Have you ever had a question? Something that you thought would only effect you? That's how Joseph Smith was, he had question that he thought was just for him. It turns out it changed the world...for everyone.
Joseph Smith was a young man that lived in upstate New York in the early 1800's. At this particular point in history there was a major religious excitement in America. America had recently gained its religious freedom and everyone was eagerly practicing their own beliefs.
Having noticed all of the excitement Joseph Smith began to ponder what could be true. Everyone claimed they had the right answers and that everyone else was wrong. How was he supposed to know? His family, being strong Christians, read from the Bible nightly and his confusion only increased when he read such verses as are found in Ephesians chapter four verse five; "There is one faith, one Lord, one baptism." He understood this to mean that there is ONE church of Christ, but which one was it? He continued attending the different churches and reading in the Bible until he came to a verse in the First chapter of the Book of James. It 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". After reading this verse and concluding that he could not decide for himself which was right and which was wrong young Joseph decided to take James' advice. He would ask God.
One morning in the spring of 1820 Joseph Smith at the age of 14 years old headed into a grove of trees to pray to God and find out for himself what religion had the truth.
In his own words this is how he describes his experience...
"After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. 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!
My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that 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.”
He again forbade me to join with any of them
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"
I add my witness as a humble disciple and servant of my Lord and Master Jesus Christ that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. I also testify that he has been more persecuted for telling the truth than is believeable or acceptable. I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God. I know that Jesus is The Christ, the Son of the Living God and that He still reaches out to us in love. When we allow him to.