Preach My Gospel says, "Individuals and families begin to follow Christ as they exercise faith in Him and repent of their sins. They receive a remission of sins through baptism and by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost from one who has authority from God to perform these ordinances. They then endure to the end, or, in other words, they continue throughout their lives in exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, and renewing the covenants they have made. These are not just steps that they experience once in their lives; rather, when repeated throughout life these principles become an increasingly rewarding pattern of living. In fact, it is the only way of living that will bring peace of conscience and enable Heavenly Father’s children to return to live in His presence."
The Foundation of Faith
The unique message that we have to share with the world is that we have a living a prophet on the earth today. Yes--a LIVING PROPHET! Just like prophets in the Old Testament like Abraham, Moses, and Noah. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has from the beginning of time given the children on men prophets to help lead and guide us so that we may return to live with him again someday. These prophets have always had God's authority (priesthood power) and have had the necessary keys (permission) to lead and help us. We see a pattern repeated through time where God will call a prophet; the people will listen for a time, and then, out of wickedness, the people reject the prophet. When the people reject the prophets it is called an apostasy. At the end of each of these apostasies, God has revoked that authority, or priesthood. Therefore, the people are left in darkness with no guidance. Out of love, our Heavenly Father has repeatedly called prophets to try and help us return to him. Every time a prophet is called, this is the beginning of a new dispensation. This pattern continues and ultimately leads up to our Savior himself coming.
Our Savior, Jesus Christ, came to the earth and established his gospel. He taught us how to have faith, repent, showed us by example how to be baptized, receive the holy ghost, and endure to the end. Everything he taught us is based off of one of these basic principles or ordinances. Our Heavenly Father sent his son Jesus Christ to overcome physical and spiritual death for us. He was able to do so by completing the atonement for us. The atonement consisted of his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering and death on the cross, and his triumphant resurrection. Before his death, Christ called twelve apostles and gave them his authority, or priesthood power, so that they could teach his gospel, perform ordinances like baptism, and continue to establish his church throughout the world.
We know that after a time, the people ultimately rejected his apostles also. With the death of the apostles, that authority was taken from the earth. Without this authority, false ideas came about in Christ's church. Doctrine became corrupted. Unauthorized changes to Christ's church were made. The people fell into what is called the Great Apostasy. This apostasy led to many new churches being established. There were many great people who noticed that they had been falling away from Christ's teachings so they sought to reform the church. These reformations led to increased religious freedom, which opened the way for a restoration. The apostles foretold of a need for a restoration in the last days.
If you fast forward a little bit, the United States was busy with religious excitement. Mormon.org gives this overview: "The western part of New York State in the early 1800s was known as the 'Burned Over District.' The fervor over religion was intense. Many religions sent ministers seeking converts to their flock. So much so that no one, it was supposed, was left to convert. It was a time and a place of theological turmoil.
"This is the setting into which Joseph Smith, Jr., son of Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith, was born. His large family found themselves in the heart of this religious revival, wanting to live good lives but not sure which of the competing churches was the right one to join. Members of Joseph's family leaned toward different religions, but none felt certain that theirs was the true Church of Christ."
It continues on to say, "As a young man of fourteen years, Joseph already had a desire to find the truth. Like the rest of his family, he was deeply religious, and when the time came for him to be baptized, Joseph had to decide which of the many Christian denominations to join. After careful study, he still felt confused. He later wrote,'So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was [ … ] to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong [ … ] In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?' (Joseph Smith-History 1:8, 10).
Joseph turned to the Bible for guidance. He read,
"This verse deeply impressed him. He decided to pray about what he should do, with simple faith that God would hear and answer him."
And that is exactly what he did. He prayed to Heavenly Father and he got his answer. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. In his words, he describes the event as follows:
"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!"
Joseph Smith truly saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He was told at that time that none of the churches were true and that he should not join any of them. Over time, he was chosen to restore Christ's church on the earth again. Through Joseph Smith, the priesthood (God's authority) was restored again to the earth. That same authority that Christ gave his apostles, was back on the earth again.
Heavenly Father knew that we would need convincing evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet, so he provided The Book of Mormon. I have been blogging a lot about The Book of Mormon lately. The reason why, is because I know that everything hinges on it. The bottom line: Our message is true or its not. The only way to find out is to read and pray about The Book of Mormon. Just like I have promised many times in my last posts, as you read and pray about it, you can know for yourself that it is true. (For more information on how to know if The Book of Mormon is true, click here.)
The message of the Restoration is the very foundation of our faith. I know that it is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He was truly called to do a marvelous work. I know this because I know The Book of Mormon is true. You can know its true too!