Questions and Answers


Liahona and readers’ answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“My friend says he would be interested in joining our Church if he just didn’t have to believe the Joseph Smith story. How do I answer him?”

Liahona

  • When the gospel is on the earth, a prophet leads the Church. Joseph Smith was the first latter-day prophet.

  • Many blessings come from Joseph Smith’s efforts: he translated the Book of Mormon, he received the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, and the priesthood was restored through him.

  • Believing that these blessings came from God helps us know that Joseph Smith was called of God.

  • Share your testimony with your friend, and invite him to study the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s history and pray about them.

What would the Church be like without Joseph Smith? Would we have the priesthood or a prophet today? Would we have the Book of Mormon, temples, eternal families, modern revelation, or an understanding of the nature of the Godhead?

It appears that your friend enjoys and believes some things about the Church. Remind him that if he believes the Church is good and of God, then Joseph Smith must have been called of God. Without the Prophet Joseph we wouldn’t have the Church and its blessings in our lives.

Does your friend understand the Apostasy and the need for a restoration of the Church, priesthood, and gospel of Jesus Christ? Does he understand that the Church is always led by prophets, such as Moses and Abraham? If so, testify that Joseph Smith was the prophet of whom the Lord said, “Unto him will I give power to bring forth my word” (2 Ne. 3:11) and to bring the Church “out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church” (D&C 1:30).

Another evidence of Joseph Smith’s divine calling is the Book of Mormon. As your friend reads it, he could prayerfully ask, “Did Joseph Smith write the Book of Mormon, or did he translate it by the power of God?” The Lord said that He gave Joseph Smith “power to translate … the Book of Mormon” (D&C 1:29). If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a true prophet.

Your friend’s testimony can be strengthened by hearing others’ testimonies. You could invite him to meet with the missionaries, if he hasn’t done so already. Your friend can read Joseph Smith’s own testimony in Joseph Smith—History (in the Pearl of Great Price). These testimonies can invite the Spirit to confirm the truth of Joseph Smith’s experience to your friend.

Finally, invite your friend to pray with faith, as Joseph Smith did. As he sincerely seeks the truth, a confirmation of the Spirit will come.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith. … “… Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 80.

Readers

I believe our Church exists because of Joseph Smith and his incredible vision of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Pray for your friend that his heart may be softened. Tell him to pray with his whole heart. God will hear him and answer his prayer. Katlyn Birdwell, 19, Naches Ward, Selah Washington Stake

Those who choose to join this Church will have to have a strong testimony about Joseph Smith’s work. We should understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through the Prophet Joseph and that the truthfulness of the Church is based on his First Vision. To help your friend, I suggest that you bear your testimony about Joseph Smith and show him a good example of love and friendship. Anna Lavrentyeva, 18, St. Petersburg Tsentralny Branch, St. Petersburg Russia District

Joseph Smith’s mission is one of the foundations of our testimonies as members of the Church, because the Restoration of the gospel came to us from him. If his story is false, then our Church is false. On the other hand, if his story is true, it would follow that our Church and its teachings are true. An investigator, therefore, must first accept the story of Joseph Smith as true before he could join the Church. Christina E. Baliao, 21, Baguio University Ward, Baguio Philippines Stake

God used a modern prophet to restore the gospel of Christ. By doing that, He showed us again that He is the same today, tomorrow, and forever. Andreas Stokholm Baxter, 17, Ballerup Ward, Copenhagen Denmark Stake

Try bearing your testimony of the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s story. It will surprise you how big of an effect a testimony can have on your friends. Tell your friend to read Joseph Smith—History and to ask God if it is true. Also, if your friend believes the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, then the Joseph Smith story must be true. Joseph Smith must have translated the Book of Mormon with the power of God. If your friend believes the other doctrines of the Church to be true, then this belief means that the Joseph Smith story is true. Jordi Hunt, 13, Sugar City Third Ward, Sugar City Idaho Stake

It is impossible to believe that this is the true Church without having a testimony of the First Vision, of the Restoration of the true Church, and of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. If anyone has any doubt, that person can ask God, and He will answer the prayer as He promises in James 1:5 and Moroni 10:3–5 [Moro. 10:3–5]. Elder Javier Pulido, 21, Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission

Our faith in the restored gospel is based on the reality of Joseph Smith’s vision. Without Joseph Smith we would not have the Book of Mormon and we would not have the Church, for he was the one through whom the Lord restored the Church. If your friend does not believe in it and does not have a testimony of it, he should pray about it. Fabiola Erlacher, 15, Linz-Urfahr Ward, Salzburg Austria Stake

Bear your testimony of Joseph Smith to your friend. Tell your friend to read the story for himself and pray about it. He will get an answer, as Joseph Smith did. Rebecca Burk, 16, Globe First Ward, Globe Arizona Stake

The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, is the pinnacle of our religion. Without it, the necessary authority to organize the Church of Christ wouldn’t be on the earth. God doesn’t change. He has always called prophets and will continue calling them so that His designs may be achieved. Stephan Cerqueira Levita, 18, Ilhéus Centro Branch, Itabuna Brazil Stake

Photograph by David Stoker, posed by models