Jesus Christ established His church while He was upon the earth; He did this in order for His truths to be taught to all people and His ordinances to be administered by correct authority. He desired His church to take His gospel to all mankind.
While Jesus Christ and His apostles lived upon the earth, they administered the church with proper authority; men changed the ordinances and doctrines of the gospel after the Savior was killed. The world went into apostasy when the apostles were killed, and there was no direct revelation from God. The church organized by Jesus Christ was no longer found upon the earth.
Even though all churches claimed to be the “true” church of Jesus Christ, they taught conflicting doctrines, bringing much confusion and contention over religion. Prophets had foretold there would be “a famine” for “hearing the words of the Lord … they shall seek ... the word of the Lord and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11, 12).
The Savior promised through the prophet Isaiah that He would restore His church in the latter days: “I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14).
People lived in spiritual darkness for approximately 1700 years after the death of Christ. Finally, people began searching to know the truth about God and religion. Some of them recognized that the gospel of Jesus Christ was no longer upon the earth; they knew there were no true authority on the earth and no revelation from heaven. No church was organized in the pattern of the church organized by Jesus Christ. The time had come for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The beginning of the restoration took place in the early spring of 1820 when one of the most important events in all the history of the earth took place. Joseph Smith was a young man, and he desired to know for himself which church was the true church of Jesus Christ. He read in James 1:5 “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.” Joseph decided to put the scripture to trial and went into the words early one morning and knelt in prayer. Suddenly, he saw a light appearing directly over his head and soon saw two Personages. The Father introduced the Son, and the Son asked Joseph what he desired. Joseph asked his question and was told not to join any of the churches because the true church was not yet upon the earth.
This was the beginning of direct revelation from God; He had chosen a new prophet and opened the heavens to revelation. This revelation has not stopped but continues to this day through each of His prophets. Joseph Smith helped to restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ to earth once again.
John the Baptist came in early 1820 to ordain Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood (see Doctrine and Covenants 13; 27:8). Soon afterwards, Peter, James, and John restored the Melchizedek Priesthood and the keys of the kingdom of God (see Doctrine and Covenants 110:1-16). Through the restoration of the gospel, the priesthood was restored. Those who hold the priesthood today have the authority to direct the affairs of the kingdom of God on earth and to perform ordinances such as baptism.
After the restoration of the priesthood, the Savior directed that His church be organized again on earth; the day chosen by the Lord was
April 6, 1830 (see Doctrine and Covenants 115:4). The Lord stands at the head of His church today just as He did in ancient days. He said the church is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).
Joseph Smith was sustained as prophet and leader of the church (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:2-4). The First Presidency was organized later, and he was sustained as President of the church. The framework of the church was set up and slowly perfected over a period of years. The church was organized following the pattern of the Savior’s ancient church with apostles, prophets, seventies, evangelists (patriarchs), pastors (presiding officers), high priests, elders, bishops, teachers, and deacons. These offices are present in the church today (see Articles of Faith, 1:6).
The prophet and president of the church acts under the direction of the Lord and holds all of the authority necessary to direct the work (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:65, 91). He is assisted by two counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Quorums of Seventy, the Presiding Bishopric, and the patriarch. The Apostles are special witnesses of Jesus Christ and carry the gospel to all parts of the world; the Seventy assists the Apostles.
The Church of Jesus Christ is much larger today than it was in the days of Jesus Christ or even the days Joseph Smith. As the church has grown, the Lord has revealed addition units of organization within the Church on both general and local levels. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the same principles and performs the same ordinances as were done in the ancient church. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel, and the second is repentance. Baptism by immersion is the first ordinance of the gospel, followed by the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon through the gift and power of God; it contains the plain and precious truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Other revelations followed; they were recorded and are considered as scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.
Other great and important truths were lost to the people of the world and were restored in the restoration of the gospel. These truths include: (1) Our Heavenly Father is a real person with a tangible body of flesh and bones. (2) Jesus Christ also has a body of flesh and bone.
(3) We lived in heaven in our pre-mortal life as spirit children of God. (4) The ordinances of the gospel cannot be properly administered without priesthood authority. (5) Men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adams transgression. (6) Little children do not need to be baptized until they reach the age of accountability (8 years old). (7) There are three degrees of glory in the heavens and men will be rewarded according to their actions on earth. (8) Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. (9) Family relationships can be eternal, through the sealing power of the priesthood. (10) The ordinances of the temple are available to both the living and the dead.
Since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830, it has steadily grown. It began with six official members and now has more than 15 million members located in nearly every nation in the world. The Church will continue to grow and will never be taken from the earth again. The gospel of Jesus Christ will be taught in the entire world because its mission is to take the gospel to every person.