In response to the elders’ questions about how to proceed to build the city of Zion, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 58 on August 1, 1831. Verses 34–65 contain instructions on living the law of consecration for those who had moved to Zion. In these verses, the Lord also taught principles of repentance, commanded the elders to preach the gospel, and counseled them concerning how to build Zion.
In the previous lesson, students were invited to use their agency to do something good before today’s class. Follow up on this invitation by asking students to share their experiences of choosing to be “anxiously engaged” (D&C 58:27) in doing good.
Before class, write the following question on the board: What does it mean to repent?
Ask a few students to respond to this question. Then write the following questions on the board: How can I know if I have fully repented? How can I know if the Lord has forgiven me of my sins?
Invite students to write these questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Ask them to take a few minutes to write responses to each one. After sufficient time, inform them that they will have an opportunity to revisit their answers later in the lesson.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 58:34–37 by explaining that many of the elders who had traveled to Missouri and would be living there wanted to know what they needed to do to plan, organize, and build the city of Zion. The Lord instructed those moving to Missouri to give their money and property to the cause of building up Zion. Martin Harris was instructed to be an example in giving money to the bishop. He donated a large sum of money to help Bishop Edward Partridge purchase land for the Church.
Write the following names on the board: Martin Harris, William W. Phelps, and Ziba Peterson. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:38–41, 60 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the counsel the Lord gave to Martin Harris, William W. Phelps, and Ziba Peterson as they prepared to build Zion.
As students respond to the following questions, write their answers under the appropriate name on the board.
What sin did the Lord say Martin Harris was guilty of? What did the Lord tell him to do?
What sins did the Lord say William W. Phelps was guilty of? What did the Lord tell him to do? (You may need to explain that the phrase “seeketh to excel” [verse 41] does not mean doing our best or trying to improve. Rather, this phrase refers to an unrighteous, prideful desire to appear better or more important than other people.)
What was Ziba Peterson trying to do with his sins?
Point out that the sins of these men threatened to prevent them from helping to build Zion.
What are some ways our sins may limit our ability to serve the Lord?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:42 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord taught about repentance.
According to this verse, what does the Lord promise us if we repent of our sins? (Students should identify the following principle: If we repent of our sins, the Lord will forgive us and remember our sins no more. Write this principle on the board. You may want to suggest that students mark the words that teach this principle in verse 42.)
Which of our sins does this promise apply to? (All of them.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for words or phrases that relate to the principle written on the board.
“No matter what our transgressions have been, no matter how much our actions may have hurt others, that guilt can all be wiped out. To me, perhaps the most beautiful phrase in all scripture is when the Lord said, ‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more’ [D&C 58:42].
Refer students to the questions written on the board.
How does the Lord’s promise in verse 42 help answer the third question: How can I know if the Lord has forgiven me of my sins? (The Lord’s promise helps us know that He always grants forgiveness when we have fully repented.)
In addition to knowing that the Lord has promised to forgive us when we fully repent, how else can we know that we have been forgiven?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Ask students to listen for how they can know when the Lord has forgiven them of their sins.
“Once we have truly repented, Christ will take away the burden of guilt for our sins. We can know for ourselves that we have been forgiven and made clean. The Holy Ghost will verify this to us; He is the Sanctifier. No other testimony of forgiveness can be greater” (“Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 101).
How has knowing that you can be forgiven of all of your sins blessed your life?
Explain to students that some people mistakenly think that if they can still remember their sins then they haven’t fully repented. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. Ask the class to listen for why we may remember our sins even after we have repented.
“Satan will try to make us believe that our sins are not forgiven because we can remember them. Satan is a liar; he tries to blur our vision and lead us away from the path of repentance and forgiveness. God did not promise that we would not remember our sins. Remembering will help us avoid making the same mistakes again. But if we stay true and faithful, the memory of our sins will be softened over time. This will be part of the needed healing and sanctification process” (“Point of Safe Return,” 101).
Point out that the promise written on the board is conditional. We can receive the Lord’s forgiveness only if we do everything we can to fully repent of our sins.
What does it mean to repent? (You may want to invite students to refer back to the answers they wrote to the questions on the board.)
After students respond, invite a student to read aloud the following statement from the For the Strength of Youth booklet. Ask the class to listen for additional things they can learn about what it means to repent.
“Repentance is more than simply acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. It is motivated by love for God and the sincere desire to obey His commandments” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 28).
Explain that true repentance includes several requirements. Two of these requirements are mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 58:43. Invite a student to read that verse aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for two things we must do to fully repent of our sins.
According to verse 43, what are two things we must do to fully repent of our sins? (Students should identify the following principle: To repent, we must confess and forsake our sins. Write this principle on the board.)
How does this truth help us answer the question How can I know if I have fully repented? (Help students understand that confessing and forsaking sins are essential to full repentance.)
What does it mean to confess our sins?
To help students better understand what it means to confess our sins, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Confessing and forsaking are powerful concepts. They are much more than a casual ‘I admit it; I’m sorry.’ Confession is a deep, sometimes agonizing acknowledgment of error and offense to God and man” (“The Divine Gift of Repentance,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 40).
How does confessing our sins help us turn away from sin and turn to God for forgiveness?
As part of this discussion, students may wonder what sins need to be confessed and to whom. Explain that we need to confess all of our sins to Heavenly Father. Serious transgressions, such as sexual transgression or use of pornography, should also be confessed to the bishop or branch president.
Refer students to the last truth you wrote on the board.
What does it mean to forsake our sins? (To completely turn away from our sins and stop doing them.)
Testify of the Savior’s Atonement and the principles of repentance and forgiveness you have discussed. Invite students to ponder whether there are sins they need to repent of, and encourage them to repent by acting on the truths they have learned.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 58:49–62 by explaining that the Lord told the elders who were to stay in Missouri that they should purchase land and prepare for the gathering of the Saints in Missouri.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:46–47, 63–65 aloud. Ask the class to look for the counsel the Lord gave to the elders who were to return to Ohio.
According to verses 46–47, what were the elders supposed to do as they returned to Ohio?
According to verse 64, who must the gospel be preached to? (Students may use different words, but their responses should reflect the following truth: The gospel must be preached to every person. You may want to suggest that students mark the words that teach this truth in verse 64.)
Encourage students to follow promptings of the Spirit to share the truths of the gospel with those around them.