1. God is our Loving Heavenly Father
God is our loving Heavenly Father and we are His children. He has a body of flesh and bone that is glorified and perfected. He loves us and weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right. He wants to communicate with us, and we can do so through sincere prayer.
He has given us this experience on earth so that we may learn and grow. We can show our love for him through obedience to His commandments. He has provided a way for us to be successful in this life and to return to live in His presence. Central to this plan is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which included His suffering the Garden of Gethsemane and his suffering and death on the cross. Through the atonement we can be freed from the burden of our sins and develop faith and strength to face our trials.
The following scriptures teach us that God is our Father:
1. 1 Nephi 17:36: Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.
2. Mosiah 4:9: Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
3. Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
4. John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
5. 1 John 4: 7-9: Beloved let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
2. The Gospel Blesses Families
The Gospel blesses and helps husbands and wives, parents and children as they strive to develop stronger relationships and spiritual strength. Families are ordained of God and are the most important social unit in time and in eternity. He has established families to bring happiness to His children, allow them learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life.
3. Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation
One way God shows His love for us is by calling prophets, who are given the priesthood—The power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. Prophets learn the gospel by revelation. They then teach it to others and testify of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer. The teachings of prophets are found in sacred books called scriptures. In Amos 3:7 the Lord teaches us: ” Surely the Lord God will do nothing, abut he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
Through the atonement we can receive eternal life if we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. This is called the “Doctrine of Christ” and is found in the following scripture: “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” (2 Nephi 31:21)
All people have the gift of agency, which includes the freedom to accept or reject the gospel. Whenever people reject they distance themselves from God and begin to live in spiritual darkness. Eventually this leads to a condition called apostasy and when it occurs on a large scale God withdraws His priesthood authority to teach and administer the ordinances of the Gospel. This is called apostasy and God ends these periods by sending a new prophet.
Prophets act as stewards to oversee the household of God on earth. Such periods of time headed by prophetic responsibility are called dispensations. God revealed the gospel to Adam and gave him priesthood authority. He learned of mankind’s proper relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; and of the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. Men eventually rejected the Gospel and God sent new ones such as Noah, Abraham and Moses.
4. The Savior’s Earthly Ministry
A few hundred years before the birth of the Savior, people again fell into apostasy. But when he began his mortal ministry He established His church again on the earth. He sent his Son to take upon Him, by His suffering, the sins of all who would live on this earth and to overcome physical death. He provided an infinite sacrifice so that we could enter and follow the path that leads to eternal life. He taught his gospel and performed many miracles. He organized His church and was rejected and crucified.
5. The Great Apostasy
After the death of Christ, wicked people persecuted the Apostles and Church members and killed many of them. With their death, priesthood keys and authority were taken from the earth. Without the Apostles, the doctrines were corrupted and unauthorized changes were made in organization and priesthood ordinances. Without revelation false ideas were taught as truth. The nature and character of God was lost and many churches emerged out of the confusion. After centuries of confusion and darkness, truth-seeking men and women protested and sought to make changes to religion which came to be known as the reformation which opened the way for the restoration.
The prophet Amos prophesied of this great apostasy in Amos 8: 11-12 which reads: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.”
The Church is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:19-20; 4:11-14). These leaders have divine priesthood authority. Through revelation they direct the affairs of the Church. They maintain doctrinal purity, authorize the administration of ordinances and call and confer upon others the priesthood authority. Priesthood did not continue through Peter and thus the only way it could be restored would be through divine messengers.
6. The Restoration of the Gospel
Joseph Smith lived in the United States, at the time it was the only country to enjoy religious freedom. IT was at a time of great religious excitement and many ministered claimed to have the true gospel. Joseph desired to know which of all the sects was right as the Bible taught there was one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Joseph said: “So great were the confusions and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was…to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong…In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? IF any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”
Joseph then turned to the Bible and read “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) This inspired Joseph to ask God and so in the spring of 1820 he went to a nearby grove of trees and knelt in prayer.
Joseph then describes what happened after he prayed: “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon men…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. Hear Him!.”
God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. The Savior told Joseph not to join any of the churches for they were all wrong. “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
Even though many good people believed in Christ they inherited a state of apostasy and lost the priesthood authority to perform the ordinances of salvation. Just as God had done through Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses he called Joseph as a prophet to restore his truth.
Afterwards other heavenly messengers were sent to Joseph. John the Baptist appeared and conferred the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the authority to baptize. Peter, James and John followed and gave him the Melchizedek Priesthood. With this authority, he was directed to organized the Church of Jesus Christ again on the earth. Through him, Jesus Christ then called twelve apostles.
The time in which we live is called the last days or the fullness of times just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. A living prophet directs the Church today. This prophet is the authorized successor to Joseph Smith.
7. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
Knowing that doubt, disbelief and misinformation would remain after centuries of darkness, our loving Heavenly Father brought forth an ancient volume of Holy Scripture comparable to the Bible. It is convincing evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.
Joseph was directed by a heavenly messenger named Moroni to a hill where gold plates had lain hidden for centuries. These contained the writings of prophets giving an account of God’s dealing with some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. Joseph Smith translated these plates through the power of God. The prophets in this record knew the mission of Jesus Christ and taught his Gospel and Christ appeared to these people after his resurrection.
In order to learn the truth of this record, one must read, ponder and pray about it.
8. Pray to know the Truth through the Holy Ghost
The message of the Restoration is either true, or it isn’t. After reading and pondering the message of the Book of Mormon, any who desire to know the truth must approach God in prayer and ask him. The Holy Ghost will teach us truth through our feelings and thoughts.
The Book of Mormon prophet Alma taught: “And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.”
Similarly, Jesus also taught: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
In order to pray, address your Heavenly Father, express the feelings of your heart (Gratitude, questions, requests to confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon) and then close in the name of Jesus Christ.
The great reformation that occurred in Europe was preparatory work for the restoration. The following reformers laid the groundwork for the Restoration:
1. John Wycliffe: Born in 14th century England. Theology scholar at Oxford. Taught the Catholic Church didn’t have priesthood keys, that the Holy Eucharist was not the actual body of Christ and that the church shouldn’t exercise political power over the people. He translated the Bible into English.
2. Martin Luther: Born in 1483 in Germany. Studied at Erfurt and Wittenberg. Nailed 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in defiance of many teachings of the Catholic church such as paying money to be forgiven of sins.
3. William Tyndale: Born in Wales in 1494. Studied at Oxford and Cambridge and translated the New Testament into English. Made the scriptures available to common people and was executed.
4. John Calvin: Born in 1509 in France. Studied in Paris and was a major leader to reform the Catholic Church.
Many other nations and cultures have been blessed by those who were given that portion of God’s word “that God seeth fit that they should have.” (See Alma 29:8) Some of these great leaders include the following:
1. Buddha (Gotama): Born in 563 B.C. of a Hindu chieftain in Nepal. He was concerned with suffering he saw around him so he renounced the world and lived in poverty, seeking enlightenment he discovered the path of deliverance. Claimed to reach Nirvana, a state of oblivion to care, pain or external reality.
2. Confucius: Born in 551 B.C.. Orphaned as a child. China’s first professional teacher and greatest moral and social thinker. Believed that heaven had entrusted him with a sacred mission as champion of the good and true.
3. Mohammed: Born in 570 A.D. in Mecca. Orphaned in childhood and lived a life of poverty. He gained reputation as a trusted peacemaker and in 610 prayed and meditated on Mount Hira. He said the angel Gabriel appeared to him and delivered a message from Allah. Claimed to receive communication from God through Gabriel. These communications were later written in the Koran.