The Doctrine and Covenants contains various kinds of information. It includes revelations on Church organization (see D&C 20; 42) as well as instructions to individuals (see D&C 4; 14–16). Various sections include a warning to the world (see D&C 1), visions (see D&C 76; 110), prophecies (see D&C 87; 121), letters (see D&C 127–28), prayers (see D&C 65; 109), answers to scriptural questions (see D&C 77; 113), statements of belief (see D&C 134; Official Declaration 1), and minutes of a meeting (see D&C 102). In addition, we have three revelations received by prophets who succeeded Joseph Smith in the Presidency of the Church (see D&C 135–36; 138). The Chronological Order of Contents shows where and when each section of the Doctrine and Covenants was received.
Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, explained:
“The first thing to be remembered is that the revelations contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants are answers to questions. If that is kept in mind it will help to a better understanding. …
“… In the History of the Church you will find that the Prophet says, ‘I inquired of the Lord.’ The revelation follows. In each the answer to a question is a dominating part of the revelation. … That explains the somewhat disjointed nature of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Since each revelation is an answer to a special question, there could not be a consecutive developing treatment of any one theme. If the question is known, then this supplementary material of the revelation is better understood. … The Mind that gave the revelations possessed the whole plan. But it was given piecemeal to the Church as required” (The Message of the Doctrine and Covenants , 4–6).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Doctrine and Covenants is an additional testimony of Jesus Christ and contains revelations from Him.
Suggestions for Teaching
Chronological Order of Contents. The Doctrine and Covenants is an additional testimony of Jesus Christ and contains revelations from Him.
Have students turn to the Chronological Order of Contents, and ask:
Which section of the Doctrine and Covenants is listed first?
Why is Doctrine and Covenants 2 listed first? (This is a chronological list.)
When and where was Doctrine and Covenants 1 received?
When might this chronological list be helpful?
Tell students that the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants can also be grouped according to location. Invite students to look for the states in the United States where the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received. Have students turn to the maps in the back of their triple combinations and locate New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Explain that the headquarters of the Church was located in these places at various times in Church history.
Share the information in the introduction above. Testify that revelation continues today, though it may not be included in the Doctrine and Covenants. Ask students to identify inspired writings of the prophets other than the standard works. (Answers might include Conference Reports, the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, articles in Church magazines.)