Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon Church” in the media, are often strikingly beautiful buildings. Mormons consider them to be some of the most sacred places on earth. Each temple is built with the utmost care and the best possible craftsmanship. It is an offering of love and sacrifice to God. After an initial open house period, Mormon temples are dedicated to the Lord, and become places of serenity and worship. Only members of the Church who are keeping God’s commandments are allowed inside the temple, in order to keep it a holy place where God’s spirit can dwell. As a result, temples can sometimes seem a little mysterious. What happens inside these beautiful, sacred buildings?
Temple worship is different from the worship that occurs in regular Sunday meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ. The temple is kept holy and set apart from the world, so it can truly be the House of the Lord, where the spirit of Christ can dwell. Latter-day Saints (Mormons) enter temples to learn more about their Savior and about God’s plan for His children. They make covenants, or promises, in the temple that they will follow Jesus and keep all His commandments. In return, they are promised the blessings of eternal life with their families. Everything that happens in the temple is focused on their relationship with God the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.
On the east side of every Mormon temple is inscribed the following:
The House of the Lord
Holiness to the Lord
Like the temples built in ancient Israel, the temple is a place where Jesus Christ can visit His people. At the dedication of the Temple of Solomon, as recorded in the Old Testament, “the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chronicles 7:1-2). Ancient temples were always referred to as “the House of the Lord.” During the dedication of the first modern Mormon temple, which was built in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836, many witnesses reported seeing heavenly manifestations as the glory of the Lord filled that house as well.
The Temple is a Refuge
Entrance into temples is restricted to Mormons who are keeping God’s commandments so that the temple can remain a holy place, set aside from and unsullied by the world. During the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple, Joseph Smith, who was the first modern-day prophet of Mormonism, asked God to sanctify the temple:
That thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house;
And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness (Doctrine and Covenants 109:12-13).
In addition to offering an environment for prayer and quiet contemplation, Mormon temple ceremonies teach about the creation of the world, humankind’s purpose on earth, and the importance of Jesus’s atonement. Jesus Christ created the world as a place where the spirit children of God the Father could receive mortal bodies and learn to choose good over evil. With God the Father, Jesus Christ is the central figure in the temple ceremony. Jesus’s life and His teachings are set forth as the example of how every human being should live. And the temple teaches that it is only through the atonement of Christ that God’s children can be saved from sin and death, to return to live in God’s presence once more. Those who attend the temple are able to feel deeply their need for God’s mercy, and their complete dependence upon their Savior, Jesus Christ. The temple ceremony teaches both the sorrow of sin and the joy of redemption, awakening and strengthening a deep love for the Savior.
Temple Covenants Help Us Follow Christ
One more way that the temple helps Mormons draw closer to Jesus Christ is through the making and keeping of sacred covenants, or promises, with God. During the temple ceremony a number of promises are made to God. These promises include keeping specific commandments, following Jesus Christ, and sacrificing for Him. God, in turn, promises that if temple covenants are kept, His children will be blessed to live in His presence forever, having their families “sealed,” or bound, to them eternally.
Come to the Temple
The temple is a sacred and beautiful place, inside and out. It is the House of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and everything within the temple points our way back to dwell with Him. Within the temple walls we, as God’s children, can find refuge from the storms of the world, and comfort in the love of Jesus Christ. The temple is not a secret, but rather a sacred place. Anyone who makes him or herself worthy can enter the temple and experience God’s holy house. It is worth whatever sacrifice is necessary to experience His presence, feel His love, and receive the promise of eternal life with Him after death.
We’ve all seen them: young men in dark suits, white shirts, and ties, often on bicycles or walking the streets of our hometowns. Or perhaps we’ve answered the door to find a pair of young women in conservative skirts and shoes, scriptures in hand, offering to share a message about Jesus Christ. Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called the “Mormon Church” by the media, come in many shapes, sizes, colors, and ages, but they all have one thing in common: a burning desire to share their love for their Savior, Jesus Christ, and the knowledge they have of His gospel as taught by His Church on the earth today.
Who can Be a Mormon Missionary?
Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are encouraged to serve missions at various times during their lives. Mormon young men are taught from an early age that the Lord wants them to serve a mission when they reach the age of 19 if they are physically and financially able to do so. They spend their teenage years preparing for their missions by studying the scriptures, getting a good education, and saving their money so they can afford to spend two years spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ during their young adulthood. Young women, also, frequently prepare for and serve missions, although they must be 21 years of age to receive a mission call and typically only serve for 18 months. Other Mormon single adults often serve as missionaries, as do older couples. All missionaries serve as unpaid volunteers and are responsible for their own expenses during their missions, although family members, friends, and congregations frequently contribute to the cause.
Missionaries serve throughout the world, wherever they are allowed to preach. There are more than 50,000 full-time Mormon missionaries serving today. Many serve in their own countries, speaking their native languages; others travel across the world to preach the gospel in one of many foreign languages, which they may learn in as little as four to eight weeks in an immersive course offered at one of several missionary training centers throughout the world. Some missionaries go from door to door, teaching anyone who would like to listen. Some missionaries serve as tour guides at church historical sites, or in visitors centers. Some missionaries serve in temples, or mission offices. Still others serve humanitarian missions, reaching out to improve others’ lives by offering medical care or other expertise.
If you were to ask missionaries why they serve, all would mention their love for the Lord, Jesus Christ, and their desire to help others of God’s children feel His love for them. Missionaries teach the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ: faith, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. They teach that keeping God’s commandments leads to happiness and peace in this life and in the life to come. Mormon missionaries also teach about the restoration of the original Christian church, as organized by Jesus and by His apostles, through the modern-day prophet Joseph Smith. Missionaries introduce the teachings of modern prophets as well, and the teachings about the Savior found in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is the religious record of an ancient people who lived in the Americas both before and during the time of Christ’s mission on the earth. Missionaries know that by understanding the truth about Jesus Christ, God’s children on the earth today can make the choices that lead to happiness and peace.
Mormon missionaries feel a deep love for the people they seek to serve. Far away from home and family, they have left behind jobs and education, recreation and romantic interests to labor daily at their own expense to share the gospel of Christ. Nothing makes a missionary happier than to have the chance to testify to you. The next time you see missionaries, think about inviting them in. Offer them a drink or a sandwich, and listen to what they have to say. It will make their day–and it just might make yours as well.
The “restoration” is the restoration of the fulness of the gospel and church of Jesus Christ in this, the last dispensation of time before His Second Coming. God’s kingdom on earth must be built up to receive Him and to usher in His millennial reign.
The History of Christianity
The Church of Jesus Christ has always existed. It has counterparts in heaven and on earth. Eventually, the two will be combined during the millennial rule of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ on earth did not begin with Christ’s ministry on earth nor with His apostles. It began with Adam and Eve, who were taught the gospel by the Savior Himself. All prophets since then have fully understood the mission of Christ as the Messiah, and they have taught them to their followers. That more is not available in the Bible regarding this shows that information has been taken from the biblical record.
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God (Moses 5:6-10).
And this about Moses:
And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all (Moses 1).
The Book of Mormon peoples lived according to the Law of Moses, looking forward to Christ for their salvation:
Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them (Alma 25:15).
On the road to Emaus, Christ taught His disciples from the Old Testament showing that Moses and all prophets had testified of Him. This is not just because they were able to prophesy, but because they partook of and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and looked forward to its fulness to come upon the earth.
Christ and the Apostles
Most Christians believe that Christ did not organize His church upon the earth, but that His apostles did it. Christ did organize His church. He began authoring and organizing from the beginning, from heaven. During His ministry He instructed His apostles, bestowed upon them priesthood power, and taught them how to further organize His work. After His death, as a resurrected being, He further instructed them while He sojourned with them, and then by revelation from heaven. He directly gave the apostles the authority to act in His name, accompanied by real power from above. This power and authority was gradually lost after the death of the apostles.
Apostasy of the Orthodox Church
Christ’s original church had a lay clergy, and all served and did acts of charity. The apostles and seventies had the ability to perform miracles, including receiving direct revelation to guide the Church. After the death of the apostles, councils of bishops were held. These councils were never unanimous in codifying doctrine. Many practices crept into orthodoxy that were never part of Christ’s church. They included the development of a professional and paid clergy, celibacy for clergy, liturgy, crusades and inquisitions, the selling of indulgences (money for salvation), the purchase of power (the Medici popes), penance instead of repentance, infant baptism, and baptism by sprinkling instead of immersion. Along with these changes came the loss of miracles in the disappearance of the charismatic gifts. Said the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni:
And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust (Mormon 9:20).
As the orthodox churches went astray, reformers took great risks to try to reform it. The “reformation” began in Europe during the Renaissance and was carried forth by new translations of the Bible into vernacular languages and the invention of the printing press. With the Holy Bible in the hands of the common people, many protestant churches sprang up, most being persecuted.
Reformation was not Enough
Reformation proceeded forward without two very important things — the personal leadership and conferred priesthood power of Jesus Chris. Reformers were inspired, but not enough to restore everything that had been lost.
Many protestants fled Europe for the United States for religious freedom. Religious freedom was the main reason the colonies were established. By the early 1800’s the northeastern area of the U.S. was undergoing a “Second Awakening,” with religious fervor matched only by the vindictive competition between vying protestant sects. Some groups of “restorationists” had sprung up. These were groups of individuals who felt in their hearts that reformation wasn’t enough and that the whole truth was not found in any of them. Many of these people recognized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the restoration of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ imbued with His power and authority — just what they were waiting for.
Joseph Smith was a boy of fourteen living with his impoverished family on a farm in upstate New York in 1820. The Second Awakening was in full swing, and part of the family favored the Methodist religion, while others were partial toward the Presbyterian faith. Joseph, however, was confused. Every religion claimed to be the true religion, yet they all disagreed. He thought he might find the answers in the Bible, but the faiths all used the Bible and found different justifications there for their doctrines.
While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: 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.
Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know (Joseph Smith History 1:11, 12)….
On an April morning, Joseph resorted to a grove of trees on the family farm to pray vocally to God and to ask which church he should join. This was his only intent. Just as he began, he was overcome by some real, dark power that almost destroyed him. Calling upon God, he was delivered.
…just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. 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 Son. Hear Him! (vs. 16, 17)
The fact that Joseph saw and heard two personages turned everyone against him, because it flew in the face of the doctrine of the trinity. Joseph mustered all his strength and asked which church he should join. He was instructed to join none of them and informed that God was about to do a very great work. The Lord was about to restore His true church, the Church of Jesus Christ. To differentiate it from the primitive church and ancient Saints, the phrase “of Latter-day Saints” was added to the name of the Church. Joseph was told in later visions that his name would be held for good and ill all over the world, and that has come to pass.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been nicknamed “Mormons,” because of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, an ancient collection of scripture revealed by the Lord to provide more information in the last days before His coming. He has promised to reveal even more scripture. Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith. They do, however, revere him for his courage in beginning the work of the last days. The Church continues to be led by prophets, seers, and revelators, and it will go forth until the gospel is preached to every nation, tongue, and kindred, as commanded by the Lord.
The real name of the “Mormon Church” is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Friends of other faiths have attributed the nickname “Mormon Church,” because of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a companion book of scripture to the Bible.
Even though the LDS Church was formally organized in 1830, it is not exactly a new church nor is it a protestant religion. The original apostles of Jesus Christ were given His authority and power to minister, lead, and perform miracles. They received revelation from above to guide them in spreading the gospel and in teaching truth. After the death of the apostles, however, miracles ceased, and pagan traditions and Greek philosophy were mingled with scripture in Christian orthodoxy. Many abuses crept in, and eventually, reformers attempted to reclaim the aspects of Christ’s original church and gospel that had been lost or changed. During the Reformation in Europe, new religions were founded in order to correct the abuses of orthodoxy. Each reformer had his own view of the truth. The result is a plethora of protestant churches, each basing its tenets upon the Holy Bible, but disagreeing with the tenets of other faiths. The Catholic Church claimed apostolic authority from Peter, but the protestant churches could not make that claim. As the reformation progressed, so did the “enlightenment,” and an emphasis upon the ability of individuals to think for themselves, and to be responsible for public policy, came about. When the United States of America was founded, these principles guided the creation of a free nation with freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.
With the time of the Second Coming of Christ drawing closer, the Lord set about to fully restore Christ’s ancient church, with its truths, power, and authority from Him to set the stage for His coming. Joseph Smith was 14 years old in 1820, living with his family on a farm in upstate New York. There was a huge religious revival going on at the time, with so many revivalist tent meetings, and so much conflict between the various sects of Christianity, that the area won the nickname, the “Burned Over District.” Joseph’s family was devout, but unaffiliated, and some members of the family were drawn to the Presbyterian Church, and others to the Methodist Church. Joseph, however, was confused. He said,
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?
While studying the King James Bible one night, Joseph happened upon James 1:5, which caused him to think he might ask God which church he should join. Soon after, he ventured into a grove of trees on the family’s property and knelt to pray. No sooner had he begun, than he was nearly overcome and destroyed by an unseen (but very real) power. He called upon God and was delivered, only to see the woods filled with the flaming glory of God. A light appeared directly over His head, and in it, he saw two glorious personages, two resurrected men. One introduced the other:
This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Joseph ventured to ask his question. Which church should he join. Christ said he should join none of them, that He was about to perform a great work upon the earth, and that Joseph would be a part of it. Joseph reported this vision to a minister who had been working with him, and he expected the minister to be excited about the vision. But instead, the minister reviled him, told him that no such visions occurred in these days, and that the experience was from the devil. Persecution against Joseph Smith began at that time, and ended with his martyrdom at the hands of a mob in 1844. Joseph’s vision, if real, showed two unsettling things — first, that the idea of a trinity (three beings of one substance, with God being a spirit without body parts or passions) is false; and second, that no church on earth at the time had the authority to act in the name of Christ. The reformation was not enough; the apostolic authority of Peter was not enough. Only a complete restoration of Christ’s ancient church was enough to prepare a people to receive Christ at His Second Coming. Thus, what became known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that church, with authority, power, and the organization to make efficacious the atonement of Jesus Christ, and prepare the world for His millennial reign.
The only way this authority from Christ could be passed along was through the men who once held the keys to certain powers and to past dispensations. Thus, Joseph Smith was led along by direct revelation from Christ and by heavenly beings. Nearly all of Joseph’s revelations were received in the presence of other people, and other people witness milestone events and testified of them. Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith were given the Aaronic Priesthood by the resurrected John the Baptist, after which they had the authority from God to baptize each other by immersion. Peter, James, and John appeared to confer upon them the higher, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, after which they had the authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost upon newly baptized members. Moses appeared to Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith to confer the keys of the regathering of Israel, and Elijah appeared to confer the sealing power (to seal in heaven what had been sealed on earth). Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in them and their seed all generations after them should be blessed.
The Book of Mormon
Joseph Smith saw his first vision at the age of 14 and then was left alone to ponder it and to stand alone with his family in defending it. At age 17, Joseph was sorry for his sometimes frivolous behavior and wondered where he stood with God. In prayer one night in the small family cabin, with his brothers and sisters sleeping close by, he was visited by a heavenly messenger who called himself Moroni. Moroni was the last prophet of a group of Israelites who had been led by God to America just before the Babylonians devastated Jerusalem, around 600 B.C. By 400 A.D. this group had dwelled in the Americas for a thousand years, going through periods of righteousness and wickedness. They became so wicked that they were destroyed. They had arrived in America living according to the Law of Moses, and their prophets had told them to look forward to Christ, and they prophesied in the name of Christ. They had seen signs of His birth, and suffered devastating storms and earthquakes upon Christ’s death. After this, Christ appeared to them as a resurrected being, and He taught them and organized His church among them, just as He had in the Holy Land. The people enjoyed two hundred years of perfect peace before they descended into wickedness.
Moroni showed Joseph in vision, a nearby hill. Joseph went there and found gold and brass “plates” held together by rings, and stored in a stone box. He visited this site yearly for several years, being taught by Moroni, before he was entrusted with the plates so he could translate them by the power of God. Joseph was a farm boy with only 3 years of primary education. His wife, Emma, who was his sometime scribe, said he could hardly construct a good sentence in English, when he began his calling, but he was an intellectual giant and great leader by the time of his martyrdom. In the box had been the Urim and Thummim — the ancient Israelite seer stones used by Aaron and others for translation. Joseph began translating the Book of Mormon with their aid, but soon became proficient enough not to need them. In spite of persecution and the need to move from place to place, the translation was done quickly. Martin Harris paid for the printing, and the translation had to be divided into chapters and verses, and grammatical errors had to be corrected. The Book of Mormon came off the presses in 1830. The Book of Mormon testifies that Jesus is the Christ, that he was indeed born to the virgin Mary in Bethlehem, that He is the Son of God, Creator, Redeemer, and Savior.
Growth of the Church
The restored Church of Christ began with 6 members. Joseph prophesied that it would be taken to every nation, tongue and kindred, and that it would eventually fill the earth. The LDS Church now has over 14 million members all over the world; over 52,000 full-time missionaries in service world-wide; a remarkable welfare program; a remarkable humanitarian aid program; and remarkable members. Because of direct revelation to its prophets, the Church is verily God’s true and living church. Members lead a squeaky-clean lifestyle, refraining from using alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea, and refraining from sex outside marriage. The gospel enables them to enjoy family life to the hilt, and to be good citizens, community servants, and compassionate friends. Learn more about basic Mormon beliefs at Mormon.org.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the Mormon Church, was organized on April 6, 1830. Latter-day Saints (also called Mormons by people of other faiths) believe that the Mormon Church was organized by Jesus Christ through a modern-day prophet named Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith was a young boy of 14 when he was seeking to know which of all the Christian sects was true so he would know which to join. One day, as he was studying his Bible, he was struck by a passage of scripture in James 1:5, “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.” Joseph Smith said of this experience later:
Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture (Joseph Smith History 1:12–13).
Joseph finally determined to pray to God to know which church to join. He went by himself one spring morning in 1820 to a grove of trees near his family’s home in upstate New York. As he began to pray, he felt the real power of a darkness come over him, which made him unable to speak. He wrestled with this power for some time, before he saw a pillar of light descending from above, which eventually rested on him and encompassed him. As soon as Joseph saw the light, he felt the power of that darkness dissipate.
A vision opened up to him. He saw two beings before him. One pointed to the other and said, “This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him!” Joseph saw God the Father and Jesus Christ before Him, and they spoke with him. When Joseph asked which church he should join, he was told that none of them held the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so he should not join any of them. Joseph was taught many things in this vision, but it was only the first of many visions he was to receive.
Over the next ten years, Joseph received many heavenly visitors who taught him and prepared him for the duties that lay ahead of him. One of his most frequent visitors was an angel by the name of Moroni. Moroni told Joseph that he had lived in the Americas about 400 years after the birth of Jesus Christ. His people, who had originally been guided to the Americas from Jerusalem by the power of Jesus Christ, had been exterminated by a rival people. Before their destruction, however, Moroni had been commanded to guard his people’s record from his enemies, who wished to destroy it. Before his own death, he buried the record. He led Joseph Smith to this ancient buried record and told Joseph that the time would come when Joseph would translate it.
Eventually, Joseph was permitted to take the record and to translate it by the power of God. This record is known today as the Book of Mormon. It is a record of Christ’s dealings with some of the inhabitants of the ancient Americas. It is meant to be a companion book to the Bible and has many of the plain and precious truths intact in it which had been lost from the Bible.
While Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, under divine direction, Oliver Cowdery served as his scribe. Together they worked on the translation. Many things that they read caused them to go to the Lord in prayer for further explanation about doctrines. Many of the answers to these questions resulted in further revelations. Several of these revelations are contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, another of the Mormon books of scripture. Joseph continued to receive visions guiding and directing the organization of Jesus Christ’s church—really the restoration of His original church.
The main key to restoring the church of Jesus Christ is authority. Mormon doctrine calls this authority the priesthood. The priesthood is the power by which the world was created, by which miracles are performed, and by which men can speak in the name of God today. This priesthood authority, given to the original twelve apostles after Jesus Christ’s resurrection, was lost from the earth at the time of their deaths. This authority was restored to the earth in 1830 by those who last held all of the keys of the priesthood: John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John.
With the restoration of the priesthood, the church could be fully restored. It was organized on April 6, 1830. Joseph Smith continued to lead the restored church for the next fourteen years, until his martyrdom on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois. Joseph’s brother Hyrum was also martyred the same day. They had been arrested on false charges and a mob stormed the jail, killing Joseph and Hyrum, and wounding John Taylor.
The short history of the Saints up until this time had already been full of persecution and suffering. Society turned against the new church almost immediately, completely intolerant of new beliefs, as well as accusing the Saints of all kinds of falsehoods. The Saints were forced out of their homes three times in succession, from three different states. Having (they thought finally) settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, building this city up from swamp land, they were yet again forced out after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.
Upon Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young took the lead in the Mormon Church, and, under direction from Joseph, led the Saints westward to what soon after became the Utah Territory. Here in this desolate region they felt they would be safe from persecutors, but it was only a matter of time before persecution followed them. The area was added to the United States and, though the government had continually failed to protect the Saints and to redress their wrongs, the Saints continually appealed to the law to be on their side.
The practice of polygamy did nothing to endear the Mormons to society. Eventually, God withdrew His commandment for the Saints to practice polygamy. There has been much speculation on why the Lord commanded the Saints to live this law in the first place, but they followed it because they were commanded to. The law was withdrawn because the Lord recognized the Saints would be stripped of all their rights if they were to continue the practice.
The Saints ultimately flourished in Utah, and Brigham Young sent many of the settlers out to colonize surrounding areas. Missionary work was part of Mormon doctrine from the very beginning, and for decades, all who were baptized into the church were encouraged to travel to Utah and gather with the other Saints. Eventually, church leaders advised new members to stay where they were and to strive to build up the church where they lived.
Today, there are more than 14 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide, with more members outside of the United States than in, making Mormonism a world religion. The Mormon Church has gained recognition for its dedication to humanitarian aid and its generosity to those in need. The Mormon Church is often one of the first responders to natural disasters, with painstaking organization leading to efficiency.
Though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to be scrutinized and often criticized by society, many misconceptions about Mormonism are being dispelled by faithful Saints who are living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their daily lives.