“July 5–11. Doctrine and Covenants 76: ‘Great Shall Be Their Reward and Eternal Shall Be Their Glory,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020)
“July 5–11. Doctrine and Covenants 76,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2021
Record Your Impressions
“What will happen to me after I die?” Nearly every religion in the world addresses this question in some form or another. For centuries, many Christian traditions, relying on Biblical teachings, have taught of heaven and hell, of paradise for the righteous and torment for the wicked. But can the entire human family really be divided so strictly into good and bad? And what does the word heaven actually mean? In February 1832, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon wondered if there wasn’t more to know on the subject (see Doctrine and Covenants 76, section heading).
There certainly was. While pondering these things, the Lord “touched the eyes of [their] understandings and they were opened” (verse 19). Joseph and Sidney received a revelation so stunning, so expansive, so illuminating, that the Saints simply called it “the Vision.” It threw open heaven’s windows and gave God’s children a mind-stretching view of eternity. The vision revealed that heaven is grander and broader and more inclusive than most people had previously supposed. God is more merciful and just than we can comprehend. And God’s children have an eternal destiny more glorious than we can imagine.
When Wilford Woodruff read the vision described in section 76, he said, “I felt to love the Lord more than ever before in my life” (see “Voices of the Restoration” at the end of this outline). Maybe you had similar feelings as you read this revelation. After all, none of the glorious blessings described in section 76 would be possible without the Savior. Perhaps you could identify each verse in section 76 that mentions the Lord Jesus Christ. What do these verses teach you about Him and His role in God’s plan? How do they influence the way you feel about Him? As you read and ponder, you may receive impressions about how you can “[receive] the testimony of Jesus” and be more “valiant” in it (verses 51, 79).
Some people, including some early Church members, objected to the vision in section 76 because it taught that almost everyone would be saved and receive some degree of glory. Their objections may have come, in part, from a misunderstanding about God and His relationship to us. As you read this revelation, what do you learn about God’s character and His plan for His children?
Have you ever wondered—or worried—about whether or not you will qualify for the celestial kingdom? When you read the description of those who receive this glory (see verses 50–70, 92–95), rather than looking only for a list of things you must do, look for what God has done—and is doing—to help you become like Him. Does reading the vision in this way affect how you feel about your personal efforts?
You might also think about the great blessing it is to know these details about the celestial kingdom. How does this vision of celestial glory affect the way you view and want to live your daily life?
- Doctrine and Covenants 76:22–24, 50–52, 78–79, 81–82.
What do we learn from these verses about the importance of our testimonies? What role do our testimonies play in our eternal destiny? It might help to look up definitions of valiant to discuss how to be “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (verse 79). You could also sing “I Will Be Valiant” (Children’s Songbook, 162).
- Doctrine and Covenants 76:24.
Your family might notice connections between the truths in section 76 and those taught in “I Am a Child of God” (Children’s Songbook, 2–3); one of these truths is found in Doctrine and Covenants 76:24. How might the world be different if everyone understood that we are all children of God? How does this truth affect the way we treat others? Perhaps looking at pictures of the diverse sons and daughters of God on this earth could help your family ponder this question. (See also “Video Presentation: I Am a Child of God,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org.)
- Doctrine and Covenants 76:40–41.
- Doctrine and Covenants 76:50–70.
How will you help your family look forward to and prepare for eternal life in the celestial kingdom? You could work together to find pictures, scriptures, and prophetic teachings to go with phrases in Doctrine and Covenants 76:50–70. You might find these things in Church magazines, on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, or in the footnotes of the scriptures. Then you could gather these pictures, scriptures, and teachings on a poster that could remind your family of your eternal goals.
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” Hymns, no. 136.
Wilford Woodruff joined the Church in December 1833, nearly two years after Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received the vision recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76. He was living in New York at the time and learned about “the Vision” from missionaries serving in the area. Years later he spoke of his impressions of this revelation:
“I was taught from my childhood that there was one Heaven and one Hell, and was told that the wicked all had one punishment and the righteous one glory. …
“… When I read the vision … , it enlightened my mind and gave me great joy, it appeared to me that the God who revealed that principle unto man was wise, just and true, possessed both the best of attributes and good sense and knowledge, I felt He was consistent with both love, mercy, justice and judgment, and I felt to love the Lord more than ever before in my life.”1
“The ‘Vision’ [is] a revelation which gives more light, more truth and more principle than any revelation contained in any other book we ever read. It makes plain to our understanding our present condition, where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going to. Any man may know through that revelation what his part and condition will be.”2
“Before I saw Joseph I said I did not care how old he was, or how young he was; I did not care how he looked—whether his hair was long or short; the man that advanced that revelation was a prophet of God. I knew it for myself.”3
When Phebe Peck heard Joseph and Sidney teach of “the Vision,” she was living in Missouri and raising five children as a single mother. The vision so impressed and inspired her that she wrote the following to share what she had learned with her extended family:
“The Lord is revealing the mysteries of the heavenly Kingdom unto his Children. … Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon made us a visit last spring, and we had many joyful meetings while they were here, and we had many mysteries unfolded to our view, which gave me great consolation. We could view the condescension of God in preparing mansions of peace for his children. And whoso will not receive the fullness of the gospel and stand as valiant soldiers in the cause of Christ cannot dwell in the presence of the Father and the Son. But there is a place prepared for all who do not receive, but it is a place of much lesser glory than to dwell in the Celestial kingdom. I shall not attempt to say any farther concerning these things as they are now in print and are going forth to the world. And you perhaps will have an opportunity of reading for yourself, and if you do, I hope you will read with a careful and a prayerful heart, for these things are worthy of notice. And I desire that you may search into them, for it is that which lends to our happiness in this world and in the world to come.”4