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Many foretold Restoration, Elder Maynes tells young adults

“The Restoration of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days has been foreseen and predicted by prophets throughout history,” said Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults on Sunday night.

Thousands of young adults — ages 18 to 30 — from around the world tuned in for the live broadcast originating from the Tabernacle on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. Elder Maynes’ wife, Sister Nancy J. Maynes, shared brief remarks, and a young adult choir comprised of students from the Orem Institute of Religion and high school seniors throughout Utah Valley provided musical selections during the broadcast.

Speaking on the topic, “The Truth Restored,” Elder Maynes focused his remarks on the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the First Vision experience of LDS Prophet Joseph Smith.

“The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ should not come as a surprise to those who study the scriptures,” Elder Maynes said. “There exist dozens and dozens of prophetic statements throughout the Old Testament, New Testament and the Book of Mormon that clearly predict and point toward the Restoration of the gospel.”

Sharing the historical context of the time leading up to Joseph Smith’s experience, Elder Maynes told of the religious freedom within the country, as well as the history of Joseph’s family. Scripture study and prayer led Joseph to “ask of God” what religious path he should take. In response, Joseph experienced a divine visitation — “the First Vision” — where God and Christ visited him.

“Joseph wrote or dictated four known accounts of his First Vision,” Elder Maynes said. “Additionally, his contemporaries recorded their memories of what they heard Joseph say about the vision; five such accounts are known. It is a blessing to have these records. They make Joseph’s First Vision the best-documented vision in history. I encourage you to visit history.lds.org to learn more about the accounts and see how they work together to paint a more complete picture.”

Drawing from the Gospel Topics essay “First Vision Accounts” found on LDS.org, Elder Maynes spoke of the consistent story Joseph told, as well as the different emphasis and details of each account.

Reading from the essay the LDS leader said, “Historians expect that when an individual retells an experience in multiple settings to different audiences over many years, each account will emphasize various aspects of the experience and contain unique details.”

Just as the multiple scriptural accounts of Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus and the apostles’ experience on the Mount of Transfiguration vary, so do Joseph’s accounts of the First Vision.

“Yet despite the differences,” Elder Maynes said, again quoting from the essay on Lds.org, “a basic consistency remains across all the accounts of the First Vision.”

Recognizing some people have argued that any variation in the retelling of the story is evidence of fabrication, Elder Maynes pointed out looking at each account “enables us to learn more about this remarkable event than we could if it were less well documented.”

Elder Maynes briefly reviewed the four accounts written or dictated by Joseph Smith. Like the individual New Testament gospels that tell a more complete description of Christ’s life and ministry when pulled together, the different accounts add unique detail and perspective to the total experience, he taught.

“They all emphasize that there was confusion and strife among Christian churches, that Joseph desired to know which — if any — was right, that he searched the scriptures and prayed, that a light descended from heaven, and that divine beings appeared and answered his prayer,” Elder Maynes said.

Elder Maynes called Joseph’s experience “the most powerful learning experience anyone on earth could have.”

“This experienced changed Joseph’s life, it has changed my life, and I know it has or will change your life as you go to the Lord for confirmation of its reality,” he said.

Essential truths were revealed with the First Vision, Elder Maynes taught.

“Brothers and sisters, the First Vision is the key to unlocking many truths that have been hidden for centuries,” he said. “Let’s not forget or take for granted the many precious truths we have learned from Joseph Smith’s First Vision.”

Elder Maynes invited listeners to consider two questions and to answer and share them on social media platforms using the search term #LDSdevo.

“What truths have you learned from Joseph Smith’s First Vision?” and “How has the Lord answered you as you have sought for truth and answers to questions you have had?”

To watch the broadcast visit the website devotionals.lds.org. Additional languages will be available by May 6.

mholman@desnews.com, @marianne_holman