Lesson 94: Doctrine and Covenants 88:118–141

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

This is the last of four lessons discussing Doctrine and Covenants 88. The revelation was given at a conference of high priests on December 27–28, 1832 (verses 1–126) and January 3, 1833 (verses 127–141). This lesson covers Doctrine and Covenants 88:118–141. In this portion of the revelation, the Lord commanded a group of priesthood holders to organize the School of the Prophets under the direction of Joseph Smith. Those participating in the school were to learn together by study and by faith and to show love and friendship toward each other.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 88:118–126

The Lord describes a pattern of learning

    Begin by discussing the following questions:
  • What are you learning about right now at school? At home? At work? At church?

  • How is learning about school subjects such as math or science different from learning the gospel? How might it be the same?

Explain that in Kirtland, Ohio, in January 1833, a group of priesthood holders followed the Lord’s command to meet together in what was called the School of the Prophets to prepare themselves to preach the gospel throughout earth. As they met, the Lord taught these brethren how to be edified, or uplifted, through the Spirit as they learned together. Invite students to look for principles about learning as they study Doctrine and Covenants 88:118–141 today.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:118 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how the members of the School of the Prophets were to seek learning.

  • How were these brethren to seek learning?

  • What do you think it means to learn “by study and also by faith”?

To help students understand what it means to learn by faith, invite one of them to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder David A. Bednar

“Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. …

“… Learning by faith cannot be transferred from an instructor to a student through a lecture, a demonstration, or an experiential exercise; rather, a student must exercise faith and act in order to obtain the knowledge for himself or herself” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 64).

Explain that we can learn by faith when we actively and prayerfully engage in learning opportunities and then act on what we learn. We learn as we exercise our faith through obedience.

  • Notice at the beginning of verse 118 that the Lord indicated some did not have faith. What can we learn from this verse about how to increase our faith? (Help students identify a principle similar to the following: If we actively seek to learn through study and faith, our faith in Jesus Christ will increase. You may want to write this principle on the board.)

To help students understand some circumstances in which they could apply this principle in their lives, read aloud the following situations. After reading each one, ask students to explain how the person could actively seek to learn by study and by faith. Also ask them to explain how doing so would help the person increase in faith.

  1. 1.

    A young woman regularly reads the scriptures, but she rarely pauses to think about what she is reading. She does not feel that reading the scriptures benefits her very much.

  2. 2.

    A young man attends his Church meetings and enjoys participating in class discussions. Sometimes he feels prompted to make changes in his life based on what he learns, but he usually does not act on those promptings.

    After the class has discussed these situations, ask the following questions:
  • When have you felt your faith increase as a result of actively seeking to learn by study and by faith? How did your actions help your faith to increase?

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:119–120 silently and look for what the Lord told the Saints to do. Ask students to report what they find.

Explain that in response to the commandment to build the house described in verse 119, the Saints eventually built the Kirtland Temple. While the temple was under construction, the School of the Prophets met in the upper room of Newel K. Whitney’s store in Kirtland.

  • How might the counsel in verse 119 also relate to the place where the brethren met for the School of the Prophets? To our homes? To your personal efforts to study in school? (The School of the Prophets was patterned after the principles taught in this verse. Our homes can be places of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, and order.)

Divide the class into pairs. Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 88:121–126 with their partners and identify how the Lord expected the brethren in the School of the Prophets to conduct themselves. You may want to suggest that they mark what they discover. As students are studying these verses, write the following instructions on the board for each partnership to complete together after they search the passage:

Decide which items of counsel are especially helpful for youth who are seeking to learn the gospel. Discuss why you think these actions are important in helping someone learn the gospel.

After students have had enough time to read and discuss the Lord’s counsel, invite a few students to explain what they learned in their discussions. As they respond, consider using some of the following questions and explanations to help them understand some of the Lord’s counsel:

  • What do you think it means to “cease from all your light speeches, … laughter, … and light-mindedness” (verse 121)? Why might refraining from doing these things in spiritual settings be helpful in our efforts to learn things that are sacred?

Explain that the meetings for the School of the Prophets were to be sacred. These instructions concerning laughter and lightness of speech meant that those participating in the School of the Prophets needed to be reverent in sacred settings. These meetings would eventually occur in the temple.

  • Notice the repetition of the word all in verse 122. How could a class be affected if all of the students participated in the lesson and tried to learn from each other?

  • How do you think sleeping “longer than is needful” affects our ability to learn or to feel the Spirit? In what ways do you think getting a proper amount of sleep and rising early can help us learn better?

  • How would you summarize the counsel about learning given in Doctrine and Covenants 88:118–126? (Students may identify a variety of principles. After they respond, write the following principle on the board: Doing righteous actions and ceasing unrighteous ones will help us to learn and be edified.)

  • Which of the behaviors mentioned in the verses could our seminary class either adopt or give up so we can better learn the gospel and be edified together?

Invite students to look back through Doctrine and Covenants 88:121–126 and ponder what counsel they need to adopt more fully in their lives. Encourage them to write down a goal to act on what they have learned.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:127–141

The Lord sets forth the order of the School of the Prophets

Invite students to come to the board and list some settings where they study the gospel. (Answers might include the following: Sunday School, Young Women class or priesthood quorum, seminary, and home.) Ask students to consider if there are people in these settings whom they do not know very well or whom they struggle to get along with. Invite them to think about one of these people as they study Doctrine and Covenants 88:127–141. Ask them to ponder the following question:

  • How does my relationship with those I learn the gospel with affect my ability to learn and be edified by the Spirit?

Explain that the Lord expected the members of the School of the Prophets to establish good relationships with each other as they learned together. Invite a few students to take turns reading from Doctrine and Covenants 88:128–134 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the teacher’s role in establishing a spiritual learning environment in the School of the Prophets.

  • How was the teacher of the School of the Prophets to establish a spiritual learning environment? (You may want to explain that the teacher saluting the members of the class means that he greeted them as they entered. This was a specific greeting in the School of the Prophets.)

  • What do you notice about the salutation or greeting in verse 133?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:135–137 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the student’s role in establishing a good learning environment.

  • What kind of relationship were the members of the School of the Prophets to have with each other?

  • According to verse 137, what did the Lord promise if the members of the School of the Prophets would follow His instructions? (The school would become a sanctuary where the Spirit could edify them.)

  • What can happen in our Church classes or homes if we follow the Lord’s instruction in verses 128–137? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but you may want to emphasize the following: If we show friendship and love to each other, then we can invite the Spirit as we study the gospel together.)

Invite students to look again at the salutation in Doctrine and Covenants 88:133.

  • How do you think we can show “determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be [a] friend” to class or family members whom we may not know well or may struggle to love?

  • When have you experienced a gospel-learning environment where everyone was determined to be friends? (Consider sharing your own experience.)

Invite students to think about how they can develop a determination to love those they learn the gospel with. Encourage them to follow any promptings they have felt to show greater kindness and love toward classmates and family members. Testify that the Lord will help them as they strive to love others.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Doctrine and Covenants 88:124

To help students memorize the behaviors mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 88:124, invite them to write on a piece of paper each phrase of the passage in a list. Invite students to work with a partner, repeating the list of behaviors until they can recite them from memory. Invite students to recite the scripture mastery passage in their minds each time they attend a seminary or Church class or a family home evening for the next month.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 88:118. “Seek learning, even by study and also by faith”

President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency taught:

“I believe in study. I believe that men learn much through study. As a matter of fact, it has been my observation that they learn little concerning things as they are, as they were, or as they are to come without study. I also believe, however, and know, that learning by study is greatly accelerated by faith” (Learning for the Eternities [1977], 72).

Doctrine and Covenants 88:121. “Cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter”

According to Doctrine and Covenants 88, the members of the School of the Prophets were to cease from all lightness in speech, laughter, and lustful desires because their meetings were to be sacred and would eventually take place in the temple. This does not mean that laughter in itself is sinful. With regard to laughter, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:

“You can have a good time. Of course you can! We want you to have fun. We want you to enjoy life. … We want you to be robust and cheerful, to sing and dance, to laugh and be happy.

“But in so doing, be humble and be prayerful, and the smiles of heaven will fall upon you” (“A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” Ensign, Jan. 2001, 11).

Doctrine and Covenants 88:138–141. The washing of feet

As brethren who held the priesthood joined the School of the Prophets, they were received by the ordinance of washing of feet, which was to be done by the Prophet, following the example of Jesus Christ described in John 13. Regarding this ordinance, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“Washing of feet is a gospel ordinance; it is a holy and sacred rite, one performed by the saints in the seclusion of their temple sanctuaries. It is not done before the world or for worldly people. For his day and dispensation Jesus instituted it in the upper room at the time of the Last Supper.

“‘Our Lord did two things in the performance of this ordinance: 1. He fulfilled the old law given to Moses; and 2. He instituted a sacred ordinance which should be performed by legal administrators among his true disciples from that day forward.

“‘As part of the restoration of all things, the ordinance of washing of feet has been restored in the dispensation of the fulness of times. …

“‘The knowledge relative to the washing of feet has been revealed step by step in this day until a full knowledge is now incorporated in the revealed ordinances of the Lord’s house’ (Mormon Doctrine, [2nd ed. (1966), 829, 831])” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:708, 710).