A Great Cloud of Witnesses

A Great Cloud of Witnesses April 10, 2020


Irish dawn
A sunrise in Ireland (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


I published this Easter 2016 column in the Deseret News:


Since the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820 and its formal organization in April 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has resounded with testimonies of the risen Savior.

Notable among these is the joint declaration of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon following their February 1832 vision of the three degrees of glory:  “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!  For we saw him, even on the right hand of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-23).

Also noteworthy is the collective witness of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve as it was expressed in January 2000, in a proclamation entitled “The Living Christ” (https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/36035_000_25_livingchrist.pdf).

Lesser known are the statements of President George Q. Cannon that I discussed here a few weeks ago (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865647914/Remembering-the-history-of-the-LDS-Church-on-the-Hawaiian-Islands.html):  Speaking during the 1893 dedicatory services of the Salt Lake Temple, he testified of having “seen and conversed with Christ as a man talks with his friend,” “face to face.”  “I know that God lives,” he wrote in the “Deseret Evening News” on Oct. 6, 1896. “I know that Jesus lives; for I have seen him. . . .  I testify to you of these things as one that knows—as one of the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Noteworthy, too, is President Lorenzo Snow’s September 1898 experience in the Salt Lake Temple.  Just hours after the death of President Wilford Woodruff, the Savior appeared to President Snow, directing him to reorganize the First Presidency immediately, rather than waiting for months or even years as had previously been done.  (See https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/09/a-visit-from-the-savior?lang=eng)

Elder Orson F. Whitney, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve between 1906 and 1931, had a life-changing experience while serving as a missionary in Pennsylvania:

“One night I dreamed—if dream it may be called—that I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior’s agony.  I saw Him as plainly as I see this congregation.”  The vision continued, he said, until “I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements.”

“Then came the divine illumination, which is greater than all dreams, visions, and other manifestations combined. By the light of God’s candle—the gift of the Holy Ghost—I saw what till then I had never seen, I learned what till then I had never known, I loved the Lord as I had never loved Him before.  My soul was satisfied, my joy was full, for I had a testimony of the truth, and it has remained with me to this day.  I know that my Redeemer liveth. Not even Job knew it better. I have evidence that I cannot doubt.”  (See https://www.lds.org/liahona/2003/12/the-divinity-of-jesus-christ?lang=eng.)

Elder David B. Haight, an apostle from 1976 until 2004, missed general conference in April 1989 because of a life-threatening health crisis that required a serious operation.  In October conference of that year, however, he reported on what had happened when he lost consciousness during his illness.

“The terrible pain and commotion of people ceased.  I was now in a calm, peaceful setting; all was serene and quiet. . . .  I heard no voices but was conscious of being in a holy presence and atmosphere.  During the hours and days that followed, there was impressed again and again upon my mind the eternal mission and exalted position of the Son of Man. . . .  I was shown a panoramic view of His earthly ministry. . . .  I was being taught, and the eyes of my understanding were opened by the Holy Spirit of God so as to behold many things. . . .  During those days of unconsciousness, I was given, by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, a more perfect knowledge of His mission. . . .  I cannot begin to convey to you the deep impact that these scenes have confirmed upon my soul.”  (For more details, see https://www.lds.org/liahona/2007/04/the-sacrament-and-the-sacrifice?lang=eng)

It’s appropriate to recall such accounts—which might be multiplied considerably—at Easter season:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).



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