Joseph Smith: Restorer of Truth


In a single stunning moment, 14-year-old Joseph Smith learned a great truth about Jesus Christ that had been lost for centuries: that the Savior, though perfectly one in purpose with God the Father, is in fact a separate and distinct personage with a glorified physical body of His own. The Prophet Joseph Smith had other personal experiences with Jesus Christ while translating the plates that would become the Book of Mormon and while in the Kirtland Temple. Through Joseph many other lost doctrinal truths about Christ were restored.

During December we celebrate not only the Savior’s birth but also the birth of the prophet who was the instrument to restore to earth a true understanding of Jesus Christ and the glorious fulness of His gospel. 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.

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

“… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:16–17).

President Brigham Young (1801–77)

“All that Joseph Smith did was to preach the truth—the gospel as the Lord revealed it to him—and tell the people how to be saved, and the honest in heart ran together and gathered around him and loved him as they did their own lives” (Deseret News, 10 Aug. 1864, 859).

President Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901)

“We testify to the whole world that we know, by divine revelation, even through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that he revealed himself to Joseph Smith as personally as he did to his apostles anciently, after he arose from the tomb, and that he made known unto him these heavenly truths by which alone mankind can be saved” (Deseret News, 31 Jan. 1877, 834).

President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918)

“The day will come—and it is not far distant, either—when the name of the Prophet Joseph Smith will be coupled with the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of God, as his representative, as his agent whom he chose, ordained and set apart to lay anew the foundations of the Church of God in the world, which is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ, possessing all the powers of the gospel, all the rites and privileges, the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and every principle necessary to fit and qualify both the living and the dead to inherit eternal life, and to attain to exaltation in the kingdom of God” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 134).

President George Albert Smith (1870–1951)

“To my mind one of the strongest testimonies of the divinity of the life of our Savior is the testimony of Joseph Smith who laid down his life as a witness of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 19 Dec. 1926, 4a).

President David O. McKay (1873–1970)

“The peace and happiness of mankind lie in the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of the world, our Saviour. The principles of the restored gospel as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith are the surest, safest guide to mortal man” (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss [1967], 383).

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972)

“Joseph Smith is the revealer of the knowledge of Christ and of salvation to the world for this day and generation. … I, for one, want to be numbered forever among those who seek counsel and authority and blessings as they have come from this great prophet whom the Lord raised up to commence the restoration of all things in this final, glorious gospel dispensation” (quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. and John J. Stewart, The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith [1972], 364).

President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973)

“No man can accept Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, no man can accept this as His church, the Church of Jesus Christ, unless he can accept Joseph Smith as God’s mouthpiece and the restorer of His work in these latter days” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], 371).

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994)

“God has in very deed revealed Himself from the heavens. He did raise up the boy prophet. …

“Joseph Smith has done more for the salvation of men in this world than any man who ever lived in it, except the Master (see D&C 135:3). He stands at the head of this dispensation—the greatest gospel dispensation of all time—and all the world will someday come to realize that he is in very deed a prophet of the Living God” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 131–32).

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“How great indeed is our debt to him. … It was he who brought us a true knowledge of God, the Eternal Father, and His Risen Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. During the short time of his great vision he learned more concerning the nature of Deity than all of those who through centuries had argued the matter in learned councils and scholarly forums. He brought us the marvelous Book of Mormon as another witness for the living reality of the Son of God. To him, from those who held it anciently, came the priesthood, the power, the gift, the authority, the keys to speak and act in the name of God. He gave us the organization of the Church and its great and sacred mission. Through him were restored the keys of the holy temples, that men and women might enter into eternal covenants with God and that the great work for the dead might be accomplished to open the way for eternal blessings. …

“He was the instrument in the hands of the Almighty. He was the servant acting under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ in bringing to pass this great latter-day work.

“We stand in reverence before him. He is the great prophet of this dispensation. He stands at the head of this great and mighty work which is spreading across the earth. He is our prophet, our revelator, our seer, our friend. Let us not forget him. Let not his memory be forgotten in the celebration of Christmas. God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph” (“A Season for Gratitude,” Ensign, Dec. 1997, 2).

The Prophet Joseph Smith’s Testimony

“We [Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery] saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit [in the Kirtland Temple], before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.

“His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:2–4).

“For while we [Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon] were doing the work of translation, …

“… the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.

“And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness. …

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:15, 19–20, 22–24).

“And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us—

“That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;

“That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him” (D&C 76:40–42).

Sharing the Priceless Gospel

If only we could help our friends of other faiths see the great strength that comes from having living prophets and apostles to bear unshakable witness and teach the fulness of the gospel of Christ!

Now we have a powerful new tool for sharing that witness with others, the DVD and video presentation Joy to the World.

With the rest of the Christian world, during the holidays we celebrate the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. As Church members, we also remember the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Savior’s instrument for restoring sacred gospel truths in this dispensation. The copy of Joy to the World on DVD that comes with this magazine (for subscribers in the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Australia, and New Zealand) can help us bear witness of the Savior and His restored truth.

The Joy to the World DVD is designed to be shared in a spirit of friendship and love. Giving a copy to a prayerfully selected acquaintance is a great way to express what you believe. Even better is to sit down with those friends and view Joy to the World together.

Additional copies of Joy to the World in both DVD and video formats are available for purchase through distribution centers, on the Internet at www.ldscatalog.com, or by calling 240-3800 (in the Salt Lake City area) or 1-800-537-5971 (in the United States and Canada only). The DVD is item no. 54065. The video in VHS format is no. 53644. The PAL format video (used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand) is item no. 56644. Also available are pass-along cards (item no. 36878) that members may use to invite friends and acquaintances to receive their own free copy of Joy to the World.

Find time this season to share something priceless.

[illustration] Prophet of the Lord, by David Lindsley

[illustration] The First Vision, by Gary Kapp