Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Sunday, August 1, 2021

“The Power of Godliness”


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The doctrine of our religion teaches us that we need to be prepared in order to enter God's presence and receive all that he has. How do we do that?  We must utilize the priesthood.  The priesthood is the key to becoming prepared and receive all that He has. The Lord taught of the importance of hearkening to His words and at the time of receiving the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 84, He reproved the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, for treating the Book of Mormon and His commandments lightly. Do we treat the book of Mormon lightly, do we treat the commandments of God lightly?

As we study this week in section 84, let's ponder on a couple of things. First let's take section 84: 1-42 and focus on the Lord’s instructions about the priesthood and how the priesthood can prepare us to receive all that Heavenly Father has. Next, let's take 84: 43-120 and learn more about the importance of giving heed to the word of God and decide if we are taking the Book of Mormon and commandments lightly, if so, how can we improve?  

History and Background

In September 1832, missionaries returned to Kirtland, Ohio, after preaching the gospel in the eastern United States. During their joyful reunion, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. He received the revelation over the course of two days: September 22 and 23. (There is some historical evidence that verses 1–41 were received on September 22 and that verses 42–120 were received on September 23.)


Late June 1832

Joseph Smith returned to Kirtland, Ohio, from Independence, Missouri.

September 12, 1832

Joseph and Emma Smith moved from Hiram to Kirtland, Ohio, to live in the Newel K. Whitney store.

September 22–23, 1832

Doctrine and Covenants 84 was received.

Early October 1832

Joseph Smith and Newel K. Whitney traveled to Boston, Massachusetts; Albany, New York; and New York City to preach the gospel and purchase merchandise for the Kirtland store.

Part One: Doctrine and Covenants 84:1–5, 17–28, 31–42 We all have access to God’s priesthood power and blessings.

The Lord begins this “revelation on priesthood” by teaching that a temple will be built in Zion verses 1–5

1 A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high.

2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.

3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.

5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.

These verses repeat the prophecy that the city of New Jerusalem and a temple will be built in Jackson County, Missouri. Later, however, in 1841 the Lord told the Saints that they were not required at that time to build the city or the temple in Missouri because of severe persecution from the enemies of the Church.  The phrase “this generation” in Doctrine and Covenants 84:5 refers to the prophecy concerning the building of New Jerusalem and the temple—that it will still occur and will be fulfilled at some time in the future.  With this knowledge and knowing that you are this generation, How can we understand the relationship between the sacred purposes of temples and the priesthood?

Points to Ponder
Before continuing our study of this section, it will be helpful to review some key terms related to the principles the Lord taught in this revelation. In the following chart, carefully read the doctrinal definitions on the right. Match each one with the appropriate term on the left.



____ 1. Covenant

____ 2. Saving ordinance

____ 3. Melchizedek Priesthood

____ 4. Aaronic Priesthood

  1. The higher or greater priesthood, which administers in spiritual things

  2. The preparatory priesthood, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels and of the gospel of repentance and baptism

  3. A sacred agreement between God and man

  4. A sacred act essential to exaltation and accompanied by covenants

Now read the following list of priesthood ordinances and blessings, and put a checkmark in the column next to those that would be considered saving ordinances:



The naming and blessing of children

Conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men)

Administering to the sick

The temple endowment

The marriage sealing

Each of the items in the list, except for the naming and blessing of children and administering to the sick, is a saving ordinance. The priesthood ordinances of naming and blessing children and administering to the sick bless the lives of those who receive them, but they are not essential for salvation.
 How do temples and temple ordinances help fulfill these purposes?

To understand the power the priesthood can have in our lives, let's move to Doctrine and Covenants 84:17–28 and consider how things could be different without the priesthood of God. 
17 Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

18 And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;

26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;

27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.

28 For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power.

What did the Lord reveal about the priesthood in verse 17?

What does it mean that “this greater priesthood,” or the Melchizedek Priesthood, holds “the key to the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God” verse 19Remember, “mysteries” are “spiritual truths known only by revelation” [Guide to the Scriptures, “Mysteries of God,”].

Joseph Smith taught that the Melchizedek Priesthood “is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation, and every important matter is revealed from heaven” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 108).
What doctrine can we identify from verse 20 about the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood?  The power of godliness is manifest in the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

 The power of godliness is the power of righteousness, by which we come to know God and become like Him (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah [1978], 589).

According to verses 21–22, what happens when the ordinances and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood are not present?

What ordinances are performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

“Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, ‘the power of godliness’ (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. …“In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high. This ‘power of godliness’ comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost” (D. Todd Christofferson, “The Power of Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 22).

“Covenants received and honored with integrity and ordinances performed by proper priesthood authority are necessary to receive all of the blessings made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For in the ordinances of the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest unto men and women in the flesh, including the blessings of the Atonement (see D&C 84:20–21)” (David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 88).

According to Elder Christofferson, what is the power of godliness?

What can we do to have the power of godliness in our lives?

According to Elder Bednar, what blessings come into our lives when we receive the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood and honor our covenants?

The oath and covenant of the priesthood Doctrine and Covenants 84:31–42, has special application for those who are ordained to a priesthood office. But many of the promised blessings in these verses are available to all.

31 Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses—for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed—

32 And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church.

33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.

34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.

41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

42 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.

What are some ways we can “receive” the priesthood, the Lord’s servants, and the Lord?  verses 33–42

What do we need to do to receive the blessings of the priesthood?  

What could be included in “all that [the] Father hath” such as His attributes and the kind of life that He enjoys?

President M. Russell Ballard taught: “All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord and who honor those covenants are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, to commune with God, to receive the fulness of the gospel, and, ultimately, to become heirs alongside Jesus Christ of all our Father has”
(“Men and Women and Priesthood Power,” Ensign, Sept. 2014, 32).

The first Relief Society presidency of the Salt Lake Stake wrote in 1878: “We feel truly thankful that through the blessing of our Heavenly Father, we, His handmaidens are called to be co-laborers with our brethren in building up the kingdom of God upon the earth, in assisting to build Temples, wherein we can receive blessings for time and eternity. In all the ordinances received in the House of the Lord, woman stands beside the man, both for the living and the dead, showing that the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord” (Mary Isabella Horne, Elmina S. Taylor, and Serepta M. Heywood,
To the Presidents and Members of the Relief Society of Salt Lake Stake of Zion, Greeting!” Woman’s Exponent, Jan. 15, 1878, 123).

How would you summarize these covenants and promises as a principle?  If those who faithfully obtain the priesthood will magnify their callings, receive the Lord and His servants, and give heed to the words of eternal life, then God will sanctify them and give them all that He has.

Ponder how the power of godliness has been manifested in your lives as you have received the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood and kept your covenants. Think about how your life would be different without the priesthood of God.
Why are you grateful for the priesthood?  

Part Two Doctrine and Covenants 84:61–88 The Lord will sustain those who serve Him.

While these verses are directed to those who “shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom” many of the principles they contain can apply to anyone who is serving God.

61 For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.

62 Therefore, go ye into all the world; and unto whatsoever place ye cannot go ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you into all the world unto every creature.

63 And as I said unto mine apostles, even so I say unto you, for you are mine apostles, even God’s high priests; ye are they whom my Father hath given me; ye are my friends;

64 Therefore, as I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost.

65 And these signs shall follow them that believe—

66 In my name they shall do many wonderful works;

67 In my name they shall cast out devils;

68 In my name they shall heal the sick;

69 In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;

70 And the tongue of the dumb shall speak;

71 And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them;

72 And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them.

73 But a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation.

74 Verily, verily, I say unto you, they who believe not on your words, and are not baptized in water in my name, for the remission of their sins, that they may receive the Holy Ghost, shall be damned, and shall not come into my Father’s kingdom where my Father and I am.

75 And this revelation unto you, and commandment, is in force from this very hour upon all the world, and the gospel is unto all who have not received it.

76 But, verily I say unto all those to whom the kingdom has been given—from you it must be preached unto them, that they shall repent of their former evil works; for they are to be upbraided for their evil hearts of unbelief, and your brethren in Zion for their rebellion against you at the time I sent you.

77 And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power;

78 For I suffered them not to have purse or scrip, neither two coats.

79 Behold, I send you out to prove the world, and the laborer is worthy of his hire.

80 And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst.

81 Therefore, take ye no thought for the morrow, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.

82 For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these.

83 For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things.

84 Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself.

85 Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.

86 Therefore, let no man among you, for this commandment is unto all the faithful who are called of God in the church unto the ministry, from this hour take purse or scrip, that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom.

87 Behold, I send you out to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come.

88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

The Lord commanded the Saints to proclaim the gospel to the whole world. The Lord promised that if the Saints would “treasure up in [their] minds continually the words of [God],” He would inspire them to know what to say when sharing the gospel (D&C 84:85). The Lord commanded those who are strong in the Spirit to edify and strengthen those who are weak and explained that as the Saints labor in their different callings, they can strengthen the Church and edify one another. Consider the billions of people who live on the earth. Each person needs to have the opportunity to learn the gospel. However, it is not possible for the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who have the charge to declare the gospel to all nations, to teach everyone. Because Church leaders cannot go everywhere to preach the gospel, they are to send others to help them. This section of scripture can help us understand that all Latter-day Saints have a responsibility to take the gospel to the whole world. President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“The scriptures are abundantly clear in stating that all members of the Church are responsible to do missionary work: ‘It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.’ (D&C 88:81.)

“The prophets of this dispensation also have clearly taught the concept that missionary service is the responsibility of all members. President David O. McKay taught the principle with the challenging words, ‘Every member a missionary!’
(Conference Report, April 1959, p. 122.)” (“It Becometh Every Man,” Ensign, Oct. 1977, 3).

Why it is important for the gospel to be preached to the entire world?

How would you summarize the importance of teaching others the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Doctrine and Covenants 84:64–75

What would we share from these verses to inspire current full-time missionaries or those who are preparing to serve?


Consider the truths you have learned in Doctrine and Covenants 84. How can these truths help you to become more like your Heavenly Father so that you can return to dwell in His presence?  Ponder how you or your family members have been edified and strengthened by those who have faithfully served in their Church callings and responsibilities. What can you do to bless the lives of others and strengthen your ward or branch through your callings and service?

In what ways has the priesthood brought blessings into your life? As you study Doctrine and Covenants 84, look for truths that help you better understand the importance of the priesthood.  Ponder what it means to receive all that Heavenly Father has. What can you do to be more faithful and true to the promises you have made to God through the ordinances of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood you have received?

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