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Episode Transcript

[00:00:03.540] - Karl Ricks Anderson

Welcome to Kirtland. What a wonderful thing to be here on a bright sunny day because this was a bright sunny day of the Restoration. To many people who gathered here, Kirtland was our first gathering place in the Church. The Lord prophesied that Kirtland would be built up and what we're going see, as we go through these sites in Kirtland, is a humble Joseph Smith who was led by the Lord. But even more than the focus on Joseph Smith, is going to be the focus on the Savior. I often call Kirtland "the land of the Savior" because of His many appearances and of all that He did as He brought the saints here. Half of the Doctrine and Covenants, just about half, were comprised of revelations received right here in Kirtland, and others on trips that Joseph made. We have about two-thirds of the Doctrine and Covenants that comes through this Kirtland period. And so literally, this is the period that the Lord is speaking, the Lord is delivering, in record, in the Bible, anywhere we want to go in the Book of Mormon. More of the direct words of the Savior, first person, went to the world from Kirtland than anywhere in the history of the world.

[00:01:39.620] - Karl Ricks Anderson

If we look at the structure of the Church, every office was put in place here in Kirtland. From the first bishop, the first stake president, the first high council, the First Presidency of the church, the multiple quorums of Seventy, the first patriarch, the first Quorum of the Twelve, the First Presidency, all of those offices were put in place here. Just think, what organization in the whole world would exist, now for almost 200 years, the way it was established by the Lord? And we've moved away a little bit of that over the years, but it's always kind of come back to the way the Lord established it in Kirtland. Joseph Smith called Kirtland the Pentecostal Period. This was the greatest showering, or outpouring of the spirit, spiritual manifestations that seemingly never ended. President M. Russell Ballard made this statement that here in Kirtland, it was almost, "[As if] Heaven was walking with the people here." We have our key sites in the Kirtland Temple, here in the Whitney store, on the Morley farm, in the Johnson home. We have the showering forth of ministration of angels. We have the heavens opening up. Joseph, on one occasion, said, "Whether in the body or out, I couldn't tell" in one of his visions, but we have journal accounts where they literally said the heavens opened. And when the heavens opened, angels were seen, spiritual manifestations were given to those that were present. We have, for example, here in Kirtland, eleven times that the Savior was seen in vision by Joseph Smith. More than anywhere else on record. We have seven times that the Father and Son appeared in vision to Joseph Smith. Where in the world has that happened? Certainly in our dispensation, nowhere as many times, this great showering forth of spiritual manifestation, Pentecostal manifestations.

[00:04:11.460] - Karl Ricks Anderson

I recall a visit by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve. He brought his family here and asked that I get on the bus with him, which I did. And we talked about the Savior almost nonstop for the whole day. Over dinner in the evening, he said to me, "There is a motherlode of Christology." A Maxwellism, right? A motherlode of Christology here in Kirtland that the church doesn't know about. And then he assigned me to write a book, which I did, which is called "The Savior in Kirtland." He said, "I want you to document everything that relates to the Savior." "Now," he said, "You're not going to do this overnight, so take your time." He said, "Mine it, let it percolate, and then once you have it, then put it on paper."

[00:05:19.350] - Karl Ricks Anderson

Well, this was the most wonderful period in my life. One of the things that came out of this were just the witnesses of the Savior. We have twenty-three men that we can document who actually saw the Savior here in Kirtland. Just think of it. Twenty-three men who saw the Savior that we can document. Now, we have a category, which I put in the book that Elder Maxwell asked me to do, and I call them secondary witnesses of the Savior. These are men who didn't see the Savior, but they sat in the rooms with those who saw the Savior. Now, in totaling that, it totals over, well, into the hundreds, certainly. I've been able to document over 200 that were in meetings, where individuals said that "we saw the power, we saw the glory." So if we look at witnesses to these visions, it's in the hundreds here in Kirtland. It was a glorious time for the people who were here because they knew that the church was led by the Savior and not by Joseph Smith.

[00:06:43.130] - Karl Ricks Anderson

Elder Neal A. Maxwell made this statement about Kirtland. He said, "There's a motherlode of Christology in Kirtland that ... the Church doesn't know about." When this dispensation began, it began with a vision of the Father and Son in the Sacred Grove in New York. As important as that was, and it was critical because it began our dispensation, but if that is the only vision that we focus on, it would be as if the Lord said to Joseph Smith at age fourteen, "Good luck. We'll see you when you die." But the message of the Restoration, and the message of Kirtland, is that this is where the Father and the Son directed Joseph. They appeared. It wasn't just the Sacred Grove. They appeared, they reappeared, they taught, they saw him. Joseph Smith developed a love for the Savior here that was tender. Joseph Smith, in one of his most his tender statements, said, "[He] is my friend. . . . I desire to be with Christ. [He is my Savior.]"

[00:08:20.660] - Karl Ricks Anderson

We are on the Morley Farm in Kirtland, Ohio, on the hill where the fourth conference of the Church was held in a little log schoolhouse in June of 1831. In that little log schoolhouse, we have the first vision of the Father and Son that occurred in Kirtland. Joseph Smith addressed the brethren that were gathered in this schoolhouse. He promised Lyman Wight that he would see a vision of the Savior. He promised others, that others would also see a vision of the Savior. And the adversary, in very much a sacred grove-like experience, decided to try and prevent that vision from happening. The adversary bound Harvey Whitlock, who was one of those that would participate in the vision. But Joseph Smith blessed and cast the adversary out of the meeting. There were other manifestations of the adversary, including for Joseph. And all of a sudden, they said that Joseph stood in the magnificent light, and he looked up, and he said, "I now see God and Jesus Christ at his right hand." "Let them kill me," he said, meaning the enemies, "I should not feel death as I am now." We have five accounts from people who were here in Kirtland, regarding this vision, and also mentioning that Harvey Whitlock and Lyman Wight also participated in that vision and saw the Father and the Son.

[00:10:25.340] - Karl Ricks Anderson

In this vision, we don't have a record that the Father or the Savior spoke to Joseph Smith. We don't have any words recorded, but up here on the Morley Farm, the Savior wanted the Church to know that He led them and who He was. And so, in various revelations given here on the Morley Farm, he gave these assurances. He said, "I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am He who is lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am...the Son of God." He also said, "I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ." He added, "I am the Lord of Hosts." And He assured the saints, "I am the good shepherd."

[00:11:33.220] - Karl Ricks Anderson

We're in Kirtland, Ohio, near the Newel K. Whitney Store on the banks of the Chagrin River, where they did baptizing of the early saints here in Kirtland. We have accounts from two people who were baptized here, one, John Murdock and the other, Philo Dibble. John Murdock described as he was being confirmed, possibly in a spot like where I'm standing, he said, "The Spirit rested on me as it had never done before and others said they saw the Lord and had visions." Philo Dibble, who was also baptized near here, said that, "There were signs in the heavens above and in the Earth below." And he said, "A pillar of light was seen hovering over the place where we did [baptisms] ...for [over] a month."

[00:12:51.610] - Karl Ricks Anderson

We're standing in Kirtland, Ohio, in front of a building, which was here in the 1830s, when Joseph Smith and the Saints first came to Kirtland. It was in a house like this that Mary Elizabeth Lightner said, Joseph Smith entered the meeting and along with Martin Harris. And It was the first time some of the people had even ever seen Joseph Smith. She said that the meeting proceeded, they prayed, they sang, and then Joseph Smith got up to speak. She said his face became brighter than a candle that was behind him. And then she said he was enveloped in a brilliant light. On one occasion, she said it was as if a searchlight was in him. So bright was this light that surrounded him. And then Joseph said, "Do you know who has been here in this meeting tonight?" One of the Smiths said, "Was it an angel?" Martin Harris said, "I know it, was our Lord... Jesus Christ." Joseph Smith said, "Martin, God has revealed that to you...the Savior [Jesus Christ] has been [here tonight]. I want you to remember it."

[00:14:32.250] - Karl Ricks Anderson

We're in the Revelation Room in the John Johnson Home in Hiram, Ohio. This is another place where the Savior appeared in Kirtland. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were at a desk, translating the New Testament, and they came across a verse in John 5 regarding the resurrection, and asked a simple question about the Resurrection of the Just and the Unjust. And all of a sudden, the glory of God shone in the room, and they sat in the midst of a magnificent glory. And there the heavens opened up to them, and they looked and beheld God the Father and Jesus Christ sitting at his right hand. And then the Savior took Joseph and Sidney on a tour of the heavens, starting with their premortal life. They saw the Council in Heaven. They saw the War in Heaven. They saw the adversary cast out. They saw the glories that are to come. And the Savior literally took them on a tour and conversed with them, spoke to them back and forth. Joseph and Sidney would never forget this glorious experience, and they left their testimony by saying, "...this is the testimony, [that] we give of Him: that He lives! For we saw Him, even on the right-hand of God, and we heard the voice bearing record that He is the Only Begotten [Son]."

[00:16:33.120] - Karl Ricks Anderson

Joseph Smith and Sidney continue to bear testimony of this glorious appearance. Joseph Smith would later say, "I bear [witness], as all prophets of God have [done. That] Jesus is the Christ." Then he summed it up by saying, "This is my witness, for I have seen Him." Sidney Rigdon also bore the witness. And he said, "It is [glorious,] it is felicity to have looked [upon]." And he said, "I know God because I have [seen Him at the right-hand] of the Father, [and on] the throne." These two men never did bear a stronger witness than came from this small room in the John Johnson Home in Hiram, Ohio. It was a simple testimony, "He lives for we saw Him."

[00:17:47.540] - Karl Ricks Anderson

We're in the Newel K. Whitney Store, and specifically in the room of the School of the Prophets. And this is where one of the visions of the Father and Son occurred. It happened on March 18th of 1833. The Lord gave a revelation ten days earlier, section 90, in which he said that Joseph was to take his counselors, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, and ordain them to be equal with him in holding the keys of this kingdom. Joseph Smith recorded on that occasion, "I...gave...a promise that the pure in heart would see a heavenly vision; and after remaining a short time ... in secret prayer, the promise was verified; for many had their eyes of their understanding opened by the Spirit  ... so as to behold many things. Many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision. [A vision] of the Savior. Two of the men who were present that day have recorded their experience and descriptions of both the Father and the Son, possibly the most complete descriptions that we have on record. John Murdock testified on more than one occasion. On one time, he just said simply, "I saw the face of the Lord."

[00:19:28.390] - Karl Ricks Anderson

On another time, he recorded this, "[He was] most lovely! The visage of His face was sound and fair as the sun. His hair, a bright silver gray, curled in most majestic form. His eyes, a keen, penetrating blue, and the skin of his neck a most beautiful white, and He was covered from the neck to the feet with a loose garment, pure white, whiter than any garment I have ever before seen." Then he said, "As I was endeavoring to comprehend the whole personage, from head to feet, it slipped from me... But it left on my mind the impression of love, for months, that I never before felt to that degree!" Zebedee Coltrin was another member of the School on that day, and he said that Joseph said that this was the Savior. And then he said that he saw the Father enter the room. And here was his description of God, our Heavenly Father. He said, "He was surrounded as with a flame of fire, which was so brilliant that I could not discover anything else but His person. I saw His hands, His legs, His feet, His eyes, His nose, mouth, head and body in the shape and form of a perfect man."

[00:21:06.580] - Karl Ricks Anderson

He said, it was " grand and overwhelming that it seemed I [would] melt down in His presence, and the sensation was so powerful it thrilled through my whole system, and I felt it [to] the marrow of my bones." These two glorious personages, here's the Savior described, his neck was white as was his garment. And this is consistent with the brilliance that attended all of the other appearances here in Kirtland.

[00:21:52.330] - Karl Ricks Anderson

We're standing in the John Johnson Inn in Kirtland, a very important building in the early Church. In this building, the first patriarchal blessings were given, and Joseph was given a vision by the Savior, that the Savior did not want to have lost. It's not recorded anywhere else that I'm aware. And in that vision, the Lord was with Adam and with Seth, with Methuselah, with Enoch, and the ancient prophets gathered in Adam-ondi-Ahman. This is before Adam died. They were gathered together. Joseph saw the Savior in their midst, blessing them. Just a short snippet that the Savior wanted to have recorded. We have it in our Section 107 summarized. But here, another evidence of the Savior leading the Church, giving a vision to Joseph Smith so that it wouldn't be lost to posterity.

[00:23:16.340] - Karl Ricks Anderson

When we speak of the Savior in Kirtland, nowhere else is He more focused than in the Kirtland Temple. It was His house. He promised that He would appear to his servants in his house. He made promises through Joseph Smith, if they would prepare themselves, he would appear in the Solemn Assembly. This promise was verified when the leaders of the church met on January 21st of 1836. They meet in the upper room of the temple in Joseph Smith's office. And as they're gathered there, they perform one of our first temple ordinances, the anointing with oil, such as the Savior administered in His ministry on Earth. Joseph Smith records that as they were there, the heavens opened. If you can imagine, one man said it was just like the walls and the ceiling faded away. Angels descended, and then they viewed the Celestial Kingdom as if they were there. Joseph said, "Whether in the body or out, I could not tell." They see the throne of God, and they see the Savior sitting on the right hand of the Father. And that opened this day of visions. Joseph had a success of visions of the Savior and of the Father and the Son.

[00:24:57.230] - Karl Ricks Anderson

After that vision was completed, Joseph have said that he saw another vision, and he saw the Twelve Apostles in a foreign land. He said they were standing in a circle. They were discouraged. They were looking down. Their clothes were tattered. They were barefoot. And the Savior was standing above them in the air, looking down upon them with the indication that had they have looked up, they might have seen the Savior. But in a very tender scene, Joseph said, "...the Saviour looked upon them and wept." In the next vision that day, Joseph Smith said he saw the Twelve in the Celestial Kingdom. Just a little clip, only a few words. But Joseph never related everything that he saw when he had visions. Heber C. Kimball recounted that when Joseph saw the Twelve in the Celestial Kingdom, he filled in these details. He said that in a talk on the straight and narrow path, he said, "it's so straight and narrow that it will only admit one person at a time into heaven." He described how Joseph saw the Twelve approach the gate and Adam let each one in individually, and then Adam hugged each one and kissed them, and then conducted them to the throne where the Father and Son were sitting. Then in a very tender scene, he said that "...the Savior embraced each one... and kissed them and crowned [them] in the presence of the Father."

[00:27:06.290] - Karl Ricks Anderson

The visions continued. They admitted members of the high council from Missouri and from Kirtland. As they came in the room, Joseph Smith then indicated that Hyrum Smith and David Whitmer administered this ordinance of anointing the head with oil. And then Joseph recorded, "and many of them saw the face of the Savior." Well, the visions were not yet complete that day, because then Joseph describes how he saw the Presidency in the Celestial Kingdom. Now, unfortunately, we don't have any account like the Heber C. Kimball account, but in each of those scenes where Joseph saw those in the Celestial Kingdom, the Father and Son were on the throne. And so, without question, that would have happened also with the Presidency of the Church. In addition to that, we have others that have visions. For example, we have Zebedee Coltrin, a man who was blessed by Joseph that he would see visions. Zebedee Coltrin was privileged that day to see the Savior on the cross.

[00:28:39.370] - Karl Ricks Anderson

Now, that was just kind of a mention that was made by Joseph in History of the Church. However, if we read the talks given by Zebedee Coltrin, he related, he was impressed because he saw the Savior's hand and the spike that was in the Savior's hand and how tender Zebedee felt seeing the Savior suffering on the cross. In addition to these accounts, then we have the Solemn Assembly that was conducted on March 30th of 1836. The Lord had long commanded that the Solemn Assembly be conducted. He made a promise specifically to the Twelve that, if they would prepare themselves, they would see Him in the Solemn Assembly. Joseph Smith records that in the evening of the Solemn Assembly, some of the Twelve saw the Savior. The account most people relate to is the account in Section 110 of our Doctrine and Covenants. And this is on April 3rd of 1836. The Savior appears on the pulpits of the temple after a sacrament was partaken of the congregation. The veils were dropped, and Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith are sitting in the pulpits. And then Joseph and Oliver record that the Savior appeared to them standing on the breastwork of the pulpit.

[00:30:28.690] - Karl Ricks Anderson

The Savior announced who He is. He says, "I am the first and the last; I am He who liveth, I am He who is slain; I am your advocate with the Father." He accepts the temple. He talks about the endowment that they've received and will yet receive, and then makes a promise that this endowment will go to foreign lands, and that this is just the beginning of that blessing of endowment that will go to foreign lands. Well, we have other accounts of others recounting how the Savior was seen behind the curtains on the pulpits. The thing that impresses me the most, and is so tender when I read it, is the reality of the Savior leading the work. These men knew that the Savior was their leader. They trusted Him. He repeated how He loved them, how He was their friend. And then He revealed to them that they would be admitted into this celestial kingdom where He would kiss them and crown them out of love and gratitude for going through the sacrifices they had to make. Those sacrifices were greater than they're asked of us today. But these early men went through it because they knew that Christ lived and led the Church and was willing to appear to them and love them.