How has the First Vision changed you? How are you actively seeking to hear Christ’s voice? Who is God? What would He have you do?
These are some of the questions Elder Weatherford T. Clayton, General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Sister Lisa Clayton, posed to BYU–Idaho students in a livestream devotional on June 2.
This year marked the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. During the celebratory April 2020 general conference, Church leaders addressed answers to the questions posed above.
“Our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help us the very most is to hear His Son,” President Russell M. Nelson said in the Sunday morning session of general conference. “Because when we seek to hear — truly hear — His Son, we will be guided to know what to do in any circumstance.”
Said Elder Clayton in the BYU–Idaho devotional: “Clearly, we need Christ’s words. But where can we find them?”
He outlined four clear sources taught by Church leaders in April: the scriptures, the temple, the Holy Ghost and the words of the living prophets.
Feasting on Christ’s words in the scriptures, Elder Clayton said, increases the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives.
“During my mission as a young adult, my companion and I were teaching a wonderful investigator about the three degrees of glory when he asked, ‘But what about the animals?’ I had no idea what to say,” Elder Clayton said. “Then an impression came to my mind about a verse in section 77 that describes animals in their eternal felicity. It was perfect and it wasn’t from me.”
Sister Clayton also talked about the scriptures, referencing Paul’s “dramatic” conversion experience in Acts 9. He was traveling to Damascus, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.”
On his way, a “light from heaven” suddenly “shined round about” him, and he heard the Savior’s voice: “Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul responded with a question: “Who art thou, Lord?”
“Saul didn’t understand, so he asked a question,” said Sister Clayton. “What a direct and humble response.
“Clearly our own conversions are likely less dramatic and swift — though they may very well astonish us and they may very well make us tremble,” she said. “We are more likely to realize He is indeed who He said He is in quiet moments of searching.”
Paul’s second question, “What wilt thou have me to do?,” sets an example for each of us to ask God every day what He would have us do, Sister Clayton said.
“Paul’s two questions are intertwined in a cycle sent from heaven: as we learn more about our Savior and learn to truly hear Him, our desire to serve Him increases. As we do His work, we recognize ever more urgently our need to become more like Him,” Sister Clayton said.
The temple teaches us about the Savior, Elder Clayton said.
“I remember many years ago kneeling across from Lisa at the alter in a sealing room in the Salt Lake Temple as a brother who held the restored sealing power married us for time and all eternity,” said Elder Clayton.
Elder David A. Bednar taught in April, “As we invite into our lives the ‘power of godliness’ by receiving priesthood ordinances and making and keeping sacred covenants, we are blessed with strength beyond our own to overcome the temptations and challenges of mortality and to do and become good.”
President Nelson similarly taught, “The house of the Lord is a house of learning. There the Lord teaches in His own way. … There we learn how to part the veil and communicate more clearly with heaven. … How eager each of us should be to seek refuge there.”
The Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost brings Christ’s words to one’s remembrance. “The light of heaven will be with us as we hear, hearken, and heed Christ’s words,” Elder Clayton said.
In the April general conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen encouraged writing down one’s spiritual experiences: “Embrace your sacred memories. Believe them. Write them down. Share them with your family. Trust that they come to you from your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son.”
Said Elder Clayton: “Gather your spiritual experiences. Treasure your answers from heaven. Let them strengthen you. Open your heart to them. As you do so, you will find that your spiritual foundation, if you build it upon the rock of our Redeemer, will grow ever stronger.”
Living prophets and apostles
As we hear, hearken and heed the Savior and His prophets, Elder Clayton testified, we will have increased power and capacity to do His will as well as the help of heavenly miracles.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught in April, “We have every reason to hope for blessings even greater than those we have already received because this is the work of Almighty God, this is the Church of continuing revelation, this is the gospel of Christ’s unlimited grace and benevolence.”
The living prophets and apostles also recently released a sacred proclamation entitled “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World.” Elder Clayton encouraged BYU–Idaho students to study the “pure, simple, clear” doctrines taught in that proclamation.
Let Christ’s words into your heart
As Elder Clayton concluded, he added his testimony to those of his wife and the living apostles and prophets.
“Are you letting Christ’s words enter your heart?” he asked the students. “As you choose to let them in and take root in your heart, you will feel yourself change. You will feel their truthfulness grow in you like a good seed, and they will become delicious.
“From my first experiences feeling the Spirit as I prayed at my mother’s knee to the times when the Spirit has strongly confirmed what I have learned about the Savior and His gospel is true, I have felt the seed of faith grow in my heart,” he concluded.
Sister Clayton concluded her remarks, promising “the Lord will walk this path with you daily.”