“April 5–11. Doctrine and Covenants 30–36: ‘You Are Called to Preach My Gospel,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021 (2020)
“April 5–11. Doctrine and Covenants 30–36,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2021
Record Your Impressions
Parley P. Pratt had been a member of the Church for about a month when he was called “into the wilderness” to preach the gospel (Doctrine and Covenants 32:2). Thomas B. Marsh had been a member for even less time than that when he was told, “The hour of your mission is come” (Doctrine and Covenants 31:3). Orson Pratt, Edward Partridge, and many others had likewise barely been baptized when their mission calls came. Perhaps this timing was all of necessity—in the fall of 1830, no one had been a member of the Church for more than six months. But there’s also a lesson in this pattern for us today: if you know enough to accept the restored gospel by baptism, you know enough to share it with others. Of course we always want to increase our gospel knowledge, but God has never hesitated to call upon the “unlearned” to preach His gospel (Doctrine and Covenants 35:13). In fact, He invites all of us, “Open your mouth to declare my gospel” (Doctrine and Covenants 30:5). And we do that best not through our own wisdom and experience but “by the power of [the] Spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 35:13).
Whether or not you have a formal calling as a missionary, the Lord wants you to share His gospel, and many of His words to the early missionaries of this dispensation are for you too. As you study Doctrine and Covenants 30–36, record what you learn about the call to preach the gospel. You could make a list of things the Lord asks of His missionaries (for example, see Doctrine and Covenants 30:8) and another list of things the Lord promises them (for example, see Doctrine and Covenants 30:11).
How might these verses encourage someone you know who is serving or preparing to serve a proselyting or Church-service mission? What do you find that inspires you to share the gospel?
See also Doctrine and Covenants 35:13–15; Russell M. Nelson and Wendy W. Nelson, “Hope of Israel” (worldwide devotional for youth, June 3, 2018), HopeofIsrael.ChurchofJesusChrist.org; Silvia H. Allred, “Go Ye Therefore,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 10–12.
Families in the 1830s struggled with many of the same issues that families face today. What guidance and promises did the Lord give to Thomas B. Marsh about his family? How can His words help you in your family relationships?
When Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer Jr., Parley P. Pratt, and Ziba Peterson set out to preach to the American Indians west of Missouri, they believed they were fulfilling Book of Mormon prophecies about the Lamanites receiving the gospel in the latter days (see, for example, 1 Nephi 13:34–41; Enos 1:11–18). And yet by the end of their mission, even though they had positive encounters with some groups, they had not baptized a single American Indian. But they had baptized over a hundred people near Kirtland, Ohio, where they had stopped along the way to Missouri. Among those converts were future influential Church leaders, including Sidney Rigdon, and Kirtland later became an important gathering place for the Church. What does this experience teach you about how the Lord accomplishes His work?
See also “A Mission to the Lamanites,” Revelations in Context, 45–49.
Doctrine and Covenants 33 was addressed to Northrop Sweet and Ezra Thayer, two recent converts. Northrop left the Church soon after this revelation was given. Ezra served faithfully for some time, but he also eventually fell away. This could be a good opportunity to evaluate how firmly you are built “upon [the] rock” (verse 13) of the gospel. What truths in these verses can help you remain faithful to the Savior?
- Doctrine and Covenants 30:2.
How are we doing as a family at focusing on the things of God rather than “the things of the earth”?
- Doctrine and Covenants 31.
As you read the Lord’s promises to Thomas B. Marsh about his family, you could talk about the blessings that have come to your family because of missionary work. You could also sing a related hymn, such as “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” (Hymns, no. 270). How has your family been blessed by sharing the gospel with others?
- Doctrine and Covenants 33:7–10.
What imagery did the Lord use in these verses to describe sharing the gospel? What other images or metaphors can your family think of? Perhaps these images could help your family think of creative ways to share the gospel. This discussion could then lead to a plan to share the gospel. Consider role-playing some potential situations.
- Doctrine and Covenants 34:10.
Pick a phrase from verse 10, and invite a family member to whisper it. Other family members could try to guess the phrase. Then ask a family member to say the phrase in a loud voice. How does this activity help us understand why the Lord commands us to “lift up your voice”?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission,” Children’s Songbook, 169.
Even before the Church was organized, the Lord declared, “The field is white already to harvest” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:4). This statement proved true in the months that followed, as many seekers of truth were led by the Spirit of God to find the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
Many of these early converts were instrumental in laying the foundation of the Restoration, and their stories of conversion are valuable to us today. The faith they showed is the same faith we need to become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Abigail Calkins Leonard was in her midthirties, she felt desires to be forgiven of her sins. She occasionally read the Bible, and people from Christian churches visited her home, but she was confused about what differentiated one church from another. “One morning,” she said, “I took my Bible and went to the woods, when I fell upon my knees.” She prayed fervently to the Lord. “Immediately a vision passed before my eyes,” she said, “and the different sects passed one after another by me, and a voice called to me, saying: ‘These are built up for gain.’ Then, beyond, I could see a great light, and a voice from above called out: ‘I shall raise up a people, whom I shall delight to own and bless.’” A short while later, Abigail heard about the Book of Mormon. Even though she didn’t yet have a copy, she sought to “know the truth of this book, by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost,” and she “immediately felt its presence.” When she finally was able to read the Book of Mormon, she was “ready to receive it.” She and her husband, Lyman, were baptized in 1831.1
When Thomas B. Marsh was a young adult, he studied the Bible and joined a Christian church. But he was unsatisfied, finally withdrawing from all churches. “I had a measure of the spirit of prophecy,” he said, “and told [a religious leader] that I expected a new church would arise, which would have the truth in its purity.” Not long after this, Thomas had a spiritual prompting to leave his home in Boston, Massachusetts, and travel west. After spending three months in western New York without finding what he was looking for, he started for home. On the way, a woman asked Thomas if he had heard about “the Golden Book found by a youth named Joseph Smith.” Captivated by this thought, Thomas immediately traveled to Palmyra and met Martin Harris at the printing shop, just as the first 16 pages of the Book of Mormon were coming off the press. Thomas was allowed to take a copy of those 16 pages, and he brought them home to his wife, Elizabeth. “She was well pleased” with the book, he recalled, “believing it to be the work of God.” Thomas and Elizabeth later moved to New York with their children and were baptized.2 (For more information about Thomas B. Marsh, see Doctrine and Covenants 31.)
Like Thomas Marsh, Parley and Thankful Pratt responded to spiritual stirrings to leave their prosperous farm in Ohio with the intent to preach the gospel as they understood it from the Bible. As Parley told his brother, “The spirit of these things had wrought so powerfully on my mind of late that I could not rest.”3 When they reached eastern New York, Parley had a prompting to stay awhile in the area. Thankful, they decided, would continue on without him. “I have a work to do in this region of country,” Parley told her, “and what it is, or how long it will take to perform it, I know not; but I will come when it is performed.”4 It was there that Parley first heard of the Book of Mormon. “I felt a strange interest in the book,” he said.5 He requested a copy and read through the night. By morning, he knew the book was true, valuing it “more than all the riches of the world.”6 Within a few days Parley was baptized. He then returned to Thankful, who was also baptized. (For more information about Parley P. Pratt, see Doctrine and Covenants 32.)
On his way from New York to a mission in Missouri, Parley Pratt and his fellow laborers stopped in Mentor, Ohio, at the home of Sidney and Phebe Rigdon—old friends Parley knew from his days in Ohio. Sidney was a Christian minister, and Parley was once a member of his congregation and considered him a spiritual mentor. Parley eagerly told his friends about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s gospel. Sidney himself had been searching for a restoration of the true Church that he found described in the New Testament, though he was skeptical about the Book of Mormon at first. “But I will read your book,” he told his friend Parley, “and will endeavor to ascertain, whether it be a revelation from God or not.”7 After two weeks of study and prayer, both he and Phebe were convinced the book was true. But Sidney also knew that joining the Church would be a major sacrifice for his family. He would obviously lose his job as a minister, along with his social status in the community. As he and Phebe discussed this possibility, Phebe declared, “I have counted the cost, and … it is my desire to do the will of God, come life or come death.”8