Lesson 98: Doctrine and Covenants 93:21–53

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

This is the second of two lessons on Doctrine and Covenants 93. The Prophet Joseph Smith received this revelation on May 6, 1833. In the latter part of the revelation the Lord revealed important truths about our premortal existence. At the time this revelation was received, many people believed that our existence began at conception or at birth. This thinking is prevalent today as well. The Lord taught Joseph Smith that “man was also in the beginning with God” (D&C 93:29) and that our spirits are eternal. He also taught how we can receive truth and light and instructed the Prophet and other Church leaders to set their homes in order so their families could be strengthened and protected.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 93:21–39

The Lord instructs His servants on how to receive truth and light

Ask the students who are the firstborn child in their family to stand up.

  • What do you think are some of the responsibilities of being the firstborn?

Ask the students to be seated. Then invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 93:21–23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Jesus Christ revealed about Himself.

  • According to verse 21, what distinction does Jesus Christ have among all the spirit children of Heavenly Father? (Students should identify the following doctrine: Jesus Christ is the firstborn of all the spirit children of Heavenly Father.)

Explain that because Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of the Father, He is the “appointed heir” of all the Father has (Hebrews 1:2). However, He wants all of Heavenly Father’s children to share in this inheritance. We have the opportunity to be “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17) and be numbered among “the church of the Firstborn” (D&C 93:22; see also D&C 76:51–54). In this way we also can receive all that the Father has (see D&C 76:55; 84:37–38).

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 93:22, what must we do to be partakers of the glory of the Firstborn?

  • What does it mean to be begotten through Jesus Christ? (To be spiritually reborn and cleansed from all sin through the power of the Atonement.)

  • Notice in verse 21 that Jesus Christ said He was “in the beginning with the Father.” According to verse 23, who else was in the beginning with the Father? (The word ye in this verse refers to all of Heavenly Father’s spirit children. You might want to suggest that students replace the word ye in verse 23 with their own name and write it in the margin of their scriptures.)

Explain that while we lived with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the premortal life, we were taught by the Father and the Son and had the opportunity to accept or reject truth. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 93:24–26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord taught about truth in these verses.

  • What do you learn from the Lord’s definition of truth in verse 24?

  • Who is described in verse 25? (Satan.)

  • How does Satan seek to influence our knowledge of the truth? (The phrase “whatsoever is more or less than this” indicates that Satan seeks to distort and diminish our knowledge of the truth.)

  • What do we learn from verse 26 about Jesus Christ?

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 93:36–37 silently and identify additional truths the Lord revealed about light and truth.

  • What did the Lord reveal about light and truth in these verses? (Help students understand that light and truth, also called intelligence, are attributes of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.)

  • How do we benefit by receiving light and truth? (Students may give a variety of answers. As they respond, help them identify the following principle: By receiving light and truth, we can become like Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.)

Copy the accompanying diagram on the board, but do not include the statements in the two boxes. Students will discover these principles as the lesson progresses. You may want to invite students to copy the diagram in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

light and truth

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 93:26–28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what we must do to receive truth and light.

  • What must we do to receive truth and light? (Students should identify the following principle: We receive truth and light as we keep the commandments. Write this principle in the box on the right side of the diagram on the board.)

  • How does obeying the commandments help us receive truth and light?

  • When have you felt that you received truth and light by keeping the commandments?

Explain that when we lived with God before we were born, we had agency—the ability to choose and act for ourselves. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 93:29–32 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how our use of agency affects our ability to receive light and truth. Then ask students to report what they found.

  • According to verses 31–32, what is the consequence if we choose to not receive the light? (We place ourselves under condemnation. This means that we hinder our spiritual progression by refusing to receive the light that is available to us.)

    Invite students to ponder the following questions:
  • Can we lose light and truth we have already received? (To help students answer this question, invite them to search Doctrine and Covenants 93:39. You may also want to invite them to search Alma 12:10–11.)

  • What causes us to lose light and truth? (Students should identify the following principle: Disobedience and false traditions cause us to lose light and truth. Write this principle in the box on the left side of the diagram on the board.)

  • What are some examples of traditions, or activities commonly done by many people, that could cause us to lose light and truth from our Heavenly Father?

The following activity can help illustrate how our personal choices to obey or disobey God’s commandments affect our ability to receive light and truth or to lose it. Display the following information on the board, or copy it on a handout for each student. Invite a student to read the first paragraph aloud. Ask the class to explain how and why Maria’s choices would affect her ability to receive light and truth. After students report what they find, repeat this process with paragraphs 2–4.

  1. 1.

    Maria prays each morning and evening. She feels joy giving service, keeping her covenants, and searching the scriptures daily. She regularly helps gather her family together for family scripture study and prayer. She looks forward to partaking of the sacrament each week at church.

  2. 2.

    Maria prays and studies the scriptures often but not every day. She attends church most of the time and usually listens to those who speak and teach. She goes to Young Women activities if she knows that her friends will be there.

  3. 3.

    Maria prays if she is not tired or in a hurry. She helps around the house reluctantly and reads scriptures with the family only if it is convenient. She usually skips church and Young Women activities. She occasionally breaks the Word of Wisdom.

  4. 4.

    Maria never prays, reads the scriptures, or attends Church meetings. The bishop has asked to see her, but she will not speak to him. She often breaks the Word of Wisdom. She argues constantly with family members. She feels distant from Heavenly Father.

  • Based on these examples, how would you summarize the importance of our daily decisions and their effect on the light and truth we receive?

Doctrine and Covenants 93:40–53

The Lord counsels His servants to set their homes in order

    Invite students to discuss the following question with a partner:
  • How can your interactions with your parents or other family members help you to grow in light and truth?

After students have discussed the question, invite a few of them to share their responses with the class. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 93:40 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the responsibility God has given to parents.

  • What responsibility has God given to parents?

  • How do parents raise their children “in light and truth”?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 93:41–48 by explaining that the Lord instructed Frederick G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon, and Joseph Smith Jr. to do better at teaching their children light and truth and to set their families in order. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 93:49–50 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a warning that applies to our families.

  • What warning did the Lord give in these verses? (Help students identify the following principle: We must pray always and be diligent and concerned at home, or the wicked one will have power over us.)

  • What do you think it means to be “diligent and concerned at home”?

Point out that although this warning was given to fathers, it also applied to their families. Invite students to suggest ways that youth can be diligent and concerned at home. Invite a student to write responses from the class on the board.

Conclude this lesson by testifying of the doctrines and principles students learned in this lesson. Write the following questions on the board, and invite students to answer one of them in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

  1. 1.

    Identify one commandment you can obey more faithfully so that you can increase in light and truth. What will you do to be more faithful in keeping that commandment?

  2. 2.

    How can you be more diligent and concerned at home? Write a goal stating one way you will seek to improve during the next week.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 93:40–50. Raising up children in light and truth

The First Presidency gave the following counsel:

“We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility.

“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform” (First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999, quoted in Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 1.4.1).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Doctrine and Covenants 93:21–39. The Lord instructs His servants on how to receive truth and light

Instead of the using the activity about Maria, you may want to show the video “Light and Truth, Part 2.” This video is available on Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs and on LDS.org.