The Power of Everyday Missionaries – pages 30-34
Some may think it is strange that Mormons are good, clear-minded people but we believe such weird things. Bro Christensen recommends to respond to this paradox is to look at the questions we ask vs the questions other religious people ask rather than comparing the answers we have vs the answers others have.
He said he imagines Heaven as having shelves and shelves of books full of truths. Rather than all of these truths being given to everyone all at once, the books are checked out one at a time upon request.
- “People learn when they’re ready to learn, not when we’re ready to teach them.” An answer would only be noticed as an answer to someone who asked the corresponding question.
- In the 3rd Century AD, the leaders of the Christian church said God had given them all answers. They stopped asking questions because they felt there was no need. They saw no need for prophets. Revelation stopped. Basically, if you don’t ask questions, you won’t receive revelation.
- Reformers like Luther, Wesley and Calvin asked questions again. Their questions were mostly target to each other, debating interpretations of answers already given. They created different churches based on different interpretations of scripture. They did not ever address the question, had all the answers from God been given?
- Joseph Smith prayed and asked which church to join. He got an answer because he asked a question of God, a new question. For three years, he didn’t get any other revelation b/c he didn’t ask any other questions. In 1823 he asked the Lord what he wanted him to do. Moroni appeared and gave him more instruction.
- Even though Joseph Smith was the way by which the church would be restored, he did not receive all God’s knowledge at once. As he kept asking questions over the next 20 years, he got more answers step by step. Prophets now keep asking questions and keep getting more answers.
- The Restoration restored questions to the earth, bringing answers man previously had not known. We have learned more about God’s plan. The difference between us and other churches is our depth and breadth of the understanding of God’s plan.
- God still hasn’t given us all the answers. He will keep revealing more to his prophets.
Some think that is isn’t a credible story that God would choose a young 14-year-old boy to restore his church.
- Would you choose a spokesman who is full of questions, or someone who thinks all is already known?
- Enoch, Moses, Samuel, Saul, David, Jeremiah, and Amos were almost all young boys when they were called. Each were surprised that they were chosen and thought God had gotten it wrong. Most were shepherds and knew little about God or what He had previously taught. God changed each of them into powerful leaders and prophets.
- “Look at the pattern. The assertion that God and angels appeared to a simple, uneducated boy in the 1820s and called him to be His prophet to the world is the single most credible event in the history of religion in the last eighteen centuries…Our story is not just credible. It is true.”
*”Discovering what questions are on people’s minds about religion helps me see that I actually am surrounded by many more people who are religious that I had imagined – because they have questions.”
Chapter 9 MPM – The Restoration and the Coming Forth of New Scripture
President Joseph F. Smith taught: “The greatest event that has ever occurred in the world, since the resurrection of the Son of God from the tomb and his ascension on high, was the coming of the Father and of the Son to that boy Joseph Smith, to prepare the way for the laying of the foundation of his kingdom—not the kingdom of man—never more to cease nor to be overturned” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 495).
God’s pattern for revealing truth:
- God calls prophets and often appears personally to them.
- He gives the prophets priesthood authority.
- The prophets testify of Christ and teach the gospel, often recording their testimony and teachings in scripture.
- The Holy Ghost confirms truth.
- We are invited to obey.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and called him to be the prophet of the restoration.
Read JSH 1:10-13 aloud.
James 1:5 – “A single sentence, twenty-six plain and simple words—these Spirit authored words have had a great impact upon religion and all that appertains to it. Though they present a divine concept of universal application and were written for the guidance of all men, though they chart the course all must follow in their search for that religion which is pure and undefiled, and though they are a guide for all who seek the Lord and his saving truths—yet they were preserved through the ages for the especial guidance of that prophet who should usher in the dispensation of the fulness of times” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 5).
Read JSH 1:14–20 aloud.
President Alvin R. Dyer, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized the important and unique character of this final gospel dispensation: “Joseph Smith was informed that he had been foreordained and consequently called to be the instrument through whom God would work to establish his kingdom here upon the earth as it had been in former intermittent dispensations. But this, the last of all dispensations, is to be characterized by even greater truth, a depository period when all truths, all laws, all covenants, all promises planned by God our Heavenly Father in the pre-existence and revealed to man in part at various times in mortality for the redemption and exaltation of his spirit children, were now to be fully revealed and made available to mankind. The Lord had thus spoken unto the Prophet Joseph Smith” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1963, 50).
The Prophet Joseph Smith stated: “The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, nor left to other people. . . .I calculate 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” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 365–66; paragraphing altered).
*Note: See Daniel 2:44
Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon.
For three years, Joseph was persecuted for his claims, and gave in to temptations. One night he prayed to God for forgiveness and to know of his standing before Him. The angel Moroni appeared to him and gave him his next instructions. For four years, at the end of each year, Joseph received instruction from Moroni at the plates’ resting place. Finally, he was able to remove the plates and translating instrument. He then began to translate.
For more information on the translation process, see https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-translation?lang=eng.
From the website above: Some people have balked at this claim of physical instruments used in the divine translation process, but such aids to facilitate the communication of God’s power and inspiration are consistent with accounts in scripture. In addition to the Urim and Thummim, the Bible mentions other physical instruments used to access God’s power: the rod of Aaron, a brass serpent, holy anointing oils, the Ark of the Covenant, and even dirt from the ground mixed with saliva to heal the eyes of a blind man.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the remarkable accomplishment of translating the Book of Mormon and bringing forth other revelations by God’s power: “Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God! “Compare this unique accomplishment with that of other scriptural translations. The King James Version of the Bible, for example, was produced by 50 English scholars who accomplished their work in seven years, translating at the rate of one page per day. Expert translators today do well if they can also translate scripture at the rate of one page per day. “In contrast, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon at the rate of about 10 pages per day, completing the task in approximately 85 days! . . . “Such a pace is even more remarkable considering the circumstances under which the Prophet labored. In that same period, while enduring constant distractions and incessant hostility, Joseph Smith moved more than 100 miles from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Fayette, New York. He applied for a copyright. He received revelations comprising 12 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Heavenly beings restored the holy priesthood. Yet he completed the translation in less than three months” (Helping Missionaries Understand the Role of the Book of Mormon in Conversion [address at seminar for new mission presidents, June 23, 2000], 4–5).
Where are the gold plates now?
JS History 1:60 – 60 I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to aget them from me. Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose. The persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me if possible. But by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this bday, being the second day of May, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight.
Note: interesting that even though people did not believe he was a prophet, they believed he had real gold plates…
Why do we need the Book of Mormon? We already have God’s word in the Bible.
2 Nephi 29 – 6 Thou fool, that shall say: A aBible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
7 Know ye not that there are more anations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the bisles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the cearth beneath; and I bring forth my dword unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the atestimony of btwo nations is acwitness unto you that I am God, that I remember one dnation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two enations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the asame yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my bwords according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one cword ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for myd work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my awords; neither bneed ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
11 For I command aall men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall bwrite the words which I speak unto them; for out of thecbooks which shall be written I will djudge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
1 Nephi 13 – 38 And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the abook of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew, that it came forth from the Gentiles bunto the remnant of the seed of my brethren. 39 And after it had come forth unto them I beheld aother bbooks, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the cconvincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are dtrue. 40 And the angel spake unto me, saying: These alast records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall bestablish the truth of the cfirst, which are of the dtwelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the eSavior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.
President Gordon B. Hinckley explained the importance of the Book of Mormon in relation to the Church and the Bible:
“If the Book of Mormon is true, the Church is true, for the same authority under which this sacred record came to light is present and manifest among us today. It is a restoration of the Church set up by the Savior in Palestine. It is a restoration of the Church set up by the Savior when he visited this continent as set forth in this sacred record. “If the Book of Mormon is true, the Bible is true. The Bible is the Testament of the Old World. The Book of Mormon is the Testament of the New. The one is the record of Judah, the other is the record of Joseph, and they have come together in the hand of the Lord in fulfilment of the prophecy of Ezekiel. Together they declare the Kingship of the Redeemer of the world, and the reality of his kingdom” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1959, 119).
The Book of Mormon helps us come closer to Christ.
Intro to the Book of Mormon:
Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
President Ezra Taft Benson described the Christ centered influence of the Book of Mormon: “The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon. “Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New
Testament. “He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature. . . . “. . . Let us read the Book of Mormon and be convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Let us continually reread the Book of Mormon so that we might more fully come to Christ, be committed to Him, centered in Him, and consumed in Him” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 101, 104; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 83, 85).
Moroni 10:32 – 32 Yea, acome unto Christ, and be bperfected in him, and cdeny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and dlove God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be eperfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
How do we come unto Christ? How can we help our friends come unto Christ?
Note: Richard G Scott in conference said that as we pray, study our scriptures, do our FHE and go to the temple, we are coming unto Christ.
If someone says Mormons aren’t Christians because we read the Book of Mormon, what can you do? You can read to them a verse about Christ. In conference, Boyd K Packer talked about how he once showed a Chaplain the Topical Guide and asked him to just read the verses under the heading Jesus Christ. He said that it shows a consistent, harmonious witness of Jesus Christ from the standard works.
Example: 2 Nephi 25:23, 26 – 23 For we labor diligently to write, to apersuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by bgrace that we are saved, after all we cancdo. 26 And we atalk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we bprophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our cchildren may know to what source they may look for a dremission of their sins.
If the Book of Mormon is true, the church is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Introduction to the Book of Mormon: Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.
President James E. Faust, a counselor in the First Presidency, taught that “a confirming testimony of the Book of Mormon convinces ‘that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God’ and also spiritually verifies the divine calling of Joseph Smith and that he did see the Father and the Son” (“The Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Jan. 2004, 4).
President Ezra Taft Benson testified that the Book of Mormon is the keystone to a testimony of the truthfulness of the Restoration: “The Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it” (A Witness and a Warning , 19).
President Benson also offered inspired counsel regarding how to use the Book of Mormon to respond to objections investigators may have to the restored truths of the gospel: “We are to use the Book of Mormon in handling objections to the Church. . . . “. . . All objections, whether they be on abortion, plural marriage, seventh-day worship, etc., basically hinge on whether Joseph Smith and his successors were and are prophets of God receiving divine revelation. Here, then, is a procedure to handle most objections through the use of the Book of Mormon. “First, understand the objection. “Second, give the answer from revelation. “Third, show how the correctness of the answer really depends on whether or not we have modern revelation through modern prophets. “Fourth, explain that whether or not we have modern prophets and revelation really depends on whether the Book of Mormon is true. “Therefore, the only problem the objector has to resolve for himself is whether the Book of Mormon is true. For if the Book of Mormon is true, then Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was his prophet, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and it is being led today by a prophet receiving revelation. “Our main task is to declare the gospel and do it effectively. We are not obligated to answer every objection. Every man eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand” (A Witness and a Warning, 4–5).
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave counsel that we can follow personally and share with investigators: “Try reading the Book of Mormon because you want to, not because you have to. Discover for yourself that it is true. As you read each page, ask, ‘Could any man have written this book, or did it come as Joseph Smith testified?’ Apply the teachings you learn. They will fortify you against the evil of Satan. Follow Moroni’s counsel. Sincerely ask God the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, with real intent, if the teachings of the Book of Mormon
are true (see Moroni 10:3–5). Ask with a desire to receive a confirmation personally, nothing doubting. . . . I know that you can receive a spiritual confirmation that the book is true. You will then know that Jesus Christ lives, that Joseph
Smith was and is a prophet, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church (see introduction to the Book of Mormon, especially the last paragraph). You will confirm that the Savior guides His Church
through a living prophet. These truths will become a foundation for your productive life” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 45; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 42–43).
May 1829 – The priesthood was restored.
President Boyd K. Packer said, “Remember, it was the resurrected John the Baptist, ‘under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek,’ who came, in person, to restore the Aaronic Priesthood, and it was the resurrected Peter, James, and John who came, in person, to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood—facts in Church history except for which our claim to priesthood authority would be invalid” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 23; or Ensign, May 1993, 20).
April 6, 1830 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.
Elder L. Tom Perry said, “April 6, 1830, is a significant date for Latter-day Saints. It is the day The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized. The translation and printing of the Book of Mormon had been completed, the priesthood had been restored, and now the Lord directed that His church should again be organized here on the earth. “Prospective members of the Church gathered at the home of Peter Whitmer Sr. in Fayette, New York, for this special occasion. The meeting was simple. Joseph Smith, then twenty-four years of age, called the group to order and designated five associates to join with him in satisfying New York’s legal requirements for the incorporation of a religious society. After kneeling in solemn prayer, Joseph Smith proposed that he and Oliver Cowdery be called as teachers and spiritual advisers to the newly organized Church. Everyone raised his right arm . . . , and the pattern of sustaining Church leadership was established” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 20; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 17).
President Gordon B. Hinckley also bore witness that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored: “This is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. . . . We testify that the heavens have been opened, that the curtains have been parted, that God has spoken, and that Jesus Christ has manifested Himself, followed by a bestowal of divine authority. “Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this work, and it is built upon a ‘foundation of . . . apostles and prophets’ (Ephesians 2:20)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2002, 87; or Ensign, Nov. 2002, 81).
What Joseph Smith left behind for us and how we can honor him.
D&C 135:3 – 3 Joseph Smith, the aProphet and bSeer of the Lord, has done more, csave 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 dfulness 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 Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own eblood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not fseparated!
In conference, Neil L Andersen spoke of how Joseph Smith’s name has been and ever will be had for good and evil in the world. Christ’s name is the same. We must speak well of the prophet Joseph. We need to study our Books of Mormon, find scriptures we know are true, and share them. We should read Joseph’s testimony aloud, perhaps even in our own voices.