Mormons believe that while Christ lived upon the earth he set up His church under the direction of the twelve apostles. Under Jesus Christ there was "one fold, one faith, one gospel, one priesthood, one church."1 But as the apostles died an apostasy took place. Men changed the doctrines that Christ had established, the priesthood authority was replaced by secular authority, "the ordinances of salvation were altered or purchased for money, and revelation was replaced by a veil of obscurity leading into the ages of spiritual darkness." 2 Many great men of faith tried to reform false doctrines creating new religious sects, but they lacked two essential elements "revelation and authority."
But God in His infinite wisdom knew that this would happen. So He planned for a restoration of the truth. This restoration has been foretold by many of the prophets in the Bible. Peter taught the people that in the last days there would be a "restitution of all things." 3
In the year 1820, revelation was restored to the earth when God the Father and Jesus Christ visited the young boy Joseph Smith in a direct answer to his prayer of which church he should join. He writes “I asked, … which of all the sects was right … and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong." 4 In the next few years Joseph Smith "received full divine doctrinal knowledge and the authority and the keys of the priesthood." 5 In 1830 the fullness of Christ's gospel was restored to the earth as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized containing all of the doctrines and ordinances necessary for eternal salvation.
Along with these ordinances another book of scripture The Book of Mormon was brought forth and translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God. It is another witness of Jesus Christ and adds its testimony to the Bible that He lives.
But why was a Restoration needed? The Mormon Church teaches that with the restoration of Christ's gospel many important truths have been restored to the earth.
· The plan of salvation outlined in modern scriptures teaches that we all lived with God before coming to earth and our goal on earth should be to return to live with Him after death. We are on earth to be tested and to receive a physical body.
· The attributes of God have been revealed. Through the Book of Mormon we learn of God's perfect love, mercy, and justice. We also understand that he is all knowing and all-powerful.
· With the restoration of the gospel God's power and authority are once again upon the earth. Joseph Smith received the Melchizedek Priesthood directly from Peter, James, and John. Every worthy male in the Church receives the priesthood and has authority to act in the name of God.
· Important ordinances pertinent to the salvation of men have also been restored. Mormon temples have been built wherein members may receive endowment and marriage ordinances which bind families together forever.
· Revelation was restored as God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. God once again talked to man. A prophet today, Gordon B. Hinckley, leads the Mormon Church. He receives revelation from Christ in behalf of the church. Members also believe that they can receive direct revelation from Christ concerning their own life through prayer.
(1) Charles Didier, “The Message of the Restoration,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 73
(2) Charles Didier, “The Message of the Restoration,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 73
(3) Acts 3:21
(4) Joseph Smith History 1:18-19
(5) Charles Didier, “The Message of the Restoration,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 73