As an instrument in the hands of God,1 Joseph Smith laid the foundation for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to be taken to the world. “The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent,” Joseph declared, “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.”2
Through Joseph the Lord sent missionaries throughout the world. “We don’t ask any people to throw away any good they have got,” the Prophet explained. “We only ask them to come and get more.”3
Even as Church President, Joseph Smith himself preached the gospel from Massachusetts to Missouri and into Canada. “Had a great congregation [that] paid good attention,” his 1833 journal records. He continued, “O God, seal our testimony to their hearts.” A week later he wrote: “I bear record to the people. The Lord gave His spirit in a marvelous manner for which I am thankful to the God of Abraham.” He then noted 14 baptisms over two days.4
Joseph counseled the Saints, “Let every one labor to prepare himself for the vineyard.”5 6
Joseph Smith Quotes
“If there are any doors open for the Elders to preach the first principles of the gospel: let them not keep silence: rail not against the sects, neither talk against their tenets. But preach Christ and him crucified, love to God, and love to man. . . . Be meek and lowly of heart, and the Lord God of our fathers shall be with you for evermore” (letter from Joseph Smith and others to Hezekiah Peck and others, Aug. 31, 1835, Kirtland, Ohio, in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee (2002), 366).
“We don’t ask any people to throw away any good they have got; we only ask them to come and get more. What if all the world should embrace this Gospel? They would then see eye to eye, and the blessings of God would be poured out upon the people, which is the desire of my whole soul” (History of the Church, 5:259).
“Do not be discouraged on account of the greatness of the work; only be humble and faithful. . . . He who scattered Israel has promised to gather them; therefore inasmuch as you are to be instrumental in this great work, He will endow you with power, wisdom, might, and intelligence, and every qualification necessary” (History of the Church, 4:128–29).
Parley P. Pratt, Apostle, 1835–1857
“One of the women [who visited the incarcerated Prophet] . . . turning to Mr. Smith, inquired whether he professed to be the Lord and Savior? . . . Mr. Smith replied, that he professed to be nothing but a man, and a minister of salvation sent by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel. This answer so surprised the woman, that she began to inquire into our doctrine; and Mr. Smith preached a discourse both to her and her companions, and to the wondering soldiers, who listened with almost breathless attention, while he set forth the doctrine of faith in Jesus Christ. . . . The woman was satisfied, and praised God in the hearing of the soldiers, and went away praying aloud that God would protect and deliver us” (History of the Late Persecution (1839), 45; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization modernized).
Mary Ann Winters, Early Member of the Church
“I stood close by the Prophet while he was preaching to the Indians in the Grove by the [Nauvoo] Temple. The Holy Spirit lighted up his countenance till it glowed like a halo around him, and his words penetrated the hearts of all who heard him and the Indians looked as solemn as Eternity” (in “Joseph Smith, the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal, Dec. 1905, 558).
Lorenzo Snow, Fifth President of the Church, 1898–1901
“I heard the Prophet discourse upon the grandest of subjects. At times he was filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking as with the voice of an archangel and filled with the power of God, his whole person shone and his face was lightened until it appeared as the whiteness of the driven snow” (in LeRoi C. Snow, “How Lorenzo Snow Found God,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1937, 84).
Why did Joseph Smith call missionaries to proclaim the restored gospel?
Mission calls did not originate with Joseph Smith. The Lord commanded, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16: 15). Most mission calls that came through Joseph Smith came by direct revelation, such as those called in June 1831 (see Doctrine and Covenants 52). “Souls are as precious in the sight of God as they ever were,” Joseph once explained, “and the Elders were . . . called to . . . persuade and invite all men everywhere to repent, that they may become the heirs of salvation” (History of the Church, 2:229).
What counsel was given to missionaries?
Hyrum Smith offered this counsel: “God has commanded you to preach repentance to this generation; and if this generation will not receive the first principles of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon, they will receive nothing greater. Just go and do as you are told and God will bless you. It is the power of God that is going to convert the world, and nothing but the power of God. . . . It is the honest and pure in heart that will harken to the everlasting covenant” (History of the Church, 6:320; paragraph divisions altered).
Online Resources at LDS.org
“Missionary Work Goes Forward”—in “Building the Kingdom in Kirtland, Ohio,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1996), 29–33
“The Infant Church Expands”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 79–88
“O Ye That Embark in the Service of God”—Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2002), 11–12
“The Church Will Fill the World”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2004), 17
Online Resources at BYU
“Light on the ‘Mission to the Lamanites’”—Leland H. Gentry, BYU Studies, vol. 36, no. 2 (1996–97), 226–34
Missionary covenant of Oliver Cowdery and others, as well as a February 14, 1831, letter from Cowdery and a February 15, 1831, letter from Indian agent Richard W. Cummins. Both letters are written to the superintendent of Indian affairs requesting permission to establish a mission to the Native Americans.
“The Impact of the First Preaching in Ohio”—Richard L. Anderson, BYU Studies, vol. 11, no. 4 (1971): 474–96
Includes a copy of the covenant among the first four missionaries.