Call of the Prophets


Elder LeGrand Richards

I have had the privilege of filling four missions for this church and that has provided me an opportunity to compare the teachings of this church, as we have received them through the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith, with the teachings of many other churches. My, how grateful I am to be a member of this church.

Now, just to mention one or two teachings. Just think what we learn from the visit of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph—a realization that the Father and the Son are two separate individuals and that they are real personages like Jesus was when he came forth from the tomb. There wasn’t a church in the world that believed in that kind of God at the time the Prophet Joseph received that wonderful vision.

Then we learn that marriage can be eternal, that this is the plan of the Lord. How grateful I am for this principle, because it gives me the assurance that someday I will be reunited with that sweet companion of mine who has already preceded me into the eternal worlds. As I have said before, I would just as soon believe that death was a complete annihilation of both body and spirit as to think that I had to live on throughout the eternities that are to come without a continuation of the love ties that bind me and my wife together with the wonderful family that the Lord has given to us.

One of the other great truths that we learn through the Restoration is the fact that infants should not be baptized. The idea that young children need baptism is a mistake of men. That isn’t to be found anywhere in the Lord’s teachings, for Jesus took little children in his arms and blessed them.

When I have discussed some of our beautiful philosophies with people of other churches, many of them have said, “We could accept your teachings, but we can’t believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet.” I have thought a lot about that. I suppose that it would be almost impossible to believe that God was naive enough to choose a fourteen-year-old boy to usher in the dispensation of the fulness of times, as Paul said, in which dispensation he would “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.” (Eph. 1:10.)

That opens the door for the consideration of another beautiful principle, and that is the principle of the premortal existence of spirits, that we are literally the children of God, the Eternal Father, that we lived with him before we came here upon this earth.

The Apostle Paul said that the Lord “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26.) And he said: “We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Heb. 12:9.) I like the thought that he is my father. When Jesus prayed, he didn’t pray, “My Father which art in heaven”; he prayed, “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9), and that is a wonderful thing. That is why our Primary children sing “I am a child of God.”

The Lord has his own way of calling prophets. He knew them before they were ever born here in mortality. We read in the Book of Abraham that the Lord stood in the midst of the spirits, and among them there were noble and great ones—and they couldn’t be noble and great if they hadn’t done something to make them noble and great. The Lord said of them: “These I will make my rulers; … Abraham, thou art one of them; thou was chosen before thou wast born.” (Abr. 3:22–23.) Isn’t that a beautiful thought? The Lord stood in the midst of those spirits, and there were some there who became his prophets here in mortality.

We read about Jeremiah when he was called to be a prophet. He couldn’t understand it, and the Lord said: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jer. 1:5.) The Lord couldn’t have ordained him if he didn’t exist, and he wouldn’t have ordained him before he was born if he hadn’t done something in that spiritual life to prepare him to become one of the Lord’s mouthpieces here upon this earth. The same thing is true with the Prophet Joseph. I will come back to that.

We read that there was war in heaven—that “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon,” and the dragon (or Satan) was cast down to the earth, and the cry went out: “Wo to the inhabiters of the earth … for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath” (Rev. 12:7–9, 12), and he “walketh about, seeking whom he can devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). And that is what he has been doing. He drew a third of the host of heaven with him (see Rev. 12:4), and when they were cast out, that third of the host of heaven brought with them the knowledge that they had in the spirit world, while our knowledge was temporarily taken from us through our birth into mortality.

The Apostle Paul said: “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. …

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:9–10, 12.)

To me, that says there will be a complete restoration of all that we knew before we came here into mortality when we lived in the spirit world.

The best illustration we have about how we lose our knowledge is the life of the Savior. We read in the first chapter of the Gospel of John that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

“All things were made by him: and without him was not any thing made that was made.

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1, 3, 4.)

Then it goes on: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14.)

According to this scripture, Jesus created everything; nevertheless, when he was born into mortality he had to learn to walk and talk like other children. At the age of twelve, we find him reasoning with the wise men in the temple, and later on he said: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” (John 5:19.)

Now, because Satan brought with him the knowledge that he had in the spirit world, he knew whom he had fought against in that war in heaven and he has tried to put to death the prophets of God. That is why Jesus, standing on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem, said:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

“Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23:37–39.)

Today we are coming because we have been sent in the name of the Lord. Like Paul said,

“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. …

“And how shall they hear without a preacher?

“And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom. 10:17, 14–15.)

We have been sent.

I would like to illustrate what I am trying to tell you. When Moses was born, the devil put it into the heart of Pharaoh to have all the male children in Israel put to death. Thousands had been born before that time, but Satan knew that he would have to reckon with Moses. And you remember how Moses’ mother saved his life by making a basket of bulrushes and putting him in the river and how Pharaoh’s daughter took him out and cared for him.

When Jesus was born, Satan put it into the heart of Herod to put to death all the children in Bethlehem and the surrounding territory that were under two years of age. There had been thousands born before that time, but Satan knew he would have to reckon with the Savior. He was in that war that was fought in heaven when Satan and a third of the spirits were cast out.

When Joseph Smith went into the woods to pray, a boy of only fourteen years of age, a power of darkness rested upon him until he felt like it would crush the very life out of his body; but through his prayer, finally a pillar of light descended and he was released from the power of Satan. Satan knew that he would have to reckon with that man Joseph Smith because he was one of those noble and great ones that God said he would make his rulers.

We read in the Book of Mormon that when Lehi was in the desert, he told his son Joseph that the Lord had promised Joseph who was sold into Egypt that in the latter days He would raise up a prophet from his loins like unto Moses. (See 2 Ne. 3:6–9.) And we are told in holy writ that there was no prophet in Israel like unto Moses because he walked and talked with God. (See Deut. 34:10.) This is the kind of prophet that, three thousand years before Joseph Smith was born, the Lord promised Joseph of Egypt He would raise up through his loins. He said his name should be Joseph, and his father’s name should be Joseph; and he said: “Unto him will I give power to bring forth my word.” (2 Ne. 3:11, 15.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith brought us the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and many other writings. As far as our records show, he has given us more revealed truth than any prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said: “And not to the bringing forth my word only, … but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.” (2 Ne. 3:11.) What did he mean by that? That in the midst of these hundreds of churches of men—the result of men’s interpretations of the scriptures because they can’t agree, and these churches keep multiplying—that the Lord would give to this new prophet the ability to comprehend the scriptures that had already been sent forth among them.

Then he adds that he shall “bring my people unto salvation.” (2 Ne. 3:15.) Why? Because he would receive the holy priesthood, the power to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel. Then he adds, “And I will make him great in mine eyes.” (2 Ne. 3:8.) Whatever the world may think of the Prophet Joseph Smith, there is the statement of the Lord that he would be great in His eyes.

Now I would like to tell you of a little experience I had in the mission field that illustrates what I think the Lord meant when he indicated that not only would the Prophet bring forth His word, but he would bring men to a conviction of His word that had already gone forth among them.

When I was in Holland, I was invited to talk to a Bible class of businessmen. We met in the home of a prominent furniture dealer. There were about twenty men; each had his Bible. The only woman there was the daughter of the man of the house. They gave me an hour and a half to discuss universal salvation, which includes our work for the dead, preaching in the spirit world, and baptism of the living for the dead. I just gave them chapter and verse and let them read the passages in their own Bibles. Then when I was through, I closed my Bible and waited for comments.

The first comment came from the daughter of the man of the house. She said: “Father, I just can’t understand it. I have never attended one of these Bible classes in my life that you haven’t had the last word to say on everything. And tonight you haven’t said a word.”

The man shook his head and said: “My daughter, there isn’t anything to say. This man has been teaching us things we have never heard of, and he has been teaching them to us out of our own Bibles.”

I could tell you many more stories like that!

God bless you! Thank God for the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I leave you my testimony, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.