Doctrine and Covenants 18

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 46–49


Introduction

On May 15, 1829, John the Baptist laid his hands on the heads of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to restore the Aaronic Priesthood. Afterward he instructed them to baptize each other and then ordain each other to the Aaronic Priesthood by the laying on of hands. He promised that if they remained faithful, the Melchizedek Priesthood would also be restored to them (see D&C 13 heading). By the time Joseph Smith received section 18, he and Oliver Cowdery had been given the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John. Historical records and the testimony of Joseph Smith’s associates show that the Melchizedek Priesthood was probably restored between May 16–28, 1829. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 55–56; Larry C. Porter, “The Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods,” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 30–47.)

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The Church is built on the foundation of the gospel as taught in the scriptures and will stand against the powers of Satan (see D&C 18:1–5; see also Articles of Faith 1:6).

  • The Melchizedek Priesthood was restored through Peter, James, and John to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (see D&C 18:9; see also D&C 27:12; 128:20).

  • The Twelve Apostles are called to live righteously, administer priesthood ordinances, and preach the gospel by the power of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 18:9, 26–38; see also Acts 4:33; 10:39–43; D&C 107:23, 33–35).

  • The worth of every individual is so great that Jesus Christ suffered and died so we can repent and return to Him. Sharing this message changes lives and brings us joy (see D&C 18:10–16; see also John 3:16; D&C 34:3).

  • When we repent and are baptized, we take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Those who know His name and recognize His voice will be saved (see D&C 18:21–25, 40–43; see also Mosiah 5:8–13).

  • The scriptures contain the words of Christ. We can hear the voice of Jesus Christ as we read the scriptures by the power of the Spirit (see D&C 18:33–36; see also D&C 68:3–4).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 55–56.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 34–36.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 18:1–5, 22, 29, 32. The Church is built on the foundation of the gospel as taught in the scriptures and will stand against the powers of Satan.

(15–20 minutes)

Relate to students the following account: On October 17, 1989, at 5:04 p.m., an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale hit the San Francisco, California, area of the United States. Thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed. The cost of repair was estimated at two billion dollars. A number of homes near Watsonville, California, appeared to be fine on the outside, but officials condemned them because the foundations were cracked or not secure.

Read Matthew 7:24–27 and discuss with students the importance of a strong foundation.

Draw the following diagram on the board:

Foundation of Church

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:1–5, and ask:

  • What “things” (v. 2) had Oliver Cowdery written? (The Book of Mormon.)

  • What did the Lord tell Oliver about the scriptures?

  • What did the Lord want Oliver to do with the scriptures? (see v. 3).

Point to the diagram on the board and ask:

  • What is the foundation of the Church? (see v. 5).

  • What power will the Church have if it is built on this foundation? (see v. 5).

  • What do these verses suggest about why the Lord waited to restore the Church until after the Book of Mormon was published?

Read 2 Nephi 32:3–6. Discuss similarities in the foundation for the Church and your foundation for life.

Doctrine and Covenants 18:9. The Melchizedek Priesthood was restored through Peter, James, and John to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

(10–15 minutes)

Write the following questions on the board, or give them to students as a handout:

  • When was the Aaronic Priesthood restored? (see D&C 13 heading).

  • Where was the Aaronic Priesthood restored?

  • Who restored the Aaronic Priesthood?

  • Under whose direction was he acting? (see Joseph Smith—History 1:72).

  • What promise did he make regarding the Melchizedek Priesthood?

  • Who restored the Melchizedek Priesthood? (see D&C 27:12).

  • Where was the Melchizedek Priesthood restored? (see D&C 128:20).

  • When was the Melchizedek Priesthood restored?

After students have answered the questions, have them search Doctrine and Covenants 18:9 for an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood (Apostle). Explain that the date of the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood was not recorded, but historical records and the testimonies of Joseph Smith’s associates show that it was probably between May 16–28, 1829 (see the introduction to section 18, p. 46). The reference in verse 9 to the office of Apostle is the first indication in the Doctrine and Covenants that the Melchizedek Priesthood had been restored. Share the following statement by David Whitmer about what Oliver Cowdery said just before his death.

“[Oliver Cowdery spoke to] the people in his room, placing his hands … upon his head, saying, ‘I know the Gospel to be true and upon this head have Peter, James, and John laid their hands and conferred the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood” (in “The Testimony of Oliver Cowdery,” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 40; spelling and grammar standardized).

Doctrine and Covenants 18 was given soon after the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored, and the principles taught in this section are related to that priesthood. Divide students into three groups. Have each group read one of the following sets of verses and consider how they relate to the Melchizedek Priesthood:

  • Verses 1–5. The scriptures are true and contain a fulness of the gospel, including information on the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  • Verses 9–25, 40–47. There is great wickedness in the world. To overcome this wickedness, we need the Savior, His Atonement, and the ordinances of the priesthood.

  • Verses 26–39. In order to perform these ordinances, we must have the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Apostles who direct it.

Doctrine and Covenants 18:9, 27–38. The Twelve Apostles are called to live righteously, administer priesthood ordinances, and preach the gospel by the power of the Holy Ghost.

(20–25 minutes)

Hold up a picture of an Apostle. Ask students who it is and what position he holds in the Church. Share the following story by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“On one occasion, Karl G. Maeser was leading a party of young missionaries across the Alps. As they reached the summit, he looked back and saw a row of sticks thrust in the snow to mark the one safe path across the otherwise treacherous glacier.

“Halting the company of missionaries, he gestured toward the sticks and said, ‘Brethren, there stands the priesthood [of God]. They are just common sticks like the rest of us, … but the position they hold makes them what they are to us. If we step aside from the path they mark, we are lost’ [in Alma P. Burton, Karl G. Maeser: Mormon Educator (1953), 22]” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 45; or Ensign, May 1985, 35).

Ask students how the sticks in the glacier represent the Apostles of the Lord. Write Role of an Apostle on the board. Have students search Acts 4:33; 10:39–43; Doctrine and Covenants 18:9, 26–32; 107:23, 33–35. List on the board everything they can find that describes the role of an Apostle. Ask:

  • What dangers do we risk if we choose not to follow the prophets and apostles?

  • What benefits come to those who follow their counsel?

Share the following statement by Presidents Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards, then members of the First Presidency:

“Let all the Saints give diligent heed unto the counsel of those who are over them in the Lord, upholding them by the prayer of faith, keeping themselves pure and humble, and they will never lack wisdom from above” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [1965–75], 2:48).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:37 and look for the two men the Lord assigned to find the Twelve Apostles. Later the Lord called Martin Harris to join them. In February 1835 these three selected and ordained the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in our day (see Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 153–54). Share the following observation by Elder B. H. Roberts, who was a member of the Seventy:

“It appears that the special calling of the Twelve is to be Witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ in all the world; hence it was preeminently proper that these Twelve Witnesses should be chosen by the Three very special Witnesses—witnesses of the Book of Mormon in particular, and of God’s marvelous work in general” (History of the Church, 2:187 n).

Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–16 (Scripture Mastery, Doctrine and Covenants 18:10, 15–16). The worth of every individual is so great that Jesus Christ suffered and died so we can repent and return to Him. Sharing this message changes lives and brings us joy.

(5–10 minutes)

Show students something that is valuable to you and ask them how much they think it is worth. Discuss the following questions:

  • What are some of your valuable possessions?

  • What gives your possessions value?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–12 and ask:

  • What is the worth of a human soul?

  • What price was the Lord willing to pay for each person? (see also John 3:16; D&C 34:3).

Testify that it cost the blood of a God to save the souls of mankind (see 1 Corinthians 6:19–20; 1 Peter 1:18–19). Ask students how it makes them feel to know what the Lord did for them. Read or sing “I Stand All Amazed” (Hymns, no. 193). Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:13 and invite students to share why they think repentant souls bring joy to the Lord.

Read verses 14–16 and ask:

  • What has the Lord commanded us to do?

  • How does this commandment compare with the Lord’s purpose described in verse 11?

  • How will keeping this commandment make us feel?

Read Alma 26:30–31; 29:8–10 and invite students to share missionary experiences that brought them great joy. Or invite a returned missionary to share with the class some of the joys he or she experienced in missionary work. Share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“My beloved coworkers, you face the happiest years of your lives. I know whereof I speak. I have been there. I have tasted the joy of missionary work. There is no work in all the world that can bring an individual greater joy and happiness” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 213).

Discuss with students what they can do now and later to “cry repentance” to others (D&C 18:14).

Doctrine and Covenants 18:21–25, 40–43. When we repent and are baptized, we take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Those who know His name and recognize His voice will be saved.

(15–20 minutes)

Invite one or two students to write their surname on the board. Ask them to explain how they got their name and what privileges and responsibilities come with the name. (Privileges might include room and board, love, security, being raised in the Church. Responsibilities might include guarding the key to the home, treating members of the family with love and respect, doing household chores, and bringing honor to the family name.)

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 18:21–25, 40–43, and ask:

  • As members of the Church, what name do we take upon us?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 20:37. According to this verse, when do we take upon us this name?

  • What does this name have to do with our salvation?

  • What privileges come with this name? What responsibilities?

President Joseph Fielding Smith, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“We covenant that we will be willing to take upon us the name of the Son and always remember him. In keeping this covenant we promise that we will be called by his name and never do anything that would bring shame or reproach upon that name” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:344–45).

Invite students to write ways they could take upon them the name of Christ more effectively.

Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–36. The scriptures contain the words of Christ. We can hear the voice of Jesus Christ as we read the scriptures by the power of the Spirit.

(5–10 minutes)

Note: This teaching suggestion could be combined with the one for the Explanatory Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants (p. 22).

Play a recording of three or four voices that are familiar to your students. Invite individual students to identify the voices. Or blindfold one or two students. Have several other students take turns speaking without disguising their voices, and ask the blindfolded students to name the speaker. Ask the class:

  • Why are some voices easier to recognize than others?

  • What are some ways that people hear the voice of the Lord?

Point out that the more we hear a voice, the more familiar it becomes, and the greater our chance of recognizing it. Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–36 and ask:

  • According to these verses, how can we hear the voice of the Lord?

  • How could this change the way you think about the scriptures?

Write on the board: When you want to talk to God, pray. When you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures. Ask how these statements apply to verses 34–36.