Relief Society Lesson 9: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

Relief Society Lesson 9: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

The Law of Witnesses

There is a law definitely stated in the scriptures governing testimony and the appointment of witnesses. This law the Lord has always followed in granting new revelation to the people.
-Joseph Fielding Smith

If we had perfect records of all ages, we would find that whenever the Lord has established a dispensation, there has been more than one witness to testify for him.
-Joseph Fielding Smith

2 Corinthians 13:1
In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “we believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9). This is to say that while there is much we do not yet know, the truths and doctrine we have received have come and will continue to come by divine revelation…It is a process involving both reason and faith for obtaining the mind and will of the Lord.4 At the same time it should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such.”
-D. Todd Christofferson Reference A

Why is the law of witnesses important to the process of revelation?  How can we differentiate between well-considered opinions and doctrines?

Mary Whitmer

A Holy Messenger Shows Mary Whitmer the Gold Plates  Illustration by Michael Priddis, from the book, Dare to be True: A Prophet in Palmyra.

A Holy Messenger Shows Mary Whitmer the Gold Plates Illustration by Michael Priddis, from the book, Dare to be True: A Prophet in Palmyra.

When Joseph Smith first received the gold plates that contained the Book of Mormon, he was not authorized to share them with others. However, the Book of Mormon itself foretold that others would have the opportunity to view the book.

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Relief Society Lesson 8: the Church and Kingdom of God

Find the lesson here.

I would start this lesson by listening some of the varied ways that President Joseph Fielding Smith served in the organization of the Church.

In the manual, we read, “Through these service opportunities, Joseph Fielding Smith came to appreciate the Church’s inspired organization and its role in leading individuals and families to eternal life.”

Ask the class, What service opportunities have you had in your life that have helped you to gain a testimony of the Church’s inspired organization?

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Relief Society Lesson 7: Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Witnesses for Christ

Joseph and Hyrum 2I still remember on my mission, one particular day when one particular investigator told my companion and me that he admired many things about our church, and had many LDS friends whose families and lives he respected, but that there was one thing he could not get over: we worshipped Joseph Smith. We tried to explain the distinction, that we worship God and Jesus Christ, but are grateful for Joseph Smith because he helped us know Them more. We also brought in ancient prophets who helped us do the same.

And then my companion said a prayer. She began it, “Dear Heavenly Father,” and closed it, “In the name of Joseph Smith. Amen.” I was mortified, and thought this guy would never believe the story we just told, or that 99.99999999999% of Mormon prayers end, “In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” My companion told me later that she was nervous. I told her that it was fine. And it was, mostly, but the issue that the man raised is an important one, because it is a real concern for many people.

I thought of it again when I first read the 7th chapter in the Joseph Fielding Smith manual: “Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Witnesses for Christ.” And I thought of some questions. Let us keep them in mind as we consider this lesson.

  • Why do we sometimes focus so much on Joseph Smith?
  • What can we learn from his life, that can help us in our own?
  • What can we learn from Hyrum’s life? (He is included in this lesson too.)
  • What can we learn from their relationship.
  • What can we learn from their willingness to be martyrs for Christ’s sake?
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Visiting Teaching: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Light of the World

From http://judithweingarten.blogspot.com.au/2007/02/cybele-and-silk-road.html

From http://judithweingarten.blogspot.com.au/2007/02/cybele-and-silk-road.html

This is an interesting visiting teaching topic. The message itself is typical, yet friendlier because inclusive brackets have been added to the text to make it more easily applicable to women, and the history section choices are examples of actions which reflect the “Light of Christ.”

But—in reading, I couldn’t help but wonder what is the “Light of Christ”? Is it the Holy Ghost? Is it symbolism of the Son/Sun giving light? I have heard the phrase so often, and it is defined in my mind… yet… I suddenly wondered if there were more that I did not know. So I looked it up in the most reliable resource I know. The Relief Society magazine. And this is what a 1965 lesson on the “Light of Christ” taught me:

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Relief Society Chapter 5: Faith and Repentance

This is a very broad lesson (seven sections!), and will be too much, I think, for any class to go over in meaningful detail. Having been freshly inspired by TopHat’s great Young Women lesson plan on repentance (oh, how I would have loved her lesson when I was in Young Women!),  I chose to focus on repentance for this lesson. repentanceThe reason is because I think that repentance is generally taught in a manner that brings fear, sorrow and judgement: it is a downer of a lesson. Though the focus on faith and the seven (!) sections in this lesson detracts from an overt focus on repentance, I still opted to try and present repentance in a way that is peaceful and loving.

Repentance is a topic that is personal. In this, it is difficult to teach without offering an ugly feeling of being judged and degrading our self worth. Indeed, some of my darkest hours are a result of self-hate for feeling unworthy and unable to repent, once even for something as minute as temporarily removing the garment to go to a ballet class!  Thus, and because branches and wards can be small and gossipy, it is important for this lesson to be taught in a manner that expresses the love of the Atonement. The Atonement is love, which means repentance is love. And this, is good news. The link to the text is here.

 

I would be anxious to ensure the class starts on a positive note, so would write the word “repentance” on the board, and underneath, add the word “positive.” Have the women in the class list the positive characteristics of repentance. Some of the positive characteristics might be: clean, baptism, refresh, start over, uplifted, freed. In having a list that is only positive, the focus opens to a sense of the positive side of repentance, rather than the guilt and shame of imperfection. Through the lesson, be in tune when positive terms come up describing the feelings of repentance and continue to add them to the board.

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February 2014 Visiting Teaching Message: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Good Shepherd

This is a sweet message, and it is an easy one to adapt individually without too much issue. I say this because I think at the heart of this—it is addressing isolation. The isolation of the “lost sheep” wandering away from the fold—or even, as the James Faust quote includes—the “brokenhearted parents” who might feel isolated because their child might not have made choices that reflect the desire of their parents- especially in regard to the church.

 

Now. Because I am short on time this month as a result of… many things, I chose to just focus on that simplicity: addressing isolation. There are times in all of our lives that was have felt isolation- the teen who aches to be included in social activities, the single adult who longs to be married, the mother of young children who finds herself at a loss for conversation outside of her family, the unmarried or divorced mid-single who is tired of being labelled a “problem” because they “can’t get married,” and the widow who makes cash withdrawals from bank tellers just for the conversation…. Isolation is a common illness, one that we have all suffered from at one time or another.

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