“Lesson 40: Doctrine and Covenants 102; 104,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 40,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
From the time the Church was organized on April 6, 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith had held conferences with priesthood leaders to decide important Church matters. Later revelations further clarified the role and function of priesthood leaders in administering the Church (see D&C 107:59–100; see also D&C 107, section heading). In accordance with revelation given in November 1831 (see D&C 107:78–79; see also D&C 107, section heading), on February 17, 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the first high council, which was patterned after the order of ancient councils he had seen in vision. The minutes (or notes) of that meeting were revised by the Prophet and are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 102.
In April 1832, in obedience to the Lord’s commandment, the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the United Firm to manage the Church’s business operations. By early 1834 the United Firm faced serious financial problems, and in a meeting held on April 10, 1834, United Firm members decided to dissolve the organization. However, two weeks later, the Prophet received a revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 104, in which the Lord directed that the firm be reorganized and counseled Church leaders to pay their debts and take care of the poor.
- March–April, 1832
Nine priesthood leaders were instructed by revelation to establish the United Firm (also known as the United Order) to oversee the Church’s mercantile and publishing endeavors (see D&C 78; 82).
- Fall 1833
The Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, were forced out of their homes.
- February 17, 1834
The Prophet Joseph Smith organized the first high council in Kirtland, Ohio. Doctrine and Covenants 102 contains the minutes, or notes, of the meeting as revised by the Prophet.
- April 10, 1834
Due to financial difficulties, members of the United Firm decided to dissolve the organization.
- April 23, 1834
Doctrine and Covenants 104 was received.
- May 5, 1834
The Prophet Joseph Smith left Kirtland, Ohio, with the Camp of Israel (later referred to as Zion’s Camp) to travel to Missouri.
Write the phrases The world’s way and The Lord’s way on the board. Ask students to share examples of doing things the world’s way and examples of doing things the Lord’s way.
Why is it important for us to do things the Lord’s way?
Explain that shortly after the Church was organized, the Prophet Joseph Smith followed the Lord’s instructions to hold periodic Church conferences. These conferences were attended by any available elders and high priests, who helped decide important Church matters, including how to discipline members who had committed serious sins. However, some of these attendees “would whisper to each other, grow visibly restless, or even leave during the middle of a council session. Personal prejudices and weaknesses also made it difficult to seek the will of the Lord” (Joseph F. Darowski and James Goldberg, “Restoring the Ancient Order,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg , 208–10, or history.lds.org).
Why might it be difficult in these circumstances to discuss sacred matters and make important decisions?
Invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:
On February 12, 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith met with the high priests and elders of the Church at his house in Kirtland. The Prophet told them he was disappointed by the behavior of those who had been attending the council meetings. He explained that because they had not followed the Lord’s pattern for conducting councils, they had perhaps lost many blessings. Five days later, Joseph Smith again met with the high priests and elders in his home. He organized a council “according to the law of God” he had previously received (see D&C 107:78–79). The Prophet then told those present that “he would show the order of councils in ancient days” based on a vision he had seen of the Apostle Peter and his counselors presiding over a council in Jerusalem (in “Minute Book 1,” 29, josephsmithpapers.org).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 102:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the type of council the Prophet Joseph Smith restored.
What council did the Prophet organize based on an ancient pattern?
How was the high council appointed?
According to verse 2, what is one purpose of a high council?
Explain that high councils serve a variety of purposes, many of them administrative. However, one important purpose is to help a stake presidency “settle important difficulties” (verse 2) by holding disciplinary councils for members who have committed serious sins.
To help students understand the purpose of disciplinary councils, invite a student to read the following statement aloud:
“The purposes of disciplinary councils are to save the souls of transgressors, protect the innocent, and safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church.
“… Through this process and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, a member can receive forgiveness of sins, regain peace of mind, and gain strength to avoid transgression in the future” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 38).
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 102:3–11 by explaining that verse 3 lists the members of the first high council and that verses 6–11 outline how the council should handle vacancies and who should preside.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 102:12–14 silently, looking for how the high council should decide the order of speakers in disciplinary councils. Ask students to report what they find.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 102:15–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why high councilors draw numbers.
Based on these verses, what can we learn about the way disciplinary councils are conducted?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 102:20–22 by explaining that these verses describe how to proceed if any council members feel uncertain about the council’s decision.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 102:23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the council should deal with difficulties that arise within the Church. Invite students to report what they find.
Point out that the words “the president” in verse 23 refer to the Prophet Joseph Smith, who presided over the first high council in Kirtland, Ohio. As President of the Church, he had authority to “inquire and obtain the mind of the Lord by revelation” pertaining to “doctrine or principle” as well as commandments given to the Church (verse 23; see also D&C 28:2). In addition, we can also learn a broader truth from verse 23 that relates to the role of individuals (such as stake presidents) who preside over local Church councils and must decide upon matters under their jurisdiction.
What truth is recorded in verse 23 about the role of those who preside over Church councils? (Help students identify the following truth: Those who preside over Church councils can inquire of the Lord and receive revelation.)
Why do you think it is important for us to know this truth?
Invite students to consider the covenants they have made with the Lord. Ask them to explain why it is important to keep their covenants. Invite them to look for doctrine and principles as they study Doctrine and Covenants 104 that will help them keep their covenants.
Tell students that in the spring of 1832, in obedience to the Lord’s command, the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the United Firm, which was responsible for managing the Church’s business operations. Priesthood leaders called to serve in the United Firm did so by making an “everlasting covenant” (see D&C 78:11–12; 82:11, 15).
Invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:
“By 1834, the [United Firm] faced several significant issues. Because of the violence that drove church members from Jackson County in summer and fall 1833, William W. Phelps’s printing office and [Sidney] Gilbert’s store were no longer in operation. Yet the firm was still responsible for debts incurred to supply these establishments.” The Newel K. Whitney store in Ohio also had substantial debts by this time. In addition, two members of the United Firm in Missouri were accused of not helping the poor and needy, thus breaking their covenants. On April 10, 1834, members of the United Firm in Kirtland decided to dissolve the firm (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834–September 1835, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others , 20–21). On April 23, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 104, in which the Lord counseled the members of the United Firm.
Point out that “under Joseph Smith’s direction, the phrase ‘United Firm’ was later replaced with ‘United Order’ in the revelation” (D&C 104, section heading).
Divide students into pairs, and invite them to read Doctrine and Covenants 104:1–10. Ask one student in each pair to look for the Lord’s promises to the members of the United Firm who kept their covenants, and ask the other student to look for the Lord’s warnings to members who broke their covenants. After sufficient time, invite students to report what they found.
Based on the Lord’s promises in verse 2, what will He give us if we are faithful to our covenants? (Help students identify the following principle: If we are faithful to our covenants, the Lord will give us a multiplicity of blessings. Write this principle on the board.)
How can remembering the Lord’s promised blessings help us be faithful to our covenants?
What blessings have you received as you have been faithful to your covenants?
Encourage students to decide now to faithfully keep their covenants so they can continue to receive the Lord’s blessings.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 104:11–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the responsibility the Lord gave the members of the United Firm.
According to verses 11–12, why did the Lord “appoint” a stewardship to each member of the United Firm?
What doctrine did the Lord declare in verse 14? (Students should identify the following doctrine: The Lord created the earth, and all things in it are His.)
Why might it have been helpful for members of the United Firm to know and remember this doctrine?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 104:15–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord instructed His stewards to use the earth’s resources. Ask a few students to report what they find.
What is the Lord’s way of providing for the poor and needy?
What principle can we learn from these verses about our responsibility to help others? (Help students identify the following principle: We must use what the Lord has given us to help others.)
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 104:19–53 by explaining that the Lord outlined specific stewardships given to members of the United Firm. Write the following references on the board: D&C 104:23, 25, 31, 33, 35, 38, 42, 46. Invite students to search these verses silently, looking for the promise the Lord gave members of the United Firm. Ask students to report what they find.
Why do you think the Lord emphasized the phrase “I will multiply blessings upon them” (verse 33)?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 104:47–77 by explaining that the Lord instructed the United Firm in Kirtland to separate itself from the United Firm in Missouri. The Lord also told the United Firm members in Kirtland that they were to help “print [the Lord’s] words” and “[build] up [His] Church” (verses 58–59). He also instructed them to establish “treasuries,” or accounts, for the money they earned from their stewardships (verses 60–68).
Remind students that by spring of 1834, the United Firm had many debts. A number of events, such as mob activity in Missouri, had prevented it from repaying loans.
Invite the class to read Doctrine and Covenants 104:78 silently, looking for the Lord’s instruction concerning the Church’s debts.
What did the Lord instruct members of the United Firm to do?
Point out that paying these debts may have seemed impossible to these Saints. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 104:79–82 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said He would do for the Saints if they were “humble and faithful and call[ed] upon [His] name” (verse 82) as they sought to pay their debts.
What principle can we learn from the Lord’s promise concerning what He will do for us if we are humble and faithful and call upon His name? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we are humble and faithful and call upon the Lord’s name, He will help us fulfill His commandments.)
Conclude by testifying of the doctrine and principles identified in this lesson. Invite students to act on these truths.