Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events
Satan circulates false reports through “evil-disposed and designing” people to distort the true nature of the Church and its inspired leaders (Joseph Smith—History 1:1–2; see also Helaman 16:22; 3 Nephi 1:22; D&C 10:22–27, 28; Moses 4:4).
Events leading up to the First Vision help explain the Apostasy and the loss of the true Church of Jesus Christ from the earth (see Joseph Smith—History 1:5–10; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3; 2 Timothy 3:1–5; 2 Peter 2:1–2; 1 Nephi 13:23–29; D&C 1:15–16).
Suggestions for Teaching
Joseph Smith—History 1:1. Many Reports by “Evil-Disposed and Designing Persons”
Have students read Helaman 16:22; 3 Nephi 1:22; Doctrine and Covenants 10:22–27; and Moses 4:4and list what Satan does to try to keep people from the truth. Next, have students read Joseph Smith—History 1:1–2and tell Joseph’s reasons for writing this history. You could also read with students the material under “Joseph Smith—History 1:1. What Were the ‘Many Reports … by Evil-Disposed and Designing Persons’?” in the student manual (pp. 53–54). Discuss ways students can help “disabuse the public mind” and “put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts” (v. 1).
Joseph Smith—History 1:3–4. “I Was Born”
Ask students why the information in Joseph Smith—History 1:3–4is important and helpful to know. Have students look at the maps at the end of the Doctrine and Covenants to find and mark the places where the Smith family lived. You may want to review with students some of the stories about Joseph Smith’s family and his early life under “Joseph Smith—History 1:3. What Was Joseph Smith’s Early Life Like?” and “Joseph Smith—History 1:4. Joseph Smith’s Family” in the student manual (pp. 54–55). Discuss ways that Joseph’s personality and character were influenced by his family and his circumstances. Ask students if they would have liked being in Joseph Smith’s family, and why.
Media Suggestion. “Joseph Smith—Prophet of the Restoration”
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Videopresentation 19, “Joseph Smith—Prophet of the Restoration” (21:30), can be used to introduce Joseph Smith to students taking the Pearl of Great Price course.
Joseph Smith—History 1:5–20. Overview
Before reading Joseph Smith—History 1:5–20, have students list the events that they can remember from the story of the First Vision, in the order the events occurred. Have students share their lists, and then quickly review Joseph Smith—History 1:5–20to see how well the students knew this important story. Invite students to tell about times they have told the story of the First Vision to people who are not members of the Church.
Joseph Smith—History 1:5–7. Different Religious Parties
Ask students who have lived with family members who belong to other religious faiths to tell what it is like. Give students a telephone book and have them look up and list the names of several churches in your area. Ask students what they would say if somebody asked them why there are so many different churches. Ask: How would you respond to those who say that all churches are about the same, or that all churches are true and can lead us to heaven? Have students review Joseph Smith—History 1:5–7and 1 Nephi 13:23–29and tell how the subject of Nephi’s prophecy contributed to the religious climate described by Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith—History 1:8–10. “Serious Reflection and Great Uneasiness”
Have students read Joseph Smith—History 1:8–10. Ask if any of them have ever had such experiences or feelings. Tell students that Joseph’s struggles are similar to the struggles many of us go through (see 1 Nephi 1:4–6; 2:16; Enos 1:2–4; Alma 22:15–18). Ask: What gospel principles did you learn from such experiences?