Lesson 39: Doctrine and Covenants 101

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“Lesson 39: Doctrine and Covenants 101,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 39,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 39

Doctrine and Covenants 101

Introduction and Timeline

In late 1833, mobs attacked Church members in Jackson County, Missouri, and forced them from their homes. When news of the violence reached the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, he grieved for the Missouri Saints and pled with the Lord to return them to their lands and homes. On December 16–17, 1833, the Lord revealed to the Prophet why He had allowed His Saints to suffer. This revelation, which is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 101, also included counsel and words of comfort regarding “the redemption of Zion” (D&C 101:43).

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.

October 20, 1833

Church leaders in Missouri announced that the Saints intended to remain in Jackson County to defend their property rights.

October 31–November 8

Mobs attacked Mormon settlements in Jackson County, burning homes and forcing the Saints to leave the county.

November 25, 1833

The Prophet Joseph Smith learned that mob violence had expelled the Saints from Jackson County.

December 16–17, 1833

Doctrine and Covenants 101 was received.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 101:1–21

The Lord explains why He allowed the Saints to suffer and offers counsel and comfort

Invite students to imagine they have a friend who believes that God won’t help him or her anymore because of poor choices he or she has made. Ask students to think about what they would say to this friend.

Invite students to look for doctrine and principles as they study Doctrine and Covenants 101 that will help them understand how the Lord feels about us, even when we sin.

Remind students that due to mob violence in July 1833, Church leaders in Missouri agreed that all Mormons would leave Jackson County by April 1, 1834. Explain that in August 1833, Church leaders in Kirtland, Ohio, advised the Saints in Missouri to ask the government for help and protection. After meeting with the governor of Missouri, Church leaders in Missouri hired lawyers and prepared to defend their rights and property, after which mobs attacked the Saints and violently expelled them from Jackson County in November 1833.

Invite students to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 101 silently, looking for the hardships the Missouri Saints experienced. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite a student to read aloud the following account by Elder Parley P. Pratt (1807–1857):

Pratt, Parley P.

“During the dispersion of women and children, parties were hunting the men, firing upon some, tying up and whipping others, and some they pursued several miles.

“… The shore [of the Missouri River] began to be lined on both sides of the ferry with men, women and children. … Hundreds of people were seen in every direction, some in tents and some in the open air around their fires, while the rain descended in torrents. Husbands were inquiring for their wives, wives for their husbands; parents for children, and children for parents. …

“… All my provisions for the winter were destroyed or stolen, and my grain left growing on the ground for my enemies to harvest. My house was afterwards burned, and my fruit trees and improvements destroyed or plundered” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. [1938], 121–22).

  • What questions might the Saints have asked after they were expelled from Zion?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 101:1–3, 6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord allowed the Saints to be persecuted. Ask students to report what they find.

  • Even though the Saints had transgressed, what did the Lord promise them? (After students respond, point out the phrase “they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels,” and explain that this refers to a future day when the Lord will reward the faithful and set them apart as His treasures.)

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 101:4–5 silently, looking for what the Lord said the Saints needed to experience so they could become the Lord’s “jewels.” Ask students to report what they find.

  • What does chastening mean? (If necessary, explain that chastening is “correction or discipline given to individuals or groups in order to help them improve or become stronger” [Guide to the Scriptures, “Chasten, Chastening,”].)

  • Why do you think the Lord referred to Abraham when teaching the Saints about enduring trials? (The severity of Abraham’s tests illustrate the importance of remaining faithful when we are severely tried.)

  • What principle can we identify from verse 5 regarding what happens if we will not faithfully endure the Lord’s chastening? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we will not faithfully endure chastening, we cannot be sanctified.)

  • How can faithfully enduring chastening and trials help us to become sanctified?

Point out that the Lord may use many means to chasten us. Correction can come through the Holy Ghost, inspired Church leaders, or friends and family. For the Saints in Zion, the chastening came when the Lord did not prevent them from being persecuted.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 101:9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the hopeful message the Lord gave these Saints.

  • What truth can we identify from verse 9 that can help us when we suffer the consequences of our sins? (After students respond, write the following doctrine on the board: Even though we sin, the Lord still has compassion on us.)

Point out that because the Lord has compassion on us, He wants us to exercise faith in Him and repent of our sins so we can ultimately return to be with Him.

  • How do you think this truth may have helped comfort the Missouri Saints?

  • How might this truth help someone in our day who feels that he or she is not worthy of the Lord’s help and love?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 101:10–21 by explaining that the Lord said He would punish those who persecuted the Saints. He also promised to gather His people and establish Zion and her stakes.

Doctrine and Covenants 101:22–42

The Lord describes conditions during the Millennium and declares His people to be the salt of the earth

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 101:22–34 by explaining that the Lord counseled the Saints to gather to and stand in holy places in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Lord also described some of the blessings the righteous will receive after His Second Coming.

Write Persecution on the board. Ask students to describe ways Church members experience persecution today.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 101:35–38 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promised those who faithfully endure “persecution for [His] name” (verse 35).

  • What principle can we identify from the Lord’s promise in verse 35? (Help students identify the following principle: Those who suffer persecution for Jesus Christ’s name and endure in faith will partake of His glory.)

  • According to verses 36–38, how can we endure persecution in faith?

Display or read aloud the following questions and invite students to write down their responses. After students have had sufficient time to write, consider inviting them to share their responses with a partner. Or you could ask a few students who are comfortable doing so to share their responses with the class.

  • When have you or someone you know suffered persecution because of belief in Jesus Christ and His gospel?

  • How did you, or the person you know, endure in faith?

Encourage students to commit to endure in faith when they are persecuted for their beliefs in Jesus Christ.

Summarize D&C 101:39–42 by explaining that the Lord referred to the Saints as “the salt of the earth” (verse 39). Just as salt loses its savor when mixed with impurities, becoming contaminated by the sins of the world can prevent us from being an example and blessing to others.

Doctrine and Covenants 101:43–75

The Lord gives the parable of the nobleman and the olive trees and admonishes the Saints to continue to gather

Explain that to help the Saints understand how Zion would be redeemed, or reclaimed, the Lord gave the parable of the nobleman and the olive trees as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 101:43–62.

Write on the board or display the following scripture reference and questions:

Doctrine and Covenants 101:43–62

How do the events described in this parable relate to what happened to the Saints in Missouri?

What did the Lord teach regarding the redemption of Zion?

Divide students into pairs, and ask them to read Doctrine and Covenants 101:43–62 and to discuss the questions in their pairs. After sufficient time, invite a few students to report what they discussed.

Point out that the tower in the parable may refer to the temple the Lord had commanded the Saints to build in Jackson County, Missouri (see D&C 57:2–3; 84:1–5; 97:10–12). More broadly, the tower may represent Zion, which the Saints could only build up by obedience to the law of the Lord (see D&C 101:11–12; 105:3–6). Explain that the servant mentioned in verses 55–62 is the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 103:21). A few months after receiving the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 101, the Prophet organized a group called the Camp of Israel (later referred to as Zion’s Camp) to redeem Zion and restore the Saints to their lands and homes (see D&C 103:29–40).

Explain that after being expelled from Jackson County, some of the Missouri Saints wondered if they should settle in other counties instead. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 101:63–67 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord taught the Saints about the importance of being gathered together.

  • According to verses 64–65, why did the Lord tell the Saints to continue to gather together?

Point out the phrase “that the wheat may be secured in the garners to possess eternal life” in verse 65. Explain that in Joseph Smith’s day, harvested wheat was put into garners, or grain bins, to safely store and protect it. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that garners in the scriptures can represent “the holy temples” (“Honorably Hold a Name and Standing,”Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 97).

  • What principle can we identify from verse 65? (Help students identify the following principle: As we gather to holy temples, we receive protection and prepare ourselves for eternal life.)

  • How can gathering to temples to worship, serve, and receive saving ordinances protect us and prepare us for eternal life?

Doctrine and Covenants 101:76–101

The Lord counsels the Saints to seek ways to return to their homes in Missouri

Tell students that as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 101:76–101, the Lord declared that He had “established the Constitution of [the United States] by the hands of wise men” (see verse 80) and that the Saints should rely on the laws of the land and seek “redress,” or relief, from the government (see verse 76).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 101:77–78 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Lord inspired the establishment of the United States Constitution.

  • According to these verses, why did the Lord inspire the establishment of the Constitution?

  • Why is moral agency, or the ability to choose and act for ourselves, essential to God’s plan of salvation?

  • How might verses 77–78 help us understand the importance of religious freedom in ensuring that individuals can exercise their moral agency in matters of faith?

Close by testifying of the truths identified in this lesson, and invite students to act on these truths.