There is a group of people who feel there was an apostasy following the death of Jesus Christ and his apostles, that the world moved away from the true and unadulterated gospel that the Savior taught and that it remained in darkness for hundreds of years, some of which we call the “Dark Ages.”
Then came the the advent of the Gutenberg Printing Press and bibles available to everyone in their homes. There were holy men in the earth, men we call the reformers, John Knox, Martin Luther and others pointing to unholy practices fournd in all churches at that time. God saw that conditions were right in America, a place of peace and freedom, and the only place on the face of the earth at that time where this necessary ingredient, individual freedom(s), extended through the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence (and later the Bill of Rights), florished to the extent that it would be possible to restore His gospel on the earth.
Do you see the connection — America, land of the free and the restoration of the Gospel? It is something all men — especially presidents and ambassadors — should be proud of, especially when they meet with world leaders, kings and queens, monarchs, and dictators of the world. We have no reason to apologize for America or to deeply bow to potentates and kings. America is the greatest land on earth and our citizens can never consider America second to any country, can ever be apologetic for our values and what we have done to help feed and free the world.
First, our blood has been shed throughout the world in the cause of freedom for all mankind, whether they be Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus or whatever. And second, God chose America above all other lands for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After World War II, where we freed the world of the tyranny of three terrible dictators, we asked the French government for only one thing in return for defeating Nazi Germany — that was a plot of ground to bury our dead. Two million of our boys fought in that war and we lost more than 50,000 men. We have never taken territory or booty as a reward for being victorious in war.
America may be the only world power that has never been involved in wars as a means of annexing greater territory. The Greeks. the Turks nor the Romans can say that; neither the Babylonian or Asirian empires, or even Japan, Russia and China in our day. Our purposes have been honorable before God, and he recognizes that ideal by blessing this country greatly. So America was the right place, the only place, on the face of the earth in the early nineteenth century that the gospel of Jesus Christ could be restored. And, despite recent political problems and upheaval to the contrary, it continues to be the best place, the greatest nation on earth, and in my opinion it’s not even close. Shout it to the skies, because it’s true. That’s not arrogance, that’s the truth.
The message of the Mormons is that God restored that gospel through the boy prophet Joseph Smith, then only 14, when the true and living God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to this boy Smith. At the time there was a lot of religious commotion in Palmyra, New York where Joseph and his family lived, and because some of his family joined one church and some another, Joseph was reading the Bible fervently to get some direction. He read in James 1:5 that “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him.” He concluded that God wanted him to pray to find out which of the churches of the day was true and which he should join.
For the first time in his young life Joseph Smith uttered a verbal prayer in a grove of trees near his parent’s humble home and God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. The manifestation came with clarity and strength, and he was left with the sure knowledge that he should join none of them, for “they draw near to me with their mouths,” God told him, “but their hearts are far from me…”
Thus dawned a marvelous new era. The heavens were again opened and God and Jesus Christ had visited this humble, God-fearing, Bible-reading boy and had told him not to join any church, but that at a future time he would be instructed further. Though he didn’t then know, this would require much passage of time between heavenly manifestations and instructions of what he should do; and, ultimately, it would require his worthiness, devotion and leadership in a cause greater than his own interest in discovering which church to join, but that he would become instrumental in the cause of God, that is, the ultimate restoration of the true church of Jesus Christ in these latter days.
Today, upwards of fourteen million Mormons throughout the world proclaim that God’s true church was fully restored on April 6, 1830, a church known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah with missions, wards, stakes, and branches and temples and chapels throughout most of the world. These people are known as Saints, Latter-day Saints, LDS, and Mormons. But the official name of this church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is His church, so the name must contain His name, that of Jesus Christ. Mormons believe that it is the only true and living church on the face of the earth, though all churches have some good principles and teachings. Mormons teach that God has restored a more perfect way, the plan of happiness, the gospel in its entirety, something that can add perfect principles to that which people now have to help them, to improve them, to perfect them and to assure them of eternal life with their families which Christ proclaimed.
Joseph Smith was taught by angels sent from heaven who not only restored the gospel, the teachings of the Savior, but the priesthood to act in God’s name. One of those powers was the Aaronic Priesthood restored by a resurrected John the Baptist, and later the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John, giving Joseph and his associates power to baptize and to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This is a power so great that it requires total attention to righteous principles to activate. In other words, man must be obedient to wield the Gift of the Holy Ghost and its manefestations and blessings.
At times, the Holy Ghost, who is the third member of the Godhead, makes impressions on people of all faiths. But to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, requires baptism by one having authority (which has been restored) and total obedience to God’s precepts. When we deviate from the chosen path, we lose the power of this great gift. However, because of the atonement of Christ, we can repent and come back into God’s good graces, receiving again the power of the Holy Ghost to lead and guide us through this dangerous, tempestous life.
The Holy Ghost is such a great power that all men and women everywhere should publicly and protectively proclaim its presence and yearn for this gift. It is not freely given, man must earn its power and companionship. But after being taught gospel principles, after having repented of past offenses, baptism is available to all of God’s children, followed by the bestowal of this marvelous gift by the laying on of hands by those in authority.
Some people yearn for world power, popularity, approval, and attention; some for worldly glory and the notoriety of man. Some work and strive for wealth, independence, every luxury and convenience contrived by man, and the power to come and go as they like. While wealth alone in human terms is not an unworthy dream, it pales in comparison to the power of the Holy Ghost, which has the ability to bestow upon the recipient peace of mind, healing, a faithful heart, genuine happiness and joy, a desire to keep all of God’s commandments, and to live in peace with one’s neighbors and love and exault one’s spouse and family members and to build up the Kingdom of God through service.
In other words, the Gift of the Holy Ghost is a gift of God and not of man’s making. It cannot be duplicated or bought with money, but must be earned by obedience to God’s will and by goodly deeds and strivings to become righteous and sanctified.
There are some men who obtain this gift and then fall away from the truth because of pride of the world, or that they cannot comprehend or accept the simplicity and beauty of this supernal gift which came without money or compulsion. It is such a wonderful yet simple gift that sometimes men devalue it and go for immediate and short-lived excesses and pleasures of the body rather than retain this gift which requires control of bodily passions and submission of body and mind to God’s will.
We should acquaint ourselves with the Teachings of Presidents of the Church. I will quote below those of President Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the LDS Church in these latter days.
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