Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 18 for himself, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer in June 1829, shortly after Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. At the beginning of the revelation, the Lord taught Oliver Cowdery about building up the Church. Then He called Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer to preach repentance.
Draw the accompanying picture on the board before class.
Consider reading the following information or sharing similar information about an earthquake that may have occurred more recently or closer to where you live:
On October 17, 1989, at 5:04 p.m., an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale hit the San Francisco, California, area of the United States. Thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed. The foundations of many buildings cracked, which caused the buildings to be declared unsafe.
What concerns would you have about living in a house with a weak foundation?
Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 18 records the Lord’s revelation to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery regarding how to build His Church on a secure foundation. At the beginning of this revelation, the Lord refers to the things Oliver Cowdery had written, meaning the words of the Book of Mormon that Oliver had recorded while acting as a scribe for the Prophet Joseph Smith. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to look for how the things written in the Book of Mormon would help in the building up of the Church.
What did the Lord say was in the Book of Mormon? How could the teachings in the Book of Mormon help in the building up of the Church?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:5 aloud. Ask the class to identify what the Savior promised if we would build His Church on the foundation of His gospel.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord describes the world we are living in. After students report what they have discovered, invite them to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:9 to learn what the Lord commanded in response to the increasing iniquity in the world.
What was the Lord’s response to the increasing iniquity in the world? (He called servants to preach repentance.)
Point out that the Lord called Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer to preach repentance, as He had called the ancient Apostle Paul to do. While Oliver and David were not called to be members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, they would have roles in establishing this quorum in the latter days. Explain that students will learn more about Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer’s roles in the next lesson.
To help students prepare to study the Lord’s teachings about the worth of souls, display a few items that you think may have value to your students. Ask them how much they would pay for each item. Explain that one way to determine an object’s worth is to find out what people would be willing to pay for it. Someone might claim that a particular object is worth a certain amount of money, but this price is accurate only if another person is willing to pay that amount for the object.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 aloud. Invite students to use this verse to explain their value in the eyes of God. Students may suggest a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.
Why do you think you are of such great worth to God?
Ask a student to read the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:
“God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him” (“You Matter to Him,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 22).
Remind students of the activity in which you demonstrated that an item’s worth is based on what someone is willing to pay for it. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:11–12. Ask the class to follow along and identify what the Savior was willing to pay for us.
What price did the Savior pay for our souls? (You may want to remind students that in these verses, the phrase “all men” refers to all people.)
How can we show gratitude for the sacrifice the Savior has made for us? (Though various answers are correct, emphasize that one of the best ways we can show our gratitude is by repenting.)
Write the following statement on the board: My worth is so great that Jesus Christ suffered and died so I can repent.
You may want to suggest that students write this principle in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.
How might this truth influence how you see yourself?
How might this truth influence the way you treat other people?
Testify of the Savior’s love and willingness to die for each of us.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:13 silently.
Why do you think the Lord feels great joy when we repent?
If someone believes that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God, then what might their belief lead them to do? (Answers might include the following: treat others with respect, serve others, or prepare to serve a mission.)
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:14 silently to learn what the Lord called Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer to do.
What do you think it means to “cry repentance”?
To help students better understand this phrase, read the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Crying repentance simply means helping people return to God” (“Preparing for Your Spiritual Destiny” [CES fireside address, Jan. 10, 2010], 7, speeches.byu.edu).
What are some ways we can help others repent?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:15–16 to learn what individuals experience when they help someone come unto Jesus Christ.
What blessings are given to those who help others come unto Jesus Christ? (As students respond, you may want to write the following principle on the board: If we help others to repent and come unto the Lord, we will feel joy with them in the kingdom of God.)
Why do you think you will feel joy if you bring others to Jesus Christ?
Invite students to share an experience in which either they or someone they know felt joy because they helped someone grow closer to the Lord. You may want to share an experience of your own.
Invite students to write one thing they can do to assist in the work of saving souls. Ask them to consider specific people they might help.