In the first portion of the vision shown to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon on February 16, 1832, they saw the glory of Jesus Christ and bore witness of Him. They saw Satan thrust out of God’s presence in the premortal existence for rebellion. They were also shown the sons of perdition and learned of the eternal consequences of those who choose to follow Satan.
Suggestions for Teaching
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon see a vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
For the devotional hymn, invite the class to sing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Hymns, no. 136). The words of this hymn may help students feel the power of the truths they will learn today.
Begin class by inviting students to consider the following situation: While sitting in a class at school, your teacher begins discussing world religions. The teacher asks if there are any Christians in the class who would be willing to share their beliefs about Jesus Christ.
If you were in this situation, what would you say you believe and know about Jesus Christ?
Invite students to look at the diagram they received in the previous lesson, which outlines the vision recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76. Explain that in today’s lesson they will learn about the first three parts of the vision shown to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. In the first part of the vision, they saw the Father and the Son in the midst of their glory. Write the following three headings on the board:
What they saw What they heard What they learned
Ask students to write the headings in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Then invite them to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:20–24 silently and list words or phrases from the verses under the applicable headings. After sufficient time, invite a student to come to the board and act as scribe. Ask the class to share the words or phrases they identified under the first two headings while the student writes them under the appropriate headings on the board.
What doctrines do these verses teach about Jesus Christ? (Invite the student scribe to list the class’s responses on the board under the heading What they learned.)
Students may identify a variety of doctrines, including the following: Jesus Christ is a living, glorified being; Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are distinct personages; Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father; Jesus Christ is the Creator of this world and other worlds; and we are begotten sons and daughters unto God.
Help students prepare to share their feelings and testimonies pertaining to the truths they identified in verses 20–24 by asking them to respond to one of the following questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals (write these questions on the board):
Which of these truths are you especially grateful for and why?
Which of these doctrines can you testify of? How do you know it is true?
Complete this sentence: Regarding Jesus Christ, I know …
After students have had sufficient time to write, ask a student to read aloud Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon’s testimony in D&C 76:22. Then invite any students who are willing to share their own feelings and testimonies about the resurrected Savior to do so. Consider sharing your testimony about the Savior as well.
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon see a vision of the fall of Lucifer
If possible, provide each student with a copy of the following true/false quiz, or write the quiz statements on the board. Instruct students to write on their copy or on a piece of paper whether each statement is true or false.
____1. Satan was known as Lucifer.
____2. Satan was a spirit in authority in the presence of God.
____3. Satan did not mean to disobey Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
____4. There was rejoicing in heaven when Satan was cast out.
____5. Satan makes war with the Saints of God.
After students complete the quiz, explain that Doctrine and Covenants 76:25–29 describes the vision Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw of the fall of Lucifer. Invite students to read these verses silently and make any changes to their answers based on what they read. After students have verified their answers, review each statement as a class, and invite students to explain their answers using what they learned. Statement 1 is true (see D&C 76:26). Statement 2 is also true (see D&C 76:25–27). You may want to explain to students that the name Lucifer means lightbringer or shining one. He is also known as the “son of the morning.” (See Bible Dictionary, “Lucifer”; Guide to the Scriptures, “Lucifer,” scriptures.lds.org.)
As students explain their answers to statement 3, which is false (see D&C 76:25, 28), help them understand that Satan rebelled. He sought to dethrone Heavenly Father and take His power, kingdom, and glory.
According to verse 25, what was the consequence of Lucifer’s rebellion against Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? (You may want to invite students to write the following doctrine in the margin of their scriptures next to verse 25: In the premortal existence, Lucifer rebelled against Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and was cast out.)
After students explain their answers to statement 4, which is false (see D&C 76:26), explain that Perdition, the title given to Lucifer, means destruction or damnation.
When did this war with Satan begin? (In the premortal existence.) What words from verse 29 explain that the war that began in heaven continues today? (The words maketh and encompasseth are both used in the present tense. You may need to explain that encompasseth means to surround completely.)
How is Satan waging war against the Saints of God today?
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon see a vision of the sufferings of the sons of perdition
In a time of war, what is a traitor?
Invite students to scan Doctrine and Covenants 76:30–32, looking for the traitors to the Savior that the Lord showed Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in vision. Ask students to report what they find. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 76:30–35. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the choices that lead individuals to become sons of perdition.
What choices lead to becoming sons of perdition? (Choosing to follow Satan, denying the truth, and defying God’s power after having known it [see D&C 76:31]; denying the Holy Spirit after having received it and denying the Savior [see D&C 76:35].)
Sometimes students are concerned that loved ones who become less active in the gospel are sons of perdition. Explain that sons of perdition are different from Church members who had a testimony of the truth at one point but have since become inactive in the gospel. Sons of perdition commit the unpardonable sin of denying the Holy Ghost.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught:
“The sin against the Holy Ghost requires such knowledge that it is manifestly impossible for the rank and file to commit such a sin” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 123).
Invite a few students to take turns reading Doctrine and Covenants 76:36–38, 44–49 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the state of sons of perdition.
How would you describe the suffering that the sons of perdition will experience for eternity?
According to verse 37, what type of death will the sons of perdition be the only ones to experience?
Explain that sons of perdition will not be redeemed from the second spiritual death and will not inherit a kingdom of glory after they are resurrected. Instead, they will suffer for eternity.
Point out that in the middle of the vision of the sons of perdition, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon learned a hopeful truth. To help students identify this truth, ask students to relate the best news they have received during the past week. (You may want to bring in some examples of good news from newspapers or other sources.) Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:39–43 aloud, and ask the class to follow along, looking for some good news the world received.
What good news did the world receive? (You may want to explain that the word gospel literally means good news.)
To help students identify doctrines taught in Doctrine and Covenants 76:39–43, ask them to write a short headline in their class notebooks or scripture study journals summing up the “good news” taught in these verses. After students have had sufficient time, invite a few to share their headlines with the class. After students respond, you may want to suggest that they mark phrases in verses 39–43 that teach the following doctrine: Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all of God’s children except the sons of perdition will inherit a place in a kingdom of glory.
Why is the Atonement of Jesus Christ “good news” to you?
You may want to conclude this lesson by sharing your answer to this question.
Commentary and Background Information
Doctrine and Covenants 76. Receiving the vision
Philo Dibble was present when Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received their vision. He described Joseph and Sidney’s experience:
“The vision which is recorded in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants was given at the house of ‘Father Johnson,’ in [Hiram], Ohio, and during the time that Joseph and Sidney were in the spirit and saw the heavens open, there were other men in the room, perhaps twelve, among whom I was one during a part of the time … I saw the glory and felt the power, but did not see the vision. …
“Joseph would, at intervals, say: ‘What do I see?’ as one might say while looking out the window and beholding what all in the room could not see. Then he would relate what he had seen or what he was looking at. Then Sidney replied, ‘I see the same.’ Presently Sidney would say ‘what do I see?’ and would repeat what he had seen or was seeing, and Joseph would reply, ‘I see the same.’
“This manner of conversation was repeated at short intervals to the end of the vision. …
“Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly, ‘Sidney is not used to it as I am’” (in “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” The Juvenile Instructor, May 15, 1892, 303–4).
Doctrine and Covenants 76:22. “This is the testimony, last of all”
The Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon’s testimony in Doctrine and Covenants 76:22 is a modern witness of the reality of the Father and the Son. Joseph and Sidney not only saw but also heard, and their testimonies stand as a witness to all people. Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl explain the phrase “last of all” as follows: “This is the last testimony to the fact that He lives, a resurrected and glorified Being; not the final testimony, but the last up to the time of this vision” (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary , 448). By saying “last of all,” Joseph and Sidney did not mean that they would be the last to receive such a testimony and witness.
Doctrine and Covenants 76:26. “A son of the morning”
President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency commented on Satan’s title “son of the morning”:
“Some have called him the son of the morning, but here it is a son of the morning—one among many, doubtless. This angel was a mighty personage, without doubt. The record that is given to us concerning him clearly shows that he occupied a very high position; that he was thought a great deal of, and that he was mighty in his sphere” (“Discourse by President George Q. Cannon,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, Sept. 5, 1895, 563–64).
Doctrine and Covenants 76:32–35. Becoming a son of perdition and denying the Holy Spirit
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following regarding one of the behaviors that make a person a son of perdition—denying the Holy Ghost:
“What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it” (in History of the Church, 6:314).
President Spencer W. Kimball described it as follows:
“They have sunk so low as to have lost the inclinations and ability to repent” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 125).
Doctrine and Covenants 76:35. “Having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:
“Commission of the unpardonable sin consists in crucifying unto oneself the Son of God afresh and putting him to open shame. (Heb. 6:4–8; D. & C. 76:34–35.) … He thereby commits murder by assenting unto the Lord’s death, that is, having a perfect knowledge of the truth he comes out in open rebellion and places himself in a position wherein he would have crucified Christ knowing perfectly the while that he was the Son of God. Christ is thus crucified afresh and put to open shame. (D. & C. 132:27.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 816–17).
Doctrine and Covenants 76:44. “He saves all except them”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained two of the different meanings of being saved:
“For Latter-day Saints, being ‘saved’ can also mean being saved or delivered from the second death (meaning the final spiritual death) by assurance of a kingdom of glory in the world to come (see 1 Cor. 15:40–42). Just as the Resurrection is universal, we affirm that every person who ever lived upon the face of the earth—except for a very few—is assured of salvation in this sense. …
“The prophet Brigham Young taught that doctrine when he declared that ‘every person who does not sin away the day of grace, and become an angel to the Devil, will be brought forth to inherit a kingdom of glory’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 288). This meaning of saved ennobles the whole human race through the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. …
“… In another usage familiar and unique to Latter-day Saints, the words saved and salvation are also used to denote exaltation or eternal life (see Abr. 2:11). This is sometimes referred to as the ‘fulness of salvation’ (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:242). This salvation requires more than repentance and baptism by appropriate priesthood authority. It also requires the making of sacred covenants, including eternal marriage, in the temples of God, and faithfulness to those covenants by enduring to the end” (“Have You Been Saved?” Ensign, May 1998, 56–57).