Sunday, December 26, 2010

Joseph, the Man and the Prophet

December 23 is the birthday of the prophet Joseph Smith. Not wanting to upstage the birth of the Savior, I've waited until now to honor the first prophet of this dispensation and the man through whom the Church of Jesus Christ was restored.

For those of you who know little of the prophet Joseph Smith, I encourage you to start here rather than firing up a new Google or Wikipedia search. Remember the source of the information you obtain, especially on the internet. Joseph Smith was a boy of fourteen when God the Father and His son Jesus Christ appeared to him and called him to be the prophet through whom the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ would be restored. The priesthood--the power to act in the name of God to perform saving ordinances such as baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and the power to perform miracles such as healing the sick--was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith by John the Baptist and by Peter, James, and John. Additional heavenly messengers visited Joseph including the angel Moroni who told Joseph of an ancient record written on gold plates hidden in a hill not far from the Smith family farm. From these gold plates by the power of God Joseph translated a record called the Book of Mormon--a collection of writings by ancient prophets living on the American continents compiled by the prophet Mormon for us in our day.

On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith gave his life for the work to which he had been called by God. John Taylor, an apostle and later President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and who was present at the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph wrote:

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. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood;"

The article this week is entitled, "Joseph, the Man and the Prophet," a talk given by apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks during the April 1996 General Conference. I chose this talk because Elder Oaks talks about what he calls, "lesser-known aspects of [the prophet's] life that further affirm his prophetic calling." Read this talk.

I love the prophet Joseph. I know he was a prophet of God.