“Home-Study Lesson: Doctrine and Covenants 29:31–50; 30–35 (Unit 8)” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Home-Study Lesson: Unit 8,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
This lesson focuses specifically on the Lord’s counsel to David and Peter Whitmer following a conference of the Church in September 1830. During the conference the Lord exposed the revelations from Hiram Page as false. In Doctrine and Covenants 30, the Lord chastened David Whitmer for his belief in the stone and called Peter Whitmer to accompany Oliver Cowdery on his mission.
Ask students to silently consider the following situations:
A young man has been listening to music that does not meet the standards outlined in For the Strength of Youth. Although he enjoys listening to this music, he is beginning to realize that its messages are causing him to lose the Spirit and drift away from his family, his friends, and the Church.
After a number of dates with one young man, a young woman begins to realize, by the promptings of the Holy Ghost, that the young man has been slowly attempting to persuade her to break the law of chastity.
Then ask students the following question:
How can we, like the individuals in these situations, recognize when we are being deceived?
Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 30 contains truths that can help us prepare to receive and follow warnings from the Spirit and help us avoid being deceived. Invite students to look for these truths as they study this section today.
To help students understand the context of Doctrine and Covenants 30, ask them to recall what they have learned about David Whitmer thus far in their study of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history. (He was one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and had helped in providing supplies during the translation of the Book of Mormon.)
Tell students that David Whitmer’s brother-in-law was Hiram Page. You may want to ask students what they recall about Hiram Page from their study of Doctrine and Covenants 28. (He was one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and had found a stone through which he claimed he could receive revelation.) Explain that when Hiram Page introduced his false seer stone and the professed revelations that came from it, Oliver Cowdery, the Whitmers, and others in the Fayette area began to believe Hiram’s claims.
Why might it have been easy for David Whitmer to be persuaded by Hiram Page?
Ask students to search Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–2 and answer the following questions:
What did the Lord say David Whitmer had done that may have made him vulnerable to being deceived?
What did the Lord say David had not done?
Invite students to suggest principles we can learn from Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–2. They might suggest some or all of the following:
Rather than fear men, we should rely on the Lord for strength.
We should place our minds on the things of God more than on the things of the earth.
We should follow the Spirit and the counsel of Church leaders rather than be persuaded by those whom the Lord has not called.
Ask the following questions:
What do you think it means to have our minds on the things of the earth more than on the things of the Lord? What are some ways we might be tempted to do this?
How can focusing on worldly things more than the things of the Lord cause us to be more susceptible to deception?
Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith:
“It seems a little strange that so soon after the wonderful manifestation which [David Whitmer] had received and the witnessing of the outpouring of the Spirit at other times, that he would forget, but human nature is such that all of us need constant reminding of our responsibilities or we are likely to lapse into some indifference. The need of constant prayer and concentration of our thoughts on the things of the kingdom, and sincere attention to duty, is apparent with most of us, lest we slip. How frequently the Lord has had to caution his people against the weaknesses of the flesh!” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 1:146).
According to President Smith, what do we need to be doing to ensure we do not forget our spiritual responsibilities as David Whitmer did?
You might use this opportunity to remind students of the need to study their scriptures daily—not just to complete their assignments but to help them learn the gospel, develop a testimony of the gospel, and hear the voice of the Lord. You may also want to ask students to share what has helped them to study the scriptures in a meaningful way.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify the Lord’s instructions to David Whitmer.
After being deceived by Hiram Page, how could it help David Whitmer to ponder on the things the Lord revealed to him?
Encourage students to consider if there are situations in their lives where they may be relying or focusing more on “the things of the earth” than on the things of God and how doing so could make them vulnerable to deception. Invite them to decide what they will do to rely more upon the Lord in those situations.
Display a heavy object or a bag filled with heavy items. Invite a student to come to the front of class and hold the object out in front of him or her. While the student is holding the object, invite the other students to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:5 silently and look for what the Lord called Peter Whitmer to do. Ask the class to report what they learned.
Who was to be the presiding leader on Peter Whitmer’s mission to the Lamanites?
Invite a second student to help the student who is holding the heavy object or bag. Ask the first student to describe the difference he or she feels from having someone else’s support. Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 30:5–7 records the Lord’s counsel to Peter Whitmer about how Peter was to support and sustain Oliver Cowdery in his leadership position. Ask students to search these verses and identify specific phrases that describe how Peter was to sustain Oliver.
What phrases did the Lord use to teach Peter how he should support and sustain Oliver? (See verse 6; Peter was to be afflicted in all of Oliver’s afflictions, to pray for Oliver, and to recognize Oliver’s authority.)
What do you think it means to “be … afflicted in all his afflictions” (D&C 30:6)?
What is a lesson we can learn from the Lord’s counsel to Peter that also applies to us?
One truth students may express is that we are to sustain and support those whom the Lord has called to direct His work. Invite a student to write this principle on the board.
Ask students to explain how they can apply this principle in their lives, perhaps in supporting their ward or branch leaders. Invite them to share their testimonies of the blessings that come from supporting those whom the Lord has called. Encourage them to continue to live this principle.
Ask students if they have ever been asked to obey a commandment, but they did not fully understand why. What if you are promised blessings based on your obedience but then fail to live the commandments? In the next unit students will learn about Church members who found themselves in this situation and what the Lord taught them.