Joseph Smith & Prophets

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

Many people live in darkness, unsure of God’s will. They believe that the heavens are closed and that people must face the world’s perils alone. How fortunate are the Latter-day Saints! We know that God communicates to the Church through his prophet. With grateful hearts, Saints the world over sing the hymn, “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.”

What Is a Prophet?

Joseph Smith MormonA prophet is a man called by God to be his representative on earth. When a prophet speaks for God, it is as if God were speaking. A prophet is also a special witness for Christ, testifying of His divinity and teaching His gospel. A prophet teaches truth and interprets the word of God. He calls the unrighteous to repentance. He receives revelations and directions from the Lord for our benefit. He may see into the future and foretell coming events so that the world may be warned.

A prophet may come from various stations in life. He may be young or old, highly educated or unschooled. He may be a farmer, a lawyer, or a teacher. Ancient prophets wore tunics and carried staffs. Modern prophets wear suits and carry briefcases. What, then, identifies a true prophet? A true prophet is always chosen by God and called through proper priesthood authority.

Latter-day Saints sustain the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles as prophets. However, when we speak of “the prophet of the Church,” we mean the President of the Church, who is President of the high priesthood.

Through the Ages God Has Called Prophets to Lead Mankind

There have been prophets on the earth since the days of Adam. Experiences of these great men excite and inspire us. Moses, an Old Testament prophet, led thousands of his people out of Egypt and slavery into the promised land. He wrote the first five books of the Old Testament and recorded the Ten Commandments. Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet, sailed from Jerusalem to the American continent about six hundred years before the birth of Christ. This great leader and colonizer gave us many important writings in the Book of Mormon. John the Baptist was chosen to prepare the world for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Joseph Smith, a latter-day prophet, the Lord restored the Church. Joseph Smith also translated the Book of Mormon while a young man.

We Have a Living Prophet on the Earth Today

We have a prophet living on the earth today. This prophet is the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has the right to revelation for the entire Church. He holds the “keys of the kingdom,” meaning that he has the right to control the administration of the ordinances (see Matthew 16:19). No person except the chosen prophet and president can receive God’s will for the membership of the Church.

We should do those things the prophets tell us to do. President Wilford Woodruff said that a prophet will never be allowed to lead the Church astray:

“I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so he will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. God bless you” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212-13; see also Official Declaration 1).

We Should Sustain the Lord’s Prophet

Many people find it easy to believe in the prophets of the past. But it is much greater to believe in and follow the living prophet. We raise our hands to sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator.

How can we sustain the prophet? We should pray for him. His burdens are heavy, and he needs to be strengthened by the prayers of the Saints.

We should study his words. We can listen to his conference addresses or read them in Church publications.

We should follow his inspired teachings completely. We should not choose to follow part of his inspired counsel and discard that which is unpleasant or difficult. The Lord commanded us to follow the inspired teachings of his prophet:

“Thou shalt give heed unto all his [the prophet's] words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4-5).

The Lord will never allow the President of the Church to lead us astray.

Great Blessings Follow Obedience to the Prophet

If we obey, the Lord promises, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you; and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).

When we do as our prophet directs, blessings pour down from heaven. A story from the life of Lorenzo Snow, the fifth president of the restored Church, shows how God rewards his people for their obedience. In those days the Church was suffering great financial trouble and had little money to pay its debts. Then more trouble came. A great drought afflicted many of the Saints. President Snow went to the Lord and prayed for relief. One day as the prophet was speaking in the St. George Tabernacle in Utah, the Holy Ghost inspired him to promise the Saints that they would receive rain if they would pay a full tithe. He quoted Malachi: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, . . . and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). The people obeyed their prophet, and the rains fell on the parched crops.

In order to stand, the true Church must be built upon the foundation of prophets (see Ephesians 2:20). We are blessed in this insecure world to have a prophet through whom the Lord reveals his will.

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