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Joseph Smith

"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…gathered many thousands of 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…" (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3)

Joseph Smith, a man whose name has been "had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues" (JS-H 1:33) came from humble beginnings. He was born in 1805 in Sharon, Vermont the son of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. His parents were people of deep faith and taught him to pray and read the Bible. When Joseph Smith was fourteen years old there was a great religious fervor in the Manchester, New York area, where his family now lived, and young Joseph was trying to decide which church to join.

He often said to himself, "Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" (Joseph Smith History 1:10) As Joseph Smith searched for answers he read in James 1:5, "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."

This verse prompted him to go to the woods and pray about which church he should join. Joseph Smith related his experience, "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!'" (JS-H 1:17)

When Joseph Smith asked which church he should join Christ answered, "that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong." (JS-H 1:19)

The persecution and opposition of Joseph Smith began soon after as others riled him, "with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days." (JS-H 1:21)

But as Joseph Smith stated, "I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation." (JS-H 1:25)

One the April 21, 1823, as Joseph Smith prayed in his bedroom desiring to know his standing before God an angel appeared to him. "He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do… He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants." (JS-H 1:33-34)

The angel Moroni told Joseph Smith that when he received the gold plates that he could not show them to any person or he would be destroyed. The angel Moroni also showed him the place where the plates were deposited in the Hill Cumorah. For the next four years the angel Moroni returned and instructed Joseph Smith. During this time Joseph met and married Emma Hale.

Then on the 22nd of September 1827, Joseph Smith received the gold plates. In 1829 when Oliver Cowdery arrived Joseph Smith began the process of translating the gold plates, by the gift and power of God, into the Book of Mormon. During this time other people saw the gold plates and witnessed of them. The testimonies of the three and eight witnesses can be found at the beginning of the Book of Mormon.

Later while translating the Book of Mormon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had a question about baptism. As they went into the woods to pray John the Baptist appeared to them. John the Baptist laid his hands upon the head of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and ordained upon them the Aaronic Priesthood; "which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins..." (JS-H 1:69) He then commanded Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to baptize each other.

Weeks later the Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery by Peter, James, and John. Mormon.org states, "Now the fulness of the gospel could be restored, the Church of Jesus Christ could be organized to 'roll forth,' and all the ordinances necessary for the salvation of God's children could be performed—including bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Just after the printing of the Book of Mormon, on April 6, 1830 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized under the direction of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was sustained as a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and President of the Mormon Church.

During the next fourteen years the members of the Mormon Church spread the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of this message the Mormons suffered intense persecution, being driven from New York, to Ohio, Missouri, and then to Illinois.

In Illinois, the Prophet Joseph Smith established the city of Nauvoo, which grew to considerable size as thousands of Mormons from Europe and the United States traveled to join the Saints.

The persecution of the Mormons grew and Joseph Smith along with his brother Hyrum and a number of other men were incarcerated in the Carthage Jail. "Leaving Nauvoo for Carthage, Joseph said, 'I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men.' The Prophet humbly acknowledged, 'I am a lover of the cause of Christ.'' (www.josephsmith.net)

Then on June 27, 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were assassinated by an angry mob trying to destroy the Church. "John Taylor, severely wounded at the same time, later called the Smith brothers 'martyrs of religion' and declared that the Restoration of the gospel had 'cost the best blood of the nineteenth century.' These faithful souls personified the Savior's teaching: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'" (www.josephsmith.net)

Joseph Smith lived and died for Christ exemplifying his statement, "After the many testimonies which have been given of Him [Christ], this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!" (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22)

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