One hundred and sixty-nine years ago yesterday, about 5pm in Carthage, Illinois, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, were murdered in cold blood. John Taylor was with the Prophet during this terrible tragedy, and was wounded himself, but survived. He later wrote:
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!” -Doctrine and Covenants 135:3
I’ve never met Joseph Smith before, but I feel like I know him after all the reading and studying I’ve done on his life. He was a real prophet of God, just like Moses. Anyone who makes an honest and sincere effort can know this truth. Joseph claimed to have seen God the Father, and Jesus Christ. How can you know? Ask God. He was there.
The Savior taught that we should beware of false prophets, and we should.
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” -Matthew 7:17-18, 20.
The foundational “fruit” of Joseph Smith’s divinely prophetic call is the Book of Mormon. By seeking and finding a witness of the books truthfulness, one also finds a witness of the Prophet Joseph. That’s what I did. I first read and studied the Book of Mormon (I still do), and asked God to know for myself. I also studied the life of Joseph Smith, and continue to do so today.
It is a common misconception for one to think that members of the Church worship Joseph Smith. This is not true. We worship only the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, and God the Eternal Father. Joseph Smith ranks among the great prophets of ancient times. He is loved and revered by members of the Church all over the world, but not worshipped. I’m grateful for his contribution to the work of the Lord, for without his deeds, I would not be the person I am today.
“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” -Hebrews 9:16-17