The message of the Restoration is [an] invitation to know why the gospel of Jesus Christ and His true Church have been restored by a prophet in modern times. ~Elder Charles Didier
I remember receiving my first witness that Joseph Smith saw God the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ, in Seminary as a young girl. We had been talking about Joseph Smith, and watching the video on the first vision. The Holy Ghost spoke to my spirit in that Seminary class, and bore witness that these things are true: Joseph Smith did see God the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ. God does answer prayers. Through this experience, Joseph Smith was called by God to be his prophet - to bring forth a marvelous work and a wonder- The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ; and to restore the gospel to the earth in its fullness in these the latter days.
Joseph Smith was a young boy of 14, close to my own age. He was confused about the different religions that were on the earth. Which church was the true church? Which one should he join? Why were there so many differences? Elder Robert D. Hales helps us understand why there was so much confusion about religion during this time:
"After the Savior’s Resurrection, He commissioned His Apostles to lead the Church and administer gospel ordinances. Faithful to this charge, they were persecuted, and some were eventually martyred. As a result, the Lord’s priesthood authority was no longer on earth, and the world fell into spiritual darkness. In the centuries that followed, God’s children had the Light of Christ, could pray, and could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. But the fulness of the gospel had been lost. There was no one left on earth with the power and authority to lead the Church or perform sacred ordinances such as baptism, conferral of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the saving ordinances of the temple."Elder Charles Didier explains the Apostacy as such:
"Persecution, denial of divine identity, and rejection of Christ’s gospel and His authorized priesthood servants characterized the post-Resurrection era. And religious history shows us evidence of how rapidly the priesthood authority was superseded by the secular authority; how the divine doctrine was traded for shifting, distorted human philosophies; how the ordinances of salvation were altered or purchased for money; how revelation was replaced by a veil of obscurity leading into the ages of spiritual darkness.
However, there came a time during this great Apostasy, which had been prophesied before, when the religious quest surfaced again—the “Why is it so?” Men of great faith emerged to try to reform false doctrines and false spiritual authority. Their honest and sincere efforts only resulted in the creation of more churches carrying their names and their protest and adding more confusion and more divisions. In reality, two major elements were missing in the reform: revelation and authority, the Lord’s only way to communicate divine truth to mankind."With revelation and priesthood authority taken from the Earth, a restoration of truth needed to be done. Young Joseph Smith, was not looking to be a prophet. He was not looking at changing anything. He just wanted to know which of the many churches on the Earth was the true church, and the one that he should join. Elder Hales continues:
"As a young man, Joseph “was called up to serious reflection” on the subject of religion. Because he was born in a land of religious freedom, he could question which of all the churches was right. And because the Bible had been translated into English, he could seek an answer from the word of God. He read in the book of James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” and he did as directed. In answer to Joseph’s prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to him. This humble farm boy was the prophet chosen by God to restore the ancient Church of Jesus Christ and His priesthood in these latter days. This restoration was to be the last, the dispensation of the fulness of times, restoring all the priesthood blessings which man could possess on earth. With this divine commission, his work was not to reform nor was it to protest what was already on the earth. It was to restore what had been on earth and had been lost".Joseph Smith was the instrument God used to restore the gospel in it's fullness in these the last days. From Joseph's experience we learn: God is our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ is his Son. Heavenly Father knows each one of us, for we are his sons and daughters created after his own image. God answered Joseph Smith's prayers, and revelation was once again established on the Earth. God called Joseph Smith to be his prophet and gave him His priesthood authority; the power and authority necessary to lead the Church and perform sacred ordinances such as baptism, conferral of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the saving ordinances of the temple.
My life has been so blessed because young Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees seeking answers to prayers!