Lesson 18: Doctrine and Covenants 11–12

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

Shortly after the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood in May 1829, two men visited the Prophet Joseph Smith in Harmony, Pennsylvania: Joseph Smith’s brother Hyrum and Joseph Knight Sr. Both men expressed their desire to serve God and assist in the Restoration of the gospel. Doctrine and Covenants 11 records the Lord’s revelation to Hyrum Smith regarding how he could establish the cause of Zion. Doctrine and Covenants 12 records the Lord’s revelation to Joseph Knight Sr. and how he, too, could help establish the cause of Zion.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 11:1–14

Hyrum Smith learns how he can help to establish the cause of Zion

Ask students to think of a time when they wanted to join with or participate in a worthwhile activity or cause, such as planning a Church activity, performing service for someone in need, or participating in a school club or organization.

  • What did you need to do in order to participate in the activity or cause? (Students may suggest things such as signing up, filling out forms, talking to someone in charge, or other actions that demonstrated their desire to participate.)

Invite students to read the section headings for Doctrine and Covenants 11 and 12, looking for the names of two individuals who desired to participate in the Lord’s work. Then invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 11:27 and 12:7 silently and identify who else the Lord has invited to assist in His work.

  • Who else has the Lord invited to assist in His work? (All those who desire to assist Him.)

To help students understand the context of Doctrine and Covenants 11, explain that the revelation in this section was directed to Hyrum Smith, who came from Palmyra, New York, to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to see his brother Joseph. Hyrum was likely aware of recent events, such as the progress on the translation of the Book of Mormon. He wanted to know how he could help Joseph in the Lord’s work. Joseph inquired of the Lord and received this revelation. (To help students recognize the importance that desire plays in the Lord’s work, you may want to suggest that they mark the words desire, desires, and desireth in Doctrine and Covenants 11:3, 8, 10, 14, 17, 21, 27.)

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 11:5–9 silently. Ask half of the class to identify the blessings the Lord promised to Hyrum. Invite the other half of the class to identify what Hyrum would have to do in order to claim those blessings. (As students respond, you may need to clarify that “the mysteries of God” [D&C 11:7] are spiritual truths known only by revelation.)

  • What truths can we learn from Doctrine and Covenants 11:8 about desiring to do the Lord’s work? (As students respond, emphasize the following truths: (1) We can receive blessings from God according to our righteous desires. (2) If we desire to do God’s work, we will be the means of doing much good.)

Write the following question on the board: What can I do to “be the means of doing much good” in my generation?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 11:10–14. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the counsel the Lord gave Hyrum that would help him accomplish much good. When the students have finished reading, invite a few students to write what they have found under the question on the board. You might also want to suggest that students copy this list in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. (They will add to the list as the lesson continues.)

  • What do you think it means to put your trust in the Spirit?

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–13, how can you recognize the influence of the Spirit? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following truths: (1) The Spirit of the Lord leads us to do good, to be humble, and to judge righteously. (2) The Spirit enlightens our minds and fills our souls with joy.)

As you discuss these truths, you might want to invite students to review the scripture mastery passage Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3. You might also want to suggest that students write this scripture mastery reference in the margin next to Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–14.

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–13, what are some ways the Spirit can influence our minds and our hearts?

  • When have you experienced the influence of the Spirit in one of these ways? In what ways did this experience lead you to “do good”?

Doctrine and Covenants 11:15–30

The Lord commands Hyrum Smith to prepare for his call to preach

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 11:15–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord wanted Hyrum Smith to prepare to do. Help students understand that Hyrum Smith was commanded not to preach until he was called to do so.

  • According to these verses, why was Hyrum Smith to “wait a little longer” before he would be called to preach the gospel? (You may need to explain that the phrase “until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel” refers to the fact that the Church had not yet been organized and the Book of Mormon had not yet been published.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 11:17–20 aloud as the class follows along, looking for what the Lord said Hyrum needed to do to become an effective preacher of the gospel. You may want to add students’ answers to the list on the board. You may also want to invite students to write down their answers.

  • What do you think it means to cleave unto the Lord with all your heart? (You may need to explain that in this context the word cleave means to adhere to something firmly or unwaveringly.)

  • What phrase is repeated in Doctrine and Covenants 11:18 and 20? (You might also point out that the phrase “keep my commandments” also appears in verses 6 and 9.)

Write the following principle on the board: Keeping the commandments prepares us spiritually to do the work of the Lord.

  • How will keeping the commandments today prepare you for missionary service, marriage, and Church service in years to come?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 11:21–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for something else Hyrum needed to do to help him become an effective preacher of the gospel.

  • What did the Lord tell Hyrum he would need to do to be able to declare His word to the people? (You may want to add study the scriptures to the list on the board.)

  • What is the difference between studying the scriptures to know the word of God and merely reading the scriptures?

  • What did the Lord promise Hyrum and others who follow the pattern taught in Doctrine and Covenants 11:21–22? (Students should identify the following principle: Those who study the Lord’s word will receive His Spirit and the power to convince others of the truth of the gospel.)

Doctrine and Covenants 12

The Lord counsels Joseph Knight on how to establish the cause of Zion

Present students with the names of a few famous individuals. Ask if they have ever heard of the individuals you mention and to briefly explain why they are so well known. Then ask if they have ever heard of a man named Joseph Knight Sr.

  • Think of individuals in your ward or branch who serve faithfully and quietly. How are they helping to build up the kingdom of God?

To help students learn about Joseph Knight Sr. and his contribution to the Restoration of the gospel, invite a student to read aloud the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 12. Explain that Joseph Knight Sr. is not well known today, but he sustained the Prophet Joseph Smith with food and other supplies during the critical work of translating the Book of Mormon. Doctrine and Covenants 12 records a revelation that the Lord gave to Joseph Smith for Joseph Knight Sr. in May 1829. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 12:6–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, identifying the righteous characteristics that those who want to assist in the Lord’s work should possess.

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 12:8, what characteristics does the Lord require of those who want to assist in His work?

  • How are you developing these characteristics in your life?

Tell students that Joseph Knight Sr. consistently tried to develop and practice these righteous characteristics. He gave temporal and spiritual assistance to Joseph Smith throughout the Prophet’s ministry. Many years after Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 12, he recorded the following regarding Joseph Knight’s faithfulness:

“Joseph Knight, Sen., … has been faithful and true, and even-handed and exemplary, and virtuous and kind, never deviating to the right hand or to the left. … He is a righteous man” (History of the Church, 5:124).

To encourage students to reflect on and apply what they have learned today, invite a few students to share how they would finish the following phrase: “In order to assist the Lord in His work, I will …”

You may want to conclude by expressing how you would finish this phrase.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

In previous lessons, students studied the first five scripture mastery passages selected for the Doctrine and Covenants. If you have time at the end of this lesson, help students deepen their mastery of these passages by reviewing them and conducting a brief locating activity.

Invite students to locate in their scriptures the first five passages listed on the scripture mastery bookmarks. Call on a few students to explain the meaning of each passage in their own words. Then ask students to close their scriptures. Call out a phrase from one of the passages (you could quote part of the passage or use the keywords on the bookmark), and ask students to turn to the correct passage in their scriptures. Repeat this activity with each of the five passages. To add variety, time how long it takes for the entire class to find a particular passage. Or you could ask a student to give the clue and have the class race you to locate the correct passage. Other ideas for locating activities can be found in the appendix at the end of this manual.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 11:2. The word of God is “sharper than a two-edged sword”

Elder Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the power of the word of God:

“A message of simple truth, when sent from God—when published by divine authority, through divinely inspired men, penetrates the mind like a sharp two-edged sword, and cuts asunder the deeply-rooted prejudices, the iron-bound sinews of ancient error and tradition, made sacred by age and rendered popular by human wisdom. It severs with undeviating exactness between truth and falsehood—between the doctrine of Christ and the doctrines of men; it levels with the most perfect ease every argument that human learning may array against it. Opinions, creeds invented by uninspired men, and doctrines originated in schools of divinity, all vanish like the morning dew—all sink into insignificance when compared with a message direct from heaven” (“Divine Authority—or was Joseph Smith Sent of God?” Orson Pratt’s Works on the Doctrines of the Gospel [1945], 1:1).

Doctrine and Covenants 11:9. What does it mean to “say nothing but repentance unto this generation”?

President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“When the Lord calls upon his servants to cry nothing but repentance, he does not mean that they may not cry baptism, and call upon the people to obey the commandments of the Lord, but he wishes that all that they say and do be in the spirit of bringing the people to repentance. Any missionary who fails to do this in his ministry is derelict in his duty” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:57).

True to the Faith teaches the following about repentance:

“Repentance is one of the first principles of the gospel (see Articles of Faith 1:4). It is essential to your happiness in this life and throughout eternity. Repentance is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart that gives you a fresh view about God, about yourself, and about the world. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. It is motivated by love for God and the sincere desire to obey His commandments” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 132).

Doctrine and Covenants 11:25. “Deny not the spirit of revelation”

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that this counsel to Hyrum Smith would serve as “good counsel for all of us today. There are some members of the Church who seemingly complain because the Lord is not giving revelations to be placed in the Doctrine and Covenants, as in the beginning, and they ask why revelation has ceased in the Church. Usually it is the case that these critics are not faithfully keeping the commandments the Lord has already given and their eyes are blind to the fact that revelation and the guidance of the Lord is being meted out to the Church constantly. No one with the spirit of discernment can fail to see that the hand of the Lord has guided this people from the beginning and this guidance is manifest today as in other times to all who are humble and have a contrite spirit. (See Jacob 4:8.)” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:57; see also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 26).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Doctrine and Covenants 11:21–22. Hyrum Smith heeds the Lord’s instructions

Explain to students that almost a year after Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 11, he received another revelation that included instruction for his brother Hyrum. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 23:3 silently, looking for evidence that Hyrum did what the Lord had instructed him to do in Doctrine and Covenants 11:21–22.

  • What evidence did you find that Hyrum followed the instructions recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 11? (As students respond to this question, you may want to explain that during the time between these two revelations, Hyrum Smith had studied and prepared himself for the ministry.)

  • What does this teach about Hyrum’s desires to serve God and assist his brother in the sacred work of the Restoration? (You may need to explain that the fact that Hyrum eventually received the call to preach, exhort, and strengthen the Church indicates that his desires to assist in the Lord’s work were sincere and that he followed the Lord’s instructions to prepare himself.)