- As a young man, Joseph “was called up to serious reflection” on the subject of religion. Because he was born in a land of religious freedom, he could question which of all the churches was right. And because the Bible had been translated into English, he could seek an answer from the word of God. He read in the book of James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” and he did as directed. In answer to Joseph’s prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to him. This humble farm boy was the prophet chosen by God to restore the ancient Church of Jesus
- Christ and His priesthood in these latter days. This restoration was to be the last, the dispensation of the fulness of times, restoring all the priesthood blessings which man could possess on earth. With this divine commission, his work was not to reform nor was it to protest what was already on the earth. It was to restore what had been on earth and had been lost.
- The Restoration, begun with the First Vision in 1820, continued with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. On September 21, 1823, Joseph Smith was visited by the angel Moroni, who taught him of an ancient record containing “the fulness of the everlasting gospel … preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.” Recorded on plates of gold, the Book of Mormon gives an account of Christ’s ministry in the Western Hemisphere, just as the Bible records His life and ministry in the Holy Land. Joseph received the gold plates four years later and, in December of 1827, began to translate the Book of Mormon.
- While translating, Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery read about baptism. Their desire to receive this blessing for themselves prompted the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood on May 15, 1829, under the hands of John the Baptist.
- There followed the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which was bestowed on Joseph and Oliver by the Apostles Peter, James, and John, who held the keys. After centuries of spiritual darkness, the power and authority to act in God’s name, to perform sacred ordinances, and to lead His Church were once again upon the earth.
Elder Hales points out that following the Savior is not always easy but that the Lord's hand is over us and our sacrifices will be rewarded with blessings.
- I testify that the work of the Prophet Joseph Smith is the Savior’s work. In the Lord’s service the path is not always easy. It often requires sacrifices, and we will likely experience adversity. But in serving Him, we discover that His hand is truly over us.
Our responsibility is to be faithful to the commandments that we have been given. We are called to live our lives as disciples of Christ and to prepare ourselves and other for His return.
- The Lord expects us to be as faithful, as devoted, as courageous as those who went before us. They were called to give their lives for the gospel. We are called to live our lives for the same purpose. In these last days we have special reason to do so.
- Before that sacred night in Bethlehem, the events of history and the words of the prophets of all dispensations prepared the way for the first coming of the Lord and His Atonement. Similarly, history and prophecy laid the groundwork for the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Do we have eyes to see that the events and prophecies of our time are preparing us for the Savior’s Second Coming?
Elder Hales outlines in great detail the events that occurred that resulted in the desire and enlightening of people all over the world in preparation of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. Elder Hales points out that even through the Gift of the Holy Ghost was not present, the Power of the Holy Ghost was alive in many and inspired them to make great decisions that moved the plan of God forward. I think this is a good point to make: that not all the things of God are done by members of His church. There are many good people that are inspired by God in the world today. Each is moving forward in their discipleship. It is our responsibility to help those that are good, those that desire to be followers of the Savior, find the saving ordinances under the correct authority. The restoration is the message we have to share with the world and it is our obligation to help all of God's children prepare for the future time when the Lord will come again.