“Home-Study Lesson: Doctrine and Covenants 8–9; 11–16; Joseph Smith—History 1:68–75 (Unit 4)” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Home-Study Lesson: Unit 4,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Joseph Knight Sr., David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer all recognized that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and were anxious to assist in the Restoration. The Lord taught them about the spirit of revelation and what someone should do before seeking to declare the gospel.
Ask students to raise their hands if they have ever wondered how to know if they have received a revelation from the Lord.
Invite students to review Doctrine and Covenants 8 and 9 as well as what they wrote in their scripture study journals about those chapters in their day 1 lesson for this unit. Ask students to look for what they learned about receiving and recognizing answers to prayers. Invite a few students to share something they learned.
What challenges do you face as you strive to recognize when you are receiving promptings or guidance from the Holy Ghost?
Remind students that Doctrine and Covenants 8 and 9 contain the Lord’s instructions for Oliver Cowdery as Oliver attempted to translate the gold plates. From these revelations we can learn how to receive and recognize revelation. Invite students to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3 (which is a scripture mastery passage) and recite the passage in unison. Write the following truth on the board: The Lord speaks to our minds and hearts by the power of the Holy Ghost.
How can understanding this truth help you as you strive to recognize revelation from the Lord?
Explain that the ability to seek and receive personal revelation is a gift from God available for all of His children.
Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 8:4 aloud, and invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promised Oliver if he would “apply unto” the gift of revelation. Then ask the following questions:
What do you think it means to “apply unto” the spirit of revelation? (To seek for answers to prayers and live worthy to receive them.)
What principle can we learn from Doctrine and Covenants 8:4? (Though students may state it differently, make sure they identify that if we apply unto the spirit of revelation, we can be delivered from evil and harm. Write this principle on the board.)
Ask students to share when the Lord protected them or someone they know because they were seeking and listening to the Holy Ghost.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 8:1 silently and look for ways they could improve their prayers in order to “apply unto” the spirit of revelation.
If possible, provide students with a copy of the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (or write the statement on the board before class begins):
“Because the Spirit whispers to us gently and delicately, it is easy to understand why we should shun inappropriate media, pornography, and harmful, addictive substances and behaviors. These tools of the adversary can impair and eventually destroy our capacity to recognize and respond to the subtle messages from God delivered by the power of His Spirit. Each of us should consider seriously and ponder prayerfully how we can reject the devil’s enticements and righteously ‘apply unto it,’ even the spirit of revelation, in our personal lives and families” (“The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 88).
Ask students to read Elder Bednar’s statement silently and to identify phrases that help them understand how to better “apply unto” or seek after the spirit of revelation. You may want to suggest that they mark these phrases. Then ask the following questions:
What phrases did you identify, and why did they stand out to you?
According to Elder Bednar, why is it important to shun evil if we desire to receive and recognize revelation?
Invite students to consider some ways that they might better “apply unto” the gift of revelation in order to receive protection from evil. You might want to encourage them to write a goal of how they would like to “apply unto” this gift more fully in their lives.
To help students understand another way to seek revelation, remind them that Oliver Cowdery was given permission to translate, but after he began, he “did not continue as [he had] commenced” (D&C 9:5). Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 9:7–8 aloud, and invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told Oliver he needed to do to receive revelation.
Based on the Lord’s counsel to Oliver Cowdery, what do we learn is often required on our part in order to receive revelation? (One possible principle students may identify is that receiving and recognizing revelation require effort on our part. You may wish to write this truth or a similar one expressed by students on the board.)
Using Doctrine and Covenants 9:8, what advice would you give to a friend who was trying to make an important decision?
You might also ask students to share experiences when they needed to exert effort to make a difficult decision and then ask Heavenly Father if they had made the right choice.
Ask students to imagine they were asked to participate in one of the greatest causes occurring on the earth. Tell them that in May and June 1829, five men were personally instructed concerning the Lord’s will for them in the Restoration of the gospel.
Write the following headings and references on the board. Ask students to search the references to find what the Lord advised each of these men to do in order to assist in building God’s kingdom on the earth. Invite students to search all four references. (If time is short, divide the references among the class and ask students to report what they found.)
Joseph Knight Sr.
John and Peter Whitmer
After students have studied the references, ask the following questions:
What similarities do you notice in the Lord’s commands to these five men? What differences do you see?
What advice did the Lord give to Hyrum in Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 that would be helpful to a young man or woman preparing to serve a mission? (From their answers, help students to identify the following principle: Those who study the Lord’s word will receive His Spirit and the power to convince others of the truth of the gospel.) You may want to write it on the board.
Invite students to ponder what they can do to be more deliberate in their efforts to study and obtain the Lord’s word and to set a goal to act on the promptings they receive while they ponder.
To help students further master the scripture mastery verse in Doctrine and Covenants 13:1, invite them to recite it from memory together. Let them use their scriptures if needed. Then divide students into pairs and ask them to use the passage to explain to their partner how the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood help to bring people to Jesus Christ.
Tell students that as they study the next unit they will learn about men who were chosen as witnesses to see the gold plates, the Liahona, and other sacred items. They will read the Savior’s account of His suffering in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. They will also read the Savior’s teachings about how we can avoid such suffering.