The Prophet Joseph Smith, God's Instrument in Restoring the Truth
When the missionaries teach an investigator, the first lesson they teach is "The Message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Throughout the lesson, we pondered why this would be the first lesson taught. See if you can come up with your own answer!
President George Albert Smith wrote about his time traveling with President Joseph F. Smith and others to dedicate a monument in Vermont to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birth. They also traveled to Palmyra and Kirtland. President George Albert Smith spoke about his love for Joseph Smith and how his testimony grew during this time exploring early church history. (Teachings of GAS, p.33) What experiences in your life have strengthened your testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith?
|Monument to Joseph Smith, Sharon VT|
During class time, we discussed all the facts and events we could think of about Joseph Smith. When speaking of the First Vision, President Smith said "It was a very natural thing that Joseph Smith should seek the Lord." We discussed why this might be and came to the conclusion that because Joseph was reared in a very spiritual home, of course he went to the Lord with a problem that was weighing very heavily on his mind.
|The First Vision|
Another significant quote from President Smith:
"In the year 1830, when the Church was organized, there was not upon the earth a church organization that would announce that they believed that God would reveal himself to the children of men. . . . When the boy prophet, in the woods of Palmyra, saw the Father and the Son, and realized that they were indeed personages, that they could hear and reply to what he said, it began a new era in this world. . . . The children of men . . . realize[d] that . . . there was a connection between the heavens and the earth."
We also discussed why the Lord would call such a young, inexperienced and uneducated man to be a prophet. We decided that one reason would be because he had no prior knowledge of what should be done -- no preconceived ideas. He would completely rely on the Lord and His will.
"He wanted to know what to do and he had full faith that the Lord would tell him. . . . He was only a young man, but he organized [the Church] under the direction of the Redeemer of mankind."
We then skipped to the end of the lesson (time goes by so quickly!) to talk about the death of Joseph Smith. On July 27, 1844, Joseph and his brother Hyrum were murdered by a mob in Carthage Jail. For a full account and a wonderful testimony of the brothers, see D&C 135 which was written by John Taylor, who was witness to the martyrdom. How does the fact that Joseph Smith calmly went to his death and became a martyr for his testimony affect your testimony?
To conclude, we read this quote from President Smith:
"In the year 1830, the Church was organized with six members. The adversary of all righteousness has from that day to the present sought to impede its progress and destroy it. I wonder if that great man, Joseph Smith, who gave his life that the Church might be organized and carried on as the Lord intended, can see the Church as it exists today, with its branches established in all parts of the world, and realize that each day since he was martyred, since he laid down his life and sealed his testimony with his blood, the Church has become stronger than the day before."
I encourage you to study and learn more about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel to enable your own testimony to grow. To begin your study, here is a wonderful movie produced by the Church: