Who was Joseph Smith?
Who was Joseph Smith and what impact did he have on the world? Many know him as the American Prophet.
Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont on December 23, 1805. He was born to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mac Smith. The Smiths believed in God, read the Bible, and were religious people. Joseph Smith Sr. was a farmer who moved to Palmyra, New York because of favorable farming conditions.
Joseph Smith and Religious Confusion of the Time
At the age of 14, Joseph Smith Jr. had a desire to know which of all the churches was true. There was great religious excitement in the area where he lived during his teen years, and he attended many different sects in search of the truth. As Joseph's desire to know which church was true became so great that he turned to the Bible for answers. One day he read James 1:5 which states, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally." Joseph was deeply touched by the words of James and thought about it over and over again knowing that if anyone "lacked wisdom" it was him.
Joseph Smith Prayed to Know Which Church was True
In the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith decided to do what the scripture talked about and ask God which all of the churches was true. He went to a grove of trees near his home and knelt down to pray and ask God. As he began praying, first an unseen evil power tried to stop him which later gave way to a pillar of light. In his own words, he said:
"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!"
Joseph Smith—American Prophet and the Scriptures
Joseph was called to be a prophet of God just as Moses, Elijah, Peter and others of ancient times were.
Around 1823, Joseph Smith was guided to ancient buried gold plates in Palmyra New York that contained the history of prophets from the Americas. Joseph translated the plates, by the power of God, which became known as the Book of Mormon. (Mormon was a prophet who lived in the America's around 400 A.D.)
Joseph also received other revelations from God to help and guide us in these times. The revelations also outlined the organization of the church of Jesus Christ and how it should be structured.
Joseph Smith was Commanded to Start the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Through Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ restored His church on earth again. It was the same church that Jesus formed in Bible times which had been lost. One of the many key aspects of the church of Jesus Christ was that it should be "built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20).
The church was officially organized on April 6, 1830. Since the time of Joseph Smith, the church has continued to have apostles and prophets following the pattern set forth by Jesus in the New Testament (Ephesians 4:11-12).
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If you would like to learn more about Joseph Smith and his call as a prophet, you may order a free copy of the DVD "The Restoration".
Order the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon contains more information about God, Jesus Christ, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.