For centuries men gathered and argued concerning the nature of Deity. Constantine assembled scholars of various factions at Nicaea in the year 325. After two months of bitter debate, they compromised on a definition which for generations has been the doctrinal statement among Christians concerning the Godhead.
I invite you to read that definition and compare it with the statement of the boy Joseph. He simply says that God stood before him and spoke to him. Joseph could see Him and could hear Him. He was in form like a man, a being of substance. Beside Him was the resurrected Lord, a separate being, whom He introduced as His Beloved Son and with whom Joseph also spoke.
I submit that in the short time of that remarkable vision Joseph learned more concerning Deity than all of the scholars and clerics of the past.
In this divine revelation there was reaffirmed beyond doubt the reality of the literal Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This knowledge of Deity, hidden from the world for centuries, was the first and great thing which God revealed to His chosen servant.
And upon the reality and truth of this vision rests the validity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What did the boy prophet, Joseph Smith, learn about Jesus Christ that the rest of the world forgot shortly after the death of the original Twelve Apostles in ancient times? He learned what the early disciples of Jesus knew, that Jesus is God and that he has a resurrected body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s. This is what the ancient saints learned in the Upper Room when the Savior appeared to them after Jesus rose from the dead on that first Easter so long ago as recorded in John 20:19-29.
It has happened again! Jesus has once again appeared in the flesh to a mortal man, one of very few times it has happened since his ascension as recorded in Acts 1:9-11. But that is not all that the fourteen year old Joseph Smith learned. Jesus did not come visit him alone. His Father came with him, the same Father that Jesus prayed to so often while he was alive in mortality, the same Father in Heaven that all Christians pray to every time they say the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus taught us to pray in the Sermon on the Mount.
The Father and the Son are two distinct beings, two people, two exalted and omnipotent men. The ancient saints knew this because Jesus taught it to them. But somehow mankind forgot. After the death of those who knew Jesus and had authority from him to preach his gospel, men started to argue about the teachings and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And because they no longer had living oracles, prophets of the Lord Jesus who had actually heard and seen him, there was no one able to settle the disputes and answer the questions that men had. Every man’s opinion was as good as another’s. And in the midst of this doctrinal confusion, Satan was able to introduce some very false ideas about God, about both the Father and the Son. After all, Satan is the author of confusion. He is the originator of all false doctrine about Jesus. And the end result of all this doctrinal confusion was the heresy of the Holy Trinity universally taught in the traditional Christian world.
But there are living prophets once again upon the earth! Jesus has again appeared to men, and his Father also. And through their chosen prophet, Joseph Smith, they have restored the ancient teachings, the ancient understanding of God. Angels have visited the earth in modern times and taught the pure and undefiled gospel of Jesus Christ in our own day.
So Mormons know things about Jesus of which other Christians are ignorant. The knowledge is available to them, but they refuse to believe the truth revealed from heaven. Mormons know that Heavenly Father is actually an exalted man with a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s. And Jesus Christ is another man, the actual Son of our Heavenly Father. He also has a body of flesh and bones. Only the Mormons, alone among all other Christians, have this true understanding of God. Only they are able to worship the Father and the Son with a true understanding of who and what they are.
Jesus Christ lives! His Father also. And they have visited the earth recently. Joseph Smith was chosen by them to restore this ancient knowledge. Joseph was a true prophet. And Gordon B. Hinckley is such a prophet today in 2006. The heavens have opened, and once again angels visit the earth. We may all rejoice. Satan’s power is near an end. And the true church of Jesus Christ is once again organized under the authority of Jesus Christ himself.
What a happy day!