Thank you for this article.
I have heard a lot of negatives about Joseph Smith lately. This is my conclusion after praying about it: yes, he was human and made mistakes (every prophet is human and does make mistakes), yet they are good men. True prophets, called of God, must be good men and morally clean. Thus things I'm hearing/reading about his moral standing being questionable cannot be based on actual truths.
I have a testimony that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. I have felt this my entire life, and again when visiting his home area in New York. I felt it when a young friend was called to the Palmyra mission and shared amazing facts about Joseph Smith's first vision.
Our testimonies do not need to be shaken by the current falsehoods going around. God calls good moral men as prophets.
I love the Prophet Joseph Smith with all my heart. Does he take the place of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Never! And yet, does he not stand somewhere near to my Savior? Of this I am convinced.Did the youthful Joseph Smith see God, the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ? I believe he did. Did a more mature Joseph translate plates that contain the story known as the Book of Mormon? I believe he did that, also. Did a man prophet receive multiple revelations, restore the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth and bring back long lost scripture and temple ordinances? Once again I believe with every fiber of my being.How is it that not KNOWING of these things I can still BELIEVE in them? Precisely because the Holy Spirit has witnessed these truths unto me. Let calumny defame, let bigots spread their vicious lies, I for one feel like shouting from the rooftops that there is a latter-day prophet; that his name is Joseph Smith; that he stands next to the Lord Jesus Christ in administering the affairs of Christ's true church here upon the earth.No one will ever take the place of my beloved Savior. He is my Lord and my God. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have helpers by his side. Joseph Smith is one of them. Of this I am sure!
In 2003, my dear bosom friend told me she was leaving. Leaving her husband, her children, Utah and the church to start a new life. When I asked why, she said she had "issues with Joseph Smith and the temple." I was so shaken by her confession, and because we were so spiritually connected, I had to ask myself, "could it happen to me?"The next trip to the temple cleared the air completely on that part of her explanation. I knew that finding issue with the temple was her problem, not mine. But what about Joseph Smith? As a convert, I had joined the church because it taught me more about Jesus Christ than any other experience or association I had ever had, and if a man named Joseph Smith happened to be part of it, well, OK. Not much to stand on. And if my friend had so easily been shaken regarding him, could my whole foundation also come tumbling down if I took a closer look at him?Well, I had to know. And that started a never ending study of the prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr. I traveled to Nauvoo, on a tour guided by Scot Proctor, to walk where Joseph had walked. I read every biography and history I could get my hands on. I watched all the Joseph Smith Papers episodes on television. I studied every portrait. I languished over the fact that we have no photographs (I debate highly all claims of photos of the prophet) and that I could not look into his eyes, hear his actual voice, shake his real flesh and blood hand - for I knew if I could, I would then KNOW for myself, whether he was a prophet or charlatan.But it ultimately came down to a spiritual witness that research alone could not provide. And I came to recognize the similarity between Joseph's experience and my own. Of all people, I should feel a connection to the story of the restoration, for I too had been a teenage seeker as he was. I grew up in Ohio, where he spent a significant portion of his life. I was curious about religion, I was curious about the history of the American Indians and the things they left behind in my area, as he was. I was persecuted for my new faith, as he was. And somewhere along the way, I realized, I loved him. I would get to the part of the story of his life where he was approaching the martyrdom and I could not bear it - I put the books down. I was heartsick for what I knew was coming. I have come to see the position in the history of the world that he played - and it takes my breath away.Once I met his great (something or other) grandson at an LDS event. I'd heard of this family - their story - seen pictures of this young man, dressed up like Joseph Smith. Well he came straight up to me, took my hand, looked into my eyes with his intense blue eyes, and introduced himself as though he most particularly wanted to meet me. I was electrified. I felt something remarkable and inexplicable. I later took my husband to meet him and there we found an average, run of the mill teenage boy with nothing but a costume to draw attention to himself - no fire, no spark, no intensity - nothing, just a kid.I'd longed to meet Joseph Smith for so many years. An impossible desire. A hopeless wish. But, more than once in my life, I've had such wishes granted. We sing in the hymn Praise to the Man, that millions will know Brother Joseph again. I can't wait for that day! A man? Yes, a man, working with all the humanity we all experience, but we will see and know and understand that he is among a tiny handful of men who have ever walked the earth with the degree of spiritual leadership he possesses - and I am grateful to have a glimpse of that in advance of meeting him face to face as only the spirit can provide.Nothing anyone can unearth about his life upsets me any more. First of all, criticisms have again and again been debunked and exposed for what most of them are, evil speaking of the Lord's anointed to cover their own offenses. Second of all, it is narrow to look at a man who was born more than 200 years ago through the lens of our own cultural mindset. Third, I am human, and the Lord works through me, and if I can look at any given situation through Joseph's eyes and see how the Lord worked through him, I feel better about my own humanity. We are flawed, but the plan is not. We are blind, but the Lord sees all.I am fascinated by what records we do have, but recognize that Joseph kept to himself the vast majority of what the Lord had revealed to him - by divine instruction he was forbidden to share all he was shown. Yet he said there is nothing he has been shown that any one of us cannot also have revealed to us if and when we are ready to receive it. The responsibility that accompanies revealed truth is often too hard to be born by us - yet it was shown to him. That alone speaks volumes. This is my witness.
Amongst my first thoughts, when I began attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was that someone ought to tell these people that God just doesn't go around talking to 14-year-old boys. I had been a 14-year-old boy just a few years before. I knew what they were like.During my first six months of regular attendance I began to recognize snippets of truth: God has a body, the Godhead consists of separate beings that are one in purpose, the need for prophets, to name a few. Then one day I decided to actually open the Book of Mormon, read it, and see if there was anything to it. I started with the title page and didn't get all the way through chapter 10 of 1st Nephi when the Holy Ghost flicked the light switch on to let me know that this book is indeed a testimony of Jesus Christ and was translated by ... hmm ...In summation, yes, God really does talk to 14-year-old boys. In fact, He'll talk to anyone that will listen.Bob Sisk
Thank you for sharing your testimony and your experience in this wonderful article.
Thank you for your testimony. I too agree that Joseph is the focus of our faith and knowing him is to know our Heavenly Father and his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. I live in England, have done all my life, However I have been blessed too visit the Sacred Grove on 3 occasions. The first time wanting to know if it was true that Joseph did receive the vision that he spoke of, I knelt down ad asked in the Sacred Grove if Joseph did see our Father and his Son Jesus. I felt such a warm feeling of confirmation that I hope i will never deny, ever, that it is true.
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