The Articles of Faith were written in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith in response to a request from John Wentworth, a Chicago newspaper editor who wanted information concerning the history and beliefs of the Church. They were first published by the Church in 1843 in the Times and Seasons in Nauvoo, Illinois, and were included in the first publication of the Pearl of Great Price in 1851.
The Articles of Faith were written under inspiration from God and are evidence of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. They contain direct and simple statements of a number of doctrines and principles of our religion, expressing some of the differences between our beliefs and the beliefs of others.
Ask students to write a short statement that represents the beliefs of their family, country, school, or other organization. Tell students that their statements must be positive, direct, simple, and so full of wisdom that future generations of people will want to study and memorize them. Give students four or five minutes to write their statements. Ask: How did you decide what to write? What came to your minds first? How many times did you change or rewrite your statement? How difficult was this assignment? Next, have students read all of the Articles of Faith, and then tell what impresses them about these statements of belief. Ask students to explain why the Articles of Faith are strong evidence of the divine inspiration received by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Ask students to give examples of questions that those who are not members of the Church ask about our Church or our beliefs. Tell students that the Prophet Joseph Smith was often asked to explain the teachings and practices of the Church. Review the material under “What Are the Articles of Faith?” and “How Did the Articles of Faith Become Part of the Scriptures?” in the student manual (pp. 66, 69). Which Articles of Faith (if any) relate to the examples students gave of questions that others ask about our Church and beliefs? Discuss what students can do to help people learn what we actually believe. You may want to read together the Wentworth Letter from the student manual (pp. 66–69).
Invite students to repeat from memory any of the Articles of Faith they have learned. Encourage students to review the Articles of Faith until they can repeat all of them word for word. Have students find other scriptures that could be related to the Articles of Faith (for example, D&C 130:22; Moses 1:1–6; 2:26–27; and Abraham 4:26–27 could be used as cross-references for Articles of Faith 1:1).
There are three members of the Godhead. God, our Eternal Father, and His Son Jesus Christ have distinct, glorified bodies of flesh and bones, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. The Holy Ghost reveals truth, testifies of the Father and the Son, and performs many other roles that bless the followers of God. The three members of the Godhead are one in purpose, working together in perfect harmony for our eternal salvation (see Articles of Faith 1:1, 3–4; see also Matthew 3:17; John 14:26; 17:21; 1 John 5:7; 3 Nephi 28:11; Ether 12:41; Moroni 10:5; D&C 35:2; 130:1, 22; Joseph Smith—History 1:17).
Each person on earth is a spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents. As their children we have inherited the potential to become like them (see Articles of Faith 1:1; see also Genesis 1:27; Acts 17:28–29; Romans 8:15–17; D&C 132:20; Moses 1:39).
Agency is the freedom of independent choice to act, given to us by God. We are accountable to Him for the use of our agency (see Articles of Faith 1:2; see also Ezekiel 18:4; 2 Nephi 2:27; Helaman 14:30; D&C 58:27–29; Moses 6:56; Abraham 3:24–26).
Adam and Eve brought about the Fall by using their agency, and although all are born innocent before God, the effects of the Fall, including sin and death, have come upon all mankind. The Atonement of Jesus Christ overcomes the effects of the Fall (see Articles of Faith 1:2–3; see also 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Nephi 2:15–21; Alma 12:22–34; Mormon 9:12; D&C 93:38; Moses 6:54).
All are invited to come unto Christ by obeying the laws and ordinances of His gospel, thus being saved by His mercy and grace. Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by water, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands are the fundamental principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Articles of Faith 1:3–4; see also Acts 2:37–39; 2 Nephi 25:23; 26:33; 31:13–21; D&C 20:25–31; Moses 6:52; Abraham 3:25–27).
Tell students that many religions of the world teach that God is a spirit or that there is only one God. Have students read Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s statement under “Articles of Faith 1:1. Three Separate and Distinct Beings” in the student manual (pp. 69–70). Invite students to tell what they would say to explain our beliefs regarding the Godhead. What questions might they anticipate? What scriptures would they use to support their explanation?
Show a picture of Jesus Christ and ask students to list all the scriptural names or titles for Jesus that they can think of in two or three minutes (you may want to write them on the board). Ask students to explain what some of the names and titles mean and what they teach us about Jesus Christ.
Ask students to describe their feelings when they have been accused of or punished for things they did not do. How did it feel when their explanations were not accepted? Read 2 Nephi 2:17–20 and ask students to explain why they think a person should not be punished for Adam’s transgression. Read and discuss the statement by Elder James E. Faust under “Articles of Faith 1:2. Adam and Eve’s Transgression” in the student manual (pp. 70–71). Read 2 Nephi 2:22–25 and invite students to find and share other scriptures that teach that we will be justly punished for our own unrepented sins (see Alma 42:10–28).
Read the third article of faith and invite students to silently read and ponder one or more of the following scripture blocks: 1 Nephi 19:8–12; 2 Nephi 9:19–23; Mosiah 3:5–19; 14:3–12; 15:5–12; Alma 7:10–14. Ask students what they do to help themselves remember Jesus’ Atonement. Read Doctrine and Covenants 6:36–37 and have students explain how a knowledge and testimony of the Atonement removes doubt and fear.
Review the laws (or principles) and ordinances of the gospel that are found in the third and fourth articles of faith. Then have students list additional requirements for salvation, as found in the material under “Articles of Faith 1:3. Obedience to God” and “Articles of Faith 1:3. The Laws and Ordinances of the Gospel” in the student manual (p. 71). Discuss some of the obstacles we face and the assistance we can receive as we strive to obey God.
Read the fourth article of faith. Divide the class into four groups and assign each group to study one of the following principles or ordinances, using the scriptures given:
Have each group read the statements for their assigned principle or ordinance under “Articles of Faith 1:4. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”; “Articles of Faith 1:4. Repentance”; “Articles of Faith 1:4. Baptism by Immersion for the Remission of Sins”; and “Articles of Faith 1:4. The Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost” in the student manual (pp. 71–72). Ask each group to report what they learned. Read 3 Nephi 27:19–21.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not break off from another church. It is a restored church, established by Jesus Christ through His prophets in the last days (see Articles of Faith 1:5–7, 9–10; see also Daniel 2:44–45; Ephesians 1:10; 1 Nephi 13:34; 3 Nephi 16:7; D&C 1:17–30; Joseph Smith—History 1:18–19).
The restored Church of Jesus Christ is patterned after the Church established during Jesus’ mortal ministry and the ministry of His Apostles, with priesthood quorums, gifts of the Spirit, sacred scripture, and continuing revelation from God (see Articles of Faith 1:5–9; see also Matthew 16:15–19; 1 Corinthians 12:3–11; Ephesians 2:19–20; 4:11–13; 2 Timothy 3:16; James 1:5).
The Lord’s plan for His children on this earth will culminate in four great events: (1) the Second Coming of Christ, (2) a thousand-year period of peace on earth called the Millennium, (3) the Judgment of all mankind, and (4) the earth becoming the celestial kingdom of God (see Articles of Faith 1:10; see also Isaiah 11:1–9; 49:22; Ether 13:6; D&C 77:1; 88:17–26; 130:9).
Freedom of religion is essential to God’s purposes. We should be tolerant and respectful of others’ beliefs (see Articles of Faith 1:11; see also Matthew 5:9; James 3:18; Mosiah 4:13; 3 Nephi 11:29; D&C 42:27).
We should be good citizens wherever we live. If possible, we should also take an active part in the political process of our country (see Articles of Faith 1:12; see also Matthew 22:21; 1 Timothy 2:1–3; Mosiah 29:25, 37–39; Alma 46:9–13, 19–20; D&C 58:21–22; 98:8–10; 134:1, 5–6).
True followers of Jesus Christ strive to do in every situation what they think the Lord would have them do, embracing honesty, truth, chastity, benevolence, virtue, charity, and hope. Truth and goodness can also be found outside the Church of Jesus Christ and its members (see Articles of Faith 1:13; see also Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 7:20; Mark 9:38–41; Acts 10:35; 1 Corinthians 13:4–7; Philippians 4:8; James 1:27; Mosiah 4:15–16; Alma 53:20; Moroni 7:12–13, 40–47; D&C 46:33; 88:118, 123–25; 121:45), but the fulness of the gospel is found only in the restored Church.
Ask students to describe some of the rules and regulations of non-Church organizations, clubs, teams, or groups they belong to. Ask them to also explain how the leaders of these organizations are chosen and installed. How do these principles and procedures differ from those we follow in the Church? You may want to have students study and discuss some of the Church’s principles and procedures, using the fifth article of faith and some or all of the following scriptures: Numbers 27:15–23; John 15:16; Hebrews 5:4; 3 Nephi 12:12; Moroni 3:1–4; Doctrine and Covenants 2:1–3; 11:15; 13:1; 26:2; 42:11; 84:6–44; 110:1–16; 121:34–46. Invite students to share experiences that show the Lord’s involvement in their Church callings.
Assign students to search for references in the Bible that mention any of the five Church titles or positions mentioned in the sixth article of faith (students could use the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide; tell students that pastor is another word for bishop and that evangelist is another word for patriarch ). Ask: How is all this evidence of the true Church? How would you explain why there are other offices and positions in the Church today that are not mentioned in the Bible? (see Articles of Faith 1:9).
Have students use the seventh article of faith and the following scriptures to make a list of some of the gifts of the Spirit: Joel 2:28; Mark 16:17–18; Acts 2:4–8; 1 Nephi 10:19; 2 Nephi 31:13; Alma 9:21; Moroni 7:44; Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–13; 46:13–25. Invite students to tell how these gifts can help the Church, and to recount times they have seen these gifts in operation.
Read the eighth article of faith and tell students that the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 9–10; see also 1 Nephi 13:21–29).
Have students read President Gordon B. Hinckley’s testimony of the Book of Mormon under “Articles of Faith 1:8. The Book of Mormon” in the student manual (p. 76). Ask students to find and share scriptures that show some of the beauty, depth, and power of the Book of Mormon (for example, 2 Nephi 4:16–35; Mosiah 4:16–27; Moroni 7:27–38). Ask students to explain why we need both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Show students something that is alive (such as a plant) and something that is inanimate (such as a rock). Ask students which is alive, and how they can tell if something is living. Read Doctrine and Covenants 1:30 and ask how we can tell if the Church is true and “living.” Read the material under “Articles of Faith 1:9. Continuing Revelation” in the student manual (p. 76). Read the ninth article of faith and ask students to give examples of the “many great and important things” the Lord has revealed in our day. Ask students how the truths outlined in the fifth and ninth articles of faith make The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints different from all other churches.
Tell students that the people of Israel have been scattered to many parts of the world. Approximately seven hundred years before Christ, ten of the tribes of Israel were taken captive by the Assyrians and became known as the “lost ten tribes.” Choose several students and assign each to study one of the following scripture blocks: Isaiah 11:4–12; 65:17–25; Nahum 1:5; Revelation 11:15; 1 Nephi 19:15–17; 2 Nephi 29:12–14; 3 Nephi 17:4; 21:26–29; Ether 13:2–4, 8–10; Doctrine and Covenants 29:7–11; 43:28–30; 45:64–71; 110:11; 133:21–41; Moses 7:62. Have the students report what these scriptures teach about the events mentioned in the tenth article of faith. If necessary, review the material under “Articles of Faith 1:10. The Gathering of Israel” and “Articles of Faith 1:10. The Restoration of the Ten Tribes” in the student manual (p. 77). Read Jacob 5:71–75 and discuss what students have done and will likely do to help in the gathering of Israel and the other events mentioned in the tenth article of faith.
Show students a map of the world and ask them to locate the two cities known in scripture as “Zion” (Independence, Missouri; and Jerusalem). Carefully review and discuss the material under “Articles of Faith 1:10. ‘Zion … Will Be Built upon the American Continent’” in the student manual (p. 77). Read the following statement by President Brigham Young:
“There is not one thing wanting in all the works of God’s hands to make a Zion upon the earth when the people conclude to make it. We can make a Zion of God on earth at our pleasure, upon the same principle that we can raise a field of wheat. …
“When we conclude to make a Zion we will make it, and this work commences in the heart of each person” (in Journal of Discourses, 9:283).
Have students read what happened to Aaron and his missionary companions in Alma 21:12–14. Ask students what “crime” they think these missionaries were imprisoned for. According to verses 21–22, what political changes did King Lamoni make? (see also Alma 23:1–4). Why was political change necessary in order for the missionaries to find success? What happened to the people and the nation because of these changes? (see Alma 21:23; 23:5–7, 18). Read the eleventh article of faith and ask students if they would like living in a land where the rulers of government were all members of Christ’s true Church, and why they would like it. Ask students what blessings have come, or could come, because of religious freedom.
Read the twelfth article of faith and have students make a list of all the people or organizations in their government that they are “subject” to. Discuss why they should be subject to each of them, and how they can be tolerant and respectful of them.
Have students compare the thirteenth article of faith to 1 Corinthians 13:7 and Philippians 4:8. Ask: What would a person’s life be like who has adopted the thirteenth article of faith as his or her personal code of conduct? Use some of the following ideas as you study the various parts of the thirteenth article of faith:
Have students read and discuss the material under “Articles of Faith 1:13. Being Chaste” in the student manual (p. 80). What blessings can students think of that come from being chaste (sexually pure)?
Have students read the material under “Articles of Faith 1:13. Being Benevolent” and “Articles of Faith 1:13. Doing Good to All Men” in the student manual (pp. 80–81). Invite them to share experiences they have had in “doing good” to others, or when others have shown good works or service toward them. Ask: How have these experiences affected your life?
Compare the thoughts students have when they are discouraged to the thoughts they have when they are encouraged and happy. Read and discuss the material under “Articles of Faith 1:13. Paul’s Admonition to Believe, Hope, and Endure” in the student manual (p. 81).
Have students read the last sentence of the thirteenth article of faith, and ask them to think of things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” Discuss how we can fill our lives with such things. Ask: How do the Church and the gospel help us achieve this goal? How do other Church members also help? How do people and organizations outside the Church help?
Testify of the truth and value of the principles, doctrines, and events you have studied together in the Pearl of Great Price. Invite students to tell some of the things they have learned that have been most meaningful to them and have helped them understand why this book of scripture is a rare and precious pearl of great price. Invite students to share their testimonies.