Introductory Note on TPJS Lessons
The next set of posts are from a selection of discourses, letters and articles authored or presented by Joseph Smith between 1839 and 1844, in or around Nauvoo, Illinois, and compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith into the book entitled Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS). The edition of that book used in these lessons is titled Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and was published in 1993 by the Deseret Book Company. This newer edition contains the same content as the original version but with the addition of scriptural footnotes. I will also include the page numbers from the traditional edition of TPJS in the introduction to each lesson. The references contain the page number first, followed by the paragraph number on the page. In some cases, the paragraphs in TPJS are very small, but for consistency, I have counted all of them. If a paragraph continues from the previous page, I still start the count over on the next page – so when you look at the page, even if a paragraph is continued from the previous page, it still counts as “paragraph 1” for purposes of the reference. To aid you in your study while reading this blog, I’ve decided to also copy the text straight into the blog. Please see the following link for an electronic version of the STPJS.
This first discourse was given by Joseph Smith at a conference of the Twelve Apostles held at Commerce, Illinois on June 17, 1839. See TPJS standard edition pages 148-151 or 169-173, in my edition.
The second discourse used in this post was given by Joseph Smith in a Sunday sermon held at Yelrome (Tioga), Illinois on May 14th, 1843. See TPJS standard edition pages 297-399 or 331-334, in my edition.
The third discourse used in this post was given as a sermon on 2 Peter 1 by Joseph Smith at the unfinished Nauvoo Temple site on Sunday, May 21st, 1843, a week after the previous talk. See TPJS standard edition pages 303-306 or 338-342, in my edition. I have used material from each of these sermons throughout the lesson as it makes sense to understand the topic being taught, as opposed to addressing them strictly by chronology.
The First Principles of the Gospel
READ TPJS 169:3-6
“Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation. Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God. Baptism is a holy ordinance preparatory to the reception of the Holy Ghost; it is the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered. The Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, cannot be received through the medium of any other principle than the principle of righteousness, for if the proposals are not complied with, it is of no use, but withdraws.”
Where does mankind’s faith originate?
What if the testimony of these witnesses is not attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation?
Since repentance is the message of all true prophets (particularly in the Book of Mormon), why is daily repentance wrong?
How does Joseph describe the relationship between baptism by water and the Holy Ghost?
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both received the gift of the Holy Ghost with its attendant spiritual gifts after they were baptized, before hands were laid on their heads, so what does it mean that the Gift is given by the “laying on of hands”?
READ TPJS 170:2-6
“The Doctrines of the Resurrection of the Dead and the Eternal Judgment are necessary to preach among the first principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Doctrine of Election. Peter exhorts us to make our calling and election sure. This is the sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places. “Ephesians 1:13-14. In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory, that we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption.” This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation.”
What additional “first principles” did Joseph Smith include and why?
What is Joseph Smith saying that God will make known to even the least Saint?
What are the implications from this statement by Joseph regarding God’s willingness to reveal all things to anyone?
How are we to receive this calling and election?
The First Comforter
“There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.”
What is the First Comforter?
How does it work?
READ TPJS 172:6-173:1
“The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.”
How can you tell if you are “feeling the Spirit of God”?
Knowledge is the Key to Salvation
READ TPJS 331:1-3
“It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. President Smith then read the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 1st chapter, 16th to last verses, and dwelt upon the 19th verse with some remarks. Add to your faith knowledge, etc. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved, as in the case of Jesus, who was to reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy was death.”
Why is it not wise for us to have all knowledge presented to us at once – wouldn’t it help us to have context and really understand what God is trying to teach us?
Why is the principle of knowledge THE principle of salvation?
What does it mean that salvation is to triumph over your enemies?
How is knowledge gained?
What does it mean that everyone who does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned?
READ TPJS 331:4-5-332:1
“Perhaps there are principles here that few men have thought of. No person can have this salvation except through a tabernacle. Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world there are a variety of spirits. Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him; and the greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may destroy—any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him, and take possession of the body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got merely a stolen body; and by and by someone having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own: but if he steals one, he is always liable to be turned out of doors.”
How does Satan take possession of a body in this world?
READ TPJS 338:5-339:3
“I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite.
I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not, God judges men according to the use they make of the light which He gives them. We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto you do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place. We were eyewitnesses of his majesty and heard the voice of his excellent glory. And what could be more sure? When He was transfigured on the mount, what could be more sure to them? Divines have been quarreling for ages about the meaning of this.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed, while these smooth-polished stones with which I come in contact become marred.”
What is Joseph teaching us regarding outward behavior versus inner light?
Calling and Election: A More Sure Word of Prophesy
READ TPJS 332:2-333:1 and 342:1-3
“Now, there is some grand secret here, and keys to unlock the subject. Notwithstanding the apostle exhorts them to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, etc., yet he exhorts them to make their calling and election sure. And though they had heard an audible voice from heaven bearing testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, yet he says we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place. Now, wherein could they have a more sure word of prophecy than to hear the voice of God saying, This is my beloved Son. Now for the secret and grand key. Though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God, this would be no evidence that their election and calling was made sure, that they had part with Christ, and were joint heirs with Him. They then would want that more sure word of prophecy, that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”
“The design of the great God in sending us into this world, and organizing us to prepare us for the eternal worlds, I shall keep in my own bosom at present. We have no claim in our eternal compact, in relation to eternal things, unless our actions and contracts and all things tend to this. But after all this, you have got to make you calling and election sure. If this injunction would lie largely on those to whom it was spoken, how much more those of the present generation! 1st key: Knowledge is the power of salvation. 2nd key: Make your calling and election sure. 3rd key: It is one thing to be on the mount and hear the excellent voice, etc., and another to hear the voice declare to you, You have a part and lot in that kingdom. (May 21, 1843.) DHC 5:401-403.”
How does Joseph Smith use the word “keys” and how is it different from the way the word is used in the Church today?
What does it mean to have your calling and election made sure?
What does “more sure word of prophesy” refer to?
Why is seeing Christ in vision and hearing the voice of the Father testify to Christ’s divinity not the same as and not as important as calling & election and receiving the Second Comforter)?
Why does the Lord make someone’s calling and election sure; why isn’t dying faithful to, and active in, the Church enough?
READ TPJS 171:2 and 341:1
“The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.”
“Contend earnestly for the like precious faith with the Apostle Peter, “and add to your faith virtue,” knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity; “for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Another point, after having all these qualifications, he lays this injunction upon the people “to make your calling and election sure.” He is emphatic upon this subject—after adding all this virtue, knowledge, etc., “Make your calling and election sure.” What is the secret—the starting point? “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” How did he obtain all things? Through the knowledge of Him who hath called him. There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge. Woe! woe! woe to Christendom!—especially the divines and priests if this be true.”
What must you do to have your calling and election made sure?
How long is the process between be baptized by fire and calling & election?
READ TPJS 333:2
“Compare this principle once with Christendom at the present day, and where are they, with all their boasted religion, piety and sacredness while at the same time they are crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelations, prophesying and visions, etc. Why, they are just ripening for the damnation of hell. They will be damned, for they reject the most glorious principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and treat with disdain and trample under foot the key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the celestial world. Yes, I say, such will be damned, with all their professed godliness. Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it, etc.”
What does Joseph’s prophesy regarding all churches that deny the doctrines of calling and election and the direct revelation of Christ (Second Comforter)?
What does Joseph Smith, who unlike the rest of the world proclaimed to all that he had stood in God’s presence, admonish you to do?
The Second Comforter
READ TPJS 171:2-172:5
“The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses. Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions—Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”
What is the Second Comforter?
What blessings will be yours after receiving the Second Comforter?
What is the relationship between the Second Comforter and Calling & Election?
Firsthand Knowledge of Heaven
READ TPJS 339:5-341:2
“I am going to take up this subject by virtue of the knowledge of God in me, which I have received from heaven. The opinions of men, so far as I am concerned, are to me as the crackling of thorns under the pot, or the whistling of the wind. I break the ground; I lead the way like Columbus when he was invited to a banquet where he was assigned the most honorable place at the table, and served with the ceremonials which were observed towards sovereigns. A shallow courtier present, who was meanly jealous of him, abruptly asked him whether he thought that in case he had not discovered the Indies, there were not other men in Spain who would have been capable of the enterprise? Columbus made no reply, but took an egg and invited the company to make it stand on end. They all attempted it, but in vain; whereupon he struck it upon the table so as to break one end, and left it standing on the broken part, illustrating that when he had once shown the way to the new world nothing was easier than to follow it.
Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob’s ladder—the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, where Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful for him to utter. I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.
The Lord deals with this people as a tender parent with a child, communicating light and intelligence and the knowledge of his ways as they can bear it. The inhabitants of the earth are asleep; they know not the day of their visitation. The Lord hath set the bow in the cloud for a sign that while it shall be seen, seed time and harvest, summer and winter shall not fail; but when it shall disappear, woe to that generation, for behold the end cometh quickly.
Contend earnestly for the like precious faith with the Apostle Peter, “and add to your faith virtue,” knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity; “for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Another point, after having all these qualifications, he lays this injunction upon the people “to make your calling and election sure.” He is emphatic upon this subject—after adding all this virtue, knowledge, etc., “Make your calling and election sure.” What is the secret—the starting point? “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” How did he obtain all things? Through the knowledge of Him who hath called him. There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge. Woe! woe! woe to Christendom!—especially the divines and priests if this be true. Salvation is for a man to be saved from all his enemies; for until a man can triumph over death, he is not saved. A knowledge of the priesthood alone will do this.”
Why does Joseph Smith treat the ideas and opinions of others so rudely?
How many rungs are there on Jacob’s ladder?
Why were the things Paul and Joseph saw not “lawful to be uttered”?