Billy Hibbard, 1782
“…when I came to the place of prayer had kneeled down and closed my eyes with my hands uplifted toward the heavens I saw Jesus Christ at the right hand of God looking down upon me and God the Father looking upon him The look of Jesus on me removed the burden of my sins while he spoke these words Be faithful unto death and this shall be thy place of rest I never had seen Jesus Christ.” (Memoirs of the life and travels of Billy Hibbard, p. 24)
Benjamin Abbott, 1772
“I…saw by faith the Lord Jesus Christ standing by me with his arms extended wide saying to me I died for you I then looked up and by faith I saw the Ancient of Days and he said to me I freely forgive thee for what Christ has done At this I burst into a flood of tears and with joy in my heart cried and praised God and said O that there were a minister to give me the Lord's Supper Then by faith I saw the Lord Jesus come to me as with a cup in his hand and he gave it to me and I took it and drank thereof it was like unto honey for sweetness…”
[Speaking to his wife’s minister,] He...told me he understood that God had done great things for me whereupon I related my conviction and my conversion he paid a strict attention until I had done and then told me that I was under strong delusions of the devil He got a book out of his library for me to read as he handed it to me the Lord showed me by the voice of his Spirit that the book was not fit for me However I disobeyed the Divine impression and took it at the minister's request…
“At length when in prayer under sore temptation in despair a new thought was impressed my mind that I must not trust in the arm of for Cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh* I then saw that my salvation did not depend on his standing or falling I had to stand for myself** and to give diligence through grace to save my own soul that my soul must answer at the bar of God for my own deeds.” (Experience And Gospel Labors Of The Rev. Benjamin Abbott. Emphasis Added)
* This language is not found in the Bible, but it is almost identical to the teaching of Nephi: "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." (2 Nephi 4:34)
** This language and teaching is nearly identical to Joseph's teaching: “President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel--said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves…” (TPJS, Section Five 1842-43, p.237)
"Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another." (Mark 9:44, Inspired Version)
Norris Stearns 1815
“…as I lay apparently upon the brink of eternal woe, seeing nothing but death before me, suddenly there came a sweet flow of the love of God to my soul, which gradually increased. At the same time, there appeared a small gleam of light in the room, above the brightness of the sun, then at his meridian, which grew brighter and brighter: As this light and love increased, my sins began to separate, and the Mountain removed towards the east. At length, being in an ecstacy of joy, I turned to the other side of the bed, (whether in the body or out I cannot tell, God knoweth) there I saw two spirits, which I knew at the first sight. But if I had the tongue of an Angel I could not describe their glory, for they brought the joys of heaven with them. One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a Cloud. In looking steadfastly to discern features, I could see none, but a small glimpse would appear in some other place. Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man—His face was not ablaze, but had the countenance of fire, being bright and shining. His Father's will appeared to be his! All was condescension, peace, and love!!” (The Religious Experience of Norris Stearns, quoted in R. L. Bushman, “The Visionary World of Joseph Smith” BYU Studies 37 no. 1:191)
David Brainerd, 1812
"…as I was walking in a dark thick grove unspeakable glory seemed to open to the view of my soul: I do not mean any external brightness, nor any imagination of a body of light, or any thing of that nature; but it was a new inward apprehension, or view that I had of God, such as I never had before. I stood still, and admired. I knew that I had never seen before any thing comparable to it for excellency and beauty; it was widely different from all the conceptions that ever I had of God, or things divine. I had no particular apprehension of any one person in the Trinity, either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost; but it appeared to be divine glory that I then beheld: and my soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable to see such a glorious divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that he should be God over all for ever and ever.." (The Life Of David Brainerd, 1812, p. 23)
Joseph's experience not unique, but familiar to religionists
“Joseph did tell a Methodist preacher about the vision. Newly reborn people customarily talked over their experiences with a clergyman to test the validity of the conversion. The preacher's contempt shocked Joseph. Standing on the margins of the evangelical churches, Joseph may not have recognized the ill repute of visionaries. The preacher reacted quickly, not because of the strangeness of Joseph's story but because of its familiarity. Subjects of revivals all too often claimed to have seen visions. In 1825 a teacher in the Palmyra Academy said he saw Christ descend "in a glare of brightness exceeding tenfold the brilliancy of the meridian Sun." The Wayne Sentinel in 1823 reported Asa Wild's vision of Christ in Amsterdam, New York, and the message that all denominations were corrupt. At various other times and places, beginning early in the Protestant era, religious eccentrics claimed visits from divinity. Nathan Cole, a Wetherfield, Connecticut, farmer and carpenter, recorded in his ‘Spiritual Travels’ that in 1741 ‘God appeared unto me and made me Skringe [cringe?]; before whose face the heavens and the earth fled away; and I was shrinked into nothing….’
“The visions themselves did not disturb the established clergy so much as the messages that the visionaries claimed to receive. Too often the visions justified a breach of the moral code or a sharp departure in doctrine. By Joseph's day, any vision was automatically suspect, whatever its content. "No person is warranted from the word of God," a writer in the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine said in 1805, ‘to publish to the world the discoveries of heaven or hell which he supposes he has had in a dream, or trance, or vision. Were any thing of this kind to be made known to men, we may be assured it would have been done by the apostles, when they were penning the gospel history.’ The only acceptable message was assurance of forgiveness and a promise of grace. Joseph's report on the divine rejection of all creeds and churches would have sounded all too familiar to the Methodist evangelical, who repeated the conventional point that ‘all such things had ceased with the Apostles and that there never would be any more of them.’” (Richard L. Bushman “Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism” 1988 p.57-9, Emphasis Added)
Abraham seeks to know God
"And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers." (Abraham 1:2)
"Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee." (Abraham 2:12)
Joseph's First Vision, Cannonized Version
"While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
"Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
"At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
"So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
"After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
"But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
"It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
"My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.
"I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”
"He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?" (Joseph Smith, History 1:11-20)
Joseph's First Vision account to Robert Matthais or "Joshua the Jewish Minister"
"Being wrought up in my mind, respecting the subject of religion and looking at; the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong and concidering it of the first importance that I should be right, in matters that involve eternal consequences; being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove and bowd down before the Lord, under a realising sense that he had said (if the bible be true) ask and you shall receive knock and it shall be opened seek and you shall find and again, if any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men libar ally and upbradeth not;information was what I most desired at this time, and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called upon the Lord for the first time, in the place above stated or in other words I made a fruitless attempt to pray, my toung seemed to be swolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter, I heard a noise behind me like some person walking towards me, <I> strove again to pray, but could not, the noise of walking seem ed to draw nearer, I sprung up on my feet,and looked around, but saw no person or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of wal king, I kneeled again my mouth was opened and my toung liberated, and I called on the Lord in mighty prayer, a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon me, and filled me with joy unspeakable, a personage appeard in the midst, of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God; <and I saw many angels in this vision> I was about 14. years old when I received this first communication." (Joseph Smith Papers, Journal, 1835–1836)
The brother of Jared
And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, (now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight) went forth unto the mount, which they called the mount Shelem, because of its exceeding height, and did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass; and he did carry them in his hands upon the top of the mount, and cried again unto the Lord, saying:
O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.
Behold, O Lord, thou hast smitten us because of our iniquity, and hast driven us forth, and for these many years we have been in the wilderness; nevertheless, thou hast been merciful unto us. O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock.
And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.
Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.
And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.
And the Lord saw that the brother of Jared had fallen to the earth; and the Lord said unto him:
"Arise, why hast thou fallen?"
And he saith unto the Lord: "I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood."
And the Lord said unto him: "Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?"
And he answered: "Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me."
And the Lord said unto him: "Believest thou the words which I shall speak?"
And he answered: "Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie."
And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said:
Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.
Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.
And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.
And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.
And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.
And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.
Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.
And it came to pass that the Lord said unto the brother of Jared:
Behold, thou shalt not suffer these things which ye have seen and heard to go forth unto the world, until the time cometh that I shall glorify my name in the flesh; wherefore, ye shall treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard, and show it to no man.
And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them and shall seal them up, that no one can interpret them; for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read.
And behold, these two stones will I give unto thee, and ye shall seal them up also with the things which ye shall write.
For behold, the language which ye shall write I have confounded; wherefore I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write.
And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.
For he had said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things.
And the Lord said unto him: "Write these things and seal them up; and I will show them in mine own due time unto the children of men."
And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that he should seal up the two stones which he had received, and show them not, until the Lord should show them unto the children of men. (Ether 3)
"Afshin Javid was born in 1972 in southern Iran in a city called Abadan. His earliest childhood memories was the islamic revolution in 1979. When he was about 8 years old he remembers a plane flying about 40 feet above his head and a few seconds later there was a loud sound and the ground shook. This was the first bomb dropped by the Iraqi Airforce. At this point they got into a car and left everything they owned and went to a city about an hour away. When the Iraqi's advanced they had to move four more times before they had to leave the country in 1987. As a 15 year old he crossed the dessert walking into Pakistan and witnessed the poverty in Pakistan. From 1990-1992 he spent time in Bangladesh as a missionary while waiting to move to Canada. He is now the founding member of I AM Thirsty Ministries in Vancouver. Afshin is happily married and recently renewed his wedding vows for his 15th year anniversary. Afshin and his wife have four beautiful children."
"[After the Babylonian captivity, only a small part of the Jews would] choose to return and the larger body of Jews would settle in Babylon, to mix bloodlines into the Arab world and spread the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into the seed of lshmael and Esau.
"It is one of history's ironies that the modem Muslim populations of Iraq and Iran have within them the descendants of this larger body of Jewish exiles. They are heirs of the promises and will, in due time, receive their own restoration to the fold of covenant Israel, although that notion offends them greatly today." (Denver Snuffer, The Second Comforter, p. 340)
Teresa Carey was a lesbian porn star until she had a shared vision with her husband Scott shook her to the core and led her to evangelical christianity.
Former-pornographic film star Teresa Carey spent most of her adult life appearing in X-rated films but after having an encounter with Jesus himself the Glamour girl turned pornography star gave it all up and is now a Christian author and speaker.
The British-born "model" made a fortune posing for Playboy magazine but now Carey spends her days sharing her testimony with universities and studying the bible. Wherever she speaks she hangs signs that read "Porn Again Christian" or "50 Shades of Grace."
Carey tells Vice.com that she is happy she turned her back on the sex industry.
"No little girl wants to be a porn star. No little girl grows up saying, 'I want to be used in that way.' Girls are enticed by the modeling side of it," she said.
In an older interview with SWNS Carey expounded on her life style from then until now. "At the time it felt like I was living the dream. It was the kind of lifestyle that girls today dream about." She said, Adding, "Men loved me and I had legions of fans but every time I was at work I just kept thinking, 'I'm not happy with myself for doing this'. I was battling in my mind for so long."
Carey entered the porn industry when she was 17 after she flew to America because of a beauty pageant she won. Several years later In December of 2009 after years of feeling the tug from God an experience with Jesus himself help her give up the life of pornography for good.
"I was face to face with Jesus. He had fire in his eyes that burnt straight through my soul. But it was a fire of love, of burning love, not of condemnation," she told Vice.
In another interview she said, "I was meditating and suddenly a voice called out 'If you bring your life in line with what I have in store for you I will lead you down the garden path.'" she told SWNA, going on to say, "I knew there and then that my life had to take a different direction, I never stripped off again after that day."
Adding, "After that I felt instant joy. I contacted everyone that I worked with to say that I wasn't working anymore and explained why. They all wished me luck and they probably thought I was a mad woman. Then I deleted the numbers and decided I didn't ever want to go back."
Today she is a successful Christian author and has released two books, 'God's Plan for My Life - What is it?' and a book of hymns called 'Rhapsody! In The Name Of Jesus!'
The successful author tells Vice the message God wants her to tell people is, "you are not condemned, no matter how bad you think you have lived your life, he is able to take you out of it and lead you into better things."
After years of making lesbian films Carey's view on homosexuality drastically changed. "For years, I thought there was nothing wrong with homosexuality. God gives us free will, so he loves a gay person as much as he loves a straight person. But he puts guidelines in for our own protection. He puts them there because, if the whole world became gay, it would be detrimental to life," she told Vice.
She continued, "God doesn't want his children to feel condemned or pressured. Gay people are going to have a hard time, and God doesn't want that. I'm not for homosexuality; I'm certainly not for it."