“Lesson 69: Doctrine and Covenants 64:1–19,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Lesson 69,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
On August 27, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith and a number of elders had recently returned to Ohio from their journey to dedicate the land and the temple site in Zion, or Independence, Missouri. During the journey to and from Missouri, some of the elders had disagreements with each other and experienced contentious feelings, but most were able to reconcile with each other. On September 11, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 64. This lesson covers Doctrine and Covenants 64:1–19, in which the Lord speaks of His willingness to forgive His servants. He also commands Church members to forgive one another.
Note: Lesson 70 provides an opportunity for two students to teach. If you have not already done so, you may want to select two students now and give them copies of the designated portions of lesson 70 so they can prepare.
Before class, write the following questions on the board:
Begin class by inviting students to ponder the questions on the board.
Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 64, the Lord teaches us how to respond when others have hurt us. Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 64 on September 11, 1831, about two weeks after he and a group of elders had returned to Ohio from Independence, Missouri. These elders and other Church members had experienced difficulties because of disagreements and contentious feelings among some members of the group. In this revelation, the Lord said, “There are those among you who have sinned” (D&C 64:3).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:1–4 aloud, and ask the class to look for phrases that describe how the Lord would respond to those who had sinned. You may want to suggest that students mark the phrases they identify.
How did the Lord say He would respond to members of the Church who had sinned?
What do these responses teach us about the Lord? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: The Lord is compassionate, forgiving, and merciful. Write this principle on the board.)
Why might this truth have been significant for Church members who had experienced difficulties because of disagreements and hard feelings? Why does this truth about the Savior matter to you?
Explain that at this time, some members of the Church, including some of the elders who had been traveling with Joseph Smith, had become critical of Joseph Smith. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about Joseph Smith. Before the student reads, explain that to seek occasion against someone, as expressed in verse 6, is to find fault with someone.
What did the Lord say about Joseph Smith? (Joseph Smith held the keys of the Lord’s kingdom and was the Lord’s servant. Some people had found fault with Joseph.)
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:7 silently, looking for something else the Lord said about Joseph Smith.
What can we learn from this verse about Joseph Smith? (Joseph Smith had sinned, but the Lord was willing to forgive him. To help students understand this passage, you may want to point out that like all people, Joseph Smith had weaknesses and needed to seek the Lord’s forgiveness for his sins. However, he was not guilty of serious sins.)
What can we learn from this verse about what we must do to receive the Lord’s forgiveness?
If possible, display a picture of a poisonous snake that lives in your area or a picture of a wound caused by a bite from a poisonous snake.
In addition to feeling physical pain, what emotions do you think you would feel if you were bitten by a poisonous snake?
Explain that someone in this situation could (1) pursue the snake and kill it out of anger or fear, or (2) take immediate measures to get the poison out of his or her system.
Which of these two courses of action do you think is wiser? Why?
Explain that a person’s choices after receiving a poisonous bite can be compared to our choices when we feel hurt because of the words or actions of another person. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the consequences some of the Lord’s disciples faced because they refused to forgive one another. Invite students to report what they find.
What principle can we learn from verse 8? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: When we refuse to forgive others, we bring affliction upon ourselves. Consider inviting students to write this principle in their own words in their scriptures.)
How can a person be afflicted (or hurt) by not forgiving others? How is this like the consequences of a person chasing a rattlesnake that has just bitten him?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:9 aloud. Invite the class to identify another consequence of not forgiving others.
According to verse 9, what is another consequence of refusing to forgive others? (If we do not forgive others, we stand condemned before the Lord. Write this doctrine on the board.)
As part of this discussion, you may want to ask a student to read the following statement by Elder David E. Sorensen of the Seventy:
“It can be very difficult to forgive someone the harm they’ve done us, but when we do, we open ourselves up to a better future. No longer does someone else’s wrongdoing control our course. When we forgive others, it frees us to choose how we will live our own lives. Forgiveness means that problems of the past no longer dictate our destinies, and we can focus on the future with God’s love in our hearts” (“Forgiveness Will Change Bitterness to Love,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 12).
To help students identify and apply the Lord’s commandment to forgive all people, read the following examples and ask the questions that follow:
A young woman is hurt and embarrassed after learning that some of her peers have been spreading gossip about her. Later, some of these peers apologize, but others do not. The young woman forgives those who have apologized but holds a grudge against the others.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 64:10–11. Ask them to think about how these verses relate to the example you have read.
What commandment does the Lord give in verse 10? (Help students identify the following commandment: The Lord commands us to forgive all people.)
How does this commandment relate to the young woman in the example? Why do you think it is important to forgive all people, regardless of whether they apologize for their wrongdoings?
A young man disobeys a commandment. He prays for forgiveness and discusses the problem with his bishop. However, even after the bishop has assured the young man that he has fully repented, the young man continues to feel unworthy because of his past sin.
How does the commandment to forgive all people relate to the young man in this example? Why must we forgive ourselves?
A young woman is feeling sad and confused because of the actions of her father. He has abandoned his family. Before he left, he rarely showed love for the family and was often cruel. She does not understand why her father acted this way, and she carries feelings of anger toward him. She knows she should seek to forgive him but doesn’t think that she can.
How could the Lord’s counsel in verse 11 help this young woman forgive her father? How does it help us to let God be the judge of those who have hurt us?
Ask students to consider if there is anyone whom they need to forgive. Acknowledge that at times it can be extremely difficult to forgive another. Invite a student to read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Ask the class to listen for what they can do if they are struggling to forgive someone.
“I plead with you to ask the Lord for strength to forgive. … It may not be easy, and it may not come quickly. But if you will seek it with sincerity and cultivate it, it will come” (“Of You It Is Required to Forgive,” Ensign, June 1991, 5).
What did President Hinckley counsel us to do if we are struggling to forgive someone? How do you think praying for strength can help us to forgive?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 64:12–14 by explaining that the Lord taught that our choice to forgive others does not relieve them of responsibility for their actions. They are still accountable to the Lord for the wrongs they have done. In Doctrine and Covenants 64:15–17 we see that the Lord specifically forgave two of His servants, Isaac Morley and Edward Partridge, because they had repented of their sins.
Display a picture of Jesus Christ. Point to the first truth you wrote on the board at the beginning of the lesson: The Lord is compassionate, forgiving, and merciful. Testify that as we forgive, we become more like the Savior.
Invite students to ponder how they can apply the principles of forgiveness they have learned today. Give them time to write what they will do to apply these truths and to record any impressions they have received.