“Unit 2: Day 2, Joseph Smith—History 1:21–26,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)
“Unit 2: Day 2,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide
After Joseph Smith received the First Vision in 1820, he shared his experience with a preacher who rejected his testimony. Others in the community also shunned and persecuted young Joseph. Men of great social standing went out of their way to publicly criticize him. In spite of this opposition, Joseph Smith remained true to his testimony.
President Gordon B. Hinckley shared an experience he had as a young missionary serving in London, England. As you read his account, ponder what you might do if you were in the position of this young man.
“[A young man came] to our apartment through the rain of the night. He knocked at the door, and I invited him in.
“He said, ‘I’ve got to talk with someone. I’m all alone. …’
“And I said, ‘What’s your problem?’
“And he said, ‘When I joined the Church a little less than a year ago, my father told me to get out of his home and never come back. And I’ve never been back.’
“He continued, ‘A few months later the cricket club of which I was a member read me off its list, barring me from membership with the boys with whom I had grown up and with whom I had been so close and friendly.’
“Then he said, ‘Last month my boss fired me because I was a member of this church, and I have been unable to get another job. …
“‘And last night the girl with whom I have gone for a year and a half said she would never marry me because I’m a Mormon’” (“The Loneliness of Leadership” [Nov. 4, 1969], 3, speeches.byu.edu).
Have you ever felt that you were poorly treated or criticized because of your religious beliefs? What were your feelings at the time?
Although Joseph Smith was greatly blessed because he remained true to his testimony of the First Vision, he was also severely tested. As you study today, consider what you might learn from the way Joseph Smith responded to opposition to his testimony that can help you with the opposition you may face now or someday in the future.
In Joseph Smith—History, the Prophet described some of the opposition he faced because of his testimony. Read Joseph Smith—History 1:21–23, looking for words and phrases that help you understand what he experienced. According to verse 22, who was primarily involved in persecuting Joseph Smith? As you consider Joseph Smith’s age and circumstances in life, why do you think persecution from these people may have been especially difficult for him?
Notice the phrase near the end of Joseph Smith—History 1:20 that begins with the words “It seems as though. …” Beginning with these words, read the remainder of the verse, looking for why Joseph Smith experienced this persecution. According to Joseph, why did he experience great persecution at such a young age?
Consider the many different accounts of faith and testimony in the scriptures. Is there another person in the scriptures whose character or strength of testimony you greatly admire?
- Read Joseph Smith—History 1:24, and identify a person in the scriptures whom Joseph Smith admired and identified with because of the persecutions he faced. In your scripture study journal, answer the following questions:
How do you think it may have been helpful for Joseph Smith to see things he had in common with the Apostle Paul?
What lesson can we learn about how to deal with difficult challenges from Joseph Smith’s example of studying and pondering Paul’s experiences?
One lesson we can learn is that during difficult times we can draw strength from the examples of faithful individuals in the scriptures. (You may want to write this principle in the margins of your scriptures by Joseph Smith—History 1:24.)
- In your scripture study journal, write about a time when you have been strengthened by studying the experience of a faithful individual in the scriptures.
In your study of the Doctrine and Covenants this year, you will encounter many individuals with whom you can identify and whose examples you can draw upon for the strength you need.
Ponder this phrase from the Prophet’s testimony in Joseph Smith—History 1:25: “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.”
- In your scripture study journal, answer one or both of the following questions:
What does the phrase in Joseph Smith—History 1:25 teach you about Joseph Smith’s testimony of the First Vision?
How can you strengthen your witness of the First Vision?
- Review Joseph Smith—History 1:24, and then study verse 25, looking for additional doctrines and principles that can help you when you face opposition or feel tempted to waver in your testimony. Write these additional truths you discover in your scripture study journal.
- Select one of the truths you identified from Joseph Smith—History 1:24–25. In your scripture study journal, answer the following questions based on the truth you selected.
How did the Prophet Joseph Smith illustrate this truth in his life?
How might this truth be helpful to you?
How would living this truth affect your choices, or how has living this truth already affected your life?
Some additional doctrines and principles you might have identified in Joseph Smith—History 1:24–25 are: The knowledge we receive from God is true even if the world rejects it. We should be more concerned about what God thinks of us than what men think. Even if we are hated and persecuted for our testimonies, we must remain true to them.
Think back to the story President Hinckley told about the young man in London, England, who faced great opposition because of his religious beliefs. President Hinckley continued his account:
“I said, ‘If this has cost you so much, why don’t you leave the Church and go back to your father’s home and to your cricket club and to the job that meant so much to you and to the girl you think you love?’
“He said nothing for what seemed to be a long time. Then, putting his head down in his hands, he sobbed and sobbed. Finally, he looked up through his tears and said, ‘I couldn’t do that. I know this is true, and if it were to cost me my life, I could never give it up.’
“He picked up his wet cap and walked to the door and out into the rain, alone and trembling and fearful, but resolute. As I watched him, I thought of the loneliness of conscience, the loneliness of testimony, the loneliness of faith, and the strength and comfort of the Spirit of God” (“The Loneliness of Leadership,” 3–4).
Choose one of the truths you listed, and set a goal to apply that truth in your life. (You may want to write this goal in your scripture study journal.)
To conclude, read Joseph Smith—History 1:26, and look for the following principle Joseph Smith demonstrated: By acting on principles taught in the scriptures, we can gain a testimony of their truth. As you act on the doctrine or principle you have written about, your testimony will be strengthened and you will be able to prevail against the opposition or challenges you may face.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Joseph Smith—History 1:21–26 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: