“Lesson 63: Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–33,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Lesson 63,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
On August 1, 1831, less than two weeks after the Lord designated Independence, Missouri, as the center place of Zion, Joseph Smith received the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 58. This revelation was given in response to those who were anxious to know the will of God concerning them in this new land. In this revelation the Lord counseled the Saints to be faithful in their tribulations and explained why He had sent the Saints to Zion. The Lord also encouraged the Saints to use their agency to bring about righteousness.
Before class begins, write the words Present and Future on the board.
Begin the lesson by asking students to think of the greatest challenge they are currently facing in their lives.
How might thinking about your future, in this life and in the next, help you deal with the challenges you are facing now?
Invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud. Ask the class to listen for challenges the Saints in Missouri experienced in 1831 that might have caused some of them to become discouraged.
In January 1831, missionaries found a group of Delaware Indians living in the Indian Territory beyond the western border of Missouri. The Delaware Indians were interested in learning the gospel contained in the Book of Mormon. However, because the missionaries had not obtained the required permits to enter the Indian Territory and preach the gospel and because of opposition from local Indian agents and ministers, the missionaries from the Church were forced to leave the territory. The missionaries then attempted to teach white settlers in Independence, Missouri, and the surrounding areas, but fewer than ten converts had joined the Church by July 1831. When elders of the Church from Ohio began arriving in Missouri in July 1831, some were disappointed with what they found. Some of them expected to see a rapidly growing community of believers and a settlement that was prepared to accommodate the migrating Church members. A few expressed concern because the land in Independence was undeveloped. Additionally, some of the brethren were encouraged to stay in Missouri and purchase lands to prepare Zion for the Saints who would come later.
Why do you think this situation might have been discouraging for some Church members?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the elders that may have helped them deal with the challenges they faced.
What did the Lord tell the elders?
How would you summarize the truths in verse 2? (Students should identify the following principles: We will be blessed if we keep the Lord’s commandments. Our eternal reward will be greater if we remain faithful in tribulation. You may want to suggest that students mark the phrases that teach these principles in verse 2.)
Refer to the words Present and Future on the board. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:3–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the elders concerning the present and future of His people. Ask students to report what they have found.
According to verse 3, what do we often fail to see or understand when we are going through tribulation?
Point out that these verses seem to imply that the Lord wanted the elders to look beyond the trials they were enduring and focus instead on the glorious future they would experience if they were faithful. The Lord’s message to the Saints in Missouri can help us endure challenges by keeping us focused on the blessings promised to those who endure tribulation faithfully.
How can trusting that the Lord will bless you help you endure tribulation faithfully?
When have you felt that you were blessed for being faithful during tribulation?
Invite students again to consider the greatest challenge they are currently experiencing. Encourage them to remain faithful to the gospel despite their challenges so they can receive the rewards the Lord has in store for them both now and in the eternities.
Ask students the following questions:
Have you ever been asked to do something, but you did not understand why you were asked to do it? How did it make you feel?
On the other hand, has someone ever asked you to do something and also helped you understand the reasons for doing it? What difference did knowing the reasons make?
Explain that the Lord revealed some of His reasons for sending people to lay the foundation of Zion. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:6–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons the Lord gave for sending people to lay the foundation of Zion. Invite students to report what they learned.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 58:9–13 by explaining that one reason the Lord was sending people to lay the foundation of Zion was to prepare the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In these verses, the Lord referred to a New Testament parable that teaches that people in all nations will be invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel.
How might knowing that they were preparing the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ have helped the elders be faithful in their tribulations?
Remind students that the Lord had called Bishop Edward Partridge to direct the efforts to build the city of Zion. The Lord instructed Bishop Partridge and Sidney Gilbert to stay in Missouri to manage the properties of the Church and purchase land in and around Independence, Missouri (see D&C 57:7–8). Explain that as the Saints prepared to purchase land, Bishop Partridge argued with Joseph Smith about the quality of the land that had been selected. He felt that different parcels of land should be purchased instead. This disagreement led to a rebuke from the Lord.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told Bishop Partridge. Ask students to report what they found.
Refer students back to Doctrine and Covenants 58:3. How might the truths revealed in that verse have helped Bishop Partridge choose to repent for arguing with the Prophet about which parcels of land should be purchased?
Explain to the class that Bishop Partridge accepted the Lord’s rebuke with humility and was forgiven of his sins.
How can the truths revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 58:3 help us respond to the Lord’s commandments with faith instead of unbelief and blindness of heart?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:16–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told Bishop Partridge about his role as bishop and his responsibility to help build Zion.
According to these verses, what is a bishop’s responsibility?
What are some ways bishops are to judge the Lord’s people today?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 58:21–23 by explaining that the Lord expects us to keep the laws of the land until He comes and reigns during the Millennium.
Present the following situation to the class:
Imagine that as you are walking down the street you see an elderly person fall. Which of the following should you do?
Wait for the Spirit to prompt you to help.
Wait for someone else to tell you what to do.
Wait to see if someone else is going to help.
Immediately help the person who fell.
After students have responded, ask the following question:
Why is it important to help the person without waiting for directions from someone else?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for principles the Lord taught the Saints as they faced the challenge of building the city of Zion. (You may want to explain that the phrase “he that is compelled in all things” [D&C 58:26] refers to someone who will not act unless he or she is required to do so.)
What truths did you discover in verses 26–28? (Students may respond with truths such as the following: We have power to choose to act for ourselves. If we wait for the Lord to tell us everything we should do, we will lose our reward. If we use our agency to do things that bring to pass righteousness, we will be rewarded. Using students’ words, write these truths on the board.)
What “reward” are these verses referring to? How can doing many good things of our own free will affect whether we receive eternal life?
What are some ways you can be anxiously engaged in doing good at home? At school? In your ward or branch?
Invite students to share experiences they have had when they were blessed for using their agency to do good.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:29–33 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happens to those who do not use their agency to do good or who doubt the Lord’s commandments.
What happens to those who do not use their agency to do good or who doubt the Lord’s commandments?
How do some people respond when they do not receive blessings because of their slothfulness or disobedience? What warning does the Lord give to such individuals in verse 33?
Testify of the importance of using our agency to do good. Invite students to use their agency to do something good before class meets again. Tell students that they will have an opportunity to share what they did as part of the next lesson.