I Had Seen a Vision
Attention Activity: The first vision - the opening of the dispensation of the fullness of times!
Gordon B. Hinckley said,
“I would like to say that this cause is either true or false. Either this is the kingdom of God, or it is a sham and a delusion. Either Joseph talked with the Father and the Son, or he did not. If he did not, we are engaged in blasphemy. If he did, we have a duty from which none of us can shrink -- to declare to the world the living reality of the God of the univers, the Father of us all; and of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, our Redeemer, the Author of our salvation, the Prince of Peace.” (Conference Reports, October 1961, 116).
Gordon B. Hinckley said,
That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.
Reflect upon it, my brethren and sisters. For centuries the heavens remained sealed. Good men and women, not a few—really great and wonderful people—tried to correct, strengthen, and improve their systems of worship and their body of doctrine. To them I pay honor and respect. How much better the world is because of their bold action. While I believe their work was inspired, it was not favored with the opening of the heavens, with the appearance of Deity.
Then in 1820 came that glorious manifestation in answer to the prayer of a boy who had read in his family Bible the words of James: “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).
Upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this Church. (Ensign October 2002)
Let us review the story of the first vision:Joseph Smith History 1:9-25 (Official account from Pearl of Great Price)
Research on the Life of Joseph Smith - Historical Documents - Parents History etc.
Joseph Smith's First vision narative - History.lds.org
- Religious excitement and tulmult concerning religion in the area (Exploring the revivals Byu archives - revivals they occured Primary Sources)
- Contention with each group attempting to prove their tenets and disprove others
- What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right? or are they all wrong together? How shall I know it?
- James 1:5 - scripture pondered - must pray no way to know any other way
- Can't rely on an appeal to the Bible - to many interpretations - none authorative
- Retired to the words - morning attempted to pray vocally
- Seized upon by power of evil one - the power of an actual being from the unseen world
- Just as I was about to give up - light over head - delivered from enemy
- Saw two personages standing in air - spoke to me by name - introduced the Son
- Question answered - join none of them - all were wrong
- Loose consciousness - when I cam to myself again - found myself lying on my back - looking into heaven
What is so importand about this vision, and what do we learn from it?
1. God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings.
2. God and His Son Jesus Christ are tabernacled in bodies - that are similar to ours - and are tangible
2. Heavenly Father answers prayers and takes an active role in our lives - he knew Joseph by Name!
3. God calls prophets and apostles today to lead and guide us in His work.
4. God is more powerful than the adversary.
5. Youth can receive callings from God and each of us can receive personal revelation for our own salvation.
6. Satan is an actual being from the unseen world - who can interact and influence individuals - and even bind them
7. The churches of the day did not teach the truth about God and his Son.
8. Prayer is an effective means of communicating with God - if done with real faith.
Consider the state of religon during the time of Joseph Smith:
The Great Apostacy - LDS Topics
Jesus The Christ - The Long Night of Apostasy
Why was a reformation required?
Lets start at the foundation -the Catholic Church from which all Evangelical, Protestant Religious are rooted.
As a point of note many individuals will fight against the idea that their church is based upon the Catholic Church and is an offshoot from it. They will claim that their authority does not come from the Catholic church at all but rather that their authority is from the Bible itself. In fact many of them will say that the Catholic Church is the church that is in a state of apostasy and isn't even Christian anymore.
This is and of itself evidence of apostasy!The Catholic church was the remnants of the church formed by the Apostles. That there was authority in the church and that this authority was given to men and passed from man to man is self evident from scripture as well as catholic tradition.
With the Reformation new/changed doctrine was introduced, and a rejection of authority of the church also occured. The idea that authority came not by the church but by interpretation of the scriptures was introduced during this time period as well. Without this idea, there would be no possibility of revolting from the Church - because you would be revolting against God's authorized representatives!
Two samples of these Doctrines follow - there are many, many more...
Catholic Encyclopedia - Calvinism:
In Protestantism, the theology developed and advanced by J. Calvin. It was further developed by his followers and became the foundation of the Reformed church and Presbyterianism. As shaped by Calvin's successor at Geneva, Theodore Beza (1519-1605),
Calvinism emphasizes the doctrine of predestination, holding that
God extends grace and grants salvation only to the chosen, or elect. It stresses the literal truth of the Bible, and it views the church as a Christian community in which Christ is head and all members are equal under him. It therefore rejects the episcopal form of church government in favor of an organization in which church officers are elected. Calvinism was the basis of theocracies in Geneva and Puritan New England (see Puritanism), and it strongly influenced the Presbyterian church in Scotland.
- Total depravity (Original Sin - man's heart is totally evil)
- Unconditional election (God's Election - man's state is predestinated by God)
- Limited atonement (Particular Redemption - Jesus died only for the Elect)
- Irresistible grace (Effectual Calling - salvation without choice - God's will)
- Perseverance of the Saints (No falling from grace - no agency - once saved always saved)
Catholic Encyclopedia - Arminianism
- Free will (Man is free to choose)
- Conditional Election (God selected only those who he knew would freely believe his gospel)
- Universal Redemption (everyone can be saved - but only believers are)
- The Holy Spirit can be resisted (Free will allows for people to choose not to believe)
- Falling from Grace (Those who do not maintain their belief - can loose their salvation)
The Reformation - a direct result of apostasy
Encyclopedia.com - Reformation
REFORMATION, PROTESTANT.The term Reformation refers in general to the major religious changes that swept across Europe during the 1500s, transforming worship, politics, society, and basic cultural patterns. One key dimension was the Protestant Reformation, the movement that began in 1517 with Martin Luther's critique of doctrinal principles and church actions in Germany and that led to the establishment of new official churches—the Lutheran, the Reformed or Calvinist, and the Anglican. These were separate from the Latin Catholic Church in organization and different from it in theology. Many other dissident groups and individuals, collectively known as the Radical Reformation, also emerged during the turmoil of the 1520s and 1530s, building communities despite frequent persecution. Ongoing efforts to reform the old church took on new urgency in response to these challenges, leading to a distinct Catholic Reformation. The Protestant Reformation affected patterns of change in Europe through Protestant theology's shifting theological emphases, through Protestant piety's emphasis on reading and knowledge, and through new alignments between organized churches and politics.
Luthers statement concerning why reformation was required: A Reading of his Sermon - Before the Diet of Worms The Transcript
"I can not submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have
fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistencywith themselves. If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it can not be right for a Christian to speak against his country. I stand here and can say no more. God help me. Amen."
It would seem that he believed the Church had fallen into error did he not... thus he believed they had apostized from the truth?
The Apostasy - LDS Topics
During the Great Apostasy, people were without divine direction from living prophets. Many churches were established, but they did not have priesthood power to lead people to the true knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Parts of the holy scriptures were corrupted or lost, and no one had the authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost or perform other priesthood ordinances.
We now live in a time when the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. But unlike the Church in times past, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will not be overcome by general apostasy. The scriptures teach that the Church will never again be destroyed (see D&C 138:44; see also Daniel 2:44).
The Glorious News of a Restoration! - The dispensation of the fullness of times - never to have an apostasy occur again!
Joseph Smith was valiant and maintained his testimony even under extreme difficulties:
Why did they persecute me for saying I had seen a vision? - so very strange
The fact of the matter was - I had beheld a vision I knew it and I knew God knew it
I will not deny it!
September 2001 - The Richness of the Restoration - Neal A Maxwell
- Man is coeternal with God and has always existed D&C 93:29 D&C 131:7-8
- Fixes paradox/issue with God being responsible for our choices because he "Made us this way"!
- Resolves the problem of God creating evil and allowing it to exist - Man "Chooses" Evil of their own free will
- God does not coerce men - nor force them to do good in any way - Election is invalid - Agency rules!
- God is not a force of nature or an uncorporeal entity but is a personage and is our Father D&C 130:1-11,22-23
- Man is created in the image of God - God has a form likeness of man we are his spirit children
- Satan is also a spirit child of God but rebelled through his agency
- There is an Opposition in all things - both Good and Evil 2 Nephi 2:11-13
- God is not the author of Evil - nor is it his will that evil exists
- Without Evil there is no Good, without Righteousness there is no happiness
- Resolves the issue of why there is Suffering in the World D&C 122:6-9 Moroni 10:32-34
- All things in this temporal existence provide us the opportunity to gain experience
- The experience of living in a Telestial world - as celestial beings - teaches us compassion, patience, love and charity
- The Glorious possibility of mankind to progress and become like our Father D&C 76:50-70
- We are not playthings of a lonely God - but rather we are his children
- He has not created us because he is bored - but because he desires our happiness
- We are not worthless - deranged creations - but rather his co-eternal children he desires to help grow
- All souls have intrinsic value, and of great worth - so much so that he suffered for us! D&C 18:10-13
- The plan of salvation applies to all mankind - God is Perfectly Just and Merciful! D&C 138:1-23
- God has not "Elected" a few to be saved he is no respecter of persons
- Any man/woman who fulfills his requirements in any age will receive a remission of their sins
- All mankind no matter what age they lived in will get the opportunity to listen and accept/reject his gospel.