Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why I Love Mormonism, Part I: Joseph Smith's First Vision

I have an incredibly strong testimony of my church, its teachings, and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I try to live a Christ-like life and set an example.  One thing I am terrible at is expressing my testimony to others, sharing my beliefs, and just simply expressing my feelings about my Savior to others who also believe in Him.

I want to write several posts about why I love my religion.  If I tried to write it all right now, it would take me days of sitting here type-type-typing away.  So I'll focus on one things at a time.

So many people are scared of Mormonism.  Why?  I don't think many understand what we believe and who we are, otherwise it absolutely would not be frightening.  We are not a cult, we are not devil worshipers, we believe is Jesus Christ, and we live good lives.

My focus today is on Joseph Smith.  I want to tell part of his story.

This story is either completely true, or completely blasphemous.  I had to find out on my own, as we all do, if it was true or not.  Obviously I got an answer to my prayer, otherwise I would not be here telling of his experience.

After our Savior died, wicked people persecuted and killed the Apostles.  Thus the priesthood authority that had been on the earth was lost.  Soon enough, doctrines were corrupted, truths were twisted and changed, and the inhabitants of the earth entered into a world-wide apostasy which we call the Great Apostasy.  Eventually new churches emerged with their own ideas of truth.

In the early 1800's there was a lot of religious excitement in the eastern United States.  Joseph Smith, living in Manchester at the time, was confused about which church to join.  He said, "In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?"

Joseph retreated to the Bible to seek guidance.  He came across the scripture James 1:5 that reads, "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."

Because of this scripture, Joseph Smith decided to do just that, to ask God.  In the spring of 1820, at age 15, Joseph Smith went to a quiet, secluded grove to pray to his Father in Heaven, to ask Him which church he should join.

As he was praying, a marvelous thing happened.  Joseph wrote, "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun which descended gradually until it fell upon me. 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!"

In his vision, our Savior told Joseph Smith not to join any of the churches.  Why?  Because He said  that the churches were all wrong, and "...all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: 'they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.'" 

We know that the churches our Savior was talking about each had faithful, Christ believing members who were seeking truth, but what had happened in each of these churches is that they didn't have a fulness of the truth.  Meaning they had bits and pieces of truth mingled with ideas from man who had changed doctrines and ordinances, and passed these ideas down from one generation to another.  Because of this, our Savior and other heavenly messengers directed Joseph Smith to organize Jesus Christ's church on the earth again.

And that is just the beginning to this wonderful gospel that we have here on the earth.  Everyone has the opportunity to pray to God and find out for him/herself whether or not this story is true.  Though I was raised a Mormon, there was a point in my life where I had to know, for myself, if it was true.  I did as the scripture tells us to do.  I asked Heavenly Father, with faith, and I received my answer. 

You may be thinking this is a crazy story.  You may be thinking it is blasphemy, or you may just not want to pray and ask.  So this is my invitation to all who have read this:  I promise you that if you pray with true intent and faith, you can receive an answer too.  I know it.

Stay tuned for Why I Love Mormonism, Part II
It's either going to be The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
or  The Plan of Salvation/Happiness/Redemption

What's your vote?


Linda said...

Amen. So beautifully said. Thank you so much for sharing your testimony. I look forward to reading the next part.

JvZ said...

Beautifully and heartfully expressed. A great exercise for you and a precious gift to others. The thing that clinches the deal for me is the fact that Joseph Smith and many others were willing to sacrifice all for their faith -- persecution, hardship and death could not take away their witness of the truth. That said, I think it is always critical for us as to be respectful and interested in learning from other faiths, which do have much truth, beauty and value in every respect. We must all coexist on this planet, why not focus on the 90% we have in common instead of the 10% differences?

deanna said...

Well said. This is like my life getting asked questions and explaining the church since I've been living in Wisconsin am the first "Mormon" most people in this town have ever met. It's fun to play missionary.
Part II-go for the Book of Mormon.

Tara said...

Awesome Post Angie! p.s. Have you read Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling? I am reading it right now. Really interesting so far and such a good insight into his life. What an amazing man he was!

Rachel said...

Beautiful post Angie!

Mommas said...

I am SO Proud of you. I will look forward to the second installment!