“Unit 3: Day 2, Doctrine and Covenants 4,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)
“Unit 3: Day 2,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide
In February 1829, Joseph Smith Sr. and his wife, Lucy, visited their son Joseph Smith Jr. in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith Sr. desired to know what the Lord wanted him to do to assist in the work of the Restoration. During that visit Joseph Smith Jr. received a revelation. This revelation, addressed to the Prophet’s father, is the first in a series of several revelations given to individuals who desired to assist the Lord in His work (see also D&C 6; 8–9; 11–12; 14–16; 23; 25).
Have you ever desired to serve God and wanted to know His will regarding how you could best assist in doing His work? Joseph Smith’s father desired to assist the Lord in His work, but he didn’t know what the Lord wanted Him to do. He asked his son, the Prophet, to inquire of the Lord on his behalf. Doctrine and Covenants 4 is the Lord’s response. In this revelation He outlined the qualities He expects of those who desire to assist Him in His work. Notice as you read this section what the Lord taught Joseph Smith Sr. about how we are to serve Him.
When this revelation was received, the Church had not yet been organized, the translation of the Book of Mormon had not been completed, and the priesthood had not yet been restored. Read Doctrine and Covenants 4:1, looking for how the Lord described the Restoration of the gospel that was just beginning to unfold. You may want to mark the word the Lord used to describe the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days. In what ways was the Restoration of the gospel “marvelous”?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, and look for what the Lord asks of those who embark, or begin, in His service. Finish the following principle based on Doctrine and Covenants 4:2: If we serve God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength, we can .
You may also want to mark words or phrases that teach this principle in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do you think it means to do something “with all your heart, might, mind and strength”?
How could understanding and applying this principle help you as you participate in the work of the Lord?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 4:3, and look for what we need to have that will help us succeed in assisting with God’s work. You may want to mark what you find.
Some consider Doctrine and Covenants 4 primarily as a call to full-time missionary service. However, Joseph Smith Sr., to whom this revelation was given, was not being called as a full-time missionary. He did, however, follow the counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2–3 for the rest of his life, serving with commitment wherever and whenever he was called. He was one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and one of the first to be baptized when the Church was officially organized on April 6, 1830. He also served as the first Patriarch to the Church and as Assistant Counselor to the First Presidency. Think of some other ways, in addition to full-time missionary service, you can assist the Lord in His work. For example, the following excerpt from the For the Strength of Youth booklet on the topic of service gives some ideas about how you can act on your desire to assist in the Lord’s work now:
“Service to others is an important characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is willing to bear other people’s burdens and to comfort those who need comfort. Often Heavenly Father will meet the needs of others through you.
“There are many ways to serve others. Some of the most important service you can give will be within your own home. You can also serve in your Church assignments, school, and community. You can serve by doing temple and family history work. You can serve by sharing the gospel with others now and as a full-time missionary in the future. Often the most meaningful service is expressed through simple, everyday acts of kindness. Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost each day to know whom to serve and how to help meet their needs. Follow the example of the Savior as you serve others” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 32).
- In your scripture study journal, describe a specific way you want to assist the Lord in His work at this time in your life.
In Doctrine and Covenants 4:4 the Lord referred to the people of the world as a field of grain. Read Doctrine and Covenants 4:4, and mark what the Lord said about His field (or the people of the world). It might help you more fully understand this verse to know that grains such as wheat or barley change color as they grow. When grain is young, it is green, but as it matures it grows pale. When the grain is ready for harvesting, it is often described as “white.” A large curved knife called a sickle is used for harvesting the grain.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do you think the phrase “the field is white already to harvest” means?
What do you think it means to thrust in your sickle with your might?
What is the reward mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 4:4 for those who thrust in their sickle with their might?
One truth we can learn from this verse about the effect of our work to serve the Lord is that as we labor diligently to bring others unto Jesus Christ, we can also receive salvation for ourselves.
- In your scripture study journal, write about a time when you felt closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as you worked to help others come to Them.
Think of two or three jobs, careers, or professions. What qualifications and necessary attributes would someone need to succeed in each of them?
Find a recipe for one of your favorite meals, and read the list of ingredients on it. What would happen if you tried to make that meal but did not include one or two of the ingredients? Doctrine and Covenants 4:5–6 contains a list of “ingredients” or attributes that qualify a person to assist in the Lord’s work. Read the verses, and consider marking each divine attribute listed. You may also want to mark words or phrases that teach this principle: As we strive to develop divine attributes, it will help us qualify to assist in the work of the Lord.
Consider how developing each of these divine attributes can help you better assist the Lord in His work.
- Choose one attribute from Doctrine and Covenants 4:5–6 that you would like to develop more fully. Using resources available to you (such as the Topical Guide or Guide to the Scriptures), find three other scriptures that teach about that attribute. (You may also want to read the True to the Faith entry or the entry in the Guide to the Scriptures for the attribute you have chosen.) Write a brief summary in your scripture study journal of what you learned about that attribute, as well as what you can do now to begin developing that attribute. You may wish to share your plan with a parent or close friend.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 4:7, and look for how you can seek after and develop these attributes. Ponder on what it means to “ask” and to “knock.” How might prayer help us develop divine attributes?
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 4 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: