Some Important Principles, Doctrines, and Events
We are all weak and imperfect, so we all need to constantly strive to improve (see Joseph Smith—History 1:28–29; see also1 John 1:8–9; 2 Nephi 4:17–19; Alma 7:15–16; Helaman 12:1; Ether 12:27; D&C 62:1).
The prophet Moroni, the last writer in the Book of Mormon, appeared as a glorified, resurrected being to Joseph Smith. He told Joseph about a book buried in a hill near the Smith farm, written on gold plates and containing the fulness of the gospel (see Joseph Smith—History 1:30–35; see also Revelation 14:6; Mormon 8:1, 4, 12–14; Moroni 1:1–4; 10:34; D&C 20:6–10; 27:5; 128:20).
The coming forth of the Book of Mormon continued the latter-day work of the Restoration spoken of by numerous Old Testament, New Testament, and Book of Mormon prophets (see Joseph Smith—History 1:36–41, 45; see also Ezekiel 37:15–23; Acts 3:19–21; 3 Nephi 21:1–11, 28; Mormon 8:14–16; Ether 4:17).
The visitations of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith are an example of how the Lord instructs those He calls to serve Him. Regular, repeated, inspired instruction and interviews regarding how to fulfill our callings are an important part of conducting the affairs of the kingdom of God. For almost all of us instructions come through authorized servants rather than from divine manifestations, but it is the same as divine messengers speaking to us (see Joseph Smith—History 1:33–54; see also D&C 1:38; 33:16; 38:23; 88:78; 107:85–89).
Our only motive for Church service should be to build the kingdom of God; otherwise, the work we do will not prosper (see Joseph Smith—History 1:46; see also Proverbs 16:3; Moroni 7:6–7; D&C 4:2, 4–5; 88:67–68).
We should share our spiritual experiences with righteous parents, who can help and encourage us to do what is right (see Joseph Smith—History 1:49–50).
Suggestions for Teaching
Joseph Smith—History 1:27–29. Joseph Smith’s Teenage Years
Ask students what commanded their time and attention during their teenage years. Read Joseph Smith—History 1:27–29and discuss the habits Joseph Smith said he “fell into” during these years. How did Joseph Smith feel about these years? Read the following statement by Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“While Joseph sought perfection, he did not claim perfection. If he were intending to fabricate a great falsehood or wanted to perpetrate a fraud or practice deceit, would he have been so truthful about his own humanness? His complete candor in admitting human frailties and in declaring the loving discipline of God offers powerful proof of his honesty and probity [uprightness]. His statements stand on more solid footing because they were declarations against human nature and admissions against self-interest” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 107; or Ensign,Nov. 1981, 77).
Invite students to mark the phrase “no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins” (Joseph Smith—History 1:28). Point out what a great blessing it is to be able to describe one’s life in this way. Discuss why our younger years can be so challenging and how we can stay close to Heavenly Father during this time (see Alma 37:35–37; 53:20–21).
Joseph Smith—History 1:29. Joseph Asked for a Divine Manifestation
Compare what certain scribes and Pharisees asked of the Lord in Matthew 12:38–39to what Joseph Smith asked for in Joseph Smith—History 1:29. Have students use Doctrine and Covenants 63:8–12to explain why Joseph received his manifestation, while others, such as the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 12, did not. You may want to have students study other examples of people who asked for and received manifestations from the Lord (see Judges 6:11–24; 2 Kings 20:8–11; Mark 9:20–27; Helaman 11:1–5; Ether 3:6–16). Make sure students understand the importance of asking in faith and of accepting the will of the Lord when asking for any kind of inspiration or divine manifestation.
Joseph Smith—History 1:30–54. “God Had a Work for Me to Do”
Invite students to imagine that they have been assigned to teach someone to do a task that is difficult and complex, such as building a house or performing surgery. Invite several volunteers to tell what steps they would follow to accomplish this training responsibility. Tell students that the angel Moroni had such an assignment with young Joseph Smith. Have students search Joseph Smith—History 1:30–54and list what Moroni did to teach Joseph. (For example, Moroni called Joseph by name and introduced himself, see v. 33; he briefly explained what was to be done, see v. 34; he gave Joseph insights into the importance of his work, see vv. 36–41; he gave clear and specific instructions, see v. 42; he repeated his instructions to Joseph several times, adding new insights each time, see vv. 44–45; and so forth.)
Joseph Smith—History 1:33–35. Moroni and the Book of Mormon
Show students pictures of temples that have a statue of the angel Moroni on top, and invite them to tell what they know about Moroni’s mortal and postmortal life. You may want to review with students Mormon 8:1–7; Moroni 1:1–4; 9:20–22, 25–26; 10:1–2; Doctrine and Covenants 27:5; and Joseph Smith—History 1:33, discussing what we learn about Moroni from these verses. List and discuss what Moroni taught Joseph Smith regarding the Book of Mormon and its translation in Joseph Smith—History 1:34–35.
Joseph Smith—History 1:36–41. “The Fulness of the Gentiles Was Soon to Come In”
Review with students Joseph Smith—History 1:36–41. Divide the class into five groups and assign each group to study and report what one of the following scripture blocks from the Bible teaches: Isaiah 11:1–16; Joel 2:28–32; Malachi 3:1–6; 4:1–6; Acts 3:19–21. Have each group explain the main points of their assigned scripture block and how those verses apply to the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the latter-day work. Ask: What do all of these scriptures have in common? (Answers might include that they are all prophecies of the last days, soon to be fulfilled; they all predict the Restoration of the gospel; and they all speak of Christ.)
Joseph Smith—History 1:42, 46–54. “No Other Object in View”
Ask: How does Satan tempt people? Why do people sometimes give in to temptation? Read Joseph Smith—History 1:42, 46and share this quotation from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“When the young prophet first went to Cumorah, in 1823, the angel refused to give him the plates containing the Book of Mormon, saying it was not yet time (Joseph Smith—History 1:53). During the four years he had to wait before receiving the plates, young Joseph struggled with his motives. In 1832 he looked back on this period and wrote:
“‘I had been tempted of the advisary and saught the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the commandment that I should have an eye single to the glory of God therefore I was chastened and saught diligently to obtain the plates and obtained them not until I was twenty one years of age’ (D. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith,p. 7).
“In this revealing account we find the Lord seeing into the heart of the young prophet, chastening him for his improper motives in respect to the plates, giving him time to repent and mature, and eventually forgiving him and allowing him to go forward with the performance of his mission” (Pure in Heart, 16).
Discuss how our motives can help us resist Satan’s temptations. Invite students to read Joseph Smith—History 1:49–54and tell how they think Moroni helped Joseph examine and refine his motives for obtaining the gold plates (see also the
Joseph Smith—History 1:49–50. “Tell Him of the Vision”
Read Joseph Smith—History 1:49–50and tell students that the history written by Lucy Mack Smith (Joseph’s mother) states: “The messenger whom he had seen the night before came to him again and said, ‘Why did you not tell your father what I told you?’ Joseph said he was afraid his father would not believe him. ‘He will believe every word you say to him,’ said the angel” (The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother,ed. Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor , 108). Ask students why they think it was important for Joseph’s father to know about this experience. Invite students to tell how sharing experiences with their parents has helped them in their lives.
Joseph Smith—History 1:53. The Time Had Not Yet Arrived
Ask students to give examples of areas of their lives that require proper “timing.” (Answers might include dating, missions, marriage, and so forth.) Discuss why the timing of things is so important. What can go wrong when one’s timing is “off”? Read Joseph Smith—History 1:53and apply these principles of timing to Joseph’s circumstances. What blessings can we receive by doing things in the Lord’s proper time and way, rather than our own? (see Jacob 4:8–10; D&C 98:1–2; 112:10; 121:41–42). Share with students an experience from your life when you were blessed by following the Lord’s timing instead of your own.