President Joseph Fielding Smith

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 266–68


Introduction

Elder Boyd K. Packer, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, related the following experience:

“I left the office one Friday afternoon thinking of the weekend conference assignment. I waited for the elevator to come down from the fifth floor.

“As the elevator doors quietly opened, there stood President Joseph Fielding Smith. There was a moment of surprise in seeing him, since his office is on a lower floor.

“As I saw him framed in the doorway, there fell upon me a powerful witness—there stands the prophet of God. That sweet voice of Spirit that is akin to light, that has something to do with pure intelligence, affirmed to me that this was the prophet of God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 122–23; or Ensign, June 1971, 87).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to cure the world’s ills and to prepare an inheritance in the celestial kingdom for those who live it (see “President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Student Study Guide, p. 203, par. 2–3, 6; see also Exodus 15:26; Alma 7:10–16; Helaman 3:29–30).

  • Those who put off living the gospel risk not gaining eternal life (see “President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Student Study Guide, p. 204, par. 8; see also Alma 34:32–35; Helaman 13:38).

  • To be exalted in the kingdom of God, we must live the gospel and receive temple ordinances (see “President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Student Study Guide, p. 204, par. 9; see also D&C 131:1–3; 132:19–20).

  • “No member of this Church can stand approved in the presence of God who has not seriously and carefully read the Book of Mormon” (“President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Student Study Guide, p. 204, par. 12; see also D&C 84:54–58).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 566–78.

Suggestions for Teaching

Note: If needed, the following teaching suggestion will allow you to survey the teachings of Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Spencer W. Kimball in one day.

“President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Student Study Guide, p. 204, par. 8–12; “President Harold B. Lee,” pp. 206–7, par. 7–16; “President Spencer W. Kimball,” p. 210, par. 15–25. Faithfully following the teachings of the living prophets can bring safety and direction in this life and prepare us for the life to come.

(20–25 minutes)

Tell students: Imagine you are in a large building when fire breaks out.

  • What would you look for in order to escape?

  • How are exit signs like prophets?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–6, 9 and identify the blessings that come to those who follow the prophets. List answers on the board.

Divide students into three groups. Assign each group one of the following readings in the student study guide:

  • “President Joseph Fielding Smith,” p. 204, par. 8–12

  • “President Harold B. Lee,” pp. 206–7, par. 7–16

  • “President Spencer W. Kimball,” p. 210, par. 15–25

Invite the individual students to look for a teaching that impresses them the most. Have them either draw a picture that illustrates the teaching or write a paragraph describing ways that following the teaching can keep them safe. Invite several students to share the teaching they selected, the name of the prophet who taught it, and why they selected it. Bear your testimony of the importance of following the living prophets.

“President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Student Study Guide, p. 203, par. 2–3, 6. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to cure the world’s ills and to prepare an inheritance in the celestial kingdom for those who live it.

(20–25 minutes)

Ask students to list some of the most devastating diseases in the history of the world. Write their answers on the board (include some diseases that exist today). Discuss which diseases we have cures for, and circle them. Invite students to list the most devastating “spiritual diseases,” and write them on the board in another column. Ask if there is a cure for these spiritual diseases. Ask: What is that cure?

Read paragraph 6 of “President Joseph Fielding Smith” in the student study guide (p. 203) and look for the cure for spiritual diseases. Ask: Which spiritual diseases can be cured? Circle all of the spiritual diseases listed on the board. Read the introduction and paragraphs 2–3 of “President Joseph Fielding Smith.” Ask:

  • How did members of the Council of the Twelve describe President Smith?

  • What did President Smith do in his early life that helped prepare him to be “a just and righteous man”?

  • How do you think his practice of enthusiastically studying the gospel helped him avoid spiritual diseases?

  • What effect can his example have on us?

Read Alma 7:11–16; Moroni 10:32–33 and testify that each of us must be cured from the spiritual diseases of this world. Read paragraphs 11–12 and ask:

  • How important is studying the Book of Mormon to our salvation?

  • How might the Book of Mormon help “cure” us of spiritual diseases?

  • How could this teaching by President Smith affect our study of the Book of Mormon?

Have each student search the Book of Mormon scripture mastery references for scriptures that give counsel on overcoming spiritual disease (see p. 297). Invite several students to share what they found.

“President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Student Study Guide, p. 204, par. 8. Those who put off living the gospel risk not gaining eternal life.

(10–15 minutes)

Write on the board: If you had a school project due in a month, when would you typically start working on it? Ask students:

  • Why wouldn’t most students start to work on this project right away?

  • What word means “to put something off until later”? (Procrastinate.)

  • Why do some people procrastinate spiritual preparation?

Have students read paragraph 8 of “President Joseph Fielding Smith” in the student study guide (p. 204), and ask:

  • What can procrastination “steal” from us?

  • Why might some people be tempted to feel that there is no hurry to live the gospel?

  • What does the Savior’s parable of the ten virgins teach about procrastination? (see Matthew 25:1–13; D&C 45:56–57).

  • Read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:48. According to this verse, why should we not put off living the gospel?

Study Alma 34:32–35; Helaman 13:38 and discuss how procrastinating repentance can affect an individual for eternity.

“President Joseph Fielding Smith,” Student Study Guide, p. 204, par. 9. To be exalted in the kingdom of God, we must live the gospel and receive temple ordinances.

(15–20 minutes)

Set some chairs in front of the class and invite students to sit in them. Assign one student to represent a father, another a mother, and the rest their children. Ask: What eternal goal should Latter-day Saint families have? (To live together forever.) Have a student read the following statement about Elder Ezra Taft Benson, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“[Elder Benson felt that] one of the most critical [problems in the gospel kingdom] was the low percentage of temple marriages. He noted his concerns in his journal and spelled them out in a letter to President Joseph Fielding Smith.

“Temple marriage was extremely important to Elder Benson. One of the goals he and [his wife] Flora had set as parents was that all of their children be married in the temple and that there be no ‘empty chairs’ in the eternities” (Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography [1987], 363).

Have one or two members of the “family” return to their seats in the classroom. Ask the family: How would you feel if there were “empty chairs” in your eternal home? Read with students paragraph 9 of “President Joseph Fielding Smith” in the student study guide (p. 204), and ask:

  • What must we do to be exalted?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4. How do these verses relate to this teaching of President Joseph Fielding Smith?

  • What can you do to help make sure that there are no empty chairs in your family?

  • What are you doing today that will lead you to a temple marriage?

Sing or read “Families Can Be Together Forever” (Hymns, no. 300; see also Children’s Songbook, 188).