The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith was only fourteen years old when he experienced what few boys or men have.  Young Joseph Smith was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ, and there has never been an event more glorious or controversial. Mormons call this “the First Vision.”  It has been described as possibly being the most singular event to ever occur on the earth since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Mormon Joseph SmithJoseph Smith at the age of fourteen lived in Palmyra, New York, with his family. At this time in history, there was much excitement regarding the subject of religion. There were many preachers and ministers in the northeastern United States who were vying for converts.  Competition for converts increased the zeal of ministers and followers.  Tent revivals increased the combat.  The members of Joseph Smith’s family were split as to which sect was true.  Joseph himself was in a quandery, and being a serious-minded boy, sought for help in Bible study.  As he pondered the conflicting doctrines he had heard, he read in the Bible, James 1:5-6; “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. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

Believing this promise, Joseph Smith was compelled to pray and ask for help directly from God. Young Joseph went to a beautiful grove of trees not far from his home. As he began to pray, he was “violently seized by the power of some actual being from the unseen world.”1 Knowing that this was an evil power, Joseph called upon God more fervently, and for deliverance from this evil power. Joseph later recounted,

“Just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy, which held me bound. When the light rested 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!” 2

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ stood before Joseph and explained that the full truth of the gospel was not upon the earth and that he should not join any of these religions, for the Lord was about to restore the truth. Needless to say, the young Joseph was overwhelmed by the experience and the instructions that he received.  He told his minister about the vision, and from that moment until his martyrdom, became the subject of constant persecution.  Joseph said,

“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 is 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…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.”3

To Mormons the First Vision verifies the fact that there are three separate Beings in the Godhead: God the Father, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Ghost, by whose spirit, we may know the truth of all things.

Mormons believe that there are eight important things that can be learned from the First Vision: 1) that God our Father is a corporeal being, and man was made in the image of God; 2) that Jesus is a personage, separate and distinct from the Father; 3) that Jesus Christ is declared by the Father to be his Son; 4) that Jesus was the conveyer of revelation as taught in the Bible; 5) that the promise of James to ask of God for wisdom was fulfilled; 6) that Satan is real; 7) that there was a falling away from the Church established by Jesus Christ; Joseph was told not to join any of the sects, for they taught the doctrines of men, and 8) Joseph Smith became a witness for God and his Son, Jesus Christ.4

1 “Book of Mormon”, Joseph Smith-History 1:16

2 “Book of Mormon”, Joseph Smith-History 1:16-17

3 “Book of Mormon”, Joseph Smith-History 1:25

4 “Ensign”, LDS magazine, article written by President James E. Faust, May 1984

Further reading on Joseph Smith

The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith – American Prophet
Joseph Smith Daguerreotype
Fulfilled Prophecies of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith
BBC – Religion & Ethics – The Story of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith: Biography and Much More From
Joseph Smith – Lightplanet
Joseph Smith, Jr. – Wikiquote
Joseph Smith: Prophet, Revelator, Human; Interview with Richard Lyman

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