Unit 12: Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 49

“Unit 12: Day 1, Doctrine and Covenants 49,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)


Leman Copley, who was a recent convert to the Church, wanted missionaries to preach the gospel to members of his former religious group, the Shakers. However, he continued to hold on to some of the false beliefs of that religion. Concerned about Leman’s lingering beliefs, the Prophet Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord, and on May 7, 1831, he received the revelation that is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 49. In this revelation the Lord commanded Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt to accompany Leman to preach the gospel to the Shaker community. The Lord also clarified doctrines that the Shakers misunderstood, including the nature of the Second Coming of Christ, the need for baptism, the importance of marriage and family, and the use of animals for food.

Doctrine and Covenants 49:1–4

The Lord calls Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Leman Copley to preach to the Shakers

monkey trap

Have you ever seen a monkey trap? One way to catch a monkey is to place an object, such as a nut or a piece of food, in a container with a hole just large enough for a monkey to put its hand in. The container is secured by a rope or cable so the monkey cannot run away with the trap. When the monkey reaches in and grasps the object, it is unable to remove its hand because its fist is bigger than the hole. In their determination to hold on to the object, some monkeys will allow themselves to be caught.

Read the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 49, looking for ways the situation described is like a monkey trap. What were some of the false beliefs that Leman Copley would not give up?

  1. journal iconWrite Shakers’ Beliefs in your scripture study journal. Then list the four beliefs of the Shakers that are mentioned in the section introduction. You also might want to mark them in your scriptures.

Members of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing were commonly called Shakers because of their manner of worship, which involved shaking their bodies as they sang, danced, and clapped their hands to music.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 49:1–4, looking for what the Lord revealed about the Shakers’ beliefs. In verse 2, you may want to mark what the Lord said the Shakers desired.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. What do you think it means to “desire to know the truth in part, but not all” (D&C 49:2)?

    2. What is an example of how a member of the Church might accept some truths or standards of the gospel but ignore others?

What word would you put in the blank to complete the following principle taught in Doctrine and Covenants 49:2? Being right before the Lord includes desiring to receive of the truth He has revealed.

You might want to write this principle in your scriptures next to verse 2. Ponder the blessings a person might miss by choosing to accept only part of the truth.

You may be able to think of some traps that members of the Church get caught in. Some members might accept some teachings or standards but not all of them, while other members might hold on to attitudes that keep them from being “right before [the Lord]” (D&C 49:2). For example, a person might go to church on Sunday but then use the rest of the day for activities that break the Sabbath. Another person might read the scriptures and pray for the Spirit and then listen to music that drives the Holy Ghost away.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Satan is the master of deception and the father of all lies. Only by exercising faith in the Savior and his atoning sacrifice and keeping all the commandments are you protected from Satan’s incessant, insidious efforts to lead you carefully into his power.

“You cannot approach the gospel as you would a buffet or smorgasbord, choosing here a little and there a little. You must sit down to the whole feast and live the Lord’s loving commandments in their fullness.

“You have been taught the commandments. You know what to do: pray, study the scriptures, fast, pay your tithes and offerings, attend your meetings, partake of the sacrament, magnify your callings and serve others, sustain your Church leaders, make and keep sacred covenants, share the gospel, be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and virtuous” (“It’s Your Choice,” New Era, Feb. 1998, 4).

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, explain the danger of accepting some commandments or standards while holding on to false beliefs or practices. How is this a spiritual “trap”?

Consider what you might need to let go of in order to receive all of the blessings Heavenly Father intends for you. You may want to write a goal to let go of something that is keeping you from being right before the Lord.

Doctrine and Covenants 49:5–28

The Lord corrects some false doctrines of the Shakers and commands His servants to invite them to repent and be baptized

The Lord commanded Leman Copley, Sidney Rigdon, and Parley P. Pratt to preach the gospel to the Shakers (see D&C 49:1–4). Leman Copley had been hoping that some of the elders would preach to the members of his former church.

Can you imagine telling a group of people that some of their beliefs are false and then teaching them the correct gospel principles? When Parley P. Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, and Leman Copley visited the Shakers, they took a copy of the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 49 and read it to them.

Study each scripture passage in the left column of the following chart, and then match it with the principle it teaches in the right column. Then consider the accompanying questions.

____ 1. D&C 49:5–8

  1. No one knows when the Second Coming will occur.

____ 2. D&C 49:11–14

  1. If we know the signs of the Second Coming, we will not be deceived by false claims. Why is it important for us to be aware of the signs of the Lord’s Second Coming?

____ 3. D&C 49:15–17

  1. Jesus Christ has commanded His servants to call upon people to believe in Him, repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Why are you grateful that you have been baptized and that you have received the gift of the Holy Ghost? Why do you look forward to helping other people receive these ordinances?

____ 4. D&C 49:18–21

  1. The Lord has provided the animals of the earth for our use. Why do you think the Lord is not pleased with those who kill animals needlessly?

____ 5. D&C 49:22–25

  1. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and husbands and wives are commanded to be one and to have children. (The phrase “that the earth might answer the end of its creation; … that it might be filled with the measure of man” indicates one of the purposes of the earth’s creation.) What purposes does marriage between a man and a woman fulfill in Heavenly Father’s plan?

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have taught: “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 129).

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. Why do you think Satan attempts to destroy marriages? Why does he try to convince people that they should not marry?

    2. Why is marriage between a man and a woman important to the Lord’s plan? How does same-gender marriage frustrate the Lord’s plan?

    3. What can you do now to prepare for celestial marriage?

Think about the monkey trap. Ponder the principle that we need to accept all of the Lord’s teachings in order to be right before Him. Then read the Lord’s counsel and promises in Doctrine and Covenants 49:26–28. As you read these verses, imagine that the Lord is speaking directly to you about your efforts to be right before Him. Consider how His counsel and promises apply to you.

  1. journal iconWrite the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 49 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: