Lesson 132: Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–83

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

On January 19, 1841, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo, Illinois. In this revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124, the Lord explained the blessings that would be available to the Saints if they would be diligent in building the temple. The Lord also commanded the Saints to build a house where travelers could stay in Nauvoo.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–41, 56–83

The Lord commands the Saints to build a temple and a house for visitors in Nauvoo

Before class, write the following question on the board: What is something you have accomplished that required a significant amount of time, effort, or sacrifice on your part? As students arrive, ask them to be prepared to respond to this question. After the devotional, ask a few students to share their responses with the class.

  • Why was your accomplishment worth the time, effort, or sacrifice it required?

Explain that by 1841 a large portion of the Saints had relocated to Nauvoo, Illinois. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:25–27 silently, looking for what the Lord commanded the Saints in Nauvoo to do.

  • What did the Lord command the Saints to do?

  • What did the Lord want the Saints to use to build the temple?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the reason the Lord gave for why the Saints needed to build a temple.

  • Why did the Saints need to build a temple? (To provide a place where the Lord could come and restore the fulness of the priesthood.)

To help students understand the phrase “fulness of the priesthood” in verse 28, invite a student to read the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith:

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“Every man who is faithful and will receive these ordinances and blessings obtains a fulness of the priesthood, and the Lord has said that ‘he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion’ [D&C 76:95; see also D&C 88:107]. … The Lord has made it possible for every man in this Church, through his obedience, to receive the fulness of the priesthood through the ordinances of the temple of the Lord. This cannot be received anywhere else” (in Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:132–33).

Explain that all members of the Church—men and women—can receive the fulness of the blessings of the priesthood by receiving all the ordinances of the temple. Through these ordinances, we can gain access to all the blessings Heavenly Father desires to give His children. Point out that the restoration of temple ordinances and covenants began in the Kirtland Temple but had not been completed. Building a temple in Nauvoo would allow the restoration of temple ordinances and covenants to continue (see D&C 124:28, 40–41).

  • What is an ordinance? (A sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood.)

Explain that some ordinances are essential to exaltation, and many of these saving ordinances can be performed only in temples. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:29 silently, looking for one of these essential temple ordinances that the Lord indicated needed to be restored. Ask students to report what they found.

Explain that on August 15, 1840, the Prophet Joseph Smith first taught that the Saints could perform saving ordinances like baptism on behalf of their deceased family members and friends who had not had the opportunity to receive the gospel (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 403). After this announcement, many baptisms for the dead were performed in the Mississippi River or in nearby streams.

Invite a few students to take turns reading Doctrine and Covenants 124:30–34 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s direction concerning where the ordinance of baptism for the dead needs to be performed.

  • Where did the Lord say that the ordinance of baptism for the dead needed to take place in order to be acceptable to Him? Why did the Lord allow the Saints to perform baptisms outside of the temple temporarily?

Nauvoo Temple

You may want to display a picture of the Nauvoo Temple (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 118; see also LDS.org). Explain that after Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 124, work on the temple progressed quickly. On October 3, 1841, after the basement of the temple was partially completed, Joseph Smith told the Saints, “There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord’s House. … For thus saith the Lord!” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 469). On November 21, 1841, after a baptismal font had been built and dedicated in the basement of the Nauvoo Temple, baptisms for the dead resumed. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 251–52; Teachings: Joseph Smith, 469–70.)

baptismal font

When the Nauvoo Temple was built, the Prophet Joseph Smith directed that the baptismal font be built in the basement on the backs of twelve oxen, which represented the twelve tribes of Israel.

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 124, where is the only place in which the fulness of the priesthood ordinances can be obtained for the redemption of both the living and the dead? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following doctrine: The temple is the only place where we can obtain the fulness of the priesthood ordinances for the redemption of the living and the dead.)

  • How might this doctrine have motivated the Saints to make the necessary sacrifices to build a temple in Nauvoo?

To help students feel the truth and importance of this doctrine, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson. (You may want to provide each student with a copy of the statement.)

President Thomas S. Monson

“Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 92).

  • What sacrifices might you have to make in order to be worthy and prepared to receive the ordinances of the temple?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:38–41 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for why the Lord commanded Moses to build a tabernacle in the wilderness and why He instructed His people to build a temple in the land of promise. (You may need to explain that Moses and his people did not perform baptisms for the dead. No work for the dead was performed until the Savior instituted that work in the spirit world after His death.)

  • According to verse 38, why did the Lord command the ancient Israelites to build a tabernacle and temples?

Write the following two questions on the board:

Why is the temple important to you? Why does the Church build temples?

Assign students to work in pairs. Ask each student to choose one of the questions on the board. Invite students to turn to their partners and take turns responding to their questions based on what they have learned in Doctrine and Covenants 124:25–41. In addition, you may want to invite a few students to share their insights (or those of their partner) with the class.

You may want to summarize Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–24, 56–83 by explaining that in addition to the temple, the Lord instructed the Saints to build another structure called the Nauvoo House, where visitors to Nauvoo could stay.

Doctrine and Covenants 124:42–55

The Lord explains what will happen if the Saints obey the commandment to build a temple

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:42–45 silently, looking for what the Lord said would happen if the Saints would build the temple and hearken to His voice and the voice of His servants. Ask students to report what they found.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 124:46–54 by explaining that the Lord told the Saints what would happen if they built the temple but then did not hearken to His voice or the voice of His servants. The Lord also explained that He would accept the Saints’ efforts to accomplish His work (including building temples) even if they were prevented from doing so because of the persecution they faced.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 124:55 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord declared the Saints would prove to Him by obeying His commandment to build the Nauvoo Temple.

  • According to verse 55, what do we prove to the Lord when we obey His commandments? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: By obeying the Lord’s commandments, we prove our faithfulness. You may want to write this principle on the board.)

Invite students to ponder the effort, time, and sacrifice sometimes associated with keeping the commandments of the Lord.

  • How could the opportunity to prove your faithfulness to God motivate you to obey His commandments?

  • According to verse 55, what additional blessings did the Lord promise the Saints if they would build a temple in Nauvoo?

Point out that the blessings of honor, immortality, and eternal life promised in verse 55 are eternal in nature.

  • Why is it important to understand that the blessings we receive for our faithfulness to the Lord may not be immediate?

Invite students to ponder times in their lives when they have been obedient to a commandment out of a desire to be loyal and faithful to their Heavenly Father and the Savior. Invite a few students to share their experiences and feelings about showing the Lord their loyalty and faithfulness. Invite students to look for opportunities to prove their faithfulness to the Lord.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 124:45. “They shall not be moved out of their place”

When the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple, He also promised that they would “not be moved out of their place.”

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“During a very difficult time, the Lord gave the sternest warning that I know of in all scripture. It had to do with the building of the Nauvoo Temple. The Saints knew from experience that to proceed to build a temple would bring terrible persecution, so they delayed. The Lord extended the time and said, ‘If you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God’ [D&C 124:32].

“Often overlooked in that revelation is a marvelous promise: ‘If my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place’ [D&C 124:45].

“Remember this promise; hold onto it. It should be a great comfort to those struggling to keep a family together in a society increasingly indifferent to, and even hostile toward, those standards which are essential to a happy family. …

“I repeat the promise that those who hearken to the voice of these men whom the Lord has raised up ‘shall not be moved out of their place’ [D&C 124:45].

“But the promise was followed with this caution: ‘But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest’ [D&C 124:46]” (“The Twelve Apostles,” Ensign, Sept. 2005, 20).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

Doctrine and Covenants 124:22–41. Video presentation—“Temples Are a Beacon”

After students have identified that the temple is the only place where we can obtain the fulness of the priesthood ordinances for the redemption of the living and the dead and have discussed why this principle may have motivated the Saints to build another temple, consider showing the video “Temples Are a Beacon” (available on LDS.org). Pause the video at time code 1:47 and ask the following questions:

  • Why do you think this family was willing to sacrifice so much to be sealed in the temple?

  • What are some sacrifices members of the Church make in order to receive the blessings of the temple?

After students have responded, show the remainder of the video.

If any students have had the opportunity to attend the sealing of their family members in the temple, you might want to ask them to share their experience and how they felt. You might also want to add your testimony of temple blessings.

Doctrine and Covenants 124:32. Seeking out “your dead”

Consider inviting students to share experiences they have had with family history. You might ask the following question:

  • What experiences have you had with family history? (Students may have helped prepare names for the temple, participated in indexing, shared photos and stories online, or gathered stories and accounts from relatives and others.)

Doctrine and Covenants 124:32. Video presentation—“The Time Is Now”

Consider showing the video “The Time Is Now” (available on LDS.org), in which Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and several young people talk about the blessings and importance of doing family history work.