Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
Lesson 1
Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History

Lesson Highlights

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:  Doctrine and Covenants 1
    Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at and will open in a new window.

Lesson 1 Handout (PDF)


Some personal thoughts:

About This Year's Course - Explanatory Information from this year's Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual.

Provide copies of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Class Member Study Guide.  Also available online:  click here.

Provide copies of Our Heritage, and distribute copies as needed so there will be at least one copy in each home.  Also available online:  click here.

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."

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."

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)."

The Lord Authored The Preface To The Doctrine And Covenants - Section 1

Historical Background:

An Introduction to Section 1.

READ D&C 1:1-6.

"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" (v30).

READ D&C 1:37-39. Search these commandments.

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'." (TPJS, p231)

We will be studying the six periods of this dispensation:

New York Period 1820-1830
Ohio-Missouri Period 1831-1838
Nauvoo Period 1839-1846
Pioneering the West 1846-1898
Expansion of the Church 1899-1950
The Worldwide Church 1951-present

We Can Each Help To Move Forward This Great Latter-Day Work

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.

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 for bringing 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 Doctrine and Covenants at

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).

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Changes last made on:  02 December 2016