As we often hear, Joseph Smith’s First Vision is foundational to the restored gospel: no Vision, no Restoration. It all starts there. If a major encounter between a fourteen-year-old boy and the Gods of the universe did not occur, then all that we teach and practice, all the good we strive to do in the name of Christian service, is vain and superficial—in the long run, it would have no saving significance for the children of God.
What receives much less attention, however, is what we learn from Joseph’s encounter with God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. When we begin to explore the theological concepts discovered, the lessons derived, and the principles learned from the Vision, we move into the realm of doctrine—and doctrine has the power to save. As President Boyd K. Packer taught so powerfully, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986). Sincere pondering and our own personal, prayerful encounter with the doctrines of the First Vision will change us, bringing about the kind of deep conversion the apostles and prophets encourage us to seek.
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