“December 6–12. The Articles of Faith and Official Declarations 1 and 2: ‘We Believe,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020)
“December 6–12. The Articles of Faith and Official Declarations 1 and 2,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2021
Record Your Impressions
In the 200 years since Joseph Smith’s First Vision, God has continued to give “revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge” to the leaders of His Church (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61). In some cases, that revelation directed Church leaders to make changes to the policies and practices of the Church, “according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:15). Official Declarations 1 and 2 represent this kind of revelation—one led to the end of the practice of plural marriage, and the other made the blessings of the priesthood, including temple blessings, available to people of all races. Changes like these are part of what it means to have a “true and living church” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30), with a true and living prophet.
But there are also things that don’t change—foundational, eternal truths. And sometimes the purpose of revelation is to cast additional light on these truths, helping us see them more clearly. The Articles of Faith—Joseph Smith’s 13 concise statements of what Latter-day Saints believe—seem to serve this clarifying purpose. Both types of revelation guide and bless the Church, a Church that is solidly founded on eternal truth yet capable of growth and change as the Lord increases our understanding to help us meet today’s challenges. In other words, “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).
One way you can study the Articles of Faith is to list the truths that are found in each one and then find scriptures related to these truths. How do these scriptures enrich your understanding of the truths in the Articles of Faith?
See also Guide to the Scriptures, “Articles of Faith,” scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org; L. Tom Perry, “The Doctrines and Principles Contained in the Articles of Faith,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 46–48; “Chapter 38: The Wentworth Letter,” in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 435–47.
“We believe that [God] will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9), even when those things mean changing Church policies and practices. With this principle in mind, review Official Declarations 1 and 2, and look for words and phrases that strengthen your faith in continuing revelation. What other examples of continuing revelation to the Lord’s prophet can you think of? How have these revelations affected your life? How have they advanced the work of Heavenly Father’s kingdom?
In the “Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff regarding the Manifesto” (at the end of Official Declaration 1), what reasons did the prophet give for the Lord ending the practice of plural marriage? What does this teach you about God’s work?
For more information about the historical background of Official Declaration 1, see “The Messenger and the Manifesto” (Revelations in Context, 323–31) and “Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah” (Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
The scriptures teach us to trust in the Lord (see Proverbs 3:5), and that’s what many Church members of African descent did when the Church withheld priesthood ordination and temple ordinances from them. Even though they did not understand why this policy existed—and often felt hurt by the explanations taught at the time, which the Church disavows today—many devout members of African descent trusted the Lord and stayed faithful throughout their lives. As you read Official Declaration 2, ponder how you have learned to trust in the Lord even when you don’t have a perfect understanding.
Learning about the faith of black members of the Church could be inspiring to you. Here are some of their accounts, found at history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org:
“Jane Elizabeth Manning James” (Church History Topics)
“In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions” (story of Green Flake)
“You Have Come at Last” (story of Anthony Obinna)
“Break the Soil of Bitterness” (story of Julia Mavimbela)
“I Will Take It in Faith” (story of George Rickford)
See also “Witnessing the Faithfulness,” Revelations in Context, 332–41; Gospel Topics, “Race and the Priesthood,” topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org; Ahmad Corbitt, “A Personal Essay on Race and the Priesthood,” parts 1–4, history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org; BeOne.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
- The Articles of Faith.
Consider how your family could create “mini-lessons” for the Articles of Faith. For example, throughout the week, each family member could pick one article and find a related scripture, picture, hymn, or children’s song or share a personal experience.
Or family members could take turns asking each other questions about the Church and our beliefs and then answering those questions with an article of faith.
- Official Declarations 1 and 2.
Official Declarations 1 and 2 help us understand the role of modern revelation in the Church. As your family reads them together, consider discussing how the prophet leads us “by the inspiration of Almighty God” (Official Declaration 1). How do these two declarations strengthen our faith in a living God who personally guides His Church? How do we see His hand in the work of the Church today? You might decide to explore together some of the resources in “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” above.
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “Keep the Commandments,” Children’s Songbook, 146–47.