“Lesson 1: Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants; Doctrine and Covenants 2,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 1,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
“The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days” (introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants, paragraph 1). These revelations were received through the Prophet Joseph Smith and some of his successors and “contain an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation” (introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants, paragraph 1).
The earliest dated section in the Doctrine and Covenants consists of words spoken to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni in 1823, when the Smith family lived near Palmyra, New York. During that visit, Moroni shared several important prophecies from the Old and New Testaments, including one from Malachi about the promised mission of the prophet Elijah in the latter days. That prophecy, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 2, is essential to our understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan to redeem His children.
- Late 1816
The Smith family moved from Vermont to Palmyra, New York.
- Spring 1820
God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith.
- September 21–22, 1823
The angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith (Doctrine and Covenants 2).
- November 19, 1823
Joseph Smith’s older brother Alvin died.
- January 18, 1827
Joseph Smith and Emma Hale were married.
Before class, make a list on the board of difficult situations, circumstances, or decisions young adults face. (Consider including some of the following: whom to marry, educational opportunities, career choices, social pressure, and temptation.)
In addition to what’s on the board, what other difficult situations, circumstances, or decisions do young adults face?
Ask students to reflect on the challenges they are facing or anticipate facing in the future. Invite them to look for truths as they study the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants in today’s lesson that will help them know how to receive divine guidance and comfort to aid them in these circumstances.
Point out that the Doctrine and Covenants contains an introduction that briefly recounts the events of the Restoration, describes how the Doctrine and Covenants came to be, and explains how this sacred volume of scripture can bless the lives of all of Heavenly Father’s children.
Invite a few students to take turns reading paragraphs 1–3 of the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for phrases that explain what the Doctrine and Covenants is and why we should study it.
What words or phrases define what the Doctrine and Covenants is?
What reasons did you find for studying the Doctrine and Covenants that are important to you?
On the board, list the reasons for studying the Doctrine and Covenants that the students identify. As students share their insights, ensure that they identify the following principle found in paragraphs 1 and 3: As we study the Doctrine and Covenants, we can hear the voice of the Savior speaking to us in our day.
To help students better understand this principle, invite them to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–36 silently, looking for what the Lord says about the words of this revelation.
What do you find significant about the Lord’s explanation of the words of this revelation?
What experiences have you had in hearing and coming to know the Lord’s voice through your study of the scriptures?
Encourage students to seek to hear the Lord’s voice speaking to them by setting a goal to read the Doctrine and Covenants daily.
Invite a student to read paragraph 6 of the introduction aloud, and ask the class to look for the circumstances that most often led to the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.
What phrases in this paragraph describe the circumstances in which these revelations were received?
Based on what Joseph Smith and others did to receive these revelations, what principle can we learn about receiving guidance from the Lord? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we seek help and pray in times of need, the Lord will give us the guidance we need.)
How do you think studying the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants can increase our faith that the Lord will give us guidance?
Invite a few students to share their testimony of this principle.
Explain that the earliest section of the Doctrine and Covenants came as a result of the Prophet Joseph Smith praying and seeking the Lord’s help in a time of need. Briefly summarize Joseph Smith—History 1:29–39 by explaining that three years after the First Vision, Joseph Smith prayed to know his standing before the Lord. In answer, he was visited by the heavenly messenger Moroni. The angel told young Joseph that God had a work for him to do, which included translating an ancient record written on golden plates. Moroni then quoted many passages from the Bible, including an inspired adaptation of the prophecy found in Malachi 4:5–6 that speaks of the mission of the prophet Elijah. This prophecy, as given by the angel Moroni to Joseph, is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 2.
Have a student read Doctrine and Covenants 2:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said He would do before the Second Coming.
What did the Lord say He would do before the Second Coming?
To help students better understand Elijah’s latter-day mission spoken of in this revelation, display the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud. Encourage class members to listen for what is meant by the priesthood revealed by Elijah.
“Elijah was an Old Testament prophet through whom mighty miracles were performed. …
“‘We learn from latter-day revelation that Elijah held the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood and was the last prophet to do so before the time of Jesus Christ’ (Bible Dictionary, “Elijah”). …
“Elijah appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:3) and conferred this authority upon Peter, James, and John. Elijah appeared again with Moses and others on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple and conferred the same keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery” (David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 24).
Why is the sealing power of the priesthood so vital in the latter-day work of salvation for God’s children?
To help students better understand the significance of the sealing power of the priesthood revealed through Elijah, display the following explanation by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud.
The sealing power of the priesthood is “the power to bind and seal on earth … and to have the act ratified in heaven. …
“… When the ordinances of salvation and exaltation are performed by or at the direction of those holding [priesthood] keys, such rites and performances are of full force and validity in this life and in the life to come” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary , 1:389, 424).
Have a student read Doctrine and Covenants 2:2 aloud while the class follows along, looking for what influence Elijah’s coming would have on families. Ask a student to report what they find.
To help students analyze the meaning of verse 2, display the following two statements, and invite one student to read the first statement aloud and another student to read the second aloud. Ask the class to look for the identity of the fathers and the children referred to in verse 2.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that in the prophecy that “Elijah shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers,” the phrase “the fathers” (emphasis added) refers to “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the promises were made. What are the promises? They are the promises of a continuation of the family unit in eternity” (The Millennial Messiah , 267).
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that in the prophecy that “the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers” (D&C 2:2), the phrase “their fathers” (emphasis added) refers to “our dead ancestors who died without the privilege of receiving the Gospel, but who received the promise that the time would come when that privilege would be granted them. The children are those now living who are preparing genealogical data and who are performing the vicarious ordinances in the Temples” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith , 221).
Who are “the fathers” spoken of in this prophecy, and what are the promises that are to be planted in the hearts of the children?
What are some ways the children will turn their hearts to “their fathers,” or ancestors?
How can the prophecy that the hearts of the children will turn to their fathers relate to us? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Our hearts are turned to our ancestors as we perform ordinances for them in temples.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 2:3 aloud. Ask the class to look for what would happen if the power to unite families for eternity were not restored to the earth.
According to this prophecy, what would happen if the power to unite families were not restored to the earth? (After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board: Without the power to unite families for eternity, the earth would be utterly wasted at Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.)
Why do you think that the earth would be “utterly wasted” (D&C 2:3) at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ without the restoration of the sealing power?
To help students better understand how the earth would be “utterly wasted” without the appearance of Elijah in 1836 and the restoration of his keys, display the following explanation by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud.
“Without that [sealing power] no family ties would exist in the eternities, and indeed the family of man would have been left in eternity with ‘neither root [ancestors] nor branch [descendants].’ Inasmuch as such a sealed, united, celestially saved family of God is the ultimate purpose of mortality, any failure here would have been a curse indeed, rendering the entire plan of salvation ‘utterly wasted’” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant , 297–98).
How can you and your family be blessed because of the restored sealing power?
Ask students to consider when they have felt their heart turn to their fathers. Explain that this process often includes a desire to learn more about parents, grandparents, and ancestors and to perform needed temple ordinances on their behalf. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class.
Conclude the lesson by testifying of the principles in this lesson.