Elder and Sister S. Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy
Tuesday devotional, February 25, 2020
Note: the ‘S’ in S. Gifford Nielsen stands for ‘Stanley’.
Sister Wendy Nielsen:
- Our prophet has asked us to immerse ourselves in the Restoration during this bicentennial year. I have been reviewing the four versions of the First Vision.
- Joseph Smith wrote the first version himself, and then scribes wrote the other three. The accounts vary, but that is a good thing. Some authorities have pointed out that fraudulent people will always tell their ‘story’ in exactly the same way, never varying in their account. Truthful people will relate a story differently, emphasizing different things to different audiences. The four accounts all give different details and emphasize different points.
- It is interesting that the four Gospels in the New Testament are very different in focus, details, and emphasis, but no one criticizes or doubts those Gospels. The same consideration should be given the accounts of the First Vision.
- One authority stated that he believed the Joseph Smith accounts because Joseph said that the “brightness and glory of the Father and the Son defied all description”, and he was true to that word, never trying to ‘describe’ that brightness. Fraudulent people make a similar claim, and then spend much time trying to describe the situation or person in great detail.
- The 1832 account was written in Joseph’s own hand. Why did he wait 12 years (1820 to 1832) before writing down such an exceptional experience? One authority pointed out that this was in keeping with the fact that Joseph was a farm boy; farm people were great at talking and describing orally, but not great at writing and recording.
- This account was very personal. Joseph pointed out that he was young and wanted to change his life and behavior very much, and was looking for a church that would help him do that.
- The 1835 account was given to a visitor who came to Kirtland, claiming to be Jewish and desiring to hear of the vision. Hence, in this version Joseph emphasized the atonement of the Savior, hoping to give this Jewish person a feel for Christ’s divinity.
- The 1838 account is the version found in our Pearl of Great Price. Joseph described the experience in great detail, wanting this particular version to be written and printed and distributed.
- The 1842 account was given at the request of John Wentworth, a reporter. It is broad in scope but succinct in details. Mr. Wentworth stated that there were “few equals” to Joseph’s experience.
- There is a “Pillar of Light” podcast that gives illuminating details to the accounts. It is evident that in Joseph’s vision, initial darkness was replaced by ultimate peace.
- President LeSueur and I served as Area Authorities together, and we have had many sweet experiences together.
- Elder Nielsen related that he had enjoyed lunch with the First Presidency earlier in the day. He asked Elder Eyring what message he had for the missionaries at the Missionary Training Center. He said, “Tell them that serving a mission is ‘do-able’, that our message is true, to have courage, and to move forward.” President Nelson told Elder Nielsen to tell the missionaries that it is imperative that the message of the Restoration has sunk deep into our hearts.
- President Nelson has invited us to immerse ourselves in the Restoration in preparation for the April 2020 general conference.
- Everything changed in 1820. Joseph Smith was the first investigator of this dispensation. He had actually seen a light, and he knew that he had seen a light.
- Missionaries, you are called to gather scattered Israel.
- Immerse yourselves in the Restoration.
- Ask yourselves how your lives would be different if the truths learned from the Book of Mormon were suddenly taken away.
- President Nelson suggested that we view and absorb the new Book of Mormon videos. Use those videos in your proselyting work.
- President Nelson asked that we ‘design our own plans’ to immerse ourselves in the Restoration.
- At this point, Elder Nielsen showed a great video entitled, “By Small and Simple Things”.
- My testimony is this: 1) This is the work of the Living Christ 2) Jesus is our loving Savior 3) I testify of the truthfulness of these things.