This lesson is all about having and gaining a testimony of the restoration and of the importance of knowing that Joseph Smith was a living prophet. Even though Joseph Fielding Smith was able to gain personal knowledge of Joseph Smith from relatives who knew the prophet, he makes the point that the love and knowledge of Joseph Smith, as a prophet, comes from the Lord. Gaining a testimony of the prophet, of any prophet, is had by one way only. We can all know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that we have a living prophet today. To those who really want to know, President Smith said,
“ … every soul that will humble himself, and in the depths of humility and faith, with a contrite spirit, go before the Lord, will receive that knowledge just as surely as he lives.”Sometimes we might wonder why Joseph Smith has so much attention focused on him. We have had many wonderful men as prophets since Joseph Smith’s time, but none of them did what the Prophet Joseph did. We make such a big deal about Joseph Smith because it was through him that the gospel was restored. It was through Joseph Smith that the priesthood was once again given to the children of the earth. It was the revelations given to Joseph Smith that redefined who and what God is, and His relationship with His children. It was the revelations given to the earth through Joseph Smith from all the prophets of old that defined the mission of the Church and many of the doctrines that had been lost to humanity for many centuries. It was not so much that these things happened, because we believe these things can happen today. It was that they had not happened at all since shortly after the death of Christ, and it was happening again for the first time in the last days through Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith became the nexus, the focal point between the Church of Christ in all ages past and the future kingdom of God. All of that knowledge passed through Joseph Smith.
“Joseph Smith is the revealer of the knowledge of Christ and of salvation to the world for this day and generation.”Just as we stand boldly and tell people that Jesus is the Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, and the bringer of salvation to the world, so we tell people that Joseph Smith is the prophet chosen by the Lord to usher in the final dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times. As the head of this dispensation Joseph remains the founder, the head. Being the head, the founder of this dispensation means that all people must come, figuratively speaking, to the Prophet Joseph to learn about the true nature and character of God. They must come to the teachings Joseph received from the heavenly messengers to learn about the gathering of Israel and the covenants of the priesthood. It was through him that the Lord revealed all these things, and more. President Smith goes on to say of Joseph Smith,
“That the church that he organized by divine command prospers because it follows the revelations that came through him; And that all who believe the teachings of Joseph Smith and labor in the course set by him shall come to a knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was crucified for the sins of the world.”This raises the question; do we ever feel love for our prophet? Do we ever feel a sense of debt and obligation for the work and sacrifice our prophet has made for us? Do we ever express that out loud, especially to our children? This goes both for the Prophet Joseph Smith and for every prophet who came after him. There is not a prophet in any dispensation who has not made great sacrifices to follow the will of the Lord in trying to reach as many of God’s children as possible with the message of salvation. Are we properly grateful for their efforts in our behalf? Hyrum Smith We often forget that the Lord always has a second witness in all things. After Oliver Cowdery fell away, Hyrum Smith was called to hold the keys of the kingdom jointly with Joseph Smith. They shared all the same trials and all the same tribulations - even death was shared equally between them. The Lord said,
"…blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith, for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord.” [D&C 124:15.]Look at what the Lord had to say of Hyrum’s character. Read how the Prophet Joseph felt about his faithful older brother who stood by him through thick and thin. We don’t usually think of Joseph Smith having an equal, but Hyrum came as close as anyone could to being Joseph’s equal in all things. They loved each other without reserve, and respected each other’s personal righteousness. Joseph spoke highly of Hyrum’s standing before the Lord, and in Joseph’s own heart. Joseph Fielding Smith said of his grandfather, Hyrum Smith,
“The Lord also revealed to Hyrum Smith all that was necessary to make him completely and to the full degree, a witness with his brother Joseph, as a prophet, seer, revelator and president of the Church, and to stand through all time and all eternity at the head of this dispensation with his brother Joseph, a witness for Jesus Christ.”That Hyrum was a second witness and co head of this dispensation does not in any way take away from the Prophet Joseph Smith. It does, on the other hand, verify that the Lord lives up to his own laws that there be two or more witnesses in all things. Joseph Smith relied heavily on the support he received from his brother Hyrum. It would have been even more difficult for the prophet to have done what he did without Hyrum by his side.