On December 26, 1835, Lyman Sherman, a faithful member of Zion’s Camp and one of the seven Presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy, acted on a spiritual impression to ask the Prophet Joseph Smith for direction regarding his duty. Doctrine and Covenants 108 contains the revelation given to Lyman through the Prophet.
Suggestions for Teaching
The Lord forgives Lyman Sherman for his sins
Begin class by asking the following questions:
Have you ever been prompted by the Spirit to do something? What blessings did you receive when you obeyed the Spirit’s promptings?
Invite students to silently read the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 108, looking for who came to the Prophet requesting a revelation.
Invite a student to read aloud the following information about Lyman Sherman:
Lyman Sherman was a faithful member of the Church who had served in Zion’s Camp and had been called as one of the seven Presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy. The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded in his journal that on December 26, 1835, “Brother Lyman Sherman came in, and requested to have the word of the Lord through me; ‘for,’ said he, ‘I have been wrought upon to make known to you my feelings and desires, and was promised that I should have a revelation which should make known my duty’” (in History of the Church, 2:345; see also Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, vol. 1 of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers , 137).
What do you think Lyman meant when he said he had been “wrought upon” to talk to Joseph Smith?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 108:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the blessing the Lord gave Lyman Sherman because he obeyed the prompting to talk with the Prophet. Ask students to report what they find.
Based on what the Lord revealed to Lyman Sherman, what blessing do we invite into our lives as we willingly obey the voice of the Lord? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: As we obey the Lord’s voice, we invite His forgiveness. You may want to write this principle on the board.)
Why do you think obeying promptings from the Lord invites forgiveness?
To help students understand this principle, explain that the Lord’s voice can be heard through the scriptures, the words of His latter-day prophets, and the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Obeying God includes filling our lives with righteous activities that bring spiritual power. Invite a student to read aloud the following explanation from True to the Faith: “Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life, including increased strength to overcome your weaknesses. This obedience includes actions you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. The Lord promised, ‘He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven’ (D&C 1:32)” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 135).
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 108:2 silently and look for the Lord’s counsel to Lyman Sherman after he was told his sins were forgiven. Invite students to report what they find.
What do you think it means to “let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing”?
How do you think the counsel to “resist no more [the Lord’s] voice” could help someone let their soul be at rest?
Ask students to identify a principle from Doctrine and Covenants 108:1–2 about what the Lord’s forgiveness brings. (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize the following: The Lord’s forgiveness brings rest to our souls.)
Point out that repentant people sometimes wonder if they have been forgiven of their sins when they still feel weighed down by them. Invite a student to read the following statements. Ask the class to listen for counsel for those who may struggle to let their souls be at rest.
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“[The] great morning of forgiveness may not come at once. Do not give up if at first you fail. Often the most difficult part of repentance is to forgive yourself. Discouragement is part of that test. Do not give up. That brilliant morning will come.
“Then ‘the peace of God, which passeth … understanding’ comes into your life once again. [Philip. 4:7.] Then you, like Him, will remember your sins no more. How will you know? You will know! [See Mosiah 4:1–3.]” (“The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 20).
How would you describe what it feels like to let your soul be at rest?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 108:3 silently and look for further counsel the Lord gave to Lyman Sherman.
What counsel did the Lord give Brother Sherman? (To “arise up and be more careful henceforth in observing [his] vows.” The word observing here means to comply with or to obey. A vow is a promise or a covenant.)
What are some vows we make?
Invite students to consider how they can be “more careful henceforth” in observing their vows. If time permits, invite them to write how they can more carefully observe their vows.
Ask a few students to explain how the truths they have identified in Doctrine and Covenants 108:1–3 could encourage them or a friend or a family member to obey the Lord’s voice and obtain forgiveness.
Invite students to ponder how they can apply these principles and feel at rest concerning their spiritual standing before the Lord.
The Lord gives Lyman Sherman additional counsel and promises
Ask students if they have heard of a solemn assembly. If any have, ask them to explain what they understand it to be. If they need help, explain that a solemn assembly is a special gathering for “the dedication of temples, special instruction to priesthood leaders, and sustaining a new President of the Church” (David B. Haight, “Solemn Assemblies,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 14). In December 1832, the Lord promised the Saints that if they would build a temple and hold a solemn assembly, He would bestow great blessings on the Saints (see D&C 88:70–75, 117–119). In December 1835, when the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 108 was given to Lyman Sherman, the Kirtland Temple was only three months away from being dedicated. Between January and May 1836, a number of meetings were held in Kirtland, some of which were classified as solemn assemblies. During the week of March 27, 1836, solemn assemblies were held as part of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, including a solemn assembly to give special instruction to priesthood leaders held on March 30, 1836.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 108:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord promised Lyman he would receive at the solemn assembly.
What did the Lord tell Lyman Sherman he would receive?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 108:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the instructions the Lord gave to Brother Sherman. Ask students to report what they find. You may need to explain that exhortations are words of advice or encouragement.
In what ways did the Lord want Lyman Sherman to strengthen his brethren?
Ask students to identify truths in Doctrine and Covenants 108:7–8. They may identify a variety of truths, including the following: We are to strengthen others in all our conversations and actions. You may want to suggest that students mark this truth in their scriptures.
How can you strengthen those around you in your conversations? How can you strengthen those around you by your actions?
Ask students to describe an experience when someone strengthened them in a way the Lord counseled Lyman Sherman in verse 7.
Invite students to think of one person they can strengthen today and a specific action they will take to do so.
Inform students that Lyman Sherman remained faithful until he died. The Prophet Joseph Smith, who was in Liberty Jail, called and appointed Lyman to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on January 16, 1839, but Lyman died before receiving the letter from the Prophet about his new calling.
Conclude by sharing an experience when someone strengthened you or when you strengthened someone else.
Divide the class into groups of four or five. Give each group one pencil and one six-sided die. (If dice are not available, adapt the activity by placing six small pieces of paper, labeled 1 through 6, in an envelope or other container.) Also provide a blank piece of paper for each student. Invite each group to open their scriptures to Doctrine and Covenants 107:8 or another scripture mastery passage they are memorizing. Explain that the object of the activity is to be the first person in the group to write the passage on his or her paper. However, because there is only one pencil per group, only one person can write at a time. A person qualifies to use the pencil by rolling a 1 with the die (or selecting the piece of paper with the number 1 written on it). Invite the members of each group to take turns rolling the die (or pulling a piece of paper from the container and then returning it). When a person rolls (or selects) a 1, he or she begins writing, saying each word while writing. The others in the group continue to take turns rolling the die (or selecting pieces of paper). When another student in the group gets a 1, that person takes the pencil from the previous writer and begins writing the verse while saying the words. When a student gets another turn with the pencil after writing a portion of the verse, he or she must read aloud the portion already written before writing more of the verse. The activity ends when one student from each of the groups finishes writing the scripture mastery passage.
Ask the class to repeat the verse in unison after the activity.
Commentary and Background Information
Doctrine and Covenants 108:1–2. “Your sins are forgiven … let your soul be at rest”
President Harold B. Lee taught:
“If the time comes when you have done all that you can to repent of your sins, whoever you are, wherever you are, and have made amends and restitution to the best of your ability … , then you will want that confirming answer as to whether or not the Lord has accepted of you. In your soul-searching, if you seek for and you find that peace of conscience, by that token you may know that the Lord has accepted of your repentance” (Stand Ye in Holy Places , 185).
Doctrine and Covenants 108:3. “Be more careful henceforth in observing your vows”
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified of blessings that come from keeping covenants:
“As you trust [the Lord], seek and follow His will, you will receive blessings that your finite mind cannot understand here on earth. Your Father in Heaven and His Holy Son know better than you what brings happiness. They have given you the plan of happiness. As you understand and follow it, happiness will be your blessing. As you willingly obey, receive, and honor the ordinances and covenants of that holy plan, you can have the greatest measure of satisfaction in this life. Yes, even times of overpowering happiness. You will prepare yourself for an eternity of glorious life with your loved ones who qualify for that kingdom” (“Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 18).
Doctrine and Covenants 108:6. “You shall have right to preach my gospel wheresoever I shall send you”
Lyman Sherman was one of the seven Presidents of the Quorum of the Seventy. While instructing the members of the Seventy on March 30, 1836, regarding their call to preach the gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith said:
“The Seventies are at liberty to go to Zion if they please or go wheresoever they will and preach the gospel. Let the redemption of Zion be our object, and strive to affect it by sending up all the strength of the Lord’s house wherever we find them” (Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, vol. 1 of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers , 215; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization standardized; see also History of the Church, 2:432).