Institute
Lesson 7: Doctrine and Covenants 4; 11–12; 14–16
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“Lesson 7: Doctrine and Covenants 4; 11–12; 14–16,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual (2017)

“Lesson 7,” Doctrine and Covenants Teacher Manual

Lesson 7

Doctrine and Covenants 4; 11–12; 14–16

Introduction and Timeline

In early 1829, Joseph Smith Sr. visited his son Joseph in Harmony, Pennsylvania. While there, Joseph Smith Sr. desired to know what he could do to assist in the Lord’s work. The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 4. In this revelation, the Lord identified attributes that qualify a person to assist in His work.

In May 1829, the Prophet’s older brother Hyrum traveled to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to visit Joseph. At Hyrum’s request, the Prophet asked the Lord to reveal His will concerning Hyrum. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 11, the Lord told Hyrum what he must do to help establish Zion.

Joseph Knight Sr. also visited the Prophet Joseph Smith in May 1829 and expressed his desire to assist in God’s work. Doctrine and Covenants 12 contains the Lord’s counsel to him.

After Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery moved to the home of Peter Whitmer Sr. in Fayette, New York, and resumed the Book of Mormon translation, the Prophet received revelations for three of Peter Whitmer Sr.’s sons: David, John, and Peter Whitmer Jr. (see D&C 14–16). In these revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 14–16, the Lord emphasized the importance of declaring repentance in order to bring souls unto Him.

January 1829

Joseph Smith Sr. visited Joseph and Emma Smith in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

February 1829

Doctrine and Covenants 4 was received.

May 1829

Joseph and Emma Smith received visits from Hyrum Smith and Joseph Knight Sr.

May 1829

Doctrine and Covenants 11–12 were received.

About June 1, 1829

Joseph and Oliver moved to Fayette, New York, to continue the translation of the Book of Mormon.

June 1829

Doctrine and Covenants 14–16 were received.

Late June 1829

The Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses viewed the golden plates.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 4

The Lord reveals to Joseph Smith Sr. what qualifies a person to assist in His work

Write the following question on the board before class:

How can you know what the Lord desires you to do to assist Him in His work?

Invite students to ponder this question throughout the lesson and to look for doctrines and principles that will help them know how they can assist in the Lord’s work.

Explain that in January 1829, Joseph Smith Sr. traveled from Palmyra, New York, to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to visit Joseph Smith and his wife Emma. While there, Joseph Smith Sr. asked how he could assist in the Lord’s work. In response, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 4.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 4:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the word the Lord used to describe the Restoration of the gospel.

  • What aspects of the restored gospel are marvelous to you?

Invite a student to read verses 2–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said is required to assist in His work.

  • What is required to assist in the Lord’s work?

  • According to verse 2, what promise did the Lord give to those who serve Him with all their heart, might, mind, and strength? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we serve God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength, we may stand blameless before God at the last day. You may want to suggest that students mark this principle in verse 2.)

  • What do you think it means to serve God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength? (Giving the Lord our total commitment and making the gospel the center of our lives.)

  • What do you think it means to “stand blameless before God” (verse 2)?

Invite students to read verses 5–7 silently, looking for attributes that qualify a person to assist in the Lord’s work. Invite a few students to report what they find. As students report, list the attributes on the board.

  • How can developing these attributes help us to assist in the Lord’s work?

Ask a student to read verse 7 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for the promises the Lord made to those who ask and knock.

  • What promises did the Lord make to those who ask and knock?

  • How do these promises relate to our acquiring the attributes described in this revelation?

Encourage students to consider which attributes they could develop more fully. Invite them to ask Heavenly Father to help them develop and strengthen these traits.

Doctrine and Covenants 11

The Lord reveals to Hyrum Smith what he must do to assist in the work

Explain that in May 1829, the Prophet’s older brother Hyrum also traveled to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to visit Joseph. At that time, Joseph and Oliver Cowdery were engaged in translating the Book of Mormon. At Hyrum’s request, the Prophet asked the Lord to reveal His will concerning his brother. The Prophet then received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 11.

Divide the class into three groups, and assign each group one of the following scripture references: Doctrine and Covenants 11:6–9; 11:10–14; and 11:15–19. Write the following questions on the board (leave room under each question to record students’ responses):

What did the Lord counsel Hyrum to do to help him prepare to serve?

What specific blessings did the Lord promise Hyrum if he would heed His counsel?

Invite students to read their assigned verses silently, looking for answers to these questions. After sufficient time, invite students from each group to report what they discovered. Record their answers under each question.

  • What repeated counsel do you notice in the Lord’s words to Hyrum?

Invite a student to read D&C 11:20–22. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord again counseled Hyrum to do.

  • Based on the Lord’s counsel to Hyrum in verses 20–22, what must we do in order to receive the Spirit and the power to help others gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we keep the commandments and obtain God’s word, we will receive the Spirit and the power to help others gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. You may wish to write this principle on the board.)

  • Why do you think the Lord emphasized the importance of keeping the commandments when teaching Hyrum how to prepare to assist in His work?

  • What are some ways we can obtain God’s word?

  • What is the relationship between studying the scriptures and receiving the Spirit?

Invite students to think of a time when they obtained God’s word and were blessed with the Spirit and the power to help someone gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. Ask a few students to share their experiences with the class. Encourage students to set a goal outlining what they will do to better obtain God’s word.

Doctrine and Covenants 12

Joseph Knight Sr. is taught what is required to assist in the Lord’s work

Explain that while translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith sometimes did not have money or supplies necessary to continue the work. Invite students to silently read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 12, looking for who helped the Prophet during his time of need. Invite a student to report what he or she finds.

Explain that sometime after Hyrum came to visit Joseph Smith in May 1829, Joseph Knight Sr. visited the Prophet and was anxious to know what more he could do to assist in the work.

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 12:1–5 by explaining that the Lord told Joseph Knight that a marvelous work was about to come forth. The Lord also told him that those who diligently serve the Lord will receive salvation.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 12:6–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the attributes we must develop to assist in the Lord’s work. Invite students to report what they find. (It may be helpful to explain that the word temperate in verse 8 means moderate or self-restrained.)

  • Why do you think developing the attributes listed in verse 8 is required in order to assist in the Lord’s work?

Refer students to the question you wrote on the board before class, and ask students to consider what they could do to better assist in the Lord’s work. Invite students to follow any promptings they receive.

Doctrine and Covenants 14–16

The Lord reveals His will to David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer Jr.

Ask students to list on a piece of paper what they think are the most worthwhile things we can do in this life.

As students study Doctrine and Covenants 14–16, invite them to look for truths that will help them know what God thinks is most worthwhile for us to do.

Invite students to turn to Church History Maps, no. 3, “The New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Area of the USA.” Ask them to find Fayette, New York. Explain that because of increasing persecution in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter to his friend David Whitmer in Fayette, New York, and asked if he and Joseph could stay with the Whitmer family in order to complete the Book of Mormon translation. Sometime in early June 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery moved to Peter Whitmer Sr.’s home.

Invite a student to read aloud the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 14. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what led to the revelations contained in Doctrine and Covenants 14–16.

  • What were the three Whitmer brothers concerned about?

Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 14:1–6 by explaining that the Lord told David Whitmer that a marvelous work was about to come forth and that those who diligently serve the Lord will receive salvation.

Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 14:7–11 silently, looking for what the Lord instructed David Whitmer to do and the blessings He promised in return.

  • What did the Lord instruct David to do? What blessings did He promise in return?

  • According to verse 7, why are keeping the commandments and enduring to the end so important? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we keep God’s commandments and endure to the end, we will have eternal life. You may want to suggest that students mark the words in verse 7 that teach this principle.)

  • What does it mean to endure to the end?

  • How would you define eternal life? (Eternal life is not merely immortality, which means living forever. Eternal life is being exalted and becoming like God.)

  • Why do you think eternal life is “the greatest of all the gifts of God”?

Invite students to privately consider which commandment they could better keep that would help them progress toward eternal life.

Invite students to scan Doctrine and Covenants 15–16, looking for the similarities between these revelations. Invite a student to explain what he or she notices.

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 15:1–5 (or 16:1–5) aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told John Whitmer (and Peter Whitmer Jr.).

  • What do you learn about the Lord from these verses? What do you learn about John (and Peter Whitmer Jr.)?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 15:6 (or 16:6) aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said would be of most worth to them.

  • Based on what the Lord told John and Peter Whitmer Jr., what is one of the most worthwhile things we can do? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: Helping bring souls unto Jesus Christ is one of the most worthwhile things we can do.)

  • What does it mean to bring souls unto Jesus Christ?

  • What are some ways we can help bring ourselves and others closer to Jesus Christ? Why is bringing souls unto Christ one of the most worthwhile things we can do?

Conclude the lesson by bearing testimony of the truths identified in this lesson.