#2 – THE MAN – JOSEPH SMITH
(ca. 1830 – 1844)
In the previous article I wrote about the historical life of Joseph Smith from his birth in 1805 to his early adult life in 1830. I will continue with the parallel development of Joseph’s life and the evolving belief system of the religious structure. This section begins after the initial 5,000 copy distribution of the Book of Mormon, first edition in 1830. The congregation became known in April as THE CHURCH OF CHRIST in Fayette, New York.
1831. During the next 13+ years until Joseph’s death. Visions seem to occur often, redirecting Joseph’s followers to various locations and providing organizational directions. The first major location is Kirtland, Ohio. It is revealed to Smith that Independence, Missouri, will be the New Jerusalem. It will be ‘the center of the Kingdom of God in the western hemisphere. However, Smith and the followers build a temple in Kirkland that still exists.
1833. A revelation of moral code called WORD OF WISDOM (D & C89) is supplied to followers. Also, he finishes the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) in July.
1834. The name for the new following changed after 1830 to THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST of the LATTER-day SAINTS. The leadership votes to drop ‘Jesus Christ’ from the official name. It is restored four years later.
1835. Organizational leadership is established. After the President/Prophet the new group now includes the Twelve Apostles and the First Quorum of Seventy. Codification of the Doctrine and Covenants is established. The organization purchases four Egyptian mummies and papyrus scrolls from which Joseph ‘translates’ The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price.
1836. THE CHURCH OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS constructs a new meeting temple beginning in 1833.
1837. Mormonism is spread to England with reports of 1,000 baptisms. Originally there were three witnesses who attested to the veracity of the existence of the gold plates and the translation by Joseph Smith. One of the witnesses is Martin Harris. He was excommunicated in December of this year (Doctrines of Salvation 3:229).
1838. Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, the other two witnesses, are also excommunicated. Extreme contentiousness begins to develop among the followers as three of the four ‘witnesses’ are summarily dismissed. This leaves only Joseph Smith. Sydney Rigdon, an advisor and defender of Joseph, demands that complainers in the congregation leave or face punishment. This leads to seventeen Mormons dying as events turn violent.
1840 – 1841. Mormon emigrants from England begin arriving in the United States by the thousands. Also, baptism for the dead begins as a temple ordinance.
1842. The evolution of development continues. The 14 Articles of Faith are developed by Smith. These were reduced by one, to be the current 13 articles. They were published in Seasons and Times in Nauvoo, Illinois, an LDS publication. Three other significant additions come to Mormonism this year. 1. Joseph Smith becomes a Mason and introduces Masonic practices to the temple endowment ceremony. 2. The name of the angel who appeared to Joseph is changed from Nephi to Moroni. 3. The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo is established. This is still a major functioning part of the Mormon organization.
1843. Joseph’s revelation of plural marriage is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 132.
1844. Joseph Smith is nominated for United States President in Nauvoo. Seven LDS dissenters print the Nauvoo Expositor’s first and only edition June 7. Smith orders their printing press destroyed, which is done immediately. Joseph and brother Hyrum are jailed immediately in Carthage, Illinois. An angry militia rush the jail on June 27 according to the Documentary History of the Church 7:101-3, Smith uses a smuggled pistol to kill two of the attackers. A power struggle develops between Sydney Rigdon and Brigham Young. On August 8 the congregation votes Brigham in as their new leader. By 1847 Brigham moves most of the Mormon followers to the Great Salt Lake Valley in the Utah territory. A portion of the followers move to Independence, Missouri, the promised place of Smith’s vision.
This completes the brief history of Joseph Smith from his birth to his death. He claimed to be the First Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1970-1972 the Tenth President and Prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith, (not to be confused with the Sixth President and Prophet, Joseph F. Smith) made the following challenging statement:
Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an imposter cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would be many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, Vol. 1, p. 188).
This is a personal challenge for anyone thinking about believing the tenants of the LDS Corporation, commonly known as Mormonism. The Tenth Prophet states you must examine the First Prophet’s life and veracity. If you are thinking about becoming a ‘Mormon’, you need to do the homework. It is a personal decision.
Next month it will be timely to examine what the Bible says about a PROPHET. It is time to see what a Biblical prophet is and what a Biblical prophet is not.
Gary Keating, General Manager
For thirty years, while in the LDS church, I knew a different Jesus. A different god. A limited god.
I had no idea who the Jesus of the Bible was.
Then He found me. I know he will never leave me. Im so grateful for the Jesus I now know. His words and qualities are in this scripture and beloved poem below.
John 14:16-18 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Who is this Jesus?
He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End,
He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all,
He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be…
Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone.
He was bruised and brought healing,
He was pierced and eased pain,
He was persecuted and brought freedom,
He was dead and brought life,
He is risen and brings power,
He reigns and brings Peace.
He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, Mighty, Powerful, and Pure.
His ways are right,
His word is eternal,
His will is unchanging, and
His mind is on me.
He is my redeemer,
He is my Savior,
He is my guide, and
He is my peace.
He is my Joy,
He is my comfort,
He is my Lord, and
He rules my life.
I serve Him because His bond is love,
His burden is light,
and His goal for me is everlasting life.
I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise,
the power of the powerful, the Ancient of Days,
the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders,
the overseer of the overcomers,
and the sovereign Lord of all that was and is and is to come.
….and above all these things:
His goal is a relationship with ME!
He will never leave me, never forsake me, never mislead me,
never forget me, never overlook me
When I fall, He lifts me up,
When I fail, He forgives,
When I am weak, He is strong,
When I am lost, He is the way.
When I am afraid, He is my courage,
When I stumble, He steadies me,
When I am hurt, He heals me,
When I am broken, He mends me.
When I am blind, He leads me,
When I am hungry, He feeds me,
When I face trials, He is with me,
When I face persecution, He shields me,
When I face loss, He provides for me,
When I face Death, He carries me Home.
He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, and every way.
He is God! He is faithful.
I am His, and He is mine!
We give credit to Bill Meiter Pastor of Arizona Community Church for the following:
Like many of you, I recently received an invitation from a Mormon friend to attend the MESA EASTER PAGEANT presented by the Mormon Church.
For those of us who believe, attending such an event can actually be a wonderful witnessing opportunity to share the TRUE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST.
While I won’t be attending this year, I wanted to share my response to the invitation I received. I have attached it below and hope you find it helpful.
HE IS RISEN!
Pastor Bill 🙂
Thank you for the email and encouraging words. I truly appreciate it. I’m also grateful for the very kind invitation that you have sent my way. That was very nice of you!!
John, I will respectfully have to decline. The main reason for this is very simple… John, my Good News is AMAZING NEWS!
- As God in the flesh, Jesus died to fully justify those who believe by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone.
- This is known as the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone within Protestantism. I rest completely, in Christ’s finished work, for my salvation!
Despite similar terminology, we ultimately don’t believe in the same Jesus, or the same Gospel.
- According to your own teachings… Jesus was a god, but not God Himself (Mormon Doctrine, p. 547; Articles of Faith, p. 35; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 372).
- While you claim faith in Christ, you also rely on following the commandments of the Mormon Church (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p 188; Mormon Doctrine, p. 670) and practicing good works (2 Nephi 25:23; Alma 11:37) to achieve salvation.
So thanks again for the invitation. Feel free to contact me anytime to discuss these matters further.
John, praying for your eyes to be opened to the Good News!
MORMONISM IN THE NEWS – THIS IS AMAZING
For many years now, it has become increasingly difficult to witness to Mormons because they have been attempting to look as “Christian” as possible but, without denying the major tenants of their religion. No matter what you might say to them, they would almost always agree and say, “That is exactly what we believe.” Witnessing to Mormons has become increasingly frustrating.
BUT GET THIS… This past week the “old guard” of the LDS Church created a video lauding Joseph Smith’s King Follet Discourse. This is the sermon where Joseph Smith defined the LDS theology of God and Godhood. In this sermon Joseph Smith declared that God was once a mortal man just exactly like us and that all mortal men have the potential to become Gods just like God our Heavenly Father. If you want to watch this brand new LDS video about the King Follet Discourse click on the link below [THE INFORMATION IN THIS VIDEO IS BLASPHEME AT ITS FINEST]
(copy and paste to your search bar)
We thank Chip Thompson, of Tri-Grace Ministries in Ephraim, Utah, for this article.
|Staying in the Word is the best way to stay sharp. After all it isn’t called the Sword of the Spirit for nothing. You will be able to “rightly divide the word of truth” 2Tim. 2:15. The Spirit will alert you when you hear things that are not accurate Scripture. The more often you read the sharper you will be. Set aside time daily to OPEN and READ your Bible.Paulette|
|Thank you Concerned Christians for having a heart for our lost Mormon friends, And thank you for spending 4 weeks teaching us how to share the truth with our lost friends. We are praying for you and appreciate you so very much. May God Bless so very richly.Calvary Baptist Church of Show Low|
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I Thessalonians 1:2
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