Lesson 96: Doctrine and Covenants 90–92

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

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.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 90:1–18

The Lord instructs the Presidency of the High Priesthood concerning their responsibilities

    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.

Doctrine and Covenants 90:19–37

The Lord instructs the Saints in Zion

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.

Vienna Jaques is an example of the faithfulness of many early Latter-day Saints. She was born June 10, 1787. After she met the missionaries in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, she traveled to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831. She stayed there six weeks and was baptized. Upon returning to Boston, Vienna helped bring several members of her family into the Church. She then “settled up her business, and went back to Kirtland to unite her interests forever with the Church” (“Home Affairs,” Woman’s Exponent, July 1, 1878, 21). In 1833 Vienna consecrated all her possessions, including $1,400, to the Church during a time when the money was desperately needed. She then traveled to Missouri to receive her inheritance in Zion. However, soon after she arrived she suffered persecution with the Saints. After being driven from her home in Missouri, she attended to the sick in Zion’s Camp. Heber C. Kimball wrote, “I received great kindness … from Sister Vienna Jaques, who administered to my wants and also to my brethren—may the Lord reward [her] for [her] kindness” (“Extracts from H. C. Kimball’s Journal,” Times and Seasons, Mar. 15, 1845, 839–40).

While in Missouri, Vienna married Daniel Shearer. She traveled west to Utah in 1847 and, at the age of 60, drove her own wagon across the plains. She settled in Salt Lake City and for the rest of her life worked hard to support herself and diligently study the scriptures. Vienna died on February 7, 1884, at the age of 96. Her obituary stated, “She was true to her covenants and esteemed the restoration of the Gospel as a priceless treasure” (“In Memoriam,” Woman’s Exponent, Mar. 1, 1884, 152). (See also Susan Easton Black, “Happiness in Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 12–14.)

    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?

Doctrine and Covenants 91

The Savior instructs Joseph Smith not to translate the Apocrypha

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?

  • How can the counsel in verses 4–6 help us with things we read? (Students should identify the following principle: The Holy Ghost can help us know if the things we read are true.)

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.

Doctrine and Covenants 92

Frederick G. Williams is to be received into the United Firm

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.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 90:24. “Search diligently”

The Lord admonished the Saints to “search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 90:24). President Harold B. Lee explained that this counsel would have been particularly meaningful for early Church leaders who had “little or no experience in Church administration” and who faced difficult challenges at the time this revelation was given (Stand Ye in Holy Places: Selected Sermons and Writings of President Harold B. Lee [1974], 197). He further explained what it means to “search diligently”:

“Diligence means to be industrious, the opposite of being lazy or careless or indifferent. In other words, they must search to know the doctrines of the Church, and they must search to know the instructions that had been given concerning Church procedures” (Stand Ye In Holy Places, 198).

Doctrine and Covenants 90:25–27. Are the Saints to keep their families “small”?

In Doctrine and Covenants 90:25–27, “the Lord warns His servants, particularly the Prophet’s father, to let their families be small in order that the substance provided for them by the Church be not used up by the unworthy (vs. 25), who were prone to take advantage of a situation. When the Lord advises them to let their families be small, He does not mean their immediate children; the visitors and hangers-on who had a tendency to take advantage of the brethren’s open houses and open hearts are the ones meant. The brethren would not be hindered in accomplishing the Lord’s work if they watched this matter” (Sidney B. Sperry, Doctrine and Covenants Compendium [1960], 462; see also Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2001], 214).

Doctrine and Covenants 91:4–6. The Holy Ghost can help us know if the things we read are true

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught:

“Never in the history of the world have we had easier access to more information—some of it true, some of it false, and much of it partially true.

“Consequently, never in the history of the world has it been more important to learn how to correctly discern between truth and error. …

“The Holy Ghost is a revelator. He is the Comforter, who teaches us ‘the truth of all things; [who] knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment’ [Moses 6:61]. …

“The Witness of truth from the Holy Ghost is available to all, everywhere, all around the globe. All who seek to know the truth, who study it out in their minds [see D&C 9:8], and who ‘ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, [will know] the truth … by the power of the Holy Ghost’ [Moroni 10:4].” (“What Is Truth?” [Church Educational System devotional address, Jan. 13, 2013], 3, 6; speeches.byu.edu).