031: Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 5: Revelation I

“This Is the Spirit of Revelation”

I would submit that the topic of the next two lessons is the single most important subject in all the gospel. Simply put, revelation is our access to everything else. It is our conduit and connection to spiritual life, to inspiration, to wisdom and guidance. It is the key to learning, to living well and serving others.

It is also complex and difficult. Lesson 5 will discuss how we can prepare ourselves to receive revelation, and Lesson 6 will discuss how we interpret revelation once we have it.

In addition to exploring the personal impact and historical context of the assigned reading, we will tackle key questions about revelation:

  • How do we prepare ourselves to receive revelation?
  • What is our role in receiving revelation?
  • How does our language and cultural context influence the revelation we receive?
  • Can we receive revelation utterly foreign to anything we currently know?
  • How do our own expectations and desires impact the revelation we receive?

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Student Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 6; 8; 9; Joseph Smith—History 1:8–17;  D&C 25:10 ; D&C 30:2; D&C 5:24;  D&C 9:8;  D&C 63:23 ; D&C 88:63–64; D&C 138:1–11

Additional Teacher Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 14; 42:61; 88:63–64;  1 Nephi 15:11; Moroni 10:4.);  D&C 42:61; Doctrine and Covenants 63:23; 76:5–10; 93:1, 28; 101:7–8; Doctrine and Covenants 5:24; 19:23; 112:10; 136:32–33; Doctrine and Covenants 25:10; 30:2;


This is an important topic that impacts us all. Please post your questions and comments here, in the facebook group, or email them to me at MormonSundaySchool at gmail.

Here are a few pieces to get us thinking (including two short essays I wrote on the topic for a conference Richard Bushman organized).

Revelation and Language 

Revelation according to our Expectations 

A Freakonomics episode on how what we know influences what we learn


You can access my Lesson Notes here.

You can access my Reading Commentary here.


Thanks to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for making quick work of post production.


Latest Comments

  1. Matt Russell says:

    Regarding revelations, there is an interesting story that speaks to the nature, and sources of revelations that we receive, presupposing of course that revelations do occur. This is from an article on FAIR discussing the reasons to doubt the following letter from David Whitmer (I’ll post a link at the end).

    “Joseph looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto, Canada, and that they would sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon. Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copyright, returning without any money. Joseph was at my father’s house when they returned. I was there also, and am an eye witness to these facts. Jacob Whitmer and John Whitmer were also present when Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery returned from Canada.

    Well, we were all in great trouble; and we asked Joseph how it was that he had received a revelation from the Lord for some brethren to go to Toronto and sell the copyright, and the brethren had utterly failed in their undertaking. Joseph did not know how it was, so he enquired of the Lord about it, and behold the following revelation came through the stone: “Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil.” So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copyright was not of God, but was of the devil or of the heart of man.”


    If this is a true account, or rather if Whitmer is being truthful (which the article refutes), the tone and lesson from this experience seem to be very revealing concerning how revelation does and doesn’t work. We can be prepared to receive it, and be living the right way, and still fall to self-deception or other temptations, being misled into thinking, or more often than not, “feeling” our way into revelations.

    According to Doctrines of the Gospel, Student Manual (Religion 430 & 431), we must be worthy in order to receive revelation (2000, p. 4). But many revelatory experiences in scripture occur to those who do not meet the preparation requirement; Cain prior to and post killing of Abel, Pharaoh’s dream via Joseph, Laman and Lemuel, Alma the Younger, Paul, etc. Anyone have insight into these allowances?


  2. jon says:

    It should be noted that some revelations are supposed to be shared. As Jesus says in 3 Nephi 12:2

    And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

    This is an important distinction for leaders to know. Because some are given the gift of to believe on others words. But if the leaders do not fulfill their duty to seek out to see Christ then how responsible is the person that has serious doubts? I know in the end we are individually responsible. But I would find it comforting to have more of a sure witness even if it through another person.

    This scripture from Christ should end the debate if the brethren have seen Christ or not. Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the general membership is wicked enough that the gates of heaven are closed or the mouths are closed. It is nice to hear stories of others saying they have seen Christ.


  3. kitty chemist says:

    I found your lesson informative, but strangely lacking the Holy Ghost. My dad was a reformed Rabbi and I’m a convert to the Church. My husband is related to the Prophet Joseph Smith via a polygamous wife. Divining rods are not embarassing they are a part of semetic history. Old testiment etc documents refer to them as rather common place in semetic religious and practical application in the everyday life of the ancients. I feel like you play upon the Utah Mormon fears of the unknown of church history. Today you can easily access the JS papers and read all about divining rods and everything else that the Lord restored in restoring “all things” Jacob while working for his sly inlaws:) used them to produce superior sheep and livestock, using physical objects whether it be the hands that lay upon the head to bless, or stones, or divining rods are utilized by the Lord as we feel the power of the Priesthood and the power of God work “through” for lack of a better word the physical to manifest the divine. I liked alot of your research but it felt ‘flat’ because it comes across slightly pretentious. Most LDS are quite educated like myself, and my husband an MD, or my friends who are attorneys, doctors, educators etc and some are simple farmers:)) The Church as defined by the Lord Jesus Christ in D&C one in His Preface, is the only True and Living Church upon the earth in whom He is well pleased, speaking collectively, not so much individually. THe problem with over intellectualizing the Gospel is the same problem I see in general liberal thinking: it takes away somehow in my opinion, from the purity and simplicity of divine spirituality and truth. We as humans, will always put our “spin” on things. That is why the Lord called prophets and apostles, structure, the physical church with its curriculums rules and regulations, commandments, instructions etc, to bring order. I know the Church is the true Church, with divine authority to act in the name of God, because I personally have had spiritual experiences, I sought to have, and through no great goodness of my own, the Lord was merciful in giving me. “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you” spiritual things must be discerned spiritually.


    • Jared Anderson says:

      Thank you for taking the time to respond, and for listening to the episode. I am sorry to hear that you didn’t feel the Holy Ghost as you listened. I often feel it as I put together the episodes and record. Your story sounds fascinating! Lesson 6 is one of my favorites, and I hope you feel the Spirit should you choose to listen to that episode as well. I agree with you that being nourished by the Spirit and inspired to live better is more important than academic details.


  4. Kitty chemist says:

    Thank you for your gracious response. I will listen to episode 6😊I’m also very curious about the Isaiah episodes, also. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so precious to me, Alma 37:37-44 is one of my favorites and I am looking forward to hearing your book of Mormon lessons. If you haven’t explored them yet please look at the Joseph Smith papers, they are amazing!


    • Jared Anderson says:

      Glad we get to continue the conversation. Even as a scholar of religion, I unapologetically prioritize spiritual well-being over academic niceties.

      The Joseph Smith Papers are such an incredible resource! I have been pleased with the added resources the Church is putting out this year as well.


  5. Kitty chemist says:

    Please omit the redundant “also” LOL 😊


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