Unit 27: Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 127; 128:1–11

“Unit 27: Day 3, Doctrine and Covenants 127; 128:1–11,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)


Introduction

Doctrine and Covenants 127 contains a letter from the Prophet Joseph Smith, dated September 1, 1842, which instructed the Saints to keep records of the baptisms they performed for the dead. About a week later, Joseph wrote another letter concerning the subject of baptism for the dead. Doctrine and Covenants 128 contains this letter, which teaches why we keep records of saving ordinances that are performed.

Doctrine and Covenants 127:1–4

Joseph Smith glories in persecution and tribulation

Read Doctrine and Covenants 127:1, looking for what tribulation the Prophet Joseph Smith was experiencing in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842.

In May 1842, Lilburn W. Boggs, the former governor of Missouri who issued the extermination order against the Saints, was wounded by an unknown would-be assassin. Missouri authorities accused the Prophet Joseph Smith of arranging for someone to murder Boggs and tried to bring the Prophet back to Missouri for trial. Joseph Smith had left Missouri years earlier and was living in the area of Nauvoo, Illinois, at the time. Knowing that if he returned to Missouri he would be killed, the Prophet eluded Missouri officials for a time, to avoid being illegally arrested. In January 1843 it was determined that the proceedings to arrest Joseph Smith and extradite him to Missouri were illegal.

Doctrine and Covenants 127 was a letter, dated September 1, 1842, that the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote to the Church while he was moving about to avoid false arrest by Missouri officials. This letter was read to the Saints in Nauvoo a few days later.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 127:2, looking for how Joseph responded to tribulations. As you read, it might be helpful to know that the word wont means being accustomed to something.

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

    1. What was Joseph Smith’s attitude toward tribulations?

    2. How can his example help us?

young woman praying

Based on what the Prophet wrote to the Saints, we can learn that trusting in Heavenly Father can help us endure tribulation. Review Doctrine and Covenants 127:2, and consider marking the words or phrases that teach this truth.

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, write the name of a person you know (or have learned about) who was able to endure tribulation because he or she trusted in Heavenly Father. How did trusting in Heavenly Father help this person endure tribulation?

The Prophet Joseph Smith assured the Saints that they could rejoice because “Israel’s God is their God” (D&C 127:3). Read Doctrine and Covenants 127:4, looking for what the Lord promised those who would endure persecution.

Ponder the faith of the Saints who continued to build the Nauvoo Temple even when they were under threat of persecution. How can their example influence you when you are faced with difficult challenges?

Doctrine and Covenants 127:5–12

The Prophet Joseph Smith counsels the Saints to keep records of the baptisms they perform for the dead

Remember that about a year and a half before Joseph Smith wrote the letter now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 127, the Lord had told the Saints that the ordinance of baptism for the dead belonged in the temple (see D&C 124:30). However, the Lord allowed the Saints to perform baptisms for the dead in the nearby river and streams until a baptismal font was ready in the temple. Once a font was ready, the ordinance of baptism for the dead was acceptable only in the temple. The Saints began performing baptisms for the dead in the Nauvoo Temple in November 1841.

temple name cards

Have you been able to go to the temple and perform baptisms for the dead? If so, did you notice whether anyone was sitting near the baptismal font?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 127:5–9, looking for who needs to be present when baptisms for the dead are performed.

According to verse 7, why is it important that a recorder be an eyewitness to the baptisms?

In addition to the need for a recorder, we can also learn from verse 7 that the temple ordinances we perform on the earth are binding in heaven. You might want to mark the words or phrases that teach this doctrine. To be binding in heaven means that the ordinances are valid in the sight of Heavenly Father.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following question in your scripture study journal: How might this doctrine affect you when participating in ordinances for the dead?

In Doctrine and Covenants 127:10–12, we learn that Joseph Smith wanted to teach the Saints more about baptism for the dead, but because he was in hiding, he could not do so. He promised to write the Saints additional letters about baptism for the dead and other important subjects.

Doctrine and Covenants 128:1–11

Joseph Smith explains why we keep records for ordinances of salvation

About a week after he wrote the letter recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 127, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote another letter to the Saints concerning baptism for the dead. The contents of this letter are in Doctrine and Covenants 128.

In Doctrine and Covenants 128:1–5, Joseph Smith taught that local recorders should be appointed to witness and record the ordinance of baptism for the dead. He also taught that a general recorder should be appointed to compile the local records onto a general Church record.

Have you ever seen a passport? What kinds of privileges is the holder of the passport entitled to? Why will another person’s passport not qualify you to enter another country? What could happen if you tried to enter another country but the information inside your passport was not complete?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 128:6–7, looking for what records will be used to determine whether we qualify to be admitted into God’s presence. Notice that the Apostle John and the Prophet Joseph Smith mentioned more than one record. They told of “the books [that] were opened; and another book, … which is the book of life” (D&C 128:6; see also Revelation 20:12). The first books spoken of by John are records kept on the earth, and the book of life is the record kept in heaven. These books contain a record of our works.

Just like a person needs specific information recorded in his or her passport to be admitted into another country, we need specific information to be recorded in these books in order to be admitted into God’s presence.

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

President Boyd K. Packer

“No matter what citizenship or race, whether male or female, no matter what occupation, no matter your education, regardless of the generation in which one lives, life is a homeward journey for all of us, back to the presence of God in His celestial kingdom.

“Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into His presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality” (“Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 24).

Consider marking the phrase “whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” in Doctrine and Covenants 128:8. Then read Doctrine and Covenants 128:8 again, looking for “a different view of the translation” Joseph Smith gave of this statement. You may want to mark that phrase as well.

As you read verse 8, it might help to know that propria persona means to act in one’s own behalf and refers to people who are baptized for themselves. The phrase “their own agents” refers to those who were not able to receive the saving ordinance of baptism during mortality and need agents—other people—to be baptized for them.

According to Doctrine and Covenants 128:8, what two things need to happen in order for ordinances to be binding on earth and in heaven? To answer this question, fill in the blanks of the following doctrine: When an ordinance is performed by priesthood and a proper is kept, the ordinance is binding on earth and in heaven.

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

    1. What do you think it means for an ordinance to be binding in heaven?

    2. How do you feel as you think about your participation in the temple ordinances of baptism and confirmation bringing blessings to people in the spirit world?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 128:9, looking for what Joseph Smith said about this principle.

young family with Provo Utah Temple in background

One of the things we learn in verse 9 is that in every dispensation of the priesthood, the Lord has authorized at least one of His servants to hold and use the sealing keys of the priesthood.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 128:10–11, looking for what the Savior gave to Peter.

Just as the Savior gave the sealing keys of the priesthood to Peter, He has given the keys again in our day.

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

    1. Why is it important that ordinances, such as baptisms for the dead, be done with the proper authority?

    2. What will you do because of what you have learned today?

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

    I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 127; 128:1–11 and completed this lesson on (date).

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