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.
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:
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):
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.
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.
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?
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.