Saturday, March 20, 2010
A 14 Year Old Boy
Can you remember what it was like to be 14 years old? Joseph Smith was just 14 years old when he had a vision that changed his life, and changed the world. He had been praying to know which church he should join. He had read in James 1:5, that if anyone lacked wisdom, they could ask of God, who gives to all men liberally. He knew that he must do as James counseled, which was to ask in faith, nothing wavering. In answer to his prayer, God the Father, and Jesus Christ appeared to him. They told him not to join any of the churches. In 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth through Joseph Smith.
When I look at what the church has become today, I feel even more deeply a testimony that this is the true church of God restored to the Earth. When I see how the church has grown, I feel even more strongly that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. Here are some questions that I hope will give food for thought.
NATURE OF GOD
Why would a 14 year old boy, with a grade school education, report that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate beings with glorified physical bodies? Wouldn't a 14 year old boy describe the God that he had been taught in the many churches he had attended? The churches at that time taught that God the Father, and Jesus Christ were one being, without body, parts or passions. But Joseph gave us a different understanding about the nature of God.
Could a 14 year old boy have forseen that today we would have over 52,000 missionaries serving in 348 missions throughout the world? One of the first things Joseph Smith did, after organizing the church in 1830, was to send missionaries out to preach the gospel. Could that young boy have forseen the growth of the church throughout the world? Could he forsee that the church would one day have over 13 million members?
One of the other things that Joseph Smith started work on after organizing the church, was the building of temples. Could he, as a 14 year old boy, have forseen that today we would have over 128 temples thoughout the world? How could a 14 year old boy have grasped ideas such as baptism for the dead, and eternal marriage?
BOOK OF MORMON
Could that 14 year old boy conceive of additional scripture besides the Bible? Could he then, with only a grade school education, go on to write a book that has been named as one of the most influential books in America? Could he have understood the geography, history, and cultural details about the Americas? Could he have understood the religious customs of the Jews that are discussed in the Book of Mormon?
Elder Wilford Woodruff recalled this testimony by Joseph Smith, "Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.’ I was rather surprised. He said, ‘It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.’ ” (Wilford Woodruff, in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 57)
Could a 14 year old boy have forseen the destiny of this church? In my opinion, an ordinary 14 year old boy could not have forseen what this church would become, but a Prophet could. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. He brought about the "restoration of all things" spoken about in the New Testament. He organized the church according to the pattern given by the Savior long ago. Today that organization continues to flourish, built upon a foundation of prophets and apostles. It flourishes because it is not an organization made by man, but one designed by God. I'm thankful for that humble 14 year old boy who lived faithfully so that we could enjoy the blessings of being part of God's church in these latter days.