Doctrine and Covenants 88

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 143–50


President Joseph Fielding Smith, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“The olive tree from the earliest times has been the emblem of peace and purity. … In parables in the scriptures the House of Israel, or the people who have made covenant with the Lord, have been compared to the olive tree.

“We, even in this modern day when things are turned upside down, speak of the olive branch as being the emblem of peace, and it is usually portrayed as being carried in the bill of the dove of peace. When the Prophet Joseph Smith sent to the saints in Missouri a copy of section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, one of the greatest revelations ever given to man, he said: ‘I send you the olive leaf which we have plucked from the Tree of Paradise’ [History of the Church, 1:316]” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:180–81).

The teachings in Doctrine and Covenants 88 can provide peace, hope, and direction amidst the troubles in the world.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The Holy Ghost is also called the Comforter and the Holy Spirit of Promise. If we are faithful to our covenants, we can receive the promise of eternal life through the Holy Ghost (see D&C 88:1–5; see also D&C 132:7, 19).

  • The Light of Christ proceeds from God’s presence, gives life and light to all creation, and is the law by which all things are governed (see D&C 88:6–13, 41; see also Moroni 7:16–19).

  • The spirit body and the physical body comprise the soul of man. They will be inseparably joined in the Resurrection (see D&C 88:14–17; see also D&C 93:33–34).

  • The earth will be cleansed and sanctified and become a celestial kingdom for those who are worthy to obtain it (see D&C 88:17–20, 25–26; see also D&C 130:8–9).

  • The glory we obtain in the life to come will be determined by the laws we obey in this life. Our resurrected bodies will be quickened by that same glory (see D&C 88:20–40; see also Alma 41:3–5).

  • God has created many worlds and visits each one in its proper time. We prepare for His visit by repenting of our sins and obeying His laws (see D&C 88:34–86).

  • The Lord commands us to be cleansed from sin (see D&C 88:74–76, 86; see also D&C 38:42).

  • After receiving the gospel, we are to be diligent in teaching it to others (see D&C 88:77–85).

  • After the world rejects the testimony of the Lord’s servants, He will send the testimony of earthquakes, thunder, lightning, and tempests (see D&C 88:87–96; see also D&C 43:23–25).

  • Those who have lived worthy of a celestial glory will be resurrected first, followed by those worthy of terrestrial and then those worthy of telestial glory. The sons of perdition, or those who “remain filthy still,” will be the last resurrected (see D&C 88:29–32, 96–102; see also 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; 2 Nephi 9:14–16; D&C 76:25–112).

  • The Savior will reign on the earth during the Millennium. Christ and His followers will ultimately be victorious over Satan and his followers (see D&C 88:103–16; see also Revelation 20:7–10).

  • The places where we receive gospel instruction should be places of prayer, fasting, faith, order, and righteousness (see D&C 88:117–37; see also D&C 109:8).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 122–24, 127–28.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 197–206.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video presentation 13, “Light and Truth, Part 1” (6:32), can be used in teaching Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–50 (see Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Doctrine and Covenants 88. Overview of Doctrine and Covenants 88.

(45–50 minutes)

Remind students of the parable of the wheat and the tares as explained in Doctrine and Covenants 86. Write Wheat and Tares on the board. Have students read the section headings for Doctrine and Covenants 87–88. Ask:

  • Which section would you associate with the tares? (D&C 87.)

  • Which section would you associate with the wheat? (D&C 88.)

Tell students that in the last days, while the “tares” are embroiled in war, the “wheat” will have peace. Share the following statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin:

“In the scriptures, peace means either freedom from strife, contention, conflict, or war, or an inner calm and comfort born of the Spirit that is a gift of God to all of his children, an assurance and serenity within a person’s heart. One dictionary has defined peace as a state of tranquillity or quiet, freedom from disquieting thoughts or emotions, and harmony in personal relations. [Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (1993), “peace,” 854.]

“While we yearn for peace, we live in a world burdened with hunger, pain, anguish, loneliness, sickness, and sorrow. We see divorce with its attendant conflict and heartache, especially among the innocent children caught in the middle. Wayward, disobedient children cause their parents grief and anxiety. Financial problems cause distress and loss of self-respect. Some loved ones slip into sin and wickedness, forsake their covenants, and walk in their ‘own way, and after the image of [their] own god.’ (D&C 1:16.)” (Finding Peace in Our Lives [1995], 3–4).


  • Which of the distressful feelings that Elder Wirthlin mentioned can you relate to?

  • Why would finding peace be important to you?

  • How can the Lord help you find peace?

Draw the accompanying diagram on the board. Include in the boxes only the numbers and scripture references.


Study the verses in each box with your students. As they identify the verses’ theme, write it in the appropriate box. Ask how each of these teachings brings peace. The following questions may help your study:

  1. 1.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–5

    • How can the teachings in these verses bring you peace?

    • How has the Comforter blessed your life?

  2. 2.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:6–13

    • What words in these verses are used to describe the Light of Christ?

    • How does His Light provide comfort?

  3. 3.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:14–20

    • What trials could the knowledge that we will be resurrected help us endure?

    • How can knowing that the earth will be sanctified inspire a sense of peace?

  4. 4.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:21–45

    • What do these verses suggest we must do to receive peace?

    • Will those who abide terrestrial and telestial laws also find a measure of peace and glory?

    • According to verses 32–33, what prevents those “who remain” from receiving peace and glory?

  5. 5.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:46–61

    • According to verse 47, all creation testifies of God (see also Alma 30:44). How does receiving a testimony of God bring peace?

    • What comfort can we find in the parable in verses 51–61?

    • What can we learn from the fact that these verses refer repeatedly to gladness and the joy or light of the Lord’s countenance?

  6. 6.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:62–86

    • How can being prepared bring us peace? (see D&C 38:30).

    • What counsel is found in these verses that can help us prepare to meet the Lord?

  7. 7.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:87–116

    • How can knowing about the tribulations of the last days bring peace to the faithful?

    • Which future events will bring comfort to the faithful?

    • How does knowing that Satan will lose his power over the earth bring peace?

  8. 8.

    Doctrine and Covenants 88:117–41

    • What can we do to have a measure of peace before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?

    • What instructions does the Lord give in these verses?

Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–5. The Holy Ghost is also called the Comforter and the Holy Spirit of Promise. If we are faithful to our covenants, we can receive the promise of eternal life through the Holy Ghost.

(10–15 minutes)

Ask students:

  • If you could travel to a distant country, where would you go? Why?

  • How would you feel being away from your family? How would they feel while you were gone?

  • How valuable would it be to have a trusted friend accompany you?

  • How valuable would a promise that you would return home safely be?

Tell students that leaving Heavenly Father in our premortal life to come here can be compared to traveling to a distant country. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–5 and identify two blessings promised by the Lord. Compare these blessings to the two helps in the analogy above. Discuss the following questions:

  • How has the Holy Ghost comforted you during difficult or lonely times in your life?

  • Why is the gift of the Comforter such a powerful evidence of Heavenly Father’s love for you?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 132:49. How would you feel if you were given this promise?

Share the following statement by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“We are not going to be saved in the kingdom of God just because our names are on the records of the Church. It will require more than that. We will have to have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and if they are written in the Lamb’s book of Life then it is an evidence we have kept the commandments. Every soul who will not keep those commandments shall have his name blotted out of that book” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1950, 10).

Invite students to think of ways they can improve their lives to better prepare for eternal life.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:6–13. The Light of Christ proceeds from God’s presence, gives life and light to all creation, and is the law by which all things are governed.

(15–20 minutes)

Write Power on the board. Give a student a small stick. Give a second student a larger stick. Give a third student a metal bar (or something similar). Ask the students in turn to try to break the objects you gave them. Discuss the following questions:

  • What could break the metal bar?

  • What is the most powerful machine or tool you can think of? (Answers might include engines, lasers, computers.)

  • How do these tools compare with the powers of nature (such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and sunlight)?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 88:6–13 and look for the greatest power of all. Ask:

  • Which of those verses most impresses you about the power of the Light of Christ?

  • What would this earth be like without the Light of Christ?

Have students look for phrases that show that the Light of Christ has power to do the following: create, enlighten, give life, and govern. Have students share their findings. Read the third paragraph of “Light of Christ” in the Bible Dictionary (p. 725). Have students read Moroni 7:16, 18–19, and discuss the following questions:

  • What do those verses teach about receiving the Light of Christ?

  • Why is it important for you to be guided by Christ’s influence?

  • How does the Light of Christ help you choose the right?

  • How does the Light of Christ bring peace to your life?

If appropriate, you could invite a few students to share times when they felt the influence of the Light of Christ.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:14–17. The spirit body and the physical body comprise the soul of man. They will be inseparably joined in the Resurrection.

(5–10 minutes)

Share the following analogy by Elder Boyd K. Packer. As you do, use your hand and a glove to demonstrate what he is teaching.

“Pretend … that my hand represents your spirit. It is alive. It can move by itself. Suppose that this glove represents your mortal body. It cannot move. When the spirit enters into your mortal body, then it can move and act and live. Now you are a person—a spirit with a body, living on the earth.

“It was not intended that we stay here forever. Just for a lifetime. … You are just beginning your lifetime. Your grandparents and great-grandparents are nearly finished with theirs. It wasn’t long ago that they were [young] like you are now. But one day they will leave this mortal existence, and so will you.

“Someday, because of old age, or perhaps a disease, or an accident, the spirit and the body will be separated. We then say a person has died. Death is a separation. All of this was according to a plan.

“Remember my hand represents your spirit and the glove represents your body. While you are alive the spirit inside the body can cause it to work and to act and to live.

“When I separate them, the glove, which represents your body, is taken away from your spirit; it cannot move anymore. It just falls down and is dead. But your spirit is still alive.

“‘A spirit born of God is an immortal thing. When the body dies, the spirit does not die.’ (First Presidency, Improvement Era, March 1912, p. 463.) …

“The part of you that looks out through your eyes and allows you to think and smile and act and to know and to be, that is your spirit and that is eternal. It cannot die” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 79; or Ensign, July 1973, 51, 53).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 88:14–17 and mark the verse that best illustrates Elder Packer’s analogy. Ask: What else do those verses teach about the spirit and the body? Read 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 and ask: According to these verses, who will be resurrected?

Testify of the reality of the Resurrection and how this doctrine brings peace.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:17–20, 25–26. The earth will be cleansed and sanctified and become a celestial kingdom for those who are worthy to obtain it.

(10–15 minutes)

Give students the following true-false quiz:

  1. 1.

    The earth will receive celestial glory (see D&C 88:17–18).

  2. 2.

    The earth has been baptized with water (see Genesis 7:17–20).

  3. 3.

    The earth has been baptized by fire (see D&C 133:41).

  4. 4.

    The earth must be prepared for the celestial glory (see D&C 88:18).

  5. 5.

    The earth will receive the presence of God the Father (see D&C 88:19).

  6. 6.

    If you inherit the celestial kingdom and receive a celestial body, you will possess this earth forever (see D&C 88:20).

Correct and discuss students’ answers. (All the statements are true except question 3. This will happen at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Regarding questions 2–3, President Brigham Young taught: “The earth, the Lord says, abides its creation; it has been baptized with water and will, in the future, be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost, to be prepared to go back into the celestial presence of God, with all things that dwell upon it which have, like the earth, abided the law of their creation” [Discourses of Brigham Young, 393].)

Doctrine and Covenants 88:20–40, 96–102. The glory we obtain in the life to come will be determined by the laws we obey in this life. Our resurrected bodies will be quickened by that same glory.

(20–25 minutes)

Tell students that organizations have governing laws or rules that people must obey in order to belong to them. List some of the laws and rules of the following organizations (or others in your community):

  • Your school

  • The driver’s license bureau

  • Your workplace

  • The Church

  • The temple

Discuss why these laws and rules are necessary and helpful.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 88:36–38 and list what other places have governing laws. Write on the board Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial, and ask students to list some laws that govern each of those kingdoms. (For celestial laws, see D&C 76:50–70, 92–96; for terrestrial, see vv. 71–80, 87, 91, 97; for telestial, see vv. 81–90, 98–112.)

Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:20–24, 38–39, and discuss who will inherit each kingdom. Read verses 28–32 and ask: In the Resurrection, what will determine the kind of bodies we receive? Read verses 96–102, and identify the order in which we will be resurrected.

Discuss how these teachings concerning laws can bring peace in our lives. Ask: Why is it important to live a celestial law now? Invite students to consider what they can do to prepare to live in the celestial kingdom.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:62–76, 86. The Lord commands us to be cleansed from sin.

(15–20 minutes)

Display two clear containers, one filled with clean water and the other with water you have colored with food coloring. Take two white cloths, and ask students how the cloths will be affected if you place them in the containers. Immerse them, and show students the results.

Share the following statement by Elder Sterling W. Sill, who was then an Assistant to the Twelve:

“Someone has said that ‘the mind, like the dyer’s hand, is colored by what it holds.’ That is, if I hold in my hand a sponge full of purple dye, my hand becomes purple, and if I hold in my mind and heart great ideas of faith, devotion, and righteousness, my whole personality is colored accordingly. On the other hand, if I hold in my mind thoughts of spite, dishonesty, idleness, and lust, my personality will take the color of what it holds.

“… One cannot think big and be little. One cannot think righteously and be evil” (The Majesty of Books [1974], 161).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:67–68, and discuss how these verses relate to Elder Sill’s statement. Ask:

  • What does it mean to keep our eye single to God’s glory?

  • How can we do it?

Read verses 62–66 and ask:

  • What invitations does the Lord make that could help you keep your eye single to His glory?

  • What are some ways you can draw near to the Lord?

  • How has prayer helped you be close to the Lord?

  • How often should we pray? (see v. 126).

Share the following statement by President Wilford Woodruff, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“There is one admonition of our Savior that all the Saints of God should observe, but which, I fear, we do not as we should, and that is, to pray always and faint not. I fear, as a people, we do not pray enough in faith. We should call upon the Lord in mighty prayer, and make all our wants known unto him. For if he does not protect and deliver us and save us, no other power will. Therefore our trust is entirely in him. Therefore our prayers should ascend into the ears of our Heavenly Father day and night” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 221).

To illustrate how prophets draw near to the Lord through prayer, share the following story by Elder M. Russell Ballard, then a member of the Seventy:

“May I tell you of a special experience. … Shortly after I was called to the First Quorum of Seventy [in April 1976, I attended] a solemn assembly in eastern Canada for all of the [local] priesthood leaders. The First Presidency, the members of the Twelve, and one of the assistants to the Twelve came at that time to hold that solemn assembly. It was a glorious experience. …

“At the end of the solemn assembly we had a light dinner for the Brethren and then I drove the First Presidency back to the hotel where they were staying. … I [took] the key up to President [Spencer W.] Kimball so that he might get into his room [and] said, ‘President, here is your key. I thought I’d bring it up to you so you could get in and have a good night’s rest.’

“He thanked me for that in his loving way and then President Tanner took my arm and said, ‘Russ, how would you like to come in and have prayer with us?’ … Can you imagine closing the day with the First Presidency of the Church? … I was overwhelmed. I have to tell you that tears welled up in my eyes as we knelt down around that bed.

“I was kneeling next to President Tanner and I think he sensed what was happening to me, for he said, ‘President [Kimball], we would like you to pray.’ And then I heard a prophet pray. I would like you to understand … that I learned a great lesson in that prayer. I felt the Spirit as I had never felt it before—you can understand it—for when a prophet talks to God, it is close friends speaking” (“You—The Leaders in 1988,” Ensign, Mar. 1979, 71–72).

Testify that drawing near to the Lord will help keep us clean. Read aloud the Lord’s counsel from verses 74–76, 86. Ask: Why do you think the Lord wants us to be clean? Share the following statement by President J. Reuben Clark Jr.:

“I have often said: ‘I wonder how we would all stand, and individually how I would stand, if I were told that God was yonder in the mountain and I could go to him if I wished.’ I wonder if my life has been such that I could go and stand before the Being who could look me through and see my secret thoughts and hopes and ambitions. Unless and until, my brothers and sisters, we could stand that test, we are not living as the Lord would have us live” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1935, 91).

Invite students to write answers to the following questions on a piece of paper:

  • What can you do to better purify your heart before the Lord?

  • Why is it important for you to stay clean?

Doctrine and Covenants 88:77–85. After receiving the gospel, we are to be diligent in teaching it to others.

(15–20 minutes)

Give the first student who arrives in class a note with the following message: “Notice: All those who fold their arms for at least one minute during the devotional today will receive a reward.” Watch and see if the student shares that information with others. After the devotional, give a small reward to each student who followed the instructions, and then ask the first student: Why did you (or didn’t you) share the information about the reward with other students?

Tell students: Imagine you knew a natural disaster was approaching your town.

  • Would you warn your neighbors? Why or why not?

  • Do we have a responsibility to do so?

  • How quickly would you want others to warn you if you were unaware?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:81–82 and ask:

  • How do those verses relate to the example?

  • Why does the Lord want us to warn others?

  • Read verses 77–80. What must we do before we can warn our neighbors?

  • Who do you think the word neighbor refers to?

Share the following statement by Elder Wilford Woodruff, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Can we fold our arms in peace and cry ‘all is peace in Zion,’ when, so far as we have the power of the priesthood resting upon us, we can see the condition of the world? Can we imagine that our garments will be clean without lifting our voice before our fellowmen and warning them of the things that are at their doors? No, we cannot. There never was a set of men since God made the world under a stronger responsibility to warn this generation, to lift up our voices long and loud, day and night so far as we have the opportunity and declare the words of God unto this generation. We are required to do this. This is our calling. It is our duty. It is our business” (in Journal of Discourses, 21:122).

Ask: What are some ways you could share the gospel with your friends and neighbors?

Doctrine and Covenants 88:87–116. The Savior will reign on the earth during the Millennium. Christ and His followers will ultimately be victorious over Satan and his followers.

(20–25 minutes)

Ask students how interested most people are in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Ask: Why do you think this topic generates so much attention? Tell students that section 88 provides much information regarding this event. Write on the board the following headings: Before His Coming, At His Coming, and After His Coming. Have students search Doctrine and Covenants 88:87–116 and list the events described under the appropriate heading. Your chart may look something like the following:

Christ's comings

Doctrine and Covenants 88:117–37 (Scripture Mastery, Doctrine and Covenants 88:123–24). The places where we receive gospel instruction should be places of prayer, fasting, faith, order, and righteousness.

(25–30 minutes)

Tell students: Imagine you were selected as “seminary teacher for a day.”

  • What rules would you have in your class?

  • What schedule would you follow that day?

  • Is there anything special you would do for the class? If so, what?

  • Is there anything special you would want the students to do?

President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, gave this counsel to seminary teachers:

“In Kirtland there was established a school of the prophets to teach those young in the faith. You now teach schools of the future prophets. Teach them with power and conviction and faith” (Counsel to Religious Educators [address to religious educators, Sept. 14, 1984], 7).

  • Based on President Hinckley’s statement, how might you change your teaching style?

  • How does it make you feel to know that seminary is a school for “future prophets”?

Share information from the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 88:117–41 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (p. 205). Read the following statement, from the same talk by President Hinckley:

“The School of the Prophets was held [in the Whitney Store]. (Sometimes it was called the School of the Elders. Sometimes it was the School of the Prophets.) It was a gathering of the leading Brethren of the day. It was designed and conducted as a place of training, principally for missionary service. This was a time of outpouring of knowledge from the heavens, when many revelations were received as the foundations of this great work were being laid. …

“Sixty-two of the revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in that Ohio period and environment. … The work was strengthened and integrated in a most remarkable manner.

“Of that season Orson Pratt wrote: ‘God was there, his angels were there, the Holy Ghost was in the midst of the people, the visions of the Almighty were opened to the minds of the servants of the living God; the [veil] was taken off from the minds of many; they saw the heavens opened; they beheld the angels of God; they heard the voice of the Lord; and they were filled from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet with the power and inspiration of the Holy Ghost.’ (In Journal of Discourses, 18:132.)” (Counsel to Religious Educators, 4–5).

Explain that the Lord’s instructions to the School of the Prophets can also be applied to teaching in our homes, seminaries, and temples today. Study Doctrine and Covenants 88:117–37, using some or all of the following questions:

  • Who are to be the teachers in the School of the Prophets? (see v. 118; see also v. 77).

  • How can we seek learning by study and by faith?

  • How do you think verse 119 relates to a seminary class, our homes, or the temples?

  • How can our “incomings” and “outgoings” (v. 120) in seminary be done in the name of the Lord?

  • What are we to cease from? (see v. 121).

  • What do you think is the difference between light-mindedness and having an appropriate sense of humor?

  • How could the principles taught in verse 122 apply to our seminary class?

  • What can we do to observe the counsel in verses 123–25?

  • What role does prayer play in learning the gospel? (see vv. 126, 137).