Chapter 5: Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration

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Howard W. Hunter Chapter 5: Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration is a great reminder of how blessed we are to have the fullness of the gospel in these latter-days. What strikes you the most as you read the story of the restoration and organization of the church? For me, it's all the people that were willing to go through so much to have what we have today. Joseph Smith had the desire to discover truth, the faith to ask, the determination to keep going despite persecutions, and the willingness to be whatever instrument the Lord needed. It is no wonder we sing, 

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I love reading about the original meeting when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized. To think that it all started in that small farm house and has flourished to be all over the world with thousands of missionaries furthering the message. It is definitely the Lord's true church. As soon as you start reading about the First Vision, you are overwhelmed with the spirit. It's true.

President Hunter points out how we frequently use the words prophet, seer, and revelator interchangeably. However, they are each defined in their own right. 

As we understand the differences, it helps us to understand the roles of the President of the Church, the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and First Presidency. It helps us appreciate all the Presidents of the Church more. We admire Joseph Smith so because he did endure to the end. He knew which way he faced and walked continually in that direction. It is possible to endure. His example leaves us with hope- an imperfect person doing all he can, facing multiple trials, and enduring throughout it all. 

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Teaching Ideas

  • What Was Joseph Smith's Role in the Restoration? teaching package from The Redheaded Hostess is great to use as you study this lesson in greater detail.
  • Take the time read the First Vision outloud or ask the missionaries to recite it for you in class. It's the best way to bring the Spirit in quickly and abundantly!
  • Talk about how small things become great. Use the mustard seed example (or apple, etc), a story from the Ensign, then Joseph Smith. Here was this uneducated, 14 year old boy and look what came about because he was willing to ask. You can lead it into not underestimating ourselves and the power for good we hold if we are willing to try.
  • Watch one of the Church's restoration videos. The Restoration is 19 minutes. If you have time during the week, watch Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration (about 1 hour) as you prepare your lesson.
  • Have the missionaries come in to give part of the lesson about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the gospel. If they can't come, ask what works well for them when they teach it. 
  • Ask someone that was converted to the gospel later in life to share her experience when first learning about Joseph Smith and share her testimony.
  • Create a Sacred Grove in your class. Put on some church music, hand out some paper, and let your class ponder and meditate about their testimonies. Have them write down any impressions. Make a slideshow for them to look at during this time as well.
  • Divide into 3 groups and discuss the definitions of the words prophet, seer, and revelator. Have each group come up with their own definition as well as other examples from the scriptures. 
  • A musical number to the hymn, "Praise to the Man" would go beautifully with this lesson. 
  • Share your ideas and how you teach with #teachlikeachicken on Instagram. Use the hashtag to find more ideas from others. 
  • 3 more ideas in the YouTube video below!

Questions to Ponder

  • What impact has the First Vision had on your life?
  • How has your testimony of the First Vision influenced you?
  • Why is it vital for Latter-day Saints to have a testimony of Joseph Smith, the Prophet?
  • How have you and your family been blessed because of the restoration of Christ's Church?
  • Why should you know the meanings of the words prophet, seer, and revelator? What do they mean?
  • In what ways have you been blessed through prophets, seers, and revelators?
  • As you've studied this chapter, how has your appreciation for Joseph Smith increased?
  • What can you learn from the Prophet Joseph Smith's example?
  • What do you admire about Joseph Smith? 
  • How would you explain to someone how we praise Joseph Smith but don't worship him?
  • How do the teachings in Section 5 apply to you?
  • In what ways can you show gratitude for the blessings that come as a result of Joseph Smith's actions?
  • What eternal truths are revealed in the First Vision?
  • Why do we preserve these historic sites today? (Sacred Grove, Joseph Smith house, Peter Whitmer Farm, etc.)
  • What is your testimony of the restored Church of Jesus Christ?