The claims of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are of such a nature that the things the Lord himself has revealed from heaven and through ancient prophets who have visited this earth and committed the keys of their dispensations to the Prophet Joseph Smith must be proclaimed to the world. How else can the world know of these things?
The apostle Paul said:
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:14–15.)
All Christians look forward to the day when Christ shall reappear and reign a thousand years upon this earth, but there are certain preparations that must precede his coming.
The apostle Peter, in speaking to those who had put Christ to death, said, following the day of Pentecost:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19–21.)
No other church claims a restitution of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began. The dominant church claims that there has been a continuation from the days of the Savior. The Protestant churches claim a reformation; that is, with man’s wisdom they have endeavored to correct the mistakes of the dominant church. But neither fulfills the statement of Peter that the Savior will not come again until there is a restitution of all things. And we have that restitution.
When the apostles asked Jesus for the signs of his second coming, the Savior told of the judgments that would come upon the earth, such as wars, and pestilence, and earthquakes, and famines, and then he said:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14.)
The only question today is, Where is that gospel of the kingdom amid the hundreds of so-called Christian churches upon the earth today? A thinking person would have to look for a restoration of the gospel rather than a continuation of the gospel or a reformation of the gospel, if he accepts the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
Now there are many scriptures that refer to a restoration.
First, when John the Beloved was banished upon the Isle of Patmos, the angel of the Lord said: “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Rev. 4:1.) And this was thirty years after the death of the Savior. He saw the power that would be given to Satan to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and to rule over every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. (See Rev. 11:7–9.) Now that doesn’t leave anybody out. That declares a complete apostasy from the original church. Then he saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6.) Now that doesn’t leave anybody out, and there would be no point in an angel bringing the everlasting gospel if it were still here upon this earth. That is a definite declaration of the restoration and not a reformation.
The same is true when Daniel was called to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. You will recall that Nebuchadnezzar had already forgotten his dream, and he called the soothsayers and the wise men, but none could tell him what his dream was. Then he called for Daniel, and Daniel said:
“But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed are these.” (Dan. 2:28.)
Then after telling him of the rise and fall of the kingdoms of this world until the latter days, he said:
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan. 2:44.)
Now that is restoration and not reformation, and we are the only church in the world that claims a restoration. We invite all men everywhere to hear our story. It must be proclaimed in all the world for a witness unto all nations. That is why we have at the present time about 17,000 full-time missionaries laboring in the various countries of the world for a period of two years or more without any compensation, maintaining themselves financially or being maintained by their loved ones or friends.
Jesus said: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:16–17.)
Now that is the promise we make to all who hear our message, the message of our missionaries, for this gospel is to be offered to all men, as Jesus said, as “a witness and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14.)
During the year of 1972 it is estimated that our convert baptisms totaled approximately 100,000.
This gospel will make bad men good and good men better. One of our recent nationally known converts made this statement: “The gospel has changed me inside and outside.” And it will do that for every honest seeker after truth in this world.
Many can bear testimony of how the Lord has led them to the truth by dream or in a miraculous manner. My wife’s grandfather down in the South dreamed one night that an unusually tall man and a short one came up the Catawba River and visited him. They had something precious to give him. All the next day he watched the road that passed his home. At length he saw them in the distance as he had seen them in his dream. He went out to meet them. They announced themselves as Mormon missionaries, and he gladly accepted baptism at their hands.
In Holland where I filled two missions, our missionaries had converted many of the members of a certain church there. And they loved their minister but realized that he didn’t have the full truth, so they pleaded with him to attend a Mormon meeting. At the close of the meeting the missionaries met him at the door, and he denounced Joseph Smith as a false prophet, a deceiver, and everything vile he could think of, and then he went home and went to bed.
He said he retired, but he could not sleep. He rolled and tossed until the early hours of the morning, and then he got up and walked the streets until he thought the Mormon elders would be up. Then he went and asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon; he read it and joined the Church. I have personally filled many missionary appointments with him and preached in many meetings, and to hear that former minister stand up and testify with all his heart that he knows that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the gospel has been restored, fills one’s soul with joy.
While I was serving as the Presiding Bishop, a good sister brought her son to my office to be interviewed for his mission. At that time she had a son in the mission field in Europe and a daughter in another mission field. She looked rather poorly clad, and I said: “Why don’t you wait until your other son comes home before sending this boy?” Her answer was: “Bishop, if you will see that my son gets a call, I will see that he gets the money to keep him in the mission field.”
While I was a bishop in California, I used to admire a good mother who worked in a bakery shop in her clean, white uniform year after year while she kept three of her sons in the mission field. One of them later became president of a mission, and the other two are active in the Church.
We have many wonderful members in the Church who are contributing toward the support of missionaries in the field when they do not have sons and daughters of their own to send. Many have also contributed to the missionary fund at Church headquarters to help young people in foreign countries who are not financially able so that they can fill missions, as well as our boys and girls here in the United States.
I have a number of friends who I know are doing that consistently. One good sister, a widow, has kept many missionaries in the field. I have a relative who aims to keep ten in the mission field all the time, but he daren’t tell his wife about it. I have always felt badly, because she should be able to share that great joy with him.
I talked along this line some time ago in a conference. Following the conference, I received a letter from a schoolteacher enclosing sufficient money for a month’s keep for a missionary and indicating that she would send a like amount each month for two years to keep a missionary in the field.
I was thrilled recently in interviewing a young man for his mission in California to learn that his parents are both Catholics, and yet they were putting up the money for their son’s mission.
In 1971 I wrote an article on missionary work and received a letter from a fourteen-year-old girl from Los Angeles in which she said: “Brother Richards, I want to go on a mission.” I wrote and told her she couldn’t expect to go on a full-time mission at the age of fourteen but that there was plenty of missionary work she could do right at home, that there were so many nonmembers there that if she would invite one of her nonmember friends and his parents to go to Church with her, they could there meet the missionaries and then be taught the gospel.
A few weeks later I received a letter from this girl’s mother, who is president of the Aaronic Priesthood YWMIA in her ward, thanking me for the letter I wrote to her daughter and saying that the daughter had followed my advice. She got one of the families to go to church with her, and they had later set their baptismal date.
Experiences such as this can be related all over the world, for this is God’s restored truth to the earth, never to be thrown down nor given to another people but to prepare the way for the second coming of Jesus when he will reign upon the earth for a thousand years, as the scriptures declare.