How has the Restoration Brought Me Closer to Christ

My middle school speech teacher definitely taught me to never begin a speech with, “today my speech will be about…”, but I’m going to do it today anyway.

Today I will be building off of….and sharing how the restoration has brought me closer to Christ.  I had difficulty in even beginning to organize my thoughts on this topic, because the Restoration encompasses so much. When you hear “restoration”, what do you think of?  When the Restoration of the church is mentioned my mind immediately goes to green trees and the scene of Joseph Smith offering a prayer as is described in the lyrics of the music you just heard, but the First Vision, as we like to call it, is one of many events in the restoration and will not be my primary focus today.  Because of that event and God’s continuing love for us, we have received several things from the Restoration that particularly bring me closer to Christ.  I’ll focus on 3 of them:  the Book of Mormon, priesthood ordinances, and witnessing of Christ.

Book of Mormon

Back when I was in young women’s, we participated in a program called personal progress.  There were several different values we focused on such as faith, divine nature, individual worth and so on.  For each of these values we had to complete a 10 hour project that would help us develop that character trait or deepen our understanding of the spiritual principle.  My mom was very wise and knew that by the time I turned 16 and was taking advanced classes in high school I probably wouldn’t have as much time or interest to dedicate to these projects, so she encouraged me to work diligently on my projects as soon as I turned 12 years old and joined our small young women’s group where I grew up in Texas.  At first I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into the project I chose, mostly just selecting from the ideas suggested in the book or from my mom, but there is one project in particular that was especially impactful.  I promise this will connect with the restoration–hang with me.  

My mom and I had driven to Louisiana to visit my Grandmother–I can’t recall the occasion–but I remember that a tree had fallen on my grandmother’s house and things had been moved around during the repair.  One box that found me contained letter after letter folded back into each envelope that had been cleanly sliced open with a letter opener.  I had found a treasure! And there wasn’t just one box of letters, there was another that had been mostly saved from the rain that accompanied the house-wrecking fallen tree.  They were letters from my grandfather to my grandmother during his service in World War II before they were yet married.  I was immediately intrigued and a much more than 10 hour project was born.  We transported the letters back home to Texas where I would spend hours carefully opening each envelope, straightening the paper, sliding the pages into sheet protectors, and of course reading them!  Scanning vast amounts of paper was clumsy at that time, but I hoped to create an organized catalog of these letters in a binder to one day be digitized.  Part of the reason this was such a treasure to me was that I actually never met my grandfather–he died before I was born.  Spending so much time reading those letters and putting them in sequential order made him come alive for me.  I felt like I had a clear window into his life and courtship with my grandmother.  I spent so much time with his written word, that I soon came to know him, even though I’d never truly met him.  

Can you see where this is going?  I was working on restoring some old letters and in reading those letters I came to know the author.  One of the greatest blessings of the Restoration is Another Testament of Jesus Christ–the Book of Mormon.  The teachings of Christ and testimonies of prophets recorded in the Book of Mormon have helped me come to know both myself and Jesus Christ.  The Book of Mormon paints of picture of Christ’s characteristics in a way that adds depth to the words we read in the Old and New Testament. 

One experience I’ve had with the Book of Mormon stands out when I think about being drawn closer to Christ.  At this time I was in more of a spiritual low and not progressing on goals that I had for myself very well.  It was summertime, so as a teacher I had more time to spare and my time was idling away.  I decided to speed read the Book of Mormon over a very short span of time–I want to say less than a week, but I don’t remember.  I wasn’t going to stop and study every footnote and do a great deal of highlighting, I was just going to read it through. Studying just a verse or two at a time can be very enlightening, but at this time I was amazed at the insights I received from reading quickly.  It was actually captivating!  I could easily recall all the relationships between the people I was reading and getting the bigger picture of God’s dealings with the people in the Book of Mormon helped me see themes that I could apply to my life.  Reading books, particularly fantasy, is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s something that in my current phase of life I seldom get to do, unless you count Go Dog Go and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but one thing that I love about reading that you are transported into a different time and place, yet you can still see bits and pieces of yourself and the characters on the pages and identify with their story. Reading about other people doing other things, you can recognize things about yourself. Sometimes being one step removed from yourself helps you see your own story from another perspective, recognize changes you might need to make, or see character traits you might like to develop. In reading the letters from my grandfather to my grandmother, I learned so much about that time in history and my grandmother and grandfather’s relationship.. In the same way reading the book of Mormon has transformed my life. It is one of the precious gifts of the restoration and has strengthened my relationship with Jesus Christ.  You might recall a couple years ago that President Nelson presented to us a new proclamation, all about the restoration.  In that proclamation it mentions the Book of Mormon stating:

It teaches of life’s purpose and explains the doctrine of Christ, which is central to that purpose. As a companion scripture to the Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies that all human beings are sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven, that He has a divine plan for our lives, and that His Son, Jesus Christ, speaks today as well as in days of old.

Just understanding that one truth–that we are sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven–gives our lives direction and meaning.

In the institute class that Pres. Somerville gave a couple weeks ago he mentioned a quote from Neil L Andersen from 2020 in which he talks about how the next big danger to us or Christianity is an attack on faith in Jesus Christ.  To keep our faith strong in Christ we can rely on the Book of Mormon as a gift of the Restoration.  Elder Andersen says:

The Book of Mormon is a powerful witness of Jesus Christ. Virtually every page testifies of the Savior and His divine mission. An understanding of His Atonement and grace saturates its pages. I love that word ‘saturates’. In my Chemistry classes when we talk about saturation we make an aqueous solution by mixing a solid chemical, say potassium chloride in water.  You can visualize when it is saturated by noticing when the solid no longer dissolves in the liquid–it collects at the bottom of the beaker.  That solution is completely full of ions-no more can fit between water molecules.  Every possible space is taken.  In Biology we learn about saturated fats–hydrocarbon chains where there is a hydrogen atom branching off of every Carbon.  Every possible space is taken.  So for Elder Andersen to say that “an understanding of Christ’s Atonement and grace saturates the pages of the Book of Mormon–every possible space on its pages is full of the Savior.”  He goes on to say  As a companion to the New Testament, the Book of Mormon helps us better understand why the Savior came to rescue us and how we can more profoundly come unto Him.

As I thought this week about the word “restoration” and books I couldn’t get one scene from the movie National Treasure out of my head.  If you’ve seen it you know that Nicholas Cage is racing to steal the Declaration of Independence before other treasure hunters get to it.  The hundreds-year old document is stored safely in a glass case filled with gas…but the main characters handle the document roughly, pour lemon juice on it and expose it to all kinds of things that historians and document technicians would be distraught to observe.  Going down this rabbit hole about the science of document preservation I learned from one source that:

The greatest threats to paper are all too small for our eyes to see. Fungal spores are eager to feast on the organic compounds contained in paper, which would allow the mold to quickly reproduce and escalate the destruction of the document. Additionally, the presence of bacteria and fungi can draw insects, which will draw even larger pests like mice and rats that can destroy a document in mere seconds.

In the context of our faith in Christ, what are the greatest threats that seem so small?  Could our complacency with some aspects of discipleship open the door for larger destruction down the road?  Many prophets have counseled us to read the Book of Mormon daily.  President Monson said: 

I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.

That promise is exactly what all of us need, or at least I do.  President Nelson has stressed understanding the voice of the Spirit in our lives, we need help in resisting temptations, and many of us struggle with doubts or fears.  I think we could all agree that we need heaven’s help in our lives.

Just as if we were trying to preserve a piece of parchment from 200 years ago, we must preserve our faith in Christ.  And one way to do that is to study the Book of Mormon, one of the greatest tools to build faith that comes of the Restoration.


Growing up in the panhandle of Texas, just about everyone was a part of a church.  Going to church was a part of the culture where I grew up, whether or not you were a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I always wondered if other kids thought their church was the ‘only true church’ as I heard people say in our testimony meetings. Clearly something important was different about this church, but as a kid I didn’t quite understand what we meant by the “fullness of the gospel”.  I think the answer lies in an understanding of the Restoration and the Priesthood.  “Because of the Restoration, the teachings and ordinances necessary for salvation are available to all people.  Ordinances, both for the living and the dead, have opened Heaven’s windows for me.  Where I grew up, the temple was a two hour drive away, so youth temple trips ended up being an all day event on a Saturday.  There were often conflicts between our quarterly temple trips and other obligations I had with choir or music recitals or academic competitions. I remember hearing some counsel a few years ago about making an appointment to attend the temple and let nothing get in your way to attend at that time.  In my youth this worked really well and I began to grow a testimony of providing saving ordinances for others in the temple.  As I progressed through college and graduated and started looking for my first job, I desired to make further covenants in the temple.  Because of the Restoration of the gospel we have over 265 temples across the world to help provide ordinances to God’s children.  

Think for a moment–what are your top two happiest moments in life so far?….when I asked a few coworkers this question they mentioned things like the birth of a child or grandchild or a wedding day.  Chances are that your happiest memories include people that are really important to you.  The bonds that we have with others are incredibly special and made even more special by the ordinances that we participate in today.  The covenants we make and the ordinances we perform can link us inseparably with the divine and with our families.  Think of the joy you may have experienced when you were baptized or when you were sealed to a spouse–that joy comes from Jesus Christ and is present in our bonds with Him and with each other. 

The cool thing about going to the temple is that it changes YOUR life and brings you closer to Christ, while doing the same for someone else–that person who you do the temple work for.  The Bible talks about us being yoked with Christ and there’s no better way to do that than to make covenants with Him. Aren’t we blessed to be living during the Restoration?

God is Near

I’d like to visit the New Testament for one of my favorite stories to tell of Levi. Jesus and his disciples were traveling to Galilee and needed to go through Samaria.  You’ll remember that the Jews and the Samaritans were not friends.  The Jews considered the Samaritans unclean and would even travel a day or two extra just to avoid Samaria. Jesus’ disciples had gone into town to buy meat as John 4 states and Jesus stopped and sat on a well.  I believe it was about noon. So I’m imagining a well way outside of town in the middle of a hot Tucson summer day.  I know I’m definitely inside enjoying my air conditioning at that point, so it was no coincidence that one lone Samaritan woman approaches the well.  Jesus asks her for a drink.  She of course is surprised that Jesus (or probably anyone) is willingly interacting with her, a Samaritan. And Jesus responds, “If thou newest the gift of God, and who it is that is talking to you, you would have asked HIM for a drink, “and he would have given the living water”. She responds, a little confused, addressing him as “Sir” and asking how would you even get water, you didn’t bring anything to draw with.  Jesus again reiterates that “whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst”.  Their conversation goes on and Jesus reveals that he knows more about the woman than any stranger should.  She then “perceives that He is a prophet”. They continue talking and the woman shares what she does know about the gospel–she knows that the Messiah, or Christ, will come and will “tell us all things”. Jesus then explains, “I that speak unto thee am he”.  She recognizes Him as the Christ and runs to tell others.

Christ does the same for us.  He meets us where we’re at.  For the woman at the well she may have been an outcast even among Samaritans, fetching water in the hottest part of the day.  Christ might come to us in the hottest part of our lives.  And He will reveal Himself line by line until we can recognize His hand in our lives.  We then can use our testimony to run and tell others.  The story of the woman at the well is not so different from the story of Joseph Smith’s first vision.  To quote a Christmas hymn, “God is not dead nor doth he sleep”.  God comes to us, reveals himself to us, and then helps us share that light with others.

To me the ultimate message of the Restoration is that God is near.  That He is real and that He answers are prayers.  If he answered the prayer of a young boy who had never uttered a real prayer out loud before, God will answer mine too.  I haven’t seen God in a grove of trees with my own eyes, but I know absolutely that He is real in a way that is unexplainable with all my earthly knowledge.  God still speaks to us today and when he speaks to us, you can feel the truth in your heart.  Having a personal witness that the gospel is true is a blessing of The Restoration that has brought me closer to Jesus Christ and that can bring you and all of our friends closer to Christ.  


The Restoration is an on-going event that has brought forth all the tools we need to stay firm in our faith–a roadmap or a testament of Christ to help us on our earthly journey, ordinances and covenants that keep us bound to the Saviour, and the ability to receive a personal testimony of Jesus Christ.


In the early spring, in a grove of trees, a young man knelt to pray.

For the world He knew was a world confused, and He wanted to know the way.

Then a pillar of light descended, and the Father and Son appeared.

When they spoke His name on that blessed day, the whole world changed.

Now there is more light to shine in the dark

And more hope to fill every heart.

More truth to know God is there

And He will answer our prayers.

More peace and strength in the storm

And more power to gather us home.

More faith to lead us closer to Jesus, our Lord.

All because His gospel was restored.

In a troubled time, in the growing strife, if heaven seems so far,

Find a quiet place, put the world away, and ask with an open heart

For the truth only God can give us, and the promise of joy and peace.

And the time to come, like the rising sun, when the whole world will see

That there is more light to shine in the dark

And more hope to fill every heart.

More truth to know God is there

And He will answer our prayers.

More peace and strength in the storm

And more power to gather us home.

More faith to lead us closer to Jesus, our Lord.

All because His gospel was restored.

All because His gospel was restored.

Written by Tori Ellingson