In August 1830, Newel Knight and his wife, Sally, traveled to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to visit the Prophet Joseph Smith. Sally Knight and Emma Smith had been baptized earlier in the summer but had not yet been confirmed because of persecution by a mob. During the Knights’ visit to Harmony, it was determined that Sally and Emma should be confirmed and that the group, along with John Whitmer, would partake of the sacrament together. When Joseph went out to obtain wine for the sacrament, he was met by a heavenly messenger who communicated the revelation now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 27.
If available, display some potato peelings and ask students to guess what spiritual purpose they might be used for. After a few responses, invite a student to read the following statement from President Ezra Taft Benson’s recollection of his visit to war-torn Europe following World War II:
“I cannot forget the French Saints who, unable to obtain bread, used potato peelings for the emblems of the sacrament” (“Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 33–34).
What would you think if you saw potato peelings being used for the sacrament?
Why do you think it was acceptable for the French Saints to use something other than bread for the emblems of the sacrament?
To give students the historical context for the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 27, summarize the information given in the introduction to the lesson. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the angel told Joseph Smith about the emblems of the sacrament.
What did the messenger teach Joseph Smith about what we should eat or drink as we partake of the sacrament? (What we use as emblems of the sacrament is not as important as what those emblems help us remember.)
According to these verses, what should be our focus as we partake of the sacrament? (Students may use different words, but their responses should reflect the following principle: As we partake of the sacrament, we are to remember the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You might want to suggest that students mark this truth in Doctrine and Covenants 27:2. As part of the discussion, you may need to explain that we have “an eye single to [the Lord’s] glory” when we focus on Him and align our will with His.)
To help students feel the importance of this truth and consider how it can apply in their lives, discuss the following questions:
What have you experienced when you have reflected upon the Savior’s atoning sacrifice during the administration of the sacrament?
What can we do to improve our ability to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and partake of the sacrament “with an eye single to [His] glory”?
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals about what they will do to prepare to partake of the sacrament each week. Encourage them to consider ways to remember Jesus Christ and the meaning behind the emblems of the sacrament. You may want to invite a few of them to share what they have written.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 27:3–4 by explaining that the Lord warned Joseph Smith not to purchase wine or strong drink (any drink with intoxicating qualities) from the enemies of the Church for use in the sacrament. They were to use only wine that was “made new” by the Saints. It may be helpful for your students to know that the Word of Wisdom would not be revealed for another two and a half years (see D&C 89) and that in the Church today we use water for the sacrament.
Ask students to ponder how their experience of partaking of the sacrament might change if they were partaking of it in the presence of the Savior. Invite a few students to share their thoughts.
Remind students that the Savior introduced the ordinance of the sacrament to His Apostles at the Last Supper. On this occasion, Jesus Christ prophesied of a time when He would return to the earth and partake of the sacrament again with His disciples (see Matthew 26:26–29).
Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–12, the Lord specifically named some of the individuals who will attend this meeting. Invite students to scan these verses and identify (1) who these individuals are and (2) if mentioned, what keys or responsibilities they have. Invite a student to list this information on the board as the rest of the class reports what they have found. (You may want to explain that throughout the earth’s history the Lord has given priesthood authority to righteous men to help administer His gospel. He has also given priesthood keys to priesthood leaders so they can direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth.)
When the list is complete, invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify the keys the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
What keys did the Lord commit, or give, to the Prophet Joseph Smith? (Invite a student to add Joseph Smith and keys of the Lord’s kingdom to the list on the board.)
Point out that many of the prophets whose names are found in Doctrine and Covenants 27 visited Joseph Smith to bestow keys upon him.
You may want to suggest that students mark the phrase “dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times” in Doctrine and Covenants 27:13.
According to this verse, what does the Lord say He will do during the dispensation of the fulness of times? (“Gather together in one all things.”)
Write the following doctrine on the board under the list: The dispensation of the fulness of times gathers together all gospel keys, ordinances, and truths of past dispensations.
Explain that a dispensation is “a period of time in which the Lord has at least one authorized servant on the earth who bears the [keys of the] holy priesthood … and who has a divine commission to dispense the gospel” (Bible Dictionary, “Dispensations”) and to administer the ordinances thereof. When the Lord organizes a dispensation, “the gospel is revealed anew so that the people of that dispensation do not have to depend basically on past dispensations for knowledge of the plan of salvation” (Bible Dictionary, “Dispensations”). Adam, Enoch, Noah, Moses, and others were heads of gospel dispensations. Joseph Smith is the head of the dispensation in which we live—the dispensation of the fulness of times. This final dispensation began with the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is called the dispensation of the fulness of times because all keys that the Lord has revealed for the blessing of His children have been restored and all the Lord’s plans and purposes since the world began will be fulfilled.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:14 aloud. Ask the rest of the class to follow along and identify who else will be present at the sacrament meeting described in this section.
Whom do you think the phrase “all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world” refers to?
Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Every faithful person in the whole history of the world, every person who has so lived as to merit eternal life in the kingdom of the Father will be in attendance and will partake, with the Lord, of the sacrament” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ , 595).
Add you and me to the list on the board.
According to Elder McConkie, how must we live in order to be present at this special sacrament meeting?
Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18 contains counsel that will help us be worthy to qualify for the Lord’s blessings, including the blessing of attending the sacrament meeting mentioned in verses 4–14.
Ask students what they would want to wear if they knew they were going into battle. Then invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 27:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for (1) what the Lord directs us to do to prepare for spiritual battles and (2) what blessing He promises if we follow His direction.
What does the Lord counsel us to do to prepare for spiritual battles? (Summarize students’ responses by writing the following on the board: If we take upon ourselves the whole armor of God …)
What blessing does the Lord promise those who put on the whole armor of God? (As students respond, complete the principle on the board: If we take upon ourselves the whole armor of God, we will be able to withstand evil.)
Copy the accompanying illustration on the board, with lines drawn to each piece of armor mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 27:15–18. Divide the class into small groups, and assign each group one of the pieces of armor. Give each group a copy of the following statement by President Harold B. Lee and the information and questions in the following section pertaining to their assigned piece of armor. Invite students to work within their groups to answer the questions for their assigned piece of armor and be prepared to share their answers with the class.
After students have reported their answers, read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask students to listen for how we put on and strengthen the armor of God:
“I like to think of this spiritual armor not as a solid piece of metal molded to fit the body but more like chain mail. Chain mail consists of dozens of tiny pieces of steel fastened together to allow the user greater flexibility without losing protection. I say that because it has been my experience that there is not one great and grand thing we can do to arm ourselves spiritually. True spiritual power lies in numerous smaller acts woven together in a fabric of spiritual fortification that protects and shields from all evil” (“Be Strong in the Lord,” Ensign, July 2004, 8).
What are some small acts that, combined in their strength, will help protect us against temptation and evil?
Invite students to look back at the opening lines of Doctrine and Covenants 27:15. Then ask the following question:
What attitude should we have as we put on the armor of God? (We should “lift up [our] hearts and rejoice.”) Why should we have this attitude?
Ask students to consider what they have learned in today’s lesson, and invite them to choose one specific thing they can do to better put on the armor of God. Encourage them to write what they will do on a piece of paper that they can refer to often as a reminder of their commitment.
To conclude this lesson, invite a few students to share their testimonies of the truths taught in the lesson.