Someone referred me to this: “No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith…every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, Junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are… [Joseph Smith] reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim”Oh,that is very disagreeable!…But it is true.”LDS PROPHET Brigham Young,JoD, vol.7,p.289-91. How do I respond to this?
There are a few things to think of about this question. First of all I want to discuss the scriptural concept of accountability. For example, it is explained in the bible that all men will be accountable for their works and their words. Allow me to quote a couple examples here.
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
In this example, Christ is speaking to the Pharisees, but the verses apply to us just as well.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
This is speaking of the final judgement, of course, and so it also applies to us as well. If these verses tell us our words and our works will be used to judge us, can this apply to the words and works of a prophet? Of course they do, since prophets will be judged as well as the rest of us. However, we who are not prophets are a little different. We will be judged by how we lived according to what we knew of the truth. In order to do that, the words of the prophets and the works of the prophets will be brought to our remembrance. In that way, the prophets will stand as judges for us or against us, depending upon how faithful we were concerning the word of God that was revealed through them.
Because Joseph Smith received many revelations from God, we will be judged by him according to how faithful we were to the word of God revealed through him. Make special note that Brigham Young never says Joseph will be the only one to judge men, but that he “reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling…” What this means is that Joseph Smith is one of the many prophets of God who will judge the souls of men in a process before they are judged by Christ himself. In this process, Christ still has the final word as has always been the case.
Both Nephi and Moroni have testified of this part of judgement to come.
First, Moroni warns of the consequences in not following what he has written;
27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?
But then he later explains the consequences if we do follow what he has written;
34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.
Notice in the first verse, it’s ‘the bar of God’ and in the second its ‘the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah’.
Nephi also warns us to not take the Book of Mormon lightly:
11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.
With all these scriptures essentially saying what Brigham Young stated, it makes sense that Joseph Smith would also stand as a witness of his own words and works as a prophet of God.
Add to that Doctrine and Covenants 29:12 which states the original twelve apostles will be judges over Israel, and 1 Nephi 12:9-10 explains that the 12 disciples of the Nephites will be judged by the original 12, and then be judges over the posterity of Lehi.
In the final analysis, it makes sense that the final judgement is more of a process than simply standing before Christ, though that will occur with absolute certainty. There happens to be other people to whom we must answer. Those people will be the men Christ chose as his prophets, and we must make an accounting for how we regarded their sacred callings, and the messages they gave to the world from Christ himself.
If we accept the prophets, we are accepting Christ. If we reject the prophets, we are rejecting Christ. The consequences of either decision will come to us in the end. Hopefully we will seek the better consequences.