Lesson 87: Doctrine and Covenants 84:43–61

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

On September 22 and 23, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. In this revelation, the Lord revealed truths about the priesthood, as discussed in the previous lesson. The Lord also taught the Saints the importance of giving heed to the word of God. He chastened them for treating the Book of Mormon and other commandments and revelations lightly.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 84:43–53

The Lord teaches the importance of giving heed to the word of God

Remind students of the goal they set at the beginning of the year to study the scriptures daily. Invite them to consider how well they are doing with this goal. After students have considered this, ask the following questions:

  • What are some challenges you face in trying to study the scriptures each day? (As students respond, acknowledge that it can be difficult to maintain a habit of daily scripture study.)

  • Why do you choose to study the scriptures even though it can be hard to do at times?

Explain that in today’s lesson, students will learn truths from Doctrine and Covenants 84 that can inspire them to continue their efforts to study the scriptures.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:43–44 silently and identify words and phrases that teach the importance of studying and applying the word of the Lord.

  • What words and phrases did you find that teach the importance of studying and applying the word of the Lord? (Students might mention words and phrases such as “commandment,” “give diligent heed,” and “live by every word.”)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:45–46 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for words and phrases in this passage that mean the same thing as “the word of the Lord.”

  • What words and phrases did you find? (Answers should include “truth,” “light,” “Spirit,” “the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” and “the voice of the Spirit.”)

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we give diligent heed to the word of God, then …

Invite students to reread Doctrine and Covenants 84:45–46 silently.

  • Based on what you found in verses 45–46, how would you complete the statement on the board? (Students may suggest different answers. Complete the principle on the board so it conveys the following principle: If we give diligent heed to the word of God, we will be enlightened through the Spirit of Christ.)

Direct students’ attention to the phrase “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” in verse 45. Explain that another phrase that means the same thing is “the Light of Christ.” The Light of Christ is “an influence for good in the lives of all people. … [However,] the Light of Christ should not be confused with the Holy Ghost. It is not a personage, as the Holy Ghost is” (True to the Faith [2004], 96). The Light of Christ is within each person and provides a “knowledge of right and wrong, [or] moral sense, or conscience.” It “can direct us to moderate our actions—unless, that is, we subdue it or silence it” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Light of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 9).

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:47–48 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify how we will be blessed if we hearken to the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

  • According to verse 47, how will we be blessed if we hearken to the Spirit of Jesus Christ? (Students may use different words, but they should recognize the following principle: If we hearken to the Spirit of Jesus Christ, we will come unto the Father. Write this principle on the board.)

  • According to verse 48, what will the Father do as we come unto Him? (He will teach us.)

  • In verse 48, we read that the Father will teach us not only for our sakes but also for the sake of the whole world. What does this mean to you?

Point out that in addition to having the Light of Christ, individuals can receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost after they enter into the covenant of baptism. Through this gift they can receive additional light and be guided back to the presence of the Father to receive eternal life.

Invite a student to turn off the lights in the classroom and then return to his or her seat. (Be sure there is enough light in the room for the student to walk safely.) Invite students to think of times when they have had to walk in complete darkness. Ask a few to describe what this experience was like for them. Then turn the lights back on.

Explain that the scriptures often refer to darkness to symbolically describe a spiritual condition. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:49–53 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify who the Lord said is in spiritual darkness and why they are in that condition.

  • Who is in darkness? Why are they in darkness?

Point out that in these verses, those who are described as being in darkness are also described as being under the bondage of sin. This means they are trapped in the consequences of their sins because they have not repented.

  • How is living under the bondage of sin like being in darkness?

Doctrine and Covenants 84:54–61

The Lord chastens the Saints for treating the Book of Mormon lightly

Explain that in addition to saying that the world was in darkness, the Lord said that the minds of members of the Church had been darkened.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:54–56 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for two reasons why the minds of Church members had become darkened.

  • According to verse 54, why had the minds of Church members been darkened?

  • What does it mean to treat something lightly? (To ignore something or to treat it disrespectfully or carelessly.) How can unbelief or treating a sacred thing lightly cause a person’s mind to be darkened?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:57 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Saints had been treating lightly.

  • What had the Saints been treating lightly? (The Book of Mormon and the Lord’s “former commandments,” or previous revelations, including those contained in the Bible.)

  • According to what you have learned from verses 54–58, what consequences will we face if we treat the word of God lightly? (Students should express that if we treat the word of God lightly, our minds will be darkened and we will be brought under condemnation. You may want to write this principle on the board.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statements by President Ezra Taft Benson concerning the Book of Mormon:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or to our condemnation.

“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise, he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who does not” (“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 5).

“Let us not remain under condemnation, with its scourge and judgment, by treating lightly this great and marvelous gift the Lord has given to us. Rather, let us win the promises associated with treasuring it up in our hearts” (“The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).

Invite students to ponder how they are treating the Book of Mormon and what they can do to make their study of it a lifetime pursuit.

Ask students to silently review Doctrine and Covenants 84:57.

  • What did the Lord say the Saints needed to do in addition to repenting for having treated His words lightly? (Help students see that in addition to remembering the Book of Mormon and the “former commandments” the Lord had given, the Saints needed to do what is written in them.)

  • How would you summarize what the Lord wants us to do with the Book of Mormon? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize the following: We are to study the Book of Mormon faithfully and live according to its teachings. Write this truth on the board.)

Divide students into pairs. Ask the pairs to share their responses to the following question:

  • Who is a good example to you of studying the Book of Mormon and living according to its teachings?

To conclude this lesson, invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:60–61 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for further instruction the Lord gives to those who receive His words through the Book of Mormon. After the verses are read, point out that according to verse 61, those who receive the Lord’s words in the Book of Mormon are to testify of them to others.

Invite a few students to testify of how they have been blessed as they have studied the Book of Mormon and sought to live according to the truths it teaches. (You might give students a moment to think of their experiences before asking them to respond.)

Remind students of their goals to study the scriptures each day. Write the following questions on the board, and invite students to write their responses in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

  • What have you learned today that has inspired you to continue to study the Book of Mormon?

  • What will you do to more diligently study the Book of Mormon and live the truths you learn from it?

  • How will you use the Book of Mormon to share the gospel with others?

Testify that students will draw closer to Heavenly Father as they live the truths discussed today in class.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 84:46. “The Spirit giveth light to every man”

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost:

“The Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ are different from each other. While they are sometimes described in the scriptures with the same words, they are two different and distinct entities. It is important for you to know about both of them. …

“The Light of Christ is defined in the scriptures as ‘the Spirit [which] giveth light to every man that cometh into the world’ (D&C 84:46; emphasis added); ‘the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed’ (D&C 88:13; see also John 1:4–9; D&C 84:45–47; 88:6; 93:9).

“And the Light of Christ is also described in the scriptures as ‘the Spirit of Jesus Christ’ (D&C 84:45), ‘the Spirit of the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 3:18; see also Mosiah 25:24), ‘the Spirit of truth’ (D&C 93:26), ‘the light of truth’ (D&C 88:6), ‘the Spirit of God’ (D&C 46:17), and ‘the Holy Spirit’ (D&C 45:57). Some of these terms are also used to refer to the Holy Ghost.

“The First Presidency has written, ‘There is a universally diffused essence which is the light and the life of the world, “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” which proceedeth forth from the presence of God throughout the immensity of space, the light and power of which God bestows in different degrees to “them that ask him,” according to their faith and obedience.’ [“‘Receiving’ the Holy Ghost,” Improvement Era, Mar. 1916, 460.]

“Regardless of whether this inner light, this knowledge of right and wrong, is called the Light of Christ, moral sense, or conscience, it can direct us to moderate our actions—unless, that is, we subdue it or silence it” (“The Light of Christ,” Ensign, April 2005, 8–9).

Doctrine and Covenants 84:54–57. “Repent and remember … the Book of Mormon

The Savior and His prophets have carefully guarded the compilation and preservation of the Book of Mormon through the ages. Its message is of greatest importance to all people. President Ezra Taft Benson urged Latter-day Saints not to treat that message lightly:

“Some of the early missionaries, on returning home, were reproved by the Lord in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants because they had treated lightly the Book of Mormon. As a result, their minds had been darkened. The Lord said that this kind of treatment of the Book of Mormon brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all of the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, ‘And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon.’ (See D&C 84:54–57.) Are we still under that condemnation?

“… Grave consequences hang on our response to the Book of Mormon:

“‘Those who receive it in faith,’ said the Lord, ‘and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life;

“‘But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation—

“‘For the Lord God has spoken it.’ (D&C 20:14–16.)

“Is the Book of Mormon true? Yes.

“Who is it for? Us.

“What is its purpose? To bring men to Christ.

“How does it do this? By testifying of Christ and revealing His enemies.

“How are we to use it? We are to get a testimony of it, we are to teach from it, we are to hold it up as a standard and ‘hiss it forth.’ [See 2 Nephi 29:2.]

“Have we been doing this? Not as we should, nor as we must.

“Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or to our condemnation.

“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise, he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life” (“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 5).

Doctrine and Covenants 84:57–61. Using the Book of Mormon in our study and teaching

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

“The Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching, and missionary work. Of this we must repent” (“Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, May 1986, 5–6).