Joseph Smith-History (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-History Part 1).

In the history of Joseph Smith, it starts out with his explanation of who he was and the concerns of his mind when he was a teenage boy. He tells of wanting to know which church was true and after scripture study and prayer, he had the first vision. This was a vision of God and Jesus Christ, who told him that none of the churches on the earth, were the true church of God. This record continues:

21 Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.
22 I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me.

Joseph began to tell others about the vision he had, but they did not believe him. There are many people still today, who believe that revelation stopped with the death of the apostles from just after Jesus lived on the earth. I am a firm believer in revelation from God, which continues today. I believe in direct revelation to the prophets who are called to guide all the world, and personal revelation to us individually to help us in our lives. I cannot imagine a Father in Heaven who would reveal His word to all the prophets before Christ, and to the apostles after Christ was resurrected, but would leave the rest of us to go without it. Especially when there are so many people who are trying to live good lives and follow Christ.

Persecution will come to those who are trying to do what is right. This is because Satan has influenced men to believe in false traditions and doctrine. The more seeds that Satan can plant in the hearts of men, the greater the persecution will be for the righteous. One of the things that is hard for me to grasp, is how those who claim they want to follow Christ, would think that He wants them to bitterly persecute other people for their own beliefs. I think it is really important that we allow others to believe what they want to believe. I think that the only time there should be any interference in that, is when those beliefs purposely do harm to others. I have had a bit of persecution when I have stood up for my own beliefs, and although it is difficult to experience, it makes us stronger in the end. I am grateful for what I have learned at these times in my life.

23 It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
24 However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
25 So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.

Joseph Smith was a young boy who worked on the farm with his family each day. He was not some learned man who had his own personal power to persuade others by his eloquent speech or anything of the sort. He was a boy, who had the amazing blessing to speak directly with God and Jesus Christ. His testimony gave the spirit the opportunity to touch the souls of others around him. Satan would have pushed men to persecute Joseph in hopes that he would deny the things he saw. Joseph, however, could not deny the truth and facts of what had occurred. For him, it was as plain as seeing the sun rise and give light to the earth, which we cannot deny when we see it because it is true. Had Joseph chosen to deny truth, he knew that he would be under the condemnation of God. I know that there are things that the spirit has testified to me that are true, and that I cannot deny their reality otherwise I would be openly rebelling against God. People may fall away from the gospel for one reason or another, but truth is always truth and if denied, it is a great sin against the spirit and God himself.

God chose a young boy, I believe, to produce a trial of faith for those around him. His age or knowledge should not make it so hard for any Christian who believes in the bible. It is hard for us sometimes to see that something great can come without a grand gesture from God. But, this has been the case for people since the beginning of life on this earth. There are many examples in the scriptures, of young or unlearned people being called to do great things. If we are righteous and open to the influence of the spirit, we can recognize the work of God in the simplest things. This test of our faith, makes our testimonies stronger and more firm, so that when trials come, we will not falter in the gospel. This experience for Joseph Smith, helped him to become the amazing leader and prophet that he was for the early saints.

26 I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned—that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed. I had found the testimony of James to be true—that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.

With his integrity intact, Joseph continued to follow the counsel of Jesus Christ. He did not join any of the churches and waited until he received more information from God. He had tested the challenge in the scriptures, which James gives to all people. And God had proven the words of James to be true. We have the ability to test these words for ourselves. I believe that God will reveal the truth and answers that we are searching for, if we ask Him in faith and with righteous desires in our hearts. I am grateful for the strength and courage of that young boy of 14 years, because his faithfulness restored the blessings of salvation through Jesus Christ.

This post will be continued.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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