Thursday, March 20, 2014

Why I Believe: Evidence Nine: Joseph Smith's Testimony Of Jesus Christ: Part 1

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Was A Prophet

Evidence Nine: 
Joseph Smith’s Testimony Of Jesus Christ: Part 1© 

Joseph Smith’s Callings

The calling of Joseph Smith to restore the fulness of the gospel was comprised of several very important facets. In writing about the First Vision in 1842, he said, “I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of His purposes in this glorious dispensation.” (Joseph Smith to John Wentworth, 1 March 1842, HC 4:537.)  The scriptures tell us quite a bit about what the Lord wanted him to do as such an instrument. Many passages found in the three volumes of scripture produced by Joseph Smith refer to directly or allude to various branches of his calling. Two are reproduced below which give us the major titles by which he would be called. The first one, given on the day the Church was organized, said:
Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou [Joseph Smith] shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ...  (D&C 21:1, emphasis added.)
In Nauvoo in 1841, the Lord again spoke of Joseph’s work:
I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer, and prophet. (D&C 124:125, emphasis added.)
Six important titles suggest the breadth of the work he was to do–all would involve in one way or another revelation from God.  He was to be a: 
* Prophet
* Apostle
* Seer
* Revelator
* Translator
* Presiding Elder
Analysis of Joseph’s work at each of these tasks suggests that one important theme or topic lay as the foundation of Mormonism and serve as an umbrella under which every aspect of it fit.  In our analysis we shall see that these doctrinal duties intertwine with, overlap, mutually reinforce, compliment, and become an integral part of each other in fulfilling one great purpose.

The most important element of the restored doctrine was a correct knowledge about and ultimately of Jesus Christ. (See John 17:3; D&C 132:24.)  This was necessary for many reasons, chief of which is so mankind may have faith in Jesus Christ sufficient to lay hold of life and salvation. (Lectures on Faith, Lectures 1-4,7, see also D&C 1:17, 21.)  Joseph was to simultaneously testify to the world of the reality of the living resurrected Christ and to teach that same world about him and his message in their fulness.  He was to bring this generation to Christ, and through him to the Father. When one thinks about Joseph’s roles in these terms an important insight emerges. In one way or another each of these duties center on this primary assignment–to be the preeminent witness of Jesus Christ to this generation.  

The young Prophet did not go unnoticed by Satan. Old Scratch opposed him from his boyhood  when a gun shot zinged past his head and again at age fourteen in the Sacred Grove when Satan’s power seemed to almost overwhelm him, to his unwittingly falling for Satan’s deception which Moroni earlier warned him about when he was told not to seek to get the plates of the Book of Mormon for the purpose of getting rich. Oliver Cowdery tells us on that occasion at the Hill Cumorah Moroni showed him a vision of Satan in vivid contrast with one of God so he would know the difference and never follow the Evil One again. Would that it would have been so for him and could be for us!  But true to the purposes of mortality he battled Satan throughout his life. One of his more serious acts of willfulness and disobedience led to the loss of 116 pages of the manuscript of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Most know the wrenching story. What is important for us here is something the Lord told him when the plates were returned to him and he was to resume his work on the book. The loss of those pages, he was told, was the work of conspirators who hoped to publish them after he had re-translated the same part again and claim that he only “pretended to translate", but in fact contradicted himself.  (D&C 10:32.) There was a Satanic motive behind all of this:
Thus Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation.  (D&C 10:33)
But it was not to be.  His testimony was not to be overpowered.  There was something so important about his testimony to this generation that the Lord went to extraordinary lengths, such as preparing the Small Plates of Nephi to replace the portion which was in the hands of the conspirators, to protect him so his testimony would not be trumped. Miraculous protection and guidance can be seen throughout his history almost as frequently, when watched for, as the more obvious opposition of Satan which regularly dogged him clear up to Carthage.

In coming blogs we will explore how Joseph’s witness and testimony of Jesus Christ is at the heart of each of the facets of his calling; as they exhibit his various testimonies as a the “witness” of Jesus Christ in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times.  I believe this study of his assignments when viewed individually and/or collectively contains the germ of the most important evidence of his divinely given calling as a prophet of God.

Thank God for Joseph Smith!

Lets think together again, soon.

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