“Restoration of the Gospel,” True to the Faith (2004), 135–39
“Restoration of the Gospel,” True to the Faith, 135–39
When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He established His Church among His followers. After His Crucifixion and the deaths of His Apostles, the fulness of the gospel was taken from the earth because of widespread apostasy (see “Apostasy,” pages 13–14). Many men and women sought the fulness of gospel truth during the centuries of the Great Apostasy, but they were unable to find it. Although many preached with sincerity about the Savior and His teachings, none had the fulness of the truth or priesthood authority from God.
The Great Apostasy was a time of spiritual darkness, but we now live in a time when we can partake of “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4; see also D&C 45:28). The fulness of the gospel has been restored, and the true Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth again. No other organization can compare to it. It is not the result of a reformation, with well-meaning men and women doing all in their power to bring about change. It is a restoration of the Church established by Jesus Christ. It is the work of Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can receive blessings that were absent from the earth for almost 2,000 years. Through the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, you can receive the remission of your sins and enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. You can live the gospel in its fulness and simplicity. You can gain an understanding of the nature of the Godhead, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the purpose of life on earth, and the reality of life after death. You have the privilege of being guided by living prophets, who teach God’s will in our day. Temple ordinances enable you to receive guidance and peace, prepare for eternal life, be sealed to your family for eternity, and provide saving ordinances for your deceased ancestors.
The following outline summarizes a few of the important events in the restoration of the gospel and the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which the Lord has declared is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30).
Early spring, 1820. Seeking the true Church of Jesus Christ, 14-year-old Joseph Smith prayed in a grove of trees near his home in Palmyra, New York. In answer to his humble prayer, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ visited him and told him that he must not join any of the churches on the earth at that time. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:11–19.) In the Church we refer to this experience as Joseph Smith’s First Vision.
September 21–22, 1823. Joseph Smith was visited by an angel named Moroni. Moroni prophesied of coming events and told Joseph of the Book of Mormon record, written on plates of gold. The angel allowed Joseph to see the gold plates, which were buried in the nearby Hill Cumorah. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:27–53.)
September 22, 1827. Joseph Smith received the gold plates from Moroni at the Hill Cumorah after having met with Moroni on 22 September of each of the previous four years. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:53, 59.)
May 15, 1829. Having read about baptism for the remission of sins as they worked on the translation of the gold plates, Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery went to a secluded area to inquire of the Lord concerning the matter. There, on the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania, they received the answer to their prayer. John the Baptist, a resurrected being, came to them as “a messenger from heaven … in a cloud of light.” He conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood. Then, in obedience to his instructions, Joseph and Oliver baptized each other and ordained each other to the Aaronic Priesthood. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72; see also D&C 13.)
May 1829. The ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. (See D&C 128:20.)
June 1829. Guided “by the gift and power of God” (D&C 135:3), the Prophet Joseph Smith completed the translation of the Book of Mormon.
March 26, 1830. The first printed copies of the Book of Mormon became available in Palmyra, New York.
April 6, 1830. The Church was organized in Fayette Township, New York, beginning with six members.
March 27, 1836. The Kirtland Temple, the first temple built in this dispensation, was dedicated. The Prophet Joseph Smith offered the dedicatory prayer, which had been given to him by revelation. (See D&C 109.)
April 3, 1836. The Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. Moses, Elias, and Elijah also appeared and gave priesthood keys to Joseph and Oliver. Elijah brought the keys of the sealing power, which make it possible for families to be sealed together forever. (See D&C 110.)
The Old Testament prophet Daniel prophesied that God would “set up a kingdom” that would “never be destroyed” and would “stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44). In making this prophecy, he spoke of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the kingdom of God on the earth today. From the day the Church was organized with six members, it has grown and flourished, and it will continue to progress until it has “filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35; see also D&C 65:2). Hundreds of thousands of people are baptized every year. The Book of Mormon is being translated in many languages. Temples are being built throughout the world. With Jesus Christ at the head of the Church, living prophets will guide the Church’s progress until the earth is prepared for the Savior’s Second Coming.
The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of the blessings of the Restoration: “Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy” (D&C 128:19).