Less than a week after the organization of the Church, Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel Smith, Joseph Smith Sr., and Joseph Knight Sr. came to the Prophet Joseph Smith to receive the will of the Lord for them. “It is perfectly clear that these intimate friends and close associates of the Prophet, were fully convinced that God spoke through him. If not, they would not have asked him to inquire of the Lord for them” (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, rev. ed. , 119). For additional insight, see the historical background for section 23 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 47–48.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 23. As we humbly seek the Lord, He will warn us of our weaknesses and strengthen us in our Church callings.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 23. Identify each individual the Lord addresses, and list the blessings, warnings, or counsel each was given. Ask:
What does it mean to be under condemnation? (“To be declared guilty or worthy of punishment.”)
What warning is given in verse 1? Who was it given to?
What might happen if someone disregarded such a warning from the Lord?
Read the following statement by President Wilford Woodruff:
“I heard Joseph Smith say that Oliver Cowdery, who was the second Apostle in this Church, said to him, ‘If I leave this Church it will fall.’ Said [the Prophet], ‘Oliver, you try it.’ Oliver tried it. He fell; but the Kingdom of God did not” (The Deseret Weekly, Apr. 19, 1890, 559).
Explain that Oliver Cowdery returned to the Church later in his life but did not regain his former position. Ask:
Why do you think the Lord counseled Joseph Knight to pray publicly and in secret? (see v. 6; see also the note on Joseph Knight in the commentary for D&C 23:1–6 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325,
What might have happened to Joseph Knight if he had refused to pray?
What is the relationship between prayer and joining the Church? (see v. 7).
Invite students to share how the Lord warns them today and how prayer can strengthen them as they heed those warnings.