Ten days before his assassination, Joseph Smith taught: “I do not regard my own life. I am ready to be offered a sacrifice for this people; for what can our enemies do? Only kill the body, and their power is then at an end. Stand firm, my friends; never flinch. Do not seek to save your lives, for he that is afraid to die for the truth, will lose eternal life. Hold out to the end, and we shall be resurrected and become like Gods, and reign in celestial kingdoms, principalities, and eternal dominions” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 531; see also History of the Church, 6:500).
On the morning that Joseph and Hyrum Smith rode by horseback to Carthage jail, Hyrum comforted his brother by reading him these words from the Book of Mormon: “Thou hast been faithful…wherefore…thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father” (Ether 12:37). It was becoming intensely clear that both brothers would complete their missions here on earth with their martyrdoms. As the final revelation in the 1844 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants concluded: “Henceforward their names will be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring forth the salvation of a ruined world…From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:6).
Strengthening Our Testimonies of Christ
To help each one of us understand how we can learn from their examples and be faithful in our testimonies, even unto death, one of the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening” in the November 22-28, Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 suggests that we view the video “Testimony of the Book of Mormon” (ChurchofJesusChrist.org; see also Jeffrey R. Holland, “Safety for the Soul,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 88-90). In this video, Elder Holland reaffirms the comforting promise that Jesus made in Jerusalem to His Apostles, “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37).
In the final hours of their lives, both Joseph and Hyrum bore earnest testimonies that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been restored to the earth, that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ, that the gospel would be proclaimed worldwide, and that Church members should strive diligently to live the gospel principles and ordinances (see B. H. Roberts, History of the Church, 6:610). Their lives and deaths are powerful examples for how Latter-day Saints should be willing to consecrate their lives to Christ.
Elder Robert D. Hales explains: “In the Lord’s service the path is not always easy. It often requires sacrifices, and we will likely experience adversity. But in serving Him, we discover that His hand is truly over us. So it was for Wycliffe, Tyndale, and thousands of others who prepared the way for the Restoration. So it was for the Prophet Joseph Smith and all who helped usher in the restored gospel. So it is and will be for us. The Lord expects us to be as faithful, as devoted, as courageous as those who went before us. They were called to give their lives for the gospel. We are called to live our lives for the same purpose” (“Preparations for the Restoration and the Second Coming,” Ensign, Nov. 2005).
Seek the Holy Ghost’s Constant Guidance
The Prophet Joseph Smith tirelessly taught the Saints to receive the things of God, but they faced enormous struggles. He explains: “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as ‘many are called, but few are chosen’ (Doctrine and Covenants 121:40)” (Teachings: Joseph Smith , 520; see also History of the Church, 6:185).
Does this not sound familiar to us? In our day we continue to face wide-ranging tests and trials. Like the Latter-day Saints in the days of Joseph Smith, we are continually challenged to rise up and show our Lord and Savior that we know that we too have a great work to do in preparing for His Second Coming. We must continue to strive to be ever faithful in our homes, at Church, and in society as we follow the guidance of our beloved Prophet.
President Russell M. Nelson counsels: “I am optimistic about the future. It will be filled with opportunities for each of us to progress, contribute, and take the gospel to every corner of the earth. But I am also not naive about the days ahead. We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation…In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018, 96).