“January 25–31. Doctrine and Covenants 6–9: ‘This Is the Spirit of Revelation,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020)
“January 25–31. Doctrine and Covenants 6–9,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2021
Record Your Impressions
In the fall of 1828, a young schoolteacher named Oliver Cowdery took a teaching job in Manchester, New York, and stayed with the family of Lucy and Joseph Smith Sr. Oliver had heard about their son Joseph, who was now living in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and Oliver, who considered himself a seeker of truth, wanted to know more. The Smiths described visits from angels, an ancient record, and the gift to translate by the power of God. Oliver was fascinated. Could it be true? Lucy and Joseph Sr. gave him advice that applies to anyone seeking truth: pray and ask the Lord.
Oliver did, and the Lord answered, speaking peace and reassurance to Oliver’s mind. Revelation, Oliver discovered, can be personal—something he would learn even more profoundly in the coming months. Revelation isn’t just for prophets; it’s for anyone who desires it and seeks it. Oliver didn’t know everything yet, but he knew enough to take his next step. The Lord was doing something important through Joseph Smith, and Oliver wanted to be part of it.
In spring 1829 Oliver Cowdery traveled to Harmony and volunteered to be Joseph Smith’s scribe as he translated the Book of Mormon. Oliver now had a close view of the revelatory process of translation. The experience thrilled him, and he wondered if he could also be blessed with a gift to translate. The Lord allowed him to attempt to translate, but receiving revelation was new for Oliver, and his attempt did not go well. He still had a lot to learn, and Doctrine and Covenants 6, 8, and 9 show that the Lord was willing to teach him.
As you read these sections, notice what the Lord taught about personal revelation. How do His words relate to experiences you’ve had—or would like to have?
Is there anything else you learn about revelation from these sections?
To learn more about revelation, see Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 93–96; Julie B. Beck, “And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 10–12. For more information about the “gift of Aaron” described in section 8, see “Oliver Cowdery’s Gift,” Revelations in Context, 15–19.
To learn more about what living prophets and apostles are teaching about revelation, see the “Hear Him!” video collection.
Even though Joseph had already experienced “difficult circumstances” while doing the Lord’s work (Doctrine and Covenants 6:18), he and Oliver likely had no idea how difficult those circumstances would become over the next several years. But the Lord knew, and He knows what trials are in your future too. His counsel to Joseph and Oliver in Doctrine and Covenants 6:18–21, 29–37 can also help you. How might Joseph and Oliver have felt after hearing these words? What do you find in these verses that helps you trust the Lord? How can you look unto Christ more in your life?
Notice how many times words like “desire” or “desires” appear in sections 6 and 7. What do you learn from these sections about the importance God places on your desires? Ask yourself the Lord’s question in Doctrine and Covenants 7:1: “What desirest thou?”
One of Oliver Cowdery’s righteous desires—to translate as Joseph Smith did—was not fulfilled. As you read Doctrine and Covenants 9:3, 7–14, what impressions do you receive that might help you when your righteous desires go unfulfilled?
- Doctrine and Covenants 6:7, 13.
How can you help your family understand that real “riches” are found in eternal life? (verse 7). You could invite family members to make pretend money and write or draw on it some of the many blessings your family has received because of the restored gospel.
- Doctrine and Covenants 6:15, 22–23; 8:2–3; 9:7–9.
Reading these verses about how God speaks to His children may be a wonderful opportunity to share with your family how He has spoken to you.
- Doctrine and Covenants 6:33–37.
Family members could share ways they can “do good,” even when they feel afraid. It could also help to watch all or some of Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s message “Be Not Troubled” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 18–21). What does it mean to “look unto [Christ] in every thought”? (verse 36). What are some other examples of people who turned to the Lord to overcome doubt and fear? (see, for instance, Esther 4; Alma 26:23–31).
- Doctrine and Covenants 8:10.
This may be a wonderful opportunity to share how faith in Jesus Christ has strengthened you and your family. Why is it important that we “ask in faith”? What blessings have you seen from seeking answers or help in faith?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “Dare to Do Right,” Children’s Songbook, 158.
In April 1829, the month when sections 6–9 of the Doctrine and Covenants were received, Joseph Smith’s main work was the translation of the Book of Mormon. When asked later to relate how this record was translated, Joseph said “that it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars.”1 He often stated simply that it was translated “by the gift, and power of God.”2
We don’t know many details about the miraculous translation process, but we do know that Joseph Smith was a seer, aided by instruments that God had prepared: two transparent stones called the Urim and Thummim and another stone called a seer stone.3
The following statements, from eyewitnesses to the translation process, support Joseph’s witness.
“When my husband was translating the Book of Mormon, I wrote a part of it, as he dictated each sentence, word for word, and when he came to proper names he could not pronounce, or long words, he spelled them out, and while I was writing them, if I made any mistake in spelling, he would stop me and correct my spelling although it was impossible for him to see how I was writing them down at the time. Even the word Sarah he could not pronounce at first, but had to spell it, and I would pronounce it for him.”4
“The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book. …
“My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity—I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, [Joseph] would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible.”5
“I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the prophet, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by means of the Urim and Thummim, or, as it is called by the book, holy interpreters. I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was translated. I also beheld the interpreters.”6