Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 1: Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History

1. The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants address the needs of our day.

‘I have here in my hand a most wonderful book, its value cannot be estimated in dollars and cents. It is one of the sacred books of the world; there are none greater perhaps. It is the Doctrine and Covenants, one of the standard works of the Church. This book, my brethren and sisters, is a book containing the revelations of God given unto this people through Joseph Smith, the Prophet…. They constitute the pure word of God to us. We can depend upon the teachings of this book, and you should know that a deep and thorough study of the book before me is more than equivalent to a university education. You may wonder why I say this, but as a matter of fact the university education does not and could not give us the actual saving principles of eternal life. That information comes direct from our heavenly Father.

The book of Doctrine and Covenants covers every phase of the Gospel of salvation.’ (Rudger Clawson, Conference Report, Oct. 1939, 28)


2. The Lord authored the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants.

“Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants is the Lord’s preface to the book. The Doctrine and Covenants is the only book in the world that has a preface written by the Lord Himself. In that preface He declares to the world that His voice is unto all men (see D&C 1:2), that the coming of the Lord is nigh (see D&C 1:12), and that the truths found in the Doctrine and Covenants will all be fulfilled (see D&C 1:37-38)” (Pres. Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986, p. 79).


D&C 1:4 A voice of warning

‘This was a God-given mandate, a millennial mandate. It rested upon a handful of Latter-day Saints living in the farming communities of Kirtland and its environs in the 1830s. They had very little money… It was in these distressing times, on Sunday, 4 June 1837, that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve, while Brother Kimball “was seated in front of the stand, above the sacrament table, on the Melchisedek side of the temple, in Kirtland, and whispering to [him], said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: ‘Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’ ” (History of the Church, 2:490.)

Imagine, if you will, one man who had very little goods of the world telling another who had practically nothing, having just returned from a mission, that he was to go across the sea to open the work there. Wasn’t there enough to be done at home? less faithful might have asked. They were on the frontier of the nation, and the entire membership of the Church probably did not exceed 15,000 people.

But there was a vision in the hearts of these men. It was a millennial vision that the gospel was to be preached to every nation before the end should come. Some work had been done in Canada. But now they were speaking of crossing the sea to the British Isles. One can understand Heber C. Kimball’s response. Feeling his weakness he said, “O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!” (In Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945, p. 104.)

The call of Elder Heber C. Kimball and his associates to cross the sea to Britain was a declaration by the Prophet Joseph of the great destiny of this restored work. As I have read of the condition of the Saints in Ohio and Missouri at that time, and of the smallness of their number, I have marveled at the breadth of their vision. From that time forth there has never been a dimming of that vision. Through the years that followed, regardless of drivings, persecution, poverty, oppression, and every other force the adversary could exercise against them, the work has grown and expanded until today we have 203 missions and are teaching the gospel in 75 sovereign nations and 18 territories, colonies, and possessions.'(Gordon B Hinckley, “Taking the Gospel to Britain: A Declaration of Vision, Faith, Courage, and Truth,” Ensign, July 1987, 4-5)

D&C 1:8-10 What Does It Mean to Seal the “Unbelieving and Rebellious”?

“The power to seal conferred upon the servants of the Lord in this, the last dispensation, extends to the ‘unbelieving’ and ‘rebellious.’ … They have power to put the seal of disapprobation upon the children of men who persist in unbelief and rebellion, and those who are thus ‘sealed’ and remain in that condition, will suffer the wrath of God. This sealing concerns the ‘unbelievers,’ those who refuse to accept the gospel message; and the ‘rebellious,’ i.e., those who turn against the servants of the Lord, especially those who do so after having enjoyed the privileges and blessings of membership in the Church.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 6.)

D&C 1:11 All that will may hear

‘The scriptures are replete with directions spoken by holy prophets in all dispensations because “the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear.”  (D&C 1:11) Yet time and again we have to be asked to be better listeners. President Marion G. Romney sometimes wonders out loud, “How many tellings does it take—how many repetitions of counsel? How many individual corrections must be given?”

As parents may pose these questions to their children, Heavenly Father may also wonder the same about his sons and daughters. How many of us turn a deaf ear to the admonitions from our modern-day prophets and stay passive, uninvolved, as when we half-listen to the radio?’ (Jacob de Jager, General Conference, April 1976)

D&C 1:30 The only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth

“There is much difference between a dead and living church. While one may have the form and shape, the ritual and dimension, the living church has life. A living prophet leads the Church today. There is a vibrant, living movement to it, a captivating spirit about it, a glory to it that lifts and builds and helps and blesses the lives of all it touches. The Church will move forward to its divine destiny.” (A. Theodore Tuttle, in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, p. 135; or Ensign, May 1975, p. 92.)

D&C 1:20 That every  man might speak in the name of God

‘God has blessed us, above all other people who have gone before us, with light and knowledge, with truth and understanding. We are a royal priesthood. Every worthy man in this Church is eligible to receive the priesthood of God, but his life must be in harmony with the principles of the gospel. The Lord has said that one of His purposes in restoring the gospel was so that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world. We are, in very deed, a royal priesthood. We do not receive the priesthood on the basis of wealth or standing in the community. We receive it on the basis of personal worthiness, and every man is a potential priesthood holder. If there is any man here tonight who does not hold the priesthood of God, let him from this day forward put his life in order, live up to the high standards of the gospel, and make himself worthy to receive His royal priesthood, to act in the name of God, to speak in His holy name in accomplishing His great and singular purposes.’  (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 474 – 475.)

D&C 1:23 Proclaimed by the weak and the simple

‘I am one of those weak and simple. Decades ago, when I was called to be the bishop of a ward in the eastern United States, my brother, slightly older and much wiser than I, called me on the phone. He said, “You need to know that the Lord hasn’t called you because of anything you have done. In your case, it is probably in spite of what you have done. The Lord has called you for what He needs to do through you, and that will happen only if you do it His way.” I recognize that this wisdom from an older brother applies even more today.’ (Dale G Renlund, General Conference, October 2015)

D&C 1:28 Be made strong

‘All of us face times in our lives when we need heavenly help in a special and urgent way. We all have moments when we are overwhelmed by circumstances or confused by the counsel we get from others, and we feel a great need to receive spiritual guidance, a great need to find the right path and do the right thing. In the scriptural preface to this latter-day dispensation, the Lord promised that if we would be humble in such times of need and turn to him for aid, we would “be made strong, and [be] blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.” ( D&C 1:28 )That help is ours if we will but seek it, trust in it, and follow what King Benjamin, in the Book of Mormon, called “the enticings of the Holy Spirit.”  (Mosiah 3:19)

Perhaps no promise in life is more reassuring than that promise of divine assistance and spiritual guidance in times of need. It is a gift freely given from heaven, a gift that we need from our earliest youth through the very latest days of our lives.’ (Ezra TaftBenson, General Conference, October 1988)

D&C 1:37 The Lord commands a search of these scriptures

“All members of the Church are commanded to search and obey these commandments. This is also true of all others. If we fail to do so and remain ignorant of the doctrines, covenants and commandments, the Lord has given us, we shall stand condemned before his throne in the day of judgment when the books are opened. It behooves us to search that we may know the will of the Lord and thus grow in faith, knowledge and wisdom.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:256.)

3. This course will discuss major events of the dispensation of the fulness of times.

‘This is the last dispensation. [The Lord] has raised up men and women to carry on his work, and as I have often said, many of us have been held in the spirit world from the organization of this world, until the generation in which we live.’ (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses)

4. We can each help to move forward this great latter-day work.

“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.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, Nov 1997, p67)


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