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.
Principles of the Gospel
READ TPJS 169:3-6
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.”
mankind’s faith originate?
What if the
testimony of these witnesses is not attended by the Spirit of prophecy and
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?
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
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
“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?
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
What is the First
How does it
READ TPJS 172:6-173:1
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
How can you
tell if you are “feeling the Spirit of God”?
the Key to Salvation
“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?
What does it
mean that everyone who does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be
“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?
Election: A More Sure Word of Prophesy
READ TPJS 332:2-333:1
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
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
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.”
Joseph’s prophesy regarding all churches that deny the doctrines of calling and
election and the direct revelation of Christ (Second Comforter)?
Joseph Smith, who unlike the rest of the world proclaimed to all that he had
stood in God’s presence, admonish you to do?
READ TPJS 171:2-172:5
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
will be yours after receiving the Second Comforter?
What is the relationship
between the Second Comforter and Calling & Election?
Knowledge of Heaven
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”?