Missionaries Testify of Joseph Smith's Divine Calling
By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
- Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy spoke January 16 at the 2013 Seminar for New Missionary Training Center Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors.
- A key message missionaries share is the story of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his role in the Restoration.
- Joseph Smith’s First Vision revealed truths of God’s nature and paved the way for further revelation.
“This will fulfill the prophecy that his name will be known all around the world.” —Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy
At any given moment, missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ somewhere in the world are testifying of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith as the Lord’s instrument in the latter-day Restoration of the gospel, Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy noted January 16 in his presentation at the 2013 Seminar for New Missionary Training Center Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors.
“And this will fulfill the prophecy that his name will be known all around the world,” said Elder Gavarret, alluding to the statement from the angel Moroni to the Prophet as recorded in Joseph Smith—History 1:33.
Elder Gavarret, a member of the Missionary Executive Council, noted that the lesson in chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel, generally the first lesson missionaries present to investigators, pertains to Joseph Smith and the Restoration.
“Of course, the missionaries’ approaches sometimes will vary,” he said, “but at some moment they will return to the lesson and tell the investigator the way to obtain a personal testimony about the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
Accordingly, Elder Gavarret reviewed with the departing missionary couples the essentials regarding Joseph Smith’s role in the Restoration.
He noted that God is a loving Heavenly Father who shows His love by revealing His gospel in every dispensation and that the ultimate expression of His love was the earthly advent of the ministry and Atonement of His Son.
He defined a dispensation as a period when the Lord reveals the gospel doctrine, ordinances, and priesthood. Two prominent dispensations, he said, were the dispensation of the meridian of time, when the Lord Jesus Christ was born into mortality and performed His earthly ministry, and the dispensation of the fulness of times, when Christ restored the doctrines, keys, and authority of the gospel through Joseph Smith.
That Restoration, Elder Gavarret noted, was preceded by the Great Apostasy, characterized by the loss of gospel truths and authority after the original Apostles of the Lord were killed. In preparation for the Restoration, the Lord raised up reformers who broke the shackles that bound the people and denied them the right to worship God according to their own conscience.
“The work of the reformers was of great importance, but it was a preparatory work,” Elder Gavarret said.
With the aid of video dramatizations, he reviewed the account of the First Vision, in which the young Joseph Smith was visited by the Father and the Son, and of the later visits of the resurrected Moroni to him, preparing the way for the translation of the Book of Mormon and the still later restoration of the priesthood from other heavenly messengers.
Among the truths revealed in the First Vision, Elder Gavarret noted, were the existence of God the Father as a personal being in whose image man is made, that Jesus Christ is a personage separate and distinct from the Father, that Christ is declared by the Father to be His Son, and that Jesus was the conveyor of revelation as taught in the Bible.