As Joseph Smith knelt in prayer in the grove, "a pillar of light" descended from the heavens and rested upon him. God the Father announced, "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
Jesus Christ then taught Joseph: "Behold, I am the Lord of glory. I was crucified for the world, that all those who believe on my name may have eternal life . Behold, the world lieth in sin at this time and none doeth good, no not one. They have turned aside from the gospel and keep not my commandments. They draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me."
In the grove that day, our Heavenly Father and His Son drew near to man once again as They revealed Themselves to a boy who had drawn near to Them in his heart. The truths given by God to Joseph in that setting and in revelations to come would re-establish the kingdom of God upon the earth.
Joseph Smith Quotes
The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. (History of the Church, 3:30.)
Seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in. (History of the Church, 5:31.)
When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us. (History of the Church, 6:308.)
Brigham Young, 2nd President of the Church, 1847–1877
In February 1847, Brigham Young communicated with Joseph Smith in a marvelous dream. Joseph's message was clear: " Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. . . . [T]hey can tell the spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls." (Brigham Young Vision, Feb. 23, 1847, Brigham Young Office Files, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
Harold B. Lee, 11th President of the Church, 1972–1973
We must pray with real intent, with desire to know, and with faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; then by the power of the Holy Ghost we may know. That is the only way we can have an answer to prayers. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee (1996), 126.)
Neal A. Maxwell, Apostle, 1981–2004
Jesus has been there as our long-suffering Shepherd for ages. We need not be atop high mountains or in sacred groves for God to be there. God is also there even in the mildest expressions of His presence. (Ensign, Nov. 1987, 32.)
How do people draw near unto God with their lips while their hearts are far away?
"If we draw near unto the Lord with our lips and our hearts are far from Him," explained Elder George Q. Cannon, "then we are hypocrites. If we profess to be Latter-day Saints and have an outward semblance of religion, while in reality our lives do not correspond with our professions, then we are hypocrites—we are guilty of hypocrisy before the Lord, and His anger will be kindled against us" (Deseret News, June 1, 1889, 710).
Are God the Father and Jesus Christ separate beings?
Yes. Like Stephen, who looked into heaven and saw Jesus Christ "standing on the right hand of God" (see Acts 7:55–56), Joseph Smith saw "two Personages." The Father spoke, saying, "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" (Joseph Smith—History 1:17).
Online Resources at LDS.org
"Significance of the First Vision" – Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2003), 34–36
"God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, Appeared to the Boy Prophet" – Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2003), 5