We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
Revelation is central to the Mormon religion. Joseph Smith organized the Church and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ because of revelations he had experienced, starting with his first vision in 1820. The Mormon Church was organized according to revelations that are recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. In one of these revelations, the Mormon religion is referred to as a “living church” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30). The characteristic that makes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a living church is revelation.
First, a distinction must be made between revelation and inspiration. The Mormon religion contends that the gospel and church of Jesus Christ must be organized under proper authority. The Lord gave that authority to the apostles, but a gradual apostasy occurred beginning shortly after the death of the apostles. Attendant with that authority, which is called the priesthood, revelation is necessary to sustain the life of the Church and confirm that the direction it is going is in harmony with the will of God. In absence of any revelation or true authority since the great apostasy, Christianity became greatly diversified in doctrine and practice. According to Mormon beliefs, such revelation was again given to Joseph Smith. This is the kind of revelation meant to guide a dispensation of the kingdom of God on Earth. It is not the same as the personal help and inspiration that has always flowed freely from God to his petitioning children. Mormonism accepts that divine inspiration has been offered and received throughout the apostasy of nearly 1800 years. Evidences can be found in the Book of Mormon itself, that the settling of the Americas by Europeans was inspired of God.
Whether through dreams, visions, the ministering of angels, or the voice of the Holy Ghost, Mormon religion proclaims that through revelation the Lord speaks to His prophets concerning His will.
The Mormon religion teaches the truth of past revelation, as contained in the Bible. The accounts of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other prophets are real and the word of God. The Bible is more than a religious history and is meant for the instruction and edification of God’s children today. All the prophets of the Old Testament wrote the word of God, and their prophecies have or will come true. From Genesis to Malachi, the Mormon religion accepts these words as written by revelation. The New Testament is also entirely accepted and central to the Mormon religion, as containing the ministry and gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ is a prophet and revelator, too, but, far beyond that, divine and the Son of God. It is written that the words which He spoke were not His own, but the words of the Father. He revealed the will of God to men on earth. His apostles followed Him. Ordained under His own hand, they preached the message revealed to them by the Holy Ghost. Their writings make up the New Testament.
Mormons believe the writings of the Bible to be God’s revelations to the ancient world, and they adhere to its teachings. Mormons also believe in modern revelation. God has always revealed His will to mankind. Amos 3:7 supports this: Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. There is no evidence that the Lord ever revoked this edict, so there is every reason to believe that God would again choose a prophet to whom He would speak. The Mormon religion was founded by such a prophet–Joseph Smith. When Mormons refer to “modern revelation,” they mean revelation from the time of Joseph Smith’s first vision in 1820 until the present. It is this belief that is peculiar to the Mormon religion. According to this belief, the need for continuing revelation is evident in the divisions of belief and practice which developed in Christianity after the Lord ascended. The reestablishment of the organization of the church that the Lord had set up nearly two thousand years ago, was managed in over one hundred revelations given to Joseph Smith and a few successors, now compiled in the Doctrine and Covenants. This is evidence of the corrective need for revelation to keep the philosophies of men from mingling with the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in addition to the necessity to communicate a new or lost teaching or principle. Modern revelation has continued from Joseph Smith through every Mormon Church president. The official statements made by the prophet of the Church are the revealed will of God in the Mormon religion, and obedience to his counsel will bring the promises and blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God has always revealed His will to prophets, continues to do so, and there is every reason to await further revelation in the Mormon religion, which will be received with equal zeal to current doctrine. God teaches man little by little, through revelation from the prophets. These revelations make known the will of God and are continually necessary. Were it not so, the gospel taught to Adam should have sufficed for the duration of the earth’s existence. But each dispensation of time has its own challenges. According to the faith and knowledge of mankind, the Lord reveals a little at a time to aid our progression in receiving the fullness of His gospel and the greatest rewards in the kingdom of God.