“Lesson 25: Doctrine and Covenants 66–70,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 25,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
On October 29, 1831, William E. McLellin, a recent convert to the Church, went to the Lord with five questions and prayed to receive answers through the Prophet Joseph Smith. William then asked the Prophet to inquire of the Lord on his behalf. Joseph, who knew nothing concerning William’s prayer or the five questions, inquired of the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 66. This revelation details promised blessings and specific counsel regarding William’s spiritual standing and his call to preach the gospel.
In November 1831, priesthood holders of the Church gathered for a series of conferences in Hiram, Ohio, to discuss the publication of the revelations that the Prophet Joseph Smith had received from the Lord up to that time. During the conference, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 1, which He designated as His preface to the book of revelations that would be published. The Lord also gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 67, in which He addressed those who questioned the language of the revelations received by the Prophet.
During the conference, four brethren asked Joseph Smith to inquire of the Lord concerning His will for them. In response, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 68. The revelation includes counsel to those called to preach the gospel, additional understanding about what constitutes scripture, instructions about the calling of bishops, and a commandment for parents to teach their children the principles and ordinances of the gospel.
During the time of these conferences, Oliver Cowdery was assigned to carry the manuscript of Joseph Smith’s compiled revelations from Ohio to Missouri for printing. On November 11, 1831, Joseph Smith dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 69, instructing John Whitmer to accompany Oliver to Missouri and to continue collecting historical material as Church historian and recorder. The next day at a conference in Hiram, Ohio, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 70. In that revelation, the Lord appointed six men to oversee the publication of the revelations.
- October 29, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 66 was received.
- November 1–2, 1831
Elders at a Church conference held at Hiram, Ohio, discussed publishing the Lord’s revelations to Joseph Smith (the Book of Commandments). During the conference, the Prophet received Doctrine and Covenants 67–68.
- November 11, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 69 was received.
- November 12, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 70 was received.
- November 20, 1831
Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer departed Ohio for Missouri with revelations to be printed in the Book of Commandments.
Ask students to think about a time when they wanted to improve or progress spiritually.
How do you know if you are progressing spiritually?
How do you know what to focus on in order to grow spiritually?
Invite students to look for truths as they study Doctrine and Covenants 66 that can guide them in their efforts to progress spiritually.
To help students understand the historical context of Doctrine and Covenants 66, explain that the recipient of the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 66 was William E. McLellin, who was baptized in August 1831. Soon after his baptism he was ordained an elder and accompanied Hyrum Smith for a few weeks as a missionary. In October, he traveled to Ohio for a Church conference and met the Prophet Joseph Smith. On October 29, William prayed in secret, asking the Lord to reveal answers to five specific questions through Joseph Smith. (No documents have been discovered that record what those questions were.) Without telling the Prophet about his prayer or his questions, William requested a revelation. As the Prophet dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 66, William found that the Lord had indeed answered each of his questions. As part of the revelation, the Lord gave William specific instructions and warnings that helped him know his standing before the Lord and what he needed to do to progress spiritually.
Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 66:1–2 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about William McLellin’s spiritual progress.
What did the Lord say about William’s spiritual progress?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 66:3 silently, looking for what the Lord told William he still needed to do. Ask students to report what they find.
What can we learn from these verses about how the Lord helps us grow spiritually? (After students respond, write the following on the board: The Lord can show us what we need to repent of.)
What are some ways the Lord might show us what we need to repent of?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for one way we can invite the Lord to show us what we need to repent of:
“One of the questions we must ask of our Heavenly Father in private prayer is this: ‘What have I done today, or not done, which displeases Thee? If I can only know, I will repent with all my heart without delay.’ That humble prayer will be answered” (Henry B. Eyring, “Do Not Delay,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 34).
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 66:4–9 by explaining that the Lord told William McLellin that he should go with Samuel H. Smith on a mission to the eastern lands and proclaim the gospel. The Lord also told him that he was not called to go to the land of Zion yet but that if able, he should send money to help those who were establishing Zion.
Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 66:10 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s counsel and warning to William. You may need to explain that the word cumbered means burdened or weighed down.
What temptation did the Lord say William struggled with?
What doctrine does this verse teach about the Lord’s knowledge? (Although they may use different words, students should identify the following doctrine: The Lord knows our specific weaknesses and temptations.)
Why is it important to understand that the Lord knows our specific weaknesses and temptations?
How does this truth relate to the doctrine we identified in verse 3?
Point out that in addition to knowing our weaknesses and temptations, the Lord knows our strengths and abilities. Because He knows each of us, He can guide us to grow spiritually and warn us of dangers that may hinder our spiritual growth. If we will turn to Him, the Lord knows how to help us when we are tempted and will come to our aid (see D&C 62:1).
Invite students to prayerfully seek to know what they need to repent of and what Heavenly Father would have them do to draw nearer to Him. Testify that blessings will come into their lives if they follow the Lord’s counsel and repent of their sins.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 66:11–13 by explaining that the Lord promised William that if he followed the counsel in this revelation and magnified his office, he would receive eternal life.
Invite a student to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 67 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the historical context of this revelation.
What did many elders bear testimony of during the conference?
Explain that although many elders received a spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of the revelations during the conference, some elders did not.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 67:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said to the elders at this conference.
According to verse 3, why didn’t some of the elders receive a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the revelations?
Point out the phrase in the section heading “some conversation was had concerning the language used in the revelations,” and explain that during the conference, some elders questioned the imperfections of the language in the revelations. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 67:5–9 aloud, and ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said to those who questioned the language of the revelations.
What did the Lord acknowledge about Joseph Smith in verse 5?
Testify that even though Joseph Smith’s language was not perfect, the Lord revealed truth to the Prophet and allowed him to express it using his own abilities and inspired best efforts.
What challenge did the Lord give to those who thought they could express themselves better than the language of the revelations?
Explain that William McLellin, a former schoolteacher, accepted the challenge. Invite a student to read aloud the following account:
William McLellin volunteered to attempt to write a revelation similar to what the Lord had previously given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, but he was unsuccessful. Joseph Smith observed that those who witnessed this failed attempt to create a revelation “renewed their faith in the fulness of the gospel and in the truth of the commandments and revelations which the Lord had given to the church through my instrumentality; and the elders signified a willingness to bear testimony of their truth to all the world” (Joseph Smith, in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, p. 162, josephsmithpapers.org).
What can we learn from this experience and the Lord’s words in verses 5–9 regarding what the Lord reveals through His prophets? (Although students may use other words, they should identify the following truth: God reveals truth through His prophets despite their weaknesses or imperfections.)
You may want to invite a few students to share their testimony of this doctrine. Testify of the truthfulness of the revelations that the Lord gives the Church through His living prophets.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 67:10–14 by telling students that the Lord promised the elders that if they rid themselves of jealousy and fear and were humble, they would see the Savior. The Lord explained that they could not abide His presence now, but He encouraged them to continue in patience until they were perfected.
Invite a student to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 68 aloud. Ask the class to look for what prompted this revelation.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 68:1 aloud. Ask the class to look for the charge the Lord gave to Orson Hyde.
How was Orson to proclaim the gospel? (By the Spirit of the living God.)
Explain that in verse 2, the Lord said that the charge He gave to Orson Hyde is an example for others called to preach the gospel. Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 68:3–5 aloud. Invite the class to look for why it is important for those called to preach the gospel to do so by the Spirit.
What truth can we learn from verse 4 about what happens when the Lord’s servants speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: When the Lord’s servants are moved upon by the Holy Ghost, their words will be the Lord’s word and can lead people to salvation.)
Explain that those who are ordained to preach the gospel can, as moved upon by the Spirit, communicate the Lord’s word to those they teach and help them gain a testimony of the truth. In addition, the words of prophets, seers, and revelators as given by the Holy Ghost are considered scripture (see D. Todd Christofferson, “The Blessing of Scripture,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 35). President J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961) of the First Presidency stated that prophets, seers, and revelators “have the right, the power, and authority to declare the mind and will of God to his people, subject to the over-all power and authority of the President of the Church … , for he is the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the whole Church” (“When Are Church Leaders’ Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” Church News, July 31, 1954, 9–10).
In what ways have the words of the Lord’s servants helped lead you toward salvation?
Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 68:6–35, the Lord called upon faithful elders to preach the gospel and baptize believers. He also revealed instructions for calling bishops and for the inhabitants of Zion.
Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–27 aloud. Invite the class to look for the instruction the Lord gave to parents in Zion.
What did the Lord command parents in verse 25? (The Lord has commanded parents to teach their children to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.)
What did the Lord say would happen to parents who did not teach these principles and ordinances to their children?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 68:28–35 by explaining that in addition to the counsel for parents to “teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:28), the Saints were instructed to keep the Sabbath day holy, remember their labors, and avoid idleness. The Lord also expressed his displeasure with the wickedness and greed of some of the inhabitants of Zion.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 69 by explaining that the Lord commanded John Whitmer to accompany Oliver Cowdery as he carried the revelations to Missouri for publication. The Lord told John Whitmer that his duties as Church historian were “for the good of the church, and for the rising generations” (D&C 69:8).
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 70 by explaining that the Lord appointed six men, including the Prophet Joseph Smith, as stewards over the revelations with responsibility for publishing them to the world.
Conclude by inviting a few students to share a principle or doctrine taught in these revelations that is meaningful to them and then explain why it is important to them. Encourage students to apply these truths by acting on any promptings they received.