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Lesson 18: Doctrine and Covenants 46–49
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“Lesson 18: Doctrine and Covenants 46–49,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 18,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 18

Doctrine and Covenants 46–49

Introduction and Timeline

In the winter of 1831, Church members in Kirtland, Ohio, became concerned when they saw some new converts acting in a bizarre manner while claiming to be under the Spirit’s influence. The Prophet Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord about this behavior as well as about the Kirtland Saints’ practice of excluding nonmembers from sacrament meetings and other Church meetings. In response, on March 8, 1831, the Lord gave the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 46. In this revelation, the Lord explained how to conduct Church meetings and how to avoid deception by seeking after gifts of the Spirit.

Before March 1831, Oliver Cowdery had been Joseph Smith’s scribe and recorder for the Church. However, when he was called on a mission, he could no longer perform these duties. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 47, the Lord called John Whitmer to take Oliver’s place and keep the Church’s history.

During this same time, the Saints in Ohio also wanted to know how they should help Church members emigrating from New York. In the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 48, the Lord told the Saints how to assist these arriving members.

Leman Copley, a recent convert to the Church, wanted missionaries to preach the gospel to members of his former religious group, the Shakers. However, he continued to hold on to some of the Shakers’ false beliefs. Concerned about Leman’s lingering beliefs, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord on May 7, 1831, and received the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 49. In this revelation, the Lord clarified His true doctrine and denounced several false beliefs of the Shakers.

Spring 1831

New converts in Kirtland, Ohio, experienced false spiritual manifestations.

March 8, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 46 was received.

March 8, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 47 was received.

March 10, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 48 was received.

March 1831

John Whitmer was appointed to serve as Church historian and recorder.

Late March or early April, 1831

Parley P. Pratt returned to Kirtland from a mission to Indian Territory and Missouri.

May 7, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 49 was received.

May 1831

Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Leman Copley left Kirtland to visit a community of Shakers.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 46:1–33

The Lord instructs the Saints concerning Church meetings and the gifts of the Spirit

Remind students that false forms of spirituality had crept into the Church in Kirtland. Explain that in the winter of 1831, Church members in Kirtland became concerned when they saw some new converts exhibiting bizarre behavior. Church member John Corrill wrote: “They conducted themselves in a strange manner, sometimes imitating Indians in their maneuvers, sometimes running out into the fields, getting on stumps of trees and there preaching as though surrounded by a congregation,—all the while so completely absorbed in visions as to be apparently insensible to all that was passing around them” (quoted in Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 92). Point out that although false spiritual manifestations such as these are not common in the Church today, those who misunderstand or are unfamiliar with true manifestations of the Holy Ghost can be vulnerable to deception.

  • What are some situations today in which someone could be vulnerable to deception because of a false or incomplete understanding of the workings of the Holy Ghost?

As students study section 46 today, invite them to look for truths that will help them better understand the workings of the Holy Ghost and how they can avoid being deceived.

Tell students that the Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord for clarification regarding the purpose and nature of gifts of the Spirit. In addition, because a practice had arisen in Kirtland of allowing only members to attend public Church meetings, the Prophet sought the Lord’s direction concerning how to administer and conduct these meetings.

Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 46:1–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord taught the Saints about the Spirit and Church meetings.

  • What did the Lord say in verses 3–6 about who should be allowed to attend public Church meetings?

  • According to verse 2, how should Church meetings be conducted?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 46:7–8 aloud. Encourage students to follow along, looking for the guidance the Lord gave the Saints to help them invite the Spirit’s direction.

  • According to verse 7, what counsel did the Lord give to help the Saints be guided by the Spirit?

  • What warning did the Lord give in verse 7?

  • What did the Lord tell the Saints to do to avoid being deceived?

Explain that the phrase “seek ye earnestly the best gifts” in verse 8 refers to gifts of the Spirit. Gifts of the Spirit are “blessings or abilities that are given by the power of the Holy Ghost” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 165).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 46:9–12, 26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why God gives us spiritual gifts.

  • What doctrine can we identify in verse 9 regarding why God gives spiritual gifts? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following doctrine: God gives spiritual gifts for the benefit of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Write this doctrine on the board.)

  • According to verses 11–12, how many of us have received spiritual gifts?

  • In what ways do spiritual gifts benefit us?

Ask students to scan Doctrine and Covenants 46:13–25 silently, looking for some of the gifts of the Spirit.

After sufficient time, invite students to select one of the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in this section and to think about how that gift could benefit God’s children. Invite several students to share their thoughts with the class.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 46:27–29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Saints will know which gifts are from God and which gifts are not.

  • How might the Lord’s teachings in these verses have helped the Saints in Kirtland who had witnessed some of the new converts’ bizarre behavior?

Explain that the spiritual gifts listed in Doctrine and Covenants 46 are not a complete list of spiritual gifts available to God’s children.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 46:30–33 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for counsel the Lord gave regarding spiritual gifts. Invite students to briefly explain what they found.

Encourage students to thank Heavenly Father for the spiritual gifts they have received and to earnestly seek for those gifts of the Spirit that will bless their lives and the lives of others.

Doctrine and Covenants 47–48

The Lord calls John Whitmer as Church historian and tells the Saints how to assist new converts arriving in Kirtland

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 47 by explaining that the Lord called John Whitmer to take Oliver Cowdery’s place as Church historian and serve as the Prophet’s scribe.

Explain that in 1831, many new converts were moving to Kirtland in obedience to the Lord’s command to gather to Ohio (see D&C 37:1–3). The Lord revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 48 the procedure the Church should follow in obtaining lands for the settlement of these new converts. He also told the Saints how to assist them once they arrived.

Doctrine and Covenants 49:1–28

The Lord calls Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Leman Copley to preach to the Shakers in northern Ohio

Ask students to think of someone they know of who had a different lifestyle or religious background before joining the Church.

  • What challenges might a person who becomes a member of the Church face when he or she comes from a background with different traditions and beliefs?

  • How could former traditions and beliefs make it difficult for someone to accept and live gospel principles?

Explain that by early 1831, a man named Leman Copley was baptized into the Church, but he still believed some of the erroneous teachings of his former religious group, the Shakers. Draw the following chart on the board, writing only the titles of the columns and leaving the rest blank. Invite a student to read aloud the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 49, and ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Shakers believed. Ask students to report what they find, and write their responses in the column titled “Shakers’ Beliefs.”

Shakers’ Beliefs

The Lord’s True Doctrine

Christ’s Second Coming had already occurred.

D&C 49:5–7

Jesus Christ appeared as a woman named Ann Lee.

D&C 49:22

Baptism by water is not essential.

D&C 49:11–14

Marriage should be rejected.

D&C 49:15

People should live in total celibacy.

D&C 49:16–17

Eating meat is forbidden by some.

D&C 49:18–21

Explain that Joseph Smith was concerned about Leman Copley’s lingering belief in the Shakers’ teachings, so he inquired of the Lord. As a result, he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 49.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 49:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord described the Shakers.

  • What did the Lord say the Shakers desired?

  • What do you think the phrase “they desire to know the truth in part, but not all” in verse 2 means?

  • What can be the danger of only following parts of the restored gospel?

  • What did the Lord say about Leman Copley in verse 4?

Divide the class into six groups. Assign each group one of the six scripture references on the chart. (If you have a small class, consider assigning individual students one or more of these scripture references.) Invite students to read their assigned passages together in their groups, looking for the doctrine and principles the Lord taught to correct the Shakers’ false beliefs. After sufficient time, invite a student from each group to come to the board and, in the box next to the corresponding false belief of the Shakers, to write his or her group’s scripture reference and the true doctrine his or her group identified in that passage.

  • Which of these same false philosophies are present in the world today?

Refer students to the truths written on the board for Doctrine and Covenants 49:15 and 49:16–17. (Marriage is ordained of God. Husbands and wives are commanded to be one and to have children.)

  • What purposes does marriage between a man and woman fulfill in Heavenly Father’s plan?

  • How is forbidding to marry contrary to Heavenly Father’s plan?

  • According to verse 16, God approves of traditional marriage and physical intimacy between husbands and wives. What are some ways people attempt to ridicule or destroy traditional marriage or the sacred nature of physical intimacy between husband and wife?

Invite students to consider what they can do to prepare themselves for marriage and for their role as parents. Encourage them to set a goal to better prepare themselves for that sacred responsibility.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 49:26–28 silently, looking for the Lord’s counsel. Invite a few students to report what they find.

  • How might this counsel relate to the Shakers? How might it relate to all of us?

Explain that in obedience to the Lord’s command in Doctrine and Covenants 49:1, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Leman Copley traveled to Copley’s former community of Shakers in northern Ohio and read this revelation to them. The Shakers rejected this message. At the same time, Leman Copley faltered in his faith and vacillated between returning to the Shakers and remaining with the restored Church. He eventually decided not to rejoin the Shakers but sadly did not remain true to the restored gospel.

Point out that because the Shakers and Leman Copley rejected God’s word, they forfeited the blessings that they might have enjoyed (see D&C 49:4). Invite willing students to share their testimonies of the importance of hearing and responding to the Lord’s truth. Consider sharing your testimony as well.