The meaning of the word “latter-days” refers to scriptural accounts of apostles and prophets that spoke of the “last days.” As I understand, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that the time in which we now live is the “latter-days,” or the days (or dispensation of time) just before the Second Coming of the Lord. Job, a prophet in the Old Testament, and many others spoke of the latter-days saying, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25; see also Genesis 49:1; Isaiah 2:2; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 2 Peter 3:3-7).
How do we know that we are in the “Latter-days?”
Prophets throughout the scriptures prophesied that after the death of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, there would be a time of great apostasy, or turning away from truth. Paul, an apostle of the Lord said, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20: 29-30). Amos, another prophet, spoke concerning the apostasy of the Church of Jesus Christ saying, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11; see also Isaiah 29: 10,13; 60:2; Matthew 24:24; Galatians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Timothy 2:18; 3:2-5; 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 1:4; Revelations 2:2). In due time, as I have found in my own studies, men corrupted the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was established when Christ was on the Earth and made unauthorized changes to Church organization and priesthood ordinances, such as baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. As a result of this widespread apostasy, as I understand, the Lord withdrew the power and authority of God, or the priesthood, from the Earth.
Through my studies, I know that Jesus Christ promised that in the latter-days, He would bring forth His restored Gospel to the Earth again; that the Lord’s Church would be re-established with prophets, apostles, inspiration from God, and the proper authority that it had when He was on the Earth. Peter taught how “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” would come in the latter-days (Acts 3:21). Referring to Jesus Christ, Paul taught, “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:10). In my eyes, both of these prophets testified anciently that Christ would again in the latter-days establish His Gospel. So far as I have understood, members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ believe that such a restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has already begun.
Latter-day Saints believe that in 1820, a young boy named Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees to pray to know which church to join. In response to his prayer, Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared unto him and said that the fullness of the Gospel would be restored back to the earth again in due time through him. Under the direction of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, Joseph restored the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by re-establishing prophets, apostles, the proper authority, and inspiration from God to the Earth. I know the true Church of Jesus Christ is once again on the Earth and these are the latter-days that all God’s holy prophets have spoken of since the world began.
In the New Testament, the saints are all those who, by baptism, have entered into a covenant, or a two-way promise with God, and have become members of His Church. As I understand, saints are still considered those that are faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle taught that when we collectively make promises with God, we “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20). Just as there are “ancient-day saints” who were members of the Church of Jesus Christ in ancient times, so it is with “latter-day saints” who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter-days. As I have learned, Jesus Christ has repeatedly said through His own voice and through the words of His prophets that He will come again in these latter-days. The Apostle Paul taught that Jesus Christ “shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Members of the Church understand the Lord to be the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In these latter-days, the Gospel of Christ has been re-established and is gaining additional light and truth through prophets, apostles, the power and authority of God, and inspiration from Heavenly Father. Through Joseph Smith, the Church that Jesus Christ set apart anciently has been re-established on the Earth.