Preparation for a Greater Work, Lesson 15: Sections 35–36, 39–40, 47

“Preparation for a Greater Work, Lesson 15: Sections 35–36, 39–40, 47,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324–325 (1981), 29–30

“Lesson 15,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide, 29–30

Preparation for a Greater Work

Lesson 15

Sections 35–36, 39–40, 47


Each individual has specific talents which, if diligently employed in the Lord’s work, will enable him to contribute significantly to the building of the kingdom.

Theme Analysis

  1. The Lord has given instructions and opportunities to individuals according to their talents and the needs of his work.

    1. Each man’s gifts and talents are enlarged through the Spirit as he is engaged in the service of the Lord.

    2. Each man has a part in building the kingdom as he serves loyally and faithfully.

  2. Sidney Rigdon was called to support Joseph Smith.

    1. Through the priesthood Sidney was called to watch over and strengthen the Prophet—as his scribe, as a preacher of righteousness, and as a witness to the world that Joseph Smith was the Lord’s anointed.

  3. Edward Partridge was called to preach the gospel.

    1. Through the gift of the Holy Ghost, Edward Partridge would be strengthened to do the work.

    2. The promise of support from the Holy Ghost is given to every faithful member.

  4. James Covill was commanded to be baptized.

    1. If he would receive the gospel, he was called to preach by the power of the priesthood, and to bring souls into the kingdom.

    2. Covill, however, did not have enough faith to be baptized, and he fell away.

  5. John Whitmer was appointed to be a record keeper.

    1. He was promised that if he was faithful he would have the Holy Ghost to assist the Prophet in transcribing and in keeping historical records.

    2. He did not adequately fulfill his stewardship.

  6. The Lord gives every worthy member such gifts and promises as are needed in order to fulfill their respective assignments.

Study Sources

Student Manual

Sections 35–36, 39–40, 47

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

  • D&C 35–36, 39–40, 47. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder these sections.

  • D&C 4:1–7. Who may serve in the Lord’s ministry?

  • D&C 46:11. Can anyone in the Lord’s kingdom rightfully claim an absence of spiritual gifts?

  • D&C 58:26–29. Having given us our free agency and our spiritual, intellectual, and physical capacities, what does the Lord expect of us?

  • D&C 60:2–3, 13. How does the Lord feel about those who hide the talents he has given them because of fear? What will be the result if they continue?

  • D&C 75:2–5. In what manner are laborers in the Lord’s vineyard to work, and what will be their reward if they do so?

  • D&C 82:3. What does the Lord expect of those who have the gospel blessings as compared with those who do not?

  • D&C 78:7. What must we do if we desire a place in the celestial world?

  • Matthew 13:3–9, 18–23. How does the parable of the sower relate to the attitudes we have about the gospel?

  • 1 Corinthians 12:12–31. Why is each member of the Lord’s kingdom important in carrying forth the Lord’s work?

  • For further reference to the men mentioned in the revelations of this lesson see Doctrine and Covenants 41:9–11; 69:2–8; 100:9–11.

Basic Library

  • Teachings, p. 48. Knowing that everyone is to receive according to his diligence and perseverance should encourage us to improve our talents and to gain other talents.

  • Teachings, p. 51. Our faculties are “enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence” we give to the light the Lord communicates to us.

  • M of F, pp. 94–96. With baptism we covenant to act as Church members, not members. Declining to serve when asked or shirking a responsibility one has accepted brings condemnation. People can break covenants by doing nothing.

  • Discourses, p. 223. Saints should awake to their duties. Labor is required of those who accept the gospel.

  • Discourses, p. 225. All the Lord requires of us is obedience to our covenants and service with a willing heart.

  • DS, 2:28–29. Those who are not valiant cannot obtain salvation.

Additional Sources

  • Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, pp. 184–86. If we are striving to do our duty to the best of our ability, we are on the straight and narrow path to life eternal.

  • Neal A. Maxwell, “It’s Service, Not Status, That Counts,” Ensign, July 1975, pp. 5–7. Our willingness to serve is more important than the prominence of our ecclesiastical calling.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

Using Talents to Build the Kingdom (Scripture Analysis, Discussion)

Compare the instructions given to Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, James Covill, and John Whitmer in Doctrine and Covenants 35–36, 39–40, 47. In what ways are they similar? How do they differ? Discuss the reasons the Lord would have for giving each the assignment he did. Review Paul’s teachings concerning the need of the Church for every member (see 1 Corinthians 12:12–31).

Using several possible Church assignments, discuss the talents and skills needed for each. Show that different assignments require different skills, although all require righteousness and dependence upon the Lord. Personalize the discussion by asking and discussing such questions as:

  1. Why are people called to certain assignments?

  2. What if I don’t like a calling I am given?

  3. What if I don’t feel qualified to do a job given me?

  4. What if I feel better qualified to fill an assignment than the person who is called to it?

  5. What should I do if I don’t have a Church calling?

You could have students write a one-page paper on the subject How I Can Improve in My Present Church Assignment. (This should be brief and could be done in class if the spirit is right.)

Becoming More Valuable Servants (Student Writing, Discussion)

Have each student write a couple of paragraphs on the subject: Strengths That I Have and Strengths I Would Like to Develop. Tell the students that their papers are not to be handed in but are designed to stimulate thought and introspection. After students have had time to write the paragraphs, discuss how they can recognize and develop their talents and the fact that they can excel and become very proficient in areas they desire to achieve. Discuss the principles of service and the fact that the Lord will enlarge those who seek to serve and improve. (Use such scriptures as Mosiah 2:17; Matthew 25:14–29; Ether 12:27.)

The Importance of Church Records (Scripture Analysis)

Doctrine and Covenants 47 was given as a result of John Whitmer’s reaction to a call given him to keep a history of the Church. This revelation specifically called John Whitmer to this important assignment. Why is it so important for the Church to keep records? Note that since the Fall, the Lord’s faithful children have kept written records (see Moses 6:5–8, 46; 1 Nephi 3:1–4; 5:10–22; Malachi 3:16; Abraham 1:31; Exodus 24:4). A statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith quoted in the student manual (see Notes and Commentary for D&C 47:1) gives some important reasons as to why written records are important.

What are some important Church records that should be kept?

  • “A regular history” of the Church (D&C 47:1)

  • Transcriptions and official declarations of the prophets

  • Personal journals

  • Personal and family histories

  • Records of ordinances performed

  • Financial records

  • Records of meetings

Every history is important to those for whom it is intended. It provides guidance, encouragement, inspiration, a record of progress and improvement, the contrast of the contribution made through righteous efforts against the contemporary world setting, and a record of the acts of men and the causes in which they are engaged. These records are more important than many have supposed.

Because the Prophet Joseph Smith had records kept, we can now realize that what may appear unimportant at the present may yet be an important record in the future and be vital to the interests and needs of others.

“After prayer by President Joseph Smith, Jun., he said, if we heard patiently, he could lay before the council an item which would be of importance. He had for himself, learned a fact by experience, which, on recollection, always gave him deep sorrow. It is a fact, if I now had in my possession, every decision which had been had upon important items of doctrine and duties since the commencement of this work, I would not part with them for any sum of money; but we have neglected to take minutes of such things, thinking, perhaps, that they would never benefit us afterwards; which, if we had them now, would decide almost every point of doctrine which might be agitated. But this has been neglected, and now we cannot bear record to the Church and to the world, of the great and glorious manifestations which have been made to us with that degree of power and authority we otherwise could, if we now had these things to publish abroad.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 72.)