President Joseph Fielding Smith stated that Doctrine and Covenants 88 “is one of the most important revelations ever given to the Church, and several weeks could be profitably spent in discussing it” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 1:366). This is the first of three lessons that will explore Doctrine and Covenants 88. The Prophet Joseph Smith received this revelation over three days—December 27–28, 1832, and January 3, 1833. The portion of the revelation covered in this lesson includes the Lord’s teaching concerning the light of Christ and His explanation of the laws that govern His kingdoms and their inhabitants.
Have you ever prayed to know the Lord’s will concerning choices you were making in your life? The Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 88 after high priests at a conference had prayed separately and vocally to know the Lord’s will. Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–2, looking for what the Lord said about how He and the angels feel when His servants seek to know His will.
In Doctrine and Covenants 88:3–5, the Lord taught these brethren that they could receive an assurance of eternal life through the Holy Ghost, which is also called the Comforter and the Holy Spirit of Promise.
The Lord also taught about the significance of light. Have you ever been in complete physical darkness? How might an experience of being in complete darkness help you appreciate the blessing of light? What does light represent in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:6–13, looking for what the Lord taught about the source of all light.
In verse 7, what term is used to refer to the truth that “shineth”?
According to verse 12, where does all light come from?
These verses teach that through the Light of Christ, God gives light and life to all things. You might want to write this doctrine in the margin of your scriptures. The Light of Christ is also the law that governs the universe and its inhabitants, and it “quickeneth” our understanding. Quicken means to make alive. You might want to write this definition in your scriptures.
“The Light of Christ … is an influence for good in the lives of all people (see John 1:9; D&C 93:2). In the scriptures, the Light of Christ is sometimes called the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Life.
“The Light of Christ should not be confused with the Holy Ghost. It is not a personage, as the Holy Ghost is. Its influence leads people to find the true gospel, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see John 12:46; Alma 26:14–15).
“Conscience is a manifestation of the Light of Christ, enabling us to judge good from evil. The prophet Mormon taught: ‘The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. … And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged’ (Moroni 7:16, 18)” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 96).
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles further commented on the distinction and interaction between the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost:
“Everyone everywhere already has the Spirit of Christ, and while the Spirit of the Holy Ghost can visit anyone, the gift of the Holy Ghost is obtained ‘by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’ (Articles of Faith 1:3), by submitting to ‘baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; [and the] laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost’ (Articles of Faith 1:4). It is not automatically present like the Spirit of Christ is present. This gift must be conferred by one holding authority (see Articles of Faith 1:5).
“That is what we are commissioned to do, to foster the Light of Christ, which is within every soul we meet, and bring souls to the point where the Holy Ghost may visit them. And then, in due time, they can receive, through the ordinance, the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is conferred upon every member of the Church.
“Once a person has received that gift of the Holy Ghost and can cultivate it together with the Light of Christ, which they already have, then the fulness of the gospel is open to their understanding. The Holy Ghost can even work through the Light of Christ.
“The Light of Christ is as universal as sunlight itself. Wherever there is human life, there is the Spirit of Christ. Every living soul is possessed of it. It is the sponsor of everything that is good. It is the inspirer of everything that will bless and benefit mankind. It nourishes goodness itself” (“The Light of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 13).
To help you think about how the Light of Christ blesses you daily, answer two or more of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
In Doctrine and Covenants 88:7–10, we learn that all physical light, such as sunlight, is part of the Light of Christ. How does physical light bless your life?
Quickeneth or quickened means to bring to life or make alive. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:11, we learn that the Light of Christ is a means by which our understanding of things can be quickened, or made alive. When have you felt your learning or understanding quickened?
In Doctrine and Covenants 88:12–13, we learn that the Light of Christ gives life to all things, which includes animals, plants, and even us. How have you been blessed by the living things around you?
In Doctrine and Covenants 88:13, we also learn that the Light of Christ is the law by which all things are governed. This includes physical laws, like gravity, and spiritual laws and commandments. Through the Light of Christ, sometimes called our conscience, each of us can discern the difference between right and wrong. How do physical and spiritual laws affect you each day?
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How do the truths you have learned help you appreciate God’s influence in your daily life—in ways both noticed and generally unnoticed? Include some thoughts about how this will impact your daily life in coming days.
When you put on a glove, your hand animates, or gives life, to the glove. If you were teaching someone about the plan of salvation and you used a glove to represent the physical body we receive at birth, what could your hand represent?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:15, looking for what the Lord called the combination of the spirit and the body.
You might want to mark the doctrine that the spirit and the body are the soul of man.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal: How can the things that affect our physical bodies also affect our spirits? What are some examples?
The following statement from President Ezra Taft Benson helps to explain the connection between our physical bodies and our spirits:
“There is no question that the health of the body affects the spirit, or the Lord would never have revealed the Word of Wisdom. God has never given any temporal commandments—that which affects our bodies also affects our souls. …
“… Sin debilitates. It affects not only the soul, but the body. The scriptures are replete with examples of the physical power that can attend the righteous. On the other hand, unrepented sin can diffuse energy and lead to both mental and physical sickness” (“In His Steps,” Ensign, Sept. 1988, 5).
Note that in some verses of scripture the word soul is used specifically in reference to our spirit body (for example, see Alma 40:15–23).
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can understanding the connection between your body and your spirit help you make righteous decisions?
Consider some additional doctrines and principles that can be demonstrated by using a hand and a glove: Imagine removing your hand from a glove. What could this action represent? What happens to the soul—the spirit and the body—at death?
What could picking up the glove and putting it back on represent? What happens to the soul at resurrection?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:14, 16–17, looking for how the Lord described the Resurrection.
Complete the following doctrine taught in these verses: Jesus Christ made it possible for our souls to .
In verse 17, after we read that Jesus Christ has redeemed our souls, we learn that those who are humble and meek will inherit the earth. Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:18–20, looking for what will happen to the earth before it becomes celestial and the redeemed souls inherit it.
According to verse 19, whose presence will be found on the sanctified earth? Ponder what you would say to someone who asked you the following question: What do I need to do to qualify to live in the celestial kingdom and enjoy the presence of Heavenly Father?
Just as the earth will receive glory after it is sanctified, our bodies will also be changed and receive glory in the Resurrection. However, not all people will receive the same degree of glory.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:21–24, and identify what determines the degree of glory a person receives in the Resurrection.
As you study Doctrine and Covenants 88:25–33, look for words and phrases that support the doctrine taught in verses 21–24, that in the Resurrection, we will receive glory according to the law we obey.
Verse 28 refers to those “who are of a celestial spirit.” Those are individuals who live according to the law of the celestial kingdom. We know from Doctrine and Covenants 76 that the law of the celestial kingdom includes making and keeping gospel covenants (see D&C 76:50–53, 69–70). A person who lives a celestial law on earth will receive a celestial body in the Resurrection. If a person only obeys a terrestrial or telestial law on earth, he or she will receive a body of lesser glory, according to the law he or she obeyed.
To help you understand why the laws of God are blessings to us, think about the benefits that come from obeying traffic laws. On the other hand, what are some consequences for disobeying traffic laws?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:34–35, looking for the consequences of living and refusing to live the laws of God.
Study Doctrine and Covenants 88:40, and identify qualities of people who will be drawn to the celestial kingdom. Then answer the following question and complete the following assignment in your scripture study journal:
What can you do to develop or strengthen these qualities in your life?
Choose one of the qualities you identified, and write a personal goal to develop or strengthen that quality in your life.
As you fulfill your goal and live the laws of Jesus Christ, His light will fill your life.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 88:1–40 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: