Church History Lesson 11 (D&C 4; 11–12; 14–16; 18; 31; 33; 75)
This was a time of great persecution for the Church, especially in the Harmony and Colesville areas. Under these trying conditions, Joseph said, that the Saints received many important revelations—instruction to individuals who wished to assist with the work.
— D&C 4 was given to Joseph Smith Sr., the Prophet’s father Feb 1829
— D&C 11 was given to Hyrum Smith, the Prophet’s brother May 1829
— D&C 12 was given to Joseph Knight Sr. May 1829
— D&C 14–16 were given to David, John, and Peter Whitmer June 1829
— D&C 18 was given to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer June 1829
— D&C 25 was given to Emma Hale Smith July 1830
— D&C 30 was given to David, Peter, and John Whitmer Sept 1830
— D&C 32 was given to Parley Pratt and Ziba Peterson Oct 1830
— D&C 31 was given to Thomas B. Marsh Sept 1830
— D&C 33 was given to Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet October 1830
INSTRUCTIONS ON CHURCH SERVICE
● D&C 4 Instructions to Joseph Smith Sr.
— Joseph Smith Sr. was the first person to believe the story of the Prophet.
— He encouraged his son to continue faithful to the teachings of the angel.
— He was filled with the testimony of the truth, and was anxious to share it with others.
— He was almost 60 when he made the a journey to take the gospel to his father, mother & family.
— In February, 1829, he came to his son and asked to know by revelation the will of the Lord.
— This section of the Doctrine and Covenants is the result of that humble inquiry.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “This revelation is very short, only seven verses, but it contains sufficient counsel and instruction for a life-time study. No one has yet mastered it. . . . It is a revelation to each member of the Church, especially to all who hold the priesthood. Perhaps there is no other revelation in all our scriptures that embodies greater instruction pertaining to the manner of qualification of members of the Church for the service of God, and in such condensed form than this revelation. It is as broad, as high and as deep as eternity. No elder of the Church is qualified to teach in the Church, or carry the message of Salvation to the world, until he has absorbed, in part at least, this heaven-sent instruction.”
An invitation to participate in the latter-day work (D&C 4:1–3).
— Heart Our deepest feelings of the soul.
— Might Our entire physical effort.
— Mind Our thoughts.
— Strength All of our physical and spiritual power.
He that “harvests” with his might brings salvation to himself (D&C 4:4).
He is to continue to reap until the end—the Second Coming (D&C 6:3).
He will receive everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God (D&C 11:3).
He will be crowned with honor, glory, immortality, and eternal life (D&C 75:5).
Qualifications needed to do the work of the Lord (D&C 4:5–7).
● D&C 11 Instructions to Hyrum Smith
— Soon after receiving this revelation, became one of the earliest to be baptized.
— He also was one of the eight witnesses.
— He became 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency in 1837 where he served until 1841.
— In 1841 he was called to be Patriarch to the Church (following his father’s death)
— The Lord called him “a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator” (D&C 124:91–96).
— He was called to act in concert with Joseph and to bear record.
— This he did admirably as he bore persecutions, watched over the Prophet, and with him sealed his testimony with his blood at Carthage in 1844.
— Obedience is important in serving the Lord (D&C 11:6, 20).
— To obtain eternal life, this greatest of all the gifts of God, we must listen to and obey the Spirit, keep the Lord’s commandments, and endure to the end (D&C 11:7–8).
— The instruction to “say nothing but repentance” applies also to us (D&C 11:9). No doctrine or message is more important to the salvation of souls.
— Hyrum was promised a gift from the Lord (D&C 11:10–11).
— We should put our trust in the Spirit when discerning truth (D&C 11:12–14).
— We must be properly called and ordained to the work (D&C 11:15).
— We must “obtain the word” before we attempt to teach or preach it (D&C 11:16–22).
● D&C 12 Instructions to Joseph Knight Sr.
— Joseph Knight Sr., was Joseph’s employer for a while in 1826, when Joseph was young.
— He hired Joseph to work at his farm and grist mill in Colesville, Broome County, NY.
— He gained an appreciation for the personal qualities of Joseph Smith.
— From that time forth Joseph Knight offered both material and spiritual support to him.
— This included provisions that allowed the Book of Mormon translation to continue at a very crucial time
— Applies to everyone who desires to bring forth and establish this work (D&C 12:6–7).
— Humility and love, along with faith, hope, charity, and temperance are required (D&C 12:8).
● D&C 30 Additional Instruction to the Whitmers
David Whitmer is rebuked for listening to Hiram Page and using his influence over other members of the family in favor of the supposed seer-stone (D&C 30:1–4).
— When we set our hearts on the things of this earth, giving them a higher priority than the things of God, we are left to ourselves to wonder what is wrong.
— Peter Whitmer is called to accompany Parley Pratt on a mission to the Lamanites (D&C 30:5–8).
— Fear not, and rely on your companions to help you (v. 5).
John Whitmer is called to labor among the Saints in Zion (D&C 30:9–11).
— He was very active in the Church as an aid to the Prophet.
— He assisted in the compilation of the Revelations.
— He was one of 7 high priests appointed to preside in Jackson County.
— He was Church historian and editor of important Church publications.
— In the end, however, he did not remain faithful.
— Do not fear man, because God will be with you (v. 11).
THE FIRST MISSIONARIES
Samuel Smith’s First Mission
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“In the month of June, 1830, Samuel Harrison Smith was set apart by the Prophet to take a missionary journey to the east. This may be termed the first missionary journey in the Church. Taking with him several copies of the Book of Mormon, he started on his way. The first day he traveled twenty-five miles, and on the way attempted to sell copies of the book, but without success . . .
“Samuel was discouraged, but continued on his journey. That night he slept under an apple tree. In the morning he called at the home of John Greene, a Methodist minister. Mr. Greene was just leaving on a preaching tour and like the others who had been approached, he was not interested in the book. However, he manifested a friendly spirit, and at the earnest solicitation of Samuel, consented to take a subscription paper and try to sell copies of the book. Thereupon Samuel left him a copy of the Book of Mormon with the understanding that he would call again in about two weeks. . . .
“He returned home after his labors were finished, feeling that his work had proved to be fruitless. More out of curiosity than desire, both Mr. Greene and his wife read the book and were deeply impressed. The copy Samuel left with John Greene was placed by the latter in the hands of members of the Young family, which was the first direct information to President Brigham Young, and his brothers and some of their friends, including Heber C. Kimball, of the restoration of the Gospel.”
What and How to Teach
● We should teach repentance:
— D&C 11:9 Say nothing but repentance unto this generation
— D&C 15:6 That which is of most importance is to preach repentance
— D&C 18:6 Our wicked world needs to be “stirred up” unto repentance
— D&C 18:10–14 The worth of souls is great, and they need to repent to be saved
● We must avoid contention when teaching the gospel:
— D&C 18:20–21 Contend against no one; speak the truth in soberness
— D&C 38:41 The warning voice should be given in mildness and meekness
● We must overcome fear and feelings of inadequacy and “open our mouths”:
— D&C 11:21 Study to “obtain” the word, then the Spirit will make us powerful
— D&C 14:8 If we ask in faith, God will give us the Spirit to help us.
— D&C 19:38 If we pray always, the Lord will pour out his Spirit upon us.
D&C 32 The Mission to the Lamanites — Parley Pratt & Ziba Peterson
— On September 26, 1830, a conference of the Church convened at Fayette, New York. During this conference a great interest was manifested towards the Lamanites. Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord and received Doctrine and Covenants 30 and 32, which, among other things, called Peter Whitmer, Parley Pratt, and Ziba Peterson to assist Oliver Cowdery in his missionary labors among the Lamanites. Their assignment is generally recognized as the first formal mission call in the history of the Church.
— One of the first missionary efforts of this dispensation was among the Lamanites (D&C 28:8). The first such mission call was that given to Oliver Cowdery.
— Parley Pratt is admonished to be meek and lowly of heart (D&C 32:1).
— The Lamanite missionaries commenced their work with the Catteraugus tribe near Buffalo, New York. Here they were fairly well received, and after leaving copies of the Book of Mormon they continued their journey west.
— Near Kirtland, Ohio, they taught the gospel to a minister friend of Parley Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, and his congregation. What probably was thought to have been a diversion from the missionaries’ major purpose turned out to be a significant accomplishment. Reverend Rigdon had preached the need for a restoration of Christ’s primitive church. With such beliefs, Rigdon and many of his congregation accepted the missionaries’ message and joined the Church. The missionaries then continued their journey westward toward Missouri.
— Upon arriving at Independence, two of the missionaries worked for a time to help finance their mission. The other three continued a short distance to the Delaware Indian lands. The Indians were at first suspicious of the missionaries because they had been exploited by some previous Christian missionaries, but this suspicion was soon lessened by a moving speech by Oliver Cowdery.
— Chief Anderson of the Delaware Tribe was very impressed and asked the missionaries to remain during the winter and teach them the Book of Mormon. Success appeared imminent, but it was shattered when other Christian missionaries influenced the Indian agent to evict the Mormon elders from Indian lands. Asked to leave, the disappointed missionaries made their way back to Independence where they stayed, with the exception of Parley Pratt. Elder Pratt had been chosen to report the missionaries’ labors to Joseph Smith and to visit the Saints they had left behind in Kirtland.
— The missionaries who remained in Independence could have wondered what had accomplished if they had considered only their influence among the Lamanites. Often we are called to a work only to find that it takes us in an entirely different direction we anticipated. If we remember that we are called to serve the Lord then it does not matter in what direction the Lord takes us. The only thing that matters is that we do the work.
1. Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [1946–1949], 1:33,
2. Essentials in Church History, 27th ed. , 88–89.