“The Restoration of the Church of Christ, Lesson 9: Section 20,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324–325 (1981), 17–18
“Lesson 9,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide, 17–18
The Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth in the latter days, being organized on 6 April 1830, as directed by divine revelation.
Ancient prophets testified that the Church of Jesus Christ, established in earlier dispensations, would be restored after a long period of apostasy.
The Church was organized on 6 April 1830 at Fayette, New York.
The Church has become a worldwide organization since that day of beginning, officially starting with six members.
The Restoration was directed by divine revelation.
Doctrine and Covenants 20 constitutes the “articles and covenants,” or a constitution for the Church.
It provides an outline of the basic principles of the restored gospel.
The Lord revealed the duties of Church membership and the general priesthood offices.
Specific procedures for the fundamental ordinances were revealed.
Section 20; Enrichment N, “Priesthood and Church Government, Part 2”
Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach this revelation in its historical context.
D&C 20. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder this section.
D&C 84:2. The restoration of the Church is in fulfillment of ancient prophetic declarations.
D&C 10:53–56. Upon what conditions did the Lord indicate he would establish his church among “this generation”?
Joseph Smith—History 1:18–19. What was Joseph Smith told concerning the churches of his day?
Matthew 13:31–32. How did the Savior describe the kingdom of God?
Acts 3:21. What prophecy was given concerning the future restoration?
Ephesians 4:11–16. What is the purpose of the Church of Christ?
Teachings, pp. 98–99. The Prophet Joseph Smith had a knowledge of the future of the kingdom of God.
Discourses, p. 7. What did Brigham Young say we are to declare to all the inhabitants of the earth?
Gos. Doc, pp. 75–78. What is the destiny of the restored Church?
A of F, pp. 198–216. A discussion of the sixth article of faith.
DS, 1:236–46. Duties, purposes, and destiny of the kingdom of God and its members.
Spencer W. Kimball, in CR, Apr. 1980, pp. 4–6, 74–79. The destiny of the kingdom of God.
Gordon B. Hinckley, in CR, Apr. 1980, pp. 79–82. Joseph Smith is a witness to the divinity of the Restoration.
Ezra Taft Benson, in CR, Apr. 1980, pp. 44–48. How the Church is a marvelous work and a wonder.
Hugh W. Pinnock, in CR, Apr. 1980, pp. 108–10. References to section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants and the duties of the Saints.
When Joseph Smith went into the grove to pray, his objective was not to start a church (see Joseph Smith—History 1:18). How do you think he felt when he was told that the true Church was not upon the earth? (see Joseph Smith—History 1:19). Many of the early revelations anticipated the day of the formal organization of the restored Church (see D&C 5:14; 10:53–56; 18:4–5).
Ancient prophets and Apostles prophesied that the true Church would be restored (see topical guide, s.v. “Restoration of the Gospel”).
The chronological accounts about the organization of the restored Church could be presented by a student in a report to the class. (A suggested source of information is History of the Church, 1:60–80.)
Note: Some may inquire about how the official name—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-was given. This subject will be treated in lesson 45. (For additional background information see Doyle L. Green, “The Day the Church Was Organized,” Ensign, Jan. 1971, pp. 39–56.)
The following ideas could be used in conducting a meaningful discussion of Doctrine and Covenants, section 20.
Doctrine and Covenants 20 has been called the constitution of the Church. Constitution may be defined as a written instrument embodying the principles and rules of an organization. In what manner does this revelation do that?
It is often helpful to students to give an “aerial view” of a revelation, such as section 20, that contains many doctrines and principles. The following is an example of what might be outlined on the chalkboard. Each item could be discussed relating it to Doctrine and Covenants 20 being like a constitution.
Verse 1. The date of the organization of the Church
Verses 2–7. The divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Verses 8–36. The important position of the Book of Mormon in the Restoration
The Book of Mormon witnesses of:
Verse 9. A fulness of the gospel
Verse 11. The scriptures and modern revelation
Verse 13. The judgment
Verse 17. A God in heaven
Verses 18–36. Other fundamental principles of the gospel
Verse 37. The importance of and the qualifications for baptism
Verses 38–67. The duties of priesthood bearers
Verses 68–71. The duties and responsibilities of Church members
Verses 72–74. The specific mode of baptism
Verses 75–79. The specific mode of administering the sacrament
Verses 80–84. The importance of membership and the seriousness of entering into covenants with the Lord and then transgressing (The unrepentant are to be excommunicated from the Church.)
One of the greatest witnesses to the divinity of the Church is its rise from such small beginnings to its worldwide proportions today. Use Doctrine and Covenants 64:33; 123:15; and Matthew 13:31–32 to show that Christ’s church was destined to rise in these latter days.
A statistical report of Church growth could be given to corroborate the scriptural account.
Charts and graphs found in the April 1980 Ensign (pp. 15–20) dramatically show the growth of the Church in its first 150 years. Refer to Transparencies 6A, 6B, and 6C, “A Statistical Profile.” A current Church Almanac or the statistical report given in each April general conference can also be used for current growth figures.