“Unit 16: Day 1, Doctrine and Covenants 72–74,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)
“Unit 16: Day 1,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide
On December 4, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 72, wherein the Lord called a new bishop in Ohio and revealed some of his duties. In Doctrine and Covenants 73, given in January 1832, the Lord directed Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to recommence their work on the translation of the Bible. As a result of their work on the translation, the Lord gave the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 74, which is an explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:14.
Have you ever received a calling or been asked to do something difficult in the Church and felt overwhelmed or incapable of doing it? Read Doctrine and Covenants 72:1–2, looking for the calling that needed to be made in Ohio (“this part of the Lord’s vineyard”).
In the summer of 1831, Bishop Edward Partridge, the first bishop called in the Church, moved nearly 900 miles west from Kirtland, Ohio, to Independence, Missouri, to serve as the bishop in Zion. As a result, the Lord declared that a new bishop was needed in Ohio. Read Doctrine and Covenants 72:3–6, and identify phrases that explain why the Saints in Ohio, who were stewards living the law of consecration, needed a bishop. (You were introduced to the law of consecration in the “Unit 10: Day 3” lesson material for Doctrine and Covenants 42:30–42 in this study guide.)
Ponder how your bishop or branch president helps you be accountable for your responsibilities as a member of the Church today.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 72:7–8, and notice whom the Lord called as the new bishop in Ohio.
When Newel K. Whitney was called to be the bishop in Ohio, he felt he was inadequate to serve in such a position. The following information from his grandson Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles helps us understand how Newel K. Whitney felt and what he learned about where his call had come from:
“The thought of assuming this important responsibility (the office of bishop) was almost more than he could bear. Though in natural gifts few men were better qualified for such a position, he nevertheless distrusted his ability, and [felt] incapable of discharging the high and holy trust. In his perplexity he appealed to the Prophet:
“‘I cannot see a bishop in myself, brother Joseph; but if you say it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll try.’
“‘You need not take my word alone;’ answered the Prophet, kindly, ‘Go and ask Father for yourself.’
“Newel … determined to do as [the Prophet] advised. His humble, heartfelt prayer was answered. In the silent of night and the solitude of his chamber, he heard a voice from heaven: ‘Thy strength is in me.’ The words were few and simple, but they had a world of meaning. His doubts were dispelled like dew before the dawn. He straightway sought the Prophet, told him he was satisfied, and was willing to accept the office to which he had been called” (in B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:271).
- Respond to the following situation in your scripture study journal: Imagine that a friend or family member receives a calling to serve in the Church and feels overwhelmed and incapable of fulfilling the calling. Based on what you have learned in Doctrine and Covenants 72 and the experience Newel K. Whitney had concerning his calling, write a few sentences of counsel or testimony that you would give to help this person feel confident in accepting and fulfilling the calling.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency also taught about the source of callings to serve in the Church:
“To everyone, man or woman, girl or boy, who has been called or who will yet be, I give you my counsel. There are a few things you must come to know are true. …
“First, you are called of God. The Lord knows you. He knows whom He would have serve in every position in His Church. He chose you. … The person who was inspired to recommend you for this call didn’t do it because they liked you or because they needed someone to do a particular task. They prayed and felt an answer that you were the one to be called.
“The person who called you did not issue the call simply because he learned by interviewing you that you were worthy and willing to serve. He prayed to know the Lord’s will for you. It was prayer and revelation to those authorized of the Lord which brought you here” (“Rise to Your Call,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 75–76).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can understanding that callings to serve in the Lord’s Church come from God help you accept and diligently strive to fulfill your callings?
- In your scripture study journal, list all of the duties and responsibilities of bishops and branch presidents that you can think of.
In Doctrine and Covenants 72:9–26, the Lord revealed some of Bishop Newel K. Whitney’s duties. The duties that the Lord gave were primarily related to Bishop Whitney’s role under the law of consecration. However, some of the bishops’ and branch presidents’ responsibilities in the Church today relate to these duties of the first bishops in the Church.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 72:10–12, looking for the duties the Lord gave Bishop Whitney. Circle any of the duties you listed in your scripture study journal that are similar to those described in these verses.
Some of the duties the Lord commanded Bishop Whitney to fulfill are similar to responsibilities required of bishops today. Read Doctrine and Covenants 72:16–18, looking for what Bishop Whitney was to give Church members who were moving to Missouri.
Saints moving to Missouri were to carry a certificate to Bishop Partridge, the bishop in Zion, verifying that they were worthy of an inheritance in Zion. In our day, temple recommends serve as a type of “certificate” that bishops and branch presidents give to Church members to certify their worthiness and allow them to enter the holy temples.
From this revelation concerning Bishop Whitney’s duties, we can learn that bishops and branch presidents manage the temporal and spiritual affairs of the Church in their wards and branches. (The word temporal refers to things pertaining to physical life, such as clothing, food, property, and money.)
Consider the ways that your life is blessed because the Lord has called your bishop or branch president to serve you and your family.
Read the section introduction for Doctrine and Covenants 73, and look for what the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had been doing since the early part of December 1831.
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had been preaching to help combat misinformation about the Church resulting from the publication of Ezra Booth’s letters. In Doctrine and Covenants 73:1–2, the Lord revealed that the elders who had also been preaching were to continue doing so until the next conference. This conference would be held two weeks later.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 73:3–4, looking for what work the Lord commanded Joseph and Sidney to focus on at that time. This “work of translation” Joseph and Sidney were to again focus on was the inspired revision of the Bible. Many of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired revisions are currently found in footnotes (JST) throughout the Bible and in a section in the Bible appendix (Joseph Smith Translation). The book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price are also from the inspired translation.
Imagine that you are serving as a full-time missionary of the Church. While speaking with a married couple who is investigating the Church, you learn that they had a son who died when he was only a few months old. The couple was told by their religious leader that the child was not able to be in heaven because he had not been baptized before he died. The parents feel intense sorrow because of the loss of their child and their belief that their baby has lost his salvation.
What would you say to these parents? (You will have the opportunity to write your response later in this lesson.)
Doctrine and Covenants 74 contains the Lord’s explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:14. Read Doctrine and Covenants 74:1, which is the Apostle Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 7:14. The word unbelieving in verse 1 refers to Jews who had not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was not saying that a person could be saved by his or her spouse’s righteousness but that the conversion of one spouse could bring a sanctifying influence into the family. The phrase “else were your children unclean” in 1 Corinthians 7:14 has been used to justify the practice of infant baptism.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 74:2–6, looking for problems that had developed in the Apostle Paul’s day when one spouse in a marriage converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the other spouse still practiced the law of Moses.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ fulfilled the law of Moses, and circumcision was no longer required. However, the Jews who followed the law of Moses believed a male child was unclean unless he was circumcised, which was usually done when the child was eight days old. In Doctrine and Covenants 74:2–6, the Lord explained how this false belief about the spiritual state of children and the practice of circumcision had caused problems in families in which one parent believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the other believed in the law of Moses. Similar conflicts in religious beliefs and practices may occur today in families in which one spouse is a member of the Church and the other spouse is not.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 74:7, and consider marking the doctrine the Lord taught about little children. Then read Moroni 8:8–12. Ponder how these verses apply to the missionary situation presented earlier. You may want to write Moroni 8:8–12 as a cross reference next to Doctrine and Covenants 74:7.
- In your scripture study journal, write what you would teach the married couple who believes their deceased baby is not able to be in heaven. How would you help them understand the doctrine taught in these verses that little children are holy, being sanctified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Quorum of the Seventy shared an experience he had as a young full-time missionary in Chile. Notice the effect that learning the true doctrine that little children are sanctified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ had on the woman Elder Bowen and his companion were teaching.
“Sister Ramirez advanced rapidly through the lessons. She was anxious to learn all the doctrine that we taught. One evening as we were discussing infant baptism, we taught that little children are innocent and have no need for baptism. We invited her to read in the book of Moroni [Moroni 8:10–12]. …
“After reading this scripture, Sister Ramirez began sobbing. My companion and I were confused. I asked, ‘Sister Ramirez, have we said or done something that has offended you?’
“She said, ‘Oh, no, Elder, you haven’t done anything wrong. Six years ago I had a baby boy. He died before we could have him baptized. Our priest told us that because he had not been baptized, he would be in limbo for all eternity. For six years I have carried that pain and guilt. After reading this scripture, I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true. I have felt a great weight taken off of me, and these are tears of joy.’ …
“After she suffered almost unbearable grief and pain for six years, the true doctrine, revealed by a loving Father in Heaven through a living prophet, brought sweet peace to this tormented woman. Needless to say, Sister Ramirez and her children who were eight years and older were baptized” (“Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 15–16).
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 72–74 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: