The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 18 was given in June 1829, shortly after Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Their visitation emphasized the important role of Apostles in the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ. Doctrine and Covenants 18:1–16 focuses on the calling Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer received to be servants of Jesus Christ and preach repentance to others. Doctrine and Covenants 18:17–47 teaches the importance of taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ. The Lord also mentioned the forthcoming call of the Twelve Apostles and the desire they would have to take upon themselves the name of the Savior “with full purpose of heart” (D&C 18:27). The Lord gave Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer the unique responsibility to “search out the Twelve” (D&C 18:37).
Have you ever experienced the disturbance and destruction of an earthquake? On October 17, 1989, at 5:04 p.m., a powerful earthquake (measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale) hit the San Francisco, California, area of the United States. Thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed. Some of the homes appeared to be fine on the outside, but officials condemned them because the foundations were cracked or not secure. What concerns would you have about living in a house with an insecure foundation?
As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 18, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery how to build up His Church on a secure foundation. At the beginning of this revelation, the Lord referred to the things Oliver Cowdery had written, meaning the words of the Book of Mormon Oliver had recorded while acting as a scribe for the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:2–5, and identify what was written in the Book of Mormon that the Lord commanded His servants to build the Church upon.
From the Lord’s instructions we learn a central feature of the Lord’s true Church. Complete the following principle based on the revelation given in these verses: The true Church is built upon .
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following about the foundation and the rock:
“Christ was the head of the Church, the chief cornerstone, the spiritual rock upon which the Church was built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it [see Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20]. He built up the Kingdom, chose Apostles and ordained them to the Melchizedek Priesthood, giving them power [priesthood keys] to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 139).
The Lord gave a specific promise to His servants if they would build up His Church upon the secure foundation of His gospel. Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:5, and identify the Lord’s promise.
How would you describe the spiritual and moral climate of the world we currently live in? Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:6, and notice how the Lord described the world. Identify the Lord’s solution to the increasing iniquity in the world, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 18:9.
Think of an item in your home that you feel is valuable. Do you know approximately how much money that item is worth? One way to establish an object’s value is by determining the price someone is willing to pay for it. A person might claim that a particular object is worth a certain amount of money, but that price is accurate only if another person is willing to pay that amount for the object.
What is the worth of a soul? Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 teaches the value of a person in God’s eyes. Read this verse, looking for what the Lord declared we are worth.
In your scripture study journal, write why you think you are of such great worth to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency explained our worth to our Heavenly Father: “God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him” (“You Matter to Him,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 22).
Each soul is important to the Lord, and Church leaders often are directed by the Spirit to minister to one particular individual. For example, President Thomas S. Monson followed the promptings of the Spirit and changed the message he had prepared in order to speak to one young girl during a general conference:
“In the balcony to my left I see a beautiful girl of perhaps ten years. Sweet little one, I do not know your name or whence you have come. This, however, I do know: the innocence of your smile and the tender expression of your eyes have persuaded me to place aside for a future time the message I had prepared for this occasion. Today, I am impressed to speak to you.”
President Monson then shared an experience that strengthened his understanding of the great love that Jesus Christ has for children. He talked about 10-year-old Christal Methvin who, with her family, lived in the Shreveport Louisiana Stake. Christal had been diagnosed with cancer, which had spread to her lungs. “The Methvin family did not despair, but rather planned a flight to Salt Lake City. Christal could receive a blessing from one of the General Authorities. The Methvins knew none of the Brethren personally, so opening before Christal a picture of all the General Authorities, a chance selection was made. By sheer coincidence, my name was selected.
“Christal never made the flight to Salt Lake City. Her condition deteriorated. The end drew nigh. But her faith did not waver. To her parents, she said, ‘Isn’t stake conference approaching? Isn’t a General Authority assigned? And why not Brother Monson? If I can’t go to him, the Lord can send him to me.’
“Meanwhile in Salt Lake City, with no knowledge of the events transpiring in Shreveport, a most unusual situation developed. For the weekend of the Shreveport Louisiana Stake Conference, I had been assigned to El Paso, Texas. President Ezra Taft Benson called me to his office and explained that one of the other Brethren had done some preparatory work regarding the stake division in El Paso. He asked if I would mind were another to be assigned to El Paso and I assigned elsewhere. Of course there was no problem—anywhere would be fine with me. Then President Benson said, ‘Brother Monson, I feel impressed to have you visit the Shreveport Louisiana Stake.’ The assignment was accepted. The day came. I arrived in Shreveport.
“That Saturday afternoon was filled with meetings. … Rather apologetically, Stake President Charles F. Cagle asked if my schedule would permit me time to provide a blessing to a ten-year-old girl afflicted with cancer. Her name: Christal Methvin. I responded that, if possible, I would do so, and then inquired if she would be at the conference, or was she in a Shreveport hospital? Knowing the time was tightly scheduled, President Cagle almost whispered that Christal was confined to her home—more than eighty miles from Shreveport!
“I examined the schedule of meetings for that evening and the next morning—even my return flight. There simply was no available time. An alternative suggestion came to mind. Could we not remember the little one in our public prayers at conference? Surely the Lord would understand. On this basis, we proceeded with the scheduled meetings.
“When the word was communicated to the Methvin family, there was understanding but a trace of disappointment as well. Hadn’t the Lord heard their prayers? Hadn’t he provided that Brother Monson would come to Shreveport? Again the family prayed, asking for a final favor—that their precious Christal would realize her desire.
“At the very moment the Methvin family knelt in prayer, the clock in the stake center showed the time to be 7:45. The leadership meeting had been inspirational. I was sorting my notes, preparing to step to the pulpit, when I heard a voice speak to my spirit. The message was brief, the words familiar: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.’ (Mark 10:14.) My notes became a blur. My thoughts turned to a tiny girl in need of a blessing. The decision was made. The meeting schedule was altered. After all, people are more important than meetings. …
“I shall ever remember and never forget that early-morning journey to a heaven the Methvin family calls home. …
“The family surrounded Christal’s bedside. I gazed down at a child who was too ill to rise—almost too weak to speak. Her illness had now rendered her sightless. So strong was the spirit that I fell to my knees, took her frail hand in mine, and said simply, ‘Christal, I am here.’ She parted her lips and whispered, ‘Brother Monson, I just knew you would come.’ I looked around the room. No one was standing. Each was on bended knee. A blessing was given. A faint smile crossed Christal’s face. Her whispered ‘thank you’ provided an appropriate benediction. …
“Four days later, on Thursday, as Church members in Shreveport joined their faith with the Methvin family and Christal’s name was remembered in a special prayer to a kind and loving Heavenly Father, the pure spirit of Christal Methvin left its disease-ravaged body and entered the paradise of God. …
“To you, my little friend in the upper balcony, and to believers everywhere, I bear witness that Jesus of Nazareth does love little children, that he listens to your prayers and responds to them” (“The Faith of a Child,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 20–22).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:11–12, looking for the price our Savior, Jesus Christ, paid to redeem us. (The phrase “all men” refers to everyone—all men, women, and children.) (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can find it more easily.)
Because the worth of each soul is so great, how do you think Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ feel when someone repents and accepts the Savior’s sacrifice? Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:13, and identify the Lord’s response. Ponder why you think we bring great joy to the Lord when we repent.
From Doctrine and Covenants 18:14 we learn that the Lord called Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer to “cry repentance unto this people.” Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “Crying repentance simply means helping people return to God” (“Preparing for Your Spiritual Destiny” [Jan. 10, 2010], 7, speeches.byu.edu).
In your scripture study journal, list some ways a young person can help someone to repent or prepare to return to God.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:15–16, looking for what individuals experience when they help someone come unto Jesus Christ. (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15–16 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark this passage in a distinctive way to help you find it more easily.) Based on the Lord’s promise in these verses, complete the following principle: If we help others to repent and come unto the Lord, our joy .
In your scripture study journal, write about an experience where either you or someone you know experienced joy from helping someone to repent or to grow closer to the Lord. Also, write down one thing you will do to assist in the work of saving souls. Consider specific individuals you might help.
Write the words in Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11 on a card or small piece of paper. Carry this paper with you, and refer to it periodically throughout the day to help you remember your worth and the worth of others in the sight of God.
Write the following phrase in your scripture study journal, writing your own name in the blanks: The worth of is so great that Jesus Christ suffered and died so can repent and return to Heavenly Father. Then answer the following questions:
How could knowing this truth influence how you view yourself?
How could remembering the price Jesus Christ paid for the souls of others affect how you treat them?
Ask a family member or friend to help you memorize Doctrine and Covenants 18:15–16. Have one person begin with the first line of the scripture mastery passage, as shown below. The other person should then try to repeat the first line from memory and then add the next line. Repeat this process, alternating from person to person, saying the previous lines and adding a line of the passage until it is completed. You may want to repeat the process until you have gone through the passage several times.
“And if it so be that you should labor all your days”
“in crying repentance unto this people,”
“and bring, save it be one soul unto me,”
“how great shall be your joy with him”
“in the kingdom of my Father!”
“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul”
“that you have brought unto me”
“into the kingdom of my Father,”
“how great will be your joy”
“if you should bring many souls unto me!”
In your scripture study journal, write as much as you can of what you memorized of this scripture mastery passage.
Think about your surname (last name) for a moment. Have you ever considered the blessings and responsibilities that come with having your name and belonging to your family? Some of these privileges might include love and acceptance, a place to live, security, and people to care for you. Your responsibilities might include treating family members with respect, doing household chores, and bringing honor to the family name.
Even if you have a less-than-ideal family life and feel your family name is not important, you took upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ when you were baptized. Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:17–25, and identify the privileges and responsibilities that come with taking upon yourself His name. Write your answers in the following chart:
According to Doctrine and Covenants 18:23, why is it important for us to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ?
In your scripture study journal, write down a few ways you can let others know that you have taken the name of Jesus Christ upon yourself.
In his first general conference as a newly called Apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
“Obviously my greatest thrill and the most joyful of all realizations is that I have the opportunity, as Nephi phrased it, to ‘talk of Christ, … rejoice in Christ, … preach of Christ, [and] prophesy of Christ’ (2 Ne. 25:26) wherever I may be and with whomever I may find myself until the last breath of my life is gone. Surely there could be no higher purpose or greater privilege than that of ‘special [witness] of the name of Christ in all the world’ (D&C 107:23).
“… Beyond my words and teachings and spoken witness, my life must be part of that testimony of Jesus. My very being should reflect the divinity of this work. I could not bear it if anything I might ever say or do would in any way diminish your faith in Christ, your love for this church, or the esteem in which you hold the holy apostleship.
“I do promise you—as I have promised the Lord and these my brethren—that I will strive to live worthy of this trust and serve to the full measure of my ability” (“Miracles of the Restoration,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 31).
The Lord referred to the calling and mission of the Twelve Apostles in Doctrine and Covenants 18:26–32, 37–47.
According to Doctrine and Covenants 18:26–29, the Twelve Apostles are called to preach and administer the gospel to the entire world. Read verses 30–32; then, in your scripture study journal, record what else the Lord said the Twelve Apostles were to do.
Why are some voices easier to recognize than others? Do you ever find it difficult to recognize the voice of the Lord and know when He is speaking to you?
We can hear the voice of the Lord through His servants. In Doctrine and Covenants 18, the Lord explained an additional way we can hear and become familiar with His voice. Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–36, 47, looking for this important way in which the Lord communicates with us. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:34 the phrase “these words” refers to the revelations the Lord had given that are now found in the Doctrine and Covenants. According to these verses, what would you say to someone who wants to know how we can hear the Lord speaking to us?
Write this principle in your scriptures or your scripture study journal: We can hear the voice of Jesus Christ as we read the scriptures by the power of the Spirit.
We can hear the voice of the Lord in ways that are not audible to our ears. Through the Holy Ghost we can receive feelings and messages to our mind and heart (see D&C 8:2–3). Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “When we read and study the revelations, the Spirit can confirm in our hearts the truth of what we are learning; in this way, the voice of the Lord speaks to each one of us” (“Marvelous Are the Revelations of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1998, 32).
Think of an experience when you felt the Lord inspire you as you read or pondered the scriptures. Ponder the following questions:
How could knowing that the Holy Ghost can help us hear the Savior’s voice as we read His words affect the way you think about the scriptures?
How might that truth guide you as you choose the time, place, or environment in which you read the scriptures?
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 18 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: