Lesson 123: Doctrine and Covenants 115–116

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

On April 26, 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 115. In it the Lord revealed the name of the Church, commanded the Saints to “arise and shine forth” (D&C 115:5), and revealed His will concerning the temple in Far West. On May 19, 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 116, which identified Spring Hill, Missouri, as Adam-ondi-Ahman.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 115:1–6

The Lord commands the members of His Church to “arise and shine forth”

Before class, write the following questions on the board:

  1. 1.

    What does the name of the organization communicate?

  2. 2.

    Who leads the organization?

  3. 3.

    What does the organization do?

Display the names or logos of several appropriate companies or organizations with which your students are likely familiar. Pause after you show each one, and ask students to answer the questions written on the board.

Show the name and logo of the Church. Invite students to look for answers to the questions on the board regarding the name of the Church as they study Doctrine and Covenants 115.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 115:1–3 by explaining that this revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to the men named in verses 1–2 and to all members of the Church. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 115:4 silently, looking for the name the Lord designated for His Church. As students report what they find, write the name of the Church on the board as follows:

The

Church of Jesus Christ

of Latter-day

Saints

To help students understand the significance of the name of the Church, invite students to discuss with a partner what they think each word or phrase listed on the board signifies. After sufficient time, ask a few students to share their insights concerning the meaning of each word or phrase. If students need help, you may want to read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“The word The indicates the unique position of the restored Church among the religions of the world.

“The words Church of Jesus Christ declare that it is His Church. …

Of Latter-day explains that it is the same Church as the Church that Jesus Christ established during His mortal ministry but restored in these latter days. …

Saints … simply refers to those who seek to make their lives holy by covenanting to follow Christ” (“The Importance of a Name,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 80).

  • What are some important truths communicated by the name of the Church?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 115:5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord expects of those who belong to His Church.

  • What does the Lord expect of us as members of His Church?

  • What do you think it means to “arise and shine forth” as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

  • According to verse 5, what blessing will come as members of the Church follow the Lord’s counsel to arise and shine forth? (Students should identify the following principle: If we arise and shine forth, our light will be a standard for the nations. You may want to suggest that students mark this principle in verse 5.)

To help students better understand this principle, ask the following questions:

  • What do you think it means that our light, or example, can be a “standard for the nations”? (A standard is a flag or banner that serves as a rallying point or inspirational symbol. Our example as Church members can inspire others and draw them to the Lord.)

  • How can following the Savior’s commandment to arise and shine forth attract others to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

To help students understand how our light can help others, invite a student to read the following account shared by President James E. Faust of the First Presidency:

President James E. Faust

“Some years ago, Constance, a student nurse, was assigned to try and help a woman who had injured her leg in an accident. The woman refused medical help because she had had a negative experience with someone at the hospital. She was afraid and had become something of a recluse. The first time Constance dropped by, the injured woman ordered her out. On the second try, she did let Constance in. By now the woman’s leg was covered with large ulcers, and some of the flesh was rotting. But still she didn’t want to be treated.

“Constance made it a matter of prayer, and in a day or two the answer came. She took some foaming hydrogen peroxide with her for the next visit. As this was painless, the old woman let her use it on her leg. Then they talked about more serious treatment at the hospital. Constance assured her the hospital would make her stay as pleasant as possible. In a day or two the woman did get the courage to enter the hospital. When Constance visited her, the woman smiled as she said, ‘You convinced me.’ Then, quite unexpectedly, she asked Constance, ‘What church do you belong to?’ Constance told her she was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The woman said: ‘I knew it. I knew you were sent to me from the first day that I saw you. There was a light in your face that I had noticed in others of your faith. I had to put my trust in you.’

“In three months’ time that festering leg was completely healed. Members of the ward where the old woman lived remodeled her house and fixed up her yard. The missionaries met with her, and she was baptized soon after [see Constance Polve, “A Battle Won,” New Era, Apr. 1980, 44–45]. All of this because she noticed the light in that young student nurse’s face” (“The Light in Their Eyes,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 22).

  • What did Constance do to “arise and shine forth”?

  • How was the light in Constance’s face a standard for the injured woman?

To help students feel the truth and importance of this principle, invite them to think of a person they know who is a good example of arising and shining forth. Invite a few students to share who they thought of and how that person’s example has been a blessing to them. As you listen to their answers, ask follow-up questions that will prompt students to share more of what they are thinking and feeling.

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they will do to be more of a standard to those around them.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 115:6 aloud. Ask the class to look for blessings that are promised to those who gather with the Church in the stakes of Zion.

  • What blessings are promised to those who gather to the stakes of Zion? (After students have responded, write the following truth on the board: We gather to the stakes of Zion for defense and for refuge.)

  • What do we need to defend ourselves against? What do we need refuge from? In what ways have you seen that gathering together as Saints helps us defend ourselves and find refuge?

Invite students to consider someone they know who would benefit from gathering with the Saints. Encourage students to let their light shine so others can be led to the peace, safety, and refuge that is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Doctrine and Covenants 115:7–19

The Lord commands the Saints to establish the city of Far West and to build a temple

Explain that one of the ways we can obtain the Lord’s protection and safety is by worshipping Him in the temple. After the Saints began moving to Far West, Missouri, in 1836, Church leaders made plans to build a temple similar to the one in Kirtland, Ohio. Even though some preliminary excavation was done, further construction was suspended until Joseph Smith could receive additional instruction from the Lord. The Lord revealed His will concerning the temple as part of the revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 115.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 115:7–16 by explaining that the Lord revealed that a temple should be built in Far West according to the pattern He would give to the First Presidency. The Lord also counseled the leaders of the Church not to go into debt to build the temple.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 115:17–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord wanted the Saints to do under Joseph Smith’s direction in Far West and in the neighboring regions.

  • What did the Lord want the Saints to do in Far West? What were they to do under Joseph Smith’s direction in the regions surrounding Far West?

  • According to verse 19, what qualifies the President of the Church today to direct the Lord’s work on the earth? (Students should identify the following doctrine: The President of the Church holds the keys to direct the Lord’s work upon the earth. You may want to suggest that students mark the words that teach this doctrine in verse 19.)

Refer students to the questions on the board, and ask them to explain how they would answer them based on what they have learned in Doctrine and Covenants 115.

Doctrine and Covenants 116:1

The Lord identifies Adam-ondi-Ahman as the location of a future meeting between the Lord and His people

Explain that Joseph Smith followed the Lord’s counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 115:18 and explored the areas surrounding Far West. Invite a student to read the section introduction for Doctrine and Covenants 116 aloud, and ask students to look for the name of the location Joseph explored.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 116:1 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the Lord revealed about Spring Hill, Missouri. You may want to instruct students to turn to the map and picture of Adam-ondi-Ahman in the back of their scriptures (see Church History Maps, Map 5, “The Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa Area of the USA” and Church History Photographs, Photo 10, “Adam-ondi-Ahman”).

Explain that this revelation identifies the location of the future fulfillment of a prophecy made anciently by the prophet Daniel (see Daniel 7:9–10, 13–14). That prophecy describes a latter-day event in which the Savior and Adam will visit the earth and preside over a meeting prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to all the world (see D&C 27:5–14). Consider concluding the lesson by inviting students to sing the hymn “Adam-ondi-Ahman” (Hymns, no. 49).

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 115:11–12. The temple at Far West

Although the Saints were willing to build the temple at Far West, they were unable to do so. According to the Lord’s commandment, they laid the cornerstones on July 4, 1838. But they were not able to finish building the temple beginning on April 26, 1839, as the Lord had instructed (see D&C 115:11), because they were forced to flee the state of Missouri in February of that year. However, several apostles returned to the temple site on April 26, 1839, in obedience to the revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 118:5, as they departed for their missions to England.

Doctrine and Covenants 116:1. What is the meaning of “Adam-ondi-Ahman”?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

Ahman is one of the names by which God was known to Adam. Adam-ondi-Ahman, a name carried over from the pure Adamic language into English, is one for which we have not been given a revealed, literal translation. As near as we can judge—and this view comes down from the early brethren who associated with the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was the first one to use the name in this dispensation—Adam-ondi-Ahman means the place or land of God where Adam dwelt” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 19–20).

Doctrine and Covenants 116:1. “Adam shall come to visit his people”

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught about the time when Adam will come to visit his people:

“This gathering of the children of Adam, where the thousands, and the tens of thousands are assembled in the judgment, will be one of the greatest events this troubled earth has ever seen. At this conference, or council, all who have held keys of dispensations will render a report of their stewardship. Adam will do likewise, and then he will surrender to Christ all authority. Then Adam will be confirmed in his calling as the prince over his posterity and will be officially installed and crowned eternally in this presiding calling. Then Christ will be received as King of kings, and Lord of lords. We do not know how long a time this gathering will be in session, or how many sessions may be held at this grand council. It is sufficient to know that it is a gathering of the Priesthood of God from the beginning of this earth down to the present, in which reports will be made and all who have been given dispensations (talents) will declare their keys and ministry and make report of their stewardship according to the parable. Judgment will be rendered unto them for this is a gathering of the righteous, those who have held and who hold keys of authority in the Kingdom of God upon this earth. It is not to be the judgment of the wicked. When all things are prepared and every key and power set in order with a full and perfect report of each man’s stewardship, then Christ will receive these reports and be installed as rightful Ruler of this earth. At this grand council he will take his place by the united voice of the thousands who by right of Priesthood are there assembled. This will precede the great day of destruction of the wicked and will be the preparation for the Millennial Reign” (The Progress of Man [1952], 481–82).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“He [Christ] will come in private to his prophet and to the apostles then living. Those who have held keys and powers and authorities in all ages from Adam to the present will also be present. And further, all the faithful members of the Church then living and all the faithful saints of all the ages past will be present. It will be the greatest congregation of faithful saints ever assembled on planet earth. It will be a sacrament meeting. It will be a day of judgment for the faithful of all the ages. And it will take place in Daviess County, Missouri, at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [1982], 578–79).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Doctrine and Covenants 115:1–6. Joseph Smith’s example

As part of the discussion about Doctrine and Covenants 115:1–6, you may want to point out that Joseph Smith was a powerful example of what it means to arise and shine forth. At the time he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 115, he experienced intense opposition and persecution because of his role as the Lord’s chosen prophet. In the midst of these difficulties, he desired to help the public know the truth. He began efforts to write and publish his history and testimony. These writings are now part of the Pearl of Great Price, and they include this witness to the world: “Though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; … I knew it and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it” (Joseph Smith—History 1:25).

  • How is Joseph Smith’s willingness to share his testimony of the Restoration of the gospel an example and light to the nations? How have his example and testimony influenced you?

Doctrine and Covenants 115:1–6. Video presentation—“195 Dresses”

Instead of using President Faust’s account about the student nurse, you may want to show the video “195 Dresses” (see LDS.org), which teaches how one young woman’s example of modesty has been a light, or standard, for others.