Relief Society Lesson 21: The Prophet Joseph Smith

Brought to you by Eve.

Of course, there are many more questions here than anyone would be able to use productively in a single lesson, but I hope that those of you who are teaching are able to select those that seem related to the topics you feel are most important to discuss, and that some of these questions are useful to some of you.

(1) In the lesson President Kimball emphasizes the importance of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, as well as the necessary conditions for revelation to be established.

  • Why is it significant that the First Vision occurred in a place where “religious liberty would protect the seed,” in President Kimball’s words? (229)
  • Why are conditions of religious liberty so important to worship and revelation in general?
  • What can we do to safeguard general religious liberty so that our own and others’ religious choices will be meaningful?

(2) President Kimball also emphasizes Joseph Smith’s lack of experience with the theological ideas of his time: “This budding prophet had no preconceived false notions and beliefs. He was not steeped in the traditions and legends and superstitions and fables of the centuries. He had nothing to unlearn.” (229)

  • Why is it significant that the First Vision was given to “a person of youth, clean and open minded”? (229).
  • What are some of the ideas we might form or learn from other sources about God and religion that can impede our ability to pray and receive revelation?
  • How can the First Vision give us faith and confidence in approaching God in our own prayers?

(3) President Kimball describes the First Vision as establishing “that God lives…a [glorified] person with flesh and bones and personality” and that “the Father and the Son were two distinct beings” (230).

  • Why is it important to our faith to understand that God is a glorified and embodied being who is in some basic sense like us?
  • How might our understanding of God as an embodied being help us to have healthier relationships with our own bodies? How can the understanding that embodiment isn’t evil but is a good part of our growth and progression help us to care for our bodies appropriately?
  • Why is it important to understand that the Father and the Son are separate people?

(4) President Kimball also says that the First Vision established the reality of the Apostasy, the fact that “the true Church was absent from the earth” (230). He acknowledges that “there were many good people, but they had all walked in spiritual darkness these many centuries” (230).

  • What’s so different about the LDS Church?
  • How do we maintain a belief in our own unique truth-claims and divine origin while being appropriately respectful of others’ beliefs?
  • How can we be both bold (that is, unapologetic) and humble (that is, not rude or arrogant) in our public professions of faith?

(5) President Kimball describes Joseph Smith’s translation and publication of the Book of Mormon and the reception of additional revelations as part of his mission on earth. (231–232)

  • Why is the Book of Mormon so important?
  • Why are the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price so important?
  • What do these additional scriptures add to our understanding of the gospel?
  • What passages from the Book of Mormon have been particularly meaningful to your faith and in your life?
  • What passages from the Doctrine and Covenants have been meaningful to your faith and life?

(6) Another aspect of Joseph Smith’s mission that President Kimball mentions is his restoration of the priesthood (“the authority, the power, the right to administer ordinances, and the continuation of the revelations of the Lord to his people here on the earth” 232).

  • Why is it significant that the priesthood authority of our church comes from God and not from human beings?
  • How does that change our understanding of the workings and organization of the church, of our ordinances and doctrines?
  • How do we understand the church as divinely instituted and guided when it continues to grow and change?
  • What has been the significance of priesthood authority in your life?
  • How of the ordinances of the church and priesthood blessings been significant for your faith?

(7) Sometimes we LDS are accused of idolizing or worshiping Joseph Smith.

  • What is the role of Joseph Smith in our history and doctrine?
  • What is your personal understanding of the mission and significance of Joseph Smith’s life and work?


Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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6 Responses

  1. Mark IV says:

    question 4:

    . . .there were many good people, but they had all walked in spiritual darkness. . .”

    What’s so different about the LDS Church?

    That made me laugh out loud, even as I realize it is a serious question.

    I hope you don’t mind me poaching for priesthood meeting. Since we are studying out of the same manual, I often find the lesson plans here helpful.

  2. Caroline says:

    Wonderful questions, Eve.

  3. Eve says:

    Caroline, glad you enjoyed them!

    And Mark by all means, poach away.

  4. Jamal says:

    Thanks, this was a good chunk of my EQ lesson today that I think went reasonably well.

  5. Nycole says:

    This is fantastic! I hope you don’t mind me using this entire post as the foundation for my lesson (in addition the the manual, of course!)

    Thank you for your thoughts!

  1. January 15, 2016

    […] The Prophet Joseph Smith from the Spencer W. Kimball manual The Prophet Joseph Smith, God’s Instrument in Restoring the Truth from the George Albert Smith manual Relief Society Lesson 47: “Praise To The Man”: Latter-Day Prophets Bear Witness Of The Prophet Joseph Smith from the Joseph Smith manual […]

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