Through trial and suffering, Joseph Smith brought together all the elements of the gospel, "fitted together like a beautiful puzzle," said Bishop Richard C. Edgley.
"The true nature of God has been restored," he said. "The priesthood is upon the earth. Baptisms can be performed with authority. Temple covenants bind families together forever. The Atonement and Resurrection are meaningful events, affecting the lives of millions. And living prophets today bring divine light to a trouble world."
Addressing 22,000 Church members gathered in the BYU Marriott Center for the university's annual Campus Education Week devotional Aug. 15, Bishop Edgley, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, spoke on "Joseph Smith the Prophet."
Bishop Edgley's address followed the theme of Education Week, "The Prophet Joseph Smith: 'Whom I did Call upon . . . to Bring Forth my Work' " (Doctrine and Covenants 136:37).
The Church, now the fourth largest Christian church in the United States, continues to grow from humble beginnings some 175 years ago, Bishop Edgley said.
"The reason this Church grows so rapidly is this: A young boy of only 14 years of age went into a grove of trees to petition his God in a simple matter of prayer," said Bishop Edgley. "And in his innocence and to his great surprise, the unimaginable happened. The heavens opened, God and Christ appeared, angels descended, and the true gospel of Jesus Christ, with its authority, doctrine, and ordinances, was restored to the earth in its simplicity and its purity."
Because of that event, he added, Church members can speak about eternal families, the purpose of life and other doctrines as revealed by God. "And any honest, seeking person can have a personal revelation from God about the truthfulness of this event. And that is why this Church grows so rapidly."
Bishop Edgley asked the vast congregation to remember two prophecies received in the infancy of the Restoration. The first, given by the angel Moroni on Sept. 21, 1823, advised Joseph that his name "should be had for good and evil among all nations." The second comes from the Doctrine and Covenants as recorded on October 1831: "From thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth" (Doctrine and Covenants 65:2).
"Imagine such incredible prophecies coming from an uneducated, obscure boy from an obscure village where he was known only to family, close friends and the Lord," said Bishop Edgley. "What boldness and impertinence to declare the unthinkable before the whole world."
He added, "Because of what (Joseph) taught, because of what he restored, because of what he endured, and because of what he lived," both prophesies have and will come to pass.
"The persecution, the ridicule, the attacks remain even today. . . . However, to the thinking and honest, the question of Joseph Smith has moved from ridiculing him and trying to disprove him to wonderment and awe."
E-mail to: [email protected]