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Lesson 30: Doctrine and Covenants 81–83
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“Lesson 30: Doctrine and Covenants 81–83,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 30,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 30

Doctrine and Covenants 81–83

Introduction and Timeline

On March 8, 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith called Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon to serve as his counselors in the Presidency of the High Priesthood. On March 15, 1832, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 81, in which the Lord clarified Brother Gause’s duties as a counselor to Joseph Smith. However, Jesse Gause did not remain faithful, and the Lord later called Frederick G. Williams, whose name now appears in Doctrine and Covenants 81, to take Brother Gause’s place in the Presidency.

In April 1832, Joseph Smith and others traveled to Independence, Missouri, obeying the Lord’s command to establish an organization to build up Zion and care for the poor (see D&C 78). While there, the Prophet received two revelations. On April 26, during a council of high priests and elders of the Church in Independence, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 82, in which the Lord forgave these brethren their trespasses and warned them against further sin. He also instructed members of the United Firm to bind themselves by covenant to manage the temporal affairs of Zion. Four days later, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 83, in which the Lord gave instructions about the care of widows, orphans, and the poor.

January 25, 1832

Joseph Smith was ordained as President of the High Priesthood in Amherst, Ohio.

March 8, 1832

Joseph Smith appointed Sidney Rigdon and Jesse Gause as his counselors in the Presidency of the High Priesthood.

March 15, 1832

Doctrine and Covenants 81 was received.

March 24–25, 1832

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were taken in the night and violently beaten by a mob in Hiram, Ohio.

March 29, 1832

Joseph Murdock Smith, adopted son of Joseph and Emma Smith, died.

April 1–24, 1832

Joseph Smith and other leaders traveled to Independence, Missouri.

April 26, 1832

Doctrine and Covenants 82 was received.

April 30, 1832

Doctrine and Covenants 83 was received.

May–June, 1832

Joseph Smith stayed with Newel K. Whitney for several weeks in Greenville, Indiana. Newel had broken his foot and leg while jumping from a runaway stagecoach on his return trip to Ohio.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 81

The Lord outlines the role of counselors in the Presidency of the High Priesthood

Write the following questions on the board before class:

Why does the Lord give us callings in His Church?

What are the blessings of faithfully fulfilling a calling?

What if someone chooses not to faithfully fulfill his or her calling?

Begin class by asking students to respond to the questions on the board. As part of the discussion, explain that although a Church leader may receive inspiration to call an individual to a certain position, it is up to that individual to faithfully respond to the calling.

Invite a student to read aloud the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 81. Ask students to follow along, looking for someone who was called by the Lord but was not faithful to his calling.

  • Whom did the Lord initially call to serve as a counselor to Joseph Smith?

  • Why did Jesse Gause lose his calling?

Provide a copy of the following information about Jesse Gause to a student, and ask him or her to read it aloud:

Jesse Gause was called as a counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith in March 1832. On August 1, 1832, he went on a mission with Zebedee Coltrin. While on his mission, Brother Gause visited his wife and tried to convince her of the truth, but she refused to join the Church. A short time later, Brother Coltrin became very ill and returned to Kirtland. Unfortunately, Brother Gause chose not to complete his mission and did not stay faithful in the Church. In January 1833, the Lord called Frederick G. Williams to replace Jesse Gause as a counselor, and Frederick’s name was written into the transcription of this revelation in place of Jesse’s. The revelation was published with Frederick’s name in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (and all subsequent editions). Though the name had been changed, the revelation’s instructions concerning the duties of a counselor remained true because they apply to the calling, not only the individual named.

You may want to suggest that students mark the following phrase in the section heading: “The revelation … should be regarded as a step toward the formal organization of the First Presidency.” Explain that the Lord did not reveal the complete organization of His Church to the Prophet all at once. He revealed different parts of the organization as the need arose and as the Saints were ready to receive them. Thus the President of the Church and his counselors (the Presidency of the High Priesthood) would not be referred to as the “First Presidency” until later. The first documented use of the term “First Presidency” was from the summer of 1835 (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834–September 1835, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2016], 357, footnote 733; see also xxvi, footnote 61).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 81:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord taught Frederick G. Williams about the Presidency of the High Priesthood.

  • According to verse 2, what does the Presidency of the High Priesthood hold? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: The Presidency of the High Priesthood holds the keys of God’s kingdom on the earth.)

To help students understand this doctrine, display the following statement, and invite a student to read it aloud:

“Members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold all the keys necessary for governing the Church. Only the President of the Church has the right to exercise all of those keys. He delegates these keys to others who preside in the Church—temple presidents, mission presidents, stake presidents, district presidents, bishops, branch presidents, and quorum presidents, including deacons and teachers quorum presidents” (“Priesthood Keys,” New Era, May 2012, 38–39).

  • What do these keys of the priesthood enable the First Presidency to do? (Direct the Lord’s work upon the earth.)

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 81:3–5 silently, looking for the instructions the Lord gave to Frederick G. Williams concerning his calling.

  • What instructions did the Lord give to Frederick G. Williams?

  • What did the Lord promise Frederick G. Williams if he was faithful in his calling?

  • What principle can we learn from the Lord’s promise to Frederick G. Williams? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we are faithful in our callings, we will do good for those we serve and promote the glory of God.)

  • How might serving faithfully in our callings help us do good for those we serve? How does it promote the glory of God?

Invite students to share an experience when they were blessed because someone was faithful in his or her calling.

Encourage students to think of ways they can be more faithful in their callings. Invite them to act on any promptings they receive.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 81:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the blessings the Lord promised Frederick G. Williams if he was faithful to the end. Ask students to report what they find.

Refer students to the questions on the board, and ask them how they might add to their answers based on what they have learned. Testify of the importance of being faithful in our callings and helping those around us.

Doctrine and Covenants 82:1–7

The Lord warns those who have received much from Him

To help students understand the context of Doctrine and Covenants 82, invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:

For several months, difficult feelings had existed between Sidney Rigdon in Ohio and Bishop Edward Partridge in Missouri. In April 1832, the Prophet Joseph and several Church leaders traveled from Ohio to Jackson County, Missouri, in obedience to the Lord’s command that they “sit in council with the saints which are in Zion” (D&C 78:9). Upon their arrival, a two-day council of high priests of the Church was held. Between the morning and afternoon sessions of the first day of the council, Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge resolved their differences. The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 82 was received during the afternoon session. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2013], 229–34.)

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:1 silently, looking for what the Lord told Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge about resolving their differences. Ask a student to report what he or she found.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the warning the Lord gave the Saints.

  • What did the Lord say would happen if they did not refrain from sin?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the judgments mentioned in verse 2 would come upon those who continued to sin.

  • According to these verses, why would judgments come upon the Saints who continued to sin?

  • What doctrinal truths did the Lord teach about accountability in verse 3? (Students should identify statements of doctrine similar to the following: The Lord requires much of those to whom He has given much. Those who sin against the greater light receive the greater condemnation.)

  • According to verse 4, how were the Saints guilty of sinning against the greater light?

  • Why do you think those who have received more from the Lord have more required of them?

Invite students to think about what the Lord has given them and ponder what they feel the Lord expects them to do because they have received those blessings. Encourage them to act on any promptings they receive.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 82:5–7 by explaining that the Lord warned the Saints that Satan’s power over the earth was increasing. He also taught that when we knowingly turn from righteousness to sin, our former sins return.

Doctrine and Covenants 82:8–24

The Lord commands nine men to form a firm to manage the temporal affairs of the Church

Explain that after the Lord warned the council of high priests about the judgments of God and Satan’s increasing power upon the earth, He also gave a reassuring promise to those who obey His commandments.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:8–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s promise to those who obey His commandments. Before the student reads, explain that the phrase “new commandment” in verse 8 refers to the additional revelation the Lord was about to give concerning how to establish the United Firm.

  • What can we learn from verses 8–9 about why the Lord gives us commandments?

  • What does the Lord promise to those who obey His commandments? (Help students identify the following principle: If we are obedient to the Lord’s commandments, He will always keep His promises to bless us.)

  • What happens if we do not do what the Lord commands?

  • How might believing this principle influence our goals and decisions?

Emphasize that the Lord’s promises are not always fulfilled when or in the way we hope or expect, nor do they guarantee that we will not experience difficulties or suffering. However, the Lord’s promises are always fulfilled.

  • In what ways have you seen the Lord keep His promises to bless you as you have strived to keep His commandments?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972). Ask the class to listen for how President Smith described the blessings we will receive if we are obedient.

Smith, Joseph Fielding (1876-1972)

“When we turn from the commandments the Lord has given unto us for our guidance then we do not have a claim upon His blessings. …

“Keep the commandments. … Be true to every covenant and obligation, and the Lord will bless you beyond your fondest dreams” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith [2013], 232237).

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 82:11–24 by explaining that the Lord instructed Church leaders regarding the organization of the United Firm, appointed its members, and explained the purposes of this organization and the consequences of disobedience.

Doctrine and Covenants 83

The Lord reveals how to care for widows, orphans, and the poor

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 83 by explaining that on April 30, 1832, Joseph Smith dictated a revelation clarifying how, under the law of consecration, to care for women and children who had lost their husbands or fathers.

Conclude by testifying of the doctrine and principles discussed in this lesson, and invite students to apply what they have learned.