Lesson 7: Strengthening a Testimony of Joseph Smith

"Lesson 7: Strengthening a Testimony of Joseph Smith," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Objective

Class members will increase their testimonies that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prepare a copy of the handout “Helping a Friend Understand Joseph Smith’s First Vision” for each class member from the sample following the lesson.

  2. 2.

    Prepare to write the “Understanding John 1:18” chart on the chalkboard or prepare wordstrips of the sentences and scripture references.

  3. 3.

    See that each class member has a copy of the Bible. Check with the meetinghouse library for additional copies if needed.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Story

Read the following story:

John is a fourteen-year-old member of the Church. One day Paul, his nonmember friend, confided in him: “Some missionaries from your church are talking to my family. We think you have a good church and that it teaches good things, but my father and I can’t really believe the story about Joseph Smith having a vision and finding gold plates.”

We Can Answer Questions about Joseph Smith

Discussion and scriptures

Besides these, many other prophets have seen the Lord.

Discussion and scripture chain

  • What if Paul mentions John 1:18, which says no man has seen God? (John could explain that further scriptures and the Lord’s prophets can help us know the following: [Write the three sentences and scripture references on the chalkboard or post the prepared wordstrips.])

Chalkboard

Understanding John 1:18 (See also Joseph Smith Translation 1:19)

  1. 1.
  2. 2.
  3. 3.

(For other scriptures that tell of God speaking with his prophets and others, see Topical Guide, “Jesus Christ, Appearances, Antemortal” and “Jesus Christ, Appearances, Postmortal.”)

Scripture discussion

Have the class find the following scriptures and read them together: Genesis 12:7, Exodus 24:9–10, and Exodus 33:11. These and many other scriptures show that righteous men have seen God.

  • What conditions are necessary for such revelation to take place?

    1. 1.

      There must be a need. For example, during Joseph Smith’s time the gospel needed to be restored.

    2. 2.

      The person needs to be worthy.

    3. 3.

      The vision must come at the Lord’s choosing, not merely because the person wishes it.

  • Do you think you could now tell a friend in a very easy, simple way why Joseph Smith’s First Vision is another example in a long pattern of the Lord dealing with his prophets?

Handout

Give each class member a copy of the handout “Helping a Friend Understand Joseph Smith’s First Vision” (at end of lesson). Invite a class member to explain why Joseph Smith’s First Vision was not unusual.

Note to teacher: The stone box with the gold plates in it was not unusual or unique. Metal plates with important records on them were not unique in ancient times. Archaeologists in our own day are discovering that metal plates of all kinds were used for recording written documents. (See H. Curtis Wright, “Ancient Burials of Metal Documents in Stone Boxes,” Journal of Library History, Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, WR-1981.)

Helping Others Develop Their Own Testimonies

Discussion and scripture

  • What is the most important way we could help a friend like Paul know for himself that Joseph Smith told the truth? (Lead the class members into a discussion of the Holy Ghost.)

We could explain that in the Book of Mormon, in Moroni 10:4, the prophet Moroni tells us that if we honestly want to know the truth, we can ask God in the name of Christ. If we are sincere and have faith in Christ, we will learn the truth through the Holy Ghost.

Read Moroni 10:4–5 to the class.

We could also tell our friend about Joseph Smith’s testimony of the First Vision (see Joseph Smith—History 1:5–26). We could suggest that he read it with a prayerful attitude and then sincerely ask God. He can also feel the truth “by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4).

Testimony and Challenge

Bear testimony of your own conviction that Joseph Smith actually saw the Father and Jesus Christ. Challenge the class to gain this knowledge for themselves.