“What an incredible opportunity it is for all of us to share our testimonies of the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days.” —Elder Richard J. Maynes
Four accounts of the First Vision
Joseph Smith Jr. wrote or dictated four known accounts about the First Vision, and his contemporaries recorded five accounts of what they heard Joseph say about the vision (see history.lds.org).
- 1832 account: “This account beautifully emphasizes the Savior’s Atonement and the personal redemption He offered to Joseph,” said Elder Maynes.
- 1835 account: “In this account, Joseph testifies that God appeared to him first and then he saw the Savior as well.”
- 1838 account: This account “was written in the context of great opposition,” said Elder Maynes, and “focuses on the vision as the beginning of the ‘rise and progress of the Church’” (“First Vision Accounts,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org).
- 1842 account: “This account was intended for an audience unfamiliar with Mormon beliefs. It was written during a welcome lull in the opposition the Prophet faced. … As with other accounts, Joseph noted the confusion he experienced and the appearance of two personages in answer to his prayer.”
“It is a blessing to have these records,” said Elder Maynes. “They make Joseph’s First Vision the best-documented vision in history.”
Sacred truths revealed
Elder Maynes said we learn many truths from Joseph Smith’s First Vision regarding “the eternal nature of our Heavenly Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; the reality of Satan; and the struggle between good and evil, as well as other important aspects of the great plan of salvation.” For example:
- We learn the scriptures are true and can be taken literally and applied in our lives.
- We learn that pondering the scriptures brings power and insight.
- We learn that knowledge alone isn’t enough; acting on what we know results in God’s blessings.
- We learn to put our trust in God and look to Him for answers to life’s most important questions and not to put our trust in man.
- We learn that prayers are answered according to our unwavering faith and according to Heavenly Father’s will.
Consider and share
Consider the following questions and share your answers with the hashtag #LDSdevo:
- What truths have you learned from Joseph Smith’s First Vision?
- How has the Lord answered you as you have sought for truth and answers to questions you have had?
“We should share this sacred event and the things we have learned from it with all those we love and care about,” Elder Maynes said, noting that “many of those searching for direction and purpose in life are represented by the age group participating in this devotional. They are your friends and your associates.”
Prophets foretold a restoration
“There exist dozens and dozens of prophetic statements throughout the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Book of Mormon that clearly predict and point toward the Restoration of the gospel,” said Elder Maynes. One example is Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the Old Testament.
Some 2,400 years later, the American Revolution and “the religious freedoms provided by the creation and founding of the United States of America helped prepare the way for the Restoration,” said Elder Maynes.
Asking of God
Elder Maynes explained that Joseph Smith Jr.—like many people today—was searching for truth, direction, and purpose in his life.
At age 14, Joseph was struck by a passage of scripture he read in the New Testament:
“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” (James 1:5).
Joseph finally decided to ask of God, and the result of his heartfelt prayer in the Sacred Grove was the First Vision.
“I bear you my witness and my testimony that Joseph Smith was visited by God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on that beautiful spring day in 1820,” said Elder Maynes.
Study and pray
“I encourage you to visit history.lds.org to learn more about the accounts and see how they work together to paint a more complete picture,” said Elder Maynes.
However, as stated in “First Vision Accounts,” “neither the truth of the First Vision nor the arguments against it can be proven by historical research alone. Knowing the truth of Joseph Smith’s testimony requires each earnest seeker of truth to study the record and then exercise sufficient faith in Christ to ask God in sincere, humble prayer whether the record is true.”