A fervent and faithful disciple1 of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith “lived great . . . in the eyes of God and his people.”2 While the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ were lost upon the modern world, they were not lost on the young prophet.3 “I will always maintain a true principle,” he taught, “even if I stand alone in it.”4 His devotion to God continues to be an example to all.
As the Restoration5 unfolded, the Lord’s kingdom on earth required the minds and hearts of the people. Joseph taught, “A good man will endure all things to honor Christ.”6 He counseled, “Be faithful in the discharge of every duty,”7 and search your soul to see if “the kingdom of God8 is within you.”9 “If you wish to go where God is,” he admonished, “you must be like God.”10
To be disciples of the Lord in the latter days, our eyes must be single to His glory, our minds enlightened by “the testimony of Jesus,”11 and our hearts pure and consecrated.
Joseph Smith Quotes
“No month ever found me more busily engaged than November ; but as my life consisted of activity and unyielding exertions, I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it” (History of the Church, 2:170).
“I shall speak with authority of the Priesthood in the name of the Lord God, which shall prove a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. . . . If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses, for if we are not drawing towards God in principle, we are going from Him and drawing towards the devil. . . . Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins” (History of the Church, 4:588; paragraph divisions altered).
“Let those who come up to this place be determined to keep the commandments of God, . . . and then they will be prospered—the intelligence of heaven will be communicated to them, and they will, eventually, see eye to eye, and rejoice in the full fruition of that glory which is reserved for the righteous” (History of the Church, 4:273).
Wilford Woodruff, Fourth President of the Church, 1889–1898
“I have felt to rejoice exceedingly in what I saw of [Brother] Joseph, for in his public and private career he carried with him the Spirit of the Almighty, and he manifested a greatness of soul which I had never seen in any other man” (Deseret News, Jan. 20, 1858, 363).
Brigham Young, Second President of the Church, 1847–1877
“What is necessary to constitute a Saint, or a disciple of Jesus? It is simply this: a strict obedience to all the requirements of the ordinances of the house of God, and to be one in all things as the Father and the Son are one” (Deseret News, Jan. 9, 1867, 10).
Heber J. Grant, Seventh President of the Church, 1918–1945
“There is but one path of safety to the Latter-day Saints, and that is the path of duty. It is not a testimony, it is not marvelous manifestations, it is not knowing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that it is the plan of salvation, it is not actually knowing that the Savior is the Redeemer, and that Joseph Smith was His prophet, that will save you and me, but it is the keeping of the commandments of God, the living the life of a Latter-day Saint” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1915, 82).
How did Joseph Smith exemplify discipleship in his own life?
One attribute of Joseph’s discipleship was his ability to frankly forgive others. After he had been wronged by his friend William W. Phelps, he graciously accepted Phelps’s sincere apology and wrote to him, “Come on, dear brother, since the war is past, / For friends at first, are friends again at last” (History of the Church, 4:164). Brother Phelps later composed the lyrics of “Praise to the Man” (Hymns, no. 27).
Whom did Joseph Smith consider as an example of true discipleship to Christ?
Joseph expressed warm feelings toward many, but none excelled his feelings for his older brother Hyrum. “I could pray in my heart that all my brethren were like unto my beloved brother Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of a lamb, and the integrity of a Job, and in short, the meekness and humility of Christ,” reflected Joseph in 1835, “and I love him with that love that is stronger than death” (History of the Church, 2:338). Seven years later, Joseph’s feelings had only increased: “Brother Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got! Oh may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head, as a reward for the care you have had for my soul!” (History of the Church, 5:107–8).
What did those who knew Joseph say about him as a disciple of Christ?
One who commented on Joseph’s discipleship, Eliza R. Snow, said: “In the cause of truth and righteousness—in all that would benefit his fellow man, his integrity was as firm as the pillars of Heaven. He knew that God had called him to the work, and all the powers of earth and hell combined, failed, either to deter or divert him from his purpose. With the help of God and his brethren, he laid the foundation of the greatest work ever established by man—a work extending not only to all the living, and to all the generations to come, but also to the dead” (“Anniversary Tribute to the Memory of Pres. Joseph Smith,” Woman’s Exponent, Jan. 1, 1874, 117).
Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“Tribulation and Joy in Colesville”—in “Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ,” Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 71–74