President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said that Doctrine and Covenants 19, with its teachings on the Atonement, “is one of the great revelations given in this dispensation; there are few of greater import than this” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:85). Joseph Smith, using Martin Harris’s farm as collateral, hired publisher Egbert B. Grandin to print the Book of Mormon. Before the publication was complete, some townspeople held a meeting and passed a resolution not to purchase the Book of Mormon. According to Joseph Knight Sr., Martin Harris, fearing that he might lose his farm, went to the Prophet and said, “‘The books will not sell, for nobody wants them.’ Joseph says, ‘I think they will sell well.’ Says he, ‘I want a commandment [revelation].’ ‘Why,’ says Joseph, ‘fulfill what you have got.’ ‘But,’ says he, ‘I must have a commandment.’ … He insisted three or four times he must have a commandment” (in Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection,” 37). Joseph received section 19 one day later. The next month Martin Harris sold part of his farm and paid the debt to Grandin.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The punishment that the disobedient receive in the next life is not endless (see D&C 19:6–12).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 62–66.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 36–39.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 19:4, 13–21 (Scripture Mastery, Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19). The atoning blood of Jesus Christ pays for the sins of those who repent. Those who do not repent will suffer the penalty of their own sins.
Give a copy of the accompanying chart to students as a handout. Leave the answers in the right-hand column blank. Have students use the scriptures to find the answers.
Write on the board: Jesus Christ’s suffering made payment for our sins. Ask: What price did the Savior pay to give us the gift of repentance? Read Mosiah 3:7 and the quotations in the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 19:13–20 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (pp. 37–38). Ask: For whom did the Savior suffer? (see D&C 18:11; 19:16).
Write on the board: When we repent we experience suffering and sorrow.
Considering these verses, why is repentance so valuable?
Why do you think suffering is an important part of repentance?
Share the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:
“One has not begun to repent until he has suffered intensely for his sins. …
“We must remember that repentance is more than just saying, ‘I am sorry.’ It is more than tears in one’s eyes. It is more than a half a dozen prayers. Repentance means suffering. If a person hasn’t suffered, he hasn’t repented” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 88, 99).
Write on the board: If we choose not to repent, we will suffer the payment of our own sins.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 19:17 and ask: If suffering is an important part of repentance, what do you think the Savior means in this verse? Explain that the suffering that is part of repentance is not the same as the suffering that the Savior experienced in the Atonement. His suffering was for the payment of sins and was infinitely more difficult. Share the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith:
“All sin, no matter what nature it is, is a violation of a constituted law or commandment and hence is worthy of punishment unless the price is paid. That price could be in physical or mental suffering or by otherwise paying the debt. The scriptures inform us that for every sin there must be compensation, either by repentance or punishment” (Seek Ye Earnestly , 151).
Read Matthew 11:28–30; Mosiah 26:30 and ask: What blessings for repentance are found in these verses? Sing or read
Doctrine and Covenants 19:13–38. The Lord gave commandments to Martin Harris.
Share with students the introduction to section 19 (p. 49). Invite them to skim Doctrine and Covenants 19:13–28 and underline the phrases I command you and I command thee. Write the verse numbers in the accompanying chart vertically on the board. Invite students to write the Lord’s commandments to Martin next to each verse number.
Read verses 26, 34–35 and ask: