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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Joseph Smith the Prophet

                I was asked a couple of weeks ago to share my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and I was happy to do so.  You see, the more I learn about Joseph Smith, the more I want to meet him in the next life.  I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since I was baptized at eight years of age, but I have not always had a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  I always believed that he was a true prophet, but I could not testify that he was – and still is.

                When I was thirty years old, married, and a mother of three young children under the age of four years, I was working in the Primary Organization, the organization for children ages three to twelve in our church.  One Sunday in testimony meeting, I witnessed child after child go to the stand and say “I know Joseph Smith is a prophet” and “I know the Church is true.”  I wondered to myself, do they really know it or are they simply repeating words they have heard from other people?  Then I began to question myself.  Do I know that Joseph was a true prophet?  Do I know that the Church is the true church of God on earth today?  I realized that I could not say “I know.”

                That day was the beginning of my quest to learn for myself whether or not the things that I deeply believed were true.  I never doubted their truthfulness; I simply wanted God to confirm to me that they are true.  Somehow I understood that the truthfulness of the Church depended on whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet so I began my quest by reading books and articles about Joseph Smith.  After a month or two or maybe even three months, the Holy Ghost whispered to me, “If you really want to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, you need to read the Book of Mormon.”

                I had read the Book of Mormon several times previously to starting my quest.  I knew the story well and could even quote scripture from the Book of Mormon.  I made the determination that I would follow the counsel of the Holy Ghost and read the Book of Mormon.  I remembered my father-in-law giving me a suggestion of how to study the Book of Mormon, and I followed his suggestion.  As I recently thought about this process, I wrote down the following procedures: 
1. Read the promise of the Prophet Moroni in Moroni 10:2-5 (page 529).
2. Read the conversion story of Alma, the son of Alma in Mosiah 27 (pages 199-202).
3. Read the conversion story of King Lamoni in Alma 18-19 (pages 253-259).
4. Read the conversion story of King Lamoni’s father, the King over the entire land, in Alma 22 (pages 263-266).
5. Read the record of the Savior’s visit to the American continents and the resulting conditions in 3 Nephi 11-29 and 4 Nephi 1:1-18 (pages 427-466).
6. Read the entire Book of Mormon.

                I already knew the story found in Book of Mormon and most of the doctrines.  I knew that I was not particularly looking for knowledge; I knew that I was looking for a particular key, something that would make a difference for me.  My “key” may not be the same as your “key” because we are individuals with different experiences and knowledge.

                I read the Moroni’s promise and the conversion stories; I was almost finished reading about the Savior’s visit to the American continents when I found my “key” in 3 Nephi 27.  The Nephite disciples were discussing and “disputing” possible names for the church when the Savior appeared to them.  “… why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?
                “Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name?  For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;
                “And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.
                “Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
                “And how be it my church save it be called in my name?  For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.
                “Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you;
                “And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.
                “But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.
                “For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore remember the things that I have told you” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 27:4-12; pages 458-459).

                As soon as I read those words, I knew I had found my key.  I knew that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized with six members and had grown to two or three million at that time.  I knew that every prayer, every talk, and every ordinance was done in the name of Jesus Christ.  I knew that the Church taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.

                I went to my bedroom and knelt by the side of my bed in prayer.  I remember asking God to help me to know the truth and to know that I know.  I received the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in such rich abundance that I felt as though light was coming from my entire body – much like a giant light bulb.  I felt the Spirit confirming to me the truth in such a way that I knew that I knew.  I did not doubt previous to this manifestation, and I certainly cannot doubt now.  I can say that I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in truly the Church of Jesus Christ.

                I would like to close my post by sharing the testimonies of two other people.  John Taylor was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when Joseph Smith was killed; he later became the third president of the Church.  He wrote the following which is now published in the Doctrine and Covenants 135:3:  “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.”

                President Gordon B. Hinckley testified, “I bear solemn testimony of the divinity of Joseph Smith’s call, of the magnitude of his accomplishments, of the virtue of his life, and of the security of his place among the great and honored of the Almighty in all generations of time.  We stand in reverence before him.  He is the great prophet of this dispensation.  Let us not forget him.  God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph” (Stand A Little Taller, p. 374).

                As we commemorate the birth of Joseph Smith on December 23, let us remember that he was a prophet whom God called to restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ to earth once again.  We do not worship Joseph Smith, but we certainly do give him honor as he stands at the head of this dispensation of time.

                I encourage you to study the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ and learn the truth for yourself.  If you follow the admonition of Moroni, you can learn the truth.  As you read and study the Book of Mormon, ask God if it is true.  If you 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.”  By the power of the Holy Ghost

you can “know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4-5).

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