Summary: Does Joseph Smith pass the Bible's test of a true prophet?
Take note of these statements made by the Mormon church in their writings:
-Doctrine And Covenants 135:3 “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world than any other man that ever lived in it.”
-Doctrines of Salvation: Joseph F. Smith: “There is not salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth…then this knowledge is of the most vital importance to the entire world. No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences for he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Vol. 1, pp. 189-190
-History of the Church: Brigham Young: “Every spirit that confesses that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, that lived and died a Prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true, is of God, and every spirit that does not is of anti-Christ.” Vol. 7, p. 287
These statements made by the Mormon church are obviously some very bold statements. They tell us that there can not be salvation outside of the teachings of Joseph Smith. His name must be given to enter heaven. These statements exalt Joseph Smith up to the level of Jesus Christ, whose name the Bible says is the only name that can be given under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
The Mormon faith, as even their own leaders will say, stands or falls on Joseph Smith’s claims. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, then what he taught was from God and the above statements of Mormon leaders is true. But if it is proven that Joseph Smith is not a prophet, then the organization that he started is a false prophet and should not be listened to. One Mormon leader said this:
“[The] Church stands or falls with Joseph Smith. Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false…If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions… The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures.”
I agree with Mr. Smith. There are only two choices. There cannot be any middle ground. Either Joseph Smith is from God or he is a fraud. The way we can know whether or not a prophet is from God is to look at the things that they prophesy and teach. In Deuteronomy chapters thirteen and eighteen, the Lord gives us criteria to use to know whether someone is a prophet sent from God:
-“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 "You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 "But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery , to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
-“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’– 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
From these two verses, we see that God tells us that we need to test the things that were prophesied by someone to see if they came to pass. If the prophesies do not come to pass, then they are a false prophet. But even though prophecies may come true and a prophet does miracles, we must compare what they teach and say about God to scripture to make sure they are telling us to follow after the same God. If they are teaching a different God that teaches different doctrines, then we must not follow them.