The Church

What is a “Mormon” anyway? Most people really don’t know unless they have friends or family who are members of the Church. And where does the name “Mormon” come from?

First of all, let me begin by saying we are Christians. The real name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We read the Bible, both Old and New Testament, along with other books of scripture, one of those being entitled The Book of Mormon. So, what’s the Book of Mormon and where does it come from?

To answer that, I must give some Church history. As we read the Bible we find God has always called righteous men to be prophets to lead and teach His people such as Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jonah. The people than had the option to accept or reject the teachings of the prophets. When a prophet died or was killed another would be called. God kept with this pattern until the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ. When Christ was on the earth He did many things, one being He set up His church. He called 12 apostles and gave them the Priesthood, or the authority to act in His name. However, after Christ’s death & resurrection the apostles were all eventually killed. The church fell apart and righteous men tried to pick up the pieces and go forward.
Then we come to the reformers, those who tried to change religion during times of religious oppression. And finally, when the “New World” was settled the time was once again right for God to call a prophet to lead His people. In 1820 in upstate NY lived a young boy named Joseph Smith. Joseph and his family were in the middle of a time of religious revival. Each religion contended against the next. His own family members belonged to different churches. He was confused about which church was right. He trusted in his Christian upbringing and turned to the Bible for guidance. He read in James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . .”. And so, he did just that. He went out to the wood to pray and got an answer which would later be known as the first vision. He said:
I saw a pillar of clight exactly over my head, above the brightness of the dsun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I bsaw two cPersonages, whose brightness and dglory defy all description, estanding above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My fBeloved gSon. Hear Him!

Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. He was told to join none of the churches, that Christ’s church was not on the earth at that time. He was called as a prophet to restore that church back to the earth in it’s purity. The Church was founded April 6, 1830. The priesthood of God was restored to the earth, prophets and apostles were called, Temples built, all things that existed in the time of Christ’s ministry were restored! Today we have a prophet and apostles onthe earth, Temples on every continent, and all blessings that come from the restoration of Christ’s church.

So, what’s the Book of Mormon then? The scriptures say “by their fruits ye shall know them”. The Book of Mormon is one of the fruits of Joseph Smith’s labors. When he was called to be a prophet he was shown where an ancient record was buried. It was in a hill in NY called the hill Cumorah. He was commanded to translate this record and did so by the power of God. For the complete explanation I refer to the Title Page of The Book of Mormon:

The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.
The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.
After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.
In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto him and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved.
Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses.”
We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10: 3-5.)
Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.
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