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Lesson 31: Doctrine and Covenants 84
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“Lesson 31: Doctrine and Covenants 84,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 31,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 31

Doctrine and Covenants 84

Introduction and Timeline

In September 1832, missionaries returned to Kirtland, Ohio, from preaching the gospel in the eastern United States and reported their successes to Joseph Smith. During their reunion, the Prophet inquired of the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. In this revelation, the Lord explained how the priesthood prepares the Saints to enter God’s presence and receive all that He has. The Lord taught of the importance of hearkening to His words and reproved the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, for treating the Book of Mormon and His commandments lightly. He also commanded the Saints to preach the gospel to the world and provided instructions for doing so.

Late June 1832

Joseph Smith returned to Kirtland, Ohio, from Independence, Missouri.

September 12, 1832

Joseph and Emma Smith moved from Hiram to Kirtland, Ohio, to live in the Newel K. Whitney store.

September 22–23, 1832

Doctrine and Covenants 84 was received.

Early October 1832

Joseph Smith and Newel K. Whitney traveled to Boston, Massachusetts; Albany, New York; and New York City to preach the gospel and purchase merchandise for the Kirtland store.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 84:1–32

The Lord declares that a temple will be built in New Jerusalem and explains the purpose of the priesthood

Invite students to imagine that they have a friend who believes that people can be spiritual and close to God without organized religion or priesthood ordinances. Ask students to ponder the following questions as they think about how they would respond to their friend:

  • Why do we need to become and remain faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

  • Why do we need to receive priesthood ordinances and keep the associated covenants to draw nearer to God?

Invite students as they study Doctrine and Covenants 84 to look for doctrines and principles that will help them understand why we need to be active members of the Church and need to participate in priesthood ordinances.

Explain that Joseph Smith relocated from Hiram to Kirtland, Ohio, on September 12, 1832. During the same month, several elders returned from preaching in the eastern United States and visited Joseph Smith to report on their missionary service. On September 22–23, while Joseph Smith was with several of these elders, he inquired of the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord established the Church in the last days.

  • Why did the Lord establish the Church in the last days?

Explain that the phrase “restoration of his people” in verse 2 refers to the gathering of Israel and their return to the covenants and promises that the Lord made with ancient Israel.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:3–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord expected the gathering Saints to do. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What did the Lord promise to do if the Saints built the temple?

Point out the phrase “sons of Moses” in verse 6, and explain that this phrase refers to those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Invite a student to read the following statement aloud:

“This [phrase] is the beginning of a sentence which is continued in [verse] 31. All that intervenes is parenthetic, containing a statement regarding the lineage through which the Priesthood came to Moses and Aaron, and how it was restored in our day” (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [1972], 498).

To help students see how the sentence would read without the parenthetical explanation contained in verses 6–31, consider inviting students to mark the first part of the sentence in verse 6 (“And the sons of Moses”) and the rest of the sentence in verse 31 (beginning with the words “and also the sons of Aaron, shall offer”). Explain that the phrase “sons of Aaron” refers to those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood. Invite a student to read the completed sentence from verse 6 and 31 aloud. Explain that this sentence helps us understand that the restoration of the priesthood, discussed in the parenthetical verses, was necessary for performing temple ordinances.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 84:6–16 by explaining that these verses contain Moses’s line of priesthood authority traced directly back to Adam.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:17–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord revealed about the priesthood.

  • What did the Lord reveal about the priesthood in verse 17?

  • What does it mean that “this greater priesthood,” or the Melchizedek Priesthood, holds “the key to the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God” (verse 19)? (If necessary, explain that “mysteries” are “spiritual truths known only by revelation” [Guide to the Scriptures, “Mysteries of God,” scriptures.lds.org].)

After students respond, explain that Joseph Smith taught that the Melchizedek Priesthood “is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation, and every important matter is revealed from heaven” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 108).

  • What doctrine can we identify from verse 20 about the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood? (Help students identify the following doctrine: The power of godliness is manifest in the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood.)

Explain that the power of godliness is the power of righteousness, by which we come to know God and become like Him (see Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah [1978], 589).

  • According to verses 21–22, what happens when the ordinances and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood are not present?

  • What ordinances are performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

Display the following statements by Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read them aloud. Invite the class to look for what they teach about the power of godliness.

Christofferson, D. Todd

“Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, ‘the power of godliness’ (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. …

“In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high. This ‘power of godliness’ comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost” (D. Todd Christofferson, “The Power of Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 22).

Bednar, David A.

“Covenants received and honored with integrity and ordinances performed by proper priesthood authority are necessary to receive all of the blessings made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For in the ordinances of the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest unto men and women in the flesh, including the blessings of the Atonement (see D&C 84:20–21)” (David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 88).

  • According to Elder Christofferson, what is the power of godliness?

  • What can we do to have the power of godliness in our lives?

  • According to Elder Bednar, what blessings come into our lives when we receive the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood and honor our covenants?

Ask students to ponder how the power of godliness has been manifested in their lives as they have received the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood and kept their covenants. Invite a few students to share their thoughts and experiences with the class. (Remind students to not share anything too personal or sacred). Consider sharing your own experience as well.

Encourage students to strive to receive all the priesthood ordinances they can and faithfully keep their covenants so that the power of godliness can be manifested in their lives.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:23–24 silently, looking for how the Lord illustrated the importance of receiving the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  • What did the children of Israel do to forfeit having the power of godliness in their lives?

Summarize verses 25–32 by explaining that because the children of Israel hardened their hearts, the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood and its ordinances were taken from among the people. However, the Lord allowed them to keep the Aaronic Priesthood. The Lord also explained that the sons of Moses and the sons of Aaron, or those who hold the priesthood, will serve in the temple that will be built in Zion (see D&C 84:31–32).

Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44

The Lord reveals the oath and covenant of the priesthood

Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44, the Lord taught about the oath and covenant of the priesthood.

Write the words Covenants and Promises as headings on the board. Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–44. Ask half the class to look for the covenants one enters into as part of the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Ask the other half to look for promises the Lord makes to those who are faithful to this oath and covenant. Invite a few students to write what they found on the board under the appropriate headings.

  • How would you summarize these covenants and promises as a principle? (Students may use different words, but ensure they identify a principle similar to the following: If those who faithfully obtain the priesthood will magnify their callings, receive the Lord and His servants, and give heed to the words of eternal life, then God will sanctify them and give them all that He has. Write this principle on the board.)

To help students understand what it means to obtain the priesthood, display the following statement by Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy, and invite a student to read it aloud:

Pieper, Paul B.

“The full blessings of the priesthood are received together as husband and wife or not at all.

“It is interesting that in the oath and covenant of the priesthood, the Lord uses the verbs obtain and receive. He does not use the verb ordain. It is in the temple that men and women—together—obtain and receive the blessings and power of both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods” (Paul B. Pieper, “Revealed Realities of Mortality,” Ensign, Jan. 2016, 21).

Refer to the principle on the board.

  • What does it mean to magnify the callings that you receive through priesthood authority?

  • What do you think it means to receive the Lord’s servants? Why can’t we receive the Lord without receiving His servants?

Doctrine and Covenants 84:45–59

The Lord explains why the world is in darkness and admonishes the Saints to repent

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:45–48 silently, looking for what will happen to those who diligently heed the word of God.

  • What will happen to those who diligently heed the word of God?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:49–53 aloud. Ask the class to look for what the Lord said about those who would not heed His voice.

  • How did the Lord describe those who would not heed His voice?

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:54–59 silently, looking for how well the Saints in Zion were heeding the word of God.

  • According to verse 57, what had the Saints treated lightly?

Point out that “the former commandments” in verse 57 could refer to previous revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants and teachings from the Bible.

  • What principle can we identify from verses 54–58 about the consequences of disbelieving the word of God or treating it lightly? (Help students identify the following principle: If we disbelieve the word of God or treat it lightly, our minds will become darkened and we will be under condemnation.)

Point out that to be under condemnation is to be judged guilty by God for refusing to receive and obey the light and knowledge manifested by Him (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Condemn, Condemnation,” scriptures.lds.org; D&C 93:31–32).

  • How can unbelief or treating the word of God lightly cause a person’s mind to be darkened?

Doctrine and Covenants 84:60–120

The Lord commands the Saints to take the gospel to all the world and instructs those called to preach

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 84:60–120 by explaining that the Lord commanded the Saints to proclaim the gospel to the whole world. The Lord promised that if the Saints would “treasure up in [their] minds continually the words of [God],” He would inspire them to know what to say when sharing the gospel (D&C 84:85). The Lord commanded those who are strong in the Spirit to edify and strengthen those who are weak and explained that as the Saints labor in their different callings, they can strengthen the Church and edify one another.

Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths taught in Doctrine and Covenants 84. Invite students to apply what they learned.