As the name implies, this volume of Scripture contains doctrine and covenants. “Doctrine” means “teaching,” “instruction.” It denotes more especially what is taught as truth, for us to believe, as distinct from precepts, by which rules, to be obeyed, are given. “Doctrine” refers to belief; precept to conduct.
In the Doctrine and Covenants our Lord teaches us what to believe concerning the Godhead, the Church, the Priesthood, the Millennium, the resurrection, the state of man after death in eternal glory, or the opposite, and many other subjects about which it is necessary to have true information. — Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Volumes 1 and 2, , pp. 32-3
The word “covenant” is a term by which God indicates the settled arrangement between Him and His people. . . . The nature of this covenant is revealed to us in this precious volume of the word of God. It shows us what obligations we take upon ourselves in baptism, and what blessings we secure; what covenants we renew by partaking of the Sacrament, and what promises accompany that ordinance. In one word, it teaches us how to worship God in Spirit and in truth, and reveals to us the way opened up, back to the presence of God. (Smith and Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, pp. xiii-xv) — Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Volumes 1 and 2, , p. 33
It seems a strange thing that many good brethren in the Church seem to think that the Lord never intended that the Book of Mormon, and more especially the Doctrine and Covenants, should go forth to the world. We hear the expression from time to time, that these, and especially the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants are intended solely for members of the Church, but the Lord in his instructions has counseled otherwise. They were intended to be a warning to all the world. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation 1:271) — Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Volumes 1 and 2, , p. 44
So our message is a world message. It is intended for all of our Father’s children. When God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ saw fit to come here to earth and appear to a boy prophet, surely such a visitation was intended to bless all of our Father’s children. (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1961, p. 113) — Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Volumes 1 and 2, , pp. 44-45
It is the duty of the members of this Church to make themselves familiar with the revelations as they have been given and with the commandments as they have been taught in these revelations, or have been presented in them and given to the people, that they might know the truth which makes us free. And if we will study them, if we will put them into practice, if we will keep the commandments of the Lord, we will know the truth and there shall be no weapon formed against us that shall prosper. [Sec. 71:9-11.] There shall be no false doctrines, no teaching of men that will deceive us. . . .
If you treasure up the word of the Lord, if you study these revelations, not merely those that are in the Doctrine and Covenants, but those that are in all the standard works of the Church, and you put into practice the commandments that are here found, you will not be deceived in these perilous times, but you shall have the spirit of discernment and you will know the truth and shall know falsehood, for you shall have power to know the spirits of men and to understand the Spirit of the Lord. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, October 1931, pp. 17-18) — Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants, Volumes 1 and 2, , p. 48