First Vision was 'supernal manifestation'

Apostolic authority lost

Reformers inspired- Truth restored

The appearance of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, to Joseph Smith in 1820 was "one of the most supernal spiritual manifestations of all time!" said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve.

Speaking at the Sunday morning session, Elder Ballard discussed the need for a restoration. He explained that the "most compassionate and significant service in the history of the world was the Atonement," but he added: "One of the most important accomplishments of the Savior was the establishment of His Church upon the earth. When Jesus called His 12 apostles, He laid His hands upon them, ordained them, and conferred upon them the authority to govern His Church.

"The New Testament indicates that the early apostles worked hard to preserve the Church that Jesus Christ left to their care and keeping," but eventually there was a "falling away." Elder Ballard explained that the apostles - with the exception of John the Beloved - were martyred, and the apostolic authority was lost.

Then beginning in 1517 came the reformation during which reformers were "inspired to create a religious climate in which God could restore lost truths and priesthood authority."

In 1820, the world was "ready for the restitution of all things' spoken of by Peter andall [God's] holy prophets since the world began.' " (Acts 3:21)

A "religious excitement" swept through upstate New York, Elder Ballard related. Fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith Jr., in searching for which Church to join, read James 1:5: "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."

Joseph did so on a clear spring morning in a grove of trees. Elder Ballard said the response to the boy's prayer was, as recorded in the Prophet's history: "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."

Those personages were God the Father and Jesus Christ, who told the boy to join none of the existing churches. They left Joseph "physically drained, but spiritually enriched with exciting restored truth."

Through subsequent, equally miraculous experiences, Elder Ballard related, Joseph Smith was God's instrument in translating the Book of Mormon, restoring priesthood authority, restoring sealing keys, establishing the Church of Jesus Christ, fulfilling biblical prophecy, and preparing for the Second Coming.

Elder Ballard told those listening. "You can know if these things are true by asking God."

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