Mormons Believe in a Heavenly Father
Mormons "believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." This is the first of thirteen basic beliefs, called the Articles of Faith, that Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, once wrote to a journalist who asked what Mormons believe. Mormons believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves Mankind (His children) and wants them to succeed. He has a plan for them to one day return to live with Him. (See the Plan of Salvation.)
Mormons Believe in the Savior Jesus Christ
The Mormon religion teaches that men's sins make returning to God impossible, so it was necessary for a Savior to be provided. This Savior is the Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, KJV). Jesus Christ conquered death and sin, so that a path could once more be opened for God's children to return to live with God. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that men and women can be saved.
Prophets Reveal God's Plan to Mankind
In order to declare the gospel of Christ, God has called inspired men, called prophets, to teach the world. These men receive a personal witness of the Savior and are given authority to teach His gospel. This authority is called the Priesthood. Holy scriptures, such as the Bible, contain the words of prophets who taught about the Savior. As the prophets teach and testify, the Holy Ghost touches the hearts of people and brings feelings of peace. This is why people feel the spirit (the Holy Ghost) when they study the Bible today. This spiritual confirmation of truth is how God confirms that the message of the prophets is true.
Throughout history, God has followed this pattern of revelation to inspired men, who then teach the world, with confirmation of their words through the Holy Ghost. Sadly, people do not always accept the message of the prophets. When people reject the prophets, this is called apostasy, derived from a Greek word that signifies rebellion or falling away. Recorded in the scriptures, one can see a repeating cycle of God calling a prophet who teaches the people to repent and turn to the Lord. The people eventually turn away from the Lord and reject the prophet, and thus a period of relative apostasy follows.
Fortunately, God is not only loving, but is also merciful and patient. Each time that the people reject the Lord and his prophets, He waits and prepares His people. When the time is right, He once again sends His messengers to declare His words and restore His gospel.
The Early Church Fell into Apostasy
When Jesus Christ lived on the earth, He taught the people the gospel, and called Apostles to continue to teach them when He left. Ultimately, those apostles were violently rejected, and within a century much of the church Christ had established was crippled by apostasy  from within and persecution from without. A careful reading of the New Testament shows the struggles and the frustrations of the apostles as they were surrounded by unrighteousness on the part of both the believers and non-believers. The apostles were rejected and killed, and the priesthood authority that the Lord had given to them was taken from the earth. While there were still some righteous members who lived, the people as a whole had become wicked, and the fullness of the gospel with its priesthood authority, was forced from the face of the earth. This was prophesied of in the Old Testament by the prophet Amos:
- "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." (Amos 8:11-12, KJV)
And again in Isaiah:
- "Which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. Why, when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there none to answer?" (Isa. 50:1-2, 21st Century KJV)
Jesus Christ Restored His Church to the Earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith
Left on the earth after the Apostles were gone, were many sincere seekers after truth. However, there were no prophets or seers, so religious leaders had to look into their own hearts and minds to shape doctrine. Without information directly from God, religious leaders were of many, often conflicting, opinions. Councils were convened for the purpose of debating doctrine, and creeds were formulated combining knowledge from the scriptures and the opinions of men. The resulting creeds were apostate in relation to the truths revealed by God to His prophets. Even the nature of deity had been redefined. After the early church fell into apostasy, the Lord patiently waited for seventeen hundred years for the people to return to him. He prepared them, as the world moved from superstition to relative enlightenment, from authoritarianism to individualism. The Lord waited for a time in which He could once again restore the fullness of His gospel to the earth. Finally, the time came. In 1820, in New York, during a time of regional religious revivalism, a young boy went into the woods to ask God which church was true. He described his experience in his own words:
- "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me... When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is my Beloved Son. Hear him!" (Joseph Smith History 1:16-17, emphasis in original)
Through this marvelous visitation, Joseph Smith received a personal witness that God the Father and Jesus Christ live and are separate, resurrected beings. From this and subsequent visits and revelations he was taught the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how Christ's church should function. As in days of old, a prophet of God had once again been called. Angels visited the earth, including John the Baptist and Peter, James and John, Jesus' ancient apostles, who gave to Joseph Smith the same priesthood authority they possessed.
The Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ
As further confirmation of the divinity of the work Joseph Smith was called to do, the Lord revealed a volume of ancient scripture which had been recorded on the American Continent. Joseph Smith was given power to translate this record, which came to be known as the Book of Mormon. It contains the writings of prophets who lived and taught in the Americas at the time the Bible was being written in Jerusalem. The Book of Mormon contains many beautiful truths about the Savior Jesus Christ, and stands with the Bible as a second witness that Jesus was more than just a man: He was the very Messiah prophesied of in times of old, the Savior and the Redeemer of Mankind.
Because it was translated by the power of God, the Book of Mormon also serves as a witness that Joseph Smith was called by God, for if the Book of Mormon is a true record inspired by God, then Joseph Smith must also be a prophet. By knowing that Joseph Smith was a prophet, men and women can also know that the church he was led to organize is Christ's church today.
The Church is Led Today by Modern Prophets
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon Church) is led today by a prophet of God and twelve apostles, who receive revelation from God on how His church should be run. Mormons perceive that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. They feel that He continues to follow the pattern He followed in Bible days, and He teaches men today in much the same way He taught the Children of Israel, or the early Christians of the New Testament.
The Holy Ghost Will Reveal to Mankind the Truth of All Things
As in ancient times, the Lord has promised that men need not rely on the words and testimonies of others to know that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored. Men have been promised that they can each receive his own witness that this is true. One such promise is located near the end of the Book of Mormon:
- "Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder them in your hearts.
- "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
- "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:3-5)
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the true gospel has been restored to the earth, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that church. They believe that each individual member has prayed to receive a witness from the Holy Ghost of that truth and that anyone who prays sincerely to that effect will receive the same answer directly from the Lord.
- The Church's official website about the Savior
- Steve Young and Sharlene Hawkes address misconceptions about the Churchru:Во что верят мормоны