Doctrine and Covenants 85

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 140–41


Introduction

President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:

“On the 27th day of November, 1832, the Prophet wrote to Elder William W. Phelps who was in Independence, Missouri, in charge of the printing and with authority to assist the bishop in matters concerning the establishment of the saints in their inheritances and expressed to him in words of tender fellowship, his love and confidence. Matters pertaining to the establishing and building up of Zion weighed heavily on the mind of the Prophet Joseph Smith. His anxiety was very great because of the strictness of the commandments the Lord had given, and because of the grave responsibilities which had been placed upon his shoulders and the shoulders of his brethren to see that the covenants pertaining to consecration were faithfully kept. Especially was he concerned over the duties and responsibilities of the bishop in Zion, for they were very great. It was the duty of the bishop, assisted by his brethren, to see that justice was done, as the Lord had pointed out in the revelations, in the matter of deciding and allotting inheritances in Zion. The history reveals that there were some things that had not been attended to in the spirit and according to the instructions which had been declared essential in the revelations. These matters caused the Prophet some anxiety and therefore he wrote to Brother Phelps stating that there were some things that were ‘lying with great weight’ on his mind. By the Spirit of prophecy he uttered this prayer, as though it was a prayer in the heart of William Phelps” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:347–48).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • We must have our names recorded by the Church and in heaven to receive an inheritance in Zion and the blessings of eternal life. The names of apostates are to be removed from Church records (see D&C 85; see also Revelation 20:12–13; Moroni 6:4–7).

  • The Holy Ghost speaks to us through a still, small voice (see D&C 85:6; see also 1 Kings 19:8–13).

  • Those who attempt to correct the affairs of the Church beyond their authority die spiritually. The Lord calls others to take their place (see D&C 85:7–8; see also 2 Samuel 6:1–11).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 127–28.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 186–88.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 85. We must have our names recorded by the Church and in heaven to receive an inheritance in Zion and the blessings of eternal life. The names of apostates are to be removed from Church records.

(15–20 minutes)

Ask students:

  • What do you think a Church membership record contains? (Full name, address, family information, priesthood and ordinance information, and so on.)

  • Why do you think it is helpful to keep records on each member of the Church?

  • Why is it important that the information be accurate?

  • Read Moroni 6:4–5. According to these verses, what was done for those whose “names were taken”?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 85:1–5, 9–12 and note any information they find about keeping records in the Church. When they finish, have them share what they found. Ask:

Doctrine and Covenants 85:7–8. Those who attempt to correct the affairs of the Church beyond their authority die spiritually. The Lord calls others to take their place.

(15–20 minutes)

Display a large object (for example, a rock, chair, or table). Around the object post warning signs that read: “Do Not Touch.” Ask students:

  • What would be an appropriate punishment for someone who touched this object?

  • If the object were more valuable or sacred, how do you think the punishment should change? Why?

  • If the warning were given by someone else (for example, a security officer, government official, or the Lord), how do you think the punishment would change? Why?

Invite students to read about Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6:2–7 (see also Numbers 4:15; Bible Dictionary, “ark of the covenant,” pp. 613–14). Ask students what Uzzah touched and what his punishment was. To help students understand why the punishment for “steadying the ark” was so severe, share the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 85:8 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (p. 188). Explain that in section 85 the Lord corrected another person for trying to “steady the ark.”

Ask students if they think any bishop is perfect. Ask: How does what happened to Uzzah relate to disobeying the counsel of a priesthood leader? Explain that in this revelation, Edward Partridge, as a bishop, was trying to steady the ark by disregarding the Prophet’s counsel. Share the following statement:

“‘Thou shalt not command him who is at thy head,’ declared the Lord (D&C 28:6). Each is to stand firm within his designated stewardship, for therein lies accountability. This is the message the Lord was giving to Bishop Edward Partridge when he was cautioned about putting ‘forth his hand to steady the ark of God’ (D&C 85:8). For a short time, this bishop had concerned himself with the business of the Prophet. These actions necessitated a reprimand and warning from the Lord that unless he repented, he would ‘fall by the shaft of death’ and be replaced by ‘one mighty and strong’ (D&C 85:7). It is to his eternal credit that he heeded the warning” (Hoyt W. Brewster Jr., Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia [1988], 25).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 85:7–8 and ask: What did the Lord promise He would do if Bishop Partridge did not repent? Share information from the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 85:7–8 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (pp. 186–87). Ask:

  • What are some ways we might be tempted to “steady the ark”?

  • Why is it important to follow priesthood leaders rather than criticize or correct them?

  • What blessings have you received from following Church leaders?