Doctrine and Covenants 1

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 27–28


Introduction

Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants was revealed by the Lord and designated as a preface to the Book of Commandments (see D&C 1:6; see also the historical background for section 1 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, p. 3). President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants is the Lord’s preface to the book. The Doctrine and Covenants is the only book in the world that has a preface written by the Lord Himself. In that preface He declares to the world that His voice is unto all men (see v. 2), that the coming of the Lord is nigh (see v. 12), and that the truths found in the Doctrine and Covenants will all be fulfilled (see vs. 37–38)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 79).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants are given to prepare all people for the coming of the Lord and warn them of the judgments that God will send upon the wicked (see D&C 1:1–12).

  • We must accept the teachings of the apostles and prophets, because what they teach is the word of the Lord. If we do not heed their words, we will not be numbered among the Lord’s people (see D&C 1:4–6, 8–9, 14, 30, 38).

  • The Lord called Joseph Smith to be a prophet. Through him the Lord brought forth the Book of Mormon and restored the true Church of Jesus Christ (see D&C 1:15–23, 29–30).

  • The Lord cannot forgive our sins unless we repent and keep His commandments (see D&C 1:31–32).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, p. 119.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 3–6, 365–68.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video presentation 4, “Seek the Lord” (10:05), can be used in teaching Doctrine and Covenants 1 (see Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Doctrine and Covenants 1:1–23, 29–30. The Lord, knowing the wickedness and calamities that would come upon the earth in the last days, called Joseph Smith and other members of the Church to warn the world.

(25–30 minutes)

Assign each student one of the following questions. (You could write them on stickers and place them on students as they enter the room.)

  • Who gave the warning?

  • To whom was the warning given?

  • What was the warning?

  • Why was the warning given?

  • What would happen if people heeded the warning?

  • What would happen if people did not heed the warning?

Write the following words on the board: car horn, prescription label, parents’ advice, road sign, and prophets’ counsel. Discuss the following questions:

  • What do the words on the board have in common? (They can serve as warnings.)

  • Why are warnings given? (To protect or prepare us.)

  • When have people been protected because they listened to a warning?

  • Why do people sometimes disregard warnings?

Share the information in the introduction above. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 1:1, 4 and note the words hearken and warning. Explain that hearken means “to listen attentively, to heed.” Doctrine and Covenants 1 serves as a message of warning in the latter days.

Remind students of the questions they were assigned at the beginning of the teaching suggestion. Have them carefully read Doctrine and Covenants 1 looking for answers to their question. Write the questions as headings on the board, and have students write their findings under the appropriate heading. Discuss the following questions:

  • What did you learn by studying Doctrine and Covenants 1?

  • Why is it important to understand these warnings?

  • Why is it important to heed them?

  • Why do you believe these warnings were given as a preface to the Doctrine and Covenants?

  • How could you use these teachings to help other people in your school, ward, or community?

Use Doctrine and Covenants 60:2–3; 88:81 to help students see that they are commanded to “warn” others. Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:13–16 and ask: What do these verses say to those who feel they aren’t very good at being the Lord’s servants?

Be certain that students understand that just as Joseph Smith was raised up to give a warning voice, so are today’s prophets, apostles, and other Church leaders. Use the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet to discuss some latter-day warnings from our current Church leaders. Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency:

“There are those who criticize when we issue a statement of counsel or warning. Please know that our pleadings are not motivated by any selfish desire. Please know that our warnings are not without substance and reason. Please know that the decisions to speak out on various matters are not reached without deliberation, discussion, and prayer. Please know that our only ambition is to help each of you with your problems, your struggles, your families, your lives” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 80; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 59).

Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38 (Scripture Mastery). We must accept the teachings of the Apostles, because what they teach is the same as if the Lord were speaking. If we do not heed their words, we will not be numbered among the Lord’s people.

(15–20 minutes)

Discuss with students the following questions:

  • When one of our Church leaders speaks to us, whose message is it?

  • Why is it important to follow the counsel of Church leaders, even if it is difficult or you don’t agree with it?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 1:14 and ask: What does this verse add to our understanding of this principle?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38 and discuss the meaning of “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Encourage students to memorize these verses.