This lesson includes doctrines Joseph Smith taught at a Church meeting in Ramus, Illinois, on April 2, 1843. These teachings are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130. The Prophet taught about future events, including the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He also taught about our ability to retain knowledge and intelligence after we die and explained how we can receive God’s blessings.
Before class, write the following statement on the board: Many have wondered about the exact date of the Second Coming.
Have you ever wanted to know exactly when the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will occur?
Explain that in Joseph Smith’s day, a prominent Christian preacher named William Miller claimed the Savior’s Second Coming would happen on April 3, 1843. One day before Miller’s predicted date of the Second Coming, the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke to Saints in Ramus, Illinois, and mentioned that he had prayed to know the time of the Second Coming.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 130:14–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Joseph Smith learned when he prayed about the timing of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Did the Lord reveal to Joseph Smith the exact date of the Second Coming?
What did the Lord tell Joseph Smith to do? (After students respond, you may want to suggest that they mark the phrase “trouble me no more on this matter” in their scriptures. Consider directing students to Doctrine and Covenants 130:15, footnote a, to further emphasize that no one knows exactly when the Savior will return.)
Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“I am called as one of the Apostles to be a special witness of Christ, … and I do not know when He is going to come again. As far as I know, none of my brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve or even in the First Presidency knows. And I would humbly suggest that if we do not know, then nobody knows. … The Savior said that ‘of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only’ [Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:40].
“I believe that when the Lord says ‘no one’ knows, He really means that no one knows” (“When Shall These Things Be?” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 56).
What do we learn from Doctrine and Covenants 130:14–17 and Elder Ballard’s statement? (Students may identify a variety of truths, but they should identify the following: Only God knows the exact time when the Second Coming will occur.)
Point out that in our day, some individuals try to predict the exact timing of the Second Coming or the end of the world.
How can remembering this principle help you to not be misled by false claims?
If possible, display a suitcase or bag. Invite students to imagine that they are leaving home and going somewhere they have never been before. They are allowed to take only what will fit in the suitcase (or bag).
What would you pack in the suitcase? (Invite a student to list responses on the board.)
Ask students to imagine that their destination is the spirit world, where we will enter when we die.
Which of the items on the board will you be able to take with you when you die?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what we can take with us from this life when we die.
According to verses 18–19, what will be with us after we die? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following truth: The knowledge and intelligence we gain in this life will rise with us in the resurrection.
To help students understand what is meant by the words knowledge and intelligence, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“If we ponder just what it is that will rise with us in the resurrection, it seems clear that our intelligence will rise with us, meaning not simply our IQ, but also our capacity to receive and apply truth. Our talents, attributes, and skills will rise with us; certainly also our capacity to learn, our degree of self-discipline, and our capacity to work” (We Will Prove Them Herewith , 12).
According to Elder Maxwell, what does the word intelligence mean in verses 18–19?
According to verse 19, how can we gain greater knowledge and intelligence? (You may want to point out that some knowledge and intelligence can be obtained only “through … diligence and obedience.”)
When have you gained knowledge or intelligence through your diligence and obedience? (You may also want to share an experience.)
Point out that according to verse 19, those who gain more knowledge and intelligence in this life will have an advantage in the world to come.
How do you think obtaining knowledge and intelligence in this life can give us an advantage in the world to come?
Explain that what we learn in this life, both temporally and spiritually, will be helpful to us throughout eternity. We will be able to build upon the knowledge we obtain in this life to become more like Heavenly Father.
In order to help students continue gaining knowledge and intelligence, encourage them to continue participating in seminary now and to plan to attend institute after they graduate from seminary. Invite students to write a goal that could help them gain more knowledge and intelligence.
Invite students to imagine they want to improve their penmanship, so they decide to run three miles, five days a week, for one month.
What will the result be? Why?
What would you do to improve your penmanship?
Point out that just as we need to understand how to obtain the results we desire, we need to understand how to obtain the blessings Heavenly Father desires to give to us.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how we can obtain the blessings Heavenly Father desires to give to us. (You may want to explain that “predicated” means “based on” and that a law that is “irrevocably decreed” is permanent and unchangeable.)
According to verses 20–21, how do we obtain a blessing from God?
Invite students to write an “if–then” principle based on verses 20–21. After sufficient time, ask a few students to read their statements aloud. Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If we want to obtain a blessing from God, then we must obey the law upon which it is predicated.
To help students deepen their understanding of this truth, copy the following chart on the board (you may want to do so before class). Invite students to copy the chart in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Invite a student to read aloud the first scripture passage listed. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a law and an associated blessing. As they report their answers, fill in the appropriate spaces on the chart. Invite students to complete their charts on their own.
After students complete this activity, ask them to think about blessings they have received because they have obeyed a law. Invite them to share their experiences.
Invite students to write down blessings they want to obtain. Then invite them to write what law or laws they need to obey in order to receive those blessings.
Point out that some laws and blessings are very specific while others are more general. Also point out that some promised blessings may come in the next life.
To conclude today’s lesson, invite students to review some of the truths they have learned from Joseph Smith’s teachings recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130.
How do the truths in Doctrine and Covenants 130 help you appreciate Joseph Smith?
Conclude by inviting a student to read the following statement by President Brigham Young about Joseph Smith’s ability to explain the things of God.
“The excellency of the glory of the character of Brother Joseph Smith was that he could reduce heavenly things to the understanding of the finite. When he preached to the people—revealed the things of God, the will of God, the plan of salvation, the purposes of Jehovah, the relation in which we stand to him and all the heavenly beings, he reduced his teachings to the capacity of every man, woman, and child, making them as plain as a well-defined pathway. This should have convinced every person that ever heard him of his divine authority and power, for no other man was able to teach as he could, and no person can reveal the things of God, but by the revelations of Jesus Christ” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 347).
Conclude by sharing your testimony of Joseph Smith’s calling as a prophet, seer, and revelator. Invite students to act on the doctrines and principles they have learned as they studied the Prophet’s teachings in Doctrine and Covenants 130.