On March 8, 1833, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 90. This revelation contains instructions to the Presidency of the High Priesthood and was “a continuing step” in the development of the First Presidency (see the section introduction). On March 9, 1833, Joseph Smith inquired whether he should include the Apocrypha in his translation of the Bible. The Lord responded to Joseph Smith’s inquiry through the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 91 and told him it was not needful to translate it. Just a few days later, on March 15, 1833, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 92, instructing Frederick G. Williams, one of the counselors to Joseph Smith, to be an active member of the United Firm, which had been established to oversee the welfare and business affairs of the Church.
Begin the lesson by asking the following question:
What is the most valuable gift you have ever received? Why is it valuable?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 90:1–3 aloud, and ask the class to look for something valuable that the Lord had given to Joseph Smith.
What did Joseph Smith hold? (The keys of the kingdom, which means the rights of presidency, or the power God gives man to govern and direct His kingdom on the earth.) Why is that valuable?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 90:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify the warning the Lord gave the Saints. (You may need to explain that as used in verses 4–5, the word oracles refers to revelations from God through His prophets.)
What warning did the Lord give the Saints? What principle can we learn from this warning? (Students’ responses should reflect the following principle: If we treat lightly the revelations God gives through His prophets, we will stumble and fall. You may want to write this principle on the board.)
What do you think it means to treat the revelations God gives through His prophets “as a light thing”? What are some examples of revelations people might be tempted to treat lightly?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 90:6 silently, looking for who else the Lord said would hold the keys of the kingdom. Ask students to report what they found.
Explain that on March 18, 1833, ten days after section 90 was given, Joseph Smith set apart Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams as counselors in the Presidency of the High Priesthood, which would later be called the First Presidency of the Church.
What doctrine can we learn from verse 6? (Students’ responses should reflect the following doctrine: The First Presidency holds the keys of the kingdom. Make sure students understand that although each member of the First Presidency holds the keys of the kingdom, the President of the Church is the only one who can receive revelation for the whole Church.)
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 90:7–10 by explaining that the First Presidency was instructed to prepare the members of the School of the Prophets to preach the gospel throughout the world. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 90:11 silently and consider how this verse is being fulfilled today. Ask students to report what they learned.
You may also want to summarize Doctrine and Covenants 90:12–18. These verses teach that the Prophet Joseph Smith and his counselors were to set in order the affairs of the Church.
You may want to testify that the First Presidency holds the keys of the kingdom and share your feelings about the importance of heeding their words.
Explain that when Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 90, he and other Church leaders were in a difficult situation because of the Church’s lack of financial resources.
What do you do when circumstances in your life become very difficult?
Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 90:19–37 contains the Lord’s instructions to early Church leaders on how to handle the difficult circumstances they faced. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 90:24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify counsel that could comfort individuals going through difficult times.
What counsel in verse 24 could comfort individuals going through difficult times? How would you state the Lord’s message in this verse as a principle? (Students’ responses should reflect the following principle: If we will search diligently, pray always, believe, and keep our covenants, all things will work together for our good.)
What do you think it means that all things will work together for our good?
When have you sought to be faithful during a difficult time and felt blessed as a result?
Explain that one Church member who demonstrated great faithfulness during difficult times was Vienna Jaques. Assign students to work in pairs. Give each student a copy of the following information about Vienna Jaques. Invite the partners to study Doctrine and Covenants 90:28–31 together and identify the specific instructions the Lord gave to Vienna. Next, ask them to study the handout and look for ways Vienna was faithful.
When the pairs have finished reading, discuss the following questions with the class:
How did Vienna Jaques fulfill the instructions the Lord gave her? What impresses you about Vienna Jaques?
What did you learn from what you read about Vienna Jaques?
If possible, display a few different sources of written information such as a book, a newspaper or magazine, or a mobile device.
How can you know if something you read in these sources is true?
Explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 91 instructed Joseph Smith how to discern if something he was reading was true. Invite a student to read the section introduction aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Joseph was doing at the time he received this revelation. Invite them to report what they found.
Explain that the Apocrypha is a collection of sacred books of the Jewish people that were not originally included in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) but were included in the Greek translation of the Bible shortly before the time of Christ. Some of the books bridge the time periods between the Old Testament and the New Testament. When early Christians compiled the books of the Bible centuries later, they included the books of the Apocrypha, but there were questions about whether they belonged as part of the scriptures. The copy of the Bible Joseph Smith was using to create his inspired translation contained the Apocrypha. However, because the validity of the Apocrypha was in question, Joseph asked the Lord if his translation of the Bible should include these books.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 91:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to look for what Joseph Smith learned about the Apocrypha. (You may need to explain that an interpolation is material that has been inserted in a manuscript, sometimes resulting in the corruption of the original text.)
After students report what they found, invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 91:4–6 aloud. Ask students to identify how Joseph Smith could know what was true in the Apocrypha.
How could Joseph know what was true in the Apocrypha?
You may want to invite students to share an experience they have had when they have felt the Holy Ghost confirm that something they read was true.
Explain that the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 92 instructed Church leaders who were part of the United Firm (also called the United Order) to accept Frederick G. Williams into the firm. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 92:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify how the Lord wanted Frederick G. Williams to act as a member of the firm. Ask students to report what they found.
What do you think it means that Frederick G. Williams was to be “a lively member”?
What can you do to be a lively member of the Church today?
What principle can we learn from verse 2 about the blessings promised to the faithful? (Students’ responses should reflect the following principle: If we are faithful in keeping the Lord’s commandments, then we will be blessed forever.)
Conclude with your testimony of the importance of the doctrines and principles identified in this lesson.