This is a very difficult section due to it being so philosophical, but the common theme is contained in verse 19. This such a deep section of the Doctrine and Covenants, much like 2 Nephi 2. I like to start with a question early in the class asking students if they think that man is essentially: 1) Good, 2) Bad, 3) A blank slate, or 4) I don’t know (I like to give them this option so that everyone participates)
This questions helps them see that this section is dealing with some deep issues about the nature of man and the role that he plays in relation to gaining eternal life and becoming like Jesus Christ. Verses 20-38 really clarify that man is made of that same spirit of truth that composes God and His son and that we enter into this world in a state of innocence. What we become after we get here in this state of goodness or grace is really up to us. If we invite light into our lives, we will receive more light. If we invite darkness, that is what we will become.
He tells us how to worship and what to worship in this verse. Everything in this section hangs on this verse.
93:1 How to worship… how do I worship Jesus Christ?
1)Forsake my sins
2)Call on His name
3)Obey His voice
4)Keep His commandments
Do these things and I am worshipping the Savior.
93:2 What do I worship? 84:46-48 … we worship a being who is one with the Father. Even though He had the fullness of the Father, He didn’t get it at first. This is Alma 7:11-13 again, also Hebrews 4:15-16 and Hebrews 2:16-18 – we worship a being who came to earth and knows and understands what it is like to have a mortal experience.
88:6 – He descended below all things
93:5 – We worship a being who showed us the Father’s nature… He showed us the nature of a Father that we cannot remember
93:8 – We worship a being who is the messenger of salvation
93:9-10 – This is a being who made the world, in fact He made many worlds.
Jesus Christ was not a novice at creation
It was not a novice, not an amateur, not a Being making a first trial, that came down in the beginning, after the Great Council, with other Gods, and searched out and found the place where there was “space” (for so the record tells us in Abraham) and taking of the materials which they found in this “space” they made this world.
I want to suggest two or three things to you. I hope I will not confuse you too much. But we in this galaxy—and the heavens which we see are the galaxy to which we belong—we from this point where we stand or float, can see one billion light-years all around us. A light-year is the distance which light, traveling at the rate of 186,000 miles a second, will travel in one year. The astronomers tell us that we now can peer out into space one billion light-years, we in the center.
Where we are moving, how we are moving, how rapidly we go, we do not know. As you look into the heavens you do not see the heavens as they are today. You see them as they were the number of light-years ago when the light therefrom began to come from them to us. If it is a hundred million light-years away, it was a hundred million years ago.
Our Galaxy—Shape and Size
It is said that there are one hundred million galaxies within this radius that are the same as ours. They say that this galaxy in which we live, in which we float and have our existence, is one hundred thousand light-years in diameter. They say that it is shaped lenticular, as if two glass watch crystals were put together, ten thousand light-years through the thickest part, and I repeat, a hundred thousand light-years through.
Astronomers now yield what they did not formerly yield, that there may have been many, and probably were, many worlds like ours. Some say there were in this galaxy perhaps from its beginning, one million worlds like unto this one.
“Worlds without number have I created,” through “mine Only Begotten Son.” I repeat, our Lord is not a novice, he is not an amateur; he has been over this course time and time and time again.
And if you think of this galaxy of ours having within it from the beginning perhaps until now, one million worlds, and multiply that by the number of millions of galaxies, one hundred million galaxies, that surround us, you will then get some view of who this Man we worship is. (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Behold the Lamb of God [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 16.)
It is important in verses 12-14 to understand that Jesus did not receive of a fullness at first, but received grace for grace.
What is worship in one word? Imitation
If I am going to worship Him, what am I going to do? I am going to imitate Him and emulate Him and grow from grace to grace. We imitate Christ and we have already seen that He is a being who understands our mortal experience who has grown from grace to grace and is also a creator of worlds. Eventually we will be like Him as a creator of worlds.
93:20 If you keep the commandments, you will be glorified as I am…
How do you progress from grace to grace? What’s the key to this?
Which verse tells me this answer? 93:26-28 – no man receiveth a fullness unless he keepeth his commandments. What is the key to progressing from grace to grace? I must keep his commandments.
God has created man with a mind capable of instruction
We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 51.)
Wasn’t the Savior a vastly different being than I am?
Answer: In the space of growing from grace to grace and exercising your agency, not really – you too are an eternal being of light, spirit and truth. What verses teach this idea?
93:21-29 – you too are of the spirit of truth (v23), man was also in the beginning with God (verse 29)… you as a spirit are independent in the sphere in which God has placed you, to act for yourself… otherwise there is no existence (v30). In other words, you have an independent spirit capable of receiving truth and instruction as fast as you are able to be obedient and follow direction from the source of light and truth.
So the answer – not really. You and I are eternal beings of spirit, light, truth, intelligence possessing agency.
As a being of intelligence and spirit, can I be condemned for not receiving light & truth?
93:31-33 “for man is spirit.” (v.33) In other words, because man is spirit, he must receive light. Why? Because going against light and truth goes against my very nature because that is what I am made of.
You can use the magnet to illustrate this – it would be fighting against what you are made of.
I am not evil to my core. When we are all finished analyzing section 93 and we read what God has to say about man, we realize that man is not evil to the center of his being, but is good at the core and wants goodness. Our natural man is something that we need to fight against, but at the center we are beings of light.
What is the purpose of this body?
Your body is also eternal and was created to house the temple, the tabernacle of the spirit. If you fill it full of light, you will naturally forsake darkness.
Next question, what is the starting point of this process of growing from grace to grace? Where do I start?
93:38 – we start in a state of innocence and grace. The starting point is a state of innocence achieved through the atonement of Jesus Christ. In other words, you start in a state of grace.
How do we fall out of grace and lose light and truth?
We lose light through disobedience and through the traditions of the fathers. What can we eliminate? We can eliminate the traditions of the fathers by teaching our children the right way to go. 93:40 – bring up your children in light and truth… if you do this you can eliminate the traditions of the fathers and these children will have a chance because they will naturally want to do the right thing.
Some parents will say, “I don’t want to force religion on my kids…” In other words, they say that they want to raise their kids in darkness. I love to use the toilet training argument with this one. Can you ever imagine a parent saying, “I am waiting for Johnny to decide to learn to use the toilet. I don’t want to impose my way of thinking on him. He needs to decide for himself.” Really? I don’t think so. In matters of relative importance, there is nothing more vital than to raise your children up in light and truth. This is the central message of section 93.
I send them to earth in a state of grace – you parents, don’t let these kids fall away and lose light and truth through your false traditions.
You must create an environment of light and truth in your home so that your children may remain innocent and grow from grace to grace until they receive a fullness from the Father.
Of all the callings in life, what is the most important calling you will receive? 93:44 First, set in order thy house.
This section is written to parents to notice the importance of their callings.
Joseph, Sidney and Frederick G Williams are told to raise their children in light and truth. Create an environment where our children can continue to grow from grace to grace.
Some illustrations: show an example of children being raised in a harmful environment. What kind of chance to these children have? I like the example of Michael Oher, the indivdual in the story Blindside. In an interview with Piers Morgan he said that his mother was “a product of her environment.” http://www.sportsgrid.com/nfl/michael-oher-piers-morgan-vide/
What is an ideal home?
President Smith said: “The ideal home is one in which all worldly considerations are secondary, one in which the father is devoted to the family, one in which the mother takes every pleasure in her children, supported by the father, all being moral, pure, and Godly.” (Timely Thoughts from the June Conference, Improvement Era, 1923, Vol. Xxvi. August, 1923. No. 10.)