While working on the translation of the Bible on February 16, 1832, Joseph Smith made inspired changes to John 5:29 pertaining to the resurrections of the just and the unjust. After seeing visions of the glory of the Father and the Son, the fall of Lucifer, and the sons of perdition, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were shown visions of those who will take part in the resurrection of the just: the inhabitants of the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms.
Bring to class a piece of bread and the ingredients for making bread. (Or, you could use a different type of baked good that requires multiple ingredients.) Write Recipe for Bread on the board. Ask students to name the ingredients for making bread, and display the items as students mention them. (If you do not have the ingredients, you could list them on the board as they are mentioned.) Tell students that the process of making bread can help them understand the truths they will identify in their study of Doctrine and Covenants 76:50–80.
Help students review the context for Doctrine and Covenants 76 by asking the following question:
What were Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon doing prior to receiving the vision recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76? (Translating and pondering John 5:29. If students need help remembering this context, invite them to scan the last sentence of the section introduction.)
Invite a student to read John 5:29 aloud. Explain that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were pondering John’s description of the resurrection of those who have done good and the resurrection of those who have done evil when they received the vision recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:50 aloud. Ask the class to look for what Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were shown following the vision of the sons of perdition. (You may want to explain that in this verse, the word just means righteous.)
According to verse 50, whom did the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon see following the vision of the sons of perdition? (Those who will come forth in the resurrection of the just.)
Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 76:50–80 describes those who will be resurrected in the resurrection of the just. Ask students to scan Doctrine and Covenants 76:70 and identify the first group of people who will be resurrected during the resurrection of the just. Ask students to report what they find.
Write Recipe for Becoming a Celestial Person on the board. Explain that as part of this vision, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon a description of those who will inherit exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:51–53 silently and look for requirements (ingredients) for becoming a celestial person. Instruct students that when they find a requirement, they are invited to come to the board and write what they have found.
After students have written the requirements on the board, you may want to help them better understand some of the terms in these verses.
What do you think it means to “[receive] the testimony of Jesus”? (D&C 76:51). (Answers might include having faith in the Savior’s divine mission and following His gospel.)
What does it mean to be “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise”? (D&C 76:53). (You may need to explain that the Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise when the Holy Ghost bears witness to Heavenly Father that the ordinances we have received have been performed properly and that we have been faithful to the covenants we have made. The Holy Ghost can also confirm to us that our faithfulness to ordinances and covenants is acceptable to God.)
Briefly summarize Doctrine and Covenants 76:54–68 by explaining that this passage lists many of the blessings the exalted inhabitants of the celestial kingdom will receive. If time permits, you might invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 76:54–68. Ask the class to follow along, looking for these blessings. You may want to suggest that students mark any blessings that are especially meaningful to them.
Which blessings are especially meaningful to you? Why?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:69–70 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what else is required for an individual to qualify for the celestial kingdom.
Even if we are striving to have all the necessary ingredients in our lives, what do these verses say we still need in order to be worthy to inherit the celestial kingdom? (After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board under Recipe for Becoming a Celestial Person: We can be made perfect only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.)
Explain that while our best efforts to keep all the commandments do not make us perfect, our efforts do help qualify us to receive the Savior’s grace and to be cleansed by His “perfect atonement through the shedding of his … blood” (D&C 76:69). This truth can encourage us to keep the commandments and receive the ordinances of salvation so we can receive these eternal blessings. Invite students to ponder the following question and then write their responses in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:
How might the doctrine in verse 69 help us overcome discouragement as we strive for exaltation in the celestial kingdom?
After sufficient time, invite a few students to share their responses. Consider sharing your testimony about the Savior’s role in helping us become perfect.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:71 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were shown next. Ask students to report what they find.
According to this verse, how does the glory of the terrestrial kingdom compare to the glory of the celestial kingdom?
Explain that the scriptures use the different intensities of light that radiate from the moon and the sun to symbolize the difference between the glories of the terrestrial and celestial kingdoms. While inhabitants of the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms are both included in the resurrection of the just, those obtaining celestial bodies will be resurrected with greater glory and blessings than those obtaining terrestrial bodies.
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:72–80 silently, looking for how the inhabitants of the terrestrial kingdom will differ from the inhabitants of the celestial kingdom. After students have had sufficient time to read, ask them to describe the differences they found.
According to these verses, what are some general descriptions of those who will inherit the terrestrial kingdom? (Answers may include the following: those “who died without law” [verse 72]; those “who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it” [verses 73–74]; “honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men” [verse 75]; and “they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus” [verse 79].)
To help students better understand the reference to those who die without the law or who receive the gospel after they die (see verses 72–74), explain that the Lord gave additional insight into these individuals when he revealed to Joseph Smith the final destiny of his brother Alvin, who died before he could be baptized. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 137:7–9 aloud. Then ask the following questions:
What additional clarification did the Lord give concerning those who would have accepted the gospel if they had been permitted to live?
According to Doctrine and Covenants 137:9, who will judge us according to our works and the desires of our hearts?
Read aloud the following statement: “Remember that only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 90). Emphasize that because only the Lord can know our hearts, we should not make judgments about which kingdom we believe others will inherit.
What do you think it means to be “blinded by the craftiness of men”? (D&C 76:75). (Some people are blind to the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ because of worldly influences.) How are some people today blinded by the craftiness of men?
To help students understand the phrase “not valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:79), invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“What does it mean to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus? …
“The great cornerstone of valiance in the cause of righteousness is obedience to the whole law of the whole gospel. …
“To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to believe in Christ and his gospel with unshakable conviction. …
“But this is not all. It is more than believing and knowing. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only. It is more than lip service; it is not simply confessing with the mouth the divine Sonship of the Savior. It is obedience and conformity and personal righteousness. …
“To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to … ‘endure to the end.’ (2 Ne. 31:20.) It is to live our religion, to practice what we preach, to keep the commandments” (“Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 35).
Think of someone you know who you would consider to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ. What characteristics and actions demonstrate their valiance?
What has helped you be valiant in your testimony of Jesus Christ?
If we are valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ, what will we obtain? (As students respond, they should identify the following principle: If we are valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ, we can obtain the celestial kingdom of God. Add this truth to the Recipe for Becoming a Celestial Person on the board.)
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals one thing they can do to be more valiant in their testimony of Jesus Christ. Share your testimony that each of them has the potential to obtain the celestial kingdom.