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LDS Gospel Doctrine D&C Lesson 3

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This lesson covers the written testimony of Joseph Smith regarding the First Vision received in Palmyra, NY and covered in Joseph Smith-History Chapter 1. We'll talk about why a causal testimony of this prophetic witness is not enough. We need to follow Joseph Smith's example of relying on personal study and revelation to help us solidify our own testimony of the Restoration.

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LDS Gospel Doctrine D&C Lesson 3

  1. 1. I HAD SEEN A VISION Gospel Doctrine Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 3 JSH 1:1-26, Our Heritage p1-4
  2. 2. LDS Media Library: The First Vision by President Gordon B. Hinckley https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-07-005-the-first-vision?lang=eng
  3. 3. JEFFREY R. HOLLAND ON THE ROLE OF JOSEPH SMITH "To hear someone so remarkable say something so tremendously bold, so overwhelming in its implications, that everything in the Church—everything—rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith's account of how it came forth, can be a little breathtaking. It sounds like a "sudden death" proposition to me. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is or this Church and its founder are false, fraudulent, a deception from the first instance onward. "Not everything in life is so black and white, but it seems the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and its keystone role in our belief is exactly that. Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, who, after seeing the Father and the Son, later beheld the angel Moroni, repeatedly heard counsel from his lips, eventually receiving at his hands a set of ancient gold plates which he then translated according to the gift and power of God—or else he did not. And if he did not, in the spirit of President Benson's comment, he is not entitled to retain even the reputation of New England folk hero or well-meaning young man or writer of remarkable fiction. No, and he is not entitled to be considered a great teacher or a quintessential American prophet or the creator of great wisdom literature. If he lied about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he is certainly none of those.”
  4. 4. IF HIS ROLE IS SO CENTRAL, WHY DO SO MANY STRUGGLE? ➤ Purpose of this lesson: JSH 1:1 ➤ To strengthen testimonies of the First Vision ➤ To strengthen testimonies of Joseph Smith’s calling as the prophet through whom God restored the fulness of the gospel to the earth. ➤ ATOT: Showing family videos on the Apple TV after a fight. ➤ I will not be teaching anything new. ➤ I will trying to bring things to your remembrance so the Holy Ghost can testify to you. ➤ We will focus on JSH 1:1-26
  5. 5. BEFORE THE FIRST VISION RECAP ➤ How did they get to Palmyra, NY? ➤ Crops had failed for three years in Vermont. In their first 20 years the Smith family moved 9 times. ➤ What was the religious atmosphere? ➤ JSH 1:6, can we relate to that in our day? ➤ Why was he confused about which church to join? ➤ JSH 1:8, how did he stay above the frenzy? He turned inward and was determined to come to a ‘certain conclusion’ before moving forward. ➤ How can that apply to us? ➤ The various churches were using ‘reason & sophistry’ to trick each other ➤ JSH 1:10, What is his question? Actually there are two. ➤ Which is right…and…how will I know. ➤ Why does he need confirmation on both of those areas? ➤ When we pray for answers we need to seek answers and understanding. ➤ ATOT: Praying for ways to teach Jack, and understanding on how to apply it
  6. 6. HOW DID SCRIPTURE STUDY HELP JOSEPH RESOLVE HIS CONFUSION? ➤ JSH 1:11-14, Joseph’s scriptural pattern ➤ Read & labor (he fit scripture study into his day) ➤ He reflects on possible inspiration (he’s not certain at first) ➤ He applies the scripture to himself ➤ He’s determined to find an answer ➤ He puts the scripture to the test ➤ Think of your biggest struggles right now. What wisdom are you lacking? ➤ ATOT: Praying for direction on how to focus my time…with my work and my family ➤ How many of these steps have you utilized? ➤ Do you believe he can give ‘liberally’ (generous, not precise) ➤ Do you believe he will not upbraid (find fault with, scorn)? ➤ Do you have the faith to find (and follow) your answer?
  7. 7. THE FIRST VISION USHERED IN THE RESTORATION OF THE GOSPEL ➤ JSH 1:15 ➤ Satan must have been desperate to come so directly. ➤ Normally he pretends he’s not real (2N 28:22) ➤ JSH 1:16 (see Orson Pratt’s account, next slide) ➤ Why does it take so long to be delivered? (4th watch) ➤ Why is it critical to pray through struggle until answers come? ➤ Where does Satan want us to turn? ➤ JSH 1:17 ➤ Heavenly Father calls him by name first. What does that teach us about him? ➤ Joseph in Hebrew means ‘He who gathers for God’ ➤ Of all of Christ’s titles, God calls him his ‘beloved Son’. Why?
  8. 8. “ While thus pouring out his soul, anxiously desiring an answer from God, he at length saw a very bright and glorious light in the heavens above; which, at first, seemed to be a considerable distance. He continued praying, while the light appeared to be gradually descending towards him; and as it drew nearer, it increased in brightness and magnitude, so that, by the time that it reached the tops of the trees, the whole wilderness, for some distance around was illuminated in a most glorious and brilliant manner. He expected to have seen the leaves and boughs of the trees consumed, as soon as the light came in contact with them; but perceiving that it did not produce that effect, he was encouraged with the hope of being able to endure its presence. It continued descending slowly, until it rested upon the earth, and he was enveloped in the midst of it. When it first came upon him, it produced a peculiar sensation throughout his whole system; and immediately his mind was caught away, from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision" -The First Vision account published in 1840 by Orson Pratt
  9. 9. MANY TRUTHS WERE REVEALED IN THE FIRST VISION ➤ Gordon B. Hinckley ➤ “I submit that in the few minutes that Joseph Smith was with the Father and the Son, he learned more of the nature of God the Eternal Father and the risen Lord than all the learned minds in all their discussions through all centuries of time” (Church News, 24 Oct. 1998, 6). ➤ What are some of the truths we learn from the first vision? ➤ God the Father and Jesus Christ live. ➤ The Father and the Son are real, separate beings with glorified bodies of flesh and bones. ➤ We are created in the image of God. ➤ Satan and his power are real, but God’s power is infinitely greater. ➤ God hears and answers prayers and cares for us. ➤ Jesus was the conveyer of revelation as taught in the Bible. ➤ None of the churches on earth had the fulness of Christ’s gospel. ➤ Revelation has not ceased. ➤ That there was a falling away from the Church established by Jesus Christ—Joseph was told not to join any of the sects, for they taught the doctrines of men. ➤ God uses imperfect saints to accomplish great things.
  10. 10. RESULTS OF THE FIRST VISION ➤ JSH 1:20 ➤ How did his family respond? ➤ How did the community respond? ➤ JSH 1:21 ➤ How did Joseph feel? ➤ JSH 1:23 ➤ How did his struggle and torment change him? ➤ JSH 1:24-25 ➤ We often brush past this, thinking that he didn’t have a choice but to be valiant ➤ What things do you know you should do/change/improve? ➤ Where does that Spirit come from? D&C 11:12 ➤ If you know it comes from God, and He knows…what stops you from being valiant? ➤ Those same forces were at work, in earnest, with Joseph Smith yet he stayed faithful.
  11. 11. WHAT DO WE BELIEVE? ➤ We cannot have a casual testimony of Joseph Smith. ➤ Moroni warned that both good and evil would be spoken of him (sometimes it’s hard to know the difference) ➤ The New York Sun (1843) “That Joe Smith, the founder of the Mormons, is a man of great talent, a deep thinker, an eloquent speaker, an able writer, and a man of great mental power, no one can doubt who has watched his career. That his followers are deceived, we all believe …” ➤ C.S. Lewis on the Divinity of Christ (quoted by Jeffrey R. Holland) "'I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: [that is,] I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to’ (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1952, pp. 40–41).
  12. 12. CONCLUSION ➤ Jeffrey R. Holland “I am suggesting that we make exactly that same kind of do or die, bold assertion about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. We have to. Reason and rightness require it. Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and the book as the miraculously revealed and revered word of the Lord it is or else consign both man and book to Hades for the devastating deception of it all, but let's not have any bizarre middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy's imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literarily, historically, or theologically.” (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 345–46)

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