As a young boy in 1820, Joseph Smith wanted to know which church was true. As he searched the Bible for help, he read that he should ask of God. Acting on this counsel, Joseph went into the woods near his home and prayed. Suddenly, a light shone above him and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. When Joseph asked which church he should join, the Savior told him to join none of the churches then in existence because they were teaching incorrect doctrines. Through this experience and many others that followed, the Lord chose Joseph to be His prophet and to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church to the earth.
As Joseph Smith proved his worthiness, he was given a divine mission as a prophet of God. Through him, the Lord accomplished a great and marvelous work that included bringing forth the Book of Mormon, restoring the priesthood, revealing precious gospel truths, organizing the true Church of Jesus Christ, and establishing temple work. On June 27, 1844, Joseph and his brother Hyrum were killed in an attack by an armed mob. They sealed their testimonies with their blood.
For a testimony of the restored gospel to be complete, it must include a testimony of Joseph Smith's divine mission. The truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the truthfulness of the First Vision and the other revelations the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph. President John Taylor, the third President of the Church, wrote, "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" (D&C 135:3).
—See True to the Faith (2004), 89–90
"Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon"
James E. Faust, Liahona, Feb. 1996, 2–9; or Ensign, Jan. 1996, 2–7
Why is the Book of Mormon the keystone of our religion? Because it is central to our history and theology. It is the text for this dispensation.
"Joseph Smith's Testimony of the First Vision"
Richard L. Anderson, Ensign, Apr. 1996, 10–21
The Prophet's accounts of his first vision offer us a picture that is rich in testimony and supported by history.
"Joseph, the Man and the Prophet"
Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 1996, 71–73
Joseph had no role models from whom he could learn how to be a prophet. . . . He learned from heavenly messengers and from the harvest of his unique spiritual gifts.
"The Translation Miracle of the Book of Mormon"
Robert K. Dellenbach, Ensign, May 1995, 9–11
A miracle is "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs." The translation of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith is indeed a modern-day miracle.
"Joseph Smith among the Prophets"
Robert L. Millet, Tambuli, June 1994, 26–33; or Ensign, June 1994, 19–23
He is the preeminent witness of Christ in this, the final dispensation.
M. Russell Ballard, New Era, June 2003, 42–43
We should show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his family for the roles they played in restoring the fulness of the gospel.
"My Servant Joseph"
Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, May 1992, 37–39
"Joseph Smith: Restorer of Truth"
Ensign, Dec. 2003, 17–19
Following are some latter-day prophets' testimonies of Joseph Smith's mission in restoring the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel, as well as excerpts from the Prophet Joseph Smith's own words testifying of Christ.
"Joseph Smith, the Prophet"
David B. Haight, Liahona, June 2002, 10–19; or Ensign, Dec. 2001, 26–33
Young, unlearned, but humble, Joseph Smith was the instrument the Almighty used to reestablish His work in these, the latter days.
"What Hath God Wrought through His Servant Joseph!"
Gordon B. Hinckley, Liahona, Feb. 1997, 2–7; or Ensign, Jan. 1997, 2–5
The life and ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith have created a legacy that will continue to increase among mankind. He was the Lord's latter-day servant who was chosen to bear witness anew of the resurrected Christ.
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Multiple Media Formats)
"A Personal Witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith"
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, Chapter 2
"The Mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith"
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, Chapter 2
"The Divine Calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith"
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, Chapter 10
"Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Living God"
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, Chapter 8
"I Had Seen a Vision"
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, Lesson 3
"This Generation Shall Have My Word through You"
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, Lesson 13
"To Seal the Testimony"
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual, Lesson 32
Joseph Smith Web Site
Resources include stories, research articles, quotes, and other historical information, as well as photographs, paintings, and archive documents.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
(Please note that the contents of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a joint product of Brigham Young University and Macmillan Publishing Company, do not necessarily represent the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
"President Brigham Young's Witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith"
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, Chapter 47
"Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration"
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, Chapter 9