The teaching materials for this learning experience on “Ordinances and Covenants” are divided into two parts. In part 1, students will study paragraphs 7.1 through 7.9 of this doctrinal topic using the information in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. They will learn about receiving saving ordinances and making covenants with God, and they will study the doctrinal mastery scripture passages found in Doctrine and Covenants 84:20–22 and Doctrine and Covenants 82:10.
Note: You could teach the segments of this lesson in a single class session or over the course of several class sessions. If you choose to teach the segments over the course of several class sessions, you may need to briefly review with students what they learned in previous segments before you teach a new segment.
Write the following question on the board, and begin class by inviting students to silently consider how they would answer it: What has Heavenly Father given us to help us become more like Him and to be able to return to live with Him?
After sufficient time, invite students to respond to the question. Write their answers on the board.
Ask students to turn to doctrinal topic 7, “Ordinances and Covenants,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Explain that ordinances and covenants are key parts of the answer to the question on the board. Invite a student to read paragraphs 7.1 and 7.2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the definition and purposes of ordinances.
What is an ordinance?
What are some reasons God has given us ordinances?
To help students understand the purposes of ordinances, display the picture Young Man Being Baptized or Girl Being Baptized (Gospel Art Book , no. 103 or 104; also available at lds.org/media-library). Ask the students to think about what baptism represents.
What spiritual truths does the ordinance of baptism symbolically teach? (Students may include the symbolism of death and resurrection, the death of a person’s sinful life and rebirth into a spiritual life, or that an individual can be spiritually reborn. See “Baptism,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org.)
Why are some ordinances called “saving ordinances”? (See paragraph 7.2 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.)
Which key statement of doctrine in paragraph 7.2 teaches what saving ordinances do for us? (Students should identify the following statement: Without these saving ordinances we cannot become like our Heavenly Father or return to live in His presence eternally. Invite them to consider marking this statement in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.)
Ask students to read paragraphs 7.3 through 7.6 aloud with a partner, looking for examples of saving ordinances and other priesthood ordinances. Invite students to consider marking each saving ordinance so they will be able to find them easily.
Invite a student to act as a scribe. Ask class members to name the saving ordinances found in paragraphs 7.3 through 7.5 of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, and invite the scribe to write the responses on the board. (The list should include baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the temple sealing.)
Invite the class to read aloud the key statement of doctrine that they marked in paragraph 7.2 of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: Without these saving ordinances we cannot become like our Heavenly Father or return to live in His presence eternally.
Which doctrinal mastery passage helps teach this truth? (Invite students to consider marking Doctrine and Covenants 84:20–22 in a distinctive way in their scriptures so they will be able to locate it easily.)
Explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84 was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio. In this revelation the Lord taught about the responsibilities of those who hold the priesthood and how the power of the priesthood would bless the lives of all of God’s children, especially through the Melchizedek Priesthood ordinances that are available only in the temple.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:20–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what is manifested or shown through the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
According to these verses, what is shown in the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood? (“The power of godliness.”)
What do you think the phrase “the power of godliness” means?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what the power of godliness is and how we can receive it.
“Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, ‘the power of godliness’ (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. Our participation in those ordinances also demonstrates that we are prepared to accept the additional responsibility that comes with added light and spiritual power.
“In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high. This ‘power of godliness’ comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is part of the new and everlasting covenant. It is an essential part of our baptism, the baptism of the Spirit. It is the messenger of grace by which the blood of Christ is applied to take away our sins and sanctify us (see 2 Nephi 31:17)” (D. Todd Christofferson, “The Power of Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 22).
According to Elder Christofferson, what is the power of godliness? (God’s divine influence.)
In Elder Christofferson’s words, what can help us invite God’s divine influence into our lives? (By choosing to participate in priesthood ordinances, especially temple ordinances.)
Testify that because of the saving priesthood ordinances, we are empowered to become like our Heavenly Father and to return to live in His presence. Encourage students to carefully prepare for the saving ordinances they have not yet received.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from paragraphs 7.7 through 7.9 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how, when, and where covenants are made. Invite students to report what they find.
What key statement of doctrine in paragraph 7.7 describes how covenants are made? (As students respond, they should identify the following statement: God gives the conditions for the covenant, and we agree to do what He asks us to do; God then promises us certain blessings for our obedience. Invite students to mark this statement in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.)
According to paragraph 7.8, what is the relationship between saving ordinances and covenants?
What do we covenant to do when we receive the ordinance of baptism? (Answers may include the following: to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ and stand as a witness of Him, to keep His commandments, and to serve Him. See “Baptism,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org.)
What blessings does God promise to give us if we keep our baptismal covenant? (Answers may include the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, the remission of sins, the privilege of being spiritually reborn, and the gift of eternal life. See “Baptism,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org.)
How can knowing the specific blessings the Lord has promised us help us want to keep our covenants?
Invite students to review paragraph 7.7 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Then ask them to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 82:10. Invite students to consider marking this doctrinal mastery passage in a distinctive way in their scriptures so they will be able to locate it easily.
To help students understand the context of this passage, explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 82 was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Independence, Missouri, during a conference of priesthood holders. As these early Saints struggled to establish Zion, the Lord gave instructions to nine men and prepared them to understand why they were to live obediently to the covenant they would make to be unified as they managed the Church’s physical needs. The Lord gave these brethren a reassuring promise.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s promise.
What does the Lord promise in this scripture passage?
How does this doctrinal mastery passage help teach the key statement of doctrine about covenants in paragraph 7.7?
What does the phrase “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say” (D&C 82:10) teach you about how God views covenants?
How does breaking our covenants affect God’s promises?
How has the Lord blessed you for keeping your covenants?
Point out to students that because the Lord wants to bless us, He wants us to remember and keep the covenants we have made with Him. Invite students to review paragraph 7.8 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to read aloud the last sentence in the paragraph: We renew covenants we have made by partaking of the sacrament. Invite them to consider marking this statement in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.
Why do you think we need the opportunity to renew our covenants?
Invite students to record their answers to one of the following questions in their class notebooks or study journals. (You may want to write these questions on the board or provide a handout for each student.)
You might want to share a personal experience of your own or carefully consider inviting one or two students to share their thoughts. Testify of the promised power and strength that have come to you through participating in priesthood ordinances and faithfully keeping the associated covenants. Encourage students to follow through on the promptings they have received and recorded.
Note: The following review activities are not intended to be taught during the same class session as this lesson—“Ordinances and Covenants, Part 1.” Please present these activities during seminary class sessions that take place after you have taught this lesson, but before you teach “Ordinances and Covenants, Part 2.” These short reviews can be taught at the beginning or end of a class in which you teach a regular sequential scripture lesson from the Doctrine and Covenants. Be sure that these reviews take no longer than the designated time, so as not to take away from the scripture block students will be studying in class.
Write the following key statement of doctrine on the board: Without these saving ordinances we cannot become like our Heavenly Father or return to live in His presence eternally.
Ask students to find the doctrinal mastery passage associated with this statement in their scriptures. Once the students have located Doctrine and Covenants 84:20–22, invite the class to read this scripture passage aloud.
Invite students to explain how they could use both this key statement of doctrine and this doctrinal mastery scripture passage to teach a friend about the importance of the ordinances of the priesthood.
Write the following key statement of doctrine on the board: God gives the conditions for the covenant, and we agree to do what He asks us to do; God then promises us certain blessings for our obedience (D&C 82:10).
Ask the class to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 and to read it aloud.
Divide students into pairs, and tell them they will be given two 60-second challenges. For the first challenge, write the phrase If–Then on the board. Give pairs 60 seconds to brainstorm ways the key statement of doctrine on the board or the truth in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 could be restated as an “If–Then” principle. When the time is up, ask several pairs to stand and repeat their statements aloud.
For the second challenge, invite pairs to take turns reading Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 aloud to each other as many times as they can in 60 seconds. When the time is up, ask students to close their scriptures and repeat the doctrinal mastery reference and the corresponding verse as a class.
Write the following doctrinal mastery scripture references on the board:
Invite students to turn to these scripture passages and silently read them carefully to recall the teachings they contain.
Write or display on the board the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (You could alternately choose to provide this statement as a handout to students.) Invite a student to read the statement aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for specific phrases that can be related to the doctrinal mastery passages on the board.
Invite students to report what phrases they found in Elder Holland’s statement that are related to the doctrinal mastery passages on the board. As students report, invite them to explain how the scripture passages help teach the statements they have selected.