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Lesson 45: Doctrine and Covenants 115–20
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“Lesson 45: Doctrine and Covenants 115–20,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 45,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 45

Doctrine and Covenants 115–20

Introduction and Timeline

On April 26, 1838, shortly after moving to Far West, Missouri, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 115. In it the Lord revealed the name of the Church, counseled Church members to “arise and shine forth” (D&C 115:5), and instructed the Saints to build a temple in Far West.

On May 19, 1838, while exploring land north of Far West, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 116. In it the Lord identified Spring Hill, Missouri, as Adam-ondi-Ahman.

On July 8, 1838, in Far West, the Prophet received the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 117–20. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 117, the Lord commanded Newel K. Whitney and William Marks to “settle up their business speedily” in Kirtland, Ohio, and move to Far West (D&C 117:1). Oliver Granger was also called to settle the First Presidency’s financial affairs in Kirtland. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 118, the Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and commanded members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to serve missions overseas. In the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 119–20, the Lord addressed the Church’s significant financial difficulties by giving instructions regarding the law of tithing and the distribution of tithing funds.

Summer 1836

Church members purchased land and began to settle in an area of northern Missouri that they called Far West.

December 1836

The Missouri state legislature created Caldwell County exclusively for Church members’ settlements.

March 14, 1838

Joseph Smith and his family arrived in Far West, Missouri.

April 26, 1838

Doctrine and Covenants 115 was received.

Mid-May 1838

Joseph Smith led an expedition to areas north of Far West, Missouri, to find additional settlement sites for the Saints.

May 19, 1838

Doctrine and Covenants 116 was received.

July 8, 1838

Doctrine and Covenants 117–20 were received.

April 26, 1839

Seven members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles fulfilled prophecy by laying the chief cornerstone of the Far West Temple.

Fall 1839

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles left on missions to Great Britain.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 115–16

The Lord commands Church members to construct a temple in Far West, Missouri, and reveals the location of Adam-ondi-Ahman

Ask students to think of a time when they were caught in a storm. Invite a few students to briefly share their experiences.

  • How can trials and temptations be likened to a storm?

Encourage students to look for doctrine and principles as they study Doctrine and Covenants 115 that can help them find refuge from many of the storms of mortality.

Church History Maps: The Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa Area of the United States

To help students understand the context of Doctrine and Covenants 115, invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud. (You may also want to display the accompanying map showing Jackson, Clay, and Caldwell Counties.)

After Church members were driven from Jackson County, Missouri, in 1833, many settled in Clay County, Missouri, while trying to reclaim their lands. When these attempts failed and Clay County residents asked the Saints to leave their county in 1836, Church leaders began resettling the Saints in an uninhabited region in northern Missouri, where they established a settlement named Far West. When the Prophet Joseph Smith visited Far West in November 1837, Church leaders decided to expand Far West and build a temple, contingent upon them receiving further instructions from the Lord. The Prophet moved to Far West in March 1838, and on April 26, 1838, he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 115. (See Alexander L. Baugh, “From High Hopes to Despair: The Missouri Period, 1831–39,” Ensign, July 2001, 48; The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839, ed. Mark Ashurst-McGee and others [2017], 112–13.)

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 115:1–3 by explaining that the Lord addressed this revelation to the presiding officers and members of the Church.

Point out that before this revelation, the Church had been called by various names, such as the Church of Christ or the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 115:4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the name the Lord designated for His Church.

  • What name did the Lord give His Church?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 115:5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord commanded Church members to do.

  • What does the Lord expect of Church members?

  • What do you think it means to “arise and shine forth”?

  • What principle can we identify from verse 5 about what can happen if we “arise and shine forth”? (Help students identify a principle similar to the following: If we arise and shine forth, our light will be a standard for the nations.)

  • What do you think it means to “be a standard for the nations” (verse 5)? (Help students understand that our examples as Church members who make and keep covenants can inspire others and help draw them to the Lord.)

Invite students to think about someone they know whose example inspires others and helps draw them closer to the Lord. Ask one or two students to explain how the person they know is a light to others.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 115:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the blessings promised to those who gather to the stakes of Zion.

  • What does the Lord promise those who gather to the stakes of Zion? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: As we gather to the stakes of Zion, we will have a defense and a refuge from the storm.)

  • What are some “storms” that young adults face today?

  • How has gathering with the Saints helped you find refuge from these storms?

Invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:

As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 115:7–19, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Far West “according to the pattern” the Lord would show the First Presidency (verses 14–16). The Lord also commanded them to “buil[d] up” the Far West settlement “speedily” and to look for “other places … in the regions round about” where the Saints could establish stakes of Zion (verses 17–18). In obedience to this instruction, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders explored the areas surrounding Far West, and during one of these expeditions the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 116.

Invite a student to read aloud the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 116 and Doctrine and Covenants 116:1. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the name of the place the Prophet Joseph Smith explored.

  • What did the Lord reveal about Spring Hill, Missouri?

Explain that three years before his death, Adam gathered his righteous posterity in Adam-ondi-Ahman and blessed them, “and the Lord appeared unto them” (see D&C 107:53–56). Before the Millennium, another important meeting will occur in Adam-ondi-Ahman, during which the Savior and Adam and other prophets will gather with righteous Church members (see D&C 27:5–14; Daniel 7:13–14, 22).

Doctrine and Covenants 117

The Lord commands William Marks and Newel K. Whitney to leave Kirtland, Ohio, and directs Oliver Granger to settle the First Presidency’s business affairs

Explain that after the Prophet Joseph Smith left Kirtland, Ohio, in January 1838, William Marks was appointed to oversee the Church in Kirtland and to settle Joseph Smith’s and Sidney Rigdon’s debts there. Bishop Newel K. Whitney was in charge of the Church’s businesses and property in Kirtland. These two men were to settle Church affairs in Kirtland and then promptly move with the rest of the Saints to Missouri. However, by July 1838, both men remained in Kirtland. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839, 191.)

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 117:1–3 silently, looking for what the Lord told William Marks and Newel K. Whitney.

  • What did the Lord tell these two men?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 117:4–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why these men had remained in Kirtland.

  • According to verses 4–5, why had these men remained in Kirtland? (If necessary, explain that they were overly concerned about properties they owned in Kirtland.)

  • What did the Lord tell them about “property” in verses 5–8? (Explain that the phrase “the plains of Olaha Shinehah” refers to the land surrounding Adam-ondi-Ahman.)

  • What do you think the phrase “covet … the drop, and neglect the more weighty matters” in verse 8 means?

  • Based on what the Lord said to these men, what can our “covetous desires” (verse 4) cause us to do? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: Our covetous desires can cause us to neglect the more weighty matters.)

  • What are some examples of “covetous desires” (verse 4) that can cause us to “neglect the more weighty matters” (verse 8)?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 117:10–11 by explaining that the Lord admonished William Marks to “be faithful over a few things” so that he could be made “a ruler over many” (verse 10). The Lord also told Brother Marks that he would continue serving as a Church leader when he arrived in Far West. The Lord then rebuked Newel K. Whitney for “his littleness of soul” and instructed him to “be a bishop … not in name but in deed” in Adam-ondi-Ahman (verse 11).

Tell students that Oliver Granger was called to return to Kirtland as a financial agent for the First Presidency (verses 12–14) so that Brother Marks and Bishop Whitney could “settle up their business speedily” (verse 1).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 117:12–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about Oliver Granger. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What do you think the phrase “his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase” in verse 13 means?

Doctrine and Covenants 118

The Lord calls four new Apostles and calls members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to serve missions overseas

Explain that during the summer of 1838, as the Prophet Joseph Smith prepared members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to serve missions in other nations and worked on filling vacancies in the Quorum, he prayed that the Lord would reveal His will concerning the Twelve Apostles. In response to his prayer, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 118, in which the Lord called four new Apostles and instructed members of the quorum concerning their missions overseas.

Doctrine and Covenants 119–120

The Lord reveals the law of tithing and organizes a council to manage tithing funds

Explain that by July 1838, the Church was still suffering under enormous debt, yet Church members had been commanded to build up Far West and to build another temple without going into more debt (see D&C 115:8–13). The Prophet met with Church leaders on July 8, 1838, to discuss what they should do.

Invite students to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 119 silently, looking for what the Prophet did that prompted this revelation. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 119:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s answer to the Prophet’s prayer.

  • What did the Lord command Church members to do as recorded in verses 1–2?

  • What did the Lord command Church members to do after they gave their “surplus property” (verse 1) to the bishop?

  • Point out the phrase “this shall be a standing law unto them forever” in verse 4.

  • What does “a standing law … forever” mean?

  • What “standing law” has the Lord given us? (Help students identify the following doctrine: The Lord commands us to pay one-tenth of all our interest annually as tithing.)

Explain that the Lord has clarified our understanding of the “standing law” of tithing in our day. In 1970, the First Presidency taught that the phrase “all their interest annually” (verse 4) refers to our income (see First Presidency letter, Mar. 19, 1970). Members are no longer required to give “all their surplus property” as a tithe but one-tenth of their income.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 119:5–6 silently, looking for what the Lord said would happen if the Saints did not live this law. Ask students to report what they find.

  • How can paying tithing sanctify us?

  • How has the Lord blessed you for faithfully paying tithing?

Invite students to commit to faithfully pay their tithing so they can receive the Lord’s blessings.

Tell students that in Doctrine and Covenants 120, the Lord established a council to manage tithing funds.

Consider reviewing and testifying of the doctrine and principles identified in this lesson. Invite students to apply these truths in their lives.