Lesson 14

Doctrine and Covenants 136–138; Official Declaration 1–2


The following assignments include various learning activities, such as questions, lists, essays, charts, comparisons, contrasts, and surveys. To receive credit for this lesson, you must complete the number of assignments indicated below and submit them to your institute instructor or administrator. You may submit your work either electronically or on paper, handwritten or typed.

Each lesson should take approximately 60–90 minutes to complete, the same amount of time you would typically spend in a weekly institute class. Since reading the scripture block listed in the lesson heading is expected of all institute students prior to class, the estimated time for each assignment does not include the time you need to spend reading the scripture block.

Complete assignment 1 or 4 and any two of the remaining assignments:

1.   Doctrine and Covenants 136. Directions for Moving West

After studying Doctrine and Covenants 136:1–11, read the institute student manual commentary “D&C 136:4–11: The Saints Must Walk by Covenant” (page 351). Then write responses for the following:

  • What do you feel it means for an individual to “walk in all the ordinances of the Lord”? (verse 4).
  • Review Mosiah 18:8–10. Then explain in a brief paragraph how the instructions in Doctrine and Covenants 136:6–11 helped the Saints know how to apply the covenants they had made to their current situation.
  • Make an outline of one aspect in your life in which you could better “walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.” (Note: If this part of the assignment becomes too personal, simply write the outline in your journal and note to the teacher that you have completed it).

Study Doctrine and Covenants 136:17–33. Then write responses for the following:

  • Which of the Lord’s instructions in these verses would have been especially comforting and helpful as the Saints prepared to live and work closely together in companies for the trek west?
  • Choose two principles from among these verses and write a paragraph that explains how they can safeguard you temporally or spiritually.

After studying Doctrine and Covenants 136:34–42 and the student manual commentary “D&C 136:38–40: ‘Many Have Marveled Because of His Death’” (pages 352–53), explain in a short paragraph why it was “needful that [Joseph Smith] should seal his testimony with his blood” (verse 39). Then in writing describe what assurances the Lord provided in these verses to faithful Saints in spite of no longer having the Prophet Joseph Smith with them.

2.   Doctrine and Covenants 137. According to the Desire of Our Hearts

Read Doctrine and Covenants 137:1–10 and the student manual commentaries “D&C 137:5–8: The Salvation of Joseph Smith’s Brother Alvin,” “D&C 137:5: Salvation of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith,” and “D&C 137:7–9: On What Basis Will All Mankind Be Judged?” (pages 354–55). Then write answers for the following questions:

  • What does the Prophet’s vision of the celestial kingdom in verses 1–6 and the Lord’s response to Joseph Smith’s question in verses 7–10 teach us about God’s love for His children and His desire for their salvation?
  • How does the knowledge that we are judged according to our works as well as our desires demonstrate God’s mercy? How does it demonstrate God’s justice?
  • How can the knowledge you gain from this section help you prepare for your day of judgment?

3.   Doctrine and Covenants 138:1–11. Pondering

From Doctrine and Covenants 138:1–11, identify in writing specific words or phrases that describe what President Joseph F. Smith did or felt that prepared him for the vision he had of the spirit world. Write two or three sentences that explain how these actions and feelings can prepare you to receive personal revelation from the Lord.

Read the student manual commentary “D&C 138:1–11: Pondering the Scriptures: Frequently a Prerequisite to Revelation” (page 357). Write a paragraph explaining how you can incorporate what you have learned about pondering from verses 1–11 and from the experience related by President David O. McKay in the student manual into your personal scripture study, sacrament meeting worship, temple worship, and daily life.

4.   Doctrine and Covenants 138:12–60. The World of Spirits

After studying Doctrine and Covenants 138:12–24, write answers for the following questions:

  • How does Doctrine and Covenants 138:12–14 help us understand the meaning of being “faithful in the testimony of Jesus” during this life?
  • How could you use verses 15–17 to help you explain the importance of having a physical body?
  • Review verses 12–24 and compare the differences between the righteous and the wicked spirits. In what ways do you see that difference even in mortality?

Doctrine and Covenants 138:22 indicates that the righteous and the wicked were separated. Luke 16:19–30 also indicates that a gulf existed between the righteous and the wicked spirits in the spirit world prior to the Savior’s visit. After reading Doctrine and Covenants 138:25–37, 57–59, write a paragraph describing the similarities and differences between missionary work in mortality and in the spirit world.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 138:38–56, and consider the righteous works accomplished by those identified in these verses. Then write responses for the following:

  • How does Doctrine and Covenants 138:51–52 help you better understand the meaning of being “crowned with immortality and eternal life”?
  • What did you learn from Doctrine and Covenants 138:56 about the pre-earth life? How can this knowledge give you strength to live faithfully?
  • Write a short paragraph describing what you learn from verses 38–56 about the desires and works of a righteous individual, regardless of which stage of eternal progression she or he may be in—pre-earth life, earth life, or post-earth life.

5.   Official Declaration 1. Discontinuation of Plural Marriage

From your study of Official Declaration 1 and the excerpts from the three addresses by President Wilford Woodruff printed with it, write answers to the following questions:

  • What doctrines or principles about the living prophet did President Lorenzo Snow teach when presenting the Manifesto (Official Declaration 1) to the Church for their sustaining vote? How do these doctrines or principles continue to anchor the Church today?
  • How do you feel personally about the promise President Woodruff gave in the first paragraph of “Excerpts from Three Addresses”?
  • What did the Lord reveal to President Woodruff about why the Saints should cease to practice plural marriage? How does this help you understand the necessity of continuing revelation?

6.   Official Declaration 2. Priesthood to All Worthy Male Members of the Church

Read Official Declaration 2 and the student manual “Historical Background” for this declaration (pages 364–65). Then write answers for the following questions:

  • What specific actions did President Spencer W. Kimball take as he sought guidance from the Lord on this matter? How can you apply those same principles in your life as you seek revelation from the Lord?
  • What do you learn about the formal process for revelations to be presented to the Church from what you have read from Official Declaration 2?
  • How do you think the revelation that all worthy males may hold the priesthood has influenced individual lives? Missionary work? Temple work?