Lesson 8: Teaching the Message of the Restoration (Part 2)
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“Lesson 8: Teaching the Message of the Restoration (Part 2)” Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 8,” Missionary Preparation

8

Teaching the Message of the Restoration (Part 2)

Introduction

The message of the Restoration is that the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes eternal doctrine, priesthood authority, and the ordinances of salvation, has been restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ—the same gospel that has been revealed in every gospel dispensation—all of God’s children can obtain eternal life. 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.

Advance Preparation

Suggestions for Teaching

Joseph Smith’s Vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ

Show the first video clip from President Thomas S. Monson’s talk “Come, All Ye Sons of God,” in which President Monson shares the conversion experience of Elmer Pollard:

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Monson, Thomas S.

“When I served as a mission president in Canada more than 50 years ago, one young missionary who came from a small, rural community marveled at the size of Toronto. He was short in stature but tall in testimony. Not long after his arrival, together with his companion, he called at the home of Elmer Pollard in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Feeling sorry for the young men who, during a blinding blizzard, were going house to house, Mr. Pollard invited the missionaries into his home. They presented to him their message. He did not catch the spirit. In due time he asked that they leave and not return. His last words to the elders as they departed his front porch were spoken in derision: ‘You can’t tell me you actually believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God!’

“The door was shut” (“Come, All Ye Sons of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 68).

After showing the clip, ask:

  • If you were one of these missionaries, what thoughts and feelings might you have as you departed Mr. Pollard’s house?

  • What would you have done at this point?

Show the second video clip, containing the remainder of President Monson’s story:

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Monson, Thomas S.

“The elders walked down the path. Our country boy spoke to his companion: ‘Elder, we didn’t respond to Mr. Pollard. He said we didn’t believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet. Let’s return and bear our testimonies to him.’ At first the more experienced missionary hesitated but finally agreed to accompany his companion. Fear struck their hearts as they approached the door from which they had just been ejected. They knocked, confronted Mr. Pollard, spent an agonizing moment, and then with power borne of the Spirit, our inexperienced missionary spoke: ‘Mr. Pollard, you said we didn’t really believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I testify to you that Joseph was a prophet. He did translate the Book of Mormon. He saw God the Father and Jesus the Son. I know it.’

“Some time later, Mr. Pollard, now Brother Pollard, stood in a priesthood meeting and declared, ‘That night I could not sleep. Resounding in my ears I heard the words “Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know it. I know it. I know it.” The next day I telephoned the missionaries and asked them to return. Their message, coupled with their testimonies, changed my life and the lives of my family’” (“Come, All Ye Sons of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 68).

Ask:

  • Why do you think the missionary’s testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith had such a profound effect on Mr. Pollard?

Have students turn to Joseph Smith—History in the Pearl of Great Price. Ask a student to read aloud verses 5–6, and then have another student read aloud verses 7–9. Then ask students:

  • How could you summarize these verses in just one or two sentences?

Have a student read aloud Joseph Smith—History 1:10. As the verse is read, ask students to consider how Joseph Smith’s search for religious truth is similar to that of many people they will meet on their missions. Then ask:

  • What were the questions young Joseph Smith was grappling with?

  • What made it so difficult for Joseph to decide which church to join?

  • How might Joseph Smith’s questions be similar to the questions that people in the world have today?

Have a student read aloud Joseph Smith—History 1:11–13. Then ask:

  • What principle did Joseph Smith learn about how to find spiritual truth? (Though they may use different words, students will likely state this principle: We can learn spiritual truth from God if we pray to Him for answers and are willing to act.)

  • How can you use Joseph Smith’s example to help others who desire to find spiritual truth?

Have students silently read Joseph Smith—History 1:14–19. As they do so, have them think about the lasting impact that the First Vision has had on the world and on their personal lives. After they have had a few quiet moments to complete the reading, ask questions like the following:

  • What might be some reasons that the adversary attacked Joseph Smith before Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared? (The adversary wanted to prevent Joseph from learning spiritual truth and thereby prevent the eventual Restoration from taking place.)

  • In what ways did the First Vision begin to overcome the consequences of the Great Apostasy? (Emphasize this truth to students: Through the First Vision, the heavens were again opened and the Restoration began.

  • What doctrinal truths can be learned from the First Vision? (The Father and the Son are separate beings, the heavens are open, we may receive revelation, and so on.)

  • Why do you think Preach My Gospel suggests that missionaries teach about the First Vision during their very first contact with an investigator?

  • How could learning about the appearance of Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ help investigators in their search for spiritual truth?

To help students deepen their understanding of the importance of the First Vision, give each student a copy of the handout titled “The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith,” which contains a portion of a talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

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Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Rel 130
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Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Rel 130

Have a student read aloud the first three paragraphs. Then ask:

  • Why does the “whole strength” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rest upon the validity of the First Vision? (Students should understand that if Joseph Smith’s account of his vision is true, then the claim is also true that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on earth with the full approval and authority of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.)

  • According to President Hinckley, in what way was Joseph Smith’s work different from the work done by previous religious leaders who reformed worship practices and doctrinal teachings?

Give students a few minutes to silently read the rest of the handout. As they read, encourage them to mark words, phrases, or statements that stand out to them. After students have finished reading, invite a few of them to share what they marked and explain why it was significant to them. Consider asking questions like the following:

  • Why might it be difficult for some people to accept the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s vision?

  • Considering the principles studied in our previous lesson, how does the First Vision fit into the pattern of dispensations, apostasy, and restoration? (Following a period of apostasy, the First Vision initiated a restoration and a new gospel dispensation. As in previous dispensations, a prophet was called by God to restore gospel truths and priesthood authority. Joseph Smith was called as the prophet of the “dispensation of the fullness of times” [Ephesians 1:10]. This means the gospel will not be lost through apostasy but will remain on the earth until the Second Coming of Christ.)

  • How could helping an investigator understand this scriptural pattern of apostasy and restoration help him or her to accept the reality of the First Vision and of the modern Restoration of the gospel?

Invite the class to turn to page 37 in Preach My Gospel and silently read the last three paragraphs on the page, looking for things that were restored or reestablished through the Restoration. Then ask students to share what they found. You may want to ensure that the class mentions (1) the restoration of priesthood authority, keys, and ordinances, (2) the reestablishment of Christ’s Church, (3) the calling of twelve Apostles, (4) the initiation of a new gospel dispensation, and (5) the calling of a living prophet.

To help students feel the truth and importance of the First Vision and the Restoration, ask your class to respond to questions like the following:

  • How have you come to gain a testimony of the reality and significance of the First Vision?

  • How has your testimony of the First Vision influenced your belief in the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Ask if any students would like to share with the class their testimony of the First Vision or the Restoration.

Divide the class into pairs. Organize students into small groups of four (two pairs in each group). Give students sufficient time to prepare how they will teach a brief three- to four-minute lesson on the First Vision and the Restoration. Explain that their teaching should be simple and clear. Have students review the material in Preach My Gospel, pages 36–37, or on page 11 in the missionary pamphlet titled The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Encourage students to use their own words to explain the experience of Joseph Smith (except when they quote or read from Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17). Remind them to conclude with their testimonies. Assign one pair in each group to teach the other pair.

As students conclude their teaching experience, have each group discuss among themselves what went well during the teaching and how the teachers might have done better.

Then, switch roles and allow the other pair to teach. Make sure there is time for feedback. After all pairs have taught, invite class members to share insights from their experiences with the rest of the class.

It may be helpful for your students to know how to respond to difficult questions regarding the various accounts of the First Vision written by Joseph Smith. Explain that the account of the First Vision found in Joseph Smith—History was written by the Prophet in 1838 as part of an official history of the Church that was to be published to the world. Because Joseph Smith recorded his experience more than once, there are other existing accounts of the First Vision. Explain to students that each account varies somewhat in its emphasis and details. Some critics have mistakenly argued that any variations in the retellings are evidence of fabrication. However, when an individual retells an experience in multiple settings to different audiences over many years, each account will tend to emphasize various aspects of the experience and contain unique details. For example, differences similar to those in the First Vision accounts exist in Paul’s accounts of his vision on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:3–9; 22:6–11; 26:12–18).

Inviting Others to Read the Book of Mormon

Begin establishing the relevance of this portion of the lesson by having a student read aloud the last two paragraphs in the introduction to the Book of Mormon. Invite students to look for the promises given to those who choose to read the Book of Mormon, ponder it, and ask God if it is true. Invite students to share what they found.

Have students turn to page 38 in Preach My Gospel, and have a student read aloud the first paragraph in the section “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” Help students identify a principle taught in this paragraph by asking:

  • Why is the Book of Mormon a valuable and powerful tool for missionaries? (Help students to see that the Book of Mormon contains the everlasting gospel, is convincing evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and is another testament of Jesus Christ. (See D&C 20:8–11.)

To help students better understand this doctrine, ask a few questions like the following:

  • Why is the Book of Mormon convincing evidence that Joseph Smith is a prophet? (If someone concludes that the Book of Mormon is true, then they must also conclude that Joseph Smith was acting by divine direction to discover and translate it and is a prophet of God.)

  • How are investigators blessed when they read the Book of Mormon and gain a witness that it is true? (They will know that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and they will be prepared to accept the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive the saving ordinances.)

Have a student read aloud Moroni 10:3–5. Ask the following:

  • What steps must a person take in order to gain a witness that the Book of Mormon is true? (Though they may use different words, students will likely state this principle: As we read, ponder, and pray with real intent about the Book of Mormon, God will reveal its truthfulness to us by the power of the Holy Ghost.)

  • What does it mean to “ask with real intent” (Moroni 10:4)? (Sincerely desiring to receive an answer through the Holy Ghost and being committed to act upon the answer.)

To illustrate why it is important that an investigator read the Book of Mormon and pray with real intent about its truthfulness, show the video “Invitation to Read the Book of Mormon: Jynx” (8:06).

Stop the video at 0:55 and ask the class to ponder for a moment what thoughts and feelings they might have if they were one of the missionaries teaching Jynx. Call on a few students to share what they would say to her.

While showing the rest of the video, consider having half of the class watch for why investigators must read and pray about the Book of Mormon in order gain a witness of its truthfulness. Have the other half of the class watch for what the missionaries said that helped Jynx feel motivated to read the Book of Mormon. After the video, discuss the following with students:

  • What did the missionaries say and do to motivate Jynx to read and pray about the Book of Mormon?

  • What did the missionaries say or do that invited the Holy Ghost to bear witness of their words?

  • Why is it crucial for an investigator to read and to pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon? (Make sure students understand that it is not enough for missionaries to just distribute copies of the Book of Mormon. A missionary’s role is to help others feel the importance of reading and praying about the Book of Mormon so that they can find out that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Jesus Christ’s gospel was restored.)

Explain to the class that they will now have an opportunity to role-play inviting someone to read the Book of Mormon. Demonstrate introducing the Book of Mormon and extending an invitation to read it and pray to know that its message is true. Then divide the class into pairs, or consider using one of the other suggested teaching configurations found in the “Teaching Activities” section in the introduction to this manual.

Give students sufficient time to prepare to invite an investigator to read the Book of Mormon and to pray to know if it is true. Invite students to read the box titled “Use the Book of Mormon to Confirm the Truth of the Restoration,” located at the top of page 39 of Preach My Gospel. Students might also use page 15 of the missionary pamphlet titled The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They should conclude the practice activity by sharing their testimony of the Book of Mormon and extending an invitation to read and pray about its truthfulness.

After all students have had the opportunity to practice sharing their testimony of the Book of Mormon and extending the invitation to read and pray, ask class members to share insights from their experiences with the rest of the class.

As you conclude the lesson, remind students of the blessings of reading and strengthening their personal testimonies of the Book of Mormon before beginning full-time missionary service. Ask if any of them would like to share their testimony of the Book of Mormon. Share your testimony of the Book of Mormon, and assure students that they will find joy as they invite others to read this powerful witness of Jesus Christ.

Invitations to Act

Encourage students to apply what they have learned in this lesson during the coming week. They might consider doing the following:

  • Pray for a stronger testimony of the First Vision and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

  • Read the article “First Vision Accounts” in the Gospel Topics section of lds.org/topics.

  • Memorize the account of the First Vision recorded in Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17. Share it with a friend or family member and bear your testimony of the importance of the event.

  • Pray for help to identify someone to whom you might give a copy of the Book of Mormon. Act on the spiritual promptings you receive.

Handout

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Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Rel 130
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Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Rel 130