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Monday, November 23, 2009

Mormon Theology no. 7 - Jesus Christ vs. Joseph Smith

Within the past years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been in the news concerning everything from Adam to Zion. Among all of the publicity the LDS Church gets, the bystander should come away with a true understanding of the two principle persons of our religion: Jesus Christ our Savior and Joseph Smith the Prophet. One commands the other, and the other teaches the commandments and reality of the One. But who are they?

Joseph Smith, Junior is the man called "the Prophet" in the LDS Faith. That is all he was and is. He is nothing more, nothing less. He restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ, beginning with a marvelous manifestation from God the Father and Jesus Christ. He describes the event thus:

"The Lord does reveal himself to me.  I know it.  He revealed himself first to me when I was about fourteen years old, a mere boy. . . . I kneeled down, and prayed, saying, 'O Lord, what Church shall I join?'  Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious Personage in the light, and then another personage, and the first personage said [of] the second, 'Behold this is my beloved Son, hear him (The Papers of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee, 2 vols. [1989–92], 1:444).'"

This opened the final dispensation of the Gospel. Joseph served the Lord his whole life.  Joseph Smith was an instrument in bringing forth new revelation called the Book of Mormon.  He said, "By the power of God I translated the Book of Mormon from hieroglyphics, the knowledge of which was lost to the world, in which wonderful event I stood alone, an unlearned youth, to combat the worldly wisdom and multiplied ignorance of eighteen centuries, with a new revelation. (History of the Church, 6:74)"  Of revelation, the Prophet declared, "The plea of many in this day is, that we have no right to receive revelations; but if we do not get revelations, we do not have the oracles [prophets] of God; and if they have not the oracles of God, they are not the people of God. . . . Jesus in His teachings says, 'Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' What rock? Revelation. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 272, 274)"  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught revelation and Jesus Christ. He taught us who Jesus is very plainly.

Joseph said, "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 121)."  Jesus Christ is placed at the center of Joseph's (and every other Mormon's) life, because He taught Joseph everything about religion.  So, we can see here that Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and that Joseph was merely an instrument in bringing Jesus forth to the modern world.

This I know of myself, because I have read the Book of Mormon and know, like Joseph and the Lord, that it is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

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