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Doctrine and Covenants 136


To help students realize that the covenants we enter into may require personal sacrifice as we seek to follow the Lord’s commandments and serve others.


INTRODUCTION A careful reading of section 136 reveals that a loving Father in Heaven was doing everything necessary for His children to prepare them to cross the plains. Many of the Saints had already waded through much physical persecution prior to heading west. And while Father in Heaven is concerned about His children’s temporal welfare, the instructions given in section 136 also provide the means for their spiritual welfare. All would be obliged to enter into sacred covenants prior to crossing the plains (see vv. 2, 4 ). All would be required to sacrifice and be “tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them” ( v. 31 ). In the West the Church would flourish, souls would be stretched and humbled through trials, temples would be built and ordinances administered, and the work of God would roll forth.

DISCUSSION Have the students read verses 1–4 , and then ask the following questions:

  • Who organized the camp of Israel? (The Lord; see v. 1 .)

  • What covenants are made by those who join the camp of Israel? (To “keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” [ v. 2 ], and “walk in all the ordinances of the Lord” [ v. 4 ].)

  • Why is it important for the Saints to participate in the covenants Father in Heaven provides? (Elder Henry B. Eyring has said: “The Latter-day Saints are a covenant people. From the day of baptism through the spiritual milestones of our lives, we make promises with God and He makes promises with us. . . . It is the crucial test of our lives to see if we will make and keep our covenants with Him” [in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 40; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 30 ].)

  • What assistance is available to those who make and faithfully keep their covenants with Father in Heaven?

Elder Eyring explained that Father in Heaven will help prepare a way for us to keep the sacred covenants we make with Him:

“Each of us who has made covenants with God faces challenges unique to us. But each of us shares some common assurances. Our Heavenly Father knows us and our circumstances and even what faces us in the future. His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, has suffered and paid for our sins and those of all the people we will ever meet. He has perfect understanding of the feelings, the suffering, the trials, and the needs of every individual. Because of that, a way will be prepared for us to keep our covenants, however difficult that may now appear, if we go forward in faith” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 44; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 33 ).

Elder M. Russell Ballard said:

“Heavenly Father has promised . . . that He will give marvelous blessings to those who honor their covenants, keep His commandments, and endure faithfully to the end. They will be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise and will be ‘given all things’ ( D&C 76:55 ; italics added; see also 76:50–54, 70 ), including an inheritance in the celestial kingdom” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 5; or Ensign, May 1993, 6 ).

Certainly, the early Saints who crossed the plains would need these blessings from Father in Heaven as they sacrificed homes, property, comfort, friends, family, and in some cases even their lives in the effort to go west.

Write the following quote from Lectures on Faith, compiled under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, on the board:

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation” ([1985], 69).

Ask the students why they must be willing to sacrifice anything that Father in Heaven requires.

Covenants are closely related to the principle of sacrifice. Have the students read Doctrine and Covenants 97:8 , and ask: How does the Lord relate the principle of sacrifice to the keeping of covenants? (The Lord said that the Saints should “observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command.” According to this verse, honest, broken hearts and contrite spirits are also required of those who enter into covenants with Heavenly Father.)

QUOTATIONS Share and discuss the following quotations:

Elder M. Russell Ballard said:

“Sacrifice is a demonstration of pure love. The degree of our love for the Lord, for the gospel, and for our fellowmen can be measured by what we are willing to sacrifice for them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 108; or Ensign, May 1992, 76 ).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:

“It is written: ‘He who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.’ ( D&C 88:22 .) The law of sacrifice is a celestial law; so also is the law of consecration. . . .

“The law of sacrifice is that we are willing to sacrifice all that we have for the truth’s sake—our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men; our houses, lands, and families: all things, even our very lives if need be. . . .

“. . . How can we prove our willingness to sacrifice all things, if need be, if we do not make the small sacrifices of time and toil, or of money and means, that we are now asked to make?” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 74–75; or Ensign, May 1975, 50 ).


Tried in All Things” • 4:10

LOOK FOR” ACTIVITY Suggest that the students look for examples of sacrifice and the blessings that result from sacrifice.

SHOW THE VIDEO In this video, President Gordon B. Hinckley discusses the sacrifices made by the pioneer Saints of the Church. He also relates an account of three eighteen-year-old boys, C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball, who were willing to sacrifice their comfort, health, and lives to help others.


DISCUSSION Ask the following questions to assess the students’ understanding of the video:

  • What examples of sacrifice are portrayed in this video? (The sacrifice of the Saints coming to Salt Lake City, and the sacrifice of the rescue parties who went out to rescue the stranded pioneers.)

  • What blessings came from the efforts of the rescuers? (Many lives were saved, and Brigham Young promised the three young men “an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end” [in Solomon F. Kimball, “Belated Emigrants of 1856,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1914, 288].)

  • How do the baptismal covenants stated in Mosiah 18:8–10 relate to the sacrifice made by the rescuers? (The rescuers were “willing to bear one another’s burdens” [ v. 8 ] and “comfort those that stand in need . . . even until death” [ v. 9 ].)

SCRIPTURE ACTIVITY Arrange the students into three groups. Assign the first group to read Doctrine and Covenants 136:1–14 . The second group should read verses 15–28 , and the third group should read verses 29–42 . Give the students ten minutes to read their assigned verses, and have them list each item of counsel the Lord gives the Saints to prepare them for their trek west. List their findings on the board and discuss them as a class.

Ask the students: What types of counsel were given by the Lord? (Answers may include spiritual, temporal, and organizational counsel.)

Have the students read Doctrine and Covenants 29:34 . In this verse the Lord makes the point that “all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal.” Even the temporal preparations were given to provide spiritual blessings.

Ask the students which counsel in section 136 still applies to us today. (One answer is that the pattern of “captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens” [ v. 3 ] is not unlike bishops, quorum presidents and group leaders, and home teachers.)

CONCLUSION Bear witness that Father in Heaven is the author of all covenants that we may enter into with Him and that He sets the conditions of these covenants (see Bible Dictionary, “covenant,” 651 ). Testify that all covenants are designed for our benefit, and that any sacrifices we make to honor them will result in peace in this life and help us gain eternal life in the world to come.