In November 1831, a group of elders gathered for a special conference in Hiram, Ohio. One item of discussion at the conference was the publication of revelations the Prophet Joseph Smith had received. During this meeting the Lord gave a revelation to Joseph Smith and designated it as the preface to the book of revelations that would be published. That revelation is now the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Later in the conference, the Lord gave a revelation that is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 67. In that revelation the Lord spoke to brethren who had questions about the language of the revelations He had given to the Prophet.
Have you ever wondered why some people receive a testimony of gospel principles and others do not?
In November of 1831, a group of elders, including the Prophet Joseph Smith, gathered to discuss the publication of the revelations the Prophet had received. Several of the elders had received a testimony that the revelations were true. However, others may have still been hoping to receive such a testimony.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 67:1–2, looking for what the Lord said about prayer.
From what you learn in verses 1–2, fill in the blanks in the following principle: The Lord hears my and knows my .
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can knowing this principle help you improve your prayers? Then write about an experience that has helped you or someone you know gain a spiritual confirmation of gospel truths.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 67:3, looking for why some of the elders did not receive the blessing the Lord had offered them. You may want to mark the phrases that stand out to you.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can allowing fear into your heart prevent you from receiving blessings? Then make a list of fears that might stop people from receiving blessings.
Ponder the Lord’s power to help us replace fear with faith. How can this knowledge help someone continue to develop a testimony?
Have you ever wondered why we should follow Church leaders even though they are imperfect?
Read the section introduction for Doctrine and Covenants 67 and verse 5, looking for the different attitudes some elders had toward the revelations. (Remember that the first collection of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s revelations was titled the Book of Commandments. Later, the title was changed to the Doctrine and Covenants.) Note in the section introduction that “many of the brethren bore solemn testimony” of the truthfulness of the revelations. However, “some negative conversation was had concerning the language used in the revelations.” According to verse 5, some elders thought they could “express beyond [Joseph Smith’s] language.” Because of pride in their own intellect, they felt they were more qualified to write revelations than the Lord’s anointed prophet (see 2 Nephi 9:28–29).
Why do you think it was important for the elders to understand that the Lord knew He was working through imperfect servants?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 67:6–9, looking for the challenge the Lord gave to those who were concerned about the language of the revelations.
William E. McLellin decided to take the Lord’s challenge to write a revelation comparable to those the Prophet Joseph Smith had received. Joseph Smith recorded the following in his history: “William E. M’Lellin, as the wisest man, in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord’s, but failed; it was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord. The Elders and all present that witnessed this vain attempt of a man to imitate the language of Jesus Christ, renewed their faith in the fullness of the Gospel, and in the truth of the commandments and revelations which the Lord had given to the Church through my instrumentality; and the Elders signified a willingness to bear testimony of their truth to all the world” (in History of the Church, 1:226).
After this event, all of the elders who were present agreed to sign a document giving formal testimony of the truthfulness of the revelations contained in the Book of Commandments.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why do you think Joseph Smith, who had limited formal schooling, could produce these revelations, but William E. McLellin, who was well educated, could not?
What can you learn from this account about judging our leaders because of their imperfections?
Ponder your commitment to follow your leaders in righteousness, regardless of the imperfections you or others may see in them.
In your scripture study journal, draw a chart with two columns. Label the first column Reward and the second column How to Obtain the Reward. Read Doctrine and Covenants 67:10–14, looking for the reward the Savior promised these brethren and the actions necessary for them to obtain that reward. Write your answers in the appropriate columns.
According to these verses, what did these brethren need to do to abide the presence of God? (The word abide means to endure or to remain in a certain place.) If they stripped themselves from jealousies and fears and humbled themselves, they would be able to abide the presence of God.
As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 67:13, these brethren were encouraged to “continue in patience” until they were perfected. Read the following account, shared by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, which teaches about the importance of patience in the process of becoming perfect:
“In the 1960s, a professor at Stanford University began a modest experiment testing the willpower of four-year-old children. He placed before them a large marshmallow and then told them they could eat it right away or, if they waited for 15 minutes, they could have two marshmallows.
“He then left the children alone and watched what happened behind a two-way mirror. Some of the children ate the marshmallow immediately; some could wait only a few minutes before giving in to temptation. Only 30 percent were able to wait” (“Continue in Patience,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 56).
How do you think this professor’s experiment and findings could apply to youth today?
President Uchtdorf then spoke about the findings from the marshmallow experiment:
“As time went on, [the professor] kept track of the children and began to notice an interesting correlation: the children who could not wait struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems, while those who waited tended to be more positive and better motivated, have higher grades and incomes, and have healthier relationships.
“What started as a simple experiment with children and marshmallows became a landmark study suggesting that the ability to wait—to be patient—was a key character trait that might predict later success in life. …
“Waiting can be hard. Children know it, and so do adults. We live in a world offering fast food, instant messaging, on-demand movies, and immediate answers to the most trivial or profound questions. We don’t like to wait. …
“Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter.
“Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace” (“Continue in Patience,” 56).
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think patience is necessary in your efforts to be worthy and abide the presence of the Lord? Also, take a few minutes to ponder areas in your life in which you might need to have more patience with yourself or others. If you feel comfortable doing so, record a goal that includes being more patient in your efforts to become pure before God.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 67 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: