Today in Priesthood we discussed the chapter of the Joseph Fielding Smith manual which speaks about the Joseph Fielding Smith’s testimony of his great uncle the Prophet Joseph Smith. We discussed how powerful it must have been for Joseph Fielding Smith to grow up hearing his father’s testimony of Joseph Smith, and Hyrum Smith. As we did so, we reached the conclusion that even though Joseph Fielding Smith’s familial connections helped him to have a powerful and deeply personal witness of the inspired call of Joseph Smith, each of us can have an equally powerful personal testimony.
As a convert to the Church, I hold especially dear my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and my Testimony of Jesus Christ. I want my witness to be unmistakable. I want my ancestors on the other side of the veil to know of my witness and I want my progeny to know as well. I want my witness and testimony to be recorded in the heavens and on earth.
I have written extensively about gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. However, even though I knew the Church was true, specific portions of my testimony came over time. A few weeks after I first gained a testimony, I went with the Cambridge University Ward to a camp out up in Sharon Vermont at the Joseph Smith Birthplace. While there, we had a beautiful fast and testimony meeting and also toured the memorial. The spirit there was strong and I got up during the testimony meeting and bore my testimony for the first time. I also talked to my Bishop about baptism for the first time. At the visitors center I watched the Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration film and felt my testimony of Joseph Smith grow.
About a month after my baptism, my YSA ward in Philadelphia went on a trip to the Hill Cumorah pageant. As we toured the Joseph Smith home, my testimony was again strengthened and my heart filled. As I knelt down in prayer at the sacred grove, I knew without a doubt that Joseph did in fact see a pillar of light which gradually descended upon him. In that light he did in fact see the Father and the Son and was called as a prophet of God. I knew as surely as I knew that God lived that this was true.
As a missionary, I bore witness of the first vision daily, and I probably watched the restoration film hundreds of times. Each time, as I recited the words of Joseph’s first vision account, or watched them depicted on film I felt the spirit bear witness of the truthfulness of his account. Bearing witness of the first vision never got old. Each time it retained its power and wonder.
I love the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am grateful to him because thanks to him I better know my savior Jesus Christ. Because of him I can read the Book of Mormon and other precious revelations from God. Because of him, Christ’s divinely ordained Church is again on the earth. His witness is recorded in the heavens and in my heart. As those who knew him best recorded, he lived great and died great in the eyes of God and his fellow man. I honor him, and bear my witness that he was who and what he said he was.
I bear this witness in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.