Lesson 24: Doctrine and Covenants 19:1–22

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

In June 1829, Joseph Smith hired the printer Egbert B. Grandin to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon at a cost of $3,000. However, Grandin would not start the printing or even buy the type until he was guaranteed payment for the job. In the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 19, likely given in the summer of 1829, the Lord commanded Martin Harris to “impart a portion of thy property … [and] pay the debt thou has contracted with the printer” (D&C 19:34–35). Using a portion of his farm as collateral, Martin Harris personally guaranteed payment of the cost of printing if sales of the Book of Mormon did not cover the cost.

President Joseph Fielding Smith described this revelation, with its teachings on the Atonement, as “one of the great revelations given in this dispensation; there are few of greater import than this” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:85).

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 19:1–3

The Savior declares that He accomplished the will of the Father

As class begins, ask students to think of some things they have been asked to do or will be asked to do because they are members of the Church. Write their responses on the board. Then ask students to review the list on the board and select items that some may consider difficult. (Examples might include paying tithing, serving a mission, and repenting.)

  • Why might these things be hard for some people to do?

To help students understand the historical context of Doctrine and Covenants 19, read aloud the introduction to this lesson.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:1–3 silently, looking for truths about the Savior. Ask students to report their findings. As part of the discussion, make sure students identify the following doctrines: Jesus Christ fulfilled the will of His Father. Jesus Christ will judge us according to our works. Copy the following chart on the board, using these truths as titles for the two columns. Invite students to make a similar chart in their class notebooks or scripture study journals and fill it in during the lesson. Leave plenty of room on the board to complete the chart as shown later in the lesson.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the will of His Father.

Jesus Christ will judge us according to our works.

  
  • How might knowing these truths about the Savior have helped Martin Harris feel peace concerning his decision to sell a large part of his farm?

Doctrine and Covenants 19:4–12

Jesus Christ explains eternal and endless punishment

In the chart on the board, write Doctrine and Covenants 19:4–12 below the title “Jesus Christ will judge us according to our works.” Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:4 silently, looking for a truth about the judgment that we should all consider. Ask them to report what they find. Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following doctrine: All men must repent or suffer. Invite a student to write this doctrine on the board under “Doctrine and Covenants 19:4–12.”

Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 19:5 contains the Savior’s explanation that He will not revoke His judgments. This implies that those who do not repent will have to suffer a penalty for their sins. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Savior described the state of those who do not repent and will therefore receive His judgments.

Write the following phrase on the board below “All men must repent or suffer”: Endless or eternal punishment.

  • What do you think of when you hear or read the phrase “endless or eternal punishment”?

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:6–12 silently, looking for how the Lord defines endless or eternal punishment. After students respond, erase the words Endless or eternal on the board and replace them with the word God’s.

  • What do you think of when you read or hear the phrase “God’s punishment”?

You may need to explain that in the scriptures, the terms endless punishment and eternal punishment do not refer to the length of time people will suffer for their sins. The Savior said, “I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name” (D&C 19:10). Therefore, when He refers to endless punishment or eternal punishment, He is speaking of the punishment He will administer according to divine law and the requirements of justice.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:13–22

The Savior speaks of His suffering for sin

In the chart on the board, write Doctrine and Covenants 19:13–17 in the column titled “Jesus Christ will judge us according to our works.” Explain that verses 13–17 contain a warning to members of the Church. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:13–17 silently, looking for the consequences for those who choose not to repent.

  • What will happen to those who choose not to repent of their sins? (Students should identify the following doctrine: Those who choose not to repent will suffer the penalty for their sins. Write this truth on the board under “Doctrine and Covenants 19:13–17.”)

Write Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19 in the column titled “Jesus Christ will judge us according to our works.” Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the reason the Savior gave for why He suffered for our sins.

  • What reason did the Savior give for why He suffered for our sins? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following doctrine: The Savior suffered for our sins so we could repent and not have to suffer as He did.)

  • According to these verses, what made it possible for our sins to be forgiven? (As students respond, write the following statement in the chart on the board under “Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19”: Jesus Christ’s suffering and His atoning blood satisfied the demands of justice. Therefore, mercy is extended to those who repent.)

  • How does knowing the truths we’ve identified so far today affect your desire to repent?

To help students understand the choice we all have to either repent or suffer the penalty for our sins, invite one of them to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“We will end up either choosing Christ’s manner of living or His manner of suffering! It is either ‘suffer even as I’ (D&C 19:16–17), or overcome ‘even as [He] … overcame (Revelation 3:21)” (“Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame,” Ensign, May 1987, 72).

In the chart on the board, write Doctrine and Covenants 19:15, 18–19 under the heading “Jesus Christ fulfilled the will of His Father.”

Explain that most accounts of Jesus Christ’s suffering are given by someone other than Himself (see Matthew 26:36–39; Luke 22:39–44). Doctrine and Covenants 19 contains the Savior’s personal account of His suffering. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:15, 18–19 silently, looking for how the Savior described the suffering He experienced during the Atonement. You may want to suggest that they mark what they find. Add students’ responses to the board under “Doctrine and Covenants 19:15, 18–19.” The final chart may look like the following:

Jesus Christ fulfilled the will of His Father.

Jesus Christ will judge us according to our works.

D&C 19:15, 18–19

The Savior’s suffering was sore, exquisite, and hard to bear.

The Savior’s suffering caused Him to tremble because of pain and to bleed from every pore.

Jesus Christ suffered both physically and spiritually.

The Savior prayed that He might be spared from partaking of the bitter cup.

The Savior fulfilled the Father’s will and “finished [His] preparations unto the children of men” (D&C 19:19).

D&C 19:4–12

All men must repent or suffer.

God’s punishment

D&C 19:13–17

Those who choose not to repent will suffer the penalty for their sins.

D&C 19:16–19

Jesus Christ’s suffering and His atoning blood satisfied the demands of justice. Therefore, mercy is extended to those who repent.

  • How do you feel about the Savior suffering the penalty for your sins?

  • How might knowing about the Savior’s suffering have helped Martin Harris as he considered things like the loss of the 116 manuscript pages or giving up part of his property to finance the printing of the Book of Mormon?

  • When has your knowledge of the Savior’s Atonement helped you face something difficult? (Remind students that some experiences are too sacred or personal to share.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 19:20 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for a phrase that refers to a time when Martin Harris experienced suffering for his sins.

  • Why do you think the withdrawal of the Spirit would lead to suffering?

Invite students to reread Doctrine and Covenants 19:13, 15, 20 silently, looking for the command in each verse and the warnings in verses 15 and 20.

  • How is the Lord’s commandment to repent evidence of His love for us?

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals their testimonies about one of the doctrines and principles they learned from Doctrine and Covenants 19:1–22.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19

To help students memorize Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19, copy the entire passage on a poster and display it at the front of the classroom. Invite the class to read the passage aloud several times. After the second or third time, cover a few words or phrases on the poster. Invite students to continue to recite the scripture mastery passage, reciting the covered portions from memory. Time permitting, continue this activity until students feel comfortable reciting Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19 in its entirety.

Conclude by encouraging students to share this scripture mastery passage with a family member or friend.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 19: Section introduction. “A commandment of God and not of man, to Martin Harris”

In March of 1830, several months after Joseph Smith likely received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 19, Joseph Knight Sr. witnessed an exchange between Joseph Smith and Martin Harris regarding the sales of the Book of Mormon:

“‘The Books will not sell for no Body wants them.[’] Joseph says, ‘I think they will sell well.’ Says he, ‘I want a Commandment [or revelation from the Lord].’ ‘Why,’ says Joseph, ‘fullfill what you have got.’ ‘But,’ says he, ‘I must have a Commandment.’ … He insisted three or four times he must have a Commandment” (Dean Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies, vol. 17, no. 1 [1976], 37).

Joseph Smith’s instruction to “fulfill what you have got” seems to refer to the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 19, in which God had already given Martin Harris a commandment to “impart [his property] freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon” (D&C 19:26).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:2, 19. “Having finished the will of Him whose I am”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give’ … are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” (“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the Savior was always willing to submit to the Father’s will:

“The thing Christ seems most anxious to stress about His mission—beyond the personal virtues and beyond the magnificent sermons and even beyond the healing, is that He submitted His will to the will of the Father” (“Therefore, What?” [address to CES religious educators, Aug. 8, 2000], 8, LDS.org).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:6, 11–12. “Endless torment” and “eternal punishment”

President J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency gave the following insight concerning “God’s punishment”:

“When the Lord comes to give us our reward … and our punishment, I feel that [the Savior] will give that punishment which is the very least that our transgression will justify. I believe that he will bring into his justice all of the infinite love and blessing and mercy and kindness and understanding which he has. …

“And on the other hand, I believe that when it comes to making the rewards for our good conduct, he will give us the maximum that it is possible to give, having in mind the offense which we have committed” (“As Ye Sow … ,” Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [May 3, 1955], 7).

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained the meaning of endless torment and eternal punishment:

“We learn from the Doctrine and Covenants that eternal punishment, or everlasting punishment, does not mean that a man condemned will endure this punishment forever. … When a man pays the penalty of his misdeeds and humbly repents, receiving the gospel, he comes out of the prison house and is assigned to some degree of glory according to his worth and merit” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–1956], 2:160).

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave additional insights concerning the meaning of eternal punishment:

“‘Eternal punishment’ … does not mean that the individual sufferer or sinner is to be eternally and everlastingly made to endure and suffer. No man will be kept in hell longer than is necessary to bring him to a fitness for something better. When he reaches that stage the prison doors will open and there will be rejoicing among the hosts who welcome him into a better state” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1930, 97; see also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 37).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:20. “At the time I withdrew my Spirit”

The phrase “at the time I withdrew my Spirit” may have had reference to the experience Martin Harris went through after he lost the 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon. Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph’s mother, recalled that when Martin Harris told Joseph Smith about the lost manuscript he “cried out in a tone of deep anguish, ‘Oh, I have lost my soul! I have lost my soul!’” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley [1958], 128).

Suffering for sin can happen in mortality as well as after we die. When we sin, the Holy Ghost withdraws, leaving us without the comfort and sanctifying power of His presence. In His absence, we get a “taste” of the suffering the Savior experienced as He suffered for our sins. The process of repentance makes it possible for us to reconcile ourselves with our Father in Heaven and again enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost, with all its attendant blessings.

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency spoke of the connection between the loss of the Holy Ghost’s companionship and the need for repentance:

“If you have difficulty in feeling the Holy Ghost, you might wisely ponder whether there is anything for which you need to repent and receive forgiveness” (“Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times,” Ensign or Liahona, June 2007, 23).