“Lesson 11: Doctrine and Covenants 26–28,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 11,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
Following the organization of the Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith traveled several times between Harmony, Pennsylvania, and the branches of the Church in New York to strengthen the members and build the Church. In July 1830, the Lord gave a revelation instructing Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and John Whitmer on how to occupy their time while preparing for a Church conference in the fall. This revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 26, gave direction for both spiritual and temporal matters and further instruction regarding the principle of common consent in the Church.
While at Harmony in August 1830, Joseph Smith was traveling to obtain wine for the sacrament when he was met by a heavenly messenger. The Prophet was instructed regarding the emblems of the sacrament and the importance of putting on the whole armor of God. The directions he received are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 27.
Because of increasing persecution in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Joseph and Emma Smith accepted Peter Whitmer Sr.’s invitation to live with his family again in Fayette, New York. As they arrived in early September 1830, the Prophet learned that Hiram Page claimed to be receiving revelations for the Church through a stone. Joseph inquired of the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 28, in which the Lord clarified the order of receiving revelation for the Church.
- June 1830
Mob persecution in Colesville, New York, prevented newly baptized converts from being confirmed.
- June 1830
Joseph Smith began the inspired translation of the Bible by dictating the “Visions of Moses” (Moses 1).
- July 1830
Doctrine and Covenants 26 was received.
- August 1830
Doctrine and Covenants 27 was received.
- August 1830
Hiram Page claimed to be receiving revelation for the Church.
- Early September 1830
Joseph and Emma Smith moved to Fayette, New York.
- September 1830
Doctrine and Covenants 28 was received.
- September 26–28, 1830
The second conference of the Church was held in Fayette, New York.
- October 1830
Oliver Cowdery and others departed on a mission to the Lamanites.
Invite students to imagine that a friend who is not a member of the Church attends a meeting with them in which Church officers are sustained.
How would you explain to your friend the practice of sustaining in the Church?
Remind students that during the summer of 1830, Joseph Smith and other Church members experienced intense persecution. In one instance, threats from a mob prevented several new converts from being confirmed after their baptisms. Twice Joseph was arrested and tried on spurious charges. After his arrests and trials in New York, Joseph and Emma returned home to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where Joseph received three revelations from the Lord during July 1830 (see D&C 24–26). In the third revelation (D&C 26), the Lord counseled Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and John Whitmer on how their time should be spent and gave direction for the practice of common consent.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 26:1 aloud, and ask the class to look for the Lord’s counsel to his servants on how to devote their time.
What did the Lord counsel Joseph, Oliver, and John to do with their time?
What promise did the Lord make regarding the upcoming Church conference?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 26:2 silently, looking for instructions the Lord gave about how to conduct the Church’s affairs.
What doctrine did the Lord reveal in verse 2 about how all things should be done in the Church? (Help students identify the following doctrine: All things in the Church must be done by common consent and by faith.)
What does “common consent” mean? (“Common consent” refers to Church members using their agency to express their willingness or unwillingness to sustain a person who has been called by the Lord to serve in His Church or to be ordained to an office in the priesthood. Common consent is manifested by raising the right hand.)
What is the difference between common consent and electing or deciding by majority vote?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for what it means when we manifest our common consent:
“By our sustaining vote, we make solemn promises. We promise to pray for the Lord’s servants and that He will lead and strengthen them (see D&C 93:51). We pledge that we will look for and expect to feel inspiration from God in their counsel and whenever they act in their calling (see D&C 1:38). …
“As we raise a hand to sustain a person, we commit to work for whatever purpose of the Lord that person is called to accomplish” (Henry B. Eyring, “Called of God and Sustained by the People,” Ensign, June 2012, 4).
How might the practice of common consent be a blessing and protection for the Church?
Invite students to think about their most recent experience of taking the sacrament. Ask them to silently rate how meaningful their experience was on a scale between 1 and 10, with 1 being the least meaningful and 10 being the most meaningful.
What could one do to make taking the sacrament a more meaningful experience? (Write student responses on the board.)
Invite students to look for truths as they study Doctrine and Covenants 27 that can help them make partaking of the sacrament a more meaningful experience for them.
To help students understand the context of Doctrine and Covenants 27, explain that in August 1830, Newel and Sally Knight visited Joseph and Emma in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Sally and Emma had been baptized on June 28, 1830, but neither had been confirmed because of persecution by a mob. During the Knights’ visit, it was proposed that Sally and Emma be confirmed and that the group partake of the sacrament.
Invite students to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 27 silently, looking for what happened when the Prophet went to procure wine for the sacrament.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 27:1–4, and ask the class to look for what the heavenly messenger revealed to Joseph Smith about the sacrament.
What did the messenger teach Joseph Smith about what we should eat or drink as the emblems of the sacrament?
According to verse 2, what should be our focus as we partake of the sacrament? (As we partake of the sacrament, we are commanded to have an eye single to God’s glory and remember the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You may want to invite students to mark the words that teach this doctrine in verse 2.)
What does it mean to have an eye single to God’s glory? (To focus on Him and align our will with His.)
How has reflecting upon the Savior’s atoning sacrifice during the sacrament helped you have a more meaningful experience?
Invite students to ponder what they can do to better remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and partake of the sacrament “with an eye single to [God’s] glory” (D&C 27:2). Encourage them to act on their ideas the next time they take the sacrament.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:5 aloud, and ask the class to find what the Savior said He would do when He comes again.
Tell students that in Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–14, Joseph Smith learned that faithful Saints from every dispensation will partake of the sacrament with the Savior as part of a great gathering at Adam-ondi-Ahman prior to the Savior’s coming in glory. Invite students to scan these verses and look for some of those who will participate.
According to verse 14, who else will partake of the sacrament with the Savior?
After students respond, display the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Every faithful person in the whole history of the world, every person who has lived as to merit eternal life in the kingdom of the Father will be in attendance and will partake, with the Lord, of the sacrament” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah , 595).
How would you feel if you were able to partake of the sacrament with the Savior?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18 aloud, and ask the class to look for what we must do to qualify for the Lord’s blessings, including being worthy to join with the Lord in this sacred meeting. Ask a few students to report what they find.
What principle can you identify from verses 15–18 about the blessings that we will receive if we put on the whole armor of God? (Although they may use other words, students should identify the following principle: If we put on the whole armor of God, we will be able to withstand evil and remain faithful until the Lord comes.)
What can you do each day to put on the armor of God? How do these things help you withstand evil and remain faithful?
Why do you think it is important that we put on the whole armor of God and not just part of it?
Share your testimony of how your efforts to put on the armor of God have affected your faith and ability to withstand evil. Invite students to consider what they can do to better put on the whole armor of God. Encourage them to act on any promptings they receive.
Explain that because of increasing persecution in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Joseph and Emma accepted Peter Whitmer Sr.’s invitation to live with his family in Fayette, New York. Shortly after the Smiths arrived in Fayette in September 1830, the Prophet faced another challenging situation. Invite a student to read aloud the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 28. Ask students to follow along, looking for the challenging situation the Prophet was facing at this time.
What problems do you think could have resulted from Hiram Page’s claims to receive revelations for the Church?
Point out in the section heading that even “Oliver Cowdery was wrongly influenced” by Hiram Page’s claims of revelation. Explain that in addition to the situation with Hiram Page, an earlier incident involving Oliver Cowdery underscored the need for the Lord to instruct the Saints concerning the proper order of revelation in His Church. In late summer of 1830, Oliver wrote to the Prophet Joseph Smith and indicated that he felt that a passage in the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 20 was in error. Oliver wrote to the Prophet, “I command you in the name of God to erase those words” (Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, p. 51, josephsmithpapers.org). Although Joseph eventually convinced Oliver of his error in seeking to correct a revelation from the Lord to His Prophet, this incident illustrated the Saints’ need to understand how the Lord reveals His will to His Church.
Divide the class into pairs. Assign one partner in each pair to study Doctrine and Covenants 28:1–3 and the other partner to study Doctrine and Covenants 28:4–8. Invite students to read their verses silently, looking for what the Lord taught to help the Saints understand how revelation comes to the Church. Ask students to discuss what they find with their partner. After sufficient time, ask the class:
What important doctrine about revelation can we identify from verses 1–3? (After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board: The President of the Church is the only person authorized to receive revelations for the entire Church.)
What truth about revelation can we learn from verses 4–8? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: We may receive personal revelation for our own benefit and to help with our callings.)
How might these truths have helped Oliver Cowdery and others who had been deceived by Hiram Page’s purported revelations?
How might understanding these truths help us in our day?
Invite students to think of an example of when the President of the Church received revelation for the entire Church. Also ask students to think about a time when they received revelation for their own benefit or for help in their callings. Invite a few students to share their thoughts with the class.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 28:9–16 by telling students that in these verses the Lord commanded Oliver Cowdery to tell Hiram Page that his so-called revelations were not of God and that he had been deceived by Satan. The Lord also reiterated the necessity of doing all things in the Church by common consent.
Explain that after Joseph Smith received this revelation, he convened a conference on September 26 and set the Church in order. At the conference, “Brother Page, as well as the whole Church who were present, renounced the said stone, and all things connected therewith” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph , 197).
Conclude the lesson by bearing testimony of the truths you identified in this lesson.