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Skip to comments.Joseph Smith: An Apostle of Jesus Christ
Posted on 01/02/2011 5:46:30 PM PST by Paragon Defender
Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Joseph Smith: An Apostle of Jesus Christ, Ensign, Jan 2009, 1622
Adapted from a presentation to the Seventy.
In the Doctrine and Covenants we read that Joseph Smith was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ (D&C 20:2). The call of an Apostle is first to witness or testify of Jesus Christ. Old Testament prophets testified of His coming. The New Testament Apostles bore personal witness of Christs being and of the absolute reality of His Resurrection. This apostolic witness was the basis of their teaching. Ye shall be witnesses unto me (Acts 1:8) was Jesuss instruction to the original Twelve. Peter testified on the day of Pentecost to the Jews who had gathered out of every nation (Acts 2:5) that this Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses (Acts 2:32). Similarly, Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Jesus was seen of me also (1 Corinthians 15:8). The sure witness of Christs being and the reality of His Resurrection is the first pillar of apostolic testimony.
The second pillar is centered on the Saviors redemptive and saving power. Peter teaches that to the Lord give all the Prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins (Acts 10:43).
Without these twin pillars of testimony concerning Christ, there could be no Apostle. Such testimonies are born of experience, divine command, and instruction. For example, Luke writes that Christ showed Himself to the Apostles alive after his passion being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
How does the Prophet Joseph Smith fit into these apostolic requirements? The answer is Perfectly.
Joseph Smiths apostolic instruction began in 1820. Pondering the questions of religion, he soon found that there was no way to reason or argue ones opinion to an authoritative conclusion concerning the correctness of the various churches or their doctrines. Short of a divine manifestation, young Joseph could add only one more opinion to the already existing war of words and tumult of opinions (Joseph SmithHistory 1:10). But Josephs questions on religion were answered by the personal and physical manifestation of God the Father and His divine and living Son, Jesus Christan experience referred to as the First Vision.
Like that of the original Apostles, Josephs experience with Deity was direct and personal. There was no need for the opinion of others or the deliberations of a council to define what he saw or what it came to mean to him. Josephs vision was at first an intensely personal experiencean answer to a specific question. Over time, however, illuminated by additional experience and instruction, it became the founding revelation of the Restoration.
As apostolic as this manifestation of Christs being, existence, and Resurrection was to Joseph Smith, it was not the only thing Jesus wanted to teach him. The boy Josephs first lesson arose from the manifestation of Christs absolute, omnipotent, and divine power. Joseph learned firsthand at least one meaning of the redeeming and saving power of Christ when he prayed in the grove. As he began to pray, Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction (Joseph SmithHistory 1:15). With every bit of energy Joseph had, he began to call upon God to deliver him from the grasp of this enemy.
At the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction , I saw a pillar of light.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound (Joseph SmithHistory 1:1617).
Joseph Smiths confrontation with the adversary is reminiscent of an experience Moses had, about which the Prophet would learn some few years later. Unlike the boy Joseph, however, Moses saw Gods greatness first and then was confronted with the power of the adversary before being delivered from his influence. (See Moses 1.)
The difference in the order of events is significant. Moses was already far into maturity and had much knowledge and influence prior to this event. By displaying His magnificent power to Moses before he faced the adversary, the Lord helped Moses put his life into perspective. After experiencing Gods glory, Moses said, Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed (Moses 1:10). This incident enabled Moses to withstand the temptations of the adversary that followed.
Joseph Smith, on the other hand, was an inexperienced young man, who in his lifetime would repeatedly face adversarial power and the overwhelming problems it brings. By facing the adversary first, then being saved from his assault by the appearance of the Father and the Son, Joseph learned this indelible lesson: as great as the power of evil might be, it must always withdraw with the appearance of righteousness.
This lesson was critical in Josephs apostolic education. He needed this knowledge not only because of the personal trials that lay ahead of him but also because of the overwhelming opposition he would face in founding and directing the Church.
The boy Joseph went into the grove seeking wisdom, and wisdom he received. His apostolic instruction had begun. Among the great apostolic lessons of this First Vision were both the physical nature of the Savior and Heavenly Father and the initial and fundamental lessons relating to Their powereach a pillar of apostolic testimony.
Joseph Smiths early apostolic instruction continued with his translation of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon gave Joseph access to the fulness of the everlasting Gospel (Joseph SmithHistory 1:34), principles that were necessary to understand even prior to the organization of the Church. The Prophet was introduced to numerous plain and most precious (1 Nephi 13:26) prophetic and apostolic testimonies regarding the Savior, all of which served as models for him.
Indeed, the Book of Mormon prophets employ over 100 titles in their teachings of Christ, each of which helped Joseph understand the Saviors divine role.1 By virtue of these teachings, Joseph Smith became intimately acquainted with ancient prophets, giving him insight into the divine purpose of his responsibilities.
The Book of Mormon illuminates the universality of Christs Atonement. The Saviors holy sacrifice is not confined to the borders of the Holy Land of His day or even restricted to the apostolic world of the original Twelve. The Atonement encompasses all of Gods creationspast, present, and future. What an impression Jacobs teaching of the infinite atonement (2 Nephi 9:7) must have made on the mind of young Joseph, especially in contrast to Christian teachings at the time.
The Book of Mormon also introduces the universality of the Resurrection and other doctrines relating to it. Discourses on this doctrine by Lehi, Jacob, King Benjamin, Abinadi, Alma, Amulek, Samuel the Lamanite, and Moroni are all rich sources of instruction.
During the translation of the Book of Mormon, the Prophet received additional valuable personal instruction concerning the redemptive and saving power of Christ. In 1828 Martin Harris persuaded Joseph to lend him the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript. When Martin Harris lost those pages, the Prophet felt an enormous despair.2 His mother, Lucy Mack Smith, recorded that Joseph exclaimed: Oh, my God! All is lost! all is lost! What shall I do? I have sinnedit is I who tempted the wrath of God. How shall I appear before the Lord? Of what rebuke am I not worthy from the angel of the Most High?3
For well over a month the Lord left Joseph in this terrible condition of remorse.4 Then came relief and the apostolic lesson. The Lord told Joseph:
The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.
For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him (D&C 3:1, 4).
These words carefully describe what Joseph Smith had been experiencing. He had learned the exacting nature of the apostolic call and to whom the Apostle, at all cost, owes his loyalty. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words, Joseph was told, yet you should have been faithful (D&C 3:78). Joseph Smith had lost access to the plates for a season and had been taught an invaluable lesson. Subsequently, the plates were returned, and his position as translator restored.
How critical were the lessons provided by the translation of the Book of Mormon as Joseph Smith grew in his apostolic calling! The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion5 because it contains so many prophetic testimonies of Christ and stands as a tangible witness of the Restoration.
After finishing the translation of the Book of Mormon in 1829 and organizing the Church in 1830, Joseph Smith had the opportunity to receive continuing apostolic education through the process of translating other scripture. This included three years of translating the Bible and, beginning in 1835, translating the book of Abraham. Joseph Smiths translation of the Bible expanded his understanding of the role of Old Testament prophets and New Testament Apostles. It also resulted in additional revelation, namely the book of Moses.
The book of Moses provided the Prophet with important knowledge about the Saviors ministry, including His role in the Creation. The Lord spake unto Moses, saying: I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things (Moses 2:1). Further, He said, And worlds without number have I created; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten (Moses 1:33).
The book of Moses clarified Christs relationship to the Father in the premortal existence and reinforced the Prophets understanding of the ascendant power of righteousness. One of the most beautiful of all the apostolic lessons that came to Joseph Smith in this revelation was the confirmation of Gods love. It was so different from the harsh, unforgiving, and judgmental personage so many believed God to be; the book of Moses reveals a God of infinite compassion. Enoch saw that the God of heaven wept (Moses 7:28) over those who would not receive Him. Wishing to know how it was possible, Enoch was given an answer that has a familiar biblical feel to it: I [have] given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father. Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer? (Moses 7:33, 37; see also Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:3739).
Through the translation of the book of Moses, the Prophet also became more acquainted with the redeeming and saving power of the Savior. As the Lord said, this earth was created by the word of my power (Moses 1:32) for the purpose of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). Many long years before the Savior taught Thomas and the Twelve that I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6), He revealed to Moses that this is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time (Moses 6:62).
The First Vision in the grove, the translation of the Book of Mormon, the revision of the Bible, the revelation of the book of Moses, and the translation of the book of Abraham laid the basic foundation of the Church, largely through the rapidly expanding knowledge and testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith relating to Jesus Christ.
Revelations given to him and compiled in the Doctrine and Covenants contain a wealth of knowledge concerning the Savior. One could research the numerous topics and cross-references of the Topical Guide and Guide to the Scriptures referring to Jesus Christ and still not understand the breadth of information on the Savior that the Prophet Joseph Smith brought to the world. I am grateful to know that Jesus was in the beginning with the Father (D&C 93:21). I am grateful to know that He suffered these things for [me], that [I] might not suffer if [I] would repent (D&C 19:16).
I am grateful for yet one other thing about the Saviors ministry that stirs my soul deeply. From studying the promises of Malachi, Moronis initial visit with Joseph, the Saviors words to the Nephites, and the visit of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple, I learn that God loves His children and has provided a way for each to return to Him. I know of no doctrine more just, no teaching that gives more hope than that of redemption of the dead. I am so grateful for the revelations that teach me that the Saviors Atonement reaches to those who have lived, loved, served, and hoped for a better day yet never heard of Jesus or had the opportunity to embrace His gospel. This knowledge alone would be sufficient to convert me to the gospel if I knew nothing else at all. Here, at least for me, is the ultimate testimony of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice.
What, then, can be said of the incomparable saving power of Christ? That which Joseph Smith learned in the Sacred Grove about the power of righteousness overcoming evil foreshadows the final scene. So reveals the Lord:
I, having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning mehaving done this that I might subdue all things unto myself
Retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment (D&C 19:23).
Our own testimonies of the Savior are framed by the testimony and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Is it any wonder then that the Prophet taught that the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.6
Joseph Smiths apostolic testimony of the divine reality and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as his knowledge of the redemptive and saving power of the Savior, can best be seen by the Prophets own beautiful, powerful, and succinct witness:
And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father
That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God (D&C 76:2224).
How grateful I am for the apostolic call of Joseph Smith.
4. The 116 pages were lost in June 1828. In July Joseph Smith received what is now section 3 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In September the plates were returned to the Prophet. See the historical introductions to D&C 3; 10.
I tend to adhere to these Scripture messages...
Titus 3:9-11 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned....
1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. ...
And it must have come to pass that they created a giant corketh, or two, to stoppeth the holes, top and bottom.
And it came to pass, that much baloney was writteneth, along with golden plates that no one saweth.
Look a NEW “messiah” and he’s a “christian”!! /special double-sarc let’s-not-question-any-beliefs
Sun Myung Moon said he could be the “next” messiah (after Jesus). All of his followers call themselves “Christians” in his “Holy Spirit Unification Church”.
“Here you are invited to discover why Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon was chosen by God and called by Jesus Christ to fulfill the mission of the Messiah, Savior and Lord of the Second Advent with the responsibility to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Together with his loving wife, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, they are the True Parents of Heaven, Earth and all humanity who embody the true love of God.”
Well, isn’t that ... special
Spiteth into the windeth.
Remarkable the cults and false religions who use Christian termonalogy and most every story recorded in the Bible to re-make it into their own copy-cat rendition...which is always as close to the original as possible...hence counterfeit. Been that way for centuries... no different today than it was all the way back to the garden.
Interesting it is generally woman who are deceived first in entering false religions....then the husband follows...even if He knows better in the beginning. Glen Beck’s story is a prime example of this.
I spent a lot of time in the RF a couple of years ago.
I collected a bunch of crickets back then too lol!
I don't think I ever have had a LDS person address their own prophets, official teachings, etc writings on some of the most important things that they believe.
Instead they wait, and make an overall statement that they don't believe the "propaganda" that we post.
I realize that is all they can do, because the "propaganda" is from their own offical writings and it exposes the LDS belief system for what it is.
Many gods, and their descriptions of the traits, etc of Jesus are obviously not the Historical Biblical Jesus.
Hopefully lurking Mormons will break throught the barrier walls that the leaders construct to keep them in line with all the fears assoiciated with questioning and seeking the truth.
Do I witness to JWs..no...The ones I do know say they are Christians and I am not going to argue with them...
-= - - - - -
Wow. Just wow. If you learned about God from the JW’s no wonder you are confused.
It is apparent that you have no spiritual discernment.
What about moonies, Jim Jones, Westboro Baptist, SDA’s?
Is everyone who SAYS they are a Christian, a Christian? Even if they do miracles in the name of Christ (do you need a reference?)
We HAVE reached Mormons and changed their mind about being Mormon, we have seen people who were going to join Mormonism, NOT because of what we post, so YEAH I believe that it can be done!!!
You are in lala land when it comes to cults. I pray God opens your eyes, because in a lot of ways, it is easier to witness to atheists than it is to cultists.
BTW, JW’s aren’t Christians either.
The Bible tells us NO, they aren’t.
Those are great verses, when you are dealing with groups within the BODY of CHRIST.
The point is, there are groups who want people to think they are Christians because it legitimizes them (Mormons, JWs), but they are not in the Body of Christ.
That isn’t a quarrel, that is a witness.
It is produced by living hope ministries. They have done a couple of others :Bible vs. Book of Mormon;
Lifting the Veil of Polygamy; DNA vs. The Book of Mormon.
They are well worth watching, all of them are well done.
You would think they would be proud of their belief system and everything about it.
Instead they want to hide the real history of their church and insert the Biblical history and just pretend that is their history.
You don't have to yell at me : > )
Some things need to be shouted from the rooftops! ;^)
Yeah but mormons dont drink coffee or own ladders...
Show coming on in about 35 minutes - you can watch it streaming to your computer as outline above it you can’t get the channel.
Bump - coming up in 15 minutes
I bought a ladder from Wal-Mart last week.
When I brought it home, I climbed to the top and there was nothing there.
Should I take it back for a replacement?
The Bible Vs. The Book Of Mormon
Well worth the hour to watch. Absolutely zero archeological evidence for the BoM.
I thought this thread was closed?
Brothers and Sisters I bare you my testimony the Thread is true.
All is well all is well.
I once fell from a 40 foot ladder.
Not to worry, I was only on the first step.