“Lesson 132: Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–83,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Lesson 132,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
On January 19, 1841, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo, Illinois. In this revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124, the Lord explained the blessings that would be available to the Saints if they would be diligent in building the temple. The Lord also commanded the Saints to build a house where travelers could stay in Nauvoo.
Before class, write the following question on the board: What is something you have accomplished that required a significant amount of time, effort, or sacrifice on your part? As students arrive, ask them to be prepared to respond to this question. After the devotional, ask a few students to share their responses with the class.
Why was your accomplishment worth the time, effort, or sacrifice it required?
Explain that by 1841 a large portion of the Saints had relocated to Nauvoo, Illinois. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:25–27 silently, looking for what the Lord commanded the Saints in Nauvoo to do.
What did the Lord command the Saints to do?
What did the Lord want the Saints to use to build the temple?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the reason the Lord gave for why the Saints needed to build a temple.
Why did the Saints need to build a temple? (To provide a place where the Lord could come and restore the fulness of the priesthood.)
To help students understand the phrase “fulness of the priesthood” in verse 28, invite a student to read the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith:
“Every man who is faithful and will receive these ordinances and blessings obtains a fulness of the priesthood, and the Lord has said that ‘he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion’ [D&C 76:95; see also D&C 88:107]. … The Lord has made it possible for every man in this Church, through his obedience, to receive the fulness of the priesthood through the ordinances of the temple of the Lord. This cannot be received anywhere else” (in Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:132–33).
Explain that all members of the Church—men and women—can receive the fulness of the blessings of the priesthood by receiving all the ordinances of the temple. Through these ordinances, we can gain access to all the blessings Heavenly Father desires to give His children. Point out that the restoration of temple ordinances and covenants began in the Kirtland Temple but had not been completed. Building a temple in Nauvoo would allow the restoration of temple ordinances and covenants to continue (see D&C 124:28, 40–41).
What is an ordinance? (A sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood.)
Explain that some ordinances are essential to exaltation, and many of these saving ordinances can be performed only in temples. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:29 silently, looking for one of these essential temple ordinances that the Lord indicated needed to be restored. Ask students to report what they found.
Explain that on August 15, 1840, the Prophet Joseph Smith first taught that the Saints could perform saving ordinances like baptism on behalf of their deceased family members and friends who had not had the opportunity to receive the gospel (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 403). After this announcement, many baptisms for the dead were performed in the Mississippi River or in nearby streams.
Invite a few students to take turns reading Doctrine and Covenants 124:30–34 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s direction concerning where the ordinance of baptism for the dead needs to be performed.
Where did the Lord say that the ordinance of baptism for the dead needed to take place in order to be acceptable to Him? Why did the Lord allow the Saints to perform baptisms outside of the temple temporarily?
You may want to display a picture of the Nauvoo Temple (Gospel Art Book , no. 118; see also LDS.org). Explain that after Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 124, work on the temple progressed quickly. On October 3, 1841, after the basement of the temple was partially completed, Joseph Smith told the Saints, “There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord’s House. … For thus saith the Lord!” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 469). On November 21, 1841, after a baptismal font had been built and dedicated in the basement of the Nauvoo Temple, baptisms for the dead resumed. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 251–52; Teachings: Joseph Smith, 469–70.)
According to Doctrine and Covenants 124, where is the only place in which the fulness of the priesthood ordinances can be obtained for the redemption of both the living and the dead? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following doctrine: The temple is the only place where we can obtain the fulness of the priesthood ordinances for the redemption of the living and the dead.)
How might this doctrine have motivated the Saints to make the necessary sacrifices to build a temple in Nauvoo?
To help students feel the truth and importance of this doctrine, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson. (You may want to provide each student with a copy of the statement.)
“Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 92).
What sacrifices might you have to make in order to be worthy and prepared to receive the ordinances of the temple?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:38–41 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for why the Lord commanded Moses to build a tabernacle in the wilderness and why He instructed His people to build a temple in the land of promise. (You may need to explain that Moses and his people did not perform baptisms for the dead. No work for the dead was performed until the Savior instituted that work in the spirit world after His death.)
According to verse 38, why did the Lord command the ancient Israelites to build a tabernacle and temples?
Write the following two questions on the board:
Assign students to work in pairs. Ask each student to choose one of the questions on the board. Invite students to turn to their partners and take turns responding to their questions based on what they have learned in Doctrine and Covenants 124:25–41. In addition, you may want to invite a few students to share their insights (or those of their partner) with the class.
You may want to summarize Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–24, 56–83 by explaining that in addition to the temple, the Lord instructed the Saints to build another structure called the Nauvoo House, where visitors to Nauvoo could stay.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:42–45 silently, looking for what the Lord said would happen if the Saints would build the temple and hearken to His voice and the voice of His servants. Ask students to report what they found.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 124:46–54 by explaining that the Lord told the Saints what would happen if they built the temple but then did not hearken to His voice or the voice of His servants. The Lord also explained that He would accept the Saints’ efforts to accomplish His work (including building temples) even if they were prevented from doing so because of the persecution they faced.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:55 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord declared the Saints would prove to Him by obeying His commandment to build the Nauvoo Temple.
According to verse 55, what do we prove to the Lord when we obey His commandments? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: By obeying the Lord’s commandments, we prove our faithfulness. You may want to write this principle on the board.)
Invite students to ponder the effort, time, and sacrifice sometimes associated with keeping the commandments of the Lord.
How could the opportunity to prove your faithfulness to God motivate you to obey His commandments?
According to verse 55, what additional blessings did the Lord promise the Saints if they would build a temple in Nauvoo?
Point out that the blessings of honor, immortality, and eternal life promised in verse 55 are eternal in nature.
Why is it important to understand that the blessings we receive for our faithfulness to the Lord may not be immediate?
Invite students to ponder times in their lives when they have been obedient to a commandment out of a desire to be loyal and faithful to their Heavenly Father and the Savior. Invite a few students to share their experiences and feelings about showing the Lord their loyalty and faithfulness. Invite students to look for opportunities to prove their faithfulness to the Lord.