The sixth article of faith states: “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” As part of the Restoration of the gospel, the Lord ordained apostles and prophets. This included the organization of the First Presidency, completed on March 18, 1833. Doctrine and Covenants 90 addresses the keys of the kingdom given to Joseph Smith, as well as duties of his counselors. The importance of the First Presidency was emphasized by the Lord when He declared that “this is the highest council of the church of God” (D&C 107:80).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The First Presidency administers the keys of the priesthood. Their duties include instructing priesthood holders, spreading the gospel, and presiding over the affairs of the Church (see D&C 90:6–18, 24, 32; see also D&C 88:127; 133:7–8).
The Church must manage its funds responsibly (see D&C 90:22–27).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, p. 128.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 212–15.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 90:1–5. The President of the Church holds the keys of the kingdom and receives revelation for the entire Church.
Display pictures of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the current President of the Church (for example, Gospel Art Picture Kit,
How do these verses apply to the prophet today?
Read verse 5. What is the Lord telling us in this verse?
How can we obey the Lord’s counsel in this verse?
When can you hear the Lord’s words through His prophet?
Write on the board the following statement by President Joseph F. Smith. Next to the statement draw a picture of a skeleton key. Have a student read the statement.
“The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God. Every man ordained to any degree of the Priesthood, has this authority delegated to him.
“But it is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood. In their fulness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the prophet and president of the Church. He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor” (Gospel Doctrine, 136).
Discuss the following questions:
Why do you think it is important that only one man at a time be authorized to direct the Church?
Why is it important that the Church President be able to delegate portions of this power to others?
Who has been given the keys to direct the labors of your ward, stake, branch, or district?
Show students the picture of the Christus in the student study guide (see the introduction for D&C 90). Explain that this statue is in the North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and that it is a replica of the original in Denmark. Share the following experience, as related by President Boyd K. Packer:
“In 1976 following a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, President Spencer W. Kimball invited us to a small church to see the statues of Christ and the Twelve Apostles by Bertel Thorvaldsen. The Christus stands in an alcove beyond the altar. Standing in order along the sides of the chapel are the statues of the [original] Twelve [Apostles], with Paul replacing Judas Iscariot.
“President Kimball told the elderly caretaker that at the very time Thorvaldsen was creating those beautiful statues in Denmark, a restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ was taking place in America with apostles and prophets receiving authority from those who held it anciently” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 7; or Ensign, May 1995, 8).
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve added:
“As [President Kimball] turned to the statue of Peter and pointed to the large set of keys in Peter’s right hand, he proclaimed: ‘The keys of priesthood authority which Peter held as President of the Church I now hold as President of the Church in this dispensation.’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 27; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 20).
Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Seventy said:
“Gathering President [N. Eldon] Tanner, Elder [Thomas S.] Monson, and Elder [Boyd K.] Packer closer to him, the president continued, ‘We are living apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are Twelve Apostles and three others who are the presidency of the Church. We hold the real keys, as Peter did, and we use them every day. They are in use constantly.’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 104; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 69).
President Packer continued:
“There came to me that witness known to Latter-day Saints but difficult to describe to one who has not experienced it—a light, a power coursing through one’s very soul—and I knew that, in very fact, here stood the living prophet who held the keys” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 7; or Ensign, May 1995, 8).
Share how you feel about being led by a living prophet who holds the keys of the kingdom and receives revelation from Jesus Christ.
Doctrine and Covenants 90:6–18. The President of the Church shares many of his responsibilities with members of the First Presidency.
Display pictures of Moses and the current President of the Church (for example, Gospel Art Picture Kit,
Why did Moses’s father-in-law say that the prophet would “surely wear away”? (v. 18).
In what way are the challenges of today’s prophet similar to those Moses faced?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 90:6–18 and discuss the following questions:
With whom does the President of the Church share many of his responsibilities?
What are some of the First Presidency duties listed in these verses?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 112:20. How does following the counsel of the First Presidency show our love for the Lord’s word?
Share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord, then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain. How closely do our lives harmonize with the words of the Lord’s anointed—the living prophet, the President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency?” (“Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” 30).