Jesus’s Church Restored
After the death of Jesus’s Apostles, His original Church fell away, and God’s priesthood authority was lost. In 1820, God and Jesus called a new prophet to restore the true Church. His name was Joseph Smith.
Jesus chose Apostles and prophets to lead His Church
When Jesus was on the earth, He called twelve Apostles and gave them authority to preach, baptize, and lead His people. After Jesus left the earth, the Apostles continued to receive His guidance through the Holy Spirit. They worked to establish churches in the ancient cities of Rome, Greece, and beyond. But they constantly struggled to maintain order among the new Christian converts.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”—Ephesians 2:19–20
Jesus’s Church was rejected, altered, and eventually lost
As the Church grew, the Apostles faced dissent among believers and harsh opposition from nonbelievers. Many Apostles were martyred, and people disagreed about the meaning of Jesus’s teachings. People began forming various churches without God’s authority to do so. These churches strayed from Jesus Christ’s original Church.
As a result, Christianity experienced a widespread apostasy, or departure from core religious beliefs. God’s priesthood, or the authority to act in His name, was lost; pure principles were corrupted; and the truths of the gospel were scattered.
Reformers tried to bring the Church back
In the 16th century, reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin recognized the fallen state of Christianity. They wanted to return the Christian church to its earlier state to align more closely with biblical teachings.
However, it wasn’t enough for Jesus Christ’s original Church to merely be “reformed.” Certain principles and truths, along with the priesthood authority to act in God’s name, had been lost long ago. Jesus Christ’s Church in its entirety would have to be brought back; reinstated; or in other words, restored.
Jesus’s Church was restored
In 1820, God and Jesus called a new prophet to restore the true Church. His name was Joseph Smith. Joseph grew up a humble farm boy in Palmyra, New York. Many churches and preachers were competing for converts in the area. Joseph was confused about which church he should join because they all taught different things. He came across a verse in the Bible that said to ask God if you had a question and that He would answer.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”—James 1:5
Joseph decided to pray. He went to a private place in the woods and knelt down, humbly asking God in prayer which church he should join. God and Jesus came to him in a vision. Later, Joseph described this sacred experience:
“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17)
God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, told Joseph not to join any of the existing churches. They said that through him, Jesus would eventually restore His original Church. Joseph Smith would become a prophet, just like biblical prophets of old. Over time, he was given the important priesthood authority that had been lost and with it the power to baptize, heal the sick, and call Apostles and other leaders. The restored Church was officially organized on April 6, 1830.
The Book of Mormon’s role in the restoration of Jesus’s Church
As Jesus reestablished His Church, He brought forth an ancient record that was translated by Joseph Smith. It is known as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It both supports and clarifies the Bible, ensuring that the teachings of Jesus Christ remain pure and correct. You can come to know that the Book of Mormon, like the Bible, is the word of God by reading it and praying to know if it’s true. If God answers that it is true, you will know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that you have found Jesus’s true Church.
Jesus Christ leads His Church today
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s restored Church. Jesus is at the head of His Church and actively guides us toward God through a modern-day prophet.