Latter-day Saints believe Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God

Joseph Smith is the prophet of this, the dispensation of the fullness of times. The Lord chose him to end the Great Apostasy and restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ—in its fullness. Like the other great men we’ve discussed, he didn’t become a man of Velvet and Steel overnight. However, in less than 39 brief years, he became one of the greatest men to have ever lived. He became a man of Velvet and Steel through the following philosophies and experiences:


• Joseph had deep faith—and simple trust in God. This impelled him to go into the sacred grove to ask of God, “nothing doubting.” He later said, “God is my friend. In him I shall find comfort. I have given my life in his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me, only to do his will.”
• Joseph was taught by the Holy Ghost. From the moment he came up out of the waters of baptism, he acknowledged that he was “filled with the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Ghost “enlightened” his mind, and “began to have the scriptures laid open to his understanding.”
• Joseph made prayer a continuous part of his life. When he struggled with a problem and could not find the answer either in his own mind or from others, he went to the Lord in prayer. He found that when he prayed in faith, the answer “came into my mind, with such clarity and such sequence of thoughts that I knew it was of God…” He also said, “The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.”
• Joseph was meek and submissive. Wilford Woodruff described him: “This man to whom the angel appeared obeyed the gospel, received it in meekness and humility and bowed down before the Lord and worshipped him, and did the best he could in his illiterate state; he was as it were but a mere plowboy.” Later, in Zion’s Camp, Joseph Young described him as “not a haughty chieftain, not as an arrogant man, but as a man filled with the Holy Ghost. Oh how kind and modest he was…but how determined and resolute in carrying out the will of the Lord.”
• Joseph was committed to learning. He taught that we should not be hesitant to pursue knowledge in all fields of endeavor, including fields of scientific inquiry. In his teachings, he stated, “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge,” and “The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation.” He followed the counsel in 2nd Nephi, that “that to be learned is good if we hearken unto the counsels of God.”
• Joseph was a master teacher. Elder John Widtsoe described him: “To an astonishing degree, Joseph Smith was a teacher, revelator, and a predictor. He was a superb teacher. He had a frank and a kind manner. His followers flocked to hear him and hung upon his every word.”
• Joseph was persuasive. On one occasion, Joseph was speaking so powerfully to a group of brethren in Nauvoo on the importance of missionary work that 380 elders volunteered to immediately embark on missions. When one of those men, John E. Page, remarked that he didn’t have a coat, Joseph gave him his coat, and Elder Page went to Canada. In two years, he walked 5,000 miles and baptized 600 new members because he trusted in the words of Joseph Smith.
• Joseph deeply loved his wife, Emma, and his children. While Joseph never shrank from his mission, he often tenderly expressed to Emma that he wished they could be together more—and without danger. He wrote to her often, expressing his love for her and his children.
• Joseph also loved all children—and would often take time away from his work to play with them. One boy, Enoch E. Dodge, remembered that the Prophet occasionally joined them in a ball game of some sort. “He has played ball with other boys many times and when they had played a reasonable amount of time he would say, ‘Well, I must go to my work.’”
• Joseph loved and respected women. Among other evidences of his testimony of the divine roles of wives and mothers, he introduced the temple ordinances which required the participation of women. Through those ordinances, women came to recognize the sealing powers of the priesthood which link husbands and wives in eternal marriage and bind families together from generation to generation. In March of 1842, he also organized the Relief Society.
• Joseph knew how to have fun. He recognized when his people were tired or discouraged, and often rallied them with games. One evening when the LDS troops were camped near Adam-ondi-Ahman without tents, several inches of snow fell, causing many to be despondent. Edward Stevenson said, “The Prophet seeing our forlorn condition called on us to form into two parties in battle array. Lyman Wight was at the head of one line and Joseph headed the other line. At the signal, Joseph initiated a sham battle, with the weapons being snowballs. We set to with a will full of glee and fun!”
• Joseph was a friend to the Lamanites—and to all people. Regarding the Lamanites, he said, “I am your friend and brother, and I wish to do you good.”
• Joseph was forgiving. The year 1838 may have been the most difficult time Joseph was required to endure. That was the year of the extermination order, his incarceration in Liberty Jail, and his betrayal by close friends and associates. One of those who betrayed the Prophet during that fateful year was William W. Phelps. In 1838, Phelps testified against the Prophet in a proceeding that resulted in Joseph and others being committed to Liberty Jail. Two years later, Brother Phelps petitioned Joseph to forgive him. The Prophet responded, “Believing your confession to be real and your repentance genuine, I shall be happy once again to give you the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice over the returning prodigal.”
• Joseph was generous. On one occasion, a man came up and said that a poor brother had his house burned down the night before. Nearly all the men said they felt sorry for the man, but did nothing. Joseph put his hand in his pocket, took out five dollars and said, “I feel sorry for this brother to the amount of five dollars; how much do you all feel sorry?”
• Joseph deeply loved the saints. He said in his last speech to the Nauvoo Legion on June 18, 1844, “God has tried you. You are a good people; therefore I love you with all my heart. Greater love hath no man than that he should lay down his life for his friends. You have stood by me in the hour of trouble, and I am willing to sacrifice my life for your preservation.”

• Joseph had the courage to stand up to those who were much older—and who mercilessly condemned him. “For I had seen a vision,” he said; “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”
• Joseph translated the golden plates—and brought forth the Book of Mormon—in the face of attacks on both the book and its translator.
• Joseph was not afraid to ask the Lord questions. When he couldn’t find an answer to a question or problem through ample study, Joseph would go to the Lord and ask for help. As Elder John A. Widtsoe says, “It is to be an eternal law that a question must precede a revelation.”
• Joseph was possessed of a large, muscular physique. He was reported to be about six feet two inches in height and weighed about 200 pounds. His body was no doubt conditioned from years of physical labor—work which included chopping wood, building fences, digging wells and ditches, and cutting down trees and removing stumps, as well as heavy rocks on the family farm. Joseph once wrote in his journal, “Upon my arrival at Nauvoo, I pulled sticks with the men who were coming along, and I pulled up with one hand the strongest man who could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up.”
• Joseph loved rigorous physical activity. It was said of him, “it was not uncommon to see him involved in sports activities with the young and vigorous men of the community. He is known to have wrestled, pulled sticks, engaged in snowball fights, played ball, slid on the ice with his children, played marbles, shot at a mark, and fished.”
• Joseph recognized the physical, mental, and spiritual value of doing hard things. Zion’s Camp was a great example of this. To every member of the ill-equipped band of priesthood bearers, the 900-mile foot journey to Missouri in the heat of the summer was a great physical trial. For some, it was also a spiritual trial as well, for after great sacrifice, Zion’s camp was disbanded without accomplishing their outward mission of restoring the Missouri saints to their lands. However, in their extremities, a number of deeply committed church leaders emerged, including Brigham Young, Heber Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith.
• Joseph never complained or murmured. On Zion’s Camp, Joseph took care of the whole camp and “a full proportion of blistered, bloody, and sore feet,” but he never complained, not even when others grumbled to him of their miseries.
• Joseph aggressively pursued truth, with a desire to share it with others. He revealed unfamiliar doctrines to a world that most often shunned and despised him. Why suffer such unpopularity? Because the Lord had revealed those doctrines to him. Thousands of pages of revelations, instructions, and prophetic directions have come to us through Joseph Smith.
• Joseph was the same man of integrity in private that he was in public. In his private letters to his dear wife, Emma, he never wavered in his testimony or in his commitment to be an instrument in God’s hands.
• Joseph was a pioneer, a colonizer, and a civic leader. He founded the beautiful city of Nauvoo, raising it from the swamps to the most impressive city in all of the state of Illinois.
• Joseph never abused his power. A non-member, Josiah Quincy, recognized the incredible power granted to Joseph Smith from God. Said he, “It seems to me that you have too much power to be safely trusted to one man.” Joseph replied, “In your hands or the hands of any other person, so much power would no doubt be dangerous. I am the only man in the world in whom it would be safe to the trust with it. Remember I am a prophet.”
• Joseph endured a life of loneliness. As Robert L. Millet said, “It was a life characterized not only by persecution and suspicion, but also by an isolation known only to those who walk in the glorious light of truth, and yet must minister to those who struggle with faith, those who doubt, and even those who dare not believe.”
• Joseph suffered imprisonment in the most deplorable conditions. The Savior recognized his circumstances and comforted him in the revelation now recorded in Doctrine & Covenants 122:5-9: “If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or sea; if thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb; And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”
• Joseph sealed his testimony with his own blood. It was said of him, “When a man gives his life for the cause he has advocated, he meets the highest test of his honesty and sincerity that his own or any future generation can in fairness ask. When he dies for the testimony he has borne, all malicious tongues should ever be silent, and all voices hushed in reverence before a sacrifice so complete.” President John Taylor said, “The Prophet Joseph Smith not only lived great, but died great in the eyes of God and his people.”

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