It took about 365 years from the time the Lord called Enoch to preach until his city was taken into heaven (see D&C 107:48–49; Moses 7:68). When Doctrine and Covenants 58 was revealed, the Church was not yet a year and a half old. Church members came to Missouri for the purpose of building Zion, but Zion would not be built in the lifetimes of these early Saints.
However, the work they did and the revelations they received laid a foundation for the last dispensation before the coming of the Lord.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Lord promises eternal blessings to those who faithfully keep the commandments, even in tribulation (see D&C 58:2–5).
We should look for opportunities to do good and serve others, without waiting to be asked by the Lord or His leaders (see D&C 58:26–29).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 106–7.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 119–24.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–13, 44–65. The Lord chose the Prophet Joseph Smith and others to “bear record” of the land on which Zion will be built and to lay its physical and spiritual foundation.
Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object” (History of the Church, 3:390). Discuss the following questions:
What have you already learned about Zion from studying the Doctrine and Covenants?
Why do you think Zion is such a valuable topic to study?
Tell students: Imagine you are with Joseph Smith at the time the Lord revealed the location for the city of Zion. What would you like to know next? Have students read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 58 and see what the Saints wanted to know. Explain that this revelation helped the Saints begin to know how to build Zion.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–13, 44 and look for what the Lord told the Prophet about Zion. Ask:
What words or phrases show that Zion would not be fully established at that time?
What role would tribulation play in the establishment of Zion?
Explain that while Zion would not be established in the days of the early Saints, they did have an important work to do in bringing it about. Help students discover the reasons the Lord had these early Saints gather to Zion by going through verses 6–13 again in detail. Discuss the following phrases:
“That you might be obedient” (v. 6).
“That your hearts might be prepared to bear testimony of the things which are to come” (v. 6).
“That you might be honored in laying the foundation” of Zion (v. 7).
“That you might be honored … in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand” (v. 7).
“That the testimony might go forth from Zion” (v. 13).
Ask students to list what they think Church members today are required to do to build the cause of Zion. Have them scan verses 44–65 and look for commandments that match items on their list. Ask: What keeps us from doing these things? Share the following counsel from President Spencer W. Kimball:
“For many years we have been taught that one important end result of our labors, hopes, and aspirations in this work is the building of a Latter-day Zion, a Zion characterized by love, harmony, and peace—a Zion in which the Lord’s children are as one.
“The vision of what we are about and what should come of our labors must be kept uppermost in our minds. …
“As important as it is to have this vision in mind, defining and describing Zion will not bring it about. That can only be done through consistent and concerted daily effort by every single member of the Church. No matter what the cost in toil or sacrifice, we must ‘do it.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 121–22; or Ensign, May 1978, 80–81).
Doctrine and Covenants 58:2–5. The Lord promises eternal blessings to those who faithfully keep the commandments, even in tribulation.
Ask students to define tribulation. (Tribulation means affliction, trial, or distress.) Share the following statement by Elder Marion G. Romney:
“Just as Jesus had to endure affliction to prove himself, so must all men endure affliction to prove themselves. …
“[As the Prophet Joseph Smith taught,] ‘… all the Saints … prophets and apostles, have had to come up through great tribulation. …’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1938 ed., pp. 260–61.)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1969, 58).
Have students write what they think are the most difficult tribulations faced by people their age. Discuss what they wrote. Read Doctrine and Covenants 58:2–4 and look for what the Lord said about tribulation. Ask: How could these verses help someone overcome challenges in life?
Have students read Romans 8:16–18; Ether 12:6; Doctrine and Covenants 98:3, 12–15 and list the Lord’s promises to those who endure tribulation. Read the following statement by President Brigham Young and testify of its truthfulness:
“We talk about our trials and troubles here in this life: but suppose that you could see yourselves thousands and millions of years after you have proved faithful to your religion during the few short years in this time, and have obtained eternal salvation and a crown of glory in the presence of God; then look back upon your lives here, and see the losses, crosses, and disappointments, the sorrows … , you would be constrained to exclaim, ‘But what of all that? Those things were but for a moment, and we are now here. We have been faithful during a few moments in our mortality, and now we enjoy eternal life and glory.’” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:275).
Doctrine and Covenants 58:8–11, 44–48, 63–65. Zion is built by preaching the gospel to the world and gathering individuals to Zion and her stakes in preparation for the coming of the Lord.
Assign each student one of the following scriptures: John 4:13–14; John 4:31–34; John 6:47–51; 2 Nephi 9:50. Have students read their assigned scripture and suggest words or phrases that could complete the following sentence: “The gospel of Jesus Christ is like ______________ because it ______________.” Ask students if they can think of any other words that would fit in the blanks. Read Doctrine and Covenants 58:8–11 and look for what the Lord compared the restored gospel to. Ask:
How is the gospel like a feast?
Who is invited to the feast?
How do we go about inviting others to the feast?
Help students see that this feast is associated with “the marriage of the Lamb” (v. 11), which refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Read the Bible references given in the verse 11 footnotes (Matthew 22:1–14; Luke 14:16–24; Revelation 19:9), and discuss what they teach about the feast and the Second Coming. Ask: What should we do to prepare ourselves and others for the Second Coming? Read Doctrine and Covenants 58:44–48, 63–65 looking for what the Lord told His servants to do to build Zion and prepare for the Second Coming. For each commandment they find, have them explain why they think it is important.
Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–29 (Scripture Mastery, Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–27). We should seek opportunities to do good and serve others, without waiting to be asked by the Lord or His leaders.
Have students write Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–29 in their own words. Refer them to the student study guide if they need help with some of the terms (see the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for D&C 58). Discuss the following questions:
What does it mean to be “anxiously engaged”? (v. 27).
How can we know what a “good cause” is? (see Moroni 7:13–16).
What “power” do we have that allows us to do good? (v. 28).
Have students work with a partner to make up two stories: one that demonstrates a good example of these verses, and one that demonstrates a bad example. Have students share some of the stories.
Read the following statement by Elder Ezra Taft Benson, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act—without having to be commanded ‘in all things.’ This attitude prepares men for godhood. …
“Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1965, 121–22).
Encourage students to be anxiously engaged in good causes.
Doctrine and Covenants 58:42–43 (Scripture Mastery). Repentance includes confessing and forsaking sin. The Lord forgives the sins of the repentant and remembers those sins “no more.”
Invite a student to jump as far as possible, and mark the student’s best effort out of two or three tries. Have the student put on a heavy backpack and jump again. Mark the student’s best effort this time.
Ask the class to explain how this object lesson relates to sin in our lives. Have them read Doctrine and Covenants 58:43 and find what we must do to rid ourselves of the heavy burden of sin. Discuss the meaning of the word forsake, and help students better understand the principle of confession.
Share the following statements. Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught:
“No one can ever be forgiven of any transgression until there is repentance, and one has not repented until he has bared his soul and admitted his intentions and weaknesses without excuses or rationalizations” (Love versus Lust, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Jan. 5, 1965], 10).
Elder Richard G. Scott said:
“You always need to confess your sins to the Lord. If they are serious transgressions, such as [sexual] immorality, they need to be confessed to a bishop or stake president. Please understand that confession is not repentance. It is an essential step but is not of itself adequate. Partial confession by mentioning lesser mistakes will not help you resolve a more serious, undisclosed transgression. Essential to forgiveness is a willingness to fully disclose to the Lord and, where necessary, His priesthood judge all that you have done” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 102; or Ensign, May 1995, 76).
Read verse 60 and ask:
What did Ziba Peterson do about his sins?
What does the phrase “he thinketh to hide them” mean?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 121:37. What happens to people who hide their sins?
How do people try to hide their sins?
Can we really hide our sins?
Tell students that the Hebrew word for atone comes from a root word that means “to cover.” Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–20; 58:42–43 and find how we can have our sins “covered” through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Tell students that if they have any doubt as to whether they should confess a sin, they should ask their bishop about it. He can help them know for sure. Note that students are often concerned about what their bishop will think of them if they confess their sin. You may want to invite a bishop to class to discuss this issue. Or share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency:
“Each of you has a bishop, who has been ordained and set apart underthe authority of the holy priesthood and who, in the exercise of his office, is entitled to the inspiration of the Lord. He is a man of experience, he is a man of understanding, he is a man who carries in his heart a love for the youth of his ward. He is a servant of God who understands his obligation of confidentiality and who will help you with your problem. Do not be afraid to talk with him” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 66; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 45).
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