As some of the Saints migrating from the eastern states began to arrive in Ohio in May 1831, the Lord revealed Doctrine and Covenants 51 to Joseph Smith for Bishop Edward Partridge. The group arriving from Colesville, New York, was directed to go to Thompson, Ohio, where they would live the law of consecration. At the close of the fourth conference of the Church, held June 3–6, 1831, in Kirtland, the Lord commanded Joseph Smith and other elders to travel in pairs to Missouri, preaching along the way. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 52, the Lord called each companionship and gave a pattern to help them avoid deception.
To help students begin thinking about one of the outcomes of living the law of consecration, invite students to answer the following questions in pairs or small groups or as a class.
What is the most unified group you have been part of? How do you know if a group of people is unified? What types of practices or events help a group to become unified?
Explain that the Saints who had moved from New York began arriving in Ohio in the spring of 1831. One group came from Colesville, New York, at great sacrifice. This group was instructed to settle in Thompson, Ohio, and to live the law of consecration. Invite students to imagine the unity that might result from a group that made sacrifices together to follow the will of the Lord.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 51:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Bishop Edward Partridge’s responsibilities.
What were some of Bishop Partridge’s responsibilities? (You may want to point out that in verse 3, the phrase “equal according to his family” does not mean that each Latter-day Saint was to receive the same help. The bishop was to consider each family’s situation separately and “appoint unto” them what they needed. They were equal because the bishop gave equal consideration and care to each family.)
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 51:9 silently, looking for what the Lord explained are two intended results of living the law of consecration.
What does the Lord expect of His people? (Students should express the following principle: The Lord expects His people to deal honestly with others and be unified.)
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 51:10–20 by explaining that the Lord instructed Bishop Partridge to establish a storehouse where surplus goods could be kept. He explained that He had consecrated the land to the Saints “for a little season” (D&C 51:16). Although they did not know how long they would stay there, they were to “act upon this land as for years” (D&C 51:17), being faithful, wise, and just stewards of what they had been given. You may want to point out that in verse 10, the word church refers to a branch of the Church (see D&C 51:10, footnote a; see also D&C 20:81; 45:64).
Before class, prepare three clues, each one leading to the next. For example, the first clue might direct students to look for the second clue under or inside an object somewhere in the classroom. The second clue could direct them to look for the third clue elsewhere in the classroom. The third clue should say: “Read Doctrine and Covenants 52:1–6. Find a principle that is similar to this activity.”
Tape the first clue to the board, and write the following instructions next to it: Follow this clue to learn how to receive continual guidance from the Lord.
After students read the first clue, invite them to follow the instructions to find the second clue. Then invite them to read the directions on the second clue and search for the third clue.
Before students follow the directions on the third clue, explain that the passage they will be searching contains instructions given to Joseph Smith and other priesthood leaders at a conference of the Church held in Kirtland, Ohio, in June 1831. Remind students that the Lord had previously revealed that the Saints would establish a city called Zion (see D&C 28:9), but He had not yet revealed its location.
Invite students to follow the instructions in the third clue. Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 52:1–6. Invite the class to follow along, looking for a principle that is similar to the activity they have just completed.
According to verses 4–5, what can happen when we are faithful to God’s instructions? (As we follow God’s instructions faithfully, He reveals more of His will to us. Write this principle on the board.)
How was the activity similar to this principle? (As students followed each instruction, they received additional directions, ultimately leading them to the answer they were seeking.)
What do you feel are some benefits of receiving the Lord’s guidance and truth little by little rather than all at once?
Invite students who have had an experience with this principle to share their experiences or testify of its truthfulness. You may also want to share an experience or your testimony. Encourage students to write down a question, concern, or decision they are facing for which they would like to have the Lord’s help and guidance. Then invite them to ponder and write down any direction the Lord has given them that they can heed more fully in order to invite further guidance from Him.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 52:7–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for instructions the Lord gave to some priesthood holders before they traveled to Missouri.
What were these priesthood holders instructed to do as they traveled?
Remind students that in the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 50, the Lord warned the elders of the Church about false spirits and gave instructions that would help the Saints edify one another as they taught and learned gospel truths.
Explain that in Doctrine and Covenants 52:14–21, the Lord revealed further instructions to help strengthen Church members, particularly those whom He had called to preach the gospel as they traveled to Missouri.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 52:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify the phrase the Lord used to describe what He was about to teach. (“A pattern in all things.”)
What is a pattern? (A model that we can follow in order to achieve a certain result.)
What reason did the Lord give for providing this pattern?
Divide students into pairs. Invite each partner to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 52:15–19. Ask them to look for actions and attributes that the Lord said would help His people avoid being deceived by Satan. After sufficient time, ask them to report what they have found. Invite a student to act as scribe and list their answers on the board.
As students respond, you may want to explain or ask them to explain the meaning of the following phrases: “whose spirit is contrite” (D&C 52:15) refers to a person who has a repentant attitude; “obey mine ordinances” (D&C 52:15) refers to a person who receives the Lord’s ordinances and keeps the associated covenants; “whose language is meek and edifieth” (D&C 52:16) refers to a person whose speech is humble and lifts or builds others; “trembleth under my power” (D&C 52:17) describes a person who feels reverence for the power of God; and “bring forth fruits” (D&C 52:17) refers to a person who produces something good (such as “praise and wisdom”) by following the revelations God has given.
Give the pairs of students time to discuss how they would summarize the truths taught in Doctrine and Covenants 52:14–19. After sufficient time, invite them to share the truths they have identified. Students may give a variety of answers, but you may want to emphasize the following principle: In order to avoid being deceived by Satan, a person must obey the Lord’s ordinances and live according to the revelations He has given.
Remind students that when the Lord revealed this pattern for avoiding deception, He was speaking to a group of priesthood holders who would be preaching the gospel to others.
Why do you think it is important for those who teach the gospel to others to follow the pattern the Lord revealed in these verses? (So they can teach by the Spirit.)
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 52:36 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for an additional instruction the Lord gave in this revelation. Invite them to report what they find.
What did the Lord instruct the elders of the Church to declare?
Why can we have confidence in a leader or teacher who lives according to the pattern the Lord outlined in verses 14–19 and teaches only what the prophets and apostles have taught?
You might suggest that students consider how the members of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles demonstrate this pattern.
Explain that while the Lord called many of the early priesthood holders to preach on their way to Missouri, several other elders were to stay in Ohio. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 52:39–40 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the instructions the Lord gave to the elders who would remain in Ohio.
What responsibilities did the Lord give to the elders who remained in Ohio?
What do you think it means to “remember … the poor and the needy”? Why is just thinking about someone who is in need not enough to fulfill this counsel from the Lord?
What did the Lord say about those who would not fulfill their responsibilities?
What principle can we learn from these verses about being a true disciple of the Lord? (Although students may use different words, they should identify the following principle: Disciples of Jesus Christ watch over and care for those who are poor, needy, sick, and afflicted.)
Ask students to think about people they know whom they would consider disciples of Jesus Christ. Invite a few students to share how a person they thought of watches over and cares for those in need. You may want to express the gratitude you feel for those who have watched over and helped you in your times of need.