God Himself called Joseph Smith as the prophet of the latter days to restore His true gospel to the earth. Over centuries, the true Church of Jesus Christ had fallen into apostasy. Christ's teachings had been corrupted and the ordinances of salvation changed. This apostasy ended with the calling of Joseph Smith, an obscure farm boy 14 years of age, as a prophet.
Having proven faithful over the 10 years since his First Vision, Joseph Smith was sustained by vote of the Church as a prophet, seer, revelator, translator, and apostle of Jesus Christ on April 6, 1830.
Hyrum Smith said, "There were prophets before, but Joseph has the spirit and power of all the prophets" (History of the Church, 6:346).
"The duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church . . . yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God" (D&C 107:91–92).
As President of the Church, the Prophet Joseph received constant guidance from heaven. "It is my meditation all the day," he said, "to know how I shall make the Saints of God comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind" (History of the Church, 5:362).
Joseph Smith was foreordained by God to restore His work from all previous dispensations. "Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world," taught Joseph Smith, "was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council" (History of the Church, 6:364).
"It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people" (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 108).
Jesus Christ showed Joseph of Egypt in vision Joseph Smith, saying: "A seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word" (2 Nephi 3:11).
"He that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together" (D&C 50:22).
"Teach the children of men the things which I have put into your hands by the power of my Spirit" (D&C 43:15).
As an instrument in the hands of God, 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" (History of the Church, 4:540).
"Purify your hearts before me; and then go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel" (D&C 112:28).
"We don't ask any people to throw away any good they have got," the Prophet [Joseph Smith] explained. "We only ask them to come and get more" (History of the Church, 5:259).
Joseph led with love. He recognized the worth of every soul as a child of God. When asked why so many followed him, he replied: "It is because I possess the principle of love" (History of the Church, 5:498).
"He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all" (D&C 50:26).
What set Joseph Smith apart from other dynamic leaders was the source of his teachings: the God of Heaven. "The best way to obtain truth and wisdom," he taught, "is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 191).