Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
Introduction to the Doctrine and
Covenants and Church History
The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants address the needs of our
The Lord authored the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants.
This course will discuss major events of the dispensation of the fulness
We can each help to move forward this great latter-day work.
A study of this lesson will introduce us to this year’s study of the Doctrine
and Covenants and Church history and help us understand our place in the
dispensation of the fulness of times.
Scripture references for study:
and Covenants 1
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 1 Handout (PDF)
Some personal thoughts:
Two years ago we concluded a study of the New Testament. New Testament
history concludes with the lives of the Apostles and church leaders ending in
a brutal fashion. Priesthood authority was lost. The light
of the everlasting gospel faded and the eastern hemisphere entered a night
of spiritual darkness.
Over the past few weeks we have studied and discussed the end of Nephite
civilization. Mormon and his son Moroni were the last of their people.
These two righteous men spent much of their remaining days preparing a
history of their people. Moroni completed the record, buried it in
the hill Cumorah, and then, like a single candle that has burned to the
end of its wick, Moroni passed on and the world was engulfed in spiritual
darkness, a darkness that would remain for over a millennium.
Many centuries later, a spiritual awakening began. Martin Luther, followed
by many others, began a search for truth. Though they studied
the scriptures and did their best to adhere to the word of the Lord, only
God himself could shine spiritual light on the world and restore the priesthood
authority held by the ancient apostles. Roger Williams, pastor of
the oldest Baptist Church in America, said that there was "no regularly-constituted
church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any Church ordinance:
nor could there be until, new apostles are sent by the great Head of the
Church, for whose coming, he is seeking" (quoted by LeGrand Richards
in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p27-28).
We are about to embark on a study of the greatest event since the Resurrection
of Jesus Christ, the restoration of ancient authority and the building
of the kingdom of God on earth in anticipation of the return of our Eternal
King, Jesus Christ. As I contemplate the events of the Restoration,
I am moved. This is a great story and it cannot be given sufficient
fanfare. Elder LeGrand Richards said, "The establishment of his
kingdom by the God of heaven was to be the greatest event in the latter
days. Though small and insignificant as its beginning would be, its ultimate
destiny is to fill the whole earth, with Christ our Lord at its head. The
kingdom was to be given to the saints of the Most High that they might
possess it forever" (Ibid., p36).
As I consider the upcoming year, I sometimes visualize Church history as
the unfolding of a great drama. In modern times, great dramas have
best been portrayed in the movies. I think of two epoch stories that
have been produced for the silver screen, The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur. Great movies portrayed in an incredible fashion. In my
mind, I can see the Restoration portrayed in such a manner. The Ten Commandments
begins with the humble birth of Moses and moves to the epoch exodus of
Israel from Egypt. The story of the Restoration begins with a teenage
frontier boy. The story moves from a quiet, yet dramatic beginning
in a sacred grove of trees, to the translation of an ancient work, to the
beginnings of a gathering, to the persecution and removal of thousands
of Saints from their homes. We see wagon trains struggling across
the American wilderness and the building of a temple in the desert. The years roll on and we see armies of elders moving across the earth preaching
the gospel and building the kingdom of God. What a story!
In 1997, Brother Brett Raymond produced a recording entitled, First Light-
Scenes From the Restoration. I would like to share one of his compositions
as an introduction and fanfare to this great drama that we are about to
view over the next twelve months. As an introduction to this composition,
Brother Raymond wrote: "I picture a small group, maybe the same
group that had gathered in Peter Whitmer's cabin on April 6, 1830. A hymn is being sung. As they sing, our view is expanded. The
view is now from above the cabin and pulling back, broadening our view
of the world.
"As we ascend, angel's voices are heard, joining
the hymn, swelling the sound of the small group, now far below us, one
mighty heavenly chorus, singing without restraint and supplicating the
King: 'Come, come to earth again!' What a glorious scene that will
Lyrics from All That Was Giv'n:
From the last to the first,
To all the sons of man--
Visions and knowledge
And truth's grand rebirth
Comes to the earth again.
All that was giv'n
From the Ancient of Days,
From holy spheres to man
In its fulness and pow'r
Comes to the earth again.
When all that shall live
In that long-promised day
When peace and love will reign--
Fulness of joy
When the Lord, King of kings,
Comes to the earth again.
Comes to the earth again.
- WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS YEAR'S STUDY OF THE DOCTRINE &
COVENANTS AND CHURCH HISTORY?
About This Year's Course - Explanatory Information from this year's Gospel Doctrine Teacher's
- "This course uses a thematic approach in studying
the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history. The lessons are intended to help
class members learn and apply what the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history teach about specific
gospel themes. As a result of this year's study, class members should have a greater desire to seek
the blessings of the gospel."
"Because this year's lessons are thematic,
some sections of the Doctrine and Covenants are not included in the reading assignments.
Nevertheless, class members should plan to read the entire Doctrine and Covenants during the year."
Provide copies of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Class Member
Study Guide. Also available online:
Provide copies of Our Heritage, and distribute copies as needed so there
will be at least one copy in each home. Also available online:
The Revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants Address
The Needs of Our Day
READ the third paragraph in the Explanatory Introduction,
found at the beginning of the Doctrine and Covenants,
"The book of Doctrine and Covenants is one of the standard
works of the Church in company with the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the
Pearl of Great Price. However, the Doctrine and Covenants is unique
because it is not a translation of an ancient document, but is of modern origin
and was given of God through His chosen prophets for the restoration of His holy
work and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in these days.
In the revelations, one hears the tender but firm voice of the Lord Jesus
Christ, speaking anew in the dispensation of the fulness of times; and the work
that is initiated herein is preparatory to His Second Coming, in fulfillment of
and in concert with the words of all the holy prophets since the world began."
HOW IS THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER BOOKS OF SCRIPTURE?
It is not a translation of an ancient record.
It is revelation given to chosen prophets for this dispensation.
It is the Lord's operating handbook for his church in this day.
READ the sixth paragraph in the Explanatory Introduction,
"These sacred revelations were received in answer to
prayer, in times of need, and came out of real-life situations involving real
people. The Prophet and his associates sought for divine guidance, and
these revelations certify that they received it. In the revelations, one sees
the restoration and unfolding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ushering in
of the dispensation of the fulness of times. The westward movement of the
Church from New York and Pennsylvania to Ohio, to Missouri, to Illinois, and
finally to the Great Basin of western America and the mighty struggles of the
Saints in attempting to build Zion on the earth in modern times are also shown
forth in these revelations."
WHAT DOES THIS PARAGRAPH TEACH ABOUT HOW THE REVELATIONS IN THE DOCTRINE
AND COVENANTS WERE RECEIVED?
"These sacred revelations were received in answer
to prayer, in times of need, and came out of real-life situations, involving
READ the eighth paragraph in the Explanatory Introduction, "In
the revelations, the doctrines of the gospel are set forth with explanations
about such fundamental matters as the nature of the Godhead, the origin of man,
the reality of Satan, the purpose of mortality, the necessity for obedience, the
need for repentance, the workings of the Holy Spirit, the ordinances and
performances that pertain to salvation, the destiny of the earth, the future
conditions of man after the Resurrection and the Judgment, the eternity of the
marriage relationship, and the eternal nature of the family. Likewise, the
gradual unfolding of the administrative structure of the Church is shown with
the calling of bishops, the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and the
Seventy and the establishment of other presiding offices and quorums. Finally,
the testimony that is given of Jesus Christ—His divinity, His majesty, His
perfection, His love, and His redeeming power—makes this book of great value to
the human family and “worth to the Church the riches of the whole Earth” (see
heading to D&C 70)."
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL THAT ARE EXPLAINED IN THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS?
WHAT DOCTRINES HAVE TOUCHED YOU OR THAT YOU SEE AS MEETING THE NEEDS OF
There are so many doctrines of value, these are just three:
- The Word of Wisdom (D&C 89).
- Eternal Marriage (D&C 132).
- Obtaining answers to prayer (D&C 9).
The Lord Authored The Preface To The Doctrine And Covenants
- Section 1
Prior to Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer leaving for Jackson County, Missouri,
the Prophet called a conference of elders to consider matters of importance. The first day of the conference was November
The main item on the agenda was the publication of the revelations given
to Joseph Smith. It was the on the first day of the conference
that the Lord gave his approval to the compilation through revelation.
Section 1 became known as the Lord's preface to the Book of Commandments.
It was decided by the elders that 10,000 copies of the sixty-five revelations should
be printed under the title Book of Commandments.
It was at this conference that William E. McLellin questioned some of the
language in the revelations. He attempted to write a revelation and failed.
Following the conference Joseph arranged the revelations. Oliver Cowdery
and John Whitmer carried them to Independence for printing by William W. Phelps.
An Introduction to Section 1.
A Modern Parable.
George A. Horton, Jr: "They were singing, shouting, laughing, and talking
about their personal victories and adventures as the boat carried them
peacefully down the slow-moving river. In their merriment they did not
notice a quiet quickening of the current. Their preoccupation with each
other kept them from paying much attention to one who appeared on the nearby
shore waving excitedly for them to make their way to safety. A few waved
back with curious smiles but continued on with their immediate interests.
'Rapids! Rapids! Falls! Change your direction! Come to shore quickly!'
was the man's urgent call repeated over and over; but they were unconcerned
until they happened to observe the faster current and looked ahead to see
a short stretch of white-capped waves dashing around and over jagged rocks.
An increasing roar indicated that suddenly the river would drop from sight,
spilling into a roaring chasm of churning, foamy water. With screams of
horror they lunged for the oars and began to row frantically for shore.
But it was too late-they had waited too long. The power of the current
was too strong, and into the rapids they plunged-tossing, turning, shrieking,
and cursing; finally over the falls they went to a watery grave." (Studies In Scripture,
The Lord knows our time. He sees the "calamity" ahead. It is
his servants who stand on the shore waving for us to come to shore and
make our way to safety.
Consider the call from shore:
"Hearken ye people from afar, and ye that are upon the
islands of the sea, listen together." (v1)
"And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the
mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days." (v4)
"Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto
the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear: Prepare ye, prepare ye
for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; And the anger of
the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall
upon the inhabitants of the earth. And the arm of the Lord
shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice
of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the
words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people."
The Doctrine and Covenants contains the call to shore, a place where we will find
The Lord calls this revelation his preface to the Book of Commandments (v6).
HOW WILL THE VOICE OF WARNING BE GIVEN TO ALL PEOPLE?
"...by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have
chosen in these last days" (v4).
HOW IS THAT BEING DONE TODAY?
President Ezra Taft Benson: "My purpose in sharing
these words of the Lord regarding the condition of the world in the latter
days is this:
"Today we as a church
are sounding the voice of warning through our missionaries to the nations
of all the earth. We send our missionaries to proclaim the gospel to those
who will receive our message....
"We have some difficult
days ahead. The Lord has forecast calamities that will befall the nations
of the world because of their disobedience to and disregard of His commandments
and revelations. In His great love and mercy, He has raised up the Prophet
Joseph Smith and other servants to proclaim His gospel in order that faith
will increase and the Lord may establish His everlasting covenant among
all mankind." (Ensign, Jan 1993)
"And also those to whom these commandments were
given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring
it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living
church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well
pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually"
The Lord is clear, only in this church does his power reside. This is
his living church. It is the only true church upon the face
of the earth.
D&C 1:37-39. Search these commandments.
This is our charge. The Church has designated this year in particular
to search the commandments, as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants.
It is interesting to note that the Lord did not say to read the commandments,
but to "search" them.
If we knew there was a $10,000 gold piece hidden in our house, would we
casually walk around and look or would we search under every piece of furniture,
behind every can of food, and in every nook and cranny. Might we take the back off our TV? Would we leave a single space unturned?
The Lord said "search." We are looking for treasures far more valuable and
much longer lasting than a $10,000 gold piece.
This Course Will Discuss Major Events Of The Dispensation
Of The Fulness Of Times
The lessons this year will cover many of the major events of our dispensation—the
dispensation of the fulness of times.
Joseph Smith: "Prophets, priests and kings
… have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live;
and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written
and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are
the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day
glory; it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward
the Latter-day glory, 'the dispensation of the fulness of times'."
We are blessed to live at a time when we can now study the "heavenly and
joyful anticipations" and take part in the further unrolling of this great
We will be studying the six periods of this dispensation:
|New York Period
|Pioneering the West
|Expansion of the Church
|The Worldwide Church
Many of the important events in these six historical periods are summarized
on pages 27-28 in the Class Member Study Guide.
WHICH EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH HAVE PARTICULAR SIGNIFICANCE
We Can Each Help To Move Forward This Great Latter-Day
We are blessed to live in a wonderful time. The Church has been established. Many have sacrificed much in order that we might have these great blessings. But this is not a time to sit back and relax. The work remains the
same, to carry the everlasting gospel to every nation and people.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "There has never
been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time as there
is of us." (quoted by Marvin J. Ashton, Ensign, Nov 1989, p36)
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "This is a
season of a thousand opportunities. It is ours to grasp and move forward.
What a wonderful time it is for each of us to do his or her small part
in moving the work of the Lord on to its magnificent destiny."
(Ensign, Nov 1997, p67)
WHAT CAN WE DO INDIVIDUALLY AND IN OUR FAMILIES TO HELP MOVE FORWARD
THE LORD'S GREAT LATTER-DAY WORK?
We started out this lesson by comparing the Restoration to a epoch drama. The drama continues and we have a responsibility to participate. We can continue the great latter day work begun by our predecessors. We, like them, can be saviors on Mount Zion and be the catalyst
in generations of new Saints to the gospel. Dare we pass up such
a opportunity and responsibility.
One great example in this latter day work was President
Hinckley. At an age when most of his peers were deceased or quietly
living out their remaining days, this giant of a man continued to work until the
end of his life. Few could
keep up with him. Several years ago, as I had the privilege of watching the
closed circuit dedication of the Palmyra Temple, I was moved when I saw
President Hinckley and his absolute dedication and energy to the work. We need to follow his example. This is the work of eternity!
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts regarding this year's study of the Doctrine and
Covenants and Church history. What do you hope to learn? What can you do to
assist this great work in moving forward?
For additional information see the gospel topic
and Covenants at LDS.org.
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards.
Studies In Scripture, Volume 1, edited by Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
02 December 2016