Doctrine and Covenants 131 contains a compilation of principles the Prophet Joseph Smith taught while in Ramus, Illinois, on May 16–17, 1843. He taught about the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and the promise of eternal life for the faithful. He also taught that all spirit is matter.
Why do the Lord and Church leaders place so much emphasis on being married in the temple? Doctrine and Covenants 131 helps us answer that question. So does Doctrine and Covenants 132, which you will study in the next lesson.
On May 16, 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith traveled to Ramus, Illinois. While staying at the home of Benjamin and Melissa Johnson, he performed their sealing as husband and wife for eternity (this ordinance was temporarily authorized until the temple was complete). He also taught them how eternal marriage is related to the celestial kingdom. These truths are recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4. (See History of the Church, 5:391–92.)
Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:1, looking for a truth the Prophet revealed about the celestial kingdom. Then complete the following sentence: There are heavens or degrees within the celestial kingdom.
We often refer to receiving the highest degree of glory within the celestial kingdom as exaltation or eternal life. Those who obtain this degree of celestial glory will live the same type and quality of life our Heavenly Father lives.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:2–4, looking for what we must do in order to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. (Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark these verses in a distinctive way so that you can find them easily later.)
From what you learn in verse 2, complete the following doctrinal statement: In order to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, we must enter into .
In Doctrine and Covenants 131:4, we learn that if we are not sealed in the temple by the proper authority, we “cannot have an increase.” Increase refers to the opportunity to continue to have children in the celestial kingdom.
Notice the phrase “new and everlasting covenant of marriage” in verse 2. The word new in this context means that this covenant was newly restored in our dispensation. The term everlasting means that this essential covenant will endure throughout eternity. We enter into this covenant of celestial marriage only in the temple.
In what ways do you think celestial marriage between a man and a woman prepares them for exaltation? Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave some important insight into this question. As you read what he taught, mark words or phrases that explain how celestial marriage helps prepare us for eternal life.
“Two compelling doctrinal reasons help us to understand why eternal marriage is essential to the Father’s plan.
“Reason 1: The natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation. …
“By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fulness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other. …
“Reason 2: By divine design, both a man and a woman are needed to bring children into mortality and to provide the best setting for the rearing and nurturing of children …
“A home with a loving and loyal husband and wife is the supreme setting in which children can be reared in love and righteousness and in which the spiritual and physical needs of children can be met. Just as the unique characteristics of both males and females contribute to the completeness of a marriage relationship, so those same characteristics are vital to the rearing, nurturing, and teaching of children” (“Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan,” Ensign, June 2006, 83–84; or Liahona, June 2006, 51–52).
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How could understanding the doctrine that celestial marriage is essential for exaltation affect what you look for in a future spouse?
Why is it important at your age to make it a priority to prepare to receive “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” (D&C 131:2) in the temple?
The blessings of exaltation are available to those who do not have the opportunity for a celestial marriage in this life: “Some members of the Church remain single through no fault of their own, even though they want to marry. If you find yourself in this situation, be assured that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). As you remain worthy, you will someday, in this life or the next, be given all the blessings of an eternal family relationship. The Lord has made this promise repeatedly through His latter-day prophets” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 99).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4 three times. Draw a picture that helps explain the truths in these verses. Find an opportunity to teach this scripture mastery passage to a family member or friend. Consider using your picture to help you explain the truths. In your scripture study journal, write about who you taught and when.
A guarantee is a promise or an assurance that something will be done in the future.
Consider the following questions: What are the benefits of having a guarantee? Why would a guarantee from Heavenly Father be especially valuable?
In Ramus, Illinois, on the morning of May 17, 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith gave a sermon on a phrase found in 2 Peter 1:19 that represents a guarantee from God (see History of the Church, 5:392). Turn to 2 Peter 1:19, and locate the phrase “more sure word of prophecy.” Then read Doctrine and Covenants 131:5 to learn what “more sure word of prophecy” means.
According to Doctrine and Covenants 131:5, what does Heavenly Father guarantee to a person through the more sure word of prophecy? In your scripture study journal, write about how you would feel if you received such a guarantee.
Some individuals receive this assurance of eternal life while still in mortality. Sometimes we see phrases in the scriptures that represent the Lord giving this guarantee to certain individuals. For example, the Lord expressed this assurance to Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 132:49 and to Alma in Mosiah 26:20. However, this is a private matter between an individual and the Lord; we should not speculate about individuals who have received the “more sure word of prophecy.”
Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:6, looking for something that would prevent someone from receiving eternal life.
What did the Prophet Joseph Smith say would make it impossible for a person to be saved, or receive eternal life? Complete the following principle: We cannot be saved .
President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency gave an explanation of what this means: “Knowledge of ‘the only true God, and Jesus Christ’ (John 17:3) is the most important knowledge in the universe; it is the knowledge without which the Prophet Joseph Smith said no man could be saved. The lack of it is the ignorance referred to in the revelation wherein it is written: ‘It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.’ (D&C 131:6.)” (“Except a Man Be Born Again,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 14).
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What kind of knowledge must we have in order to receive eternal life? Why do you think this kind of knowledge is essential for salvation?
What will you do to increase in your knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:7–8, looking for what spirits are composed of.
These verses teach that all creations are composed of matter, but spirit matter “is more fine or pure” (D&C 131:7). Matter is the substance that objects are made of. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that our spirits are made of very fine or pure matter that cannot be seen by our eyes without the Lord’s help.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 131 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: