Lesson 19 Teacher Material: Redemption of the Dead

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“Lesson 19 Teacher Material: Redemption of the Dead,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)

“Lesson 19 Teacher Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material

Lesson 19 Teacher Material

Redemption of the Dead

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that one of the greatest responsibilities God has given Latter-day Saints is to help redeem the dead (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 475). This lesson is designed to help students understand and share why the redemption of the dead is such a vital part of God’s plan and to increase their desire to participate more fully in family history and temple service.

Suggestions for Teaching

The Lord reveals the doctrine of redemption of the dead through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Display the accompanying image and explain that it portrays Alvin Smith carrying his younger brother, Joseph, after Joseph’s leg surgery. Invite students to recount from their class preparation what they know about Joseph’s feelings for his brother Alvin and what happened to Alvin.

Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration
  • What did a Presbyterian minister suggest to the Smith family at Alvin’s funeral?

  • How would you have felt hearing these words if you had been a member of Joseph’s family?

Remind students that the minister’s words reflected the belief, as taught in the New Testament, that baptism is essential for salvation (see John 3:5). Ask students to review Joseph Smith’s 1836 vision of the celestial kingdom as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 137:1, 5–8, looking for what Joseph Smith learned about his brother Alvin. Invite students to report what they found.

  • What truths about the plan of salvation does this revelation help restore or clarify? What thoughts and feelings do you think Joseph may have had as he learned these truths?

Explain that four and a half years after seeing the vision of Alvin in the celestial kingdom, Joseph taught the Saints in Nauvoo concerning how someone like Alvin who had not been baptized in this life could be saved in the kingdom of God. The Prophet introduced the doctrine of baptism for the dead during a funeral sermon on August 15, 1840 (see Church History Topics, “Baptism for the Dead,”

Invite students to read in pairs or small groups the excerpt from Vilate Kimball’s letter found in section 1 of the preparation material. Then display the following questions (also found in section 1 of the preparation material), and invite students to discuss them:

  • What do you think makes the redemption of the dead such “a glorious doctrine”?

  • What can this doctrine teach someone about the character and desires of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ?

Invite a student to read aloud the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 128:15. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why participating in the work to redeem the dead is so important for us.

  • According to this verse, why is it essential that we perform saving ordinances for the dead? (Students may identify a few truths, including the following: Without the saving ordinances of the gospel, our ancestors who die without the gospel cannot progress toward exaltation. The salvation of our deceased ancestors is essential to our own salvation.)

  • In what ways do you think the salvation of our ancestors is “necessary and essential” to our own salvation?

As part of your discussion, display the following statement by President Russell M. Nelson, and invite a student to read it aloud:

Russell M. Nelson

While temple and family history work has the power to bless those beyond the veil, it has an equal power to bless the living. It has a refining influence on those who are engaged in it. They are literally helping to exalt their families.

We are exalted when we can dwell together with our extended families in the presence of Almighty God. (Russell M. Nelson, “Generations Linked in Love,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 93–94; italics added).

Joseph F. Smith sees a vision of the redemption of the dead.

Explain that even after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord continued to reveal truths “line upon line” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12) about His plan to redeem the dead. In 1918 President Joseph F. Smith received a vision of the redemption of the dead.

  • What experiences of President Joseph F. Smith and events in the world made this vision so timely? (Encourage students to draw on what they learned from section 2 of the preparation material.)

Remind students that it was while President Smith pondered the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Apostle Peter regarding the Savior’s visit to the spirit world that he had his vision (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:1–11). Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 138:28–34, 57 silently, looking for what the Savior did during His brief visit in the spirit world and the impact it had.

  • How do the truths in this scripture passage help us better understand Heavenly Father’s plan for His children?

Point out the phrase “vicarious baptism” (verse 33). Explain that vicarious means to act as a substitute for someone else.

Invite a student to read aloud the statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson found in section 3 of the preparation material. Ask the class to look for what Elder Christofferson taught about the vicarious work of salvation we perform for our deceased family members in the temple.

  • How would you summarize a principle we can learn from Elder Christofferson’s teachings? (Students may identify a truth similar to the following: We testify of Jesus Christ and His Atonement as we participate in the work to help redeem our deceased family members.)

  • How is participating in the work to redeem our dead an expression of our testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement?

  • In what ways does participating in family history and temple service help us become more like the Savior?

The Lord’s prophets promise powerful blessings to those who help redeem the dead.

Write the following incomplete principle on the board: As I participate in family history and temple service …

Show the video “The Promised Blessings of Family History” (3:22). Invite students to listen for the blessings that await those who do family history and temple service. Consider writing the blessings students identify under the statement on the board.

  • Which promised blessing stands out most to you and why?

  • What are some of the ways you and your family have participated in family history and temple service? What blessings have you experienced for doing so?

You might invite students to think of someone they could ask to mentor them in doing family history. If some students are already skilled at doing family history, invite them to mentor someone else in the class. If time permits, you might also show students the family history website at and encourage them to explore this site for additional ideas on how to become more involved in family history.


Act on spiritual promptings. If gospel doctrine or a gospel principle is learned but not applied, learning is not complete. We apply gospel learning when we accept a truth in our hearts and then act according to that truth. Invite students to act on spiritual promptings they receive to apply the gospel truths they learn.

Share the following statement by President Russell M. Nelson:

Russell M. Nelson

I invite you prayerfully to consider what kind of sacrifice, and preferably a sacrifice of time, you can make to do more family history and temple work this year. (Russell M. Nelson, RootsTech Family Discovery Day—Opening Session 2017,

Conclude by inviting students to prayerfully ponder and then write down what specific sacrifices they will make or specific steps they will take to participate more fully in family history and temple service.

For Next Time

Display an image of a temple. Explain that since ancient times, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. Latter-day prophets have taught that the crowning blessings of the gospel are received in the Lord’s temples. Invite students to study the preparation material for the next lesson and come ready to discuss how the Lord blesses us through temple ordinances and temple worship.