My invitation is to all my friends, Christian and non-Christian, to read this message and pray to know if what I say is true. I know “if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4).
Have ever wondered if God is real, if He speaks today, if He is real then why is there so much suffering, or is there any hope for a better life today and after we die? If you feel that you understand these questions and your faith in God and Jesus Christ is strong, I invite you to read on and see if there is more.
Last month, I posted two messages that dealt with the apostasy of the Lord’s ancient church and the attempt of the reformers to correct the changes in the doctrine and ordinances that happened over the centuries (Apostasy and Restoration). I also wrote of the role that the founding fathers of the United States of America had in preparing for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (By the Hands of Wise Men). If you have not read them, I encourage you to read them and then read today’s message.
Two hundred years ago a young 14-year-old boy, Joseph Smith, wondered about many of these questions and read a passage in the Bible that said: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) Joseph and his family had attended different churches but did not find the answers to the questions they were seeking. After reading that verse in the scriptures, Joseph decided that the only way to find out the truth was to ask God. He said:
“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. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.” (Joseph Smith-History 1:13)
Joseph Smith decided he would test God’s promise to answer his questions. It was in the spring of 1820. He said it was a beautiful clear day. He said it was his first attempt to pray vocally. As he knelt to pray, this is how he described what happened:
|Joseph Smith's First Vision
“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith History 1:16-17)
The two personages that had appeared to him were God, The Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The first thing Joseph learned was that God does answer our prayers today. He also learned that God and Jesus Christ are two separate, physical beings and that we are created in their image. Jesus Christ called Joseph by name and told him that his sins were forgiven. Joseph learned that God knows his children and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and died for our sins. Joseph’s purpose in praying to God was to know which, if any, of all the churches were true. He asked his question and received and answer. Again, in his own words, he said:
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.” (Joseph Smith History 1:19-20)
He had his answer, the true Church of Jesus Christ was not on the earth. He was told that the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be revealed to him at a later time. Later when he was persecuted for saying that he had seen God The Father and Jesus Christ, he said:
“I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” (Joseph Smith History 1:24-25)
Three years after the First Vision, Joseph Smith was given the gold plates that contained an account of the people that lived here in the Americas anciently. It also contains an account of the visit of Jesus Christ to his people here in America (3 Nephi 11). Joseph Smith translated the gold plates by the gift and power of God, and it is published as the Book of Mormon.
While Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon, he received the Aaronic Priesthood authority to baptize from John the Baptist, and the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James and John. With this priesthood authority he was commanded to restore the Church of Jesus Christ again on the earth. On April 6, 1830 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.
Two hundred years later, the testimony of Joseph Smith still stands as a witness that God is real, that he speaks to prophets today. We have a living prophet today, Russell M. Nelson, and twelve apostles. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord Jesus Christ said:
“Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:17, 30)
It is my testimony to the world that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is The true church and contains the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and is a second testament of Jesus Christ along with the Bible. Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet today. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ did appear to the boy Joseph Smith 200 years ago. I challenge all my Christian friends to come and see, come and hear, come and find out for yourself if the Kingdom of God has been resorted.
Your comments and questions are welcome.