Deciding to ServeI decided I was going to serve a mission during of the summer before I went to college. career on August 5th 2012. On that day I received my patriarchal blessing. After that experience I knew that I needed to serve a mission and that there were people waiting for me to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Serving a mission is a big commitment and to take 2 years out of your life to serve the Lord is a big sacrifice, but a sacrifice I was willing to make. At the time a man had to be at least 19 years of age and a women 21 years of age to serve a mission, so it would probably be a year or so until I began my mission. Then in October 2012, Prophet Thomas S. Monson announced that the ages were changed to 18 and 19 respectively. That was a great moment for me and many other prospective young men and young women who were considering serving missions. As I result I am leaving several months earlier than I had plan, which is good for me because the sooner the better.
Mission Calls Galore
At the time I received my mission call I was in school at BYUI and at that school upwards of 50 people were receiving mission calls weekly. I submitted my mission papers on December 26, 2012 during winter break. Usually the process in receiving a mission call afterwards takes 2 to 3 weeks. My mission call didn't come for 31 days and for a while I was scared because I thought something had happened and they may have lost my mission call. I did eventually recieve my mission call, but I could not open it for several hours because I had to wait for my whole family to come over; it was also my sisters birthday at the time. I couldnt wait, so I knew that I had to get out of the house or I would just end up opening it, so my roomates and I all went to go play basketball for an hour, which really helped me not think to hard about the call. Eventually I did go back home and my parents were availiable and my best friend McKenna Smith came over and we skyped my family back home. As I was reading where I was going the skype call went out and it was really funny because it was literally right when I said where I was going. They did come to know that I was going to be serving in the Paraguay Asuncion Mission and that I would be arriving in the Argentina MTC on May 23rd, 2013. It was a great and very emotional experience and my excitement could not have been higher. The distance isnt exactly what my mom had been hoping for, but it will have to do!
The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Im grateful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission and share a message of happiness with the civilians of Paraguay. The truthfulness of the restoration of the gospel and how we can come unto Christ through his Atonement by faith, repentance, baptism, recieving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. There are many things that I wish to share with you today about the Restoration of the Gospel, but I would like to focus primarily on the Restoration of the Priesthood namely the Aaronic Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood restored to the prophet Joseph Smith and his associate Oliver Cowdery.
Lets start with the first vision. In Joseph Smith History , it records the life of a young Joseph Smith and how he did not know which church to join and how he received an answer to his prayers and came to know that none of the churches were true. In Joseph Smith History, particularly verses 18-19, it states how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ came down to Joseph Smith during his prayer and told a 14 year old boy that the church of God had not been established on the Earth at that time and that none of the churches were true.
Even though many good people believed in Christ and tried to understand and teach his doctrine, they did not have the fullness of truth or the priesthood authority to baptize and perform other saving ordinances. They has inherited a state of apostasy as each generation was influenced by what the previous one passed on, including changes in doctrines and ordinances such as baptism. As God has done with many prophets like Adam, Noah, and Abraham, He called Joseph Smith to be a prophet through whom the fullness of the gospel would be restored to the Earth. After the appearances of the Father and His Son, other heavenly messengers, or angels were sent to Joseph Smith and his associate Oliver Cowdery. John the Baptist appeared to Joseph and Oliver to confer upon them the Aaronic priesthood, which includes the ordinances of baptism. Peter, James, and John, who were three of Christ’s original apostles, appeared and conferred upon Joseph and Oliver the Melchizedek Priesthood, restoring the same authority given to Christ’s apostles anciently. With this priesthood authority Joseph Smith was directed to organize the church of Jesus Christ again on the Earth. John the Baptist was the last person on Earth to hold the Aaronic priesthood and therefore he could confer that priesthood to Joseph and Oliver properly because he had the proper authority to do so. The same with Peter, James, and John, they were the last on Earth to hold the Melchezedik priesthood, so they had the proper authority to restore the priesthood to the earth through Jospeh and Oliver.
How did this happen?
How did this happen? The major difference between our beliefs and other Christian beliefs is the basis of our priesthood authority and where it came from. We are the only church on the earth today that has the proper authority of God and are authorized to use His divine power. Once the last priesthood holder was killed anciently, the priesthood was taken off the Earth and a great apostasy began. With the priesthood taken off the Earth the people became lost and confused and their connection between God was broken. Many ordinances and principles of the gospel were changed or misinterpreted over time by men who lacked understanding and revelation from God. For example, Joseph Smith was commanded to create The Pearl of Great Price to restore some lost precious truths of the Bible, specifically of The First Five Books of Moses, and of the creation of the world. The reason we lost those precious truths were through the great apostasy and the incorrect principles being passed down from generation to generation. Now we have a more full knowledge and understanding of the creation because of the Pearl of Great Price.
Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to have his priesthood, so he chose Joseph Smith as his Prophet of the Restoration through whom the Priesthood was restored to the Earth. I relate this process to a mirror. When the last of the apostles were killed anciently the priesthood was taken off the Earth, or the mirror was shattered the mirror acting as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The great apostasy occurred once the last priesthood holder, or in this case the prophets and apostles, were taken off the Earth. Many truths were lost, or in the pieces of the mirror(gospel) were put back together by men and it was improperly put back and was not the same as the previous mirror before lacking many ordinances and principles of the Church of God while Jesus Christ walked the Earth. When the restoration occurred that broken and inaccurate mirror was replaced by and brand new mirror that was exactly 100 percent the same as the mirror that was on the Earth anciently; in other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth in these Latter Days and is exactly the same as the Gospel of Jesus Christ which existed also in ancient times.
Why do we need the priesthood?
Why did we need the priesthood of God on the Earth? We must have priesthood authority to act in the name of God when performing the sacred ordinances of the gospel, such as baptism, confirmation, administration of the sacrament, and temple marriage. If a man does not hold the priesthood, even though he may be sincere, the Lord will not recognize ordinances he performs. Men need the priesthood to preside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to direct the work of the Church in all parts of the world. When Christ lived on the earth, He chose His Apostles and ordained them so that they could lead His Church. He gave them the power and authority of the priesthood to act in His name. Another reason the priesthood is needed on the earth is so we can understand the will of the Lord and carry out His purposes. God reveals His will to His authorized priesthood representative on the earth, the prophet. The prophet, who is President of the Church, serves as the spokesman for God to all members of the Church and all people on the earth.
We have the priesthood on the earth today so we can perform many ordinances on the earth that could not be performed otherwise. We all have the opportunity to be sealed with are families forever. We all can know Gods purpose for us and what his will is. We are so blessed to have the priesthood on the Earth today and it is important that we use this priesthood we have been given in righteousness. The power of God is not something to be abused, tampered, or trifled with. When using this authority from God properly, we can bless the lives of many and show them how much God loves us because he has blessed us with his priesthood. There was a time when only Gods apostles and prophets could hold the priesthood. It was restricted to very few in ancient times, but now all worthy males have the opportunity to hold the priesthood and what a blessing it is to know that we can act in Gods name by using his authority.
My testimony is something very dear to me and it is apart of me just like my blonde hair, blue eyes, or the hair on my body. My testimony is in my very being and it is as real in me as I am. My testimony is sacred to me and has been groomed and refined after years and years of plying and polishing and building.
I know without a shadow of doubt that this church is the true church on the Earth today.
I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that because of him, we have the fullness of the gospel on the Earth today,
I have read the Book of Mormon and I know that it is true and that all the prophets in that book were true prophets of God just like the prophets in the Bible and the prophets today are true prophets of God.
I know that all books of scripture testify of Jesus Christ and that he lives and that he is our savior namely: The Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.
I know that families can live together forever and it is by the power of God that we can do so.
I know that peoples hearts can be changed and that their desires can change if they choose to change, I have seen it and I know it to be true.
I know that the Holy Ghost is real and that it guides us to do good and it strengthens our desire to be righteous sons and daughters of God.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I'm a Mormon. I know it, I live it, I love it.
And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.