Joseph Comes to Know God

    The First Vision

    Introduction

    Joseph Smith’s experience in the grove teaches us that our Heavenly Father and His Son know and love us individually. God “spake unto me, calling me by name,” Joseph testified.1 “I was filled with the Spirit of God,” he recalled, “and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and He spake unto me, saying Joseph, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee.”2

    The Lord knew Joseph had mourned his own sins and the sins of the world. The Lord’s expression of tender forgiveness is available to all who repent and call on His name.3

    The Lord knew Joseph Smith, and in the grove Joseph came to know God, not simply to know about Him. “For many days I could rejoice with great joy and the Lord was with me,” Joseph recounted.4 We too, like Joseph, may seek to come unto Christ, and we may experience the same rejoicing in our own lives.

    Quotes

    Joseph Smith Quotes

    “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them” (History of the Church, 3:380).

    On one occasion in 1842, Joseph Smith poured out his soul in prayer, saying: “O Thou, who seest and knowest the hearts of all men[,] . . . look down upon Thy servant Joseph at this time; and let faith on the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ, to a greater degree than Thy servant ever yet has enjoyed, be conferred upon him. . . . Let the lamp of eternal life be lit up in his heart, never to be taken away; and let the words of eternal life be poured upon the soul of Thy servant” (History of the Church, 5:127).

    “I will try to be contented with my lot, knowing that God is my friend. In him I shall find comfort. I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me, only to do his will” (Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832, reprinted in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee (2002), 264-265; punctuation standardized).

    Witnesses

    John Taylor, Third President of the Church, 1880–1887

    “There was one man that had a little good sense, and a spark of faith in the promises of God, and that Joseph Smith—a backwoods man. He believed a certain portion of Scripture which said—‘If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.’ He was fool enough in the eyes of the world, and wise enough in the eyes of God and angels, and all true intelligence, to go into a secret place to ask God for wisdom, believing that God would hear him. The Lord did hear him, and told him what to do” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor (2001), 80).

    Marion G. Romney, Apostle, 1951–1988

    “When [Joseph Smith] came out of that sacred interview he knew with certainty the nature of God. He had seen and conversed with him. From him he had received a personal introduction to his resurrected Son Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1958, 96).

    Sydney S. Reynolds, First Counselor, Primary General Presidency, 1999–2005

    “Joseph Smith at age 14 had to be one of the least conspicuous human beings on the earth, and yet the God of heaven knew him and called him by name in the Sacred Grove. I believe the Lord knows my name and your name as well” (“He Knows Us; He Love Us,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 76)

    Questions

    Why did Jesus Christ call Joseph Smith His son?

    While every person is a child of Heavenly Father, we can also become children of Christ through faith and obedience (see Mosiah 5:7). By virtue of his faith in Jesus Christ and his willingness to obey, Joseph Smith was also a son of Jesus Christ.

    How do I come unto Christ as Joseph Smith did?

    “Follow the example of Joseph Smith and the pattern of the Restoration. Turn to the scriptures. Kneel in prayer. Ask in faith. Listen to the Holy Ghost. Learn that your name and needs are known by our Heavenly Father, just as Joseph’s were” (Robert D. Hales, “Receiving a Testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 31).

    Readings

    Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org

    Joseph’s Personal Quest”—in “The First Vision,” Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 30–34

    God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, Appeared to the Boy Prophet”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2004), 5

    Joseph Smith Remained Humble”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2004), 6–7

    Online Resources at BYU

    Circumstantial Confirmation of the First Vision through Reminiscences”—Richard L. Anderson, BYU Studies, vol. 9, no. 3 (1969): 373–404

    Compares Cowdery’s account and other contemporary (1830s) accounts.