Saturday, February 2, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #7 The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel

PREPARATION:  Four bags filled with ordinary household items, such as glue, pencil, swim goggles, matches, Lifesavers, etc.  The following Gospel Cycle diagram made on individual pieces of poster board (any colors are okay).  Display the cycle on the board and refer to it throughout the lesson.

(Note from 2017: When I originally published this blog post, I was fascinated by the story of Samuel and Mary Smith, which most Latter-day Saints are not well familiar with. Now, however, I think I might not use it in a lesson because it's so seriously depressing. I leave it here for you to use or not, as you decide.)

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
Samuel Smith came from New York to Pennsylvania to see his older brother Joseph along with Oliver Cowdery in 1829. Joseph was there working on the translation of the Book of Mormon because it was unsafe for him to remain in New York, due to mob violence over the golden plates.  Samuel was 21 years old (3 years younger than Joseph) and unmarried. He was not yet a member of the Church. In fact, there was no Church yet as the Restoration was in its infancy. Samuel was not yet convinced that his brother was a prophet called to translate the gold plates and restore the true church upon the earth.

“We informed him of what the Lord was about to do for the children of men, and began to reason with him out of the Bible.  We also showed him that part of the work which we had translated, and labored to persuade him concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which was now about to be revealed in its fullness.  He was not, however, very easily persuaded of these things, but after much inquiry and explanation he retired to the woods, in order that by secret and fervent prayer he might obtain of a merciful God, wisdom to enable him to judge for himself.  The result was that he obtained revelation for himself sufficient to convince him of the truth of our assertions to him…” (HC 1:44)

Lucy Mack Smith’s relation of the story:

“One morning [it was Friday, May 15, 1829], [Joseph and Oliver] sat down to their usual work, when the first thing that presented itself to Joseph was a commandment from God that he and Oliver should repair to the water and each of them be baptized.  They immediately went down to the Susquehanna River and obeyed the mandate given them through the Urim and Thummim.  As they were on their return to the house, they overheard Samuel, in a secluded spot, engaged in secret prayer.  They had now received the authority to baptize, and Joseph said that he considered it a sufficient testimony of Samuel’s honesty of heart and zeal for religion that they had found him privately bowing before the Lord in prayer, and he thought it was an evidence of readiness for baptism.”


There are no specifics recorded about Samuel’s praying for repentance, but certainly he did so or he would not have been baptized or remained faithful.


Samuel Smith was the third person baptized in this dispensation, preceded only by his older brother Joseph, and Oliver Cowdery.  Although Lucy recorded that they immediately baptized him, that very day, Joseph recorded that it was ten days later:

“…on the twenty-fifth day of that same month [May] in which we had been baptized and ordained, Oliver Cowdery baptized him; and he returned to his father’s house [in New York], greatly glorifying and praising God, being filled with the Holy Spirit.” (HC 1:44)

Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost
Samuel is thought to have been one of the first six members of the Church, present at its organization on April 6, 1830.  In the 1839 draft of Joseph’s history, he recorded this about that day:

“We had received commandment to organize the Church, and accordingly we met together…and proceeded as follows at the house of…Mr. Whitmer—Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father…I proceeded to lay my hands upon Oliver Cowdery and ordained him an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after which he ordained me…We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them.  We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present, to confirm them members of the Church of Jesus Christ, and that they might receive the Holy Ghost, when immediately the Holy Ghost was poured out upon us all.”  (Quoted in History of Joseph Smith, edited by Proctor, p.228)

Enduring to the End

Four years later (1834), Samuel was married to Mary Bailey.  She had been a member of the Church for two years.  Their life together was filled with nothing but trial.

In January 1836 they moved to Missouri with their tiny baby, Susanna, where they were subjected to mob violence.

“[Mary was] taken by the mob from her house (they took her by picking up the feather bed and carried her with her babe out into the sleet and rain and placed the bed on the ground).  [They then] burned the house down to the ground.” (Letter to her granddaughter, quoted in Who’s Who in the D&C, p.296)

She never fully recovered from the persecution and it was said that “she never spoke above a whisper” following the experience.  (Interview with her granddaughter, ibid.)

In 1838, when the Saints were driven from Ohio, Samuel and Mary had a two-year-old, Susanna, a one-year-old, Mary, and Mary (the mother) was expecting another baby in two months.  They settled in Marrowbone, which was 30 miles from Far West, where his parents settled, and Mary gave birth.  When this baby boy was three days old, Samuel was away from home when “A number of the men who lived near him went to his wife and told her that the mob was coming there to drive all the Mormons from the country into Far West and perhaps they would kill them.  They accordingly advised her to go immediately into Far West at all hazards and proffered to find her a wagon and a boy to drive the horses.  She consented and they brought an open lumber wagon and put her into it on a bed with a very little clothing for herself and her children.  In this way, she started for Far West with no one but a small boy to take care of her, the children and the team, and nothing to eat by the way.  When they had traveled for some miles they stopped for the night, and in the latter part of the night it began to rain.  The water fell upon her in torrents, for she had no shelter for herself or her infant.  The bedding was soon completely saturated as the rain continued falling for some time with great violence.

“The next day Samuel started from Far West to go to his own house, but met his wife along the way in this situation.  He returned with her to Far West, where she arrived about 36 hours after she had left Marrowbone without having taken any nourishment.  Every garment upon her body, as well as her bed and bedding, was so wet with the rain that the water might have been wrung from them.  She was speechless and almost stiff with the cold and effects of her exposure.  We laid her on a bed, and my husband and my sons administered to her by the laying on of hands.  We then changed her clothing, put her into a bed covered with warm blankets, and after pouring a little rice water into her mouth, she was administered to again.  This time she raised her eyes and seemed to revive a little.”  (Lucy Mack Smith, HJS Revised, p.365)

Mary had one more child in January of 1841, which they named Lucy, and within the month Mary died.  She was 32 years old.  The blame was placed upon the health complications caused by the mob violence she had endured.  (HJS Revised, p.332)

“In 1844 the events that led to the martyrdom of Samuel’s brothers impacted his own life.  When he learned of the imprisonment of his brothers in Carthage, he attempted to aid them.  He was met by a mob who intercepted him and prevented his traveling to Carthage.  He returned home and purchased a horse noted for its speed, and rode toward Carthage again.  As he neared the town for the second time, he learned that his brothers were dead.  His daughter…wrote, “The terrible shock was too much for him, and for an instant he reeled in his saddle and they expected him to fall.…He steadied himself, saying,
‘God help me!  I must go to them.’”

“The mob hid in a thicket, and as they saw him approach they gave chase.  Samuel managed to stay out of range of their bullets and arrived in Carthage.

“The next day he escorted the bodies of his brothers back to Nauvoo.  After Mother Smith had viewed the bodies and retired to her room, Samuel said to her, “Mother, I have had a dreadful distress in my side ever since I was chased by the mob, and I think I have received some injury which is going to make me sick.”  He suffered from bilious fever (what sounds like liver infection), [and died thirty-three days after his brothers were killed] on July 30, 1844, at the age of 36.  His obituary stated, ‘If ever there lived a good man upon the earth, Samuel H. Smith was that person.”  (Who’s Who in the D&C, pp.296-7)

Now discuss how these gospel principles and ordinances affect our lives, as well as our eternal salvation. 

  • Galations 5:22 (Fruit of Spirit)
  • Mosiah 4 discusses the elements of the Gospel Cycle
  • 2 Nephi 31:13, 20-21 (endure to the end)
  • 3 Nephi 27 27:15-16,19-20

 When we receive the ordinances, the Gift of the Holy Ghost further strengthens our faith.  What makes the cycle continue and even spiral upward in increased spiritual development (what turns the wheel) is enduring to the end.  As we keep our covenants, the confirmation of the Spirit and its validating joy and peace further increases our faith.

Divide class into four groups.  Give each group one of the circles from the gospel cycle diagram and one of the bags.  Assign them to brainstorm ways that they could teach about their principle or ordinance using the items in their bag (can use Bible Dictionary if they like).  Give them time to share their ideas.  As they do, post each arrow on the board.

Here is what my class came up with, in case you need ideas:


  • Empty bag – Everything in the room could be put in this bag as an example of faith.
  • Flashlight – Faith requires some effort on our part to turn it on and find Christ, the Light.
  • Matches – The Spirit of God is like a fire.
  • Ball of yarn – Faith is the first string in the Gospel.
  • Battery – Faith has power even though you can’t see the power.


  • Screwdriver – Sometimes we mess up and poke holes in our lives.
  • Glue – Through repentance, the Lord helps us fix those mistakes.
  • Cassette tapes – Even though our mistakes are recorded in Heaven, through repentance, the recording can be erased and overwritten.
  • Kleenexes – Repentance requires a broken heart and a contrite spirit, tears of godly sorrow for our sins.


  • Legos – Baptism is a brick in the foundation of the Gospel.
  • Pencil – The eraser is like baptism in correcting our mistakes.
  • Animal shaped vitamins – The Lord baptized the earth at the great flood in Noah’s time.
  • Nails – Baptism puts the nails in the coffin of the natural man.
  • Keys – Baptism is the key that unlocks the gate to the Kingdom of God.
  • Spearmint gum – Baptism refreshes our life.

Gift of the Holy Ghost

  • Treasure box – The Holy Ghost is a great treasure.
  • Empty picture frame – This is what the Holy Ghost looks like. OR The Holy Ghost protects us from the stains of the earth like the glass protects the picture.
  • Swimming goggles – The Holy Ghost helps us to see in the murky earth existence, like goggles help us see in the chlorinated swimming pool.
  • Seashell – To hear the Holy Ghost requires that we be still, like we must be to hear the ocean in the shell.



Michaela Stephens said...

You are amazing, and such an inspiration for finding a way to continue to blog even when you are dealing with that myofascial pain syndrome!

I appreciate your voice on the blogosphere and hope you will continue for years to come!

Sharon said...

I love reading your posts each week as I prepare my Sunday School lesson. They get my mind and spirit going so that I can prepare the lesson that my class needs. I appreciate that you stay focused on the lesson purpose and the scriptures but also are creative and personal in your approach.