Lesson 63: Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–33

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

On August 1, 1831, less than two weeks after the Lord designated Independence, Missouri, as the center place of Zion, Joseph Smith received the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 58. This revelation was given in response to those who were anxious to know the will of God concerning them in this new land. In this revelation the Lord counseled the Saints to be faithful in their tribulations and explained why He had sent the Saints to Zion. The Lord also encouraged the Saints to use their agency to bring about righteousness.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–5

The Lord counsels the Saints to be faithful in their tribulations

Before class begins, write the words Present and Future on the board.

Begin the lesson by asking students to think of the greatest challenge they are currently facing in their lives.

  • How might thinking about your future, in this life and in the next, help you deal with the challenges you are facing now?

Invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud. Ask the class to listen for challenges the Saints in Missouri experienced in 1831 that might have caused some of them to become discouraged.

In January 1831, missionaries found a group of Delaware Indians living in the Indian Territory beyond the western border of Missouri. The Delaware Indians were interested in learning the gospel contained in the Book of Mormon. However, because the missionaries had not obtained the required permits to enter the Indian Territory and preach the gospel and because of opposition from local Indian agents and ministers, the missionaries from the Church were forced to leave the territory. The missionaries then attempted to teach white settlers in Independence, Missouri, and the surrounding areas, but fewer than ten converts had joined the Church by July 1831. When elders of the Church from Ohio began arriving in Missouri in July 1831, some were disappointed with what they found. Some of them expected to see a rapidly growing community of believers and a settlement that was prepared to accommodate the migrating Church members. A few expressed concern because the land in Independence was undeveloped. Additionally, some of the brethren were encouraged to stay in Missouri and purchase lands to prepare Zion for the Saints who would come later.

  • Why do you think this situation might have been discouraging for some Church members?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the elders that may have helped them deal with the challenges they faced.

  • What did the Lord tell the elders?

  • How would you summarize the truths in verse 2? (Students should identify the following principles: We will be blessed if we keep the Lord’s commandments. Our eternal reward will be greater if we remain faithful in tribulation. You may want to suggest that students mark the phrases that teach these principles in verse 2.)

Refer to the words Present and Future on the board. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:3–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the elders concerning the present and future of His people. Ask students to report what they have found.

  • According to verse 3, what do we often fail to see or understand when we are going through tribulation?

Point out that these verses seem to imply that the Lord wanted the elders to look beyond the trials they were enduring and focus instead on the glorious future they would experience if they were faithful. The Lord’s message to the Saints in Missouri can help us endure challenges by keeping us focused on the blessings promised to those who endure tribulation faithfully.

  • How can trusting that the Lord will bless you help you endure tribulation faithfully?

  • When have you felt that you were blessed for being faithful during tribulation?

Invite students again to consider the greatest challenge they are currently experiencing. Encourage them to remain faithful to the gospel despite their challenges so they can receive the rewards the Lord has in store for them both now and in the eternities.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:6–13

The Savior explains why He sent the Saints to Zion

    Ask students the following questions:
  • Have you ever been asked to do something, but you did not understand why you were asked to do it? How did it make you feel?

  • On the other hand, has someone ever asked you to do something and also helped you understand the reasons for doing it? What difference did knowing the reasons make?

Explain that the Lord revealed some of His reasons for sending people to lay the foundation of Zion. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:6–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons the Lord gave for sending people to lay the foundation of Zion. Invite students to report what they learned.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 58:9–13 by explaining that one reason the Lord was sending people to lay the foundation of Zion was to prepare the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In these verses, the Lord referred to a New Testament parable that teaches that people in all nations will be invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel.

  • How might knowing that they were preparing the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ have helped the elders be faithful in their tribulations?

Doctrine and Covenants 58:14–23

The Lord describes the responsibilities of a bishop and commands the Saints to keep the laws of the land

Edward Partridge

Remind students that the Lord had called Bishop Edward Partridge to direct the efforts to build the city of Zion. The Lord instructed Bishop Partridge and Sidney Gilbert to stay in Missouri to manage the properties of the Church and purchase land in and around Independence, Missouri (see D&C 57:7–8). Explain that as the Saints prepared to purchase land, Bishop Partridge argued with Joseph Smith about the quality of the land that had been selected. He felt that different parcels of land should be purchased instead. This disagreement led to a rebuke from the Lord.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told Bishop Partridge. Ask students to report what they found.

  • Refer students back to Doctrine and Covenants 58:3. How might the truths revealed in that verse have helped Bishop Partridge choose to repent for arguing with the Prophet about which parcels of land should be purchased?

Explain to the class that Bishop Partridge accepted the Lord’s rebuke with humility and was forgiven of his sins.

  • How can the truths revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 58:3 help us respond to the Lord’s commandments with faith instead of unbelief and blindness of heart?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:16–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told Bishop Partridge about his role as bishop and his responsibility to help build Zion.

  • According to these verses, what is a bishop’s responsibility?

  • What are some ways bishops are to judge the Lord’s people today?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 58:21–23 by explaining that the Lord expects us to keep the laws of the land until He comes and reigns during the Millennium.

Doctrine and Covenants 58:24–33

The Lord counsels the Saints to use their agency to do good

Present the following situation to the class:

Imagine that as you are walking down the street you see an elderly person fall. Which of the following should you do?

  1. a.

    Wait for the Spirit to prompt you to help.

  2. b.

    Wait for someone else to tell you what to do.

  3. c.

    Wait to see if someone else is going to help.

  4. d.

    Immediately help the person who fell.

    After students have responded, ask the following question:
  • Why is it important to help the person without waiting for directions from someone else?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for principles the Lord taught the Saints as they faced the challenge of building the city of Zion. (You may want to explain that the phrase “he that is compelled in all things” [D&C 58:26] refers to someone who will not act unless he or she is required to do so.)

  • What truths did you discover in verses 26–28? (Students may respond with truths such as the following: We have power to choose to act for ourselves. If we wait for the Lord to tell us everything we should do, we will lose our reward. If we use our agency to do things that bring to pass righteousness, we will be rewarded. Using students’ words, write these truths on the board.)

  • What “reward” are these verses referring to? How can doing many good things of our own free will affect whether we receive eternal life?

  • What are some ways you can be anxiously engaged in doing good at home? At school? In your ward or branch?

Invite students to share experiences they have had when they were blessed for using their agency to do good.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:29–33 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happens to those who do not use their agency to do good or who doubt the Lord’s commandments.

  • What happens to those who do not use their agency to do good or who doubt the Lord’s commandments?

  • How do some people respond when they do not receive blessings because of their slothfulness or disobedience? What warning does the Lord give to such individuals in verse 33?

Testify of the importance of using our agency to do good. Invite students to use their agency to do something good before class meets again. Tell students that they will have an opportunity to share what they did as part of the next lesson.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Doctrine and Covenants 58:27

To help students memorize Doctrine and Covenants 58:27, invite the class to read it in unison. Repeat this process until students feel comfortable with the verse. Then invite students to write the first letter of each word of verse 27 on a piece of paper. Invite them to use their papers to recite the verse in unison. Repeat this process until students feel comfortable reciting it using the first letters. Finally, ask students to recite the verse in unison without using their scriptures or their papers. Repeat this process until students feel comfortable reciting the verse from memory. These activities could be spread over a number of days, using a few minutes of class time at the beginning or end of the lessons.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 58:2–4. “The glory which shall follow after much tribulation”

President Brigham Young taught the following about having an eternal perspective and about the glory that comes to the faithful:

“We talk about our trials and troubles here in this life; but suppose that you could see yourselves thousands and millions of years after you have proved faithful to your religion during the few short years in this time, and have obtained eternal salvation and a crown of glory in the presence of God? Then look back upon your lives here, and see the losses, crosses, and disappointments; … you would be constrained to exclaim, ‘but what of all that? Those things were but for a moment, and we are now here. We have been faithful during a few moments in our mortality, and now we enjoy eternal life and glory’” (“Remarks,” Deseret News, Nov. 9, 1859, 1). (See also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 119–20.)

Doctrine and Covenants 58:3. “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes … the design of your God”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell shared a statement by C. S. Lewis, who explained that we do not always understand what God has in store for us:

“C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, describes our relationship with God in a special way that can help us to appreciate how submitting ourselves to his will is the only way that spiritual growth can occur:

“‘Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. …’ (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1952, p. 160.)” (“The Value of Home Life,” Ensign, Feb. 1972, 5).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:8–11. “The supper of the Lord”

“Two feast symbols from the Old Testament apply to the Supper of the Lord: the ‘feast of fat things,’ and the ‘wine on the lees well refined.’ Both are signs of richness, indicating that the feast mentioned here is of great importance (see also D&C 57:5–14; 65:3; Matthew 22:1–14; Revelation 19:7–9)” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual [Church Education System manual, 2001], 120).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:14–15. Bishop Partridge repented of his sins

Bishop Partridge argued with Joseph Smith about the quality of the land that had been selected in Missouri. He felt that different parcels of land should be purchased instead. The Lord chastened Bishop Partridge for his behavior.

Bishop Partridge accepted the Lord’s rebuke in Doctrine and Covenants 58 with humility. Just a few days after this revelation was given, he wrote to his wife: “You know I stand in an important station & as I am occasionally chastened I sometimes feel as though I must fall, not to give up the cause, but I fear my station is above what I can perform to the acceptance of my hevenly father” (letter to Lydia Partridge, Aug. 5–7, 1831, Church History Library, Salt Lake City). Minutes of a meeting in Zion that considered the argument between the Prophet Joseph and Bishop Partridge say that Partridge said that “he is & has always been sorry” for the disagreement (Minute Book 2, Mar. 10, 1832, 23, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; see also josephsmithpapers.org). A revelation given on September 11, 1831, indicated that Partridge had been forgiven for his conduct (Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, vol. 2 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers [2013], 62).

Doctrine and Covenants 58:27–28. “Do many things of their own free will”

A positive example of following the counsel to “be anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27) is found in an experience shared by Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Seventy:

“When I was about ten or eleven, many of our relatives came to visit. There must have been 35 or 40. Mother had invited them all to dinner. After dinner everyone went in the other room and sat down to visit. There were piles of dirty dishes and silverware everywhere. The food had not been put away, and there were dirty pots and pans from all the preparations.

“I remember thinking that later on everyone would leave, and my mother would have all the cleaning up to do. An idea struck me. I started cleaning up. It was in the days before electric dishwashers. Mother had always been very clean, and she taught us how to wash and wipe dishes correctly. I started in on this mountain of work. Finally, about three hours later, I had finished drying the last dish. I had put away all the food, cleaned off all the counters, the sinks, and the floor. The kitchen was spotless.

“I will never forget the look on Mom’s face later on that night when all the guests had left and she came into the kitchen to clean up. I was wet from my chest to my knees. It was worth every particle of effort I had put into it just to see the look on Mom’s face. It was a mixture of emotion, relief, and pride. I made a decision then that I would try to put that look back on her face over and over and over again” (“We Love Those We Serve,” New Era, Mar. 1988, 19).