingly of all, the Apostle John prophesied of an angel who would once more bring the Gospel to mankind:

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).

Isn’t it curious that the Apostle John foretold of a day when there would be a need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be delivered to mankind once again by angels? Most Christians believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been on the earth for two-thousand years and does not stand in need of being restored, yet this contradicts John’s prophesy. There would simply be no need of an angelic minister to give the Gospel to those who already had it. When we factor in the reality of the Great Apostasy, however, we understand the significance of John’s prophesy.

In 1820, almost two-hundred years ago to the month, the prophesied Restoration of the “everlasting gospel” commenced in New York state when a fourteen-year-old man named Joseph Smith went into a small thicket of trees to pray to God to know which of all the competing churches was His one true Church. I invite you to read my article “Joseph Smith – Praise to the Man” for more about this wonderful servant of the Lord. Suffice it to say that because of his simple faith and sincere prayer, he received a divine manifestation of the Father and the Son. Brother Joseph later recounted:

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

. . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

. . . I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof”” (Joseph Smith – History 1:16-19).

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This marvelous manifestation, eclipsing even Abraham’s and Moses’ manifestations in its grandeur, inaugurated what we call the Restoration of the Gospel. Joseph Smith was told by the Lord that he was to be an instrument in His hands to bring the truth back to the world. In due time, in direct fulfillment of John’s writings, an angel named Moroni appeared to tutor Joseph Smith in Heavenly things and inform him of the record of the tribes of Joseph which Ezekiel spoke of. With the power of God, Joseph Smith translated this divine record. It is today called The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and is used in conjunction with the Bible to bring people to the Savior.

John the Baptist, as well as Peter, James, and John, appeared to Joseph Smith and others to restore the Holy Priesthood. Other angelic ministers, Moses and Elijah to name only two, appeared to give their Priesthood authorities and keys to Joseph Smith. Eventually, the Lord’s house – that is, His holy temple – was built once again. Not surprisingly, the chief of these modern temples sits today in the top of the mountains as foreseen by the Biblical prophets.

On April 6, 1830, the Lord’s Church was formally restored to the earth again as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Saints suffered extreme persecution. They were driven from state to state, murdered by mobs, and had an extermination order placed upon them by Governor Boggs of Missouri. In 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot to death by a ravenous mob while unjustly imprisoned in Illinois. Their spilled blood served as their final testimony of the truthfulness of the Restoration.

Yet, because it was not Joseph Smith’s church, but in actual fact the Church of Jesus Christ, it survived and has flourished and expanded throughout the globe at a miraculous pace. It is still led today by a prophet and a council of twelve apostles. It contains within it not only prophets and apostles, but also the quorums of seventy established by Jesus, the teachers and elders spoken of by Paul, and the gifts, authorities, and powers that always accompany the legitimate Priesthood authority of the Master. On every point of comparison in doctrine, structure, and origin between the Lord’s Church established in the Bible and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is a beautiful harmony that powerfully touches the honest seeker of truth.

To these claims of new revelations, new scripture, new prophets, and a divinely-restored Church of Jesus Christ, the world is emphatically opposed. I bear my personal witness, given to me by the Holy Spirit, however, that it is the truth. These events fulfill the prophecies of Biblical prophets. The Everlasting Gospel has indeed been restored to the earth!

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Whenever the Lord gives new light, Satan intensifies his disinformation campaign. He sends false prophets to oppose the real ones. He disperses false dogmas to compete with revealed truth. He establishes counterfeit priesthoods to the real Priesthood. He erects alluring churches to draw people away from the true Church of Jesus Christ. And he inspires wicked people to persecute the Lord’s prophets.

President Brigham Young, the successor prophet to Joseph Smith, warned of Satan’s counterfeits to the restored Church of Jesus Christ:

If true principles are revealed from heaven to men, and if there are angels, and there is a possibility of their communicating to the human family, always look for an opposite power, an evil power, to give manifestations also: look out for the counterfeit.

There is evil in the world, and there is also good. Was there ever a counterfeit without a true coin? No. Is there communication from God? Yes. From holy angels? Yes; and we have been proclaiming these facts during nearly thirty years. Are there any communications from evil spirits? Yes; and the Devil is making the people believe very strongly in revelations from the spirit world. This is called spiritualism” (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, 240, September 1, 1859).

Another modern apostle, the brilliant Bruce R. McConkie, wrote of those who reject the Lord’s light:

In the very nature of things, persecution of true prophets includes the acceptance of false prophets. It is a philosophical impossibility to reject truth without accepting error, to depart from true teachers without cleaving to false ones, to reject the Lord’s ministers without giving allegiance to those who follow the other Master” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 37).

It is the Lord’s modern prophets, however, which Christendom declares “false.” They cite Paul’s warning: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any bother gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). This claim falls flat, however, when you honestly study the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ and that revealed in modern times and realize how stunningly consistent they are. It is also out of harmony with John’s prophesy that an angel will restore the Everlasting Gospel to mankind.

We should at least have one thing clear in our minds: “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). He therefore cannot be the God of the various religions of the world, including Protestantism. For all its merits, two of the fundamental Protestant creeds are: 1) That it doesn’t matter which church a person belongs to because one’s personal relationship with Christ is all that matters; and 2) there can be no prophets or hierarchy because each individual can commune directly with God and needs no mediator. As I have demonstrated earlier, these notions are unBiblical, wrong, and are contradicted by the words of Peter, John, Paul, and other New Testament writers.

The Apostle Paul also noted that universal revelation is not subject to private interpretation. There must be an interpreter who proclaims the will of the Almighty. Imagine if there was no hierarchy and no order. It would be mass confusion with everyone claiming to speak for God, yet offering different interpretations of doctrine and proposing differing policies.

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The current First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles in the visitor center at the Rome, Italy Temple

As He did anciently, God has again called prophets to act as His spokesmen, to teach correct doctrine, to expose falsehoods, to shine light on humanity, and to bring people to Jesus Christ. It is our challenge today to listen to these humble prophets. I say “challenge” because it is generally harder to listen to a living, breathing prophet in your own land than to an ancient Hebrew prophet long since dead. The same Elder McConkie cited above wrote:

The real test of one’s beliefs is not how much he purports to believe of what the dead prophets have said, but what he accepts from the lips of the living oracles of the same God who inspired those of old. Salvation comes through belief in the doctrines taught by the true disciples sent as legal administrators in our day. Needless to say, their teachings conform to those of their ancient fellowservants; in addition, modern disciples have the present power to perform the ordinances of salvation so they will be binding on earth and in heaven” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 27-28.

Ezra Taft Benson, whom I’m fond of quoting in my writings, penned a stirring testimony of the revealed Gospel. As one of the Lord’s modern apostolic witnesses, his words take on added meaning. He declared:

The world has generally revered the ancient dead prophets and rejected the living ones. It was so with Joseph Smith. Truth is often on the scaffold, error on the throne. But time is on the side of truth, for truth is eternal. The message of Mormonism is a world message. It is the truth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a world organization.

The message of Joseph Smith – the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the message of Mormonism – is the most important message in the world. And Joseph Smith the Prophet, who lives today, continues to have an important part in its direction here on earth.

The Church is a world organization – the true Church of Jesus Christ restored to the earth in its fulness – and is intended to bless all of our Father’s children. These things I know, and to them I bear humble witness.

God lives, Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world, with his latter-day base of operations here in America, and Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of the living God.

This is my witness and testimony to all the world” (Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, 40-41).

Yes, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is again on the earth in its bright fulness! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by prophets – men called of God by revelation and anointed via the Holy Priesthood to their positions. These prophets have come from many walks of life, yet they are all selected by the same Lord and they all bear witness of His divinity.

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Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James, and John

One of the Lord’s recent apostles gave us this insight into the type of people called to preside in the Lord’s Church:

What is a living prophet? His age? He may be young or old. He need not wear a tunic nor carry a shepherd’s staff. His physical features are not important. A prophet need not have advanced educational degrees nor come from any special social class. He may be rich or poor. He needs no credentials from men.

What is it, then, that qualifies a man to be a prophet?

Foremost, God must choose him as his prophet! . . . .

A prophet, then, is the authorized representative of the Lord. While the world may not recognize him, the important requirement is that God speaks through him. A prophet is a teacher. He receives revelations from the Lord. These may be new truths or explanations of truths already received.

It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets. Many people do. For some mysterious reason there is an aura of credibility about them. It is not so with the prophet who lives among us, who must meet life’s everyday challenges. But it is a great thing to believe in the living prophets. Our salvation is contingent upon our belief in a living prophet and adherence to his word. He alone has the right to revelation for the whole Church. His words, above those of any other man, ought to be esteemed and considered by the Church as well as by the world. One day this truth will be understood” (Elder A. Theodore Tuttle, “What Is a Living Prophet?Ensign, July, 1973).

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President Russell M. Nelson

The man who has been called today by Jesus Christ to lead His Church and to speak on His behalf is Russell M. Nelson. This great servant of the Almighty was recently called “Moses in a business suit” by University of Virginia religious studies professor Kathleen Flake. He has been called by others a “Renaissance Man.” President Nelson is a ninety-five-year-old man of wisdom, experience, and boundless energy. A father of ten children, a world-renowned heart surgeon, a speaker of six languages, an author, and a world traveler who has met with presidents, popes, and kings, he would be a wonderful choice to head any organization. However, far more importantly than his worldly laurels, he has been called of God and he bears emphatic testimony of our Redeemer Jesus Christ. President Nelson is the man of the hour for the world, the chief apostle, the mortal captain of the Church of Jesus Christ.

I bear testimony that the Lord has called prophets in the modern age. From my head to my feet, I know without a doubt, through the Holy Ghost, that prophets walk the earth today and speak for the Lord! I know President Nelson is an inspired man and that the apostles who serve at his side are special witnesses of Jesus who have been endowed with the Holy Priesthood. It is also my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ will never again fall into apostasy. To bolster this important point, I appeal to a statement by one of the most brilliant of the Lord’s modern prophets:

Now, brethren, I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.

An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be. . . .

Now, brethren, these things are true. The Lord is with his people. The cause of righteousness shall prevail. Our cause is just, and the Lord will guide and direct us and bring us off triumphant in the end.

I testify that if we shall look to the First Presidency and follow their counsel and direction, no power on earth can stay or change our course as a church, and as individuals we shall gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal glory in the world to come. And I say this to you, my good brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (President Joseph Fielding Smith, “Eternal Keys and the Right to Preside,” General Conference, April, 1974).

In an address titled “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” Ezra Taft Benson gave us these accompanying truths:

The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore the most important prophet so far as you and I are concerned is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each month in our Church Magazines. Our instructions about what we should do for each six months are found in the General Conference addresses which are printed in the Church magazine.

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Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence. . . .

. . . it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. “Even in the Church,” said President Kimball, “many are prone to garnish the sepulchres of yesterdays prophets and mentally stone the living ones.” (Instructor, 95:527.)

Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or worry about their own affairs. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on. . . .

There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelation of God and reasoning of menbetween the prophet and the professor.”

President Benson also added this wide counsel which each of us should apply to ourselves:

How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness. . . .

If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captainhow close do our lives harmonize with the Lord’s anointedthe living ProphetPresident of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” BYU Address, February 26, 1980).

Each person in the world who hears the proposition that God has again sent prophets to teach and lead mankind must make a decision whether it is true or false. That decision will largely determine his or her standing before God. Remember that prophets, when inspired by the Holy Spirit, speak for God. To reject a true prophet is to reject the true God. To accept a true prophet is to accept the true God.

Every six months, the prophet and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather in what is called General Conference to give talks on Gospel doctrine. They speak of the Lord, His Atonement and resurrection, His divinity and perfection, His right of Kingship over the earth, and the reality that He is returning to His earth sooner than later. They speak of the central importance of families and marriage to our Heavenly Father’s great Plan of Salvation. They speak of specific points of doctrine, whether it be baptism, prayer, scripture study, and so forth. I have never gone away from a Conference without feeling uplifted, strengthened, and more committed to follow Jesus Christ.

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This April 4 and 5 will be the next General Conference of the Savior’s Church. His prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, will preside and address the world. Living apostles will speak and share their testimonies and instruct the humble Saints of God throughout the earth. I invite you, dear reader, to tune in and prayerfully watch the broadcasts. Listen to the Holy Spirit and see what He prompts you to do about the messages. Investigate the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints and read The Book of Mormon. You will be uplifted and inspired if you do so. If you are reading this article after April 4 and 5, fear not, the Church has a massive archive system housing the General Conference addresses of the past fifty years on its website https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/

The Lord Jesus Christ is shining light into the world at an increasing rate. The Devil is also belching out mists of darkness at an unprecedented pace. We must stay close to the Spirit, hold to the commandments, walk on the covenant path the Savior walked, and bind ourselves to God’s will if we are to survive these days. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it alone – the Lord has given us living prophets to show us the way to our Redeemer.

Jesus is the light and life of the world. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the One who presides over the earth and the One who shows His prophets how to direct mankind for their benefit. If we wish to come to Jesus, we must first come to His prophet, who at this time is President Russell M. Nelson. It is he who holds the keys of presidency in the Holy Priesthood. It is at his authorization that local missionaries and authorities can baptize us into the Lord’s Church, confer upon us the gift of the Holy Ghost, and initiate us into higher saving ordinances – such as the ordinance of eternal marriage – in the Lord’s temples. What a blessing!

I close this article with my witness of Jesus Christ and His servants. Jesus Christ died for our sins. He bled and suffered and died so that you and I could repent, improve, and eventually receive exaltation in our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom. We are the literal sons and daughters of our Eternal Father and Jesus is our Elder Brother and Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. They love us with a familial bond and wish the best for us. They love us more than we can fathom; more than we love ourselves or our dearest relatives. Out of this great love, the Lord has sent prophets into the world in our day. Of this I testify with all my heart and invite you to investigate my claims for yourself.

Go to the Father in prayer and ask Him, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether or not this is true. If you are humble and prepared to act on any revelation you might receive, you will receive it. And then you will know for yourself, independent of all other sources, and in the face of opposition and mockery, that Jesus lives and that prophets also live and speak in His holy name.

I close with a statement from President Russell M. Nelson, the Lord’s prophet, which I encourage everyone to read and heed:

Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.

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I bless you to raise your voice in testimony, as I do now, that we are engaged in the work of Almighty God! Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church, which He directs through His anointed servants. I so testify, with my expression of love for each of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Let Us All Press On,” General Conference, April, 2018).

Zack Strong,

March 19, 2020

The Book of Mormon Speaks of Christ

Many people have heard of The Book of Mormon, but most do not know what it is or what it says. At best, most folks have heard negative rumors about it from their pastor, the internet, or popular culture. Yet, they have never taken the time to study its words and learn for themselves what it says. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I maintain that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is an inspired book of scripture to be read alongside the Bible. It is a holy book that speaks of Jesus Christ and encourages us to look to Him alone for salvation. I devote this article to bearing my personal testimony of The Book of Mormon’s witness of Jesus Christ.

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Before discussing The Book of Mormon, let’s talk about the Bible. What is the Bible? The name “Bible” comes from the Latin word biblia, and its Greek counterpart, meaning “the books.” It is a collection of writings by inspired prophets and apostles throughout the ages of time. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often called “Mormons,” believe that the Bible is God’s word and that it testifies of our Savior Jesus Christ.

In 2007, President M. Russell Ballard, one of the ranking leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a talk titled “The Miracle of the Holy Bible.” He cleared up some of the misconceptions about our beliefs when he explained:

It is a miracle that we have the Bible’s powerful doctrine, principles, poetry, and stories. But most of all, it is a wonderful miracle that we have the account of the life, ministry, and words of Jesus, which was protected through the Dark Ages and through the conflicts of countless generations so that we may have it today.

It is a miracle that the Bible literally contains within its pages the converting, healing Spirit of Christ, which has turned men’s hearts for centuries, leading them to pray, to choose right paths, and to search to find their Savior.

The Holy Bible is well named. It is holy because it teaches truth, holy because it warms us with its spirit, holy because it teaches us to know God and understand His dealings with men, and holy because it testifies throughout its pages of the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

How grateful we should be for the Holy Bible. In it we learn not only of the life and teachings and doctrines of Christ, we learn of His Church and of His priesthood and of the organization which He established and named the Church of Jesus Christ in those former days. We believe in that Church, and we believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that same Church, restored to earth, complete, with the same organization and the same priesthood.

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Without the Bible, we would not know of His Church then, nor would we have the fulness of His gospel now.

I love the Bible, its teachings, its lessons, and its spirit. I love the Old Testament’s compelling, profound stories and its great prophets testifying of the coming of Christ. I love the New Testament’s apostolic travels and miracles and the letters of Paul. Most of all, I love its eyewitness accounts of the words and the example and the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love the perspective and peace that come from reading the Bible.

Brothers and sisters, I am sure many of you have had the experience of hearing people say that “Mormons are not Christians because they have their own Bible, the Book of Mormon.” To anyone harboring this misconception, we say that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and the author of our salvation and that we believe, revere, and love the Holy Bible. We do have additional sacred scripture, including the Book of Mormon, but it supports the Bible, never substituting for it. . . .

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). We love the Bible and other scriptures. That may be surprising to some who may not be aware of our belief in the Bible as the revealed word of God. It is one of the pillars of our faith, a powerful witness of the Savior and of Christ’s ongoing influence in the lives of those who worship and follow Him.” (President M. Russell Ballard, “The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” General Conference, April, 2007).

The Bible is, above all else, an inspired witness of the divinity and mission of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in and witness of Jesus Christ and, therefore, also believe in, read, and testify of the Bible. No one should ever hold the misconception that we are not Christians or that we don’t cherish the Bible. The very name of our Church proclaims to the world that we believe in Jesus Christ!

Latter-day Saints earnestly believe in the Bible’s prophecies. For instance, we take it seriously when Amos declared: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). This clearly shows the need for prophets and continuing revelation. This is further bolstered by other Biblical passages that we hold dear; namely, Paul’s statements that “God hath set . . . in the church” both “apostles” and “prophets” (1 Corinthians 12:28) and that the Lord’s Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20).

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Where are the Christian denominations today claiming prophets and apostles as both the Old and New Testaments obviously require? If you believe the Bible is the word of God, you must also believe that the Lord calls men as prophets and apostles, organizes them according to a very specific format and structure (Ephesians 4:11-16; Matthew 16:18-19; Luke 6:13; Luke 10:1; Acts 1:24-25), and that He leads them through revelation suited to their situation.

We testify that the Lord has given mankind prophets once again in our day, beginning in 1820 with Joseph Smith whom I testify was a true prophet in the mode of Moses, Elijah, Peter, Abraham, and the others. If it is true that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8) as the Apostle Paul taught, then we should look for Him to direct his Church today through prophets as He did anciently. For Bible-believing Christians, there’s simply no dismissing the well-established principle of the Lord’s people receiving revelation through prophets called by Him.

We proclaim to the world that the Lord is good, that He loves all people everywhere, and that He graciously reveals His word to people throughout the earth whenever they are receptive enough to receive it. Whereas the Bible is a record of God’s dealings with the House of Israel in the Old World, The Book of Mormon is a record of God’s dealings with two peoples, including Israelites, who inhabited the ancient American continent.

These two civilizations were blessed with prophets who taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The first group, the Jaredites, left the Old World at the time the Lord confounded the languages at the Tower of Babel. They were led by prophets to the American continent where they established an ancient Christian society. Over time, they devolved into wickedness, murdered the prophets, and harbored Satanic secret societies which led the people into a civil war that ended in their total annihilation. Around the time of their tragic fall, the Lord brought another people into this land – the Nephites.

The majority of The Book of Mormon concerns the Nephites and their usually hostile brothers, the Lamanites. The Nephites were Israelites of the tribe of Manasseh. They were named after Nephi, the son of a Hebrew prophet named Lehi. Lehi, a lineal descendant of Joseph of Egypt, preached in Jerusalem at the same time the great prophet Jeremiah was preaching – that is, around 600 B.C. The Israelites at Jerusalem rejected Jeremiah’s words and threw him into prison. Jeremiah received a revelation in which the Lord attested to the fact that He had sent many prophets to Israel:

Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:

Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers” (Jeremiah 7:25).

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The Hebrews not only rejected Jeremiah, they also rejected Lehi’s warnings and sought to kill him. The Lord warned Lehi to flee out of the land and subsequently led his family into the Americas through Nephi’s instrumentality.

Nephi was a humble man who became a great prophet of the Lord. He spent his life teaching his people about Jesus Christ and prophesying that He would come to redeem all who would believe on His name. Nephi wrote: “[M]y soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ” (2 Nephi 11:4). Nephi particularly loved citing the words of Isaiah which also foretold of the coming Messiah and many of his writings were explanations of Isaiah’s earlier prophecies.

Nephi bore frequent and powerful testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. He once stated:

I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved. . . .

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. . . .

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. . . .

. . . the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.

And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Nephi 25:20, 23, 25, 28-29).

Nephi was emphatic – we are saved by Christ! His is the only name through which salvation comes. It is His grace that rescues us from sin. We are to talk, preach, and prophesy of Him and teach our children to look to Him. Nephi believed in the Son of God and He wanted us to also “bow down before him” in humble discipleship.

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Another time, Nephi taught:

And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;

And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith” (2 Nephi 26:12-13).

In what is perhaps my favorite declaration from The Book of Mormon, Nephi issued this challenge to all who would read his words:

And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal. . . .

. . . be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.

And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jews, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye – for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things” (2 Nephi 31:4, 9-11).

Nephi was not the only ancient American seer to speak of Christ. All the prophets recorded in The Book of Mormon record taught of Jesus and encouraged all to have faith in Him. Jacob, Nephi’s younger brother, gave us these words:

And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come.

Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest. . . .

Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ” (Jacob 1:7-8).

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Jacob loved to teach about the most important moment to ever play out on earth – the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement of Jesus Christ includes not only His suffering for our sins in Gethsemane and His crucifixion on the cross, but His resurrection and conquest of death and hell. Because of the Lord’s resurrection and Atonement, we, too, will rise from the grave and receive resurrected and immortal bodies before the Judgment Day. In a rousing sermon, Jacob taught of these great truths and the central role the Savior’s Atonement plays:

Yea, I know that ye know that in the body he [Jesus] shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came . . . for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him.

For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.

Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement. . . .

O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. . . .

O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell. . . .

And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave. . . .

And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment. . . .

. . . behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. . . .

And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.

And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before h im at the great and judgment day.

And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. . . .

O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.

And whoso knocketh, to him will he open” (2 Nephi 9:5-8, 10-11, 15, 18, 21-23, 41-42).

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The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the central feature of His Gospel. Everything else is a mere appendage to that glorious event. All men, no matter how wicked or flawed, will be resurrected because of the Lord’s mercy. Those who receive greater reward, however, will be those who, having the opportunity, embraced the doctrines of the Lord, believed on the name of Jesus Christ, entered into His covenants via the straight and narrow path, and endured to the end of their mortal lives in faithfulness.

These truths are taught many times and in many ways throughout the entirety of The Book of Mormon. Lehi, Nephi’s and Jacob’s father, gave this witness of the Redeemer:

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. . . .

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon. . . .

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh . . . And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:6-7, 25-27).

Hundreds of years after Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob, a king named Benjamin delivered a sermon which shows how thoroughly and inexorably Christian The Book of Mormon is. After having been instructed by an angel, he taught his people these glorious truths about the Messiah’s life and ministry:

[The Lord] shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.

And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world. . . .

For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.

But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Mosiah 3:5-12).

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What a marvelous testimony of Christ! King Benjamin was emphatic – salvation is only in Christ. Only by faith on His name, repentance, and obedience to His commands can we be saved. Saving those who trust in His name is the Lord’s eternal purpose. It is the reason He suffered so much agony. He loved us and therefore He laid down His life for us that we, through “faith on the Lord Jesus Christ,” can be saved.

Later still in the book’s timeline, a missionary named Amulek could be found teaching the same doctrine of Christ. In one instance, he explained the Savior’s impending Atonement and mankind’s future Resurrection:

And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. . . .

The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit” (Alma 11:40, 43-44).

Another time, Amulek shared this sweet testimony:

Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and . . . he shall atone for the sins of the world. . . .

And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law [of Moses], every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.

And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety. . . .

. . . now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you” (Alma 34:8, 14-16, 31).

All who believe in Jesus Christ can call unto Him and immediately begin their path to Him and Heavenly Father. His mercy can cover our sins, rescue us from the grasp of hell, and fully redeem us. We simply have to have faith in the Savior and bring our lives into harmony with His Gospel.

Perhaps even more powerfully than Amulek, Alma, the Nephite prophet in Amulek’s day, conveyed the magnitude and scope of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He taught that the Savior not only died for our sins, but that He felt our sickness and pain, heartache and sorrow, regret and bitterness. Through His mercy, we can be healed, uplifted, comforted in our depression and grief, and saved from every dark and evil thought and feeling and physical ailment. Alma proclaimed:

[B]ehold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all – for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people. . . .

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that he word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me” (Alma 7:7, 11-13).

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Jesus the Christ not only died a cruel death on the cross, but He bled at every pore because the agony and weight of our collective sins, pains, brokenheartedness, disappointment, bitterness, and sicknesses (Luke 22:44). The Jews in Jerusalem did not sufficiently appreciate or comprehend the act being performed in the Garden of Gethsemane by their Lord and Redeemer. Yet, across an ocean in ancient America the Nephites had been taught plainly of the Savior’s Atonement.

About six years prior to the Lord’s birth in the Holy Land, a Lamanite prophet named Samuel prophesied of many events connected with the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. At the time, the Nephites were falling into unrighteousness. Samuel warned the people and focused his teachings on Christ:

[N]othing can save this people save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things and shall be slain for his people. . . .

And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life. . . .

And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits. . . .

For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord” (Helaman 13:6; 14:8, 13, 15-17).

From Samuel’s day until the death and resurrection of Christ in Palestine, the prophets continued to preach of the imminent Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many unique signs were given to the people of the Americas, including major geological upheaval and the destruction of many wicked cities at the time of the Lord’s death on the cross. According to Samuel, these signs were given “to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men – And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved” (Helaman 14:28-29).

These events bring us up to the crowning moment in The Book of Mormon. After the resurrected Lord’s Ascension in Israel, He appeared to other peoples throughout the world. If you search, you can find fascinating secular records of His appearances in many lands. The Book of Mormon record, however, is the clearest of them all and is of divine origin.

Six-hundred years previous to this event, Nephi foretold of the Lord’s appearance. He wrote that “after Christ shall have arisen from the dead he shall show himself unto you, my children, and my beloved brethren; and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do” (2 Nephi 26:1). Other prophets had periodically repeated this promise. Shortly after the Ascension, the prophecy was fulfilled in dramatic, miraculous fashion.

We read of the moment of the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites in this passage:

And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven. . . .

And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:

Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name – hear ye him.

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And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.

And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.

And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.

And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension in to heaven.

And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:

Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.

And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.

And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:

Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him” (3 Nephi 11:3, 6-17).

What a remarkable event! This group of some 2,500 Nephites had the privilege of seeing the Lord, hearing His voice, and handling His perfected, glorified, resurrected body of flesh and bone just as the apostles had done in the Holy Land (Luke 24:36-43). They knew for themselves, as we must come to know for ourselves, that He was indeed the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind!

Jesus taught the Nephites many things during His visit, including the Sermon on the Mount with a few clarifications. He told the people: “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Nephi 18:21). He chose twelve apostles, organized them, and gave them Priesthood authority to administer sacraments and ordinances just as He had done during His mortal ministry. He commanded everyone to “diligently” study Isaiah’s prophecies, “for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). He healed the sick, blind, and maim as He had done in Palestine. He blessed the little children and angels came down out of Heaven and ministered to them. And He even touched upon events that would happen during our time – the time preceding His Second Coming. Truly, the appearance of the Son of God was the crowning event recorded in The Book of Mormon and stands as additional proof that this book bears witness of Him and Him alone.

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After the Savior’s visit to the Nephites here in America, the people established a Zion-like society. For a little shy of two-hundred years, the people lived in harmony and peace. We read:

[T]here were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.

And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. . . .

And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:2-3, 15-17).

Sadly, the people of the land enjoyed peace, prosperity, and ease for so long that they became prideful, began to wear “costly apparel, and all manner of pearls, and of the fine things of the world,” “began to be divided into classes,” “began to build up churches unto themselves,” and “began to deny the true church of Christ” (4 Nephi 1:24-26). Like our own day, there were “many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel” (4 Nephi 1:27).

Eventually, a secret society was formed by those who opposed the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ. The people’s general wickedness and the ruthlessness of this secret cabal led the people into a frenzied war of rampant destruction. Women and children were sacrificed to pagan gods. Cities were burned with fire. Women were ravaged and mutilated. By 400 A.D., the followers of Christ and anyone who claimed the name “Nephitehad been exterminated throughout ancient America and the only inhabitants left were those who disbelieved in the former Nephite traditions. These unbelieving peoples eventually split into warring factions and, lacking the light of Christ, devolved into nomadic, warlike, and hostile tribes. It would be another 1200 years before Christians began to inhabit America once more.

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In every event and story of The Book of Mormon, whether tragic or uplifting, the inspired writings are focused on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lord of lords, the true Messiah. In total, there are almost 4,000 references to Jesus Christ in The Book of Mormon! This dwarfs even the New Testament’s multitudinous references to the Savior. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is the most Christ-centered book in existence. One cannot read in its pages without encountering fervent testimonies of the Lord, stories of extreme faith in the Redeemer, and sermons on Christian doctrine. The stories of deep-felt conversion, missionary adventures, and wars won through faith in Christ are, simply, thrilling!

I repeat: Nothing is more well-established than that The Book of Mormon speaks of Christ. Because of this fact, when we read the book with a sincere heart, it touches and moves us. The current president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, whom I testify really is a prophet of Almighty God, recently gave a sermon on The Book of Mormon. He witnessed:

Something powerful happens when a child of God seeks to know more about Him and His Beloved Son. Nowhere are those truths taught more clearly and powerfully than in the Book of Mormon. . . .

The Book of Mormon provides the fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere. It teaches what it really means to be born again. From the Book of Mormon we learn about the gathering of scattered Israel. We know why we are here on earth. These and other truths are more powerfully and persuasively taught in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period. . . .

When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls. . . .

I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal and living Son of our living God. He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our great Exemplar, and our Advocate with the Father. He was the promised Messiah, the mortal Messiah, and will be the millennial Messiah. I testify with my whole soul that in a most miraculous and singular way, the Book of Mormon teaches us of Jesus Christ and His gospel” (President Russell M. Nelson, “The Book of Mormon – What Would Your Life Be Like Without It?” General Conference, October, 2017).

The Book of Mormon, in companionship with the Holy Bible, a witness of our living Lord! These two books of scripture dash to pieces false doctrine, rebut anti-Christian philosophies, and strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The Book of Mormon writers possessed a version of Old Testament prophecies. They knew that one day these words would go to all mankind. The prophet Mormon, the chief compiler and namesake of The Book of Mormon record, wrote that the intent of the book is to confirm the Bible’s witness of Jesus! In fact, his witness of the Bible’s authenticity was part of his final testimony. The last words Mormon wrote were these:

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Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up. . . .

And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world. . . .

Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews. . . .

For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that; and if ye believe that ye will believe this also. . . .

. . . and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen” (Mormon 7:5, 7-10).

Mormon knew that The Book of Mormon was written “for the intent that ye may believe [the Bible].” And if you believe the Bible’s witness of Christ, it is only logical “that ye will believe [The Book of Mormon] also” because both books bear solemn witness of the Savior, preach the same doctrine, and declare the same essential truths.

President Russell M. Nelson explained how these two great books of scripture compliment one another and work together. He said:

The Bible and the Book of Mormon are both witnesses of Jesus Christ. They teach that He is the Son of God, that He lived an exemplary life, that He atoned for all mankind, that He died upon the cross and rose again as the resurrected Lord. They teach that He is the Savior of the world.

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Scriptural witnesses authenticate each other. This concept was explained long ago when a prophet wrote that the Book of Mormon was “written for the intent that ye may believe [the Bible]; and if ye believe [the Bible] ye will believe [the Book of Mormon] also.” Each book refers to the other. Each book stands as evidence that God lives and speaks to His children by revelation to His prophets.

Love for the Book of Mormon expands one’s love for the Bible and vice versa. Scriptures of the Restoration do not compete with the Bible; they complement the Bible. We are indebted to martyrs who gave their lives so that we could have the Bible. It establishes the everlasting nature of the gospel and of the plan of happiness. The Book of Mormon restores and underscores biblical doctrines such as tithing, the temple, the Sabbath day, and the priesthood” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Scriptural Witnesses,” General Conference, October, 2007).

The Book of Mormon does not replace, but bolsters the Bible! In our day of so much criticism and skepticism, it is refreshing to know that the Lord has given us a second major witness that the Bible’s declarations about Him and His work are indeed true and relevant! Even Nephi, all those ages ago, knew that modern man would have both Bible and The Book of Mormon. He recorded the words of the Lord directed to those who scoff at The Book of Mormon and rejected it because they already have a Bible and erroneously believe there can be no more revelation:

And because my words shall hiss forth – many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. . . .

Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. . . .

Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. . . .

For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. . . .

. . . and my word also shall be fathered in one” (2 Nephi 29:3, 6, 7-10, 12, 14).

It has always puzzled me why Christians try to limit the Lord and tell Him, in essence, that He can’t say more than He already has. Not only is this a feeble attempt to limit the Lord’s power, but it also makes the Bible’s declarations about the need for prophets and continuing revelation null and void. Furthermore, I’ve always wondered why my fellow Christians are not excited for more revelation from Heaven. Why wouldn’t you want to hear more instruction from the Master? Why wouldn’t you want additional light and knowledge to support and clarify what the Bible teaches? Why wouldn’t you want an extra witness to support and verify what the Old and New Testament seers said? Why don’t you want more of the words of Jesus?

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President Gordon B. Hinckley, a former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once spoke to those not of our faith:

[W]e say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. This invitation I extend to men and women everywhere with my solemn testimony that this work is true, for I know the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith,” General Conference, October, 2002).

To those who may be skeptical, set aside your skepticism for a moment and do what the Lord anciently instructed: “Come and see” (John 1:39). Come and see what the Lord has revealed in our day. Come and see what rich treasures of knowledge The Book of Mormon has to offer. Come and see what modern prophets are saying today. Ignore the lies and distortions that dissenters on the internet say about our Church and come and see for yourself.

I guarantee when you humbly search in The Book of Mormon and pray to God for wisdom as the Apostle James taught (James 1:5-6), that new light will shine into your life. Your understanding of the Bible will grow Your soul will be refreshed. Your testimony of the Savior will deepen and strengthen. Your knowledge of your relationship with your Eternal Father will expand. And your happiness will increase.

If my guarantee is not enough, then hear the words of the final prophet to write in The Book of Mormon. He was a man named Moroni. He issued this divine promise:

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.

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.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:3-5).

This promise works. I have tried it. It works! If you ask Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and you are truly sincere and prepared to follow whatever answer you receive from the Holy Spirit, then you will receive a confirmation in your soul that The Book of Mormon is a true book.

I have received this witness. I know it is true. I know it through the power of the Holy Ghost. I know it was translated, not written, by Joseph Smith. I know that it speaks of a real people whom the resurrected Lord truly visited. I know it was compiled by prophets of Jesus Christ who spoke the truth. And I know and testify that this sacred book has shaped, directed, and improved my life in innumerable ways.

The Book of Mormon is such a powerful book for two primary reasons: 1) Because it speak of Jesus Christ; and 2) because it is true. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a true witness of the Savior. It confirms the Bible’s witness of the divinity of Jesus. It confirms the Abrahamic covenants made with the House of Israel. It confirms that we will all be resurrected and stand before God at the Judgment Day. It confirms that Jesus worked out the Atonement and died for our sins and that we must look to Him only for salvation. Yes, The Book of Mormon speaks of Christ!

It is only fitting that we end with a declaration made in The Book of Mormon by a holy prophet. They are words to live by. They rivet our focus on the Savior and encourage us to look to Him. We must all eventually come to know and accept that: “[T]here is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness” (Alma 38:9).

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I share this testimony with you – that Jesus Christ lives and that The Book of Mormon is a true witness to His divinity – in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Zack Strong,

January 13, 2020

Joseph Smith – Praise to the Man

One of the most influential figures in world history began his early life as an unassuming, unlearned farm boy from upper state New York. Born on December 23, 1805, Joseph Smith, Jr. was the fourth of eleven children born to Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith. America at the time was abuzz with religious revival. The Smith family was a mixture of Methodists and Presbyterians. They attended revival meetings and church services when they could, but their primary devotions were in their home as a family. This blend of influences filled the young Joseph with a desire to find the Lord’s one true Church – a quest that would lead him to transform the world.

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As a fourteen year old boy, Joseph Smith found himself seeking advice from pastors, pondering the Gospel, and reading from the Holy Bible. He was particularly confused at the stark differences in doctrine held by all the various sects claiming to be Christian. He recalled the scenes of confusion which resulted from these irreconcilable differences:

[A]scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions” (Joseph Smith History 1:6).

Joseph wondered how he could ever learn the truth by consulting the Bible since every religious group had a different interpretation of that holy book. He observed that “the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible” (Joseph Smith History 1:12).

It was during this time of confusion in 1820 that Joseph Smith came across a passage of scripture that left a profound impression on his mind and led him on a course that not only changed his life, but which continues to shape our world today. Joseph Smith was reading in the book of James when this passage lept off the page:

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” (James 1:5).

The young Joseph recounted how deeply this inspired counsel affected him:

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know. . . .

At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.

So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt” (Joseph Smith History 1:12-14).

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Can you see the simple faith of a humble boy reflected in these words? Joseph was a sincere person. He merely wanted to know what God wished him to do. It was his faith that if he obeyed the words of scripture and prayed in sincerity of soul, God would lead him as the Apostle James had testified He would. Joseph was therefore determined to pray and then follow any answer received because he knew that God would not lie.

Perhaps the most extraordinary event of Joseph Smith’s life occurred when he “retired to the woods” to pray to his Maker. Joseph recounted his sacred experience thus:

It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for midst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith History 1:14-17)

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What the young Joseph Smith experienced that spring day in a grove of trees is referred to as a theophany, or an appearance of God to man. The Bible records numerous theophanies, from Moses’ experiences seeing and speaking with Jehovah (Exodus 3:4-6; Exodus 19:19-20) to Abraham’s first vision of God (Genesis 18:1-3) to Jacob’s famous wrestle (Genesis 32:27-30) to Isaiah’s vision of the Lord on His throne (Isaiah 6:1) and so forth. At times, these sacred experiences were given to older men and at times they were granted to humble youths like Samuel (1 Samuel 3:4, 10, 21). The Lord even appeared to the wicked Saul who, because of this divine experience, converted to the truth and became one of the greatest Christian missionaries in history (Acts 9:3-7). Throughout time, theophanies routinely preceded and heralded the opening of a new prophetic era and the calling of an individual as a holy prophet of the Lord. And so it was in 1820 with the young Joseph Smith.

After God the Father addressed Joseph and announced His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Joseph asked the question that had burdened his soul. He wrote:

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time” (Joseph Smith History 1:18-20).

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On another occasion, Joseph Smith recorded the instructions he had been given by the Lord in this way:

I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon day. They told me that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as His Church and kingdom: and was expressly commanded “to go not after them,” at the same time receiving a promise that the fullness of the Gospel should at some future time be made known unto me” (Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 4, 536, March 1, 1842).

After the glorious appearance of the Father and the Son, Joseph waited eagerly for the further light and knowledge he had been promised. He waited for three years. While engaged in prayer one night in 1823, he was finally granted additional light. Joseph wrote of this experience and of others that followed:

On the evening on the 21st of September, A.D. 1823, while I was praying unto God, and endeavoring to exercise faith in the precious promises of Scripture, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room, indeed the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire; the appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body; in a moment a personage stood before me surrounded with a glory yet greater than that with which I was already surrounded. This messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled, that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in all its fullness to be preached in power, unto all nations that a people might be prepared for the Millennial reign. I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of His purposes in this glorious dispensation.

I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me; I was also told where were deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient Prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22nd of September, A.D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands. . . .

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In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian Era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites, and came directly from the Tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Savior made His appearance upon this continent after His resurrection; that He planted the Gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings, as were enjoyed on the eastern continent, that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions, that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgment of their prophecies, history, &c, and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the Bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days” (Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 4, 536-537, March 1, 1842).

The angel that appeared in 1823 was named Moroni and was the last prophet of the Nephites, the ancient American inhabitants described above. In approximately 420 A.D., Moroni buried a sacred record of God’s dealings with the Nephites and other ancient American peoples in a small hill in present day New York. Joseph Smith was entrusted with this record for the purpose of translating it into English so that its doctrines could be “united with the Bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days.” The translated record came to be known as The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, named after the Nephite warrior-prophet Mormon who served as the chief compiler and editor of the ancient record.

The Book of Mormon is an authentic book of holy Christian scripture similar to the Bible. It is a second witness to the world that the Bible’s testimony of the divinity and mission of Jesus Christ is accurate and truthful. The Book of Mormon is the “stick of Joseph” that Ezekiel foresaw would be joined with the “stick of Judah” to form “one stick” in the hand of God (Ezekiel 37:15-19). It is the “book” seen by Isaiah that the learned cannot read, but which one “that is not learned” should read and cause to spring forth “a marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:10-14). This divine record supports, and at times clarifies, Biblical doctrines regarding the House of Israel, the covenants of God, the ordinances of baptism and of receiving the Holy Spirit, prayer, and, of course, the all-important Atonement of the Savior. The Book of Mormon is, at its core, a beautiful and uncompromising witness of Jesus Christ.

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In one place, the prophet Nephi bore fervent witness, almost six hundred years before His birth, of Jesus Christ. He witnessed:

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. . . .

And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Nephi 25:26, 29).

Jacob, Nephi’s brother and fellow servant of God, also witnessed of the Messiah and His Gospel:

[B]ehold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God. . . .

O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell. . . .

And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.

And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.

And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 9:18-19, 21-23).

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Another prophet named Alma also testified of the Son of God’s then forthcoming Atonement and the marvelous blessing it would be for mankind:

[B]ehold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all – for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people. . . .

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me” (Alma 7:7, 11-13).

The inspired Amaleki gave us these encouraging words:

I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved” (Omni 1:26).

Finally, in the closing pages of the record, the prophet Moroni, the same who appeared to Joseph Smith, issued a challenge and a promise to anyone who would read the record:

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.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye should 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.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:3-5).

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“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” – John 8:12

These are the sort of passionate testimonies, doctrines, and promises that fill The Book of Mormon record. On nearly ever page of this sacred text there are references to Jesus Christ. The ancient Nephite prophets pleaded with their people, and with those of us they knew would one day read their record, to have faith on the name of Jesus, rely on His redeeming power, and join themselves to His Church. We could know with certainty the identity of that Church if we would simply pray, as James also instructed, and as the young Joseph Smith did in 1820.

Dear reader, please understand that Joseph Smith did not invent or write this volume of scripture; he translated The Book of Mormon through the power of God for the sole purpose of building up the Lord’s Church in the last days and bringing people to Jesus Christ. Please also know that I have a burning testimony of the truthfulness of that holy book. It leads me to believe in Christ, to follow Him, and to do good. It gives me knowledge that is sweet to my soul and which enlightens my understanding of life. And, most importantly, I have tested Moroni’s challenge by reading, pondering, and sincerely praying about The Book of Mormon. In response to my prayers, the Holy Spirit has touched my heart and affirmed in an unmistakable manner the divinity of that book. I love The Book of Mormon!

I also love the man who was the instrument in the Lord’s hands in bringing The Book of Mormon to light, Joseph Smith. His story no doubt sounds extraordinary – perhaps unbelievable – to someone hearing it for the first time. Joseph Smith acknowledged this when he said:

I don’t blame anyone for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself” (Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 6, 317, April 7, 1844).

Even though it is sounds unbelievable, it is true! And Joseph Smith suffered a life of defamation, brutalization, and persecution culminating in the murder of himself and his brother Hyrum because he stood firm in his testimony of what he had experienced and of what God had revealed to him. I have often pondered the mobbing and persecutions he and his family went through and have asked myself this question: “Would a man really suffer all of this for a lie?” The answer is a resounding “No!”Such a legacy of staunch belief in the face of bitter persecution is surely striking to even the most hardened skeptic.

One particular moment that touches my heart and demonstrates the greatness of Joseph Smith occurred when Joseph Smith and several of his fellow Latter-day Saints were betrayed by one of their own and illegally arrested by a militia and thrown into the ironically named Liberty Jail. For six months, they endured hunger and exposure and were subjected to ridicule while being denied due process under the law. Parley P. Pratt, one of those unjustly imprisoned alongside Joseph Smith, recorded that “in one of those tedious nights” in the jail, “we had listened for hours to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy language of our guards . . . as they recounted to each other their deeds of rapine, murder, robbery, etc., which they had committed among the “Mormons” while at Far West and vicinity. They even boasted of defiling by force wives, daughters and virgins, and of shooting or dashing out the brains of men, women and children.” Pratt then described what happened next:

I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards; but had said nothing to Joseph, or any one else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words:

SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!

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He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.

I have seen the ministers of justice, clothed in magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned before them, while life was suspended on a breath, in the Courts of England; I have witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give laws to nations; I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns; and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms; but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri.”

What a powerful testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith! And lest skeptics think this is an isolated incident, it wasn’t. Frequently, assassins who came with the Devilish intent of murdering the Prophet were so captivated and swayed by his “unruffled” presence in the face of danger – his profound “dignity and majesty” – that they ended up having dinner with him instead. The descriptions of those who met with Joseph Smith, friend and foe alike, are quite remarkable and I recommend the reader search them out in books such as They Knew the Prophet: Personal Accounts From Over 100 People Who Knew Joseph Smith by Hyrum Andrus.

Joseph Smith’s character was such that he could not be swayed from his beliefs by unjust imprisonment, mobbing, or the assassin’s gun. He made this remark about those who persecuted him and tried to coerce him to deny what he had really seen, heard, and experienced:

It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy? . . . .

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Joseph Smith being tarred and feathered March 24, 1832

I soon found . . . that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me. . . .

I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation” (Joseph Smith History 1:20, 22, 24-25).

Again I ask: What would a man suffer for a lie? If Joseph Smith was lying about his experiences, as detractors then and now claim, would he have maintained his lie in the face of mobbing, being tarred and feathered, being beaten, being poisoned, being arrested and tried forty-eight times (and acquitted all forty-eight), being threatened with death, being kidnapped and unjustly imprisoned for six months in the ironically named Liberty Jail, being betrayed and hunted by former friends, watching his followers murdered and driven from state to state, and, finally, in the face of certain slaughter by a vicious mob alongside his beloved brother Hyrum? I submit that a liar, a self-aggrandizer, a fraud, a charlatan, and a false prophet would not suffer so excruciatingly for a lie. Rather, logic dictates that, as a minimum, Joseph Smith truly believed what he said; namely, that God had appeared to him and called him as a prophet to restore the Lord’s Church.

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Millions of people from all across the globe have stepped forward to testify that they know, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that Joseph Smith was no liar. From Fiji to Brazil to Russia to Japan, millions have witnessed that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of Almighty God, that he in fact saw God and His Son, that They commanded him to restore the Savior’s Church in its fullness, that he was empowered to translate a sacred record of a Christian people living in ancient America, that the Lord’s Priesthood authority was given anew to him through heavenly messengers, and that from his day to the present there has been an unbroken line of prophets and apostles testifying to the world of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. I include myself among those who so testify of Joseph Smith and the Savior Jesus Christ whom he loved, served, and gave his life for.

Because of Joseph Smith’s testimony, thousands of people left their homes and homelands, forsook their belongings, and faced persecution to gather with the Saints of God. They contributed their meager earthly means to help build up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When Joseph was murdered, his influence continued to rally the Saints who proceeded to march across the plains to an uninhabited land and build up a Christian society.

Joseph Smith’s life and prophetic witness have changed and directed my own life to an enormous degree. Without exaggeration, I am who I am because of Jesus and Joseph. Because Brother Joseph restored Christ’s Church, and because the Holy Spirit has confirmed to my soul the divinity of that Church, I went to Russia for two years, struggling to learn the language and enduring arrest by the FSB and hatred by the people, to preach “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Because Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon, and because I have zealously studied that book and taken its warnings to heart, I have chosen my career field and daily raise my voice against the forces of evil and conspiracy facing us. Because Joseph Smith received revelations relative to politics and government, I revere the U.S. Constitution as inspired and ran for Congress in 2014.

The revelations and teachings delivered by and through Joseph Smith have informed my principles in everything from voting and politics to health habits to my views on marriage and family to my entertainment habits and beyond. It is impossible for me to worship Jesus Christ without acknowledging Joseph Smith as His Prophet in these final days before His return in glory. My sentiments echo those of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, an apostle of the Savior, who explained:

We bear testimony of Christ, and we do it with all the fervor and conviction and power of our whole soul, striving and laboring to do it by the power of the Holy Ghost; and as our voices echo and reecho the eternal verity that Christ is the Lord, we say also that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, a legal administrator who had power from God—keys and authority—so that he could bind on earth and have it sealed eternally in the heavens. Here, we say, is Joseph Smith, a revealer of the knowledge of Christ and of salvation for our day. We link the words together in one great testimony of eternal truth; and the reason we have power to bear witness of Christ, through whom salvation comes, is that Joseph Smith, the prophet and seer of the Lord for our day and in our day, has received eternal truth, has borne witness, has given revelation, has laid the foundation.

Brigham Young once said, “I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 458); and that is as it ought to be, because salvation is in Christ and salvation is available because Joseph Smith revealed Christ to the world. The world either accepts that witness and believes in the Lord’s prophets or goes its way and at its peril loses the hope of eternal salvation. One must believe in Adam and Christ, if living in that day; or in Abraham and Christ, if living in that day; or in Moses and Christ if living then; or, in our day, in Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ, crying “Hosanna” and “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord” whenever their names are mentioned by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “Joseph Smith: A Revealer of Christ,” BYU Devotional, September 3, 1978).

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Another time, Elder McConkie gave additional reasons why Latter-day Saints feel to cry hallelujah every time we think of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In his powerful sermon “Joseph Smith – The Mighty Prophet of the Restoration,” Elder McConkie stated:

His numerous revelations, given in the name of the Lord, set forth the wonders of eternity and the glories of the gospel as plainly and persuasively as do those of the apostles and prophets of old.

Here is a man who has given to our present world more holy scripture than any single prophet who ever lived; indeed, he has preserved for us more of the mind and will and voice of the Lord than the total of the dozen most prolific prophetic penmen of the past. . . .

Here is a man who, like the Master, whose servant he was, cast out devils and healed the sick. . . .

Here is a man whose greatness lies in the fact that he was a witness of that same Lord for whom his fellow prophets in days long past had laid down their lives. . . .

Here is a man who was a prophet in the full and complete and literal sense of the word, as all who hearken to the voice of the Spirit shall know. . . .

Here are the words of Deity, spoken to Joseph Smith, by which all men can judge the state of their own spiritual development:

““The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee;

““While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand.” (D&C 122:1–2.)

All men may well ask themselves where they stand with reference to Joseph Smith and his divine mission. Do they inquire after his name and seek that salvation found only in the gospel of Christ as revealed to his latter-day prophet, or do they deride and despise the Lord’s living oracles and say that God no longer speaks to men in the way he did anciently? The great question which all men in our day must answerand that at the peril of their own salvationis: Was Joseph Smith called of God? . . . .

We link the names of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith in our testimonies. And we now testify, as God is our witness, that Joseph Smith is his prophet, and we do it in the blessed name of Him who is Lord of all and of whom we and all the prophets testify, who is Jesus Christ” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “Joseph Smith – The Mighty Prophet of the Restoration,” General Conference, April, 1976).

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Joseph and Hyrum Smith’s martyrdom at Carthage Jail

Surely Joseph Smith was no common man and no common prophet. He was one of the greatest men to ever live and one the greatest prophets to ever wear the inspired mantle of “prophet, seer, and revelator.” His testimony, works, and life are of such magnitude and stature that they cannot be ignored or trivialized, but must be reckoned with and accounted for by all intelligent people. Ultimately, there are only two alternatives – either Satan inspired Joseph Smith or God called and empowered him. There is no middle ground. And I testify that our Lord and Savior chose Joseph Smith to push forward His eternal work in these last days and that it was Satan who inspired a fiendish mob to murder the Prophet in cold blood just as he inspired the mobs of the past to do to ancient prophets of Christ.

When the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred moments after his brother Hyrum was gunned down in front of him, John Taylor, who was with Joseph at the time and was himself severely injured in the hail of bullets, wrote this stirring commemoration:

Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the fit and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and a name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3).

It is no small thing to claim a man stands next to the Savior only in greatness, yet John Taylor, a spiritual giant in his own right who was to later become the third prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, did just that. He bore his witness. And I confirm his witness with my own. Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God, is the restorer of the Savior’s Church, Priesthood, and laws – a Church, Priesthood, and laws that had been corrupted or lost in the Great Apostasy, or, rather, in the “falling away” prophesied by New Testament apostles and Old Testament prophets alike (2 Thessalonians 2:3; Galatians 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:18; 2 Timothy 3:2-5; 2 Peter 2:1; Isaiah 29:10, 13; Isaiah 60:2; Amos 8:11-12). Through repenting and entering into the ordinances officiated by the Priesthood, and living with faith in the Redeemer, we access the Atonement of Jesus Christ and are saved. The modern world, though most don’t realize it, owes much to Joseph Smith and his faithfulness in the face of adversity.

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Joseph Smith’s death mask

In 1883, the distinguished statesman Josiah Quincy, who met the Prophet Joseph Smith forty-three days before his martyrdom, gave an intriguing memorial to this great man. He was not a follower of the Prophet and had nothing to gain from making this statement, yet he wrote:

It is by no means improbable that some future text-book, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a questions something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. And the reply, absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now living, may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants. History deals in surprises and paradoxes quite as startling as this. The man who established a religion in this age of free debate, who was and is today accepted by hundreds of thousands as a direct emissary from the Most High,—such a rare human being is not to be disposed of by pelting his memory with unsavory epithets . . . Fanatics and impostors are living and dying every day, and their memory is buried with them; but the wonderful influence which this founder of a religion exerted and still exerts throws him into relief before us, not as a rogue to be criminated, but as a phenomenon to be explained. The most vital questions Americans are asking each other to-day have to do with this man and what he has left us(Josiah Quincy, Figures of the Past, 376-377).

In partial fulfillment of Mr. Quincy’s prediction, in 2015 the Smithsonian Magazine ranked Joseph Smith the #1 most influential American in itsReligious Figures” category and Brigham Young, Brother Smith’s immediate successor, was ranked #3. In addition, The Book of Mormon, perhaps the crowning work put forward by Joseph Smith who translated it with God’s power, was recently ranked through a Library of Congress poll as the fourth most influential piece of American literature. Whether people like it or not, Joseph Smith is one of the most influential figures in recent world history and is widely regarding as a pivotal figure. Indeed, few people in any age of history have accomplished what he did during his short thirty-eight years of life, nor have they exerted such a powerful influence over millions across the world nearly two centuries after their death as Joseph Smith does at present.

Though it is inexplicable to some, I can explain the “phenomenon” of Joseph Smith and the millions who follow him quite easily. Simply, his testimony is true! He was and is a real prophet of God. He really did see with his own eyes the Father and the Savior. They did in reality command him to restore the Lord’s Church with its Priesthood and saving ordinances. He really did translate an ancient record, delivered to him by an angel, that bears witness of Jesus Christ’s dealings with the inhabitants of ancient America. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in actuality the Kingdom of God on the earth. And the Holy Spirit, the Testator of all truth, has borne witness to millions that these things are true. I know this is true and I would give my life before recanting.

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Dear reader, after the story of the humble Man from Nazareth who walked on water, raised the dead, suffered and died for the sins of the world, and rose from the grave thus abolishing death and conquering the Devil, the story of Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Lord’s Church is the greatest story in the world. And it is so very great because it is so very true!

Joseph’s story is the ultimate confirmation of Jesus’ story. Joseph is His prophet. Joseph’s testimony is the supreme reaffirmation of the ancient apostles’ testimonies of their Lord and should be welcomed and received by all who willingly take upon them the name of Christ. Jesus taught that to know God and His Son is eternal life (John 17:3), and Joseph taught the world the true nature of the Godhead and helped us truly know who They are and what They stand for. Joseph clarified the true points of the Redeemer’s doctrine, thus settling centuries of schismatic Bible-bashing with “thus saith the Lord” revelations that are sweet to the soul and enlightening to the mind.

I thank my Eternal Father for sending Joseph to testify of Jesus. I thank the Lord for not forsaking this generation, but for calling a prophet in our day to bear witness of His holy name. My soul is filled with gratitude to know that I live in a day when literal prophets walk the earth and in an age that has the witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I love to hear and sing the words of a powerful hymn extolling his name:

Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!

Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.

Blessed to open the last dispensation,

Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.

Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr;

Honored and blest be his ever great name!

Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,

Plead unto heav’n while the earth lauds his fame.

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!

Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.

Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;

Death cannot conquer the hero again” (“Praise to the Man,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hymn No. 27).

It is fitting that we end with a few words from the Prophet’s own mouth about our Savior, for he lived to bring people to Christ. I extract the quotes from the third chapter of Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. The Prophet testified:

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

I believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and that He died for the sins of all men, who in Adam had fallen.”

Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ.”

God . . . prepared a sacrifice in the gift of His own Son, who should be sent in due time to prepare a way, or open a door through which man might enter into the Lord’s presence, whence he had been cast out for disobedience. From time to time these glad tidings were sounded in the ears of men in different ages of the world down to the time of Messiah’s coming.”

Who, among all the Saints in these last days, can consider himself as good as our Lord? Who is as perfect? Who is as pure? Who is as holy as He was? Are they to be found? He never transgressed or broke a commandment or law of heaven—no deceit was in His mouth, neither was guile found in His heart. . . . Where is one like Christ? He cannot be found on earth.”

[T]hose who keep the sayings of Jesus and obey His teachings have not only a promise of a resurrection from the dead, but an assurance of being admitted into His glorious kingdom; for, He Himself says, ‘Where I am there also shall my servant be’ [John 12:26].”

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

It fills me with a uniquely peculiar sense of euphoria to read, speak, and think about the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Spirit testifies to me of his prophetic call as a servant of the Lord. I know he was a good man because his fruit is sweet to my soul and his teachings illuminate my mind. I know he stands as the preeminent prophet of our time because the Holy Ghost has so whispered to me. I know that when the Lord returns surrounded by His Saints, Joseph Smith, the American Prophet, the Prophet of the Restoration, will be on His right hand.

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In sincerity I say that I can approach the “throne of grace” more boldly because I know the name Joseph Smith (Hebrews 4:15-16). I am a better man for having learned of the Prophet and his humble life and immense sacrifices. I wish all could likewise know the name Joseph Smith, read his story, imbibe his testimony, and join in the same great cause of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I testify of these things and invite all to “come and see” and learn the truth for themselves (John 1:39).

When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then” (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse, April 7, 1844).

Zack Strong,

December 23, 2019

I invite you to also watch the film Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xVw6PsSinI&t=2453s