(This is Part I of a series of blog posts about important doctrines that missionaries teach each day . . . not only do they spend much of their time in personal and companionship study, planning and setting goals, they also are out and about for approximately 8-9 hours each day teaching and testifying of basic gospel principles. Missionaries visit their new contacts, teach people who are investigating the church, strengthen new converts to the Church and seek out the less active members to strengthen them also. That's a lot of responsibility for young people ages 18-25. )
Who is Joseph Smith?
A question frequently asked of the missionaries is -
Who is Joseph Smith?
Frequently missionaries encounter some confusion by those outside of our religion, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerning our prophet Joseph Smith.
Some mistakenly believe that we worship the prophet Joseph Smith . . . when actually that is not the case. He was and is a very influential and important part of the restored gospel here upon the earth.
We believe Joseph Smith was a young man called by our Heavenly Father, to be a prophet here upon the earth, and to restore the fulness of His gospel to the earth once more.
(this post illustrated with photos from our recent "First 12 Weeks Training", the arrival of new missionaries, and our recent transfer meeting, also a few scenes from our mission travels, and last but not least . . . Hna. Klein's birthday :)
(Each missionary participates with their trainers in an orientation to the
"First 12 Weeks" program that is an inspired program that continues their studies and learning
they began in the MTC)
The Lord Reveals his Secrets to his Prophets -
Joseph Smith lived in the United States with his family during a period of time when great religious freedom was enjoyed in the United States. He came from a religious family who always sought the truth about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Many ministers claimed to have the real truth, but as a young man, Joseph Smith was confused about the many conflicting doctrines surrounding him during this period of time and desired to know which church he should join.
In the Bible we read from Ephesians 4:5, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" . . . but what exactly did that mean, and after investigating many ministries of the day . . . Joseph Smith remained confused. As he sought the for the truth he remembered the scripture passage -
"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
A Seeker of Truth -
Having great faith in God, Joseph Smith turned to God for the answer to one of the greatest questions of his life at his young age. In the Spring of 1820, he went to a grove of trees nearby his home in Palmyra New York and knelt in prayer to God, to seek an answer to this question that weighted upon his mind. He described his experience with these words:
"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-History 1:16-17).
(orientation to the "First 12 Weeks" is taught by Pres and Hna. Klein
the Assistants and some of our Sister Training Leaders)
As described by Joseph Smith, in a vision he saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, who answered his plea saying none of the churches upon the earth contained the fulness of the gospel truths he sought, and that he should join none of them.
We believe today, that many good people believe in Christ and try to understand and teach his gospel, but they are missing the complete gospel truth established by the Savior during his ministry upon the earth, and the priesthood authority necessary to baptize and perform other sacred ordinances. Many of the precious truths and authority were lost as doctrine was passed from one generation to another making changes to and deleting gospel truths.
A Prophet of God -
We believe as God had previously done with Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses, and other prophets, that He called Joseph Smith to be a prophet in these great and glorious days, and bring about the restoration of the complete gospel principles of His church to the earth.
Later on, after this first vision occurred, the young man Joseph Smith received visions and visits from other Heavenly messengers, or angels. Joseph's friend and associate, Oliver Cowdery was present during some of these Heavenly visits. The most significant visitors being the John, the Baptist, and Peter, James and John, three of Christ's original apostles, who all appeared to Joseph and Oliver and conferred upon them the missing and necessary Priesthood authority to organize and direct the restoration of the Church upon the earth again. Through the prophet Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ directed the restoration of His Church and called apostles to administer The Church once again upon the earth.
Jesus Christ will Return to Earth -
We believe and teach, as missionaries, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that the Savior, Jesus Christ will return to the earth again one day. We believe that the day of his return will be soon. We believe that we all are now living in the last days of the earth before the return of the Savior, or in another term . . . the Latter-days. That is why we are called Latter-day Saints, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(New arrivals at the airport)
(Some of our funnest days are greeting the new arrivals with our Assistants, Sister Training
leaders and much of our office staff)
The Current and Living Prophet Today -
Even today, a living prophet directs The Church. His name is President Thomas S. Monson, and we believe he also has been called of God, by our Heavenly Father, and also by His Son, Jesus Christ to be a living prophet, to guide and direct His Church upon the face of the earth in these Latter-days. He and the current apostles trace their Priesthood Authority to Jesus Christ, in an unbroken chain of ordinations through the prophet Joseph Smith.
You can hear the counsel of these Latter-day Apostles and Prophets online if you would like.
There is much more to be shared about the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you can read much more about the Prophet Joseph Smith online -
Joseph Smith - a Prophet of God
The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith
The Translation Miracle of the Book of Mormon
The Joseph Smith Papers Project
(Missionaries are starting to arrive from all parts of the mission with all their belongings
in tow, it's TRANSFER day, and they are eager to receive new companions and
discover where they will be serving next.)
Who do we Worship?
We do not worship the Prophet Joseph Smith, he was a man of great virtue who fulfilled an extraordinary calling from the Lord, although as a man he was not perfect. He accomplished the work our Heavenly Father called him to do until his life was taken, and we honor him for his faith, courage and devotion.
(Transfer meetings are always held in the chapel, they are special reverent meetings where
we enjoy testimonies of missionaries, new converts to the church, and special musical numbers
prepared by the missionaries)
(The hardest part for us is saying "goodbye" - we are excited for families to welcome
home their much missed missionaries, but it's hard for us to let them go. It's incredible for us
to see the change that takes place from the less confident, unsure missionaries who arrive, as they
depart the mission as spiritual giants . . . we hope they will stay strong in their testimonies
and be good leaders and teachers in the gospel forever more!)
(Happy Birthday wishes to Hna. Klein - who is very excited for her family to arrive
to wish her happy birthday, and have an opportunity for a family visit! - Oh! And a peek
at the mission kitty also :)
We do worship the perfect God, our Heavenly Father and his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
We invite all to seek more information
- ask the missionaries
those young men and women you see walking the streets two by two. They can help you find the truth about the restored gospel.
Or you can find answers to many questions online -