May 2 2017 Lesson 31 by Rosemary Wixom

Succession in the Presidency Review

Because this is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – it is His Church – and we can know that the succession in the First Presidency of this Church is under His direction.

    • What does it mean to us personally?
  • And what does it mean when we raise our right hand to sustain the Prophet when his name is read?

 Painting by the Swiss painter Eugene Burnand ‘Lively Hope.”  The painting is a depiction two disciples  Peter and John running to the sepulcher on the morning of the resurrection.

 

 

 

I think there is a parallel here to the gathering of the Apostles back to Nauvoo after they learned that the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred.  This painting effectively captures the countenances of these two disciples as they neared the tomb

In 2008 in General Conference President Boyd K. Packer said the following:

  • Shortly after the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 14 men, Apostles, who had conferred upon the keys of the kingdom, gathered together in the upper room of the temple in order to reorganize the First Presidency of the Church. There were no questions about what would be done, no hesitancy. We knew that the senior Apostle was the President of the Church. And in that sacred meeting, Thomas Spencer Monson was sustained by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the President of the Church. He nominated and named his counselors. They likewise were sustained, and they were each ordained and given authority. President Monson was specifically given the authority to exercise all the priesthood keys of authority. Now, as the scriptures provide, he is the only man on the earth who has the right to exercise all of the keys. But we all hold them as Apostles. … Already he was and had been sustained for years as a prophet, seer and revelator.
  • Succession in the First Presidency is about priesthood keys of authority – an unbroken line of authority.

What has been your experience when a new prophet has been sustained?

President Henry B. Eyring:

“Don’t take lightly the feeling you get of love for the prophet of God. … That is far more than hero worship or the feelings we sometimes have of admiring heroic figures. It is a gift from God. With it you will receive more easily the gift of confirming revelation when he speaks in his office as the Lord’s prophet. The love you feel is the love the Lord has for whoever is His spokesman.”

Let’s see how the organizational structure of the Church evolved.

. D&C 6:28 “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

“On 5 December 1834 the Prophet Joseph Smith ordained Oliver Cowdery as Assistant ‘It was necessary according to the “divine law of witnesses. However, By 1838 Oliver Cowdery had lost his office of Assistant President through apostasy and excommunication, so in 1841 the Lord called Hyrum Smith to fill this office ( D&C 124:94–96).

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained why we no longer have an Assistant President in the Church:

“The answer to this is a simple one. It is because the peculiar condition requiring two witnesses to establish the work, is not required after the work is established. Joseph and Hyrum Smith stand at the head of this dispensation, jointly holding the keys, as the two necessary witnesses fulfilling the law as it is set down by our Lord in his answer to the Jews [see Matthew 18:16]. Since the gospel will never again be restored there will be no occasion for this condition to arise again. They were called to bear witness in full accord with the divine law”

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

  • “One of the most important events in the restoration of the Savior’s church was the formation of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Scriptures:

  • Apostles: D&C 107:33
    • See Bible Dictionary “Apostles”
    • See Topical Guide “Apostles”
  • D&C 112: 30-32 – power and authority
  • D&C 124: 127-128 – Brigham Young President of the Quorum of the Twelve

“For several years the Lord … carefully prepared the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to assume the leadership of the Church.

“Most importantly, Joseph Smith, feeling that he might soon die, took great care during the last seven months of his life to carefully prepare the Twelve.

President Wilford Woodruff was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and reflected on Joseph’s words:

“I am a living witness to the testimony that [Joseph Smith] gave to the Twelve Apostles when all of us received our endowments from under his hands. I remember the last speech that he ever gave us before his death. It was before we started upon our mission to the East. He stood upon his feet some three hours. The room was filled as with consuming fire, his face was as clear as amber, and he was clothed upon by the power of God. He laid before us our duty. He laid before us the fullness of this great work of God; and in his remarks to us he said: ‘I have had sealed upon my head every key, every power, every principle of life and salvation that God has ever given to any man who ever lived upon the face of the earth. And these principles and this Priesthood and power belong to this great and last dispensation which the God of Heaven has set His hand to establish in the earth. Now,’ said he addressing the Twelve, ‘I have sealed upon your heads every key, every power, and every principle which the Lord has sealed upon my head.’ …

Most of the Twelve were serving missions in the East when the Prophet Joseph Smith and Hyrum were martyred. Within 3 weeks, however, everyone had learned the tragic news and hurried back to Nauvoo.   John Taylor and Willard Richards had remained with Joseph and Hyrum and were at Carthage.

A deep gloom fell over the city of Nauvoo when the saints learned of the Martyrdom.  The saints obeyed.  Willard Richards who instructed them to stay calm and allow government officials to find the murders.

On Saturday, August 3rd, Sidney Rigdon had returned with the expectation of taking over the Church. (Section 124:108-109 Sidney had disobeyed and took his family to Pittsburg.

Sidney said, “The object of my mission is to visit the saints and offer myself to them as a guardian. I had a vision at Pittsburg, the 27th day of June.  He went on to say that no one could take the place of Joseph as the head of the Church and that he, as the designated  spokesman for the Prophet, should assume the role of guardian of the Church. 

Following Sidney’s remarks, BY spoke,

“I do not care who leads the church…. But one thing I must know, and that is what God says about it. I have the keys and the means of obtaining the mind of God on the subject…Joseph conferred upon our heads all the keys and powers belonging to the Apostleship which he himself held before he was taken away, and no man or set of men can get between Joseph and the Twelve in this world or in the world to come.”

Thursday, the 8th of August stands as one of the most important days in the history of the Restoration.

The meeting began at 10 am in the grove. Sidney Rigdon spoke for an 1 ½ hours about his desire to be the guardian of the Church, but he awakened no emotion.

Brigham Young told the audience that he would rather have spent a month mourning the dead Prophet than so quickly attend to the business of appointing a “new shepherd.”

While he was speaking he was miraculously transfigured before the people. This manifestation clearly signaled that Brigham Young had the priesthood keys to lead the Church.

Zina Huntington, who was a young woman of 21 said, “President Young was speaking. It was the voice of Joseph Snith – not that of Brigham Young.  His very person was changed…. I closed my eyes.  I could have exclaimed, I know that is Joseph Smith’s voice!”

Wilford Woodruff said, “If I had not seen him with my own eyes, there is not one that could have convinced me that is was ot Joseph Smith speaking.”

Hundreds had this same experience.

 What did Brigham Young feel? This is how he recorded the event “My heart was swollen with compassion towards them and by the power of the Holy Ghost, even the spirit of the Prophets, I was enabled to comfort the hearts of the Saints.”

The saints voted unanimously to sustain the Twelve as the First Presidency of this people.

Joseph Smith had prepared the members of the twelve and they were prepared to lead the Church.

There were splinter groups because of this decision. Both Sidney Rigdon and James J. Strang worked behind the scenes to pull the leadership away.

  • Some of Joseph’s own family did not follow the Twelve. Emma could not be reconciled with the Twelve on economic and theological matters.
  • The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints eventually named Joseph Smith III to be it’s president.

Important Principles of Succession

  • Highlighted in a 1996 Ensign article by Brent Top and Lawrence Flake. These 4 were operative in 1844 and are still operative today.

1. Keys of the kingdom given to the Twelve. D&C 27:12-13 Each member of the Quorum of the Twelve “holds the keys of this dispensation in latent reserve for the day when they will be ready, if necessary, to be exercised in the office of president.

2. Seniority: a governing principle of presidency. In 1835, when the first Quorum of the Twelve was called, seniority was arranged by age. Since then, seniority has been determined by the date of ordination into the Quorum of the Twelve. …

    • The President of the Church is the Apostle with the most seniority. The Apostle who is next in seniority is the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, unless he is serving in the First Presidency, in which case the Apostle next in seniority serves as the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Seniority among the Apostles is determined not by age but by the date and order of their ordination as Apostles.
  • President Spencer W. Kimball explained, the Lord alone controls the order of succession: “There have been some eighty apostles [by 1972] so endowed [with the keys of authority] since Joseph Smith, though only eleven have occupied the place of the President of the Church, death having intervened; and since the death of his servants is in the power and control of the Lord, he permits to come to the first place only the one who is destined to take that leadership. Death and life become the controlling factors. Each new apostle in turn is chosen by the Lord and revealed to the then living prophet who ordains him”

3. At the President’s death there is no First Presidency over the Twelve. Following the principles taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith, when the President of the Church dies, the quorum of the First Presidency is automatically dissolved and the counselors, if they previously had been in the Quorum of the Twelve, return to their respective places of seniority in that quorum. Likewise, the President of the Twelve at that time is as much the President of the Church in function and authority as when he becomes sustained as such in a newly organized First Presidency. …

4. Reorganization of the First Presidency. As the presiding officer of the Church, the President of the Twelve has the prerogative to receive revelation regarding when to reorganize the First Presidency. This decision is made in consultation with and through the unanimous support of the Quorum of the Twelve. …I’ll come back to this one.

Question: What if health or disability prevents a leader from serving?

“On the day that President Howard W. Hunter [1907–95] was sustained as President of the Church, he testified:

“‘When a President of the Church is ill or not able to function fully in all of the duties of his office, his two Counselors, who, with him, comprise a Quorum of the First Presidency, carry on the work of the Presidency. Any major questions, policies, programs, or doctrines are prayerfully considered in council by the Counselors in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. No decision emanates from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve without total unanimity among all concerned.

What really happens – what is the pattern of succession?

President Hinckley after the passing of President Hunter: “Three weeks ago today all of the living ordained Apostles gathered in a spirit of fasting and prayer in the upper room of the temple. Here we sang a sacred hymn and prayed together. We partook of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, renewing in that sacred, symbolic testament our covenants and our relationship with Him who is our divine Redeemer. The Presidency was then reorganized, following a precedent well established through generations of the past. There was no campaigning, no contest, no ambition for office. It was quiet, peaceful, simple, and sacred. It was done after the pattern which the Lord Himself had put in place”

Has the First Presidency always been immediately reorganized?

“As the presiding officer of the Church, the President of the Twelve has the prerogative to receive revelation regarding when to reorganize the First Presidency. This decision is made in consultation with and through the unanimous support of the Quorum of the Twelve” (Top and Flake, “The Kingdom of God,” 33).

After the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles led the Church for three and one-half years before the First Presidency was reorganized. The Quorum of the Twelve led the Church for a little more than three years following the death of President Brigham Young and for nearly two years following the death of President John Taylor. More recently, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has led the Church typically for only a few days before the First Presidency is reorganized and a new President is set apart.

Primary children all over the world sing, “Follow the Prophet. Sometimes, we as Mormons are criticized for being “followers” in a uniquely independent world.

Jerry Earl Johnston, a columnist for the Deseret News, recently wrote an article entitled, “When People Call Me a Sheep, I Say Thank You”  Feb. 16, 2017

An illustration of this truth was shared in a story told by President Harold B. Lee: A “traveler was leaving by boat from Stockholm, Sweden, traveling out into the Baltic Sea. To do so, the boat had to pass through a thousand or more islands. Standing on the forward deck, the traveler found himself becoming impatient because of what seemed to him to be a careless course. Why not a course near to this island or another and more interesting than the one the pilot had chosen? Almost in exasperation he was saying to himself, ‘What’s wrong with the old pilot? Has he lost his sense of direction?’ Suddenly he was aware of markers along the charted course that appeared as mere broom handles sticking up in the water. Someone had carefully explored these channels and had charted the safest course for ships to take.”[i]

President Lee continued, “So it is in life’s course on the way to immortality and eternal life: ‘God’s engineers,’ by following a blueprint made in heaven, have charted the course for safest and happiest passage and have forewarned us of the danger areas.”17

Though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”[ii] D&C 1:38

The pattern of succession for the First Presidency that is in place and has been for this dispensation divinely allows for no errors, no conflicts, no ambitions, no ulterior motives. The Lord has reserved for himself the calling of his leaders over his church”

What does it mean to us personally? And what does it mean when we raise our right hand to sustain the Prophet’s when his name is read?

Elder George Albert Smith “The obligation that we make when we raise our hands…. Is a most sacred one.  It does not mean that we will go quietly on our way and be willing that the prophet of the Lord shall direct this work, but it means…. That we will stand behind him; we will pray for him, we will defend his good name and we will strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct.”  (end quote)

It is our obligation to come to know He is a prophet of God and to remain worthy of the faith necessary to fulfill our promise to sustain him.

April 25 2017 Lesson 30 by Cynthia Haller

THE MISSION OF JOSEPH SMITH:

 “Joseph Smith the prophet was little understood by the people of the 19th century and may even be more of an enigma to those who live in our time.  Even the saints of God, those who stand and bear witness of the Prophet’s divine calling-little understand what manner of man he was.  ‘You don’t know me.  You never knew my heart,” 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.”  (Joseph Smith:  The Choice Seer by Joseph McConkie).   

Joseph had a remarkable mission to perform, one that he was pre-ordained in the life before.  His grandfather Asael predicted that “God was going to raise up some branch of his family to be a great benefit to mankind.”  Many years later his son Joseph Smith, Sr. gave him a recently published Book of Mormon which he read and fully believed.  George A Smith (Joseph’s cousin) said, “Asael died in the fall of 1830, confident that his grandson Joseph was the long-anticipated prophet and that he had heralded in a new religious age.

Brigham Young said this of the prophet’s mission and calling:  “It was decreed in the counsel of eternity . . . in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to his people . . . The Lord had his eye upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father . . . He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man.  He was foreordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation, as much so as . . . was Jesus to be the Saviour of this world.”  (Journal of Discourses 7:289-90; Joseph Smith:  The Choice Seer Joseph McConkie).

Joseph who was sold into Egypt, the great-grandson of Abraham, spoke specifically of him who would be his namesake (unusual that Joseph was their third son, behind Alvin and Hyrum—usually give the father’s name to the first son).   His prophecies, of which Nephi recorded said “there are not many greater”  (2 Nephi 4:2) spoke of the coming of a “choice seer” out of the fruit of his loins.  “He shall do a work . . . which shall be of great worth unto them . . . unto him will I give power to bring forth my word (the Book of Mormon) saith the Lord, “to the convincing them of my word.   He shall be like unto me. . . by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.”  (2 Nephi 3:15). 

Joseph said, “Truly this is a day long to be remembered . . . a day in which the God of heaven has begun to restore the ancient order of His Kingdom to bring about the completion of the fullness of the gospel . . . to prepare the earth for the return of His glory.”  Joseph Smith

 Look up on lds.org, “Ask of God:  Joseph Smith’s First Vision” and watch it now (6:35 minutes)  (I would also recommend the new church DVD to your families–it’s an hour long:  “Joseph Smith:  The Prophet of the Restoration.”)

After Joseph received the 1st vision, he recorded his feelings on leaving the grove several days later and wrote:  “My soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great joy and the Lord was with me . .  (Madsen, p 17)

Truman Madsen wrote in Joseph Smith  the Prophet (p 10), “There is no greater example of familial endurance in history than that of the Smith family. “ They immediately believed their brother and son when he shared his vision with his family—character .  Joseph’s father counseled him not to be disobedient to the heavenly vision. 

Lucy Mack:  “I think we presented the most curious peculiar aspect of any family who ever lived upon the earth.  All of us giving the most profound attention to a boy 17 years of age, who had never read the Bible in its entirety in his life.”

All the family believed him:  Alvin’s dying words to Joseph were—“do everything you can to obtain the record—everything.”

 If you didn’t have GPS on your phone or car, (foreign to some of you), and were trying to find your way around LA by using a map of Chicago, and if that map were your only source of information, you’d be hopelessly lost and after a while you would probably get discouraged and quit in frustration.  It would be foolish if someone told you to try harder or to start thinking positive –hoping that would help, it would do nothing because the map did not reflect the territory.  It was not an accurate map.

 Now, in Joseph’s words, “on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of 1820” came forth a prayer from a young man who had been prepared for generations through his heritage to ask the deepest question from his soul.  He saw the Father and the Son, and the Father called him by name, saying, “Joseph, this is my beloved Son, hear Him.”

So when he left the Sacred Grove, Joseph Smith understood the world differently from when he went in.  He had a NEW MAP.  Because of this experience, he was beginning to understand who God was, who Christ was, and who he was.  And he also learned a little about his role in life.  He saw everything in a new light and that was only the beginning of truth being restored.  “Truth is knowledge of things as they were, and as they are, and as they are to come.”  (D&C 93:24)  Truth is eternal and Joseph Smith was the prophet of the “restoration of all things” that would bless us all & the whole earth.   

 Elder Callister explained, In many ways the gospel of Jesus Christ is like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. When Joseph Smith came on the scene, perhaps 100 pieces were in place. Then through the miracle of the restoration, Joseph the prophet came along and put many of the other 900 pieces in place so that people could say, “Oh, now I understand where I came from, why I am here, and where I am going.” As for Joseph Smith’s role in the Restoration, the Lord defined it clearly: “This generation shall have my word through you” (D&C 5:10).  (Callister)

 Told at 17 by Moroni his “name would be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues.”  (imagine his shock hearing this at 17).

Good came slowly—the evil immediately.  Joseph:

“How very strange that an obscure boy . . . should be thought . . . of sufficient importance to attract . . . the most bitter persecution”

“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;  . . . why persecute me for telling the truth?  . . . I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it . . . ”  (Joseph 2:22, 25) 

Ended when he was killed by 150 men with painted faces when he was only 38.  

 Why had for good & evil when he is a prophet of God?  Is this typical?

Truth never popular—always persecuted –pattern of the prophets from the beginning

Paul called mad & deranged/Jesus labeled gluttonous, a winebibber, and possessed of a devil

The Lord told Joseph of his destiny:  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 . . . the wise . . . and the virtuous, shall seek . . . blessings constantly from under thy hand.”  (D&C 122:12) 

Why did the adversary fight so hard against Joseph Smith right from the start?  And why do you think the Prophet Joseph Smith has so many critics and enemies now, even though many years have passed since his death?  A testimony of the Restoration hinges on whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet who performed God’s work. Therefore, Satan continues to strive to discredit Joseph Smith.

This is why:  if Joseph is a prophet then we still have revelation from heaven, then the Book of Mormon is true, and then the church is true.  It’s a domino affect so Satan works hard to attack Joseph still—“his name will be had for good and evil.”

 Elder Anderson said, “The negative commentary about the Prophet Joseph Smith will increase as we move toward the Second Coming of the Savior.  The half-truths and subtle deceptions will not diminish. There will be family members and friends who will need your help.  Now is the time to adjust your own spiritual oxygen mask so that you are prepared to help others who are seeking the truth.”21   (Neil Andersen)  You have seen this.

 The internet doesn’t have a truth filter.  Some information, no matter how convincing, is simply not true. “ (Andersen)

Studying the church . . . through the eyes of its defectors, Elder Maxwell once said, is ‘like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus.  Defectors always tell us more about themselves than about that from which they have departed.”

Attempts have been made by some to focus on or magnify some minor weaknesses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, but in that process they have missed the mark, the man, and his mission.  Joseph Smith was the Lord’s anointed to restore Christ’s church to the earth.

When JS emerged from the grove of trees, he eventually learned four fundamentals truths not then taught by the majority of the contemporary Christian world. 

 First, he learned that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are two separate, distinct beings.  (understanding the nature of God & man)

The second great truth Joseph discovered was that the Father and the Son have glorified bodies of flesh and bones. (understanding eternity)

The third truth is that God still speaks to man today—that the heavens are not closed.  (understanding communication—God to man)

And the fourth truth that Joseph Smith learned was that the full and complete Church of Jesus Christ was not then on the earth. 

(this was the mission of Joseph Smith—be an instrument to restore it).

I’ve cut up a “map” so to speak of many of the important things restored to the earth by the Lord through the prophet Joseph.  Like the quote I read about the puzzle, let’s put the pieces back together so that we have a correct map like was restored to the earth with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Find piece #1:  PURPOSE OF LIFE—THE PLAN OF HAPPINESS

Answers to the most asked questions:

Where did I come from?  Why am I here?  Where am I going?

Our primary kids could answer these questions with no problem—the song, “I Am a Child of God” teaches what we may consider basic, fundamental truths for us, but actually to most, they are extraordinary.

 Walter Cronkite after a full career interviewing the best and the brightest in the world, still said he’s searching for answers to those 3 questions. 

#2:     CONTINUOUS REVELATION FROM THE HEAVENS  —GOD CONTINUES TO SPEAK TO PROPHETS TODAY—IN OUR TIME

Joseph, the revelator.  Looking at our scriptures is evidence of the revelations he received—translated the B of M, the D & C is full of revelations for our time, also Pearl of Great Price. (show quad).

Article of Faith 9:  “We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”  To many Christians this is unbelievable, since they believe that revelation stopped after the apostles died (which it did during the apostasy). 

Hugh B. Brown in Profile of a Prophet asked three questions to determine if revelation is to continue. 

First:  does God love us as much today as He loved the people to who he spoke in New Testament times?

Second:  does God have the same power today as He did then?

Third:  Do we need Him as much today as they need Him anciently?

If the answers to those questions are yes and if God is the same yesterday, today, and forever as the scriptures declare, then there is little doubt:  God does speak to man today exactly as JS testified. 

 Joseph was a seer. He had the gift to translate ancient records.  “I calculate,” he said less than two months before his death, “to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world.”  (Madsen, p 4)

Elder Holland said that Joseph the translator, though untrained in theology, has given us more printed pages of scripture than any other mortal. 

 The process of translation was truly “a marvelous work and a wonder,” or, as rendered in Hebrew, “a miraculous miracle.” (Isa. 29:14.) Depending upon his sequence of translation, scholars estimate Joseph in 1829 was translating at a rapid daily equivalent of from eight to thirteen of today’s printed pages. An able, professional translator recently told me he considers one page a day productive.

 (See John W. Welch and Tim Rathbone, “The Translation of the Book of Mormon: Basic Historical Information,” Preliminary Report, F.A.R.M.S., Provo, Utah, 1986, pp. 38–39.)

 He also became an articulator. President Young said the Prophet Joseph had the “happy faculty” of communicating things “often in a single sentence throwing … light into the gloom of [the] ages … in one blending flood of heavenly intelligence.” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 9:310.)

 #3     PLAN OF SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST RESTORED  —  PLAN TO SAVE ALL THE LIVING AND ALL THE DEAD

 Many people wonder how God is just when some people are born without ever hearing the name of Jesus and know nothing of the church, or of baptism, or saving ordinances.

The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS is the only church in the world with a plan to save all the living and all the dead—it’s inclusive and miraculous.

God is no respector of persons and will give all the same opportunity.

These truths have been restored to the earth through the doctrine in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  # 4     GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST

When JS met with Pres Van Buren and was asked what the difference was between our church and others, he said we differ in our mode of baptism, we have the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

Joseph had many gifts of the spirit, discernment, visions, tongues and used them to bless others.

Those with kids on missions know can’t prove church is true.  Message always the same—Moroni 10:3-5  “pray, study, qualify and find out for yourself—HG will manifest truth to sincere seekers.”

And when ye shall receive these things, ye shall ask God, if these things are not true.  And if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, He shall 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.”

This is the vehicle where the truth will be known to those elect who harden not their hearts and receive the word with gladness.  (example?)

It is the mission of the HG to testify of truth.  Feel the spirit here.

#5     ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST — AS IN THE “PRIMITIVE CHURCH” –POWER, PRIESTHOOD, AUTHORITY,   ORDINANCES, KEYS, ORGANIZATION

Elder Callister taught, Through Joseph Smith have been restored all the powers, keys, teachings, and ordinances necessary for salvation and exaltation.  You cannot go anywhere else in the world and get that.  It is not to be found in any other church. It is not to be found in any philosophy of man or scientific digest or individual pilgrimage, however intellectual it may seem. Salvation is to be found in one place alone, as so designated by the Lord Himself when He said that this is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30).

In 1834, all the priesthood in the Kirtland area met, not in a tabernacle, but in a small log cabin with a small group.  There, Joseph prophesied, “I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap . . . This church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.” (See Wilford Woodruff, Millennial Star, 19 Sept. 1892, p. 605; see also Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 57.) 

As it says in Article of faith #12, Joseph Smith established the same organization as the primitive church with all it’s offices, power, priesthood, authority, ordinances, and keys.  He was the final Elias (forerunner) before the Messiah; he was an Elias of the restoration.

The Prophet Joseph was a very good man.  Though he wasn’t perfect and his critics focus on his faults, we need not suppose him “guilty of any great or malignant sins,” for such, he said, “was never in my nature.” (JS—H 1:28.) Near the end of his life, he meekly said, “I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 368.)

 He described himself in this way:  “I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain, and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, . . . Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty.”  

 He had a wonderful relationship with Emma and helped her a lot with the home and children, more than was the custom for men in those days.  He cared for her diligently and for days on end when she was sick, and when she hovered between life and death after delivering a baby who died at birth.  When he was chided for it by other men, he encouraged them to follow his example.  He enjoyed having a good time, and loved to play with his children.  He loved to wrestle and often challenged others.  Some pious men came to argue about the scriptures with him, and upon leaving Joseph said, “well gentlemen, you haven’t bested me with the scriptures, now do you want to wrestle?”   They went away much incensed.  

 Love Brigham Young’s description: 

“I feel like shouting hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the lord raised up and ordained, and to whom he gave keys and power to build up the kingdom of God on earth.” 

 It is vital that each of us gain and maintain a testimony of Joseph Smith being the prophet of the restoration.  For if he is, then the Book of Mormon is true, and the church is true, being the Lord’s.  The significance of the first vision is reflected in our beliefs and have shaped us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I testify that he is a true prophet of God and was foreordained to fulfill his mission of being an instrument in the Lord’s hands to bring about the restoration of the gospel.

 Read D&C 135:3

Study the words to Praise to the Man

Study Hugh B. Brown’s talk:  Profile of the Prophet and God is the Gardener (great FHE’s and discussions).