Doctrine and Covenants 101

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 170–74


About a week before he received section 101, the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded:

“Now, there are two things of which I am ignorant; and the Lord will not show them unto me, perhaps for a wise purpose in Himself, … and they are these: Why God has suffered so great a calamity to come upon Zion … ; and again, by what means He will return her back to her inheritance, with songs of everlasting joy upon her head. These two things, brethren, are in part kept back that they are not plainly shown unto me; but there are some things that are plainly manifest which have incurred the displeasure of the Almighty” (History of the Church, 1:454).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 130–39.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 238–45.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 101:1–19. The Lord tests and chastens His people to help them become sanctified. All prophecies, including those concerning Zion, will be fulfilled.

(30–35 minutes)

Draw on the board a lump of coal and a diamond as in the accompanying illustration. Ask:


What is the relationship between a diamond and a lump of coal?

How can a lump of coal become a diamond? (Through heat, extreme pressure, and adequate time.)

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 101:3 and find what the Lord will make of His people when He comes again. Discuss how this compares to coal and diamonds.

Choose students to read selected accounts of the Missouri persecutions and the expulsion of the Saints from Jackson County (see Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 132–39). Read Doctrine and Covenants 57:1–3 and find what the Lord had in store for the Saints in Jackson County. (This was the land of promise where the Saints were to gather and build a temple.) Tell students: Imagine you were Church members living at that time. What questions might you ask the Prophet Joseph Smith? (Responses might include “Why is this happening?” or “Why has the Lord forsaken His people?”)

Write on the board the headings 1. Why did this happen? and 2. Had the Lord forsaken His people? Have half the students read Doctrine and Covenants 101:1–8, 39–41 and find reasons the Lord allowed the Saints to be driven from Jackson County. Have the other students read verses 9–19 and find words and phrases that show that the Lord had not forsaken the Saints. Discuss their findings and list them on the board under the appropriate headings. Use the following questions to help your discussion:

  1. 1.

    Why did this happen?

    • Why do trials and afflictions come to us?

    • How would you define the sins mentioned in verses 6–7? (see the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for D&C 101 in the student study guide).

    • What does it mean to esteem lightly the counsel of the Lord? (see v. 8).

    • Why do the righteous sometimes suffer with the wicked?

    • How can chastening from the Lord be an act of love?

  2. 2.

    Had the Lord forsaken His people?

    • What words or phrases show that these persecutions would be temporary?

    • What words or phrases might have comforted and given hope to the Saints?

    • Read Doctrine and Covenants 58:2–3. How might this counsel, given by the Lord in August 1831, relate to the Saints in Jackson County in December 1833?

    • What promises did the Lord make concerning Zion’s future?

Refer to the drawing of the coal and the diamond again. Ask how these teachings relate to the process of turning coal to diamonds. Testify that, though life may seem difficult or unfair, God does not forsake those who faithfully endure their trials. If we trust in Him, He will turn our afflictions to our good. Share the following statement by President James E. Faust:

“Everybody in this life has challenges and difficulties. That is part of our mortal test. The reason for some of these trials cannot be readily understood except on the basis of faith and hope because there is often a larger purpose which we do not always understand. Peace comes through hope. …

“… In the eternal scheme of things, wrongs will be righted. In the perfect justice of the Lord, all who live worthily will be compensated for blessings not enjoyed here.

“In my opinion, there has never been in the history of this Church a reason for so much hope for the future of the Church and its members worldwide. I believe and testify that we are moving to a higher level of faith and activity than there ever has been. I pray that each of us will be found holding up our end of the line in this great army of righteousness. Each of us will come before the Holy One of Israel and account for our personal righteousness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 73, 75–76; or Ensign, Nov. 1999, 59, 61).

Doctrine and Covenants 101:20–22, 63–75. The Saints are commanded to gather to the stakes of Zion in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

(15–20 minutes)

Have students turn to Church history map 7, the map of the world, in the back of their scriptures. Ask: Where do you think the Saints are to gather before the Lord’s Second Coming? Read Doctrine and Covenants 101:16–21 and ask:

  • What is the name of the place where the Saints are to gather? (Zion.)

  • What other places has the Lord appointed for the gathering of the Saints? (Stakes of Zion.)

Share the following statements. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was then a member of the Seventy, said:

“The gathering of Israel consists of joining the true Church, of coming to a knowledge of the true God and of his saving truths, and of worshiping him in the congregations of the Saints in all nations and among all peoples. …

“The place of gathering for the Mexican Saints is in Mexico; the place of gathering for the Guatemalan Saints is in Guatemala; the place of gathering for the Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; and so it goes throughout the length and breadth of the whole earth. Japan is for the Japanese; Korea is for the Koreans; Australia is for the Australians; every nation is the gathering place for its own people” (in Conference Report, Mexico and Central America Area Conference 1972, 45).

Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and James E. Faust have further said:

“As members throughout the world remain in their homelands, working to build the Church in their native countries, great blessings will come to them personally and to the Church collectively. Stakes and wards throughout the world will be strengthened, making it possible to share the blessings of the gospel with an even greater number of our Heavenly Father’s children” (First Presidency letter, Dec. 1, 1999).


  • Why is it important that stakes of the Church be established throughout the world?

  • Read 1 Nephi 14:11–12. How does this gathering fulfill this prophecy?

Read and discuss Doctrine and Covenants 101:63–67. Show students footnote 66a and read the cross-reference (D&C 38:12). The following questions might be helpful:

  • Who do you think were the “tares”? (see D&C 86:1–3).

  • In Doctrine and Covenants 38:12, what does the phrase “the enemy is combined” mean?

  • How is the enemy combined against us today?

  • How can gathering as families, friends, wards, and stakes strengthen us against the tares planted by Satan?

Doctrine and Covenants 101:22–35. At the Second Coming of Jesus Christ the wicked will be destroyed, the earth will become new, Satan will lose power, and the Lord’s millennial reign will begin.

(20–25 minutes)

Write Millennium on the board. Beneath it write the following questions, but do not include the scripture references. Have students answer the questions on a piece of paper. When they finish, write the references on the board. Study them as a class as the students correct their answers.

Ask: Why would it have been important for the Saints to learn about the Millennium during their persecutions in the land of Zion? Read Doctrine and Covenants 101:35–38 and look for what the Lord promises the faithful. Ask: How can this promise help you in troubled times?

Share this statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“We contemplate a people who have embraced a system of religion, unpopular, and the adherence to which has brought upon them repeated persecutions. A people who, for their love to God, and attachment to His cause, have suffered hunger, nakedness, perils, and almost every privation. A people who, for the sake of their religion, have had to mourn the premature death of parents, husbands, wives, and children. A people, who have preferred death to slavery and hypocrisy, and have honorably maintained their characters, and stood firm and immovable, in times that have tried men’s souls. Stand fast, ye Saints of God, hold on a little while longer, and the storm of life will be past, and you will be rewarded by that God whose servants you are, and who will duly appreciate all your toils and afflictions for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s. Your names will be handed down to posterity as Saints of God and virtuous men” (History of the Church, 4:337).

Testify that an eternal perspective can change our view of our current trials.

Doctrine and Covenants 101:43–64. The blessings of the temple can help us see and overcome the evils of the world.

(20–25 minutes)

Display a bar of soap and a rock or other simple objects. Invite students to compare the objects to aspects of the gospel, and have them explain their comparisons. (They might compare the soap to repentance, the rock to a testimony, and so on.) Ask: What word do we sometimes use to describe this kind of comparison? Write on the board the word Parable. Have a student read the first two sentences of the second definition of parable in the Bible Dictionary (p. 741). Write a simplified definition on the board next to the word.

Explain that the Lord used a parable in Doctrine and Covenants 101 to show the Saints why they were driven out of Zion. Have students read verses 43–45 and identify six elements of the parable, and list them on the board. Invite students to share what they think these elements could represent (see the commentary for D&C 101:44–64 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, p. 243). Your list should be similar to the following:


Read verses 43–62 with your students. Invite them to mark the six elements and write their interpretations in the margins of their scriptures. Ask:

  • How do these interpretations help you understand the parable?

  • What did the nobleman’s servants do wrong? (see v. 50).

  • Why did they do it? (see vv. 48–49).

  • How important was the tower in this parable?

  • Who do you think the servant in verse 55 was? (Joseph Smith; see D&C 103:21. Note: Verses 55–60 refer to Zion’s Camp, which will be studied in sections 103, 105.)

Invite a student to read verse 54, and ask:

  • How can the temple be like a tower?

  • How does the temple allow us to “see” enemies before they come upon us?

  • What can you do to allow temple blessings to have more influence in your life?

President Howard W. Hunter said:

“I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. …

“Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. … Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing.

“If proximity to a temple does not allow frequent attendance, gather in the history of your family and prepare the names for the sacred ordinances performed only in the temple. This family research is essential to the work of the temples, and blessings surely will come to those who do that work” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8).

President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, added:

“[The temple] is a place of revelation. Here almost weekly the First Presidency of the Church and the Council of the Twelve Apostles have met since the time of dedication. Here there is earnest prayer with supplication for enlightenment and understanding. Here in these hallowed precincts there is discussion, quiet and restrained. And here is felt that inspiration which comes when men who are endowed with the highest authority of the eternal priesthood counsel together and seek the will of the Lord. …

“The temple is also a place of personal inspiration and revelation. Legion are those who in times of stress, when difficult decisions must be made and perplexing problems must be handled, have come to the temple in a spirit of fasting and prayer to seek divine direction. Many have testified that while voices of revelation were not heard, impressions concerning a course to follow were experienced at that time or later which became answers to their prayers” (“The Salt Lake Temple,” Ensign, Mar. 1993, 6).

Doctrine and Covenants 101:76–80, 93–95. God established the Constitution of the United States to provide the necessary freedom for the Church to be restored.

(15–20 minutes)

Have a student read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“The Founding Fathers of [the United States], those great men, appeared within those sacred walls [of the St. George Temple] and had their vicarious work done for them.

“President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words: ‘Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God”’ (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], p. 160).

“After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that ‘those men who laid the foundation of this American government … were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits … [and] were inspired of the Lord’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 89)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 6).


  • What do you learn about the founding fathers of the United States from this account?

  • What influence do you think their work has had on the world?

Write on the board the following words in a column: importune, redress, constitution, futurity, bondage. Have students look in the student study guide for definitions of these words (see the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for D&C 101). Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 101:76–80, replacing these words with the definitions from the student study guide. Ask:

  • Who “suffered” (allowed) the United States Constitution to be established? (The Lord; see v. 77.)

  • Why does the Lord want this constitution to be maintained? (To protect the rights of everyone and allow them to be accountable for their own sins; see vv. 77–78.)

  • How do you think bondage influences people’s ability to be accountable?

  • What does the Lord say about those who helped bring about the Constitution? (see v. 80).

Have students read verses 93–95, and ask: What is the “strange act” or “strange work” the Lord said He would perform? (His latter-day work; see also D&C 95:4.) Share the following statement by President Benson:

“The restoration of the gospel and the establishment of the Lord’s Church could not come to pass until the Founding Fathers were raised up and completed their foreordained missions. Those great souls who were responsible for the freedoms we enjoy acknowledged the guiding hand of Providence. For their efforts we are indebted, but we are even more indebted to our Father in Heaven and to His Son, Jesus Christ. How fortunate we are to live when the blessings of liberty and the gospel of Jesus Christ are both available to us” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 604).