A Tribute to Joseph Smith by Every Modern-Day Prophet

Howard W. Hunter

Time vindicates the words and acts of a prophet. The passing of time has turned faith into knowledge. . . . One who accepts the doctrine commonly known or referred to as Mormonism must accept . . . those writings which have been left to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith—a prophet, seer, and revelator.

This is the time of the year [December] when we are reminded of his birth. I am grateful for his teachings, for his revelations, for the heritage he has left us. Through him the gospel was restored to the earth. There is no story in all of history more beautiful than the simple, sweet story of the lad who went into the woods near his home, kneeled in prayer, and received heavenly visitors. . . .

As time went by, this young man, without scholarly achievements and formal education, was educated by the Lord for the things to come. . . .

I am grateful for my membership in the Church. My testimony of its divinity hinges upon the simple story of the lad under the trees kneeling and receiving heavenly visitors. If it is not true, Mormonism falls. If it is true—and I bear witness that it is—it is one of the greatest events in all

Gordon B. Hinckley

It is a constantly recurring mystery to me how some people speak with admiration for the Church and its work, while at the same time disdaining him through whom, as a servant of the Lord, came the framework of all that the Church is, of all that it teaches, and of all that it stands for. They would pluck the fruit from the tree while cutting off the root from which it grows. . . .

Great was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s vision. It encompassed all the peoples of mankind, wherever they live, and all generations who have walked the earth and passed on. How can anyone, past or present, speak against him except out of ignorance? They have not tasted of his words; they have not pondered about him, nor prayed about him. As one who has done these things, I add my own words of testimony that he was and is a prophet of God, raised up as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty to usher in a new and final gospel dispensation.

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Thomas S. Monson

Through Joseph Smith, the gospel—which had been lost through centuries of apostasy—was restored, the priesthood and its keys were received, the doctrines of salvation were revealed, the gospel and temple ordinances—along with the sealing power—were returned and, in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ was re-established on the earth.

Though reviled and persecuted, the Prophet Joseph never wavered in his testimony of Jesus Christ. His peers watched him lead with dignity and grace, endure hardships, and time and again rise to new challenges until his divine mission was completed. Today that heritage he established still shines for all the world to see. The teachings he translated and his legacy of love for his fellow man continue in the millions of hearts touched by the message he declared so long ago.

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How did Joseph Smith do it? How did he, when just a teenager, open the floodgates of revelation on a spring day in 1820? How did he continue to receive, restore, and refine the rich doctrine of the restored gospel until his martyrdom in 1844? And how could a man who delivered such a comprehensive system of doctrine, that laid such a profound theological foundation, be anything other than a prophet of God?

Latter-day Saint doctrine is based on the restoration of a correct understanding of God's "character, perfections, and attributes." In Precept upon Precept, esteemed Latter-day Saint scholar and speaker Robert L. Millet explored how the restoration of one truth led to questions that led to answers and the restoration of more truths—line upon line, precept upon precept.

From the original theophany of the First Vision and its implications for a world steeped in Trinitarian doctrine to the cosmic scope of the King Follett sermon, the Prophet's revelations shook up the entrenched doctrines of nineteenth-century Christianity. And by the time of Joseph's martyrdom, God had through him laid the foundations for a restored church of Jesus Christ that will last until the Millennium.

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