Joseph searched and pondered the scriptures for answers. He recalled of reading James 1:5: "It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; . . . At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God" (Joseph Smith—History 1:12–13).
As the Lord explained to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove, all the creeds then upon the earth taught the doctrines and commandments of men while lacking divine authority (Joseph Smith—History 1:19). Later, Joseph would become the Lord's instrument in restoring to the earth the truth of God and authority to act in the name of God.
Wilford Woodruff, fourth Church President, taught that "the keys of the kingdom . . . are going to stay here . . . until the coming [of] the Son of Man. . . . They may not rest upon my head but a short time, but they will then rest on . . . another apostle" (Millennial Star, Sept. 2, 1889, 547). Since Joseph Smith's time, there has been a prophet on the earth in direct succession to him. At this writing, President Gordon B. Hinckley is the Lord's mouthpiece on the earth and president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.