Joseph Smith’s Accounts of the First Vision

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As a missionary one criticism I heard from some individuals who were not friendly towards The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was that there were four accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. Because the versions all differ to some degree, these individuals believed that this proved that Joseph Smith made up his experience.

I always thought this was a strange argument to make, particularly because the Gospels cover the Savior’s ministry but do not tell all the same stories and in the same way. There are repeats (with significant differences) of stories in the Old Testament. What individual recounts a story in exactly the same way on subsequent retellings?

I know why certain individuals brought up the existence of multiple versions of the First Vision – they were trying to use it as justification for their own disbelief or they were trying to instill doubt in the minds of us missionaries. There is nothing inherently wrong with doubts but sometimes people let doubts become stumbling blocks to their faith. The best way to overcome doubts is to seek the Lord earnestly in prayer. We can also study what others have written about matters or discuss the issues with others, preferably people we trust, but the Lord is the source of truth and seeking His inspiration should not be neglected.

I view the multiple accounts of Joseph’s vision as great resources to better understand Joseph’s experience. He spent more than a year contemplating the nature of Christ’s gospel, his need for repentance, the nature of God and the universe, and many other things. He did not simply decide to pray one day, he worked toward that time for more than a year. We are richly blessed by the different accounts of his vision.

If you want to know more about the First Vision and the various accounts, Jeff Lindsay’s post is a great place to start.

He Lives!

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“He is not here: for he is risen” (Matt. 28:6) – never were more powerful or hopeful words spoken! With His resurrection, Christ shattered the bonds of death, freeing all from that dark prison. He set the captives free, blessing all who lived with immortality after their deaths: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22).

Prophets in our day testify of Christ’s resurrection. In 2000, the Lord’s living apostles and prophets testified:

“[Jesus Christ] rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).” (The Living Christ).

I add my witness of the Living Christ. He lived, atoned, died, and was resurrected in propitiation for our sins and to help us overcome death. He overcame death and hell so that we might be able to have physical and spiritual life. Jesus is my Savior and King. He has come and will come again to the earth!

Bible Videos in Preparation for Easter

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been releasing a series of brief videos covering the last period of Christ’s mortal ministry (they will release many more videos in the future covering more of His life and teachings). All the videos the Church has released or will release are available on BibleVideos.org. Each video is professionally but simply and powerfully done, sticking to the King James Version text from the Gospels. I’ll post the videos in temporal order.

Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

The Last Supper

Jesus Warns Peter and Offers the Intercessory Prayer

The Savior Suffers in Gethsemane (click to visit the page, I cannot embed the video yet).

Jesus is Tried by Caiaphas, Peter Denies Knowing Him.

There will be four more videos released before Easter; I’ll post those once they are up.

Facing Adversity with Faith

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How do you face adversity in your life? Do you allow it to become a crippling experience or do you use it to grow and progress. Do you face it with fear do you attack it with faith? Do you turn inwards, curled up in a fetal ball of bitterness, or do you reach outwards to others in love and service? Do you curse God and hope for death or do you trust the Lord and embrace whatever life you have?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently released a brief video of a young woman named Brittany who literally faces a paralyzing condition but who, instead of allowing it to paralyze her whole life, turns outward in love and service to others. I hope that we can all learn something from Brittany’s faith and service. I certainly can.

Video Introduction to the Book of Mormon

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There is a new video on the Mormon Messages YouTube channel introducing the Book of Mormon. It’s a great video to share with friends or family who are not members of the LDS Church. It’s also great to show to children (or anyone else). Elder Holland provides a brief overview of where the Book of Mormon came from and how we can know of its truth. Please view and share this video with others.

The Purpose of Life

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Yesterday, I had some very weighty matters to write about. In my post I talked about some hard things, things that shouldn’t happen but do. Some might wonder in the face of such tragedy, “What is it all for? Why do we even try in this life? Why are we even here on Earth?”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently released a beautiful video that explains why we are here, what our Earth life is all about.

Two Brothers – A Mormon Messages Video for Youth

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As someone who is training as a clinical psychologist (although I plan on an academic and research career), the following video resonated with me. The gospel of Jesus Christ has great power; that power comes from Christ – from His Priesthood and His Atonement. This video gives a perfect example of how through faith, repentance, and much prayer our weaknesses can become strengths. I am not saying that mental health issues should be tackled only by faith and prayer. Competent mental health professionals can provide necessary treatment for problems. Just as we should rely on the best medical care we can acquire – in addition to relying on faith in Christ – when we have physical illness, so should we seek out professional help when necessary for mental health issues. However, many mental health issues can be solved by faith in Christ and by His Atonement through repentance.

Forgiveness – What It’s All About

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The LDS Church recently released a video that perfectly summarizes what the Church is all about:

That is what it means to be a Mormon – that is what it means to be Christian.

Another video that explains what “Mormonism” is all about is this one on the new Mormon.org website: http://mormon.org/me/1MQC-eng

That is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can learn and spout of theology and scriptures all day but without repentance and forgiveness – without the Atonement, the grace, of Jesus Christ – our religion and our lives would mean very little. Those two videos demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ working in people’s lives.