“Lesson 7: Teaching the Message of the Restoration (Part 1)” Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 7,” Missionary Preparation
The gospel of Jesus Christ has been taught by prophets in all dispensations, allowing God’s children to understand eternal truths and obtain eternal life. After Jesus Christ’s death, gospel truth and priesthood authority were lost from the earth, resulting in the Great Apostasy. The latter-day Restoration overcame the effects of the Apostasy and established Christ’s Church on earth once again. Prospective missionaries should clearly understand the concepts of the Apostasy and the Restoration and should be prepared to explain them simply and testify of them with power.
Begin class by having students consider the following case study:
Tonight before going to bed, you receive a message from a friend who is discouraged and wonders whether God is real and if He cares about us. Your friend asks, “Do you believe God is real? What do you believe God is like?”
Invite a few students to share how they might respond to their friend. Then, tell your class that today’s lesson focuses on some of the doctrines and principles found in the first missionary lesson, including the nature of our Heavenly Father.
Have a student read aloud the section titled “God Is Our Loving Heavenly Father” on pages 31–32 of Preach My Gospel. Invite students to underline or highlight phrases that they might use to help someone better understand God’s nature as our loving Heavenly Father.
Give students a few minutes to search three or four of the scripture passages listed in the Scripture Study box on page 32 of Preach My Gospel. Have them think about how the passages might help answer questions from someone who has questions about God, as in the case study at the beginning of the lesson. You might encourage students to highlight one or more passages in their scriptures or to write them in the margin of their copy of Preach My Gospel. Then ask:
What might be a short summary statement of the most significant doctrines you read about in Preach My Gospel and in the scripture passages? (Responses might include the doctrine that God is our loving Heavenly Father and He desires that we all return to live with Him.)
Why might it be important for individuals to first understand this principle before learning about other doctrines?
Have students silently read the section titled “The Gospel Blesses Families” on page 32 of Preach My Gospel and formulate a summary statement of the role of the home and family in God’s plan of happiness. After they have had time to read, invite students to share their summary statements. (Statements may include the doctrine that families are ordained of God and are part of God’s plan to bring happiness to His children. Write this bolded principle on the board.)
As you evaluate the needs of your students and time available, consider presenting the following activity: Focus your students’ attention on the last line that they read in Preach My Gospel: “Through prophets in every age, including our own, God has revealed His plan of happiness for individuals and families.”
To help students better understand why this truth is so important in today’s world, display a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” or distribute copies to the class. Then invite students to take a few minutes to read the proclamation and identify phrases or principles that help us better understand the role of marriage and family in Heavenly Father’s plan. Have a student record these items on the board.
Display the following quote from President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The ultimate purpose of the adversary, who has ‘great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time’ (Revelation 12:12), is to disrupt, disturb, and destroy the home and the family” (“The Father and the Family,” Ensign, May 1994, 19).
Why would the adversary’s “ultimate purpose” be to destroy the home and the family? (It is “the best place to teach, learn, and apply principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”)
What are some worldly trends that oppose Heavenly Father’s plan for marriage, home, and family? (Note: Do not spend a lot of time discussing these trends. It will be enough just to identify them and then to use the instruction that follows to keep the focus on Heavenly Father’s plan for families.)
Invite students to share how they might use “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in teaching situations to distinguish between Heavenly Father’s plan and the worldly trends that oppose His plan for marriage, home, and family.
Explain to students that some people they will meet have views that differ from or even oppose the Church’s teachings about marriage, home, and family. Share your testimony that when missionaries use the scriptures and the words of the prophets to teach, they will be guided by the Holy Ghost to help those they teach better understand the roles of marriage, home, and family in Heavenly Father’s plan for His children.
Explain to students that one important way that God shows His love for us is by calling prophets. Display the following quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and have a student read it aloud. Have students look for what blessings come to those who follow the prophet:
“We might well ask, ‘Is there a voice that will always give us clear directions to find our way in today’s troubled world?’ The answer is yes. That voice is the voice of the living prophet and apostles. …
“It is no small thing, my brothers and sisters, to have a prophet of God in our midst. Great and wonderful are the blessings that come into our lives as we listen to the word of the Lord given to us through him. … When we hear the counsel of the Lord expressed through the words of the President of the Church, our response should be positive and prompt. History has shown that there is safety, peace, prosperity, and happiness in responding to prophetic counsel as did Nephi of old: ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded’ (1 Nephi 3:7). …
“Today I make you a promise. It’s a simple one, but it is true. If you will listen to the living prophet and the apostles and heed our counsel, you will not go astray” (“His Word Ye Shall Receive,” Ensign, May 2001, 65–66).
After reading the quote, ask:
What blessings come to those who follow the counsel of the Lord’s prophet?
Give students a moment to silently read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38. Then ask:
What does this passage teach about prophets and their counsel?
Can you think of a specific time when following the counsel of the Lord’s prophet blessed your life?
Have a student read aloud the first paragraph under the title “Heavenly Father Reveals His Gospel in Every Dispensation” on page 32 of Preach My Gospel. Help students identify doctrines taught in the paragraph by asking:
What are some doctrines we can learn about prophets in this paragraph? (While there are several principles that students might share, help students identify the doctrine that prophets learn the gospel of Jesus Christ by revelation and have the responsibility to teach others and to testify of Jesus Christ.)
Consider using the MTC training model as you help students teach about the importance of prophets. Explain to students that they should read the definition of prophet found on page 44 of Preach My Gospel and then prepare to role-play teaching an investigator about prophets. Then demonstrate role-playing by teaching a class member about prophets. Next, have students find a partner and practice role-playing, imagining that the student being taught is a nonmember who has heard that the Church is led by a prophet. The students acting as teachers should briefly explain what a prophet is and bear testimony of modern prophets. Then the students being taught should evaluate their partners by expressing what they found most meaningful and inspiring about the presentation. Then have students repractice, repeating the role play with students’ roles reversed to give the other students a chance to teach and receive feedback.
Have several students take turns reading aloud the last four paragraphs on page 33 of Preach My Gospel. Have the rest of the class follow along, looking for the relationship between prophets, apostasy, and dispensations. As needed, invite students to also study “Dispensations” in the Bible Dictionary. Help students discuss the truths found in these paragraphs by asking questions like the following:
Why would it be helpful for investigators to understand that all previous dispensations ended in apostasy?
What has God done throughout history to end periods of apostasy? How would understanding this pattern prepare investigators to learn about the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith?
If time permits, you might give students a few minutes to practice explaining to one another the material on page 33 of Preach My Gospel. Encourage them to include in their explanations the words apostasy, dispensation, and prophet.
Have students look at the picture on page 34 of Preach My Gospel, which depicts the ordination of the Twelve Apostles by Jesus Christ. Ask students:
What are some of the things Jesus Christ did to establish His Church on the earth in His day? (You may invite students to silently read the section titled “The Savior’s Earthly Ministry and Atonement” on page 34 of Preach My Gospel for reference.)
How did the Savior’s ministry and eventual rejection follow the pattern established in previous dispensations? (Prior to Jesus Christ’s birth, people were in a state of apostasy. Jesus Christ restored the gospel to the earth, just as Noah, Abraham, and Moses had done in earlier dispensations. Following the deaths of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, God’s children again fell into a state of apostasy until God would once more call a prophet to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ.)
To help students better understand the need for a restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, write the following question on the board.
Have students look for answers to these questions in the first two paragraphs of the section titled “The Great Apostasy” on page 35 of Preach My Gospel. After sufficient time, have students respond to the questions on the board. Be sure students understand that following the deaths of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, unauthorized changes corrupted Church doctrines and practices, eventually leading to the removal of priesthood keys and authority from the earth.
Invite students to silently study several of the scripture passages listed in the Scripture Study box located at the bottom of page 35 of Preach My Gospel. Have students search for what scriptural writers prophesied would eventually happen to Jesus Christ’s Church. After students have had sufficient time to study, have them share what they found with another member of the class. You might list some of the responses on the board and then consider writing this summary statement: Ancient prophecies foretold that there would be a universal falling away from the truth.
Divide students into pairs and instruct them to prepare to teach a four- to five-minute lesson together on the Apostasy. Explain that their teaching should be simple, clear, and focused on the recipient. Have students use the material on page 35 of Preach My Gospel (or they might use the missionary pamphlet titled The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ). Encourage pairs to share one or two scriptures related to the Apostasy and explain what they mean.
After students have had sufficient time to prepare, have each pair teach another pair. As students conclude their teaching experience, instruct the group to discuss the following: What went well in your lessons? What might you have done better? What was most effective in helping others understand what took place following the death of the Apostles?
Then, switch roles and allow the pair who was taught to teach the other pair. Make sure there is time for them to give and receive feedback.
After all students have had the opportunity to teach, invite class members to share insights from their experiences with the rest of the class.
To illustrate the impact that the Great Apostasy had on the world and to prepare students for the next lesson on the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, show the video “The Great Apostasy” (16:33). As they watch, encourage students to consider how the restored gospel of Jesus Christ overcame the consequences of the Great Apostasy.
After watching the video, ask:
In what ways did the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ overcome the consequences of the Great Apostasy?
As you watched the story of Wilford Woodruff’s conversion, what thoughts did you have about the opportunity to share the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ with others?
Conclude by asking students if any of them would like to share their testimony of the Restoration of the gospel with the class.
Invite students to review the doctrines covered in this lesson by completing one or more of the following suggested activities:
Using the Topical Guide entry “Apostasy of the Early Christian Church,” study more about the Great Apostasy. Use your study journal to take notes on the scripture passages that you might use to teach about the Apostasy.
Study and ponder the Gospel Topics article “Are Mormons Christian?” found at lds.org/topics.