Have you seen the Church DVD called The Restoration? I watched it back in 2004 when I received it with my October Ensign. Page 54 explains the short movie as “a beautiful new dramatization of the First Vision”. It’s very well done and at times is so realistic it’s as if you’re right there with Joseph Smith.
Throughout the movie we see Joseph seeking answers to spiritual questions. Two questions that run throughout the movie are “How will we know if we are saved?” and “How can we know which doctrine is right?” As I watched, I found myself wanting to reach out to Joseph—to help him recognize that even from the very beginning of his search, God was already answering his questions. If this movie is an honest depiction of what happened, then God answered Joseph’s questions before he went to the grove to pray. By going to the grove to pray he confirms that either he believes his questions weren’t answered; or, that he has rejected God’s answers.
So what are God’s answers? God provides the answer to Joseph’s first question “How will we know if we are saved?” before he even asks it. Barely one minute into the movie Joseph’s family gathers to listen as his father reads from the Bible. From the book of John, he reads the words of Jesus Christ our Savior, words which clearly tell us how to be saved:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This passage from God’s Word is probably the most popular verse in the Bible for Christians. At almost every football game shown on TV you will see someone sitting in the stands holding a sign that reads “John 3:16”. The reason this verse is so precious to believers is precisely because it does tell every human how they are saved! But Joseph misses it! The very Son of God promises that all who believe in Him have everlasting and eternal life!!!
It’s as though Joseph Smith does not hear these words! Just four minutes after we hear Joseph’s father read this promise from God, Joseph asks him “How will we know if we are saved?” As I watched the movie, I wanted to reach out and shake him and say “Jesus already told you! If you believe in Him you are saved. Why can’t you trust him? Why do you deny Him?”
Joseph Smith’s testimony of how to be saved is seen in the third article of faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” This ordinance stands in direct opposition to the very words of the Son of God. Because Joseph choose not to believe Jesus, he has taught millions of Mormons the wrong way to gain eternal life.
God also answers Joseph’s second question “How can we know which doctrine is right?” About seven minutes into the movie Joseph reads from Psalm 119:
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Again the answer is so clear. God’s Word lights the path—revealing the way. But Joseph again denies the clear instruction of God and seeks his own understanding. He finds his own way to discern truth. He denies the truth that God has already revealed in the Bible and decides to pray for wisdom. The wisdom that he needed was that it is unwise to reject God’s Words. By placing his own way above God’s already revealed way he is easily misled by false spirits. God’s way is to use His Word to light the path—to show the way.
God’s Word is so sweet to me!! It has shown me which doctrine is right. I bear witness to you on the basis of God’s Word that eternal life is a free gift, given to all who believe in Jesus. Believe His Words of John 3:16 and you have eternal life. You are saved. You will have found the way of truth that sadly eluded Joseph—to his eternal torment!
Allow me to share just one more of many clear “lamps” found in God’s Word. Again, these words were written down by John the Beloved. God’s Word bears witness of the truth. Referring to the fact that we can know we have eternal life through belief in Christ, John testified:
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13)
Believe it and receive it!!!