Doctrine and Covenants 21

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 54–55


We live in a confusing time that can be challenging to even the most devout disciples of Jesus Christ. But the Lord provides guidance and direction through His servants the prophets. Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught:

“Never has there been a time when the written and spoken word can descend upon us from so many different sources. Through the media we find analysts analyzing the analysts, almost overwhelming us with opinions and different views.

“What a comfort it is to know that the Lord keeps a channel of communication open to His children through the prophet. What a blessing it is to know we have a voice we can trust to declare the will of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 22; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 19).

In section 21, which was given the day the Church was organized, the Lord names many of the gifts that make prophets so valuable to Latter-day Saints. For more insight, see the historical background for section 21 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (p. 43).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 67–69.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 43–46.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 21:1–3. Prophets are given special gifts to assist the Lord in building the Church and blessing the Saints.

(5–10 minutes)

Display pictures of each of the prophets from this dispensation in random order (see Gospel Art Picture Kit, nos. 400, 507–20). Have students help put them in the correct order. Ask: Why is a prophet essential to the Lord’s Church?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 21:1 and mark all the titles for the President of the Church. Write these on the board, discuss definitions as needed, and give examples from the scriptures or Church history of individuals who filled those roles. (For help with definitions, see the commentary for D&C 21:1 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, p. 44.) Invite students to share how the prophet’s spiritual gifts help them and the Church.

Doctrine and Covenants 21:1–9. If we obey the voice of the Lord through His prophet, Satan will not prevail against us.

(20–25 minutes)

Share the following news account:

Green River, Wyo.—About 150 antelopes, apparently disoriented by dense fog, plunged to their deaths after wandering single file off a 100-foot cliff in the southwest corner of Wyoming. …

“Tracks in the snow indicated that after one antelope fell off the fog-enshrouded cliff, the rest followed one by one. …

“The bodies are piled about four deep in a 400-square-yard area” (“Antelope Herd Falls from Foggy Cliff,” Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 9, 1991, p. A6).

Invite students to read Proverbs 29:18; 1 Nephi 8:23; 12:17 to find similarities with the news account, and discuss them as a class.

Write on the board: How does the Lord lead the members of the Church through the mists of darkness? Read Doctrine and Covenants 21:1–9 and look for answers to the question. Invite a few students to bear testimony of the importance of having a prophet to lead them and the Church.

Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–7. The Lord speaks to us through His prophets.

(15–20 minutes)

Tell students: Imagine you are a missionary. You have just testified to an investigator that there is a true prophet on the earth who speaks for God. The investigator replies: “That’s a very important message. Tell me what the Lord has said recently through this prophet.” Ask: How would you answer this question?

Discuss the following questions:

  • Where can you find what the prophet has said recently? (Answers might include Conference Reports, the Ensign, For the Strength of Youth, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” and “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.”)

  • Why is it important for us to know what the living prophet says?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–7 and look for reasons we should listen to the prophet. Invite students to mark the reasons that impress them, and have them share what they marked. Discuss the following questions:

  • What does it mean to accept the prophet’s word with “patience and faith”? (v. 5).

  • What promise can give you confidence to face spiritual battles with the adversary?

  • Why do you think we can safely follow what the prophet says? (see the first paragraph of President Wilford Woodruff’s remarks following Official Declaration 1).