What did you think of "The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead" by President M. Russell Ballard? I loved that it showed the Lord is in the moments of our lives. President Ballard prepared this talk long before his wife passed away. I don’t think that is a coincidence, do you? The Lord prepares us for what’s coming next, including for our time after this earth.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suggests the following when teaching from this talk:
“You could invite members to accept President Ballard’s invitation and read Doctrine and Covenants 138 before your discussion. Ask members to share their experiences with and insights from this section during the meeting. Questions like these could help members understand the importance of this revelation: How does this revelation bring us comfort? and What truths does this revelation contain that can affect ‘the way we live our lives each day’?“
Questions to Ponder
What can we do to prepare ourselves to receive our own revelation?
What can we and are we doing to help those in spirit prison now?
Has anyone had any experiences they’d like to share that has helped them understand what happens in the spirit world?
What can we learn from President Joseph F. Smith when losing a loved one?
What comfort can we receive, knowing that the people in spirit prison are being taught by past prophets?
What can we learn from Joseph F. Smith in regards to unanswered prayers?
When we lose a loved one, how can the knowledge of the spirit world and spirit prison comfort us?
How can we comfort our children’s fears or concerns of life after death?
How do you include your children in temple and family history work?
How have you come to know that the revelation in D&C 138 is true?
How does the plan of salvation comfort and guide you throughout your life’s sorrows and joys?
How can your pains and sorrows lead to comfort and gladness? What experiences have you had?
How has the Lord prepared you to face some sorrows in your life?
These are my ideas. My hope is reading my thoughts will be a springboard to finding the right plans for your class.
Draw a diagram of earth, spirit prison, and the spirit world on the board. Discuss what work is being done by those in the spirit world. How does that compare to the missionary work we are doing here on earth? How can we support each other? Consider showing A Visit from Father (about 5 1/2 minutes), a true story shared by President Russell M. Nelson. How does understanding the spirit world correctly change our actions here? Pass out my diagram of the Plan of Salvation with the Spirit World enlarged to allow people to write down things they learn during class or as you discuss D&C 138.
Share the back story of how Joseph F. Smith receive the revelation again with the video, Ministry of Joseph F. Smith: A Vision of the Redemption of the Dead (about 3 minutes) or asking someone else to summarize it from President Ballard’s talk. Discuss some other great blessings that have come after many trials from examples in the scriptures or your classroom.
If you had the class read D&C 138 ahead of time, discuss the new things they learned about life after death. Ask them if there was something in particular that stood out to them? You can then revisit several of the verses with your class. Here are few question ideas:
How was President Joseph F. Smith prepared to receive revelation about the spirit world? Why do you think this preparation was important? Are we willing to go through the same type of preparations for the blessings and revelations awaiting us?
Who did Jesus appear to and what did He teach them?
What do we learn about the unrighteous souls in spirit prison? Who goes to spirit person? What are the spirits in spirit prison taught? Who teaches them?
What’s the difference between spirit prison and the spirit world? Why is it important to you to understand this distinction? How does this view of heaven (and what happens after the spirit world) help you?
What verses help you see God’s love and power?
What further understanding and appreciation do these verses give you for the plan of salvation?
How do these verses make you want to live your life day to day?
If you want to dive in deeper and even break into groups to discuss different parts of D&C 138, I recommend the study guide on Seek (formerly Little LDS Ideas). It’s great and it’s free. You can even reference it for additional question ideas.
Contact someone ahead of time and have them share an experience of losing a loved one. Have them share how their knowledge of life after death helped them get through this difficult time. When we lose a loved one, how can the knowledge of the spirit world and spirit prison comfort us?
Discuss ways we can share our knowledge of life after death with friends and family that are not of our faith. Ask if anyone has an experience where they were able to share their knowledge and how it helped the other person. How can we share our knowledge of the spirit world and after life with others while building on common beliefs? You may want to role play examples. What other things can we do to comfort and help those that have lost a loved one?
Display some images of some of your ancestors. Share some of their life stories. Share your testimony about family history, temple work, and your knowledge of life after death. Ask a few people ahead of time to also bring in some pictures and stories to share with their testimonies as well. Then invite your class to share as well.
Discuss how temple and family history work has become easier and easier since this revelation. Share one way you find names to take to the temple now and where to go for help when we get stuck. There are so many resources and even apps to use now! Visit Family Search’s blog for examples.