“I Had Seen A Vision”
Taught By Jeff Stone
January 18, 2009
After Jesus Christ was crucified:
- His Apostles presided over the Church.
- Soon persecution, divisions, and apostasy increased.
- Within a few decades, there was a falling away from the Church
- The darkness of the Apostasy lasted many centuries.
Because of the Apostasy, many things were lost:
- There was no priesthood authority on the earth.
- There were no apostles or prophets on the earth.
- Essential knowledge about the nature of God was lost.
- The doctrines of the gospel were corrupted.
- Sacred ordinances, such as baptism, were changed.
- The original Church became divided into discordant groups.
However, because this was foretold by prophets in the past, we know that The Lord was prepared for this and he prepared the Right Time, Right Place and Right Man for the restoration of the fullness of the gospel.
Some places this is foretold:
God Prepared The Way
As you can see by the few quotes below, it is clear that The Lord prepared the way to create the right time and right place for the restoration to happen.
Bruce R. McConkie taught that preparation for restoring the gospel began centuries before the First Vision: “Beginning in the 14th century, the Lord began to prepare those social, educational, religious, economic, and governmental conditions under which he could more easily restore the gospel for the last time”
Elder Ballard said, “God inspired the earlier explorers and colonizers of America and the framers of the Constitution of the United States to develop a land and governing principles to which the gospel could be restored.” He also said that Martin Luther and other reformers “were inspired to create a religious climate in which God could restore lost truths and priesthood authority”
Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve said the Renaissance was not a chance occurrence but rather “a development predetermined in the Mind of God to illumine the benighted minds of men in preparation for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was appointed to be accomplished some centuries later”
One other thing to consider is the timing of the birth’s of Joseph’s parents in relationship to the development of the free world that would allow the time and place to be correct. You’ll see below that in a very short period of time, Joseph’s parents were born, the Declaration of Independence was signed, his parents were married, and he was born.
- July 4, 1776 – Declaration of Independence
- July 8, 1775 – Lucy Mack Smith Born
- July 12, 1771 – Joseph Smith Sr. Born
- January 1796 – Married (Lucy 21 Year old)
- December 1805 – Joseph Smith Jr. Born (9 Years Later)
The Right Man
We have seen that the time and place were right, but what about the man? Was he prepared? Of course. He was prepared largely by three major things:
- His Family
- Childhood Adversity
- Where he lived
As a child Joseph’s parents had crop failure and rough year after rough year which caused them to move a lot. They ultimately ended up in Palmyra where everything began to fall into place for the restoration.
From that I would conclude that the crop failures and the rough years and hard times they had were no coincidence. I would suppose that The Lord had a hand in that.
Had he not intervened and “given” them rough times, they may never have ended up in the right place at the right time. Remember that when you are going through trials, tough times and adversity.
We would do well to remember that The Lord is infinitely more wise than we can possibly imagine, and sometimes we have to go through the refiner’s fire to become who we will become.
Joseph was definitely prepared by his family. His parents had a great deal of faith and desire to serve The Lord and do what is right. Below are four short points that really show how Joseph was prepared by his family. Study each of these carefully. There is a great lesson to be learned from each of them:
- Joseph Smith came from a rich spiritual heritage. His parents and grandparents were religious, patriotic, educationally minded, and of strong moral convictions. His paternal grandfather, Asael Smith, stated years before Joseph was born, “It has been borne in upon my soul that one of my descendants will promulgate a work to revolutionize the world of religious faith”
- Joseph Smith’s parents, Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, greatly influenced his life. Both were deeply devoted to God. They were also devoted parents, teaching their children the principles of faith and righteousness.
- Both of Joseph’s parents had profound religious experiences. Joseph Sr. had several dreams that gave him assurances that he would enjoy the blessings of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Once while Lucy was critically ill as a young mother, she made a covenant with God that she would serve Him completely if He would let her live to care for her family. Soon afterward she heard a voice comfort her, and she made a remarkable recovery.
- Joseph Sr. and Lucy searched actively for religious truth. Both of them felt that none of the existing churches was consistent with the Church that Jesus Christ had established. For this reason, Joseph Sr. did not join any church. Lucy felt it was her duty to be baptized, so she joined the Presbyterian Church. When the gospel was restored, they both recognized the truth and embraced it.
Most of us know the story from Joseph’s Childhood regarding his leg. Many other trials besides this event helped prepare him, but this event alone tells volumes of Joseph’s character and prepared him for the persecution to come. If nothing else, this experience increased his faith that The Lord would protect him, something that he would need a great deal of in his life.
Living in the part of New York that he did, Joseph was right in the middle of the religious excitement, all the debate and misinformation and corruption that was happening. This experience along with his desire, learned from his parents, to know the truth inspired him to find the passage in the Epistle of James that ultimately led him to the sacred grove where he saw God The Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
The First Vision
We gain an incredible and wonderful amount of knowledge from this scene of the first vision. Hear what the prophets have to say about this:
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I submit that in the few minutes that Joseph Smith was with the Father and the Son, he learned more of the nature of God the Eternal Father and the risen Lord than all the learned minds in all their discussions through all centuries of time”
President David O. McKay, the ninth President of the Church, testified that the First Vision “answers all the [questions] regarding God and his divine personality. … His relation to his children is clear. His interest in humanity through authority delegated to man is apparent. The future of the work is assured. These and other glorious truths are clarified by that glorious first vision”
While serving in the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Ezra Taft Benson said, “The appearance of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ to the boy prophet is the greatest event that has occurred in this world since the resurrection of the Master”
Here is a handful of events and insights rich in doctrinal significance that happened in that brief period of the first vision:
- God the Father and Jesus Christ live.
- The Father and the Son are real, separate beings with glorified bodies of flesh and bones.
- We are created in the image of God.
- Satan and his power are real, but God’s power is infinitely greater.
- God hears and answers prayers and cares for us.
- God knows us by name – the first word uttered by God in this dispensation was “Joseph.”
- None of the churches on earth had the fullness of Christ’s gospel.
- Revelation has not ceased.
Clearly, Joseph Smith was The Lord’s chosen and anointed one to bring for the restoration of the fullness of times. He truly was The Right Man at The Right Time, in The Right Place.