In March 1831, the Church continued to grow in Kirtland. Opposition to the Church also continued. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote: “Many false reports, lies, and foolish stories, were published in the newspapers, and circulated in every direction, to prevent people from investigating the work, or embracing the faith.” At this time of growth and opposition, Joseph Smith received a revelation that he later said came “to the joy of the Saints who had to struggle against every thing that prejudice and wickedness could invent” (in History of the Church, 1:158). This revelation, now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45, began with declarations from the Savior about His roles in our salvation. Today’s lesson is the first of three that focus on Doctrine and Covenants 45.
Ask students to imagine that they are seeking direction about something that is important to them and that several different people want to give them counsel.
What qualities would a person need to have before you would want to listen to his or her counsel? (Students may share several different answers to this question. As needed, you may want to suggest that they would be more likely to listen to someone who cares about them personally and who has had success in the subject about which they are offering advice.)
Explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 45 came at a time when Latter-day Saints and others were hearing and reading conflicting messages about the Church. Invite a student to read aloud the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 45. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the circumstances the Saints were facing.
Invite a student to read the Lord’s first word in the revelation.
Remind students that hearken means to listen attentively and obey. When we truly hearken to the Lord, we will follow His counsel and commandments. Explain that at the beginning of this revelation, the Lord made declarations about some of His roles and about His efforts to help us. As we read these declarations, we can find reasons to hearken to His words. Encourage students to watch for the words hearken and listen in the verses they study today.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:1 silently, looking for what Jesus Christ said about Himself. Ask students to report on what they find. As they respond, write the following doctrine on the board: Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons to hearken to the Savior.
According to this verse, why should we hearken to the Savior? (You may need to explain that the phrase “in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past” refers to the idea that summer can be a time to labor and prepare for the harvest at the end of the season. This verse teaches that we need to hearken to the Savior now and repent of our sins while we still have time to labor for the salvation of our souls.)
Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 45:3 includes the word advocate. An advocate is someone who pleads the cause of someone else. Sometimes this happens in a court of law, where an advocate presents evidence to a judge on behalf of someone who has been condemned.
Before class prepare three signs as follows:
Prepare the backs of the signs as follows:
Invite three students to the front of the classroom. Give one of the signs to each student. Ask them to hold the signs, displaying the words judge, advocate, and defendant. Ask the student holding the sign labeled advocate to stand between the other two students.
Ask the class to imagine they are in a courtroom where there is a judge, an advocate, and a defendant who has been accused of a crime.
What is the role of the judge?
How might an advocate help the accused?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:3 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what this verse teaches about the Savior.
In this verse, who is the judge? (As students answer this question, ask the student holding the sign labeled judge to turn the sign around.) Who is the defendant? (Ask the student holding the sign labeled defendant to turn the sign around.) Who is the advocate? (Ask the student holding the sign labeled advocate to turn the sign around. Then write the following doctrine on the board: Jesus Christ is our Advocate with Heavenly Father.)
Why do we need an advocate with Heavenly Father? (We are guilty of sin. According to the justice of God, no unclean thing can dwell in His presence. Therefore, we need an advocate to plead our cause before the Father and help us be reconciled to Him.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Jesus Christ pleads our cause before the Father.
According to verse 4, what does Jesus Christ ask Heavenly Father to consider? (The Savior tells of His sinless life and His suffering and death.)
According to verse 5, what else does the Savior ask the Father to consider? (Our faith in Jesus Christ.)
Invite students to ponder ways they need Jesus Christ to be their Advocate in their everyday lives. Give them time to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals their feelings about the Savior being their Advocate. Also invite them to write what they feel He would have them do to show they believe on His name.
Divide students into pairs, and ask the pairs to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:6–10 together. After students have had enough time to read, ask the following questions:
According to verses 6–7, what reasons does the Savior give for us to hearken to Him? What does it mean to you that He is “the beginning and the end”? In what ways does He bring light and life to the world?
Write the following descriptions of the Savior on the board:
According to verse 8, what does the Savior promise to those who receive Him?
Point out that in verse 9, we read that Jesus Christ has sent His “everlasting covenant … to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for [His] people.” In another revelation, He said that His everlasting covenant is “the fulness of [His] gospel” (D&C 66:2).
What do you think it means to “seek to” the gospel?
In what ways have you seen the gospel be a light to the world? In what ways is the gospel a standard for those of us who have made covenants with the Lord?
Display the picture City of Zion Is Taken Up (Gospel Art Book , no. 6; see also LDS.org). Explain that this is an artist’s depiction of Enoch and his people. Then invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:11 aloud. Point out that in this verse, the Lord says that some people call Him “the God of Enoch.”
Invite students to tell the class what they know about the prophet Enoch. As needed, provide the following information: Enoch lived before the time of Noah. The earth in Enoch’s day was covered in wickedness, but he led a society of righteous people who lived in a city called Zion. The inhabitants of Zion were eventually “separated from the earth” (D&C 45:12)—taken into heaven because of their righteousness (see Moses 7:69).
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 45:12–14 by explaining that the Lord has received the people of the city of Zion unto Himself and that He will reserve them “until a day of righteousness shall come.” At that time, Enoch and his people will return to the earth to meet faithful Latter-day Saints in the city of New Jerusalem, which will also be called Zion (see Moses 7:62–64). All prophets have looked forward to that day. Because of the wickedness of the people on the earth, that day has not yet come, but those who have looked forward to it will someday see it.
Invite students to review the statements you have written on the board that describe some of Jesus Christ’s roles and characteristics. Ask students to ponder these statements and select one characteristic that is particularly meaningful to them. After sufficient time, invite a few students to report on the role or characteristic they have chosen and to explain why it is meaningful to them. After students have explained their thoughts, write the following principle on the board: As we learn about Jesus Christ’s roles and characteristics, our desire to follow Him increases.
What have you learned about the Savior today that helps you want to hearken to Him?
You may want to share your thoughts about one of the roles or characteristics of the Savior and about how your knowledge of that role or characteristic helps you to desire to follow Him. Consider concluding by testifying of the blessings of listening to Jesus Christ and obeying His counsel and commandments.