“Lesson 4: Doctrine and Covenants 1,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Lesson 4,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
By November 1831, Joseph Smith had received more than 60 revelations. However, most Church members did not have access to copies of the revelations. The Prophet convened a conference in Hiram, Ohio, to discuss publishing them as a book that would be called the Book of Commandments. A committee of elders drafted a preface to the book. Unsatisfied with this draft, those who attended the conference requested that Joseph Smith ask the Lord for a preface. After petitioning the Lord in prayer, Joseph received a preface by revelation. The Lord’s preface to the Book of Commandments became section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
You might begin this lesson by asking the class to ponder the following questions as you read them aloud. After sufficient time, invite one or two students to share their responses.
When has someone sought to get your attention and warn you about something? How did you respond?
How do you feel about that person’s efforts to warn you? Why do you feel this way?
Display your copy of the Doctrine and Covenants, and explain that in this book the Lord provides warnings, commandments, and instructions that are crucial for our happiness and salvation. Tell students that the Lord revealed section 1 as a preface to the other revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. A preface prepares a reader for the contents of a book by summarizing the message and purposes of the author. To help students understand the historical context for Doctrine and Covenants 1, you may want to relate some of the information from the introduction to this lesson.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify words or phrases the Lord used to get the attention of those who would read His words. Invite a few students to share what they have found. (As students respond, you may want to explain that hearken means to listen attentively. When we truly hearken to the Lord, we will follow His counsel and obey His commandments.)
To whom was the Lord speaking in these verses? (The Lord was speaking to all the inhabitants of the earth, not just to members of the Church.)
What do you think is the meaning of the phrase “their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed”? (D&C 1:3).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:4–7 aloud, and ask the class to identify how the Lord said He would deliver His warnings to all people.
How did the Lord say He would deliver His warnings to all people? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following doctrine: The Lord speaks His warnings to all people through His chosen disciples. You may want to suggest that students mark this doctrine in Doctrine and Covenants 1:4 or write it in the margin of their scriptures.)
Who are the disciples through whom the Lord speaks and publishes His warnings?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 1:8–10 by explaining that the Lord declared He will judge all people according to their actions and how they treat others. Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:11–14 aloud, and invite the class to follow along and identify further warnings.
According to footnote 12b, what event was the Lord referring to in Doctrine and Covenants 1:12?
In Doctrine and Covenants 1:14, what do you think the Lord meant when He warned that those who do not give heed to His prophets and apostles will be cut off? (They will be separated from the righteous and lose the blessings that are available through gospel ordinances and covenants.)
Explain that these warnings are necessary because of wickedness and apostasy throughout the world. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:15–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify words or phrases that illustrate wickedness or apostasy. Invite a few students to report what they have found.
In what ways do people in our day walk “in [their] own way, and after the image of [their] own god”? (D&C 1:16).
Ask the class to scan Doctrine and Covenants 1:17 and identify the word the Lord used to refer to the wickedness, apostasy, and destruction that would occur in the last days. When students identify the word calamity, explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 1:17–33, the Lord gives solutions to help us through the calamity of the last days. (You may want to explain that the word calamity refers to disastrous events that are accompanied by great loss, distress, and suffering.)
Copy the following chart on the board, or provide it to students as a handout:
What solution did the Lord give for the calamity that would come upon the earth?
How can this solution help us face the calamity of the last days?
You may want to ask students to complete the chart individually or with a partner. Ask students to read the scripture passages on the left side of the chart and identify solutions the Lord has given to help us with the calamity of the last days. Ask them to write descriptions or draw pictures of what they find in the center column of the chart. In the boxes on the right, ask them to write brief explanations of how each of the Lord’s solutions can help us with the calamity of the last days.
After sufficient time, invite students to report what they have recorded in the chart. Responses in the center column should include the following: the Lord called Joseph Smith and gave him revelations and commandments (see D&C 1:17); the Lord has commanded His servants to go throughout the earth to proclaim His gospel and establish His covenant (see D&C 1:18–23); the Lord revealed the Book of Mormon (see D&C 1:29); and the Lord restored His Church upon the earth (see D&C 1:30). Responses in the right column may vary. Invite a few students to share what they have written.
To help students think further about the Lord’s declaration in Doctrine and Covenants 1:30, you may want to suggest that they mark words in this verse that express the following truth: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the earth.
Based on what you learned in the previous lesson about the Great Apostasy, how would you explain to someone why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the earth?
What makes this church “living”?
Explain that through the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Lord is able to direct His Church with ongoing revelation. This continuing revelation is an example of how the Church is living.
Why is it important to you to know that you belong to the only true and living Church upon the earth?
What do you think the Lord meant when He stated that He was pleased with His Church “collectively and not individually”? (D&C 1:30). (Although the Church is true and as a whole is pleasing to the Lord, some individual members of the Church may not live in a way that is pleasing to Him.)
Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 1:31–33 and identify what the Lord said about sin and repentance.
How does the Lord look upon sin? How can we be forgiven?
According to Doctrine and Covenants 1:33, what happens to those who don’t repent?
What does it mean to have “light” taken away?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 1:34–36 by explaining that the Lord again expressed His desire to warn all people to prepare for His Second Coming. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–39 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the truths the Lord emphasized at the conclusion of His preface to the Doctrine and Covenants.
What truths did the Lord emphasize in Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–39? (As students share the truths they have identified, be sure the following are clear: We are to search the commandments the Lord has given. The Lord’s words will all be fulfilled. The Lord’s words are true whether they are stated by Him or by His servants.)
Based on what you have learned today, how can you be blessed if you search the commandments and revelations the Lord has given in the Doctrine and Covenants?
Invite a few students to share how searching the scriptures has blessed their lives. You might also want to invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a goal to study the Doctrine and Covenants daily during the school year. Ask them to consider when, where, and for how long they will study each day. Inform them that you will periodically follow up to help them be successful in their daily study.