“Chapter 3: Doctrine and Covenants 3; 10,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Chapter 3,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
In the summer of 1828, Martin Harris left Harmony, Pennsylvania, with 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript to show to members of his family living in Palmyra, New York. When Martin did not return to Harmony at the appointed time, Joseph Smith traveled to his parents’ home in Manchester, New York, where he learned that Martin had lost the manuscript pages. Joseph was distraught and left the next day for his home in Harmony. After arriving there in July 1828, he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 3. In this revelation the Lord rebuked Joseph and told him that he had lost the privilege of translating for a season, but the Lord also reassured him, saying, “Thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work” (D&C 3:10). Further, the Lord explained His purpose for bringing forth the Book of Mormon and declared that His work would prevail despite the wickedness of men.
After Joseph Smith went through “a season” of repentance (D&C 3:14), the Book of Mormon plates, which Moroni had taken from him at the time the manuscript was lost, were returned to him and he was again given the gift to translate. Around April 1829, after resuming the translation, Joseph received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 10 (portions of this revelation may have been received as early as the summer of 1828). In this revelation, the Lord commanded that Joseph not retranslate the lost manuscript pages. The Prophet learned that inspired preparations had been made anciently to compensate for the lost manuscript and to preserve the message of the Book of Mormon.
June 14, 1828
Martin Harris took the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Palmyra, New York.
Joseph Smith traveled to Manchester, New York, and learned that the manuscript had been lost.
Joseph Smith returned to Harmony, Pennsylvania, and received Doctrine and Covenants 3.
September 22, 1828
Having lost the golden plates and Urim and Thummim after his transgression involving the manuscript, Joseph Smith received them again from Moroni.
Oliver Cowdery arrived in Harmony to assist with the Book of Mormon translation.
Doctrine and Covenants 10 was received (portions may have been received as early as summer 1828).
The Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the golden plates in September 1827 while he and his wife, Emma Hale Smith, were living in his parents’ home near Palmyra, New York. In December 1827, increasing persecution, including attempts to steal the plates, caused Joseph and Emma to relocate to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where Emma’s parents lived. Martin Harris, a prosperous farmer and businessman in Palmyra, was an early supporter of the Prophet and provided financial help to assist with the move.
In February 1828, Martin Harris traveled to Harmony and received a copy of some of the ancient characters that Joseph had transcribed from the golden plates, along with the Prophet’s translation of those characters. Martin went to New York City to meet with scholars Professor Charles Anthon and Dr. Samuel Mitchell (or Mitchill), who had some knowledge of ancient languages and civilizations (see Joseph Smith—History 1:63–65). Martin later served as a scribe for the Prophet from April to June 1828 as Joseph translated the first portion of the Book of Mormon. During this time Martin’s wife, Lucy, had grown increasingly skeptical about her husband’s support of Joseph and about Martin’s interest and financial involvement in the work of translating the plates. To pacify her concerns, Martin requested that Joseph ask the Lord’s permission for Martin to take 116 pages of the translated manuscript to show his wife and other family members as evidence.
The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the following account: “I did enquire, and the answer was that he must not. However he was not satisfied with this answer, and desired that I should enquire again. I did so, and the answer was as before. Still he could not be contented but insisted that I should enquire once more. After much solicitation I again enquired of the Lord, and permission was granted him to have the writings on certain conditions” (Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 9, josephsmithpapers.org). Joseph had Martin Harris promise that he would show the manuscript only to his wife; his brother, Preserved Harris; his parents, Nathan and Rhoda Harris; and his wife’s sister, Mary Harris Cobb (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, ed. Michael Hubbard MacKay and others , 6, footnote 25).
Martin Harris went home to Palmyra, New York, with the 116-page manuscript. The day after Martin’s departure, Emma Smith gave birth to a son, who died shortly thereafter. Emma nearly died herself, and Joseph stayed at her bedside for several weeks. By early July 1828, Martin had been gone for three weeks and they had heard nothing from him. Emma, who was slowly recovering, persuaded Joseph to go to New York and find out why Martin had not sent any word. Joseph traveled to his parents’ home and sent for Martin.
Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s mother, recorded that, expecting Martin to arrive for breakfast, the family set the table and waited, but he took all morning to arrive. When he finally came to the house, he sat down at the table and “took up his knife and fork as if to use them but dropped them from his hands.” When asked if he was all right, Martin Harris “cried out in a tone of anguish, ‘Oh! I have lost my soul. I have lost my soul.’
“Joseph, who had smothered his fears till now, sprang from the table, exclaiming, ‘Oh! Martin, have you lost that manuscript! Have you broken your oath and brought down condemnation upon my head, as well as your own?’
“‘Yes,’ replied Martin, ‘it is gone and I know not where.’”
Overwhelmed with fear and self-condemnation, Joseph exclaimed, “‘All is lost! [All] is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned. It is me that tempted the wrath of God by asking him to that which I had no right to ask, as I was differently instructed by the angel’—and he wept and groaned, walking the floor continually.
“At last he told Martin to go back to his house and search again.
“‘No,’ said Mr. Harris, ‘it is all in vain, for I have looked in every place in the house. I have even ripped open beds and pillows [looking for the manuscript], and I know it is not there.’
“‘Then must I,’ said Joseph, ‘return to my wife with such a tale as this? I dare not do it … , and how shall I appear before the Lord? Of what rebuke am I not worthy from the … Angel of the Most High?’” (“Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845,” book 7, pages 5–6, josephsmithpapers.org; punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and paragraphing standardized).
After returning to his home in Harmony, Pennsylvania, without the manuscript pages, Joseph Smith poured out his soul to God for forgiveness. The heavenly messenger Moroni appeared to Joseph and gave him the interpreters, or Urim and Thummim, that Joseph had used while translating. The Urim and Thummim had been taken from Joseph because he had “wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting Martin Harris take the writings” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 10, josephsmithpapers.org). After Moroni appeared and returned the Urim and Thummim, Joseph received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 3.
Joseph Smith likely viewed the loss of the 116 manuscript pages as a major stumbling block to the Lord’s plan to bring forth the Book of Mormon. However, the Lord reassured His prophet that nothing could frustrate or destroy the purposes and work of God. An important attribute of God’s character is His omniscience, including His foreknowledge. There is nothing that man or Satan can do that will surprise God or prevent Him from accomplishing His purposes. He knows all things because all things are present before Him, including “past, present, and future” (D&C 130:7; see also D&C 38:2; 88:41). Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught why God’s work cannot be frustrated: “Man’s successes and failures were known from the beginning by the Lord and were taken into account by Him in the unfolding of His plan of salvation. (See 1 Ne. 9:6.) His purposes will be fully achieved” (“Shine as Lights in the World,” Ensign, May 1983, 11).
To clarify why “the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught” (D&C 3:1), the Lord provided important details about His nature. The path that God follows is not crooked. It is straight, meaning that He is unchangeable and His course is constant over time. Because God does not vary “to the right hand nor to the left” (D&C 3:2), we can trust Him and rely upon His words and His promises.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clarified what is meant by God’s course being “one eternal round” (D&C 3:2): “God governs by law—wholly, completely, invaryingly, and always. He has ordained that identical results always flow from the same causes. There is no respect of persons with him, and he is a Being ‘with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’ (Jas. 1:17; D. & C. 3:1–2.) Hence, the Lord’s ‘course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever.’ (D. & C. 35:1)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 545–46).
Joseph Smith must have had difficulty disregarding Martin Harris’s persistent requests for permission to take the manuscript pages of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Martin was more than 20 years older than Joseph and had been one of the first to believe him and seek to assist in the work. He had supported the Prophet financially and given much of his time to assist in the work of translation. Nevertheless, the Lord reproved Joseph for succumbing to Martin’s persuasions and explained that he should have feared God and trusted in His power for support. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what it can mean to fear God:
“There are many places in the scriptures that counsel mankind to fear God. In our day we generally interpret the word fear as ‘respect’ or ‘reverence’ or ‘love’; that is, the fear of God means the love of God or respect for Him and His law. That may often be a correct reading, but I wonder if sometimes fear doesn’t really mean fear, as when the prophets speak of fearing to offend God by breaking His commandments. …
“I submit that fear of the Lord, or what Paul calls ‘godly fear’ (Hebrews 12:28), should be part of our reverence for Him. We should so love and reverence Him that we fear doing anything wrong in His sight, whatever may be the opinions of or pressure from others” (“A Sense of the Sacred” [Brigham Young University fireside, Nov. 7, 2004], 8; speeches.byu.edu).
The Prophet’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, wrote that Joseph blamed himself when he learned that Martin Harris had lost the manuscript. She described Joseph’s suffering: “He wept and groaned, walking the floor continually. … Sobs and groans and the most bitter lamentations filled the house. Joseph in particular was more distressed than the rest for he knew definitely and by sorrowful experience the consequence of what would seem to others to be a very trifling neglect of duty. He continued tracing backwards and forwards, weeping and grieving like a tender infant until about sunset. We persuaded him to take a little nourishment” (“Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845,” book 7, pages 6–7, josephsmithpapers.org; punctuation, spelling, and capitalization standardized).
Joseph Smith’s despair continued until Moroni visited him in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and Joseph received the following revelation from the Lord: “Remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done … and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work” (D&C 3:10).
Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy gave the following description of Joseph’s experience:
“Young Joseph Smith was disciplined with a four-year probation before obtaining the golden plates, ‘because you have not kept the commandments of the Lord’ [in The Joseph Smith Papers, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, ed. Karen Lynn Davidson and others (2012), 83]. Later, when Joseph lost the 116 manuscript pages, he was disciplined again. Though Joseph was truly remorseful, the Lord still withdrew his privileges for a short season because ‘whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven’ (D&C 95:1).
“Joseph said, ‘The angel was rejoiced when he gave me back the Urim and Thummim and said that God was pleased with my faithfulness and humility, and loved me for my penitence and diligence in prayer’ [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 71; emphasis added]. Because the Lord wanted to teach Joseph a heart-changing lesson, He required a heartrending sacrifice of him—sacrifice being an essential part of discipline” (“The Righteous Judge,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 97).
There are many examples in modern revelation of the Lord chastening individuals or calling them to repent (see D&C 19:13–15; 30:1–3; 64:15–17; 112:1–3, 10–16.) The passage in Doctrine and Covenants 3:6–11 is evidence that the Prophet Joseph Smith was not exempt from being corrected by the Lord for his mistakes and weaknesses. Nevertheless, because he repented, Joseph Smith was still called by the Lord to do His work.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded us that Church leaders are not perfect, yet we can trust that they are inspired and that the Lord works through them:
“The Church of Jesus Christ has always been led by living prophets and apostles. Though mortal and subject to human imperfection, the Lord’s servants are inspired to help us avoid obstacles that are spiritually life threatening and to help us pass safely through mortality to our final, ultimate, heavenly destination.
“During my nearly 40 years of close association, I have been a personal witness as both quiet inspiration and profound revelation have moved to action the prophets and apostles, the other General Authorities, and the auxiliary leaders. While neither perfect nor infallible, these good men and women have been perfectly dedicated to leading the work of the Lord forward as He has directed. …
“Too many people think Church leaders and members should be perfect or nearly perfect. They forget that the Lord’s grace is sufficient to accomplish His work through mortals. …
“Focusing on how the Lord inspires His chosen leaders and how He moves the Saints to do remarkable and extraordinary things despite their humanity is one way that we hold on to the gospel of Jesus Christ” (“God Is at the Helm,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 24–25).
Martin Harris’s violation of the covenant that he made to only show the manuscript to five specified individuals brought about a stern rebuke from the Lord, who referred to Martin as “a wicked man” (D&C 3:12). Because Martin had chosen to rely upon his own wisdom and judgment, he lost the Book of Mormon manuscript pages and Joseph Smith lost the privilege to translate “for a season” (D&C 3:14). President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught that Martin’s “wickedness consisted in his selfish desire to gratify his own wish contrary to the will of the Lord, after he had been denied this request before it was granted” (Church History and Modern Revelation , 1:28).
Book of Mormon prophets, such as Nephi, Jacob, and Moroni, described the Lord’s purposes for bringing forth this sacred record (see the title page of the Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 33:4–5; Jacob 4:3–4; Ether 8:26). The Prophet Joseph Smith had not yet translated any of these passages when he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 3, and verses 16–20 would have expanded his understanding of the purposes and destiny of the Book of Mormon.
The Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 10 in Harmony, Pennsylvania, but it is not known exactly when. The Prophet may have received portions of this revelation as early as July 1828, after the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 3 was received. However, the revelation seems to have been recorded the following spring, in April 1829 (see Doctrine and Covenants 10, section heading).
Some time following the loss of the 116 manuscript pages, the golden plates and the Urim and Thummim were returned to the Prophet, along with the Lord’s assurance that the gift to translate was “now restored unto [him] again” (D&C 10:3). By March 1829, the Prophet resumed the Book of Mormon translation, with his wife, Emma, assisting at times as his scribe, but the translation proceeded slowly until Oliver Cowdery arrived on April 5 and began serving as Joseph’s scribe the next day.
With Oliver’s help, Joseph apparently began translating in the book of Mosiah, where he had been translating before the loss of the manuscript. As he neared the end of translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph wondered if he should return to the beginning of the record and retranslate the portion that had been lost. In response, the Lord taught the Prophet of Satan’s strategy to destroy God’s work and told him not to retranslate that portion of the plates but to translate the small plates of Nephi instead. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, 38–39.) The small plates were a spiritual record, focusing primarily upon preaching, revelation, and prophecy (see Jacob 1:4). The Lord explained that the small plates covered the same time period as the lost portion but in many ways “do throw greater views” upon His gospel (D&C 10:45).
Until around March 1829, because the 116 manuscript pages had been lost, the Prophet Joseph Smith no longer had any transcribed pages to indicate progress on the Book of Mormon translation, even though he had been given the plates in September 1827. Although the translation of the Book of Mormon was a task of the highest importance, the Lord did not require the Prophet to labor beyond the strength and means that God had provided to him. Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained how the Lord’s mortal servants should labor in the work:
“The Lord wants us to be diligent but prudent. We are not to give our cross a hurried heft merely to see if we can lift it and then put it down—we are to carry it for the balance of our lives. And pace matters very much. …
“Running faster than we have strength ‘is not requisite.’ Doing things diligently but ‘in wisdom and order’ is, in fact, necessary if one is to ‘win the prize.” [Mosiah 4:27.] This balance between pace and diligence is a high and demanding exercise in the use of our time, talent, and agency. …
“… When our pace exceeds our strength and means, the result is prostration instead of sustained dedication. Directions on such matters can be and are given to us through the process of private inspiration. …
“Pace, which requires diligent, sustained effort, is not the way of those who fling themselves into a single task and quickly become depleted and, therefore, cannot help again for a season” (Notwithstanding My Weakness , 4, 6–7).
The bitter experience of losing the Book of Mormon manuscript pages led the Prophet Joseph Smith to rely more diligently upon the guidance and direction he received from God. He was reminded to “pray always” in order to escape the destructive influence of Satan and his servants (D&C 10:5). President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency highlighted one reason why the Lord gave the commandment to pray always:
“You may have wondered, as have I, why He used the word always, given the nature of mortality as it weighs upon us. You know from experience how hard it is to think of anything consciously all the time. Even in service to God, you will not be consciously praying always. So why does the Master exhort us to ‘pray always’?
“I am not wise enough to know all of His purposes in giving us a covenant to always remember Him and in warning us to pray always lest we be overcome. But I know one. It is because He knows perfectly the powerful forces that influence us and also what it means to be human. …
“… He knows what it is like to have the cares of life press upon us. … And He knows that both the trials we face and our human powers to deal with them ebb and flow.
“He knows the mistake we can so easily make: to underestimate the forces working for us and to rely too much on our human powers. And so He offers us the covenant to ‘always remember Him’ and the warning to ‘pray always’ so that we will place our reliance on Him, our only safety. It is not hard to know what to do. The very difficulty of remembering always and praying always is a needed spur to try harder. The danger lies in delay or drift” (“Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 8–9).
President Eyring further explained one way we can pray continually throughout our day: “The Lord hears the prayers of your heart. The feelings in your heart of love for our Heavenly Father and for His Beloved Son can be so constant that your prayers will ascend always” (“Always,” 12).
Satan seeks to thwart the Lord’s work (see Matthew 4:1–11; Moses 1:12–23; 4:6; Joseph Smith—History 1:15). The loss of the Book of Mormon manuscript pages and the plot of wicked men to entrap the Prophet Joseph Smith if he were to retranslate the same material were some of Satan’s many attempts to prevent the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. (For a summary of what Joseph Smith learned about Satan’s plan for the lost 116 manuscript pages, read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 10.)
Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about Satan and his ultimate goal: “Satan … has a plan. It is a cunning, evil, subtle plan of destruction. It is his objective to take captive the children of Father in Heaven and with every possible means frustrate the great plan of happiness” (“The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 73).
Satan influenced corrupt men to persecute the Prophet Joseph Smith and try to destroy the Book of Mormon. He deceived and flattered the wicked and told them that “it is no sin to lie” and destroy that which is good (D&C 10:25). The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) taught, “The devil has great power to deceive; he will so transform things as to make one gape at those who are doing the will of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 72).
There continues to be those today who are stirred up to anger against God’s work. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cautioned members of the Church:
“No one of us is immune from the influences of the world. The Lord’s counsel keeps us on guard. …
“As we follow the Savior, without question there will be challenges that confront us. Approached with faith, these refining experiences bring a deeper conversion of the Savior’s reality. Approached in a worldly way, these same experiences cloud our view and weaken our resolve. Some we love and admire slip from the strait and narrow path and ‘[walk] no more with him’ [John 6:66]. …
“Will we be astonished at times to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord’s Church and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak? Yes. But this will not deter the growth or destiny of the Church, nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“Never Leave Him,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 39, 41).
The Lord knew that wicked individuals desired to publish a version of the stolen manuscript with altered wording. That version would contradict whatever the Prophet Joseph Smith would publish if he retranslated the lost portion. Therefore, the Lord commanded that Joseph not retranslate that part of the plates. The Prophet’s enemies never published the 116 manuscript pages, and the pages have never been found. Later, when the first edition of the Book of Mormon was published, Joseph Smith included a preface wherein he quoted a portion of Doctrine and Covenants 10 and publicly exposed the plan of the wicked to publish words that would “read contrary from that which [Joseph] translated and caused to be written” (D&C 10:11).
The lost 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon came from the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of the large plates of Nephi and included the book of Lehi (see 1 Nephi 1:16; 19:1) and possibly the first part of the book of Mosiah. After the loss of the manuscript, the Prophet did not retranslate these portions of the plates but continued to translate the remainder of Mormon’s abridgement of the large plates. The Lord, however, instructed Joseph to translate the engravings that were on the small plates of Nephi that covered the same time period as the book of Lehi (see D&C 10:41).
When the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi described the Lord’s command for him to create a second set of plates, he wrote that it was “for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not. But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works” (1 Nephi 9:5–6; see also 1 Nephi 19:1–5; 2 Nephi 5:29–33; Words of Mormon 1:6–7).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how Nephi’s second record is an example of God’s infinite wisdom and how it blesses us today:
“At least six times in the Book of Mormon, the phrase ‘for a wise purpose’ is used in reference to the making, writing, and preserving of the small plates of Nephi (see 1 Ne. 9:5; [Words of Mormon] 1:7; Alma 37:2, 12, 14, 18). We know one such wise purpose—the most obvious one—was to compensate for the future loss of 116 pages of manuscript translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith from the first part of the Book of Mormon (see D&C 3; 10).
“But it strikes me that there is a ‘wiser purpose’ than that, or perhaps more accurately, a ‘wiser purpose’ in that. The key to such a suggestion is in D&C 10:45. As the Lord instructs Joseph Smith on the procedure for translating and inserting the material from the small plates into what had been begun as the translation of the abridged large plates, he says, ‘Behold, there are many things engraven upon the [small] plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel’ (emphasis added).
“So clearly this was not a quid pro quo in the development of the final Book of Mormon product. It was not tit for tat, this for that—116 pages of manuscript for 142 pages of printed text. Not so. We got back more than we lost. And it was known from the beginning that it would be so. We do not know exactly what we have missed in the 116 pages, but we do know that what we received on the small plates was the personal declarations of the three great witnesses [Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah], three of the great doctrinal voices of the Book of Mormon, testifying that Jesus is the Christ” (“For a Wise Purpose,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 13–14).
Several of the Nephite prophets and disciples prayed that their record would be preserved and that through it the gospel would eventually come to the Lamanites and their posterity (see 2 Nephi 26:15; Enos 1:13, 16–17; Mosiah 12:8; 3 Nephi 5:14; Mormon 8:25–26; 9:34–37). The prayers of these prophets were answered by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the latter days.
Doctrine and Covenants 10:53–56 contains one of the earliest indications from the Lord that He was preparing to establish His Church again on the earth (see also D&C 5:14; 6:1; 11:16). The Lord promised that those who belong to His Church “need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven” (D&C 10:55). Some suppose that membership in the Lord’s restored Church guarantees salvation. To understand the Lord’s doctrine on this point, we need to understand what belonging to the Lord’s Church means. The Lord stated that those who belong to the Church are not just those who are baptized and have their names on the records of the Church but those who “repenteth and cometh unto me” (D&C 10:67). The Lord also added that those members of His Church who endure to the end will prevail against the gates of hell (see D&C 10:69).
Through the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 10, Jesus Christ testifies of His divinity as the Son of God, our Lord, and the Redeemer of the World (see D&C 10:57, 70). Through the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, the Lord promised that “the true points of [His] doctrine” would be brought to light (D&C 10:62). One of His purposes in revealing His doctrine through the Book of Mormon is to help God’s children understand His word clearly so that they might avoid contention and the tendency to “wrest” or distort His word and misinterpret the scriptures (see D&C 10:63).
The Lord’s declaration that the Book of Mormon would “bring to light the true points of [His] doctrine” (D&C 10:62) and put down contention is fulfillment of the prophecy given by Joseph in Egypt concerning the writings of the fruit of his loins that would come forth in the latter days (see 2 Nephi 3:12). During the Great Apostasy, the priesthood was taken from the earth and many plain and precious truths were taken away or kept back from the Bible (see 1 Nephi 13:26–29). Consequently, the world was left without a fulness of truth and the divine revelation needed to understand and apply the word of God. This lack of light and truth led to disagreements and contention over the doctrines of God and allowed Satan to stir up contention in the hearts of men. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon in these last days reestablishes, clarifies, and witnesses anew of the fulness of God’s truth.