The Gospel Restored
Joseph Smith grew up in rural America in the early 1800′s. He came from a religious family who turned to God when they had problems. One trial that came upon this family in 1811 began when family members came down with typhus fever. As the fever passed an infection in the bone of Joseph’s leg remained. As Joseph’s mother prayerfully sought a solution, she would not consider amputation as commonly advised. A doctor was located who was introducing a new procedure to cut away the infected part of the bone. Joseph underwent this surgery without any anesthetic at age seven. He said he would be alright if his father would hold him in his arms. His recovery was miraculous. This family knew that God answers prayers.
Like the community they lived in, different members of Joseph Smith’s family chose to belong to different churches. While reading the scriptures, a passage in James 5 impressed young Joseph and he decided that the only way he could know which church to join was to ask God. He did this by going to a wooded area near his home and kneeling in prayer. This prayer opened the windows of heaven. God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. They told him that the true church of Jesus Christ was not on the earth at that time but that the time for its restoration was at hand. This painting by Ken placed in the Seventh International Art Competition and was displayed in the Our Heritage of Faith Exhibition at the Museum of Church History and Art in 2006.
Joseph Smith was later visited by the angel Moroni. He was told of an ancient record to translate which would be a witness of God’s latter-day work. The translation of this record is called the Book of Mormon. To see paintings of scenes from the Book of Mormon click here.
While translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith realized the need for proper authority to baptize. As he prayed about this, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were visited by the resurrected John the Baptist who restored the Aaronic Priesthood.
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were told by John that with this authority they were to baptize each other. This they proceeded to do in the Susquehanna River. Again, the blessings of having a baptismal covenant with the Lord under His proper authority was upon the earth.
Later the Melchizedek Priesthood was also restored to the earth by another angelic visitation from Peter, James and John. These were the same apostles Jesus gave his authority to when he established His Church in ancient times.
Joseph Smith officially organized the church on April 6, 1830. Joseph, as God’s living prophet and mouthpiece continued to receive revelations. One of these was the Word of Wisdom. Prior to this revelation, Joseph’s wife Emma had expressed a concern about the meetings of the early church leaders where the room was filled with smoke and the debris from spitting tobacco. Joseph went to the Lord in prayer and received this revelation. It is a health code that includes abstinence from tobacco and principles of healthful living that will warrant great blessings.
Another truth restored in revelations to the prophet Joseph Smith was about God building temples again upon the earth as he had in ancient times to endow and bless His children. Temples were built in Kirtland, Ohio, and Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph Smith’s work was not without opposition. On June 27, 1844 the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martryed by a mob. The opposition continued for all the Saints. The Lord’s next prophet, Brigham Young explained the Lord’s will that the saints move west. This meant leaving the newly completed Nauvoo temple. The night before the saints were to leave, they thronged the temple to receive the blessings there. This painting depicts the morning of their departure after the temple has been open all night.
The sacrifices the latter-day saint pioneers are an amazing evidence of their testimonies of the restored gospel and their love of Christ. This painting depicts young Margaret Ballard who carried her young brother as they made their trek across the plains.
The Lord continues to speak through prophets. A later prophet of the Lord was Wilford Woodruff. In August of 1877 the signers of the Declaration of Independence and 50 other eminent men appeared to President Woodruff in the St. George temple and requested that temple work be done in their behalf.