“As the name [Doctrine and Covenants] implies, … this volume of Scripture contains doctrine and covenants. ‘Doctrine’ means ‘teaching,’ ‘instruction.’ It denotes more especially what is taught as truth, for us to believe, as distinct from precepts, by which rules … are given. ‘Doctrine’ refers to belief; [‘precept’] to conduct.
“In the Doctrine and Covenants our Lord teaches us what to believe concerning the Godhead, the Church, the Priesthood, the Millennium, the resurrection, the state of man after death in eternal glory, or the opposite, and many other subjects about which it is necessary to have true information.
“The word ‘covenant’ is a term by which God indicates the settled arrangement between Him and His people. …
“… The nature of this covenant is revealed to us in this precious volume of the word of God. It shows us what obligations we take upon ourselves in baptism, and what blessings we secure; what covenants we renew by partaking of the Sacrament, and what promises accompany that ordinance. In one word, it teaches us how to worship God in Spirit and in truth, and reveals to us the way opened up, back to the presence of God” (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, rev. ed. (1972), xiii–xv).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Doctrine and Covenants is “the foundation of the Church in these last days, and a benefit to the world, showing that the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom of our Savior are again entrusted to man; … therefore the conference voted that they prize the revelations to be worth to the Church the riches of the whole earth” (History of the Church, 1:235; see also D&C 70 heading).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Doctrine and Covenants contains divine revelations, commandments, doctrines, and covenants necessary for the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants Title Page. The Doctrine and Covenants contains divine revelations, commandments, doctrines, and covenants necessary for the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
Bring several books to class that you think will be unfamiliar to your students. Ask them to read each book’s title and tell what they think the book contains. Write The Doctrine and Covenants on the board and ask:
What does this title tell you about this book?
What are doctrines?
What are covenants?
Help students define the words doctrine and covenants, using the information in the introduction above. Have them read the title page of the Doctrine and Covenants, and ask: Who received the revelations in this book of scripture? Read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 1, and discuss the following questions:
In addition to doctrines and covenants, what else can be found in this book? (Commandments.)
Why would it be important for you to understand true doctrine?
What value do covenants have in our lives?
How would understanding God’s commandments be a blessing to you?
Ask students to read the eighth paragraph in the Explanatory Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants. Have them write on the board some of the doctrines, covenants, and commandments in the Doctrine and Covenants that are listed in the paragraph.
If time permits, select some sections from the Doctrine and Covenants (for example, sections 20, 38, 82, and 131). Have students scan these sections, looking for examples of doctrines, covenants, or commandments. Invite students to share some of the examples they find.