A Great and Marvelous Day


From an April 1991 general conference address; capitalization modernized; subheads added.
“A great and a marvelous work” (1 Ne. 14:7) is this year’s Mutual theme. President Hunter testifies of that work.
President Howard W. Hunter

On the sixth of April 1830, [175] years ago, a group of men and women, acting in obedience to a commandment of God, assembled in the house of Mr. Peter Whitmer to organize The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This church, … prophesied to be a latter-day marvelous work and a wonder, has come forth from the most humble of beginnings.

Six men comprised the total membership of the Church that day. None of them laid any claim to special learning or significant leadership. They were honorable people and respectable citizens but were virtually unknown outside of their own immediate neighborhood. …

The Truth of the First Vision

These humble, ordinary men gathered because one of them, Joseph Smith Jr., a very young man, had set forth a most remarkable claim. He declared to them and all others who would listen that he had received profound and repeated heavenly communications, including an open vision of God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

As a result of these revelatory experiences, Joseph Smith had already published the Book of Mormon, a record of Christ’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of America. Furthermore, the Lord had commanded this young man, by now only 24 years of age, to reinstitute the Church that had existed in New Testament times and that in its restored purity should again be designated by the name of its chief cornerstone and eternal head, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Thus, humbly but most significantly was opened the first scene in the great Church drama that eventually would affect not only that generation of men but the entire human family. … A humble beginning, yes, but the claim that God had spoken, that Christ’s Church was again organized, and that its doctrines were reaffirmed by divine revelation was the most outstanding declaration made to the world since the days of the Savior Himself. …

Joseph Smith was not only a great man, but he was an inspired servant of the Lord, a prophet of God. His greatness consists in … the truthfulness of his declaration that he saw the Father and the Son and that he responded to the reality of that divine revelation. Part of the divine revelation was instruction to reestablish the true and living Church, restored in these modern times as it existed in the day of the Savior’s own mortal ministry. The Prophet Joseph Smith said the Church of Jesus Christ was “organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by Him to ourselves in these last days, as well as according to the order of the Church as recorded in the New Testament” (History of the Church, 1:79).

Faith in a Personal God

For the first time in 1,800 years, God had revealed Himself as a personal being. Furthermore, the Father and the Son demonstrated the undeniable truth that They are separate and distinct personages. Indeed, the relationship of the Father and the Son was reaffirmed by the divine introduction to the boy prophet, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17). Those who were baptized into the Church on the sixth of April 1830 believed in the existence of a personal God; they believed that His reality and the reality of His Son, Jesus Christ, constitute the eternal foundation upon which this Church is built.

Once we accept Christ as divine, it is easy to visualize His Father as being just as personal as He. Christ said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Faith in the existence of a divine and real and living personal God was the first element that contributed to the durability of the Church of Jesus Christ in ancient times, and it is the everlasting foundation upon which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is built today.

A Worldwide Church

On April 6, 1830, the Church was officially organized with its six members. That action was largely unknown to the world at that time and would come to be known only to the extent that it contained and radiated eternal principles that harmonize with all other truth coming from God, the author of all truth. Only thus, through its truthfulness, could it and would it ever become a marvelous work and a wonder.

Today, from those humble beginnings those many years ago, there are units and members of that Church almost literally around the face of the earth. The marvelous progress in transportation and communication has made possible the spreading of these truths of the restored gospel to the children of men nearly everywhere in the world. Millions in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the islands of the sea not only have been able to hear but, in millions of cases, to accept and commit to these saving principles of the gospel of truth.

We represent and speak today for a worldwide Church, the organized and established kingdom of God on earth. I bear you my testimony that the church organized in obscurity [175] years ago is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ. I declare that God lives, that He is a personal God who hears and answers our prayers, that He is the Father He has always declared Himself in scripture to be. He is undoubtedly more than we can fully understand Him to be, but He is certainly not less than we understand.

I testify that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son, the Savior of the world, and that the Father and the Son did appear to the Prophet Joseph Smith to begin this great rolling forth of the latter-day.

I testify that the boy prophet, who in so many ways remains the central miracle in the [175] years of this Church’s experience, is living proof that, within God’s hands and under the direction of the Savior of the world, weak and simple things should come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones. On this anniversary season of the organization of the Church, I bear testimony of its truthfulness.

[photos] Photography courtesy of Church Audiovisual Department