“Home-Study Lesson: Doctrine and Covenants 65–71 (Unit 15)” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Home-Study Lesson: Unit 15,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
This lesson focuses on the Lord’s words to William E. McLellin in Doctrine and Covenants 66. Through their study of this section, students can learn the importance of repenting of all of their sins, removing things from their lives that hinder their spiritual progression, and remaining faithful to the end.
Before class, copy the following diagram on the board.
As class begins, invite students to examine the diagram on the board. Ask them to silently ponder where they would place themselves on the diagram. Also suggest that they consider in which direction they are moving—closer to God or farther away from Him. Then invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for ways we can draw closer to God.
“If you want to stay close to someone who has been dear to you, but from whom you are separated, you know how to do it. You would find a way to speak to them, you would listen to them, and you would discover ways to do things for each other. The more often that happened, the longer it went on, the deeper would be the bond of affection. If much time passed without the speaking, the listening, and the doing, the bond would weaken.
“God is perfect and omnipotent, and you and I are mortal. But he is our Father, he loves us, and he offers the same opportunity to draw closer to him as would a loving friend. And you will do it in much the same way: speaking, listening, and doing” (“To Draw Closer to God,” Ensign, May 1991, 66).
According to President Eyring, how can we draw closer to God?
What do you think it means to speak, listen, and do as we seek to draw closer to God?
Explain that in the early days of the Church, a man named William E. McLellin drew closer to God when he learned about the restored gospel. He was baptized on August 20, 1831. Soon after that, he was ordained an elder, and he accompanied Hyrum Smith for a few weeks as a missionary. In October 1831, he traveled to Ohio for a conference of the Church. While there, he met the Prophet Joseph Smith. On October 29, Brother McLellin prayed in secret, asking the Lord to reveal answers to five specific questions through the Prophet. Without telling Joseph Smith the questions, Brother McLellin requested a revelation. As the Prophet dictated the revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 66, Brother McLellin found that each of his questions was answered. The Lord gave him instructions and warnings to help him stay faithful and eventually receive eternal life.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 66:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons the Lord blessed William McLellin at the time of this revelation.
Why had Brother McLellin been able to receive blessings from the Lord? (Because he had turned away from his sins, received the Lord’s truths, and received the fulness of the gospel.)
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 66:3 silently, looking for what the Lord said Brother McLellin still needed to do to please Him. Ask students to report what they learn.
What do you think it means to be “clean, but not all”? (You may need to help students understand that although Brother McLellin had made great progress and had been blessed for his efforts, he still needed to repent of some sins.)
What can we learn from the Lord’s counsel in verse 3? (Students should identify the following commandment: We are commanded to repent of all our sins.)
Why is it important to repent of all of our sins, and not just some of them?
What can we learn from this verse about how the Lord will help us in our repentance? (Students’ answers may vary, but they should express the following principle: The Lord will show us the things we need to repent of.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring. Ask the class to listen for one way that we can ask the Lord to help us repent.
“One of the questions we must ask of our Heavenly Father in private prayer is this: ‘What have I done today, or not done, which displeases Thee? If I can only know, I will repent with all my heart without delay.’ That humble prayer will be answered” (“Do Not Delay,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 34).
Encourage students to think about blessings they have received as they have turned away from sin and received the gospel. Invite them to seek to know the things they need to repent of so they can receive even greater blessings.
Divide the students into pairs. Ask the pairs to read Doctrine and Covenants 66:5–9 together, looking for what the Lord wanted Brother McLellin to do. Ask students to report what they find.
According to verses 8–9, what blessings would Brother McLellin receive if he would faithfully do the Lord’s will?
What can we learn from these verses about blessings we can receive when we follow the Lord’s will for us? (Students should identify the following principle: If we are faithful in doing the Lord’s will, He will be with us and will bless us so we can accomplish what He requires of us.)
Explain that in addition to giving William McLellin instructions about what to do, the Lord gave him a warning. Ask a student to read the first two sentences of Doctrine and Covenants 66:10 aloud. Before he or she reads, point out that the first sentence includes the word cumbered. Explain that something cumbers us if it blocks our way or makes a task very difficult to accomplish.
The Lord commanded Brother McLellin to “forsake all unrighteousness.” How would unrighteousness, or sin, cumber his missionary work?
How does unrighteousness cumber us spiritually?
Read the third sentence of Doctrine and Covenants 66:10 aloud, and invite the class to look for a specific warning that the Lord gave William McLellin.
According to verse 10, what temptation had Brother McLellin struggled with?
What can we learn from verse 10 about the Lord’s knowledge about each of us? (Help students see that the Lord knows our specific challenges and temptations, just as He knew Brother McLellin’s.)
Why do you think it is important to understand that the Lord knows our specific challenges and temptations?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 66:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional counsel the Lord gave William McLellin.
According to verse 12, what do we need to do to receive eternal life? (Help students recognize that if we continue faithfully to the end, we will receive eternal life.)
What does it mean to you to continue faithfully to the end?
Explain that when this revelation was given, William McLellin had received a testimony of the restored gospel. After the revelation was given, he testified of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. Brother McLellin served faithfully for several years and was called to serve as one of the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in this dispensation. However, he did not continue faithfully to the end. In fact, he turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith, and he was excommunicated in 1838.
Direct students’ attention to the diagram on the board, and suggest that they once again consider where they would place themselves on that diagram. Ask them to ponder the following question:
What will you do to move closer to God and to continue faithfully to the end?
Testify of the doctrines and principles you have discussed, and encourage students to act on these truths.
Ask students to imagine what it would be like to receive a glimpse of hell (outer darkness) and other suffering of the ungodly and then receive a vision of the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial kingdoms of glory. Explain that because of their work on the inspired translation of the Bible, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were able to have their eyes opened to see a vision of the three degrees of glory, which is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76.