The First Prophet of the Last Dispensation

By President Joseph Fielding Smith

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    I desire to call attention to two great truths: first, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and, second, that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I mention the first—which is one of the greatest truths ever revealed to man—as a prelude to bearing testimony of the second.

    May I say, as plainly and as forcefully as I can, that we believe in Christ. We accept him without reservation as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

    We believe that he came into the world to ransom men from the temporal and spiritual death brought into the world through the fall of Adam, and we have in our hearts unbounded gratitude that through the shedding of his blood all men are raised in immortality, while those who believe and obey his laws are raised also unto eternal life.

    We believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent, and that there is no other name given under heaven whereby men can become inheritors of eternal glory in the kingdoms which are ahead.

    And may I say also, as plainly and forcefully as I can, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the prophet and seer of these latter days, was called by the Lord Jesus Christ to usher in this final dispensation and to restore for the last time on earth the fulness of his everlasting gospel.

    Joseph Smith is the revealer of the knowledge of Christ and of salvation to the world for this day and generation. To him the Lord said: “… this generation shall have my word through you.” (D&C 5:10.)

    When Moroni came to Joseph Smith nearly 150 years ago, that resurrected personage told young Joseph that his name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. (See JS—H 1:33.)

    Fifteen years later the Lord himself elaborated upon this promise by saying to the Prophet: “The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee;

    “While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand.” (D&C 122:1–2.)

    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.

    And I am pleased to testify that as the years pass, people in all nations are increasingly turning to Joseph Smith and the gospel restored through his instrumentality in order to find peace in this life and gain a hope of eternal life in the world to come.

    On April 6, 1830, as soon as the Church was organized, the Lord speaking of Joseph Smith, said to the Church: “… thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

    “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

    “For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.

    “For thus saith the Lord God: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have realized.

    “Yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen, and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer; for his days of rejoicing are come unto the remission of his sins, and the manifestations of my blessings upon his works.

    “For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart.” (D&C 21:4–9.)

    In the light of these revealed statements I now say—

    That Joseph Smith is the one to whom all men must look in this day to learn the truth about Christ and his gospel;

    That in time the name of this prophet shall be known in every corner of the earth and among all people;

    That the honest in heart will accept him as a prophet and will worship that Lord whom he revealed;

    That the church that he organized by divine command prospers because it follows the revelations that came through him;

    And that all who believe the teachings of Joseph Smith and labor in the course set by him shall come to a knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was crucified for the sins of the world.

    In the same way that I know Jesus is the Christ—and that is by revelation from the Holy Spirit—I know that Joseph Smith is and was and everlastingly shall be a prophet of God.

    I revere and honor his holy name. With his brother, my grandfather, Patriarch Hyrum Smith, he sealed his testimony with his blood in Carthage Jail. And I, for one, want to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands of letting the ends of the earth know that salvation is again available because the Lord raised up a mighty seer in this day to reestablish his kingdom on earth.

    In a spirit of testimony and thanksgiving, I close with these inspired words from the Doctrine and Covenants: “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.)

    In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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    • Joseph Fielding Smith became the Tenth President of the Church at age ninety-three, on 23 January 1970. Despite his advanced age, he was vigorous mentally and physically until his death 2 July 1972, at age ninety-five. He was a most prolific author of books and articles on doctrinal subjects during the sixty-two years he served as a General Authority. He was born 19 July 1876 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of Joseph Fielding Smith and Julia Lambson. He was also the grandson of Hyrum Smith, elder brother to the Prophet Joseph. He was ordained an apostle 7 April 1970 by his father, President Joseph F. Smith, Sixth President of the Church. He was sustained as acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 30 September 1950; and was sustained as President of that quorum 9 April 1951. He became counselor to President David O. McKay 29 October 1965 and served until 1970.