President Russell M. Nelson invited us last Conference session to study the restoration as we commemorate the 200th Anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision.

Because of this event and the restoration of the gospel that followed, we have an understanding of the nature and characteristics of our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. We have the power of Priesthood restored, with the rights of the Atonement unlocked through the ordinances and covenants we have access to. The Plan of Salvation with all of it’s plain and precious truths are known. We have additional light and knowledge given to us through prophets past and present.

As a youth in the church, Joseph Smith was my hero. My testimony of his mission was confirmed over and over again. There is one personal witness I will never forget and can not deny until the day I die. As I grew older, my testimony in the work of Joseph grew as I gained a love for the Book of Mormon. At times I shied away from testifying of Joseph and focused on other aspects of my testimony of the Church. There was no need for this.

I heard the complaints of some within the Church and many on the outside who would nitpick at Joseph Smith and look for every fallibility and flaw they could find. They would say, “he’s only a human, we needn’t put him on a pedestal.” Or, “it makes me uncomfortable that we talk about him so much.” It is true, Jesus Christ is our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Judge. It is in Him who we place all of our hope. We take upon us His name – the same name the Church bears: The Church of Jesus Christ.

However, without Joseph Smith, we wouldn’t have the possibility of ever knowing our Father or His Son. He was called and foreordained to be the prophet of this last dispensation. His work was glorious and his legacy continues. Nobody nitpicks at Moses or Abraham – it is obvious they’re human and not the object of our worship. They are held in the regard they deserve: as great prophets who were chosen and lifted up by the Lord. They are revered, just as Joseph Smith should be to every corner of the earth, especially by members of the Lord’s Church.

Last June marked the 175th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet of this last dispensation, Joseph Smith. This means that Joseph accomplished all he did in a span of fewer than 25 years. As a kid, I read Section 135 of the Doctrine and Covenants more than any other chapter of scripture by far. These words are almost tattoed to my brain:

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.

D&C 135:3

I have never been ashamed of this statement. I have always loved to sing Praise to the Man. Joseph Smith sacrificed everything, including his own life, for his testimony. Praise be his name!

It is our privilege to live during this Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. We have the honor of declaring our testimony of the restoration and the great prophet, Joseph. It is our responsibility to defend him and our living oracles – all of whom are called of God. Of this I bear witness.

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