Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events
Satan uses ridicule, false doctrine, lies, and prejudice to persecute the humble followers of God (see Joseph Smith—History 1:21–25; see also Isaiah 32:6–7; 1 Timothy 4:1–2; 3 Nephi 1:6, 22; D&C 109:29–30).
True followers of God will remain faithful to Him, no matter how intense persecution becomes or how long it lasts (see Joseph Smith—History 1:24, 27; see also Daniel 3:13–18; Acts 5:40–42; 12:1–11; 16:19–25; 26:19–23; Mosiah 17:5–20; Alma 20:28–30; D&C 121:7–8; 122:5–7).
The Lord teaches His people “line upon line.” We should remain faithful to the direction we receive from the Lord until He gives us further instructions (see Joseph Smith—History 1:26–27; see also 2 Nephi 28:30; D&C 42:61).
Suggestions for Teaching
Joseph Smith—History 1:20–23. Joseph Told Others of His Vision
Ask students who they would want to tell if they had an unusual spiritual experience, and why. Who did Joseph Smith tell about his vision? (see Joseph Smith—History 1:20). Read the following to students: “Eventually [Joseph] confided his theophany [vision of God] to other family members. His brother William affirmed, ‘We all had the most implicit confidence in what he said. He was a truthful boy. Father and Mother believed him, why should not the children?’ [in J. W. Peterson, “Another Testimony, Statement of William Smith, Concerning Joseph the Prophet,” Deseret Evening News,20 Jan. 1894, p. 11]” (in Church History in the Fulness of Times[Religion 341–43 student manual, 1993], 34). Have students read Joseph Smith—History 1:21and find another person Joseph told. Tell students that Joseph naively believed that the minister would welcome his great news from heaven. Have students read and ponder the last sentence of verse 23. Discuss guidelines students should follow in sharing their spiritual experiences with others. The following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, may be helpful: “I have come to believe also that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts you to use them to the blessing of others” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign,Jan. 1983, 53; see also Matthew 7:6; D&C 6:12; 10:37; 41:6).
Joseph Smith—History 1:22–23, 27. “The Public Mind”
Have students search Joseph Smith—History 1:22–23, 27for who else eventually heard about Joseph’s vision, and how. According to these verses, what did these people do to Joseph? (Answers might include that they stirred up prejudice, inflicted great persecution, excited the public mind against him, and so forth.) Discuss other times that Satan used these tools to persecute the righteous and deceive the people (see Matthew 9:32–34; 26:57–68; 28:9–15; Acts 16:16–24; 1 Nephi 17:17–22; Alma 1:16–20; 12:1–6; Helaman 16:13–23; 3 Nephi 6:10–15; D&C 71section heading). Discuss the following statement by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Neither the Apostle Paul nor Joseph Smith wavered, though they faced severe trials. … In our present day there are many who are sowing seeds of dissension and discord. With half truths and slander, they are endeavoring to lead members of the Church of Jesus Christ into apostasy” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 89; or
Joseph Smith—History 1:24–25. Severe Persecution
Referring to Joseph Smith—History 1:25, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, commented:
“There is no lack of certitude in that statement. For Joseph Smith that experience was as real as the warmth of the sun at noonday. …
“It is that kind of certitude that has moved this Church forward in the face of persecution, ridicule, sacrifice of fortune, the leaving of loved ones to travel to distant lands to carry the gospel message. That conviction motivates today as it has done from the beginning of this work. Faith in the hearts of millions that this cause is true, that God is our Eternal Father, and that Jesus is the Christ, must ever be the great motivating force in our lives” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 6–7; or Ensign,Nov. 1981, 7).
Discuss the character traits required to remain faithful to God in the face of opposition. Ask: How did Joseph Smith demonstrate these traits in his life?
Joseph Smith—History 1:25. Offending God
Have students read Genesis 39:9; Revelation 2:14–15, 20–23; and Doctrine and Covenants 59:21looking for what offends God. Ask: In Joseph Smith—History 1:25, what did Joseph Smith say would have been offensive to God? Elder Marvin J. Ashton said: “Joseph Smith placed commitment ahead of life itself. From the time of his first vision until his martyrdom, he was a victim of bitter persecution, reviling, and ridicule, but never did he falter” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 89; or Ensign,Nov. 1983, 62). Encourage students to strive to live each day with a conscience free of offense toward God (see Matthew 13:20–21; Acts 24:16; D&C 135:4).
Joseph Smith—History 1:25–26. Joseph’s Mind Was Satisfied
Have students read Joseph Smith—History 1:25–26and list the truths that Joseph Smith said he learned from his experience. Compare what Joseph learned to what he was confused about or did not know before his vision. Ask: What are some important aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ that Joseph would learn about later? Why did the Lord not reveal all those truths to Joseph during the First Vision? (see 2 Nephi 28:30; Alma 12:9).
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