Doctrine and Covenants 76 – “Great Shall Be Their Reward and Eternal Shall Be Their Glory”

In 1832, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received a glorious vision of God the Father and the Son and of the kingdoms of heaven.

 

“Joseph Smith and ‘The Vision,’ 1832,” Robert J. Woodford, Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer
This article reviews both the history and the content of section 76. A review of the events of Joseph Smith’s life for the year 1832 shows how important the reception of the “The Vision,” section 76, was to him and other Saints. Section 76 expounds upon the degree of revelation the Lord is willing to grant and teaches the testimony of Joseph Smith concerning the Father and the Son.

“Historical Context and Background of D&C 76,” Steven C. Harper and Casey Paul Griffiths, Doctrine and Covenants Central

As Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon meditated on John 5:29, the Lord touched their eyes and they understood. They testified together of Jesus Christ, whom they saw and with whom they spoke.

“The Vision,” Matthew McBride, Revelations in Context

The news of this vision (section 76) spread quickly, and the text was published in July 1832. Some Church members struggled to accept it while others embraced it unreservedly.

“‘Saved or Damned’: Tracing a Persistent Protestantism in Early Mormon Thought,” Grant UnderwoodBYU Studies, Vol. 25, no. 3
The idea that only people who believed in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and were baptized by proper authority could be saved from hell permeated early Latter-day Saint thought. A sharp line could be drawn between the saved and the damned. For modern Latter-day Saints accustomed to extolling the vision of the three degrees of glory as the antidote to such confining polarities, the idea seems foreign indeed. Yet it is the purpose of this article to trace within Mormon thought the persisting lineaments of traditional salvationist rhetoric and to demonstrate that the vision of the three degrees of glory did not begin to alter such notions until the end of the Nauvoo period.

“Degrees of Glory,” Larry E. Dahl, Encyclopedia of Mormonism
The Church holds that all mankind, except the sons of perdition, will find a place in one of the kingdoms of glory in the hereafter and that they themselves choose the place by the lives they live here on earth and in the post-earthly spirit world.

“Opening the Heavens: Seventy-six Accounts of Joseph Smith’s Visionary Experiences,” Alexander L. Baugh, chapter in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations

This chapter focuses on section 76 as one of the many visions of deity that Joseph Smith had. The vision of the two supreme members of the Godhead was rich and glorious. So powerful was the vision of what they both saw and heard, they chose to bear testimony of the Savior, a testimony declaring “that he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God.”

“The Vision (D&C 76),” at Church History Topics  

The account of this vision received by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon was soon recorded in the Church’s revelation book, copied by missionaries and spread, and published in the Church newspaper. This page includes a five-minute video about how the early Saints received the vision.

“The Triumph and Glory of the Lamb: Doctrine and Covenants 76,” J. Spencer Fluhman, Ensign October 2017  

The Vision is one of the texts of the idea that people can become like God (an idea many traditional Christians find controversial in the extreme). It does so by its emphasis on Christ’s saving work.