In Doctrine and Covenants 60, given on August 8, 1831, the Lord counseled the elders concerning their return journey from Zion to Ohio. In this section the Lord also instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith to go to St. Louis, Missouri. The Prophet and 10 others left Independence the next day. On August 9, the party camped at McIlwaine’s Bend (about 165 kilometers, or 100 miles, from Independence; see Church history map 5). The next morning the Prophet received section 61, which warned of dangers upon the waters in the last days. On August 13, as the Prophet and his companions continued their journey, they came upon several missionaries on their way to Jackson County, Missouri. In this joyous setting the Prophet Joseph received section 62. According to the Lord, this meeting fulfilled a promise that “the faithful among you should be preserved and rejoice together in the land of Missouri” (D&C 62:6).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
As we testify of the truth, our testimonies are recorded in heaven, the angels rejoice over us, and we receive forgiveness of sins (see D&C 61:33–34; 62:3; see also Ezekiel 33:1–11; James 5:19–20; D&C 4:2, 4).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, p. 108.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 130–33.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 60–62. The Lord gives counsel to missionaries.
Sections 60–62 were given to a group of missionaries returning from Missouri to their homes in Ohio (see the introduction above). Each of the sections includes counsel for missionaries. Choose any or all of the following activities to help your students understand and apply the Lord’s counsel in these sections. (Note: The time needed to teach this lesson will vary depending on the number of activities you use.)
Activity 1. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 60:4, 7; 61:1–2, 6, 10, 33–34, 36–39; 62:1, 3, 9. Have them write a letter of encouragement to a missionary based on what they learned in these verses. Invite a few students to share what they wrote.
Activity 2. Tell students to imagine they have been asked to write a pamphlet called The Successful Missionary. This pamphlet is to be based on the principles found in Doctrine and Covenants 60:2–3, 7, 13–14; 61:3, 8–9, 35, 38–39; 62:1–3, 6. Have students read the verses and identify principles the Lord gave.
Note: The counsel not to travel on water was a specific rule for that occasion. Today’s missionaries are also given specific rules that apply to them on their mission. Just as it would have been foolish for these early missionaries to travel on water after the Lord’s warning, it would be just as foolish for us to disobey what the Lord has commanded in our day. For more information on the curse on the waters, see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 61:5–19 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (
Activity 3. Invite students to imagine the following example: George is daydreaming in seminary when his teacher says that every worthy young man should serve a mission. After class, George says to you: “I always get told that I need to go on a mission. Just once I’d like to know what’s in it for me.” Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 60:7; 61:2, 33–34; 62:1, 3 and summarize for George “what’s in it for him.”
Conclude by sharing the following promise about missionary work by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“You are making a sacrifice, but it is not a sacrifice because you will get more than you give up, you will gain more than you give, and it will prove to be an investment with tremendous returns. It will prove to be a blessing instead of a sacrifice. No one who ever served this work as a missionary, who gave his or her best efforts, need worry about making a sacrifice because there will come blessings into the life of that individual for as long as he or she lives. I have not the slightest doubt about that” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 356).
Doctrine and Covenants 60:1–3, 7–8, 13–15. The Lord expects us to share the truth with others without fear or contention. The unfaithful will lose the blessings of the Spirit.
Hold up a match and ask what power lies hidden within it (the ability to light a fire for light, for warmth, or to bring destruction). Ask: What is required for this power to be released? Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 60:2 and explain how a talent is similar to a match.
Read Matthew 25:14–30 and look for what happens when talents are neglected. Ask:
Which words describe how the Lord feels about those who use their talents?
How does the Lord feel about those who hide their talents?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 60:1–3, 13 and ask:
What was the “talent” referred to in these verses? (Sharing the gospel.)
According to these verses, what kept some from “open[ing] their mouths” to preach the gospel? (“Fear of man,” and “idl[ing] away [their] time.”)
What warning did the Lord give to those who “bury” this talent? (It will be taken away.)
How does this warning apply today?
What are some ways we can fill our responsibility to share the gospel?
Read together Doctrine and Covenants 60:7 and look for the blessings promised to those who use their talent and declare the gospel. Discuss whether these promises are worth facing the fear one might feel using this talent. Read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“You must be a leader, as a member of this Church, in those causes for which this Church stands. Do not let fear overcome your efforts. … The adversary of all truth would put into your heart a reluctance to make an effort. Cast that fear aside and be valiant in the cause of truth and righteousness and faith. If you now decide that this will become the pattern of your life, you will not have to make that decision again” (“Stand Up for Truth,” in Brigham Young University 1996–97 Speeches , 26).
Doctrine and Covenants 61:4–6, 13–19. Though Satan is allowed some power on earth, the Lord has all power and can protect the righteous.
Draw several warning signs on the board (for example, “poison,” “do not enter,” “pedestrian crossing”). Ask students:
What are these signs used for?
What could happen if these signs are not heeded?
Have a student read the historical background for section 61 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (p. 131). Read with students Doctrine and Covenants 61:4–6, 13–19 to find the instructions the Lord gave these missionaries and why He gave them. Refer to the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 61:5–19 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (pp. 131–32) as needed.
Remind students that the counsel not to travel on water was addressed to missionaries of that day to help them avoid a danger that they faced. Have students review the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and find what the Lord has declared is dangerous in our day. (If the pamphlet is not available, ask students to identify these dangers on their own.) Ask:
How are our dangers like the waters the Lord warned the Prophet and his companions about?
According to Doctrine and Covenants 61:13, why does the Lord give us warnings and commandments?
Conclude by sharing the following statements. Elder George Albert Smith, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, testified:
“There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord’s territory from Lucifer’s. If we live on the Lord’s side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us, but if we cross the line into his territory we are in his power. By keeping the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily cross into the zone of temptation and invite the destruction that is ever present there. Knowing this, how anxious we should always be to live on the Lord’s side of the line” (“Our M.I.A.,” Improvement Era, May 1935, 278).
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:
“There is a line which you must not cross. It is the line that separates personal cleanliness from sin. I need not get clinical in telling you where that line is. You know. You have been told again and again. You have a conscience within you. Stay on the Lord’s side of the line” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 69; or Ensign, May 1996, 48).
Doctrine and Covenants 62:1. The Lord knows our weakness and how to strengthen us against temptation.
Ask students whether they think the following statement is true or false: “A person who has sinned much can do more to help others resist temptation than a person who has sinned little.” Share the following quotation:
“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. … You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity , 109–10).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 62:1 looking for who is in the best position to help us when we are tempted. Have students read Alma 7:11–12 and explain why Jesus Christ is able to understand how we feel when we are tempted and to deliver us from that temptation.