Nearly 150 years ago the Lord spoke through Joseph Smith: “The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth” (D&C 65:2).
Since that time the Church has grown remarkably: in time the kingdom of God will indeed fill the earth. In general conference on 31 March 1979 President Spencer W. Kimball gave us a progress report: “Since we last met in general conference, we have witnessed much growth and expansion of the Lord’s kingdom.
“I rejoice with you, my brothers and sisters, in evidences of the progress and growth throughout Zion. It is indeed progress to add new thousands of people to a membership now in excess of four million. It is pleasing to build the temples and places of worship in so many lands. We feel very happy with this growth that is being displayed in the Church in all the lands where we go” (“Fortify Your Homes Against Evil,” International Magazines, October 1979, [Spanish—August 1979], paragraph 3, 8, and 9.)
Truly the stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands in 1830 is rolling forth to fill the earth. Joseph Smith knew that the Church that God had restored through him would not only endure but would grow and prosper. He knew that the kingdom of God, the concept of Zion, and the dispensation of the fullness of times were important in God’s plan, and that God would guide the Church in fulfilling its destiny.
As the Church remembers its 150 years of existence, we look at the destiny of the Church as foreseen by Joseph Smith:
“We have … to be afflicted”
“When [Jesus was] still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice appear to be folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person; and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death. So it is with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; we have the revelation of Jesus, and the knowledge within us is sufficient to organize a righteous government upon the earth, and to give universal peace to all mankind, if they would receive it, but we lack the physical strength, as did our Savior when a child, to defend our principles, and we must of necessity be afflicted, persecuted and smitten, and to bear it patiently until Jacob is of age, then he will take care of himself” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section 6, paragraph 19 from the end, p. 392).
Saints to dwell in the Rocky Mountains
“I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives because [as a result] of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (Teachings, Section 5, sub-heading 29, p. 255).
“This work will fill the Rocky Mountains with tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints, and there will be joined with them the Lamanites who dwell in those mountains who will receive the gospel of Christ from the elders of Israel, and they will be united with the Church and the kingdom of God, and bring forth much good” (Quoted in Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 30).
A “favored people”
“The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age, it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and with heavenly and joyful anticipation they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without seeing it; we are the favored people that God has chosen to bring the Latter-day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory, ‘the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth, ‘even in one,’ when the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, when the Jews will be gathered together into one, the wicked will also be gathered together to be destroyed, as spoken of by the prophets; the Spirit of God will also dwell with His people, and be withdrawn from the rest of the nations,and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one, even in Christ. The heavenly Priesthood will unite with the earthly, to bring about those great purposes; and while we are thus united in to roll forth the kingdom of God, those who have the heavenly Priesthood are not idle spectators, the Spirit of God will be showered down from above, and it will dwell in our midst. The blessings of the Most High will rest upon our tabernacles, and our name will be handed down to future ages; our children will rise up and call us blessed; and generations yet unborn will dwell with peculiar delight upon the experiences that we have passed through; the privations that we have endured; the untiring zeal that we have manifested; the almost insurmountable difficulties that we have overcome in laying the foundation of a work that brought about the glory and blessing which they will realize; a work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that inspired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets; a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family” (Teachings, Section 4, paragraph 3 from the end, pp. 231–32).
To every continent, every ear
“Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and … the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
“Works of … magnitude and grandeur”
“The work of the Lord in these last days, is one of vast magnitude and almost beyond the comprehension of mortals. Its glories are past description, and its grandeur unsurpassable. It is the theme which has animated the bosom of prophets and righteous men from the creation of the world down through every succeeding generation to the present time; and it is truly the dispensation of the fullness of times, when all things which are in Christ Jesus, whether in heaven or on the earth, shall be gathered together in Him, and when all things shall be restored, as spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began; for in it will take place the glorious fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers, while the manifestations of the power of the Most High will be great, glorious, and sublime. …
“… The work which is to be accomplished in the last days is one of vast importance, and will call into action the energy, skill, talent, and ability of the Saints, so that it may roll forth with that glory and majesty described by the prophets; and will consequently require the concentration of the Saints, to accomplish works of such magnitude and grandeur (History of the Church, 4:185–86).
“Is not this the Kingdom of Heaven that is raising its head in the last days in the majesty of its God, even the Church of the Latter-day Saints, like an impenetrable, immovable rock in the midst of the mighty deep, exposed to the storms and tempests of Satan, but has, thus far remained steadfast, and is still braving the mountain waves of opposition, which are driven by the tempestuous winds of sinking crafts, which have [dashed] and are still dashing with tremendous foam across its triumphant brow; urged onward with re-doubled fury by the enemy of righteousness, with his pitchfork of lies. … And we hope that this adversary of truth will continue to stir up the sink of iniquity, that the people may the more readily discern between the righteous and the wicked” (Teachings, Section 2, sub-heading 23 from the end, paragraph 3, p. 99).
“A kingdom of priests and kings”
“[This is] a day … in which the God of heaven has begun to restore the ancient order of His kingdom unto His servants and His people,—a day in which all things are concurring to bring about the completion of the fullness of the Gospel, a fullness of the dispensation of dispensations, even the fullness of times; a day in which God has begun to make manifest and set in order in His Church those things which have been, and those things which the ancient prophets and wise men desired to see but died without beholding them; a day in which those things begin to be made manifest, which have been hid from before the foundation of the world, and which Jehovah has promised should be made known in His own due time unto His servants, to prepare the earth for the return of His glory, even a celestial glory, and a kingdom of Priests and kings to God and the Lamb, forever, on Mount Zion” (History of the Church, 4:492–93).