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History of the Mormon Church

Mormons believe the Lord Jesus Christ established a Church on earth during His mortal ministry in New Testament times. He did this to teach people and give them the opportunity to receive His gospel. During Christ's reign on earth the priesthood of God existed in the Church. This priesthood is the power of God and can be given to worthy men so that they may act with authority from the Lord. Jesus Christ called apostles to lead His Church, and when He ascended to heaven, He gave these apostles His priesthood. The leaders of Christ's Church continued to receive revelation from the Lord on how to direct the work of His Church and recorded much in the scriptures. The work of the apostles and other followers of Christ was also to teach Christ's gospel to all people. However, the Church of Christ began to fall away from the true teachings of this gospel. The apostles and followers of Christ were persecuted and killed. The truth was being taken from the earth as mankind interpreted scriptures in their own ways, not acknowledging the Lord's hand in their lives. Mormons believe the Lord could no longer speak to His people because there was no one on the earth to receive revelation. This caused much confusion and many wrong ideas about God and the true Church of the Lord.

Mormonism teaches that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ never ignored mankind. In fact, the Lord is always aware of His precious children living on earth. The Lord has, however, given us agency and free will, so that we may make our own choices and prove ourselves worthy before Him. This agency allowed men and women to fall away from the truths of Christ's Church. But Mormons believe that the Lord was guiding certain events on earth that would lead to the reestablishment of the Church of Christ. For example, Christopher Columbus and other explorers were led to the Americas as part of God's plan. The new land provided a place where a good and just government could be built, specifically a government that tolerated all religions.

According to the beliefs of Mormonism, the restoration of Christ's Church did come about--and it was through Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805–1844). In 1820, at the age of fourteen, Joseph was living in New York with his family. There was religious turmoil throughout the area, since many churches existed, each claiming to be the correct one. Joseph Smith wrote a brief record of his life, and in this record, referred to in Mormon scripture as the "Joseph Smith History," Joseph wrote of the religious contention:

Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist. (Joseph Smith--History 1:5)

Joseph wanted to know the truth. He wanted to know which Church the Lord intended for him to join. He later wrote,

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? (Joseph Smith--History 1:10)

Because of this confusion, Joseph decided to consult the Lord. He first read in the New Testament, and a certain scripture caught his attention:

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)

Joseph decided to take the counsel in this scripture. He went into the woods behind his family's farm and prayed to the Father. Mormonism believes that with this decision the restoration of Christ's Church, the founding of the Mormon Church, began. According to the record of Joseph Smith, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph and instructed him that he was not to join any religion. From that point on, Joseph Smith was an instrument in the hands of the Lord, as he was divinely directed to restore the truths of Christ's gospel to the earth. Mormons believe Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God, and the official priesthood was restored to the earth; this authority allowed Joseph to organize the Church which is named after Christ: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For more information about the Prophet Joseph Smith and History of the Church

Joseph Smith, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  
The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith - American Prophet

Joseph Smith Daguerreotype  
Fulfilled Prophecies of Joseph Smith  
Joseph Smith  
BBC - Religion & Ethics - The Story of Joseph Smith  
Joseph Smith: Biography and Much More From Answers.com  
Joseph Smith - bellsouth  
Joseph Smith, Jr. - Wikiquote  
Joseph Smith: Prophet, Revelator, Human; Interview with Richard Lyman  

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History of the Mormon Church - DearElder.com

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