Lesson 23: Doctrine and Covenants 18:17–47

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

Joseph Smith received this revelation for himself, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer in June 1829. After calling the two men to declare repentance, the Savior taught them the importance of taking His name upon themselves. He mentioned the forthcoming call of the Twelve Apostles and the desire they would have to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ “with full purpose of heart” (D&C 18:27). The Lord then gave Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer the responsibility to search for men who could serve as members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 18:17–25

Jesus Christ teaches that His name is the only name whereby we can be saved

Invite one or two students to write their surnames on the board. Ask them the following questions:

  • What does your surname mean to you?

  • What privileges and responsibilities come with that name? (Privileges might include a place to live, family love, security, and being raised in the Church. Responsibilities might include helping to keep the home safe, treating family members with respect, doing household chores, and bringing honor to the family name.)

Remind students that the Lord called Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer to cry repentance (see D&C 18:6, 9, 14). Explain that after the Lord gave them this instruction, He spoke to them about the privileges and responsibilities of taking upon themselves His name.

Copy the following chart on the board, but do not include the answers in the bottom row. Invite students to copy the chart in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Then invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:17–25 silently and identify the privileges and responsibilities that come with taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Ask them to write what they discover in the bottom row of the chart.

Privileges

Responsibilities

Receive and be taught by the Holy Ghost

Invite others to be baptized and endure to the end

Receive salvation in the kingdom of the Father

Have faith, hope, and charity

Avoid contending with other churches

Speak the truth in soberness

Repent and endure to the end

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 18:23, why is it important for us to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ? (Students should identify the following doctrine: The name of Jesus Christ is the only name whereby we can be saved. You may want to suggest that students mark this truth in their scriptures.)

Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for Elder Ballard’s counsel about how we are to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“We take the name of Christ upon us in the waters of baptism. We renew the effect of that baptism each week as we partake of the sacrament, signifying our willingness to take His name upon us and promising always to remember Him (see D&C 20:77, 79) …

“We are asked to stand as a witness of Him. … This means that we must be willing to let others know whom we follow and to whose Church we belong: the Church of Jesus Christ. We certainly want to do this in the spirit of love and testimony. We want to follow the Savior by simply and clearly, yet humbly, declaring that we are members of His Church” (“The Importance of a Name,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 79–80).

  • How did Elder Ballard suggest that we let others know we follow Jesus Christ?

  • In Doctrine and Covenants 18:19–20, the Lord commanded Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer to have faith, hope, and charity and to avoid contending with other churches and their members. Why do you think it is important for us to do these things as followers of Jesus Christ?

You may want to help students understand that in Doctrine and Covenants 18:20, the phrase “church of the devil” does not refer to a specific church. It refers to any person, group, organization, or philosophy that works against the Church of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the children of God.

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals one way they can let others know that they follow Jesus Christ.

Doctrine and Covenants 18:26–47

The Lord reveals the calling and mission of the Twelve Apostles

Explain that the Lord spoke of men besides Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer who would take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ and declare His gospel. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:27–32 silently and to write their answers to the following questions. (Write these questions on the board before class or prepare them as a handout for each student.)

  1. 1.

    What desires would these twelve disciples have?

  2. 2.

    What would these men be called to do? (Look for 3–5 separate ideas.)

  3. 3.

    Which members of the current Quorum of the Twelve Apostles can you remember? (Write their names.)

After sufficient time, ask students to report their answers to the first question written on the board. Then ask the following question:

  • What do you think it means to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ with full purpose of heart?

Invite a few students to report their answers to the second question written on the board. One principle students should identify is that the Lord’s Twelve Apostles are called to preach and administer the gospel to the entire world. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:37–39 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the responsibility God gave to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer.

  • What did the Lord command Oliver and David to do? (Search for men the Lord would call as the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the latter days.)

  • How would they be able to know who should be called as Apostles? (The future Apostles would demonstrate the desires and works the Lord had spoken of.)

Explain that Martin Harris also received the responsibility to search out the Twelve Apostles. The first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the latter days were called on February 14, 1835, nearly five years after the official organization of the Church. The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 18 helps us understand the importance of this quorum by outlining the role of Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ.

Invite students to report their responses to the third question written on the board by asking them to name current members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. If possible, display pictures of these men. Photographs are available in the May and November issues of the Ensign and Liahona and on lds.org/church/leaders.

Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Before the student reads, explain that Elder Holland made these remarks in his first general conference address as a newly called Apostle.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Obviously my greatest thrill and the most joyful of all realizations is that I have the opportunity, as Nephi phrased it, to ‘talk of Christ, … rejoice in Christ, … preach of Christ, [and] prophesy of Christ’ (2 Ne. 25:26) wherever I may be and with whomever I may find myself until the last breath of my life is gone. Surely there could be no higher purpose or greater privilege than that of ‘special [witness] of the name of Christ in all the world’ (D&C 107:23).

“… Beyond my words and teachings and spoken witness, my life must be part of that testimony of Jesus. My very being should reflect the divinity of this work. I could not bear it if anything I might ever say or do would in any way diminish your faith in Christ, your love for this church, or the esteem in which you hold the holy apostleship.

“I do promise you—as I have promised the Lord and these my brethren—that I will strive to live worthy of this trust and serve to the full measure of my ability” (“Miracles of the Restoration,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 31).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:27 aloud.

  • How does it help you to know that those who serve as Apostles have taken upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ with full purpose of heart? How can we follow their example?

Invite one or two students to help you with an activity. Blindfold these students or ask them to close their eyes. Invite several other students to take turns speaking in a normal voice. Ask the blindfolded students to name those who speak. Then ask the following question:

  • Why are some voices easier to recognize than others? (Students may point out that the more frequently we hear a voice, the more familiar and the more recognizable it becomes.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–36, 47 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify one way the Lord said we can hear His voice. (You may need to explain that in verse 34, the phrase “these words” refers to the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants.)

  • According to these verses, how can we hear the voice of the Lord? (Students may give a variety of answers, but make sure the following principle is clear: We can hear the voice of Jesus Christ as we read the scriptures by the power of the Spirit. Write this truth on the board.)

  • In what ways does scripture study help us hear the voice of Jesus Christ?

Help students understand that we can hear the voice of the Lord in ways that are not audible to our ears. Through the Holy Ghost, we can receive feelings and messages to our minds and hearts (see D&C 8:2–3).

Refer to the truth you have written on the board.

  • How might this truth influence the way you think about the scriptures? How might it guide you as you choose the time and place in which you read the scriptures?

  • When have you felt the Lord inspire you as you have read or pondered the scriptures?

Encourage students to search the scriptures daily and be diligent in seeking for and understanding the Lord’s voice. Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 18:40–47 by explaining that the Lord affirmed that Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and future members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would receive great blessings if they were faithful in keeping His commandments. You may want to conclude this lesson by testifying of the truths you have discussed with students.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 18:20. “Contend against … the church of the devil”

Referring to Doctrine and Covenants 18:20, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught, “We must understand that this is instruction to us to contend against all evil, that which is opposed to righteousness and truth” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:83). It is not a call to contend against other churches or their members.

Doctrine and Covenants 18:44. “By your hands I will work a marvelous work”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said:

“As we emulate [the Savior’s] perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart. …

“With this in mind, let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn” (“You Are My Hands,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 68–69).