Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Importance of Understanding Personal Revelation-Part I

We should keep in mind that “personal revelation” is available to all members of the Church (as well as others on occasion). As it states in D&C 43:25, “The Lord reveals His will through dreams and visions, visitations, through angels, through His own voice, and through the voice of His servants.” We can add to that D&C 1:38: “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Add to this that “The Lord’s house is a house of order, and the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or anyone [else], to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p21). 
    As Boyd K. Packer said, “You may receive revelation individually, as a parent for your family, or for those for whom you are responsible as a leader or teacher, having been properly called and set apart.” Each of us is endowed with the Spirit of Truth. As the Apostle John stated: “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).
    In addition, we may receive answers to prayer, to contemplation, to direct or indirect inquiries—but these are “personal,” that is, they are not for anyone else. Few people who have received personal revelation discuss them with anyone else, other than perhaps a spouse or family member, or very close confidant. As the Lord said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6). That is, “personal revelation” is just that—it is personal.
    One of the problems of this is that we tend to ignore “personal revelation” people receive when we become privy to the fact since it is something not broadcast from the highest pinnacle and received “from on high.”
Regarding this and the following information, we have written before about Frederick G. Williams and his claim and testimony, it is interesting that despite the information previously given, and even some of the discussion among readers here, the very interesting and enlightening story of Elder Williams has been mostly ignored by many, especially the theorists, and even vilified by the latter at times because his information cast direct doubt on their Land of Promise models and locations.
    At the seven-hour long Kirtland Temple dedication on March 27, 1836, where a thousand persons attended, and at which time the Hosanna Shout and singing of W.W. Phelp’s hymn “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning” were initiated, a noteworthy event occurred. After a two-and-a-half-hour sermon given by Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith offered a dedicatory prayer that he said was given to him by revelation (History of the Church, Vol.2, p420). 26-year old Truman Osborn Angell, who had worked on building the temple, and who would become one of the original pioneers of Utah, one of Brigham Young’s brothers-in-law, a Church Patriarch, and who held for many years the position of Church Architect, designing the Salt Lake Temple, the Lion House, the Beehive House, the Fillmore Statehouse, the St. George Temple, and many other important public buildings, of which his modifications to the Salt Lake Tabernacle are credited with creating the perfect acoustics for which the building is famous, stated a personal experience at the time of this dedication:
    “When about midway through the prayer, there was a glorious sensation passed through [the Temple]; and we, having our heads bowed in prayer, felt a sensation very elevating to the soul. At the close of the prayer, F. G. Williams being in the upper east stand—Joseph being in the speaking stand next below—rose and testified that midway during the prayer an holy angel came and seated himself in the stand. When the afternoon meeting assembled, Joseph, feeling very much elated, arose the first thing and said the personage who had appeared in the morning was the Angel Peter come to accept the dedication” (The Journal of Truman Osborn Angell, in Sarah Jane Angell Tolman, Autobiography “His Journal,” Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol.10, 1967, pp195-213).
The main lower assembly room of the Temple. Yellow Arrow: Where Frederick G. Williams was sitting at the dedication

President Frederick G. Williams testified that he saw a "holy angel" enter the temple during the opening prayer and sit between himself and Joseph Smith, Sr. In addition, nine witnesses wrote about the event, and even though details in their records conflict, they all saw the manifestation and believed it was the Savior as they recorded the event, some even describing the appearance. In fact, according to George Albert Smith, “On the first day of the dedication President Frederick G. Williams one of the Counselors of the prophet  and who occupied the upper pulpit bore testimony that the Savior dressed in his vesture without seam came into the stand and accepted of the dedication of the house; that he saw him and he gave a description of his clothing and all things pertaining to it” (George A. Smith, Journal Of Discourses, vol.11, p 10). 
    Even the prophet Joseph Smith acknowledged this event, writing: “President Frederick G. Williams arose and testified that while President Rigdon was making his first prayer, an angel entered the window and took his seat between Father Smith and himself, and remained there during the prayer” (DHC, vol.II, p427).
    It might be noted that this is also the temple where a week later Christ appeared to accept the temple offering, and subsequently Moses, Elias and Elijah appeared to restore keys, power and authority to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. In fact, months before and months after its initial dedication the Kirtland Temple was the site of many divine manifestations. In fact, "more Latter-day Saints beheld visions and witnessed other unusual spiritual manifestations than during any other era in the history of the Church,” and angels in at least ten different meetings leading up to the dedication were reported (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, ch 13, “Glorious Days in Kirtland 1834-36,” 2003, pp53-168).
In fact, Orson Pratt recorded of this event and time: “God was there [in the Kirtland Temple], his angels were there, the Holy Ghost was in the midst of the people…and they were filled from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet with the power and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and uttered forth prophecies in the midst of that congregation, which have been fulfilling from that day to the present time" (Deseret News, Jan. 12, 1876, 788). Eliza R. Snow, added of this dedication: “The ceremonies of that dedication may be rehearsed, but no mortal language can describe the heavenly manifestations of that memorable day. Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present, and each heart was filled with "joy inexpressible and full of glory" (In Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom, 1877, p95.)
    It is certainly noteworthy to consider all of these events, showing that the angel sitting next to Elder Williams in the temple was not unusual for this particular day and time, nor would receiving a personal revelation out of the order since both members and leaders had numerous spiritual experiences at this time.
    Elder Williams played an important role during the days of the restoration, in organization of the Church, and in the establishment of the kingdom. It might be of interest to know that Truman Osborn Angell also relates a story told him by Frederick G. Williams, when the First Presidency came to observe the near finished temple. As Elder Williams told Angell: “Joseph received the word of the Lord for him to take his two counselors, myself and Sidney Rigdon, and come before the Lord and He would show us the plan or model of the house to be built. We went upon our knees, called on the Lord, and the temple building appeared within viewing distance. I being the first to discover it, then all of us viewed it together. After we had taken a good look at the exterior, the building seemed to come right over us, and the makeup of this hall today seems to coincide with what I there saw to a minutia."
(See the next post, “The Importance of Understanding Personal Revelation-Part II,” for additional information surrounding the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, and the experience of Frederick G. Williams in which he claimed a “personal revelation.”

1 comment:

  1. I felt exhilaration reading most of this. It is clear where you are going with it!

    I think you should at least briefly mention the correct principles based on revelations that show that faithful members of the church have the right to NOT sustain even members of the First Presidency, and to have controversies over them as equal brothers, until their controversy is settled fairly.

    none are exempt from the justice and laws of God