Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration. I know this to be true. What he did, no ordinary man could have done, yet he was ordinary. Having accepted this calling from the Lord, Joseph was given strength and ability to do what was necessary. How grateful I am for the choices he made that enabled him to fulfill the will of the Lord in my behalf.
President Hunter said,
“The responsibility I feel for the work the Prophet Joseph inaugurated fills me with a determination to do all I can in the time and season allotted to me.”
I believe this statement also applies to me. I too feel the responsibility of determination to do all I can in the time and season allotted to me. Each one of us is called to bear witness of the Restoration. That God has opened up the heavens and brought down His truth and light, so that we might all accept and recognize it. The world must have an opportunity to see for themselves, so that they too can make the choice to Come Unto Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.
During a visit to Nauvoo we, of course, visited the Mansion House, the Red Brick Store, and the Nauvoo House, all of which are owned by the Community of Christ Church. In their Visitor’s Center, we saw their version of the First Vision and I was frankly shocked to see how different their version was from our church’s stance. They claimed that Joseph had simply seen a light in the heavens.
Our claim is quite a bit different. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a responsibility to share the distinction that Joseph Smith saw two heavenly beings, both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and they both spoke to him, calling him by name.
As sisters, we must know the story of The First Vision. We must know the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we must testify of what we know.
I happen to be in the middle of reading the biography of Rose Marie Reid, the famous swimsuit designer. She was an amazing missionary. Every time she traveled anywhere, she would speak to people about the Church. One time, she forgot her “missionary materials.” She felt that she couldn’t speak to anyone on that flight, because she wasn’t prepared. But, of course, as soon as they began crossing the western desert, the man next to her wondered about the pioneers and asked if she knew anything about Mormons. She was still able to explain about the Apostasy, and the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. By the time they landed, he was ready to see the missionaries, and he and his wife were baptized soon after.
You just never know when you’ll be asked a question about our Church and it’s important to always be prepared, or at least have the confidence to bear your testimony. And your testimony should start with the Apostasy and Restoration, because this is where truth from Jesus Christ begins anew for our Dispensation.
If I were teaching this lesson, I would sit back and let the sisters testify. I would love to sit in a room where sisters are speaking the truth that is in them. That’s what the sisters did when RS was first organized in the early days of the Church; they testified to one another.
And so I bear my own witness to anyone who cares to hear:
Because of the witness of the Holy Ghost, I absolutely believe that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Joseph was shown the Golden Plates and given the responsibility to translate them, and publish them, as The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. The truths taught are eternal, and teach me of what I must choose, in order to be saved. As I live as worthy a life as I am able, I know the Savior will help me along the way. More importantly, I know that because of His great sacrifice He has given me the incredible opportunity to repent and become clean again. The Book of Mormon teaches me that through repentance, I can become clean enough to stand before my Savior, where He will advocate for me to stay in the presence of my Heavenly Father. Because of the Restoration, we have temples. I have been sealed to my family in the House of the Lord, and this great blessing means so much to me. I understand that family is everything when it comes to the Plan of Salvation. How grateful I am that Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ were willing to give up their desires, and their lives, that I might have what I have: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Pres. Hunter stated, and I too believe, “If [Mormonism] is true—and I bear witness that it is—it’s one of the greatest single events in all history.” I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.