Doctrine and Covenants 135

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 231–32


Introduction

Section 135, written by Elder John Taylor, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, is an inspired tribute to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Elder Taylor later said:

“We are living in this dispensation, which is pregnant with greater events than any other dispensation that has ever existed on the earth, because in it is embraced all that ever existed any where among any people of the earth. Hence why we look upon Joseph Smith as so great and important a character in the world’s history. I think he was one of the greatest Prophets that ever lived, Jesus himself excepted” (in Journal of Discourses, 18:326–27).

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve declared:

“Each person who has a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ should love and appreciate Joseph Smith, Jr., for he is ‘the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, [who] has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it’ (D&C 135:3)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 5).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum sealed with their blood their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 135; see also D&C 136:39).

  • Joseph Smith stands at the head of the dispensation that brings together all other dispensations (see D&C 135:3; see also D&C 1:17–30; 136:37–38).

  • The blood of all gospel martyrs will stand as a testimony against the wicked (see D&C 135:7; see also Alma 14:8–11; D&C 103:27–28; 109:49).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 273–85.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 348–50.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video presentation 19, “Joseph Smith—Prophet of the Restoration” (21:30), can be used in teaching Doctrine and Covenants 135 (see Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide for teaching suggestions). CES Church History Resource Videocassette presentation 3, “Impressions of a Prophet” (18:06), can also be used in teaching Doctrine and Covenants 135.

Doctrine and Covenants 135. The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum sealed with their blood their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

(40–45 minutes)

Arrange your classroom as if it were the upper room of Carthage Jail (see the diagram on page 279 of Church History in the Fulness of Times; see also photograph 16 in the back of the triple combination). Have students reenact the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Use information from chapter 22 of Church History in the Fulness of Times and Doctrine and Covenants 135:1–2, 4–5. (Note: Do not allow students to grow too graphic in their reenactment. Avoid sensationalizing this sacred event.) Have the class sing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” (Hymns, no. 29) at the appropriate moment. Stop the reenactment from time to time and ask questions like the following:

  • What do you think the Prophet may have been feeling at this moment?

  • What do you think those who were with Joseph may have been feeling?

  • What impresses you about the actions of those who were with Joseph?

  • What do you think Joseph Smith’s family might have been thinking during this difficult time?

  • What thoughts or impressions do you have as we reenact this event?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 135:6–7. How old was the Prophet Joseph Smith when he died?

  • What else in these verses impresses you?

Have students mark the following sentences in their scriptures: “They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory is their eternal reward. From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified.”

Invite students to ponder what they have learned about the Prophet Joseph Smith this year. Have them list on the board some of the Prophet’s accomplishments (see Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 284).

Ask:

  • How is your life different from what it might have been because of the Prophet Joseph Smith?

  • Which of the Prophet’s characteristics do you most admire?

  • What helps you feel or know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God?

  • What responsibility comes with a testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet?

Elder Delbert L. Stapley, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“The Prophet, unschooled, unlearned, could not have given to the world what he was privileged to reveal unless God were with him. God inspired him in all that he did. There were living witnesses who testified to his divine calling for heavenly messengers had manifested this truth to several brethren. Surely if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is more certain. The office of the Holy Ghost is to testify of the Father and Son, it is also the spirit of truth, and when it testifies to the spirit of men there comes an inward feeling whether a thing is true or whether it is not true. In the case of the Prophet, Joseph Smith, it was true, for men in his day and since have received that witness and testimony which the Holy Ghost itself manifests unto those who seek after truth.

“And again the works of Joseph Smith—analyze them; everything about them indicates his prophetic calling. Where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of a testator, and surely this was a testament unfolding and revealing again God’s kingdom with all of its saving ordinances, principles, and divine powers. A testament is not of force until after men are dead. The Prophet gave his life to seal that testimony, and thus the sacrifice of his life becomes a witness to all men of the truth and power of his holy calling and ministry” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1954, 48–49).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 136:39 and ask:

  • Why did the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum give their lives for the Lord’s work?

  • What blessings and opportunities do we have because of the Prophet Joseph Smith?

Sing “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” (Hymns, no. 19), and share your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Doctrine and Covenants 135:3. Joseph Smith stands at the head of the dispensation that brings together all other dispensations.

(40–45 minutes)

Several days before class, select three or four students to give presentations on the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Give each student a statement from “Testimonies of Joseph Smith from Latter-day Prophets” in the appendix (p. 307). Invite the students to find a story from the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith that exemplifies what is said in that testimony.

Have the students read their statements from the appendix and share the stories they found. Discuss some of Joseph Smith’s character traits. Ask: Which of these traits do you admire most? Why? Have students share ways they could attain these same traits.

Divide the class into groups and divide the following scriptures between them. Have the groups report what their verses teach about Joseph Smith and his contribution to the world.

Sing “Praise to the Man” (Hymns, no. 27), and bear your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. You could also invite students who would like to bear testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith to do so.