On February 16, 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were working on inspired revisions to the Bible. While they were pondering the meaning of John 5:29, they were shown a vision. This vision, which is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76, affirmed the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ, taught about the fall of Satan and the sons of perdition, and described the three kingdoms of glory and those who will inherit each kingdom.
Doctrine and Covenants 76 will be studied in three lessons. In this first lesson you will learn about the Lord’s willingness to bless us and about the actions of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon that led to them receiving the vision. You will also learn about the fall of Satan and the fate of those who follow him.
If you could select one person to be honored by, who would it be and why?
Doctrine and Covenants 76:1–5 teaches that the Lord is wise, powerful, eternal, merciful, and charitable. Verse 5 also teaches that He will honor us if we qualify. Read verse 5, and identify what we must do to be honored by Jesus Christ.
In this context, to fear the Lord means to revere, honor, respect, and love Him. Based on the Lord’s words in verse 5, we learn that if we revere and serve the Lord, He will honor us.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:6–9, looking for ways the Lord will honor those who revere and serve Him. As you read, it might be helpful to know that in the scriptures the term mysteries generally refers to spiritual truths that can only be learned through revelation.
According to what you read in verses 6–9, add to the previous principle: If we revere and serve the Lord, He will honor us by .
Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:10, and identify a principle regarding how the Lord will reveal truth to us.
Ponder the principle that the Lord enlightens us by the Spirit. To help you remember times when the Lord has enlightened you by the Spirit, complete the following in your scripture study journal: I recently felt enlightened by the Spirit when I …
The vision that was shown the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon is a fulfillment of the Lord’s promises in Doctrine and Covenants 76:5–10. Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:11–14, and notice how the Lord honored Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon by revealing truth to them.
Have you ever spent time reading the scriptures and not understood what you read? What have you done to better understand the scriptures?
What Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were doing before they were shown this vision can teach us how we can better understand the scriptures and invite the Spirit to reveal truth to us. Read the section introduction for Doctrine and Covenants 76, and then read Doctrine and Covenants 76:15–19. As you read, look for what Joseph and Sidney were doing that enabled them to receive understanding of the scriptures through revelation.
Notice that it was while they were studying and meditating on the scriptures that the Spirit enlightened their understandings. To meditate on the scriptures means to ponder or think about what you read. Joseph and Sidney’s example shows us that if we prayerfully study and ponder the scriptures, the Lord can increase our understanding.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how to prayerfully study and ponder the scriptures: “When I say ‘study,’ I mean something more than reading. … I see you sometimes reading a few verses, stopping to ponder them, carefully reading the verses again, and as you think about what they mean, praying for understanding, asking questions in your mind, waiting for spiritual impressions, and writing down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more. Studying in this way, you may not read a lot of chapters or verses in a half hour, but you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you” (“When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 11).
Respond to the following in your scripture study journal:
What results have you experienced by prayerfully studying and pondering the scriptures?
Write one action mentioned by Elder Christofferson that you will apply in your personal study of the scriptures.
As the vision unfolded, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw Jesus Christ in His majesty and glory.
Draw a chart with the following three headings in your scripture study journal:
What they saw:
What they heard:
What they learned:
Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:20–24, and write words or phrases from these verses that fit under the applicable headings.
Based on what Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw, heard, and learned, list at least two truths about Jesus Christ that are taught in these verses. Then write your testimony regarding one of these truths and how you know or why you believe it is true.
Doctrine and Covenants 76:22–24 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way to help you locate it in the future.
The Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon bore witness that Jesus Christ is a living, glorified Being. Find two other examples in the scriptures of times when someone else saw the resurrected Savior. Use the footnotes, Topical Guide, or Guide to the Scriptures to assist you. Write the references for the examples you find in your scripture study journal.
Complete the following quiz by marking whether each statement is true (T) or false (F).
____ 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 you have completed the quiz, review Doctrine and Covenants 76:25–29, which describes the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon’s vision of the fall of Satan. Make any changes to your answers based on what you read, and then check your answers with those at the end of this lesson.
During a war, what is a traitor? Doctrine and Covenants 76:30–49 is about individuals who choose to become traitors to the Savior. These individuals are known as sons of perdition. Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:30–35, looking for the choices that lead individuals to become sons of perdition.
Sons of perdition are different from Church members who once had active testimonies of the truth but later fall away from activity and following the principles of the gospel. Sons of perdition commit the unpardonable sin of denying the Holy Ghost.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following about the unpardonable sin: “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).
Committing the unpardonable sin requires a special knowledge of the Savior gained through a sacred experience with Him. President Spencer W. Kimball helped us understand what this means for most members of the Church: “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).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:36–38, 44–49, looking for the condition of sons of perdition.
Sons of perdition will not be redeemed from spiritual death, or the second death, and will not inherit a kingdom of glory after they are resurrected. Instead, they will suffer for eternity.
During the vision of the sons of perdition, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon learned a principle of hope. Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:39–43, looking for words and phrases that teach the following principle: Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all of God’s children, except the sons of perdition, can be saved from both sin and death.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:40–41. Because this passage is a scripture mastery scripture, you may want to mark it in a distinctive way to help you locate it in the future. The word gospel means good news.
In your scripture study journal, write a short headline summing up the good news taught in Doctrine and Covenants 76:40–41. Then write a few sentences describing why this is good news to you. You may want to write out the passage and place it somewhere where you can work on memorizing it during the next few days.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 76:1–49 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: