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PAULA - In the early years of the church, there were numerous experiences where besides the prophet, church member experienced visions, administrating angels, talking in tounges and even visitations. Does that still happen today?
JOEL - It does seem like there were a lot of such things happening in the early years of the church compared to today. Either a little exageration was going on or perhaps members then were just naturally more in tune with spiritual things than we are today. Perhaps we just don't talk about it as much as they did then. Such manifestations may be connected with special gifts of the spirit (D&C 46, Moroni 10) that God has given to many of His children, but not all such gifts to everyone.
"For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God." (D&C 46:11)
Our seventh article of faith says:
"We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth."
Therefore of course these things happen today, but because of the sacred nature of such experiences, recipients of such manifestations tend to keep them to themselves rather than risk the possiblity of mocking by those who don't understand.
In regards to the gift of tongues President Joseph F. Smith said:
"There has been no cessation of the gift of tongues. Perhaps the idea of some members of the Church is that this gift belongs to the testimony meetings of the fast day. It is true that messages have been given in such meetings, and when this was so, it was evidently for the benefit of a portion of the congregation who may have had the gift of interpretation. Manifestations of this character are, and should be, rare, for this is not the real purpose of this great gift. The gift of tongues is not something for the entertainment of members, nor is it for the purpose of creating awe or to increase faith in those who are weak. The gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues are given for the purpose of helping to build up and strengthen the kingdom of God. " (Answers to Gospel Questions)
The gift of tongues happens all the time with our missionaries who are able to quickly learn a new language for the purpose of spreading the gospel.
People may experience the ministering of angels quite often but don't realize it because they cannot see the angels; nevertheless they are present to help us do what we cannot do for ourselves. Those who obtain the Aaronic priesthood and are valiant in performing the duties of that priesthood are entitled to the ministration of angels.
"Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness." (D&C 13.)
Wilford Woodruff said, "I went out as a priest, and my companion as an elder, and we traveled thousands of miles, and had many things manifested to us. I desire to impress upon you the fact that it does not make any difference whether a man is a priest or an apostle, if he magnifies his calling. A priest holds the key of the ministering of angels. Never in my life, as an apostle, as a seventy, or as an elder, have I ever had more of the protection of the Lord than while holding the office [of] a priest. The Lord revealed to me by visions, by revelations, and by the Holy Spirit, many things that lay before me.
("The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, pp. 298-300).
Visions can come in the form of dreams or thoughts or scenes that come into our minds as inspired by the Holy Ghost.
Elder Franklin D. Richards said:
"The Lord said, through his prophet Joel, speaking of the times when Israel should be gathered in the latter days, "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions;" (Joel 2:28). Thousands of Latter-day Saints can testify that this prophecy is being fulfilled, and that dreams and visions characterize this as they have all former dispensations of the Priesthood." (Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
Visions serve the Lord's purposes in preparing men for salvation. By them knowledge is revealed (2 Ne. 4:23), conversions are made (Alma 19:16), the gospel message is spread abroad, the church organization is perfected (D. & C. 107:93), and righteousness is increased in the hearts of men. (Mormon Doctrine)
Sometimes our thoughts and dreams can be considered visions if they represent and support true gospel principles.
Visitations of angels sent by God usually don't appear to just anyone unless God wants to impart some important message to His prophets; however the appearance of departed loved ones still happens to many today for the bennefit of the one visited. Both my wife and my mother have had such visitations of deceased loved ones who delivered a personal message. Having worked in a hospital for a few years I observed such things happening to patients who were close to death.
President Harold B. Lee once related an experience in the life of John Wells, who at one time was a member of the Presiding Bishopric.
"A son of Bishop Wells was killed in Emigration Canyon on a railroad track. Brother John Wells was a great detail man and prepared many of the reports we are following up now. His boy was run over by a freight train. Sister Wells was inconsolable. She mourned during the three days prior to the funeral, received no comfort at the funeral, and was in a rather serious state of mind.
One day soon after the funeral services while she was lying on her bed relaxed, still mourning, she says that her son appeared to her and said, 'Mother do not mourn, do not cry. I am all right.' He told her that she did not understand how the accident happened and explained that he had given the signal to the engineer to move on, and then made the usual effort to catch the railing on the freight train; but as he attempted to do so his foot caught on a root and he failed to catch the hand rail, and his body fell under the train. It was clearly an accident.
"Now, listen. He said that as soon as he realized that he was in another environment he tried to see his father, but he couldn't reach him. His father was so busy with the duties in his office he could not respond to his call. Therefore he had come to his mother. He said to her, 'You tell father that all is well with me, and I want you not to mourn any more.'" (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 415)
All of these things do happen today but they don't have to happen to anyone in order to believe in and have faith in God and His gospel. But if we have enough faith and there is a need they can happen. As President Spencer W. Kimball once said, "Faith precedes the miracle".