This past weekend, the LDS Church held a General Conference where the prophet, his counselors, the apostles, and other Church leaders spoke to the entire membership of the Church (nearly 14.5 million and growing worldwide) and anyone else who cared to participate. Elder Donald Hallstrom, in the Presidency of the Seventy which is a leadership body beneath the Apostles in LDS Church authority, taught that the purpose of the Church [of Jesus Christ] is to help us live the gospel [of Jesus Christ]. He also taught about the plan of God for each of us. He said:
The gospel is the glorious plan of God in which we, as His children, are given the opportunity to receive all that the Father has (see D&C 84:38). This is called eternal life and is described as “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). A vital part of the plan is our earthly experience—a time to develop faith (see Moroni 7:26), to repent (see Mosiah 3:12), and to reconcile ourselves with God (see Jacob 4:11).
Because our mortal frailties and “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11) would make this life profoundly difficult and because we could not cleanse our own sins, a Savior was needed. When Elohim, the Eternal God and Father of all our spirits, presented His plan of salvation, there was one among us who said, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27). His name was Jehovah.
Born of a Heavenly Father, both spiritually and physically, He possessed the omnipotence to overcome the world. Born of an earthly mother, He was subject to the pain and suffering of mortality. The great Jehovah was also named Jesus and additionally was given the title of Christ, meaning the Messiah or Anointed One. His crowning achievement was the Atonement, wherein Jesus the Christ “descended below all things” (D&C 88:6), making it possible for Him to pay a redeeming ransom for each of us.
In the LDS Church, we call this plan of God 'the plan of happiness' and 'the plan of salvation.' Dispelling a common myth about Mormons, Mormons believe that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, just as every other Christian. Dispelling another myth, we believe that Joseph Smith was called of God as a prophet. We do not worship him. We worship Jesus Christ and God the Father. We seek guidance and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead. We revere Joseph Smith and feel immense gratitude for his work in restoring the Church of Jesus Christ again to the earth, as directed by Jesus Christ, and following the same organization that existed in the Church of Jesus Christ when Jesus lived on earth Himself.The Church was established by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). In this, “the dispensation of the fulness of times” (D&C 128:18), the Lord restored what once was, specifically telling the Prophet Joseph Smith, “I will establish a church by your hand” (D&C 31:7). Jesus Christ was and is the head of His Church, represented on earth by prophets holding apostolic authority.