As the prophet called of God to re-establish His church on earth, Joseph Smith received numerous revelations that called for the restoration of lost doctrines, or doctrines previously unrevealed in their entirety.
Indeed, the Prophet "revolutionized the world in many aspects" (Parley P. Pratt, The Historical Record, 7:575) with startling insights into the nature of God and His kingdom on earth.Among these insights are the concepts that God has created multiple works and that man, His greatest creation, has been sent to earth with a divine purpose.
"These concepts - the multiplicity of the works of God and the central role man plays in these works - form the foundation of one of the most profound and motivational doctrines expounded by the Prophet," wrote Francis M. Gibbons in Joseph Smith - Martyr, Prophet of God.
In 1830, Joseph received the transcript of a revelation given to Moses, now known as the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. There, God announced to Moses that He had created "worlds without number," and that His chief work and glory was "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39.)
Elder Gibbons explained that through subsequent explanations of the distinction between immortality - that which is granted to all through Christ's atonement - and eternal life - that which is attainable only by constant adherence to gospel principles - Joseph Smith reconciled the controversy surrounding the relative influence of grace and works in gaining salvation.
The Prophet also made significant contributions to the world's limited knowledge of the nature of the Godhead and their relationship to mankind. Perhaps one doctrine that most distinguishes Latter-day Saints from other denominations is the conviction that all worthy men and women can become gods and goddesses.
The Prophet Joseph Smith first explained this doctrine in his discourse at the funeral of Elder King Follett:
"If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves. . . . God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man. . . . If you were to see Him today, you would see Him like a man in form - like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man. . . .
"It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another. . . . You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another. . . ." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-46.)
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the gospel doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Elayne Wells and Kellene Ricks
Sources: The Kingdom of God Restored by Carter E. Grant; Joseph Smith, Martyr, Prophet of God, by Francis M. Gibbons; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith; The Historical Record, by Parley P. Pratt; Profiles of the Prophets, by Emerson R. West.