Lesson 91: Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–40

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

President Joseph Fielding Smith stated that Doctrine and Covenants 88 was “one of the greatest revelations ever given to man” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56] 3:181). The Prophet Joseph Smith received this revelation over three days—December 27–28, 1832, and January 3, 1833—after high priests at a conference had prayed to know the Lord’s will concerning the establishment of Zion. This is the first of four lessons on Doctrine and Covenants 88. The portion of the revelation discussed in this lesson includes (1) the Lord’s declaration that He is the light that governs and is in all things and (2) His explanation of the laws that govern His kingdoms and their inhabitants.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–13

The Lord declares that He is the light that is in all things

Ask students if they have ever been in complete darkness. Invite a few of them to share their experiences. Display a flashlight or a candle, or draw one on the board.

  • How would being in complete darkness help you appreciate the blessing of light?

  • What does light represent in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 88 includes the Lord’s teachings about the significance of light. The Prophet Joseph Smith received this revelation over three days, after high priests at a conference had prayed to know the Lord’s will concerning the establishment of Zion.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–2 silently and look for what the Lord said about how He and the angels feel when His servants pray to know His will.

  • Why do you think the Lord is pleased and the angels rejoice when we pray to know the Lord’s will?

  • How is knowing God’s will like a light to those who seek it?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 88:3–5 by explaining that the Lord taught these brethren that they could receive an assurance of eternal life through the Holy Ghost, which is also called the Comforter and the Holy Spirit of Promise.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:6–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord taught about the source of all light. Invite students to report what they find.

  • In verse 7, what term is used to refer to the light of truth?

  • According to verses 12–13, where does all light come from?

  • How does God influence His creations through the Light of Christ? (Help students identify the following doctrine: Through the Light of Christ, God gives light and life to all His creations. You may want to write this doctrine on the board. Students may also mention that the Light of Christ is the law that governs the universe and its inhabitants and that it “quickeneth” our understanding. Quicken means to make alive. Because this word is used later in the revelation, consider inviting students to write this definition in the margin of their scriptures next to verse 11.)

As needed, add to students’ explanation of the Light of Christ by explaining that it is “divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Light of Christ,” scriptures.lds.org).

To help students consider how they are blessed through the Light of Christ, write the following categories on the board:

Physical light Understanding Life Law

Invite students to list examples on the board of how these manifestations of the Light of Christ influence them daily. (Some examples could include the ability to see, the ability to learn and recognize truth, the growth of plants and animals that provide us with food and clothing, and the ability to know the difference between good and evil.)

  • How can the truths we’ve discussed about the Light of Christ help you appreciate the Lord’s influence in your life?

Doctrine and Covenants 88:14–40

The Lord explains that there are laws associated with the kingdoms of glory

Display a glove, and explain that it represents a physical body. Invite a student to put on the glove and wiggle his or her fingers. Point out that the hand animates, or gives life, to the glove.

  • If the glove represents a physical body, what could the hand represent? (A spirit body.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord called the combination of the spirit and the body.

  • What did the Lord call the combination of the spirit and the body? (The spirit and the body are the soul of man. You might want to suggest that students mark this doctrine.)

  • How can the things that affect our physical bodies also affect our spirits? (As students respond, encourage them to give some examples.)

To help students further understand the connection between our bodies and our spirits, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson. Ask the class to listen for ways the spirit and the body can affect each other.

President Ezra Taft Benson

“There is no question that the health of the body affects the spirit, or the Lord would never have revealed the Word of Wisdom. God has never given any temporal commandments—that which affects our bodies also affects our [spirits]. …

“… Sin debilitates. It affects not only the [spirit], but the body. The scriptures are replete with examples of the physical power that can attend the righteous. On the other hand, unrepented sin can diffuse energy and lead to both mental and physical sickness” (“In His Steps,” Ensign, Sep. 1988, 5).

  • How can understanding the connection between your body and your spirit help you make righteous decisions?

To prepare students to discuss truths about the Resurrection, invite the student at the front of the class to remove the glove from his or her hand and place it on a table or chair.

  • What could this action represent? (Physical death.)

  • What happens to the soul at death? (The spirit and the body are separated.)

Invite the student to pick up the glove and put it back on.

  • What could this action represent? (Resurrection.)

  • What happens to the soul at resurrection? (The spirit and the body are reunited.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:14, 16–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord described the Resurrection. Invite students to report what they find.

  • Who made it possible for our souls to be redeemed? (As students respond, write the following doctrine on the board: Jesus Christ made it possible for our souls to be redeemed.)

  • After our souls have been redeemed, what will the “poor and the meek” souls inherit? (The earth.)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:18–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what will happen to the earth before redeemed souls can inherit it.

  • What will happen to the earth before redeemed souls can inherit it?

  • According to verse 19, whose presence will be found on the sanctified earth?

Write the following question on the board: Who will qualify to live in the celestial kingdom and enjoy the presence of Heavenly Father? Invite students to ponder how they would answer this question.

Explain that just as the earth will receive glory after it is sanctified, our bodies will also be changed and receive glory in the Resurrection. However, not all people will receive the same degree of glory.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:21–24 silently and identify what determines the degree of glory a person receives in the Resurrection.

  • What determines the degree of glory a person receives in the Resurrection? (Write the following doctrine on the board. You might also want to suggest that students write it in margin of their scriptures. In the Resurrection we will receive glory according to the law we obey.)

To help students further understand this truth, invite them to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:25–33 with a partner. Ask them to look for how obedience to Christ’s laws will affect the earth and each of us. You might want to suggest that they mark what they find.

  • What did you find that supports the truth that in the Resurrection we will receive glory according to the law we obey?

  • Notice in verse 28 that the Lord referred to those “who are of a celestial spirit.” What do you think it means to be “of a celestial spirit”?

Help students understand that those who are of a celestial spirit are individuals who live according to the law of the celestial kingdom. Remind the class that we know from Doctrine and Covenants 76 that the law of the celestial kingdom includes having a testimony of Jesus Christ, keeping the commandments, making and keeping covenants, overcoming by faith, and receiving the Holy Spirit of Promise (see D&C 76:50–53, 69–70).

  • In Doctrine and Covenants 88:28–29, how does the Lord describe the resurrected bodies of those who receive celestial glory?

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 88:30–31, if a person obeys only terrestrial or telestial law on earth, what type of body will he or she receive in the Resurrection? (Help students understand that our resurrected body will match in glory the type of spirit we have become.)

To help students further understand the doctrine that we receive glory according to the law we obey, invite them to work in groups of three or four to complete the following assignment. You could hand out copies of the instructions or write them on the board.

  1. 1.

    Discuss the following questions together: What are some benefits to obeying traffic laws? What are some consequences for disobeying traffic laws?

  2. 2.

    Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:34–35, and look for the consequences of living and refusing to live the laws of God. Discuss what you find.

  3. 3.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:40 describes qualities of people who will be drawn to the celestial kingdom. Study this verse together and identify the qualities. Then discuss what we can do to develop or strengthen these qualities in our lives.

After students have discussed these qualities in their groups, share your testimony of the light that fills our lives as we strive to live the Lord’s laws. Invite students to share how they have seen this truth manifest in their own lives. Help students apply what they have learned by asking them to write a goal that will help them live the law of the celestial kingdom and be blessed with these qualities. Invite a few students to share their goals with the class if they are comfortable doing so.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 88:3–4. “Another Comforter”

“Some have thought that the phrase ‘another Comforter’ in Doctrine and Covenants 88:3 refers to the Second Comforter, or a personal visit from the Savior. However, the Lord in this verse promised that this Comforter would ‘abide in your hearts.’ … The Comforter promised in Doctrine and Covenants 88 is ‘the Holy Spirit of promise’ (v. 3), ‘the promise which I give unto you of eternal life’ (v. 4)” (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001, 198).

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:

“The Holy Spirit of Promise is not the Second Comforter. The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost who places the stamp of approval upon every ordinance that is done righteously [D&C 132:7]; and when covenants are broken he removes the seal” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:55).

Doctrine and Covenants 88:6–13. The Light of Christ

“The Light of Christ ‘proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.’ It is ‘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 88:12–13; see also verses 6–11). This power is an influence for good in the lives of all people (see John 1:9; D&C 93:2). In the scriptures, the Light of Christ is sometimes called the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Life.

“The Light of Christ should not be confused with the Holy Ghost. It is not a personage, as the Holy Ghost is. Its influence leads people to find the true gospel, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see John 12:46; Alma 26:14–15).

“Conscience is a manifestation of the Light of Christ, enabling us to judge good from evil. The prophet Mormon taught: ‘The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. … And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged’ (Moroni 7:16, 18)” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 96).

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“To describe the Light of Christ, I will compare or liken it to the light of the sun. Sunlight is familiar to everyone; it is everywhere present and can be seen and can be felt. Life itself depends upon sunlight.

“The Light of Christ is like sunlight. It, too, is everywhere present and given to everyone equally.

“Just as darkness must vanish when the light of the sun appears, so is evil sent fleeing by the Light of Christ.

“There is no darkness in sunlight. Darkness is subject unto it. The sun can be hidden by clouds or by the rotation of the earth, but the clouds will disappear, and the earth will complete its turning. …

“The Light of Christ is as universal as sunlight itself. Wherever there is human life, there is the Spirit of Christ. Every living soul is possessed of it. It is the sponsor of everything that is good. It is the inspirer of everything that will bless and benefit mankind. It nourishes goodness itself” (“The Light of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 13).

Doctrine and Covenants 88:21–24, 34–35. We can choose to obey the law of the celestial kingdom

Elder Delbert L. Stapley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suggested a self-assessment of our obedience to celestial law:

“Perhaps it would be well for each of us to reassess ourselves to determine where we presently stand in relation to the fundamental law of the celestial kingdom—the law of obedience. The results should reveal to us which kingdom we have chosen as our goal. For instance:

  1. “1.

    Do I study and ponder the scriptures in an effort to know the will of God and understand His commandments regarding His children?

  2. “2.

    Do I follow the counsel of God’s living prophet, or do I merely select those things with which I agree, disregarding the others?

  3. “3.

    Do I seek the advice and counsel of my bishop and stake president on matters of concern to me and my family?

  4. “4.

    Am I earnestly striving to discipline myself, placing my physical appetites under the subjection of my will?

  5. “5.

    Am I making every effort to repent of past or present wrongdoings and correct them by doing right?

  6. “6.

    Do I have an attitude of faith in God even though I experience trials, adversity, and affliction? And do I bear my burden without a complaining spirit?

“Keeping the commandments of God is not a difficult burden when we do it out of love of Him who has so graciously blessed us. The Savior has implored us to ‘take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“‘For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matt. 11:29–30.)

“Our willingness to comply with the commandments of God is a witness of our faith in Him and our love for Him. A rebellious disposition cannot inherit the celestial kingdom” (“The Blessings of Righteous Obedience,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 20–21).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–13. Video presentation—“Light and Truth, Part 1”

Instead of using the activity in the lesson in which students list examples on the board of how the Light of Christ influences them daily, consider showing part of the video “Light and Truth, Part 1” (stop the video at time code 2:55). This video is available on Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs and on LDS.org. Before students watch the video, ask them to look for examples of how the Light of Christ helps God’s creations live, be governed, and receive understanding. After the video, ask them to report what they have learned.