Doctrine and Covenants 109

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 185–88


Introduction

On December 27, 1832, the Lord commanded the Saints in Kirtland to “establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119). Construction on the temple began in June 1833. After nearly three years of intense sacrifice of time and possessions, the Saints completed the temple in March 1836. The Prophet dedicated the temple on March 27 by reading the prayer recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 109, which he had received earlier by revelation. This prayer became a pattern for other temple dedicatory prayers.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, explained why the Saints willingly sacrifice to build temples:

“Each temple built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands as an expression of the testimony of this people that God our Eternal Father lives, that He has a plan for the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations, that His Beloved Son, Jesus the Christ, who was born in Bethlehem of Judea and crucified on the cross of Golgotha, is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, whose atoning sacrifice makes possible the fulfillment of that plan in the eternal life of each who accepts and lives the gospel. Every temple, be it large or small, old or new, is an expression of our testimony that life beyond the grave is as real and certain as is mortality. There would be no need for temples if the human spirit and soul were not eternal. Every ordinance performed in these sacred houses is everlasting in its consequences. …

“… [The] power to seal in the heavens that which is sealed upon the earth is exercised in these holy houses. Every one of us is subject to mortal death. But through the eternal plan made possible by the sacrifice of the Redeemer, all may go on to glories infinitely greater than any of the wondrous things of this life.

“This is why those of an earlier generation struggled so hard with such tremendous faith to build a house worthy to be dedicated to God our Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And such was the purpose in building the temples [in the early days of the Church] and in building those which have followed” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 91–92; or Ensign, May 1993, 74).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The Saints fulfilled the Lord’s command to build a temple in Kirtland. Like all of God’s temples, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated by priesthood authority (see D&C 109:1–4; see also D&C 88:119).

  • Temples are built by the sacrifice of the Saints to provide a place for Jesus Christ “to manifest himself to his people” (D&C 109:5; see also D&C 97:15–17; 124:26–27).

  • Temples are places where the Saints can feel the Lord’s presence and power, seek wisdom, receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to God’s laws (see D&C 109:6–16; see also D&C 124:36–41).

  • Those who righteously worship in the temple find favor in the Lord’s sight, receive protection from their enemies, and are delivered from God’s judgments, which will be poured out on the wicked in the last days (see D&C 109:20–26, 45–46; see also D&C 97:15–25).

  • In the temple, God’s servants take upon themselves His name, power, and protection in order to preach the gospel to all His children and prepare them for His Second Coming (see D&C 109:15, 22–23, 35–41; see also D&C 38:38; 43:15–16).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 162–68.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 270–74.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video presentation 16, “Endowed with Power” (12:24), can be used in teaching Doctrine and Covenants 109 (see Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Doctrine and Covenants 109:1–5. The Saints fulfilled the Lord’s command to build a temple in Kirtland. Like all of God’s temples, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated by priesthood authority.

(25–30 minutes)

Before class, arrange your room according to the accompanying floor plan, which is based on the floor plan of the Kirtland Temple. (Or you could draw the floor plan on the board.)

Kirkland Temple Floor Plan

Display several pictures of latter-day temples. Ask students if any of them have attended a temple open house or dedication. Invite any who have to share their experience and feelings. Ask:

  • Where does the money to build temples come from? (Tithing and other donations.)

  • What kinds of sacrifices do the Saints make so temples can be built?

Display a picture of the Kirtland Temple (see Gospel Art Picture Kit, no. 500). Share examples of the sacrifices made by the early Saints to build the Kirtland Temple (see Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 162–64).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 109:1–5 and mark reasons the Kirtland Temple was constructed. Discuss the following questions:

  • Why did the early Saints build the Kirtland Temple?

  • In what ways was it a sacrifice to build this temple?

  • What blessing did the Saints desire that would make any sacrifice worth making? (“That the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people” [v. 5].)

Ask students why they think the classroom is set up the way it is (or point out the drawing on the board). Explain that it is set up similar to the interior of the Kirtland Temple. Tell students: Imagine you were present at the Kirtland Temple dedication.

  • How early would you have arrived at the first temple dedication of this dispensation?

  • Who would you most want to see?

  • How might you describe your feelings when you saw Joseph Smith stand at the pulpit to conduct the dedication service?

Share details of the dedication from Church History in the Fulness of Times (pp. 165–66). Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 109:35–37 and compare it with Acts 2:1–6. Ask:

  • What was the Prophet praying for?

  • What would it mean to you to witness the fulfillment of this prayer?

Have a student read what happened during a meeting that night. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote:

“A noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place” (History of the Church, 2:428).

Share the statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley in the introduction to section 109 above. Conclude by singing or reading “The Spirit of God” (Hymns, no. 2).

Doctrine and Covenants 109:5–9. Temples are built by the sacrifice of the Saints to provide a place for Jesus Christ “to manifest himself to his people.”

(10–15 minutes)

Show a picture of a house or apartment building, or draw one on the board. Ask students to share some typical activities that take place in a house or apartment (such as meals, chores, family home evenings, television viewing). Show a picture of a temple, and have students share some of what happens in the temple (such as baptisms for the dead, sealings to parents, marriages for eternity). Ask:

  • What are some differences between the Lord’s house and where you live?

  • What can you do to make the spirit in your home more like the spirit in the temple?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 109:5–9 and discuss the following questions:

  • According to verse 5, what is one reason we build temples?

  • What can we do to “establish … a house of God”? (v. 8; see vv. 7–9).

  • Which of these activities can also be done in our homes?

  • How would practicing the principles in verse 8 make the spirit in your home more like the spirit in the temple?

Share the following statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin:

“The place to cure most of the ills of society is in the homes of the people. Building our homes as fortresses of righteousness for protection from the world takes constant labor and diligence. …

“In the plan of salvation, all families are precious instruments in the Lord’s hands to help direct His children toward a celestial destination. The righteous molding of an immortal soul is the highest work we can do, and the home is the place to do it. To accomplish this eternal work, we should make our homes gospel centered. When peace and harmony abound, the Holy Spirit will ever be present. The storms of the evil one can be stopped at the very entrance of our homes. …

“The Lord’s standards for building a temple apply also to building spiritual strength in our homes: ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God’ (D&C 88:119). Do we heed this counsel from the Lord? Do we do what He asks? We would do well to build our homes according to this plan, or they are destined to fail” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 85; or Ensign, May 1993, 69).

Doctrine and Covenants 109:10–28, 38–46. Temples are places where the Saints can feel the Lord’s presence and power, seek wisdom, receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to God’s laws. Those who righteously worship in the temple can find favor in the Lord’s sight, receive protection from their enemies, and be delivered from God’s judgments, which will be poured out on the wicked in the last days.

(30–35 minutes)

Show students a logo of a famous business or a mascot of a well-known sports team. Ask:

  • Who or what does this symbol represent?

  • What message does it communicate?

  • Why might this business (or team) have chosen this symbol as its logo (or mascot)?

  • What symbol would you use to represent the type of person you are?

Write on the board the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter: “I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 8; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8). Ask students how we can do this.

Explain that in the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith asked that the Saints be given special blessings related to temple worship. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 109:10–28, 38–46 and underline every word or phrase related to these blessings. (Several examples are found in the commentary for D&C 109:10–60 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 271–72.) Ask:

  • In what ways can these blessings influence individual members of the Church?

  • Which of these blessings show how the Lord’s power can be manifest in your life through temple worship?

  • Which blessings do you need or desire most?

  • How do these blessings help you understand why President Hunter asked us to make the temple the great symbol of our membership?

Have students go through verses 10–28, 38–46 again. This time have them circle or shade every word or phrase that suggests what we must do to obtain these blessings. Have them share their insights as you discuss the following:

  • How do the blessings relate to what we must do?

  • Are the blessings worth the effort? In what ways?

Encourage students to earn these blessings by living the gospel each day. Read or sing “I Love to See the Temple” (Children’s Songbook, 95).

Doctrine and Covenants 109:15, 22–23, 35–46, 50–80. In the temple, God’s servants take upon themselves His name, power, and protection in order to preach the gospel to all His children and prepare them for His Second Coming.

(35–40 minutes)

Discuss with students the following questions:

  • Why do you think the prophet has said that every young man should serve a mission?

  • Why is it important for all to go to the temple?

Share the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter: “Let us prepare every missionary to go to the temple worthily and to make that experience an even greater highlight than receiving the mission call” (“A Temple-Motivated People,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 5). Ask: Why do you think President Hunter gave this instruction?

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 38:32–33; 105:11–12; 110:9. Ask:

  • What did the Lord want His servants to receive before they taught the gospel?

  • How many people did the Lord say would be influenced by the teaching of those who have been endowed with power in the Lord’s house?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 109:15, 22–23. What blessings are available in the temple that could help missionaries do their work?

  • How do these scriptures relate to President Hunter’s desire to make the temple a highlight in our lives?

Invite students to scan Doctrine and Covenants 109:43–60. Have them list the groups of people the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed for and tell what he said about each group. Ask:

  • How could the gospel bless the people in each of these groups?

  • What kind of power would a missionary need in order to influence some of these people?

  • Read verses 72–76. According to these verses, what are we trying to prepare the world for?

  • How can the temple help both missionaries and converts prepare for the Lord’s coming?

Share the following statement by President Hunter:

“All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them. I encourage everyone to worthily attend the temple or to work toward the day when you can enter that holy house to receive your ordinances and covenants.

“May you let the meaning and beauty and peace of the temple come into your everyday life more directly in order that the millennial day may come, that promised time when ‘they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more … [but shall] walk in the light of the Lord’ (Isaiah 2:4–5)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 118; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).