See also: Mormon 8:22
As the Brethren of the First Presidency and the Twelve have meditated upon and prayed about the great later-day work the Lord has given us to do, we are impressed that the mission of the Church is threefold:
● To proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;
● To perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation;
● To redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth.
All three are part of one work – to assist our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, in Their grand and glorious mission “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) — President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1981, p. 5
President Hinckley noted that “the church is growing in a marvelous and wonderful way. . . . It is spreading over the Earth in a miraculous manner.” He explained that one of the reasons for this growth is that “we have a demanding religion. . . . We have great expectations concerning our people. We have standards that we expect them to live by, and that is one of the things that attracts people to this church: It stands as an anchor in a world of shifting values.” — Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Ensign, May 1996, p. 32
In 1930, when the Church was 100 years old, there were 310,000 Latter-day Saints in the state of Utah. That meant that about 60% of all of the Latter-day Saints in all the world resided in Utah – 310,000 of them.
Today, there are a million and a halfin this state. Last year there were more convert baptisms, not natural growth, convert baptisms in the state of Utah than there were in all the British Isles where there are seven missions. All those working together did not produce the number of converts to this Church that these three missions in Utah produced in the year of 1996. We are growing here, but interestingly enough, whereas once 60% of the membership of the Church lived here, now only 17% live here. We have moved out across the world. — Church News, March 1, 1997, p. 10
The standard of truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done (Times and Seasons, 1 March 1842, 709; quoted in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:1754). — Elder Dallin Oaks, Ensign, May 1996, p. 73
One of the great strengths of the Mormon religion is this translation of belief into daily thinking and conduct. This replaces turmoil and confusion with peace and tranquility. — President Howard W. Hunter, Conference Report, October 1970, pp. 131-2; see also Improvement Era, December 1970, p. 117
President Ezra Taft Benson, then president of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke to 3,000 at the Washington D.C. Stake Center on July 3 .
He told the gathering, according to the article, that “America is the Lord’s base of operations in these latter days, and from this base the gospel will go to all the world. We must keep this base strong. The gospel can flourish only in an atmosphere of freedom.”
He also said, “It’s not enough just to elect intelligent men; they must be morally clean.” — “Church History, 50 years ago,” Church News, July 10, 2004. p. 2
We have become as a great army. We are now a people of consequence. Our voice is heard when we speak up. We have demonstrated our strength in meeting adversity. Our strength is our faith in the Almighty. No cause under the heavens can stop the work of God. Adversity may raise its ugly head. The world may be troubled with wars and rumors of wars, but this cause will go forward.
You are familiar with these great words written by the Prophet Joseph: “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540). — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Living in the Fulness of Times,” Ensign, November 2001, p. 6[On May 17-18, 2003, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the newly restored Church buildings in Kirtland, Ohio. President Hinckley] drew an analogy during his remarks at a member meeting: “New York with an important chapter in Pennsylvania was the birthplace of the Church.” He mentioned the First Vision, coming forth of the Book of Mormon, priesthood restoration and organization of the Church as New York events.
“Persecution followed, and the Church was told to move to Ohio. This became the place of its elementary education. Here were put in place the great organizational concepts by which it has been governed ever since. Here in a vision both wondrous and beautiful the Savior revealed Himself. Here Moses and Elijah came and bestowed sacred keys important and everlasting.”
Furthermore, the first stake was organized in Kirtland, men were first ordained high priests, the Seventy were organized, apostles were called and organized into a quorum, the First Presidency was organized, the office of patriarch was first filled and “the basic policies governing Church welfare and humanitarian service were first revealed.”
“It was here that the first temple was built, that the forerunner of the endowment was given, and that spiritual experiences took place to a degree perhaps never before felt nor since enjoyed.”
Missouri, with its troubles, disappointments and suffering, was “as a secondary school in the life of the Church.”
“Then the Illinois period, when Nauvoo was established and the magnificent temple was built, when the women were organized into the Relief Society, when the prophet lived great and wonderful days and then with Hyrum, died at Carthage, this became the period of higher education in the chronicle of the work.”
The beginning of the years of maturity for the Church were marked by the move from Nauvoo to Council Bluffs and Winter Quarters and subsequently to the Salt Lake Valley. “From this initial stage it has grown and expanded over the earth. Today its numbers approach 12 million. Its members are found in more than 160 nations. It has become a great and mighty force for good, and will go on growing to complete the prophesied mission to fill the earth.” — “Kirtland’s place in Church history,” Church News, May 24, 2003, p. 4
The strength of the Church is not in its thousands of houses of worship across the world nor in its universities or seminaries and institutes. These are all facilities, desirable means to an end, but only auxiliary to that which is the true strength. The strength of this Church lies in the hearts of its people, in the individual testimony and conviction of the truth of this work. — President Gordon B. Hinckley
Is there any group in all the world with a vision so broad and a work so comprehensive [as the Latter-day Saints]? I know of no other people so concerned with the eternal well-being of the sons and daughters of God of all generations. Surely the work that goes on in these sacred houses is the most unselfish of all work. Those who labor here do so, for the most part, in behalf of those beyond the veil of death. They do it because of a knowledge of the importance of eternal ordinances and covenants. They do it so that even the dead may exercise agency concerning the acceptance or rejection of sacred ordinances. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “An Ensign to the Nations,” Ensign, November 1989, p. 54
Now, brethren and sisters, I invite you to look beyond the narrow boundaries of your own wards and rise to the larger vision of this, the work of God. We have a challenge to meet, a work to do beyond the comprehension of any of us – that is, to assist our Heavenly Father to save His sons and daughters of all generations, both the living and the dead, to work for the salvation not only of those in the Church, but for those presently outside, wherever they may be. No body of people on the face of the earth has received a stronger mandate from the God of heaven than have we of this Church. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Rise to a Larger Vision of the Work,” Ensign, May 1990, p. 97
Some people stopped going to Church because the Church was not meeting their needs. Which needs could they be expecting the Church to meet? If persons are simply seeking a satisfying social experience, they might be disappointed in a particular ward or branch and seek other associations. There are satisfying social experiences in many organizations. If they are simply seeking help to learn the gospel, they could pursue that goal through available literature. But are these the principal purposes of the Church? Is this all we are to receive from the gospel of Jesus Christ? Someone has said that what we get depends on what we seek. Persons who attend Church solely in order to get something of a temporal nature may be disappointed. . . .
Persons who attend Church in order to give to their fellowmen and serve the Lord will rarely be disappointed. The Savior promised that “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39). . . . The Church gives us opportunities to serve the Lord and our fellowmen. If given in the right way and for the right reasons, that service will reward us beyond anything we have given. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 2002
The Lord said that this is the only true and living church upon the face of the earth with which He is well pleased [see D&C 1:30]. I didn’t say that. Those are His words. The Prophet Joseph was told that the other sects were wrong [see Joseph Smith–History 1:19]. Those are not my words. Those are the Lord’s words. But they are hard words for those of other faiths. We don’t need to exploit them. We just need to be kind and good and gracious people to others, showing by our example the great truth of that which we believe and leading them in the direction which we would like to see them go. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, June 2004, p. 3
It is impossible to take up all the misrepresentations given to the world by anti “Mormon” preachers and writers. They have one merit. They stir up interest in what is called the “Mormon” question. People are led thus to investigate and many find out the truth, and unite with people who are so greatly maligned. Our doctrines are open to the world. They are not secret or clothed in mystery. We proclaim the pure gospel of Christ as revealed from heaven in these last days through the great prophet of the nineteenth century, Joseph Smith. [Sec. 1:17; 5:7-10.] We invite all mankind to look into our teachings and promise all who obey them a witness of their truth by the power of the Holy Ghost which makes men free indeed. — First Presidency: Smith, Joseph F.; Lund, Anthony H.; Smith, John Henry, Conference Report, April 1911, p. 130
When you leave the church, you leave neutral ground forever. — Joseph Smith
Once while riding in a plane, I engaged in conversation with a young man who was seated beside me. We moved from one subject to another and then came to the matter of religion. He said that he had read considerably about the Latter-day Saints, that he had found much to admire in their practices, but that he had a definite prejudice concerning the story of the origin of the Church and particularly Joseph Smith. He was an active member of another organization, and when I asked where he had acquired his information, he indicated that it had come from publications of his church. I asked what company he worked for. He proudly replied that he was a sales representative for an international computer company. I then asked whether he would think it fair for his customers to learn of the qualities of its products from a representative of its leading competitor. He replied with a smile, “I think I get the point of what you’re trying to say.” — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Joseph Smith Jr., Prophet of God, Mighty Servant,” Ensign, December 2005, p. 4
And it was in the days of these kings that power would not be given to men, but the God of heaven would set up a kingdom – the kingdom of God upon the earth, which should never be destroyed nor left to other people. — President Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1976, p. 10
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored in 1830 after numerous revelations from the divine source; and this is the kingdom, set up by the God of heaven, that would never be destroyed nor superseded, and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands that would become a great mountain and would fill the whole earth. — Conference Report, April 1976, p. 10; Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings-Malachi, pp. 298-299
Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done. — Joseph Smith, Wentworth Letter, March 1, 1842
This Church is true. It will weather every storm that beats against it. It will outlast every critic who rises to mock it. It was established by God our Eternal Father for the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations. It carries the name of Him who stands as its head, even the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. It is governed and moves by the power of the priesthood. It sends forth to the world another witness of the divinity of the Lord. Be faithful, my friends. Be true. Be loyal to the great things of God which have been revealed in this dispensation. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, September 1985, p. 6
The dispensation of divine truth in which we now live, in distinction from previous dispensations, will not be destroyed by apostasy. This is in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy that “the God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed” nor “left to other people.” President John Taylor affirmed this also when he said: “There is one thing very certain, . . and that is, whatever men may think, and however they may plot and contrive, that this Kingdom will never be given into the hands of another people. It will grow and spread and increase, and no man living can stop its progress.” — Elder James E. Faust, Ensign, May 1996, p. 5
A new study of religion in America, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” documents some of the impact of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members.
While Latter-day Saints are a relatively small part of American society, the study found they play a large role in American religious life. Among the study’s findings related to Latter-day Saints are the following:
- Latter-day Saints are among the most devout religious groups in the country.
- Latter-day Saints are among those most likely to keep their childhood faith as adults.
- Latter-day Saints have a relatively positive view toward members of other faiths, including those outside of Christianity.
- Latter-day Saints are among the most likely to believe that one true religion exists, but also that those outside their faith can attain salvation or reach “heaven.” (Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us”; New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010)
In a general conference address in 1900, President Lorenzo Snow spoke of the Church, that “commenced as an infant” and had “grown to manhood.”
“The Lord has prospered us amazingly, and we are doing large things at the present time,” he said. “We are blessing the people of the world. Now . . . the Lord expects that we will do something – something that will cause the nations to marvel, as what we have done has caused them already to wonder.”
May we be like the Latter-day Saints who heard President Snow’s words 110 years ago, responding to his call and accomplished something that caused the nations to marvel.
“The centuries have passed. The latter-day work of the Almighty, that of which the ancients spoke, that of which the prophets and apostles prophesied, is come. It is here. For some reason unknown to us, but in the wisdom of God, we have been privileged to come to earth in this glorious age . . . , “ said President Gordon B. Hinckley in October 1999 general conference address.
“We stand on the summit of the ages, awed by a great and solemn sense of history. This is the last and final dispensation toward which all in the past has pointed. I bear testimony and witness of the reality and truth of these things. . . .
“And so we shall go forward on a continuing path of growth and progress and enlargement, touching for good the lives of people everywhere” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “At the Summit of the Ages,” Ensign, November 1999, p. 74). — Viewpoint, “Summit of the Ages,” Church News, January 8, 2011, p. 16
If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. — “The Publicity Dilemma,” LDS Newsroom, March 9, 2009
One other point needs to be made. Since it is clear that there were Christians long before there was a New Testament or even an accumulation of the sayings of Jesus, it cannot therefore be maintained that the Bible is what makes one a Christian. In the words of esteemed New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, “The risen Jesus, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, does not say, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to the books you are all going to write,’ but [rather] ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.’” In other words, “Scripture itself points . . . away from itself and to the fact that final and true authority belongs to God himself.” ( N. T. Wright, The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture (2005), xi.) So the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge for Latter-day Saints. They are manifestations of the ultimate source. The ultimate source of knowledge and authority for a Latter-day Saint is the living God. The communication of those gifts comes from God as living, vibrant, divine revelation. (For a full essay on this subject, see Dallin H. Oaks, “Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 6–9)
This doctrine lies at the very heart of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of our message to the world. It dramatizes the significance of a solemn assembly yesterday, in which we sustained Thomas S. Monson as a prophet, a seer, and a revelator. We believe in a God who is engaged in our lives, who is not silent, not absent, nor, as Elijah said of the god of the priests of Baal, is He “[on] a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be [awakened].” (1 Kings 18:27.) In this Church, even our young Primary children recite, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” (Articles of Faith 1:9)
In declaring new scripture and continuing revelation, we pray we will never be arrogant or insensitive. But after a sacred vision in a now sacred grove answered in the affirmative the question “Does God exist?” what Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints force us to face is the next interrogative, which necessarily follows: “Does He speak?” We bring the good news that He does and that He has. With a love and affection born of our Christianity, we invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since biblical times and is saying even now.
In a sense Joseph Smith and his prophetic successors in this Church answer the challenge Ralph Waldo Emerson put to the students of the Harvard Divinity School 170 years ago this coming summer. To that group of the Protestant best and brightest, the great sage of Concord pled that they teach “that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.” (“An Address,” The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1929), 45)
I testify that the heavens are open. I testify that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ. I testify that Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet, a modern apostle with the keys of the kingdom in his hands, a man upon whom I personally have seen the mantle fall. I testify that the presence of such authorized, prophetic voices and ongoing canonized revelations have been at the heart of the Christian message whenever the authorized ministry of Christ has been on the earth. I testify that such a ministry is on the earth again, and it is found in this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “My Words . . . Never Cease,” Ensign, May 2008
Persecution has not stopped the progress of truth, but has only added fuel to the flame, it has spread with increasing rapidity. Proud of the cause which they have espoused, and conscious of our innocence, and of the truth of their system, ‘midst calumny and reproach, have the Elders of this Church gone forth, and planted the Gospel in almost every state in the Union; it has penetrated our cities, it has spread over our villages, and has caused thousands of our intelligent, noble, and patriotic citizens to obey its divine mandates, and be governed by its sacred truths. It has also spread into England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, where, in the year 1840, a few of our missionaries were sent, and over five thousand joined the Standard of Truth; there are numbers now joining in every land.
Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done. — Joseph Smith, “The Wentworth Letter,” March 1, 1842, Nauvoo, IL
“Mormonism” keeps men and women young and handsome; and when they are full of the Spirit of God, there are none of them but what will have a glow upon their countenances; and that is what makes you and me young; for the Spirit of God is with us and within us. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 5:210
All knowledge and wisdom and every good that the heart of man can desire is within the circuit and circle of the faith we have embraced. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 13:150
When people receive this Gospel, what do they sacrifice? Why, death for life. This is what they give; darkness for light, error for truth, doubt and unbelief for knowledge and the certainty of the things of God. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 16:161
Our business is communication. We must speak with people across the world. We must speak at home to let our stand be known, and abroad to acquaint others with our work. And so we own a newspaper, the Deseret News, the oldest business institution in Utah.
We likewise own television and radio stations. These provide a voice in the communities which they serve. I may add that we are sometimes embarrassed by network television presentations. Our people do the best they can to minimize the impact of these.
We have a real estate arm designed primarily to ensure the viability and the attractiveness of properties surrounding Temple Square. The core of many cities has deteriorated terribly. This cannot be said of Salt Lake City, although you may disagree as you try to get to the Tabernacle these days. We have tried to see that this part of the community is kept attractive and viable. With the beautiful grounds of Temple Square and the adjoining block to the east, we maintain gardens the equal of any in the world. This area will become even more attractive when the facility now being constructed on Main Street is completed and the large Conference Center to the north is finished.
Are these businesses operated for profit? Of course they are. They operate in a competitive world. They pay taxes. They are important citizens of this community. And they produce a profit, and from that profit comes the money which is used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation to help with charitable and worthwhile causes in this community and abroad and, more particularly, to assist in the great humanitarian efforts of the Church.
These businesses contribute one-tenth of their profit to the Foundation. The Foundation cannot give to itself or to other Church entities, but it can use its resources to assist other causes, which it does so generously. Millions of dollars have been so distributed. Thousands upon thousands have been fed. They have been supplied with medicine. They have been supplied with clothing and shelter in times of great emergency and terrible distress. How grateful I feel for the beneficence of this great Foundation which derives its resources from the business interests of the Church. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Why We Do Some of the Things We Do,” Ensign, November 1999
Stick to the ship of Zion. If boats come to the side, showing beautiful colors and making wonderful promises, do not get off the ship to go to the shore on any other boat; but keep on the ship. If you are badly used by any of those that are on the ship, who have not got the proper spirit, remember the ship itself is all right. We should not allow our minds to become soured because of anything that the people on the ship may do to us; the ship is all right, and the officers are all right, and we will be right if we stick to the ship. I can assure you it will take you right into the land of glory. (Deseret Semi-Weekly News, Mar. 30, 1897, 1.) — Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, p. 67
This day of organization was, in effect, a day of commencement, the graduation for Joseph from ten years of remarkable schooling. It had begun with the incomparable vision in the grove in the spring of 1820, when the Father and the Son appeared to the fourteen-year-old boy. It had continued with the tutoring from Moroni, with both warnings and instructions given on multiple occasions. Then there was the translation of the ancient record, and the inspiration, the knowledge, the revelation that came from that experience. There was the bestowal of divine authority, the ancient priesthood again conferred upon men by those who were its rightful possessors – John the Baptist in the case of the Aaronic Priesthood, and Peter, James, and John in the case of the Melchizedek. There were revelations, a number of them, in which the voice of God was heard again, and the channel of communication opened between man and the Creator. All of these were preliminary to that historic April 6. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “150-Year Drama: A Personal View of Our History,” Ensign, April 1980, pp. 11–12
The organization of the Church of Jesus Christ in 1830 was one of the great miracles of the latter days. Even though that small meeting in Fayette, New York, went unnoticed by most people, the events of that day have changed the world. . . .
President Wilford Woodruff told of a meeting in which the Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied of the Church’s growth. The meeting was in “a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland, and who had gathered together to go off in Zion’s camp.” After several of the men had borne their testimonies of the work, the Prophet said:
“Brethren I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it. . . . It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America – it will fill the world. (in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, 57.) — Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lesson Manual, Lesson 9, 2013
The Church is healthy. The people generally are faithful. They are happy. Recently a prominent eastern visitor asked me the question “Why are you, the Mormon people, such happy folks?” And my answer was, “It is because we have everything – the gospel of Jesus Christ, the light, the priesthood, the power, the promises, the covenants, the temples, our families, the truth.” — President Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things That I Say?” Ensign, May 1975
To emphasize our responsibility to rescue those in need, share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Our message is so imperative, when you stop to think that the salvation, the eternal salvation of the world, rests upon the shoulders of this Church. When all is said and done, if the world is going to be saved, we have to do it. There is no escaping from that. No other people in the history of the world have received the kind of mandate that we have received. We are responsible for all who have lived upon the earth. That involves our family history and temple work. We are responsible for all who now live upon the earth, and that involves our missionary work. And we are going to be responsible for all who will yet live upon the earth.” — Church News, 3 July 1999, p. 3