The Lord revealed many great and important truths through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Elder Parley P. Pratt, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote of the Prophet: “There was something connected with the serene and steady penetrating glance of his eye, as if he would penetrate the deepest abyss of the human heart, gaze into eternity, penetrate the heavens, and comprehend all worlds” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt , 32).
Wilford Woodruff, who later became President of the Church, wrote:
“He seemed a fountain of knowledge from whose mouth streams of eternal wisdom flowed. As he stood before the people, he showed clearly that the authority of God was upon him” (in Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, Fourth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: History of His Life and Labors as Recorded in His Daily Journals , 68).
Elder Robert E. Wells, a member of the Seventy, said:
“The eternal truths he taught answered a brood of questions that had been in the minds of philosophers for centuries. When one studies the doctrinal teachings revealed to Joseph Smith, that person, if he or she is sincere in the search for truth, will be led to Jesus Christ and His role as our Savior, Redeemer, and Advocate with the Father. In studying these teachings of Joseph about the Savior, uncertainty and doubt flee, and hearts are changed. The honest person finds greater meaning in life by the Prophet’s answers to the philosophical questions, Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Because of revelations given to Joseph, the memory veil between this life and our premortal existence becomes almost transparent at times. And the veil between this life and the spirit world becomes thinner, causing family ties to become stronger, sweeter, and more meaningful” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 86; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 66).
Section 130 sheds light on many fundamental truths of the plan of salvation.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 259–60.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 321–24.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 130:1–3, 22–23 (Scripture Mastery, Doctrine and Covenants 130:22–23). God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have bodies of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit.
Invite each student to write a simple description of the Godhead. Have several students share what they wrote, and then read Doctrine and Covenants 130:1–3, 22–23. Ask:
What do these verses teach about the Godhead?
Why is it important to know the correct nature of God?
Share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“In the process of what we call the Apostasy, the tangible, personal God described in the Old and New Testaments was replaced by the abstract, incomprehensible deity [based partly on] Greek philosophy. …
“… I hasten to add that Latter-day Saints do not apply such criticism to the men and women who profess these beliefs. We believe that most religious leaders and followers are sincere believers who love God and understand and serve him to the best of their abilities. …
“Then came the First Vision. An unschooled boy, seeking knowledge from the ultimate source, saw two personages of indescribable brightness and glory and heard one of them say, while pointing to the other, ‘This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!’ (Joseph Smith—History 1:17). …
“After a subsequent outpouring of modern scripture and revelation, this modern prophet declared, ‘The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit’ (D&C 130:22).
“This belief does not mean that we claim sufficient spiritual maturity to comprehend God. Nor do we equate our imperfect mortal bodies to his immortal, glorified being. But we can comprehend the fundamentals he has revealed about himself and the other members of the Godhead. And that knowledge is essential to our understanding of the purpose of mortal life and of our eternal destiny as resurrected beings after mortal life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 113–14; or Ensign, May 1995, 85–86).
Have students look in the Topical Guide under “God, body of—corporeal nature” (p. 173) and “God, manifestations of” (pp. 177–78) to find additional references on the true nature of God. Invite students to share some of the references that impress them.
Doctrine and Covenants 130:8–11. When this earth becomes a celestial kingdom, it will be a Urim and Thummim to those who live here.
Give students the following quiz:
What do the words Urim and Thummim mean? (Lights and perfections.)
What are two basic uses of the Urim and Thummim? (Obtaining revelation and translating languages.)
Where do the scriptures describe the Urim and Thummim? (Joseph Smith—History 1:35.)
Is there more than one Urim and Thummim?
Have students look up “Urim and Thummim” in the Bible Dictionary (pp. 786–87) and correct their quizzes.
Doctrine and Covenants 130:14–17. Since only God knows the exact time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we should prepare for it continually.
Ask students to show by raise of hand which of the following statements best represents their feelings:
“I wish I knew the exact date of the Second Coming.”
“I don’t want to know when the Second Coming will take place.”
Invite some students to share why they voted the way they did. Read Matthew 24:3; Doctrine and Covenants 130:14 and look for individuals who have asked the Savior when the Second Coming would occur. Ask: What response did Christ’s disciples and the Prophet Joseph Smith receive? (see Matthew 24:36–39; D&C 130:15–17). Explain that to help us prepare, the Lord did reveal signs that will precede the Second Coming (see the commentary for D&C 130:14–17 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 323–24).
Tell students: Imagine that people were born with a device growing out of one shoulder that displayed the number of minutes they had left to live.
Would you like a device like this? Why or why not?
How often do you think you would look at yours?
Would you ever want to look at your family’s or friends’ devices?
How might the amount of time left on the device affect your choices and the way you spent your time?
How might it affect your ability to act with faith in Jesus Christ?
How could a device like this be compared to knowing when the Second Coming is?
How might a knowledge of that exact time affect your obedience to the gospel?
Read Matthew 24:42–47 and ask:
What did the Lord counsel His disciples to do, knowing that they did not know the time of His coming? (Always be prepared.)
Why is that good counsel for us?
What can we do to better prepare for the coming of the Lord?
Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19 (Scripture Mastery). The knowledge we gain helps us not only in this life but after the Resurrection.
Place two clear jars where everyone can see them. Pour some water into the first jar and tell students that this represents a person’s life. Tell a story about this person, and include the worldly possessions this person acquires. Each time you name a possession, drop an object representing it into the water. (You could use a ring to represent jewelry, car keys to represent a car, some coins to represent a job.) Tell students that the person dies unexpectedly. Place a strainer over the second jar and pour the contents of the first jar into the strainer. Show students the strainer filled with the “worldly” objects, and ask:
How does the strainer represent death? (We cannot take our possessions with us at death.)
Read Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19. According to these verses, what can we take with us when we die?
Repeat the object lesson for another person. Mention the same worldly goods and place the objects in the jar, but also mention that this person prayed. Add a drop of food coloring to the water. Mention that this person read the scriptures daily, and add a second drop of food coloring. Say that this person also died, and pour the water through the strainer into the other jar. Talk about what the second person was able to keep after death that the first could not. Ask: In the object lesson, what other earthly experiences could we add drops of food coloring for? (Answers might include serving a mission, marrying in the temple, filling Church callings, receiving ordinances such as baptism, learning the gospel.)
Share the following statements. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:
“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).
President Spencer W. Kimball taught:
“Each one of you has it within the realm of his possibility to develop a kingdom over which you will preside as its king and god. You will need to develop yourself and grow in ability and power and worthiness, to govern such a world with all of its people. You are sent to this earth not merely to have a good time or to satisfy urges or passions or desires. You are sent to this earth, not to ride merry-go-rounds, airplanes, automobiles, and have what the world calls ‘fun.’
“You are sent to this world with a very serious purpose. You are sent to school, … to begin as a human infant and grow to unbelievable proportions in wisdom, judgement, knowledge, and power. That is why you and I cannot be satisfied with saying merely ‘I like that or want that.’ That is why in our childhood and our youth and our young adulthood we must stretch and grow and remember and prepare for the later life when limitations will terminate so that we can go on and on and on” (“The Matter of Marriage” [address delivered at the Salt Lake City Institute of Religion, Oct. 22, 1976], 2).
Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 130:19 again, highlighting the phrase “through his diligence and obedience.”
Ask: What does this phrase add to the meaning of the scripture? Share a personal example of a time your diligence and obedience allowed you to grow in a certain area. Invite students to write a goal that could help them gain more knowledge and intelligence. Have them write what they must do to achieve that goal and why it would take diligence and obedience to do so.
Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21 (Scripture Mastery). Any blessing we receive from God comes because of obedience to His law.
Have students write Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21 in their own words. If necessary, refer students to the student study guide for help with difficult terms (see the
Do a few simple experiments to demonstrate laws and their consequences. (For example, you could demonstrate the law of gravity by dropping a ball. You could demonstrate that every action has an opposite and equal reaction by throwing the ball against a wall.) Discuss the following questions:
How predictable are the consequences of these laws?
What are some laws regarding practicing a musical instrument? planting and watering a seed? exercising regularly?
What spiritual laws have blessings associated with them?
If students have difficulty with the last question, write on the board Joshua 1:8; Malachi 3:10; 2 Nephi 1:20; 31:20; D&C 88:124; 89:18–21. Have them read the verses and discover the laws and promised blessings.
Point out that some laws and their promised blessings are very specific, while others are more general, and that the realization of the promised blessings may come in the next life.
Have students think of blessings they have received from the Lord. Invite them to think about what laws these blessings were predicated on. Read the words to