In April 1833 the Church purchased the Peter French farm near Kirtland. In June a conference of high priests met to decide what to do with the farm. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “the conference could not agree who should take charge of it, but all agreed to inquire of the Lord” (History of the Church, 1:352). The Lord’s answer is recorded in section 96.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 226–27.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 96. The Lord reveals His mind and will to the prophet in both temporal and spiritual matters.
Share with students the information in the introduction to section 96 above. Ask:
Who did the Lord choose to take charge of the land? (see D&C 96:2).
What office did he hold? (see D&C 72:7–8).
Why was he an appropriate choice?
Explain that bishops are responsible for the temporal affairs of wards and that the Presiding Bishop is responsible for the temporal affairs of the entire Church. Invite students to name the members of the Presiding Bishopric (see a current conference edition of the Ensign). Ask:
How many times does the Lord use the word expedient in section 96?
What does expedient mean? (“Appropriate or timely.”)
What reason did the Lord say was “most expedient” for having Bishop Whitney divide the farm?
Have a student read the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:
“My brothers and sisters, as the Brethren of the First Presidency and the Twelve have meditated upon and prayed about the great latter-day work the Lord has given us to do, we are impressed that the mission of the Church is threefold:
To proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;
To perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation;
To redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth.
“All three are part of one work—to assist our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, in Their grand and glorious mission ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ (Moses 1:39.)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 3; or Ensign, May 1981, 5).
Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 96:2–5 looking for ways Bishop Whitney’s task helped fulfill the threefold mission of the Church. Discuss their findings. The following chart might be helpful:
What are some ways the Church helps bring forth the Lord’s word? (Publishing the scriptures and other writings, broadcasting conference, sending out missionaries, and so on.)
How can individual members help proclaim the gospel? (Go on missions, give talks, bear testimonies.)
Have students give examples of times they were strengthened in their faith through a Church publication, a talk, or the testimony of another.
Remind students that they do not need to wait until they are older to proclaim the gospel. They can teach gospel principles in talks and family home evening lessons and share their testimonies with their friends. Encourage them to do so.
Doctrine and Covenants 96. It is very important to the Lord that the scriptures be made available to His children.
Invite a student to read aloud the account of Mary Elizabeth Rollins in Church History in the Fulness of Times (pp. 133–34). Ask students if they can think of other accounts of people who made sacrifices to obtain or preserve scripture. (Answers might include Joseph Smith hiding the gold plates from mobs, Lehi’s family obtaining the brass plates from Laban, Moroni hiding from the Lamanites and burying the plates.) Ask students how these stories affect their sense of the scriptures’ value. Invite them to read Doctrine and Covenants 96 and underline the phrase “my word” each time it appears. Ask:
What does the phrase “my word” refer to? (The scriptures.)
What do these verses show about the Lord’s desires regarding the scriptures?
What blessing does the Lord promise in verse 5?
Share the following statement by President Harold B. Lee:
“There are those who have seemed to forget that the most powerful weapons the Lord has given us against all that is evil are, by His own declarations, the plain, simple doctrines of salvation as found in the scriptures” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 450).
Help students understand that this “most powerful weapon” is of little use until it is available to people. That is why publishing the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants was such a high priority in the early days of the Church. The need to carry the Lord’s word to the world is just as great today.
Ask students to read the following scriptures and list additional blessings that come from studying scripture. The references could be made into a scripture chain.
Discuss with students what they can do to make the scriptures a higher priority in their lives. Discuss what they can do to share the Lord’s words with others.