“Lesson 5: Doctrine and Covenants 6; 8–9,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 5,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual
Without a regular scribe, the translation of the Book of Mormon proceeded sporadically until March 1829, when the Prophet Joseph Smith was commanded to stop and wait for help (see D&C 5:30–34). In fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to “provide means” (D&C 5:34), Oliver Cowdery arrived at the Prophet’s home in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and offered his help. Joseph Smith began translating again on April 7, 1829, with Oliver assisting as a scribe. Later that month, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 6. In this revelation, Oliver received counsel concerning his role in the Lord’s work.
As the translation of the Book of Mormon proceeded, Oliver desired an opportunity to translate. In a revelation received in April 1829 and recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 8, the Lord promised Oliver the gift of revelation and the ability to translate ancient records.
Oliver began his attempt to translate but was unable to continue. At Oliver’s request, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 9, in which the Lord explained why Oliver struggled to translate and also provided principles regarding revelation.
- Late 1828
Oliver Cowdery learned about Joseph Smith while living in Manchester, New York.
- April 1829
Oliver Cowdery traveled to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to meet Joseph Smith.
- April 1829
The translation of the Book of Mormon proceeded in earnest with Oliver Cowdery acting as scribe.
- April 1829
- April 1829
Oliver Cowdery attempted to translate.
- April 1829
Doctrine and Covenants 9 was received.
Invite students to think about situations they are facing now or anticipate facing in the future that require Heavenly Father’s guidance.
Why would it be important to receive Heavenly Father’s guidance in those situations?
Write the following questions on the board:
Explain that in the spring of 1829, the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed that the Lord would send someone to help him with the work of translation as had been promised (see Lucy Mack Smith, “Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845,” 143–44, josephsmithpapers.org; see also D&C 5:30, 34). The Lord’s promise was fulfilled in part with the arrival of Oliver Cowdery on April 5, 1829. Joseph and Oliver then began working on the translation in earnest, with Oliver acting as scribe. Shortly after they commenced the translation, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 6.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 6:1–4 by explaining that the Lord told Joseph and Oliver that “a great and marvelous work [was] about to come forth” (verse 1) and that those who desire to assist are called by God to help.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 6:5–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the counsel and promises the Lord gave to Oliver Cowdery.
What counsel and promises did the Lord give to Oliver? (If necessary, point out the Lord’s repeated counsel to keep the commandments.)
What words or phrases indicate that the Lord is willing to answer our prayers and give us guidance?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 6:10–13 by explaining that the Lord told Oliver Cowdery that he had the gift of revelation.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 6:14–17, 22–24. Ask them to identify doctrine and principles the Lord taught Oliver regarding revelation.
What doctrine and principles concerning receiving revelation stand out to you in these verses?
As the class identifies truths taught in these verses, you may wish to ask a student to list them on the board. Students may identify several truths, including the following: As often as we seek answers from Heavenly Father, He will instruct us through the Spirit. As we inquire of the Lord, He will enlighten our minds. The Lord speaks peace to our minds as a witness of truth.
Ask students to reflect on experiences when they have received revelation from the Lord in one of these ways. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class. (Remind students not to share anything too personal or sacred.)
Point out the phrases “cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me” in verse 22 and “I have told you things which no man knoweth” in verse 24. Explain that after this revelation was given, Oliver told the Prophet about an experience he had while staying with Joseph’s family in Palmyra, New York. Oliver related that, after learning about the plates, he had “called upon the Lord to know if these things were so, and that the Lord manifested to him that they were true, but that he had kept the circumstance entirely secret, and had mentioned it to no being, so that after this revelation [was] given, he knew that the work was true, because no being living knew of the thing alluded to in this revelation, but God and himself” (Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, p. 15, josephsmithpapers.org).
Encourage students to continue to seek for their own witness of truth from the Lord.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 6:25–31 by explaining that the Lord gave Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the keys to bring to light the scriptures. The Lord told Oliver that if he desired it, he could have the gift to translate and to stand with Joseph Smith as a second witness of the Book of Mormon. Explain that Joseph and Oliver may have felt doubtful at this time about whether others would accept the Book of Mormon. Point out that the Lord promised Joseph and Oliver that they would be blessed even if others rejected the work.
Invite a few students to read Doctrine and Covenants 6:32–37 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord encouraged Joseph and Oliver. (It might be helpful to point out that the phrase “earth and hell” [D&C 6:34] refers to humankind and Satan).
What words or phrases in these verses are meaningful to you and can help you overcome doubt and fear?
Explain that not long after Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in section 6, Oliver Cowdery wanted to know when he could begin translating. Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 8 in response to Oliver’s request.
Invite a few students to take turns reading Doctrine and Covenants 8:1–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for principles that Oliver Cowdery needed to understand in order to translate.
What doctrine can we learn from verses 2–3 about how the Lord communicates with us? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: The Lord speaks to our minds and hearts by the power of the Holy Ghost.)
In what ways does the Lord speak to our minds? In what ways does He speak to our hearts?
To help students better understand this doctrine, invite a student to read aloud the following explanation by Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“An impression to the mind is very specific. Detailed words can be heard or felt and written as though the instruction were being dictated.
“A communication to the heart is a more general impression. The Lord often begins by giving impressions. Where there is a recognition of their importance and they are obeyed, one gains more capacity to receive more detailed instruction to the mind. An impression to the heart, if followed, is fortified by a more specific instruction to the mind” (Richard G. Scott, “Helping Others to Be Spiritually Led” [address to Church Educational System religious educators, Aug. 11, 1998], 3–4).
Based on your own experiences with this doctrine, why do you think the Lord chooses to communicate with us through both our minds and hearts?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 8:6–12 by explaining that the Lord blessed Oliver Cowdery with gifts that would help him assist the Prophet Joseph Smith in his role in restoring the gospel.
Explain that Oliver Cowdery began to translate, but he was unsuccessful and returned to serving as the Prophet’s scribe. Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord and received a revelation explaining why Oliver could not translate.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 9:1–6, 11 by explaining that Oliver’s fear or lack of faith prevented him from translating. The Lord counseled Oliver to be patient and promised him an opportunity to translate “other records” (verse 2) in the future.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 9:7–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Oliver Cowdery was taught about receiving revelation.
What do you think the phrase “study it out in your mind” in verse 8 means? (To consider decisions and options, weighing alternatives carefully. Point out that this instruction from the Lord illustrates that the translation of the Book of Mormon was not accomplished without effort from the translator but required mental exertion.)
What doctrine does verse 8 teach concerning what the Lord expects of us as we seek His direction and guidance? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: As we seek to receive and recognize revelation, the Lord requires effort on our part.)
When have you felt that effort on your part has increased your ability to receive revelation from the Lord?
Point out that in these verses, the Lord not only taught Oliver the importance of his own effort in receiving revelation but also taught him more concerning how the Lord may communicate with us.
What phrases in these verses help us understand additional ways the Lord communicates with us through the Spirit?
How does the Lord’s instruction to Oliver in these verses help illustrate the doctrine that revelation comes to both our minds and hearts?
You may want to clarify that the phrases “bosom shall burn” in verse 8 and “stupor of thought” in verse 9 represent two of a number of possible ways that the Spirit might indicate whether or not something is right.
To help students understand how the Lord typically helps us feel that something is right or not right, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott:
“That [stupor of thought], for me, is an unsettling, discomforting feeling. …
“… The feeling of peace is the most common confirming witness that I personally experience. …
“… You can feel the peace, comfort, and assurance that confirm that your decision is right. Or … you can sense that unsettled feeling, the stupor of thought, indicating that your choice is wrong” (Richard G. Scott, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 10).
You may want to acknowledge that even when we diligently seek God’s guidance, sometimes it seems that no answer comes. Reassure students that if we are living worthily, we can have faith that God will answer us in His time.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 9:12–14 by explaining that the Lord did not condemn Oliver Cowdery because of his failed attempt to translate. The Lord promised that both he and Joseph would prosper if they continued faithfully in the work.
Refer students to the questions on the board that you wrote at the beginning of class. Ask them to write in their personal notes their answers to those questions based on what they learned today. Invite a few students to share their answers with the class. Encourage students to follow any promptings they may have received about what they could do to better receive and recognize revelation.