Q: Was Joseph Smith hearing from God himself? Can you tell me about this one?
Good question. The answer is yes. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet who heard from and spoke with God himself. And yes, I’ll tell you about this too, but I’ll give a little background first.
We believe that God has always called prophets to teach and guide others. We’ve seen that God has called numerous prophets in the Bible, first starting with Adam. Adam taught the people, but eventually his teachings were rejected by the people and they fell into darkness and apostasy. But God loves his children, so he sent another prophet, Noah. Again, we see that he taught the people, but his message was also eventually rejected and the people fell from the truth. Again, God sends another prophet, Moses… and we see that this cycle continues. God calls a prophet, the prophet teaches the gospel, but his teachings are rejected and the people fall away. This continues throughout the Bible even until the time of Christ.
As we all know, Jesus Christ taught the people, but many didn’t listen to his teachings. Not only did they reject his message, but they crucified our Lord. Later, they also rejected and killed the apostles. At this time, the people fell into a great apostasy, a great rebellion against God and his gospel.
We know that God is an unchanging God, and that he still loves his children. That is why he has called a prophet for our day. As a young boy in 1820 Joseph Smith wanted to know which church was true. He searched the Bible for a better understanding and he read that he should ask of God. (James 1:5) Acting on this instruction, Joseph went into the woods near his home and prayed.
In Joseph Smith’s own words he says what happened, “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. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith – History 1:16-17)
Joseph Smith did see God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. He spoke with them face to face. Joseph was given a divine mission as a prophet of God. Through him, the Lord accomplished a great and marvelous work that included bringing forth the Book of Mormon, restoring the priesthood, revealing precious gospel truths, and organizing the true Church of Jesus Christ.
As I mentioned, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, which comes with a promise given in the last chapter, “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4) Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can say they know that Joseph Smith’s story is true, because they’ve taken the time to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:16)
Ultimately, it is up to each individual to study, pray, and find out for him or herself whether this story about Joseph Smith is true. I would encourage you to take the time to do these things too.