The Restoration of the Gospel

February 13, 2023    By: Matt W. @ 2:48 pm   Category: Life

I was asked to give a talk at church this week. Here is what I have planned. Feedback welcome:

[potentially add icebreaker for time]

Hello, My name is Matt W., I’m here today with my wife, and two of our daughters. Our oldest is away at College. I’ll forgo a deeper introduction because today I was asked to speak on “How the restoration of the gospel has affected or changed my life?” which will require me to talk about my life to some degree. To speak on this topic, I need to cover at least 3 things. “The Gospel”, “The Restoration”, and “The Impact on my Life”. I’ll start with The Gospel: 

I grew up in Indiana. I was born in 1977. Here’s a fun Indiana Fact. When I was a kid, Indiana State Law specified that the bible and religion could only be taught in schools by a teacher certified in English, supposedly because “If God had intended people to Learn about God in some other language, he wouldn’t have written the bible in English.” God, of course, did not write the bible in English. The English word Gospel comes from the Latin- God Spel, translating directly as “good news”. God meaning “Good” and “Spel” meaning “words”, which incidentally is where the idea of “Magic Words” being called a “Spell” comes from, and why in most films Magic Spells are Latin words. 

The Bible was not also written in Latin originally. The Greek- euangelion- also means “good news” or “reward to a messenger of good news”, and usually had connection with the announcement of a ruler ascending to leadership. Similarly, The old testament word for “good news” was Hebrew, Bisser, and is often translated as “good tidings” in the KJV of the Bible. In Samuel and Kings, it’s generally used in connection with authoritative kingly pronouncements from or for Saul, David, Solomon and other Leaders. These Kings ultimately, in time, failed in their Kingly roles and led to the scattering of Israel, and by the time of Isaiah, Israel was primed to look forward for good news to come of a king who would restore Israel. 

Perhaps no scripture better encapsulates this expectation than Isaiah 52. From this chapter vs 7 also happens to be the most quoted biblical scripture in the book of Mormon. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Vs 7 States. 

7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings (the Gospel), that publishes peace; that brings good tidings (the Gospel) of good (or happiness), that publishes salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

This is the good news that the Jewish people were waiting for. Peace, Happiness, Salvation. God in charge. 

Unfortunately their expectation was that this meant a Messiah would come and kill all their enemies and then they could have those things. They just needed to get rid of everyone else first. 

With this context, we can go to the first Gospel of Jesus we still have today, Chronologically speaking. I mean the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 1:15, Jesus is quoted as saying

15 …The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Or as a more modern translation puts it. 

15…shift your thinking and trust in God’s Message: The Kingdom of God is here and now. [1]

Jesus says this over and over again throughout his preaching. To a world that says they want to attain the kingdom of God by conquest, he says, much like the French in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, “we’ve already got one”. Jesus said to the Jewish people that those who live by war die by war, and called not for conquest, but for love, peacemaking, humility, and a return to trusting God. 

Like in Jesus’ Time, we don’t need to wait for God to be in charge. He is in charge. We don’t need to wait for peace, happiness or Salvation. We can seek that out right now. 

That’s the Gospel, Now let’s Talk about the Restoration: 

To Restore something is to bring it back to a prior state. We can restore something by repairing it, like fixing up an old house. We often think of the restoration of the gospel in this form. Truth restored. The Church was restored. The Priesthood Authority held by men and women who serve in the church was restored. This is a very human centric view of the Gospel. We had broken the truth, the church and the priesthood, and God found extraordinary ways to repair it. When a house is restored, it is also brought up to code to meet the modern requirements of the time. Our church today continues to receive modern revelation to continue to provide for us the tools needed to meet the modern requirements of our time.  

I believe these things, but if the restoration only brought back facts, ecclesiastical organizations, and religious administrative privilege, it would not be enough for me. Another way to think of Restoration is from God’s point of view. God can not lose the truth, nor the church, nor the priesthood authority. What did God need restored? It is the same thing Jesus came to restore before that time. His people. God has always been about, and is always about restoring us, his people, unto him and unto one another. The term atonement means exactly this, a neologism invented to express the state of being “at one” with each other. In Hebrew the word that we translate in English as Atonement is Kaphar, which would directly translate as the verb “to cover with pitch”. Sometimes this is misunderstood as God covering up our sins, burying them deep. We have other places where this word is used in the bible though, which help us understand better its meaning. In Genesis 6:14, when Noah made the Ark, he was instructed to cover the wooden planks with pitch inside and out, to bind them so tightly one to another, they became airtight. This is the restoration that God seeks, that he is bound so tightly to us that our relationship becomes airtight. 

So that covers the restoration. That leaves me to talk about its impact on My life.

I already mentioned I grew up in Indiana. At the age of 20, I was fairly lost in life. I was a luke- warm Atheist. If you asked me, I would have said I was “living in oblivion”, because nothing mattered. In the world as I conceived it at the time, where my life was encapsulated between the moment I began thinking and its termination in the moment I died, there was nothing I could do in life to make it matter. I had backed myself into a logical reality where time would ultimately erase my existence and no matter what I did, ultimately nothing would persist forward. In this state, I missed the simplicity of my childhood and my faith in those days. 

And then I got to the end of my Sophomore year of College and was looking for a summer Job. I had two offers. One to go work on a scout camp in New Mexico and the other to make 10 times as much sailing up and down the Mississippi river as a ship watchman for a barge company. At that point in my life, I had never seen a mountain, and loved the idea of going and doing that. But I also needed money, and that was also an adventure. I thought about flipping a coin to decide, but on a whim, I decided to pray about it. Yes, I decided to pray to a God I logically had decided didn’t exist. But I did, and after I prayed, my Dad called me and I felt like his call was some sort of cosmic answer that I should take the Job in New Mexico. 

At the same time, a young Music Major at BYU was praying about what she should do next in her life, and felt like she had an answer to postpone going on a mission, and instead to take a book of Mormon with her to a Summer Job in New Mexico. 

To keep this brief, that is how I met my wife. 

But what did she say that restored me to the Kingdom of God? 

She taught me that I could pray and God would listen. She taught me that if I would listen, God could answer. This is Moroni’s Promise in the Book of Mormon.

She taught me that God’s love and happiness and peace were available right then and there in my life. I just needed to look to God and Live. This is the promise of Baptism. 

She taught me that God wanted to bind me to him and to his family, and never let me go. This is the promise of Temple Sealing. 

She taught me that everything mattered. This is the promise of the Gospel. 

And so, because I learned to trust her, I learned to trust God. My paradigm shifted.

I can remember the exact moment that first happened. Our camp had what they called “LDS Week” where all the church leaders involved in the scouting program would come and get training for a week. I remember seeing a family across a parking lot as they got out of their car to come to camp. They had small children. As they walked across the parking lot, they all joined hands, and in that moment I knew that as they were linked together in love in this life, they would also be linked together in the next one with God. And I knew I wanted that in my own life

I prayed, and God answered. And I am here today, with my eternal family, with happiness, peace, and salvation in my heart. And that is how the restoration of the Gospel has impacted my life. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen


  1. Thanks Matt, this is great.

    “…shift your thinking and trust in God’s Message: The Kingdom of God is here and now.”
    What translation is this from?

    Comment by gomez — February 14, 2023 @ 10:03 am

  2. Love this Matt! Thanks for sharing the good news!

    Comment by Kent (MC) — February 14, 2023 @ 11:05 am

  3. gomez: It’s my own paraphrase/translation. I meant to add a foot note. It just seemed a little arrogant to call out that I am translating it myself. I am defining metanoia (repent) based on the roots (meta = change/move, noia = think) and pisteuo (believe) based on recent posts by Michael Austin over at BCC. the rest is from combining ESV/NASB/NET.

    Comment by Matt W. — February 14, 2023 @ 1:10 pm

  4. I like.
    How do you feel your talk was received?

    Comment by wallybob — February 26, 2023 @ 10:00 pm

  5. The lady before me went long and the stake president wanted to speak, so I ended up not giving my talk.

    Comment by Matt W. — February 26, 2023 @ 10:19 pm