Home Study Lesson: Joseph Smith—History 1:1–65; Doctrine and Covenants 2 (Unit 2)

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Preparation Material for the Home-Study Teacher

Summary of Daily Home-Study Lessons

The following summary of events, doctrines, and principles students learned as they studied Joseph Smith—History 1:1–65 and Doctrine and Covenants 2 (unit 2) is not intended to be taught as part of your lesson. The lesson you teach concentrates on only a few of these doctrines and principles. Follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit as you consider the needs of your students.

Day 1 (Joseph Smith—History 1:1–20)

Students learned from Joseph Smith’s experience in trying to learn which church was true that if we ask God in faith, He will answer our prayers. They focused on the truth that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. From Joseph Smith’s experience, students also learned that God the Father and Jesus Christ live and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are separate and distinct personages. In addition, students discovered that if we earnestly seek God’s help when Satan tries to discourage us, God can deliver us.

Day 2 (Joseph Smith—History 1:21–26)

From Joseph Smith’s experience, students learned that during difficult times we can draw strength from the examples of faithful individuals in the scriptures. By studying how Joseph Smith dealt with the persecution he encountered after the First Vision, students learned doctrines and principles that can help them when they face opposition because of their testimonies. In addition, students learned that by acting on principles taught in the scriptures, we can gain a testimony of their truth.

Day 3 (Joseph Smith—History 1:27–54; Doctrine and Covenants 2)

Joseph Smith desired to know his standing before God. He recognized his errors and weaknesses and felt sorrow. Like Joseph Smith, as we recognize our sins and feel sorrow for them, we can pray to Heavenly Father for forgiveness. Students studied Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith and learned that God had a work for Joseph Smith to do that would spread throughout the earth. This work included Elijah restoring the sealing power to the earth before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Day 4 (Joseph Smith—History 1:55–65)

Students pondered Moroni’s promise to Joseph Smith that the plates would be protected, and they learned that as we take responsibility for and preserve that which the Lord has given us, He will provide His protection and help. As students studied the account of Martin Harris taking copies of the characters on the gold plates and the translation to Professor Anthon and Dr. Mitchell, they learned that the prophecies of the Lord’s servants will come to pass.

Introduction

This lesson can help students deepen their understanding of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. It also provides them an opportunity to learn of the effort required to seek answers to questions and to appreciate their role in gospel learning. Students will learn ways to strengthen their faith against the persecution and opposition they may experience.

Suggestions for Teaching

Joseph Smith—History 1:5–20

God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appear to Joseph Smith

Ask students to think about a time they desired an answer to a spiritual or gospel-related question. Then ask the following question:

  • What did you do to find the answer to your question?

Remind students that Joseph Smith was the age of many seminary students when he became concerned about a significant question and began searching for an answer. While Joseph’s experience was unique, the events that led to it are a pattern that each of us can follow to receive help and answers from God.

You may want to suggest that students mark the phrase “I have learned for myself” in Joseph Smith—History 1:20.

Divide students into groups of two or three. Ask each group to read Joseph Smith—History 1:8, 11–12, 14–15, looking to see what Joseph Smith did to receive an answer to his question. Invite each group to send a representative to the board to record one important element his or her group found. Tell the class not to duplicate any items on the board. If students have difficulty finding what Joseph did, you might help them by suggesting some of the following: Joseph engaged in serious reflection (thought), attended church meetings, studied the teachings of the different denominations, studied the scriptures, prayed with determination.

    Ask the following questions:
  • What principle can you learn from Joseph Smith about what it takes to learn spiritual things? (Although students may use different words, they should identify the following principle: Spiritual learning requires effort on our part. You may want to write this principle on the board.)

  • Why do you think it is necessary for us to put forth effort to learn spiritual truths?

  • How can applying this principle help you in your personal study of the Doctrine and Covenants this year?

Invite a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17 aloud, and ask the class to follow along in their scriptures and look for what Joseph experienced as he put forth effort to gain knowledge.

  • According to verse 17, whom did Joseph Smith see? (Be sure it is clear that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.)

  • What did he learn during this vision about these two personages?

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement from President Joseph F. Smith, who explained the significance of the First Vision:

“The greatest event that has ever occurred in the world, since the resurrection of the Son of God from the tomb and his ascension on high, was the coming of the Father and of the Son to that boy Joseph Smith” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 495).

  • Why do you feel it is important to have a testimony that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ actually appeared to Joseph Smith?

Invite a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:18–20 aloud, and ask students to find what Joseph learned for himself because of his effort to act in faith. Then ask the following questions:

  • What did Joseph learn for himself?

  • What can we learn from Joseph Smith’s experience about what can happen when we study the word of God and then act on what we read? (Answers might include the following truth: If we diligently study God’s word and act on it in faith, then we can come to know the truths of the gospel for ourselves. You may want to write this principle on the board and invite students to write it in the margin of their scriptures.)

  • How might this truth help a friend or family member who has questions about the gospel?

  • How might this truth help you with your questions or concerns?

Joseph Smith—History 1:20–65; Doctrine and Covenants 2

Joseph Smith marries Emma Hale, receives the gold plates, and begins translating

Ask students to review what happened to Joseph Smith following his First Vision. Be sure they understand that the Prophet experienced severe persecution after telling others of the vision. Invite them to read the end of Joseph Smith—History 1:20 on their own, starting with the phrase “It seems as though. …” Then ask students the following questions:

  • According to Joseph Smith, why did he experience great persecution at such a young age? (Persecution came from Satan’s influence because he recognized that Joseph Smith would be “a disturber and an annoyer of [Satan’s] kingdom.”)

  • What are some situations in which you or others you know might experience persecution today?

Invite a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:24–25 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify what we can do to gain strength during difficult times.

  • What can we do during difficult times to gain strength to be faithful? (Students may give many different answers. Ensure that they identify the following principle: During difficult times, we can draw strength from the examples of faithful individuals in the scriptures. You may want to write this principle on the board and invite students to write it in the margin of their scriptures.)

Invite students to review Joseph Smith—History 1:24–25, looking for words or phrases that might give them courage or strength to do what is right in times of persecution. After students report phrases they find, you may want to suggest that they mark the phrase “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.”

    Ask students the following questions:
  • What does this phrase teach you about Joseph Smith’s testimony of the First Vision?

  • How might this phrase help you when someone challenges your testimony or persecutes you because of your beliefs?

Conclude this lesson by sharing your testimony of the principles discussed in this lesson. Invite students to share their experiences or feelings about these truths.

Next Unit (Doctrine and Covenants 3–7; 10; Joseph Smith—History 1:66–67)

How were the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith translated lost and never recovered? As students study the next unit they will learn about Martin Harris and the lost manuscript. They will also learn about the Lord’s counsel to those who desire to serve God.