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Lesson 50: Doctrine and Covenants 129–30
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“Lesson 50: Doctrine and Covenants 129–30,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 50,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 50

Doctrine and Covenants 129–30

Introduction and Timeline

On February 9, 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith gave instructions to Parley P. Pratt and others regarding how to distinguish between heavenly messengers and evil spirits. These instructions are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 129. On April 2, 1843, the Prophet met with Church members in Ramus, Illinois, and taught doctrine regarding various gospel topics, including the Godhead, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and how we can receive God’s blessings. These teachings are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130.

February 7, 1843

Elder Parley P. Pratt arrived in Nauvoo, Illinois, from his mission in England.

February 9, 1843

The Prophet Joseph Smith delivered the instructions recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 129.

April 1, 1843

The Prophet Joseph Smith and others traveled to Ramus, Illinois.

April 2, 1843

The Prophet Joseph Smith delivered the instructions recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 129

The Prophet Joseph Smith gives instructions regarding how to discern ministering angels from evil spirits

Before class, write the following question on the board: How can I know whether something is from God or from some other source?

When class begins, ask students how they would respond to this question. Invite students as they study Doctrine and Covenants 129 today to look for the pattern the Prophet Joseph Smith gave for detecting false spirits.

Ask a student to read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 129 aloud.

To help students further understand the historical background of Doctrine and Covenants 129, explain that during a meeting with members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on June 27, 1839, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught about the “three grand keys by which the correct nature of ministering angels and spirits may be distinguished” (D&C 129, section heading). However, Elder Parley P. Pratt was absent from that meeting. On February 9, 1843, Elder Pratt, who had just returned home from a mission in England, and several others met with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Prophet repeated the instructions he had given previously.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 129:1–9. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the “three grand keys” (verse 9) that can help us distinguish between heavenly messengers and evil spirits.

  • Based on the Prophet Joseph Smith’s teachings, how can we distinguish between heavenly messengers and evil spirits?

  • In addition to these instructions, what else has God given us to help us detect Satan’s deceptions?

Doctrine and Covenants 130

The Prophet Joseph Smith clarifies and teaches doctrine

To help students understand the context of Doctrine and Covenants 130, display the following historical summary, and invite a student to read it aloud:

On April 1, 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith, accompanied by William Clayton, Orson Hyde, and J. B. Backenstos, traveled to Ramus, Illinois, to visit family and friends. The next morning, the Prophet held a Church meeting with the Saints in Ramus. During the meeting, Elder Orson Hyde preached a sermon that included his interpretations of 1 John 3:2, Revelation 19:11, and John 14:23.

After the meeting, the Prophet and his companions went to the home of Joseph Smith’s sister Sophronia Smith McCleary for lunch. During lunch, the Prophet told Elder Hyde that he was “going to offer some corrections” to him. Elder Hyde humbly responded, “They shall be thankfully received.” The Prophet then corrected Elder Hyde’s misinterpretation of scriptures and taught doctrine regarding various other topics. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843, ed. Andrew H. Hedges and others [2011], 321–25.)

Divide the class into three groups. Invite one group to read 1 John 3:2 silently, looking for what the Apostle John taught would happen to the faithful at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Invite another group to read Revelation 19:11 silently, looking for what John taught about the appearance of Jesus Christ at the time of His Second Coming. Ask the third group to read John 14:23 silently, looking for what John wrote about the blessing that the righteous could receive. After sufficient time, ask a student from each group to report what his or her group found.

Explain that during his sermon in Ramus, Elder Hyde misinterpreted these verses of scripture. He used 1 John 3:3 and Revelation 19:11 to teach that “when he [Jesus Christ] shall appear we shall be like him [and] he will appear on a white horse—as a warrior, [and] maybe we shall have some of the same spirit—our God is a warrior.” Then Orson Hyde quoted John 14:23 and taught that “it is our privilege to have the Father [and] Son dwelling in our hearts.” (In The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843, 323; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization standardized.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 130:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Prophet Joseph Smith explained as he corrected Elder Hyde’s teachings.

  • According to verse 1, how will the Savior appear at His Second Coming?

  • What does the phrase “that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there” in verse 2 mean? (If necessary, explain that the word sociality refers to how people interact with each other. The relationships we can have in the Lord’s presence will be like those we enjoy now, but they will include “eternal glory.”)

  • What falsehood did the Prophet correct in verse 3?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 130:4–13 by explaining that in these verses the Prophet taught that time is “reckoned,” or calculated, “according to the planet on which [a person] reside[s]” (verse 4). He also explained that the “angels who minister to [us on] this earth [are] those who do belong or have belonged to it” (verse 5). The Prophet then explained that the earth will become the celestial kingdom and that those who inherit the celestial kingdom will receive a “white stone,” which is a Urim and Thummim that reveals heavenly things (verses 10–11). The Prophet Joseph Smith also reaffirmed his prophecy that the United States would experience a war that would begin in the state of South Carolina (see verses 12–13; see also D&C 87).

Second Coming, The

Display a picture of Jesus Christ at His Second Coming.

  • Why might someone want to know the exact date of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?

Explain that in Joseph Smith’s day, a prominent Christian preacher named William Miller claimed that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur sometime between the spring of 1843 and the spring of 1844, and many who followed William Miller believed April 3, 1843, to be the exact date of this event (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843, 326, note 717). One day before this predicted date, the Prophet Joseph Smith corrected this false prophecy as he taught the Saints in Ramus by sharing an experience he had when he prayed to know the time of the Second Coming.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 130:14–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Joseph Smith learned concerning the Savior’s Second Coming.

  • What can we learn from these verses concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? (Help students understand that the Lord did not reveal the exact date of His Second Coming to Joseph Smith. You may want to invite students to read Matthew 24:36.)

  • What did the Lord tell Joseph Smith to do in verse 15?

Explain that on April 2, 1843, after having lunch at the home of his sister, the Prophet Joseph Smith held another meeting with the Saints in Ramus. Among other topics, the Prophet repeated to the Saints much of what he taught Orson Hyde and others during lunch. That evening, the Prophet held another meeting with the Saints during which he clarified significant gospel truths (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 2:December 1841–April 1843, 325–26). These teachings are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–23.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a principle the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the Saints.

  • What principle can we identify from these verses about the knowledge and intelligence we gain in this life? (Help students identify the following principle: The knowledge and intelligence we gain in this life will rise with us in the Resurrection.)

To help students understand what is meant by the words knowledge and intelligence, display the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud.

Maxwell, Neal A.

“The word intelligence as we encounter it in section 130 … is not the usual ‘IQ’ kind of measurement. This ‘intelligence’ discerns, learns, and applies true and correct principles; it reflects a composite of knowledge and wise behavior. It combines cognition [reasoning] and application. This reflects the highest type of intelligence, and the blended result will rise with us in the resurrection” (Neal A. Maxwell, That Ye May Believe [1992], 37).

  • According to Elder Maxwell, what does the word intelligence in Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19 mean?

  • According to verse 19, how do we gain more knowledge and intelligence?

  • Why do you think “diligence and obedience” (verse 19) to God help us gain knowledge and intelligence? (See D&C 93:27–28, 36–40.)

  • When have you gained knowledge or intelligence because of your diligence and obedience?

Testify that as we are diligent and obedient to God’s commandments, we will gain more knowledge and intelligence that will bless us throughout eternity. Encourage students to continue gaining knowledge and intelligence through their diligence and obedience to God.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for an additional principle the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the Saints in Ramus. (You may want to explain that “irrevocably decreed” means permanent and unchangeable and “predicated” means based on [verse 20].)

  • What principle can we identify from verse 21 about obtaining blessings from God? (Help students identify the following principle: When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.)

List the following scriptures on the board: Malachi 3:10–12; Matthew 11:28–30; 2 Nephi 32:3; D&C 58:42–43. Invite students to read these verses silently, looking for the law or commandment that is taught and the blessings we will receive if we obey that law or commandment. Ask students to report what they find.

Explain that while some blessings we receive from being obedient to God’s laws are immediate, other blessings may not come immediately but require consistent obedience over time.

  • Why do you think it is important to understand that some of God’s promised blessings for obedience may not come to us immediately?

  • What are some examples of blessings you have received because of your obedience to God’s laws? (You may also want to share an experience.)

Invite students to write down one or more blessings they would like to receive as well as the specific commandments they will obey in order to receive those blessings. You may also want to remind students that the most important motivation for keeping the commandments is our love for the Lord (see John 14:15).

Explain that as part of the Prophet’s concluding remarks to the Saints in Ramus, he again corrected Orson Hyde’s teachings about the Godhead.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 130:22–23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the doctrine the Prophet taught about the Godhead.

  • What doctrine is taught in these verses regarding the Godhead? (After students respond, write the following statements of doctrine on the board: God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are separate individuals with physical bodies of flesh and bones. The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit.)

  • Why do you think it is important for us to understand this doctrine?

Conclude by sharing your testimony of the doctrine and principles identified in today’s lesson. Invite students to act on these truths so that they may obtain promised blessings.