“Unit 12: Day 2, Doctrine and Covenants 50,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)
“Unit 12: Day 2,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide
When the Prophet Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, he observed that “some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among” some of the Saints. He began teaching with “caution and … wisdom” to overcome these things (see History of the Church, 1:146). Elder Parley P. Pratt returned from a mission and observed similar behavior in branches of the Church outside of Kirtland. He and other elders went to Joseph to receive guidance (see History of the Church, 1:170). In May 1831, the Prophet inquired of the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 50. In this revelation the Lord instructed the Saints to teach and receive the gospel by the Spirit of truth.
Do you know what it means to edify someone? It means to build someone up—especially to strengthen someone spiritually or emotionally or to instruct and enlighten someone. Can you think of a time when you felt edified as someone taught you gospel principles? When have you felt that you helped edify others?
Recall the introduction to this lesson. New members of the Church in the Kirtland area had introduced strange, loud, and confusing activities into their worship services. These activities stirred people’s emotions, but they were not edifying.
The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote about some of the effects of following false spirits: “Soon after the Gospel was established in Kirtland, and during the absence of the authorities of the Church, many false spirits were introduced, many strange visions were seen, and wild, enthusiastic notions were entertained; men ran out of doors under the influence of this spirit, and some of them got upon the stumps of trees and shouted, and all kinds of extravagances were entered into by them; one man pursued a ball that he said he saw flying in the air, until he came to a precipice, when he jumped into the top of a tree, which saved his life; and many ridiculous things were entered into, calculated to bring disgrace upon the Church of God, to cause the Spirit of God to be withdrawn, and to uproot and destroy those glorious principles which had been developed for the salvation of the human family” (in History of the Church, 4:580).
Some of the elders of the Church did not understand what was happening, so they asked Joseph Smith for counsel. He inquired of the Lord and received a revelation that would help the Saints edify one another as they taught and learned gospel truths.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 50:4–9, looking for the Lord’s warning about some people among the Church members in Ohio. A hypocrite is a person whose actions do not match his or her stated beliefs or who pretends to be virtuous but is not (see Matthew 6:2, footnote 2a). In Doctrine and Covenants 50:6, 8, mark what the Lord said would happen to them.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What is required to be an effective teacher of the gospel?
What is required to be an effective learner of the gospel?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–20, looking for answers to these questions. Consider marking what you find in your scriptures and adding it to the list in your scripture study journal. Notice how much the Lord emphasized the need for the Holy Spirit in teaching and learning the gospel.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What roles of the Holy Ghost are mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 50:14?
Look through the scripture references listed in the Topical Guide for “Holy Ghost, Mission of.” Identify passages that help you understand what it means to teach and receive (be taught) truth by the Spirit of truth.
Circle any of the following settings in which you have had an opportunity to teach or testify of the gospel:
Family home evening
When you have an opportunity to teach the gospel, how does your understanding of the Holy Ghost affect the way you prepare and teach?
Circle any of the following settings in which you have been a student:
Family home evening
Home teaching visit
In conversations at home
- Choose one of the settings you circled in the preceding lists in which you either taught or were taught by the Spirit. Write about this experience in your scripture study journal, and consider sharing what you learned with a family member or friend.
Ponder what you can do to improve your efforts to learn by the Spirit in these settings.
Elder Jack H. Goaslind of the Seventy shared the experience of a young man who discovered that his actions and attitude affected his ability to learn by the Spirit:
“How many of you have assumed the ‘bored position’ during sacrament meeting? You know the position: bent forward at the waist, chin resting on hands, elbows on knees, staring vacantly at the floor. Has it occurred to you that it is your choice whether the meeting is interesting or not? …
“President Spencer W. Kimball said that worship ‘is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, he may do so. … If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord.’ (Ensign, Jan. 1978, p. 5.)
“One youth described how he first experienced the spirit of worship. He had been marginally active through his Aaronic Priesthood years. When he attended sacrament meeting, he usually sat in the back with a group of his friends, and he was less than a model of reverence. One day, however, he came in a little late, and there were no seats by his friends. He sat alone, and for the first time in his life, he closed his eyes during the prayers, he sang the hymns, he listened to the sacrament prayers, and he paid attention to the speakers. About midway through the first speaker, he found tears welling up in his eyes. With some embarrassment, he carefully glanced around; no one else seemed emotional. He didn’t know for sure what was happening to him, but the experience changed his life. It was during that meeting that he really started his spiritual preparation for his mission. He felt something, and fortunately, he acted and thus sustained those feelings” (“Yagottawanna,” Ensign, May 1991, 46).
- In your scripture study journal, write one specific way you can improve in your efforts to learn by the Spirit.
How can you tell when you are teaching and learning by the Spirit?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 50:21–22, looking for the Lord’s instruction about how to determine if you are teaching and learning by the Spirit.
How would you summarize the Lord’s teaching in those verses?
How did the Lord describe teaching that does not edify? How did He describe teaching that “is of God” (D&C 50:24)?
From these verses we can learn the following principle: That which comes from God enlightens and edifies, but that which is not of God brings confusion and darkness.
When have you seen or felt that something was not of God? How did the Spirit help you recognize that?
At times you will hear and see messages that are intended to damage your faith. The principles you are learning today can fortify you against those messages. Pray for the Spirit in all of your learning, and give special attention to the influence of teaching by the Spirit. In Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22, we learn that when we teach and learn by the Spirit, we understand one another and we are edified and rejoice together. This is different than the confusion and darkness when something is taught “some other way.”
In Doctrine and Covenants 50:26–36, read the Lord’s counsel to priesthood holders regarding the power and responsibilities that come with their ordination. He said that priesthood holders are to serve others and keep themselves pure. As they do so, the Lord will give them power to overcome false spirits like those that were found among some of the Saints.
Imagine the young children of your ward or branch serving full-time missions when they are older. What do they need to be prepared to serve? In what ways are we like these young children?
In Doctrine and Covenants 50:37–46, the Lord spoke specifically to some of the elders who were serving in 1831. However, His words also apply to us. Study Doctrine and Covenants 50:40–46, looking for words or phrases of comfort and assurance. Consider marking what you find.
In Doctrine and Covenants 50:40, the Lord said “ye must grow in grace.” What do you think it means to “grow in grace”?
As you think about this question, you may want to read the definition of grace in the Bible Dictionary or in True to the Faith. What we learn in Doctrine and Covenants 50:37–46 helps us know that the Savior wants us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth and to have confidence in Him. Just as He promised those elders, He will watch over us as we trust Him and seek to do His will.
What does it mean to you when the Lord says, “You are mine”? How can this assurance help us to “fear not” (D&C 50:41)?
What other promises in Doctrine and Covenants 50:40–46 are meaningful to you?
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 50 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: