In this new year, our Gospel study will take us to the Doctrine and Covenants. I hope you have all been uplifted as you studied the Lord’s preface to the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 1) and Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision (Joseph Smith History 1:1-26).
As you ponder the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, I invite you to make use of the extensive resources produced by the Church. Every lesson in Come, Follow Me links to additional historical resources tailored to each week’s message. Understanding the context surrounding these revelations will paint a richer picture of the people who first received the Lord’s words recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants: their struggles, their faith, and their choices.
You will see earnest people sincerely seeking New Testament Christianity and finding it in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. These materials portray how they sought to hear the Lord’s voice, struggled to gather and form Zion communities, built temples, and made and kept sacred covenants. The details of their lives can increase your faith and devotion as you strive for these same blessings in your life.Introduction, Doctrine and Covenants Historical Resources
While these stories can be helpful in understanding a revelation’s background, Church history trivia or interesting anecdotes alone will not be sufficient to effect true conversion in your own life. Remember, to liken the scriptures means:
To understand how the principles and doctrines apply to one’s own life and to use them to become more like the Savior
To interpret [the Scriptures], one must study what it meant to them, there, then.
To apply [the Scriptures], one must ponder what it means to me, here, now.Teaching the Gospel pg. 33-34
As always, the goal of these posts is to provide material to supplement your personal study of the Doctrine and Covenants through Come, Follow Me and to serve as means by which we can discuss our thoughts as we study together. I invite you to use the comments below each post to share your insights and impressions with the rest of the class.
Prayer and Supplication
As we read last week, the dramatic First Vision came as a result of a sincere question from a humble young boy. Now – three years after the events in the Sacred Grove – Joseph Smith grew concerned over his personal standing with God.
I continued to pursue my common vocations in life…all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision.
During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year eighteen hundred and twenty-three…being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly…I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature.
In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies.Joseph Smith – History 1:27-29
If the First Vision was a response to Joseph’s questions regarding the external war of words and tumult of opinions, then the vision of Moroni three years later was a response to Joseph’s concern over an internal battle over his own weaknesses.
Take a moment to reflect on your own powerful spiritual experiences. What external or internal forces led to you seeking the Lord sincerely? How much time passes between your most earnest exchanges with Heavenly Father?
Hearts Bound Together
In answer to Joseph’s prayer, Moroni appeared and instructed Joseph of the work that God had in store. After describing the location and purpose of the plates that would become the Book of Mormon, Moroni quoted many prophecies from the Old Testament. Since a key figure in these prophecies was the prophet Elijah, consider using the following resources to familiarize yourself with his role in ancient and modern scripture:
President Henry B. Eyring summarized the importance of Elijah’s role:
It is important to know why the Lord promised to send Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet with great power given him by God. He held the greatest power God gives to His children: he held the sealing power, the power to bind on earth and have it bound in heaven.
As you came into the Church, you have felt your heart being turned toward family, both those who are living and those who are in the spirit world.Hearts Bound Together, Henry B. Eyring
As you consider the sealing power restored by Elijah, what can you do this week to plant more firmly “the promises made to the fathers?” (D&C 2:2) What promptings do you receive as you feel your hearts turned to your ancestors?