When section 68 was given, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his family were living with the John and Alice Johnson family in Hiram, Ohio. This revelation is addressed to Elders Luke S. and Lyman E. Johnson (sons of John and Alice), Orson Hyde, and William E. McLellin. These men all later served as Apostles. All four apostatized from the Church, though Orson Hyde and Luke Johnson returned and remained faithful to the end of their lives. Lyman Johnson and William McLellin never returned.
Doctrine and Covenants 68 contains important teachings for parents. President Howard W. Hunter said, “It is important to remember that the basic unit of the Church is the family” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 144). The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve wrote: “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. … Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 143–46.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 68:1–4. What the Lord’s servants say when moved upon by the Holy Ghost is scripture and the will of the Lord.
Show students a Bible and ask: What books of scripture do we have in the Church that other religions do not? (The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price.) Show students these other scriptures, and then stack them on top of the Bible. Ask: Do we have any other scripture in the Church? Read Doctrine and Covenants 68:2–4 to find the answer to this question. Stack some conference issues of the Ensign on top of the scriptures.
Share the following statements. President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:
“God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore, the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each week in the [Church News] and any words of the prophet contained each month in our Church magazines” (“Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” in 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year , 27).
As President of the Church, President Benson said:
“For the next six months, your conference edition of the Ensign should stand next to your standard works and be referred to frequently. As my dear friend and brother Harold B. Lee said, we should let these conference addresses ‘be the guide to [our] walk and talk during the next six months. These are the important matters the Lord sees fit to reveal to this people in this day’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1946, p. 68)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 97; or Ensign, May 1988, 84).
Discuss the following questions:
How have the words of modern prophets blessed your life?
What might our religion be like without modern revelation?
How can you make the words of living prophets more a part of your daily “walk and talk”?
Doctrine and Covenants 68:1–12. Missionaries are called to preach the gospel to all the world and testify of Jesus Christ.
Display a map of the world. Ask students:
If you could choose anywhere to serve a mission, where would it be? Why?
What matters more than where you serve? Why?
Why does the Lord need missionaries throughout the entire world?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 68:1–2 and ask:
How are these verses being fulfilled?
What is your responsibility in helping to fulfill these verses?
Write the accompanying charts on the board, or give them to students as a handout. Leave the answers in the right-hand column blank. Have students search the verses listed and fill in the answers.
How does knowing the Lord’s expectations and promises affect your desire to serve Him as a missionary?
What can you do now to prepare to serve the Lord when you are called?
Share the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter:
“Earlier prophets have taught that every able, worthy young man should serve a full-time mission. I emphasize this need today” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 119; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).
Doctrine and Covenants 68:14–24. Worthy high priests may be called to serve as bishop. Bishops must be appointed by the First Presidency and ordained by proper authority.
Show students a picture of the Church’s Presiding Bishop (see the most recent conference issue of the Ensign). Invite them to ask you 10 yes-or-no questions to guess what position this man holds in the Church. Share the following statements about the office of Presiding Bishop:
“Anciently the bishops (judges) were ‘literal descendants of Aaron.’ Their office had its beginning with Aaron who was the presiding bishop of the church. Even in our dispensation, ‘the firstborn among the sons of Aaron’ has ‘a legal right to the bishopric, … for the firstborn holds the right of the presidency over this priesthood, and the keys or authority of the same.’ That is, it is his right to be the Presiding Bishop of the Church, if he is selected and approved by the First Presidency. So far in our day the lineage through which the office of Presiding Bishop will descend ‘from father to son’ has not been revealed. Until then, high priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood are chosen to officiate in this office and also as ward bishops” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 352; italics added).
“Since its formation, the Presiding Bishopric has been responsible for many of the temporal affairs of the Church. These have included involvement in receiving, distributing, and accounting for member tithes, offerings, and contributions; administration of programs to assist the poor and needy; design, construction, and maintenance of places of worship; and auditing and transferring records of membership. … Historically, the Presiding Bishopric has presided over the Aaronic Priesthood” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. , 3:1128).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 68:14–21 and look for answers to the following questions:
Who can serve as Presiding Bishop? (A worthy literal descendant of Aaron or a worthy high priest.)
Who calls and ordains the Presiding Bishop?
Tell students that the Presiding Bishop must be called by the Lord through the First Presidency (see vv. 15, 19–20). Explain that the First Presidency authorizes stake presidents to call and ordain local bishops. Ask: What qualifications must a bishop have? (see vv. 15, 19; see also 1 Timothy 3:2–7). Invite students to list on the board what they can do to sustain their local bishop.
Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–32. Parents are commanded to teach their children the gospel.
Prior to class, ask several primary-age children questions such as: How do you know Jesus loves you? Why do you want to go to heaven? What do you think heaven is like? Write down or record their responses, and read or play them to your students.
Ask: What do you think are the most important teachings for children? List students’ answers on the board. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–31 and compare their list with what the Lord said parents need to teach their children.
Ask: What did the Lord say in verse 25 that lets you know these principles are of great importance? Share the statements from President Howard W. Hunter and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” in the introduction to section 68 above. Ask:
What statement in the proclamation teaches the seriousness of the parents’ role in caring for their children?
What can you do now to prepare to be a good parent?
What do you think is the best way to teach children these principles?