This lesson will introduce students to the Doctrine and Covenants using the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants and section 1. Students will learn that the Doctrine and Covenants is composed of “divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days” (introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants). Studying the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History can strengthen students’ testimonies of Jesus Christ.
Note: As this will likely be the students’ first class together, you may want to invite them to ask questions they have about the home-study process and how to effectively study the scriptures on their own.
You may want to start the lesson by asking students what books they think the entire world would benefit from reading and why. (Consider bringing in a few books that you would suggest.) After students have responded, ask a student to read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith and invite the class to listen for what the Prophet taught about the Doctrine and Covenants:
“[The revelations in Doctrine and Covenants are] the foundation of the Church in these last days, and a benefit to the world, showing that the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom of our Savior are again entrusted to man” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 194).
Encourage students to look during today’s lesson for ways that studying the Doctrine and Covenants could benefit the world and can benefit their own lives.
Ask students to open to the title page of the Doctrine and Covenants. Explain that in order for the Doctrine and Covenants to be beneficial, we first must understand what doctrines and covenants are. Ask a student to read the title page aloud. Then ask students the following questions:
How would you define the word doctrine?
What is a covenant?
What is revelation?
If needed, explain that a doctrine is a fundamental, unchanging truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ; a covenant is a sacred agreement between God and His children wherein God sets all of the conditions of the promises made; and revelation is communication from God to His children. You may want to suggest that students write these definitions on the title page.
Ask students to turn to the eighth paragraph of the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants (it begins “In the revelations …”). Explain that this paragraph lists examples of some of the doctrinal topics found in the Doctrine and Covenants. Ask students to read the first sentence silently and identify one or more doctrinal topics they are interested in learning more about. Then ask the following questions:
Which doctrinal topic are you most interested in learning more about?
How would you benefit from knowing and better understanding those doctrines?
Ask a student to read the last sentence of the eighth paragraph aloud (it begins “Finally, the testimony that is given …”), and invite the class to look for what makes the Doctrine and Covenants so valuable. Then ask the following questions:
What makes the Doctrine and Covenants “of great value”?
Why is a testimony of the Savior so valuable?
What do you think will happen to your testimony of Jesus Christ as you study the Doctrine and Covenants?
Write the following principle on the board: By studying the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, you can strengthen your testimony of Jesus Christ. Invite students to think about how a stronger testimony of the Savior would affect their lives. Consider sharing how studying the Doctrine and Covenants has strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ.
Ask a student to read the first paragraph of the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants aloud as the rest of the class follows along. Then ask: As we study the Doctrine and Covenants, whose voice will we hear?
Write the following principle on the board: As we study the Doctrine and Covenants, we can hear the voice of the Savior. Then read Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–36 to the students.
Ask a student to read the third paragraph of the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for words that describe the Savior’s voice. (You may want to suggest that they mark what they find.) Then ask the following questions:
What words are used to describe the Savior’s voice?
What benefits can come to your life from hearing and recognizing His voice?
Display images of some of the people to whom and about whom revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were directed (see Gospel Art Book , no. 87, 88, 93, 94, 95; see also LDS.org). As you show these pictures, explain that students will learn about these people while studying the Doctrine and Covenants.
Ask a student to read the first two sentences of the sixth paragraph of the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants aloud (it begins “These sacred revelations …”). Invite the class to follow along and look for the circumstances in which the revelations were received. (You may want to suggest that they mark what they find.)
What phrases in these sentences describe the circumstances in which these revelations were received?
Show students a piece of paper with the word You written on it. Point out that like individuals from Church history, we also go through situations in which we need divine guidance.
If we are to follow the examples of these early Saints, what must we do to receive divine guidance? (Pray and seek for it.)
Explain that one way to seek divine guidance is to study the scriptures. Ask students to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38, which is a scripture mastery passage. Remind them that the Lord gave this revelation as His preface to the Doctrine and Covenants.
Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38 aloud as the class follows along and looks for the Lord’s commandment to us concerning the Doctrine and Covenants.
What does the Lord command us to do with the Doctrine and Covenants? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: We are to search the commandments the Lord has given.)
Invite students to share how they benefited by searching the scriptures during this week of study. Follow up with students on the goals they set to study the Doctrine and Covenants daily during the school year. Ask them about their plans to follow the Lord’s command to “search these commandments” (D&C 1:37). You may want to conclude by sharing your testimony of the importance of hearing the Lord’s voice and receiving guidance from Him by studying the Doctrine and Covenants.
God hears and answers prayers. The First Vision came as a result of Joseph Smith’s humble prayer. Shortly after, angels directed the Prophet Joseph Smith in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the priesthood. After John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, Oliver wrote, “Think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts … when we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood” (Joseph Smith—History 1:71, note).