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Lesson 37: Doctrine and Covenants 94–97
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“Lesson 37: Doctrine and Covenants 94–97,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 37,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 37

Doctrine and Covenants 94–97

Introduction and Timeline

As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 94, the Lord directed the Saints to plan the city of Kirtland “according to the pattern” He had given them (D&C 94:2). The Lord also commanded the Saints in Kirtland to build a house for the Presidency of the Church and a printing house.

In a revelation given on December 27–28, 1832, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Kirtland, Ohio (see D&C 88:119). More than five months later, Church leaders and members still had not begun constructing the temple. On June 1, 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 95, in which the Lord sternly chastened the Kirtland Saints for delaying building the temple. He also promised to endow the Saints with power in the temple and gave instructions regarding its construction.

On June 4, 1833, several high priests met to discuss how to use and manage the recently acquired Peter French farm. Unable to come to a consensus, they inquired of the Lord, and in response, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 96. In this revelation, the Lord gave Bishop Newel K. Whitney the responsibility for overseeing the French farm, which included property on which the Kirtland Temple would be built, and appointed John Johnson as a member of the United Firm.

In the summer of 1833, in obedience to the Lord’s instructions recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 88, Church leaders in Missouri organized a school similar to the School of the Prophets, which operated in Kirtland, Ohio. In early July these Church leaders wrote to the Prophet Joseph Smith asking for further instruction regarding this school. The Presidency of the Church sent a reply on August 6, 1833, which included the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 94; 97–98. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 97, the Lord commanded the Missouri Saints to build the temple in Missouri “speedily” (D&C 97:11) and described the blessings they would receive for doing so. The Lord also warned the Saints that they would experience “sore affliction” if they did not follow His commandments (D&C 97:26).

Note: The 2013 edition of the scriptures corrected the date indicating when the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 94 was received. This lesson will discuss sections 94–97 in the order they were received (95, 96, 97, 94) rather than in the order they appear in the Doctrine and Covenants.

December 27–28, 1832

The Lord commanded the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, to build a temple.

April 10, 1833

The Church purchased 103 acres of land in Kirtland from Peter French.

June 1, 1833

Doctrine and Covenants 95 was received.

June 4, 1833

Doctrine and Covenants 96 was received.

July 20, 1833

A mob in Independence, Missouri, destroyed the printing office and tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen.

July 23, 1833

Under threat of mob violence, Church leaders in Missouri signed an agreement that all Mormons would leave Jackson County by April 1, 1834.

August 2, 1833

Doctrine and Covenants 97 and 94 were received.

August 6, 1833

The Presidency of the Church wrote a letter to Church leaders in Missouri and included the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 94; 97–98.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 95:1–17

The Lord chastens the Saints for delaying construction of the temple

Invite students to think about a time when someone tried to correct them.

  • How do you respond when others try to correct you?

  • What are some reasons we should seek correction in our lives?

Invite students to look for a principle as they study Doctrine and Covenants 95 that can help them understand why we should seek correction from God.

Write December 27–28, 1832 on the board. Remind students that on these dates the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation wherein the Lord commanded the Saints to build “a house of God” (D&C 88:119), or a temple.

Invite students to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 95 silently, looking for the date when the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 95 was given. Ask them to calculate approximately how much time had passed between when these two revelations were given. Explain that during this time, Church leaders had acquired property for the temple and formed a temple building committee. However, by June 1, 1833, the Saints still had not begun construction.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 95:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about the Saints’ delay in building the temple.

  • According to verse 2, what did the Lord say needed to happen because the Saints had delayed building the temple? (After students respond, explain that to chasten means to discipline or correct.)

  • What doctrine can we identify from verse 1 about why the Lord chastens those He loves? (Help students identify the following doctrine: The Lord chastens those He loves so they may be forgiven of their sins.)

  • How do you think the Lord’s chastening indicates His love for us?

Point out that when the Lord chastens us we can choose to accept or reject that correction. Testify that if we choose to accept that correction by repenting, the Lord will forgive us and prepare a way for our “deliverance in all things” (D&C 95:1).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 95:4–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons why the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Kirtland.

  • What are some reasons the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple? (After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board: In temples, the Lord prepares His servants to do His work and endows them with power.)

Explain that endow means to provide someone with a gift. In these verses, the Lord promised the Saints that in the temple He would endow them with, or give them the gift of, spiritual power. The same promise is available to all worthy Saints today as they enter into sacred covenants with the Lord in His holy temples.

To help students better understand the endowment of spiritual power we can receive in the temple, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Ballard, M. Russell

“When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power. …

“… All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord and who honor those covenants are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, to commune with God, to receive the fulness of the gospel, and, ultimately, to become heirs alongside Jesus Christ of all our Father has” (M. Russell Ballard, “Men and Women and Priesthood Power,”Ensign, Sept. 2014, 32).

Explain that building the Kirtland Temple was an enormous task for the Saints. In early 1833, there were relatively few members of the Church in Ohio, and most of them were very poor.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 95:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promised the Saints if they would keep His commandments. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What principle can we learn from verse 11? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we keep the commandments, we will have power to do what the Lord asks us to do.)

  • What are some situations you might face in which this principle could apply?

  • When have you felt that you received the Lord’s help to do something difficult because you kept the commandments?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 95:13–17 by explaining that the Lord gave instructions regarding the dimensions and functions of specific rooms in the Kirtland Temple.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 95:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for one way the Lord would fulfill His promise to give the Saints power to build the temple. Invite students to report what they find. (You may want to point out that the three people appointed were Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, who were the Presidency of the High Priesthood, or First Presidency.)

To help students see how this promise was fulfilled, invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:

Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams prayed together and saw the temple in vision. At a later date Frederick G. Williams recalled that after they had viewed the exterior in detail, “the building seemed to come right over [them]” and they saw the interior of the building as if they were actually in it (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 271).

Doctrine and Covenants 96:1–9

The bishop is appointed to oversee all property held by the Church

Inform students that on April 10, 1833, Church leaders purchased Peter French’s farm in Kirtland, Ohio. At a conference of high priests on June 4, 1833, the council could not agree regarding how to use or manage this property. The council members agreed to inquire of the Lord, and Joseph Smith consequently received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 96. In this revelation, the Lord assigned Bishop Newel K. Whitney to manage the farm, declared that the temple should be built on part of the property, and appointed John Johnson as a member of the United Firm.

Doctrine and Covenants 97:1–28

The Lord emphasizes His will that the Saints in Missouri build a temple

If possible, display a picture of a temple located far away from where your students live.

  • Why do you think the Lord wants all His worthy children to have access to His temples?

Inform students that the Lord not only wanted a temple built in Kirtland, Ohio, but He also wanted the Saints to build a temple in Zion, or Independence, Missouri. Invite students to look for doctrine as they study Doctrine and Covenants 97 that will help them better understand why the Lord commands His people to build and worship Him in temples.

Invite a student to read aloud the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 97, and ask the class to notice when this revelation was given and what significant event had recently occurred in Missouri.

  • What had happened to the Saints less than two weeks before this revelation was given? (Inform students that news of the forced agreement for the Saints to leave Jackson County had not reached the Prophet Joseph Smith when this revelation was given.)

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 97:1–9 by explaining that the Lord told the Saints that He was pleased they had organized a school of the elders in Zion, as He had previously instructed (see D&C 88). The Lord was also pleased with Parley P. Pratt, who presided over the school.

To help students understand the context of the Lord’s instructions in Doctrine and Covenants 97:10–14, explain that the Prophet and his counselors had previously sent a letter to the Saints in Missouri, instructing them to begin building a temple in Independence, Missouri, immediately. The letter also contained instructions and drawings detailing what the interior of the temple should look like.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 97:10–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord wanted the Saints to build a temple in Zion.

  • What are some of the reasons the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Zion?

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 97:15–21. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the blessings the Lord promised the Saints if they would build the temple.

  • What blessings did the Lord promise the Saints if they would build the temple?

  • What do you think it means to be “pure in heart” (verses 16, 21)?

  • What doctrine can we learn from verse 16 about what the pure in heart will experience in the temple? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: In the temple, God will manifest Himself to those who are pure in heart.)

  • What are some ways God manifests Himself in the temple?

  • How have you been blessed as you have worthily attended the temple?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 97:22–28 by explaining that the Lord told the Saints He would punish the wicked and that Zion would be spared and blessed if the Saints obeyed His word. If they did not do what God commanded, however, Church members would experience “sore affliction” (verse 26).

Doctrine and Covenants 94:1–17

The Lord gives instructions for the construction of Church buildings and reaffirms the need to build a temple

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 94 by explaining that the Lord instructed the Saints to lay out the city of Kirtland “according to the pattern” He had given them. In addition to commanding the Saints to build the temple, the Lord also instructed them to build a house for the Presidency of the Church and a printing house.

Testify of the power and blessings available to us in the house of the Lord. Invite students to prayerfully consider what they could do to purify themselves and attend the temple regularly so they can receive the great blessings promised by the Lord.