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LDS Doctrine and Covenants Notes 04: D&C 6-9, 13

LDS Doctrine and Covenants Notes 04: D&C 6-9, 13

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10/07/2012

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© 2012, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Doctrine and CovenantsWeek 4: D&C 6
9, 13
1)
 
The five revelations in this week’s lesson were all received within less than a month of eachother. All of them involve Oliver Cowdery and his calling as Joseph Smith’s scribe during
the translation of the Book of Mormon.
2)
 
Historical background:a)
 
[SLIDE 2]
1 December 1828
27 March 1829
: Oliver Cowdery completed a 16-week contract to teach at the Stafford School House in Manchester Township, New York.i)
 
During this time, he boarded with the Joseph Smith, Sr. family and learned of 
Joseph, Jr.’s translation
of the Book of Mormon.ii)
 
Joseph Smith wrote:
The Lord appeared unto a young man by the name of Oliver Cowd[e]ry and shewedunto him the plates in a vision and also the truth of the work and what the Lordwas about to do through me his unworthy Servant
….‖
1
 
iii)
 
Lucy Mack Smith recalled Oliver’s impressions:
 
I have now resolved what I will do for the thing which I told you seems working inmy very bones insomuch that I cannot for a moment get rid of it.
….
 I have made it a subject of prayer and I firmly believe that it is the will of the Lordthat I should go and that there is a work for me to do in this thing and I amdetermined if there is to attend to it.
2
 
 b)
 
[SLIDE 3]
1
5 April 1829
: Oliver Cowdery and Samuel Smith traveled 125 miles toHarmony.i)
 
 Along the way Oliver stopped at the home of his friends, the Peter Whitmer family,in Fayette, New York. He promised David Whitmer, who had heard many conflictingrumors about Joseph and the plates, that he would inform him of the results of hisinvestigation.ii)
 
 According to Joseph’s mother:
 
Two or three days before the arrival of Oliver and Samuel, [Joseph] feeling it hisprivilege to lay hold of the promise of the angel that the Lord would send him ascribe, he called upon the His Heavenly Father for the promised assistance and wasinformed that the same should be forthcoming in a few days. As soon [as] Oliverwas introduced to him, he said,
Mr. Smith, I have come for the purpose of writingfor you.
This was not at all unexpected to Joseph, for although he had never seenMr. Cowdery before, he knew that the Lord was able to perform and that he hadbeen faithful to fulfill all his promises.
3
 
1
 
―A History of the Life of Joseph Smith Jr.‖ (summer 1832),
 Joseph Smith Letterbook 1
, 6(
http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/letterbook-1-1832%E2%80%931835#12
).
 Histories, Vol. 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832
1844
, edited by Karen Lynn Davidson, David J. Whittaker, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen (SaltLake City: The
Church Historian’s Press, 2012), 16.
 
2
Lucy Mack Smith,
 Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir,
Lavina Fielding Anderson, ed.(Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001), 433 (
http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=9209
).
3
Lucy Mack Smith,
 Lucy’s Book
, 438. Spelling and punctuation edited for clarity.
 
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Doctrine and Covenants Sections 6
9, 13 Week 4, Page 2© 2012, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
iii)
 
Joseph Smith wrote:
Two days after the arrival of Mr. Cowdery (being the 7th of April) I commenced totranslate the Book of Mormon, and he began to write for me, which havingcontinued for some time, I inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim,and obtained the following [revelation].
4
 
3)
 
D&C 6.
 
[SLIDE 4]
 
D&C 6:1
2
1
A great and marvelous work is about to come forth unto the children of men.
2
Behold, I am God; give heed unto my word, which is quick and powerful,sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints andmarrow; therefore give heed unto my words.
a)
 
The word of God is compared to a sword several times in the scriptures.
5
 i)
 
[4.1]
This wording of this revelation is similar to Hebrews 4:12:
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedgedsword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of thejoints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
(1)
 
―Quick,‖ in this instance, means ―
alive; living; [as] opposed to dead orunanimated
.‖
6
 ii)
 
[4.2]
The sword referred to is not a one-handed foil or saber, but a long, heavy, two-
handed broadsword that is sharpened on both edges. This kind of sword ―cuts both ways.‖
 iii)
 
 Why the sword as a metaphor?
…[T]he word of God, like a sword, can be used in two diffe
rent ways, as an
offensive
weapon that can wound or kill or as a
defensive
weapon to ward off blows from the enemy. If we ignore the word of God, it can destroy us, while if we
obey his word, it can save us. For this reason, the Lord counsels us to take up ―
thesword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I revealunto you
‖ (
D&C 27:18). The passage paraphrases Ephesians 6:17, which advises
taking ―
the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
.‖ Both scriptures remind
us that the word of God comes through the Spirit, to both prophets and others whoneed divine guidance.
7
 
iv)
 
Just as a sword ―divid[es] asunder…
 both joints and marrow 
,‖ so does the word of God penetrates to ―
the th
oughts and intents of the heart‖ (Hebrews 4:12).
 
[SLIDE 5]
 
D&C 6:10
12
10
Behold thou hast a gift, and blessed art thou because of thy gift. Rememberit is sacred and cometh from above
11
And if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt knowmysteries which are great and marvelous; therefore thou shalt exercise thy
4
 
 History of the Church
1:32
33 (
http://byustudies2.byu.edu/hc/1/6.html#32
). Elden Watson dates D&C 6 on 21 April1829, prompted by the translation of Alma 37 (
http://www.eldenwatson.net/BoM.htm
).
5
See, for example, Ephesians 6:17; D&C 33:1.
6
Daniel Webster,
 American Dictionary of the English Language
, 1828 ed., s.v. ―Quick,‖ def. 1 (
http://www.1828-dictionary.com/d/word/quick
).
The Greek word in Hebrews 4:12 is ζων (
 zon
), which means
to live, be active, or have vitalpower.
 
It’s in this sense that the New Testament describes God as the judge of both ―the quick [
i.e.
living] and the dead‖ (Acts
10:42; 2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 4:5).
7
John Tvedtnes, email to Mike Parker, 23 September 2008. Tvedtnes is a Latter-day Saints scholar of Middle East studies(
http://mormonscholarstestify.org/1387/john-a-tvedtnes
).
 
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Doctrine and Covenants Sections 6
9, 13 Week 4, Page 3© 2012, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
gift, that thou mayest find out mysteries, that thou mayest bring many to theknowledge of the truth, yea, convince them of the error of their ways.
12
Makenot thy gift known unto any save it be those who are of thy faith. Trifle notwith sacred things.
 b)
 
 What was Oliver’s gift?
 i)
 
His calling to be Joseph’s scribe, to assist in the
translation of the Book of Mormon,and to establish Zion.ii)
 
This was the same gift that was originally given to Martin Harris, who lost it throughhis carelessness and lack of faith.iii)
 
Joseph Smith’s early revelations frequently refer to ―gifts,‖ rather than ―talents‖ or―abilities.‖
8
 
Perhaps this was the Lord’s way of reminding Joseph and his associates where their abilities came from, that this is the Lord’s work, and that they shouldn’t
 boast in their own strength
 very much in keeping with the theme of 
humility
we
discussed in last week’s lesson.
 iv)
 
Oliver was also promised that if he would ―
do good, yea, and hold out faithful to theend, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is
the greatest of all the giftsof God 
; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation
‖ (6:13; italics added).
9
 c)
 
 What are the
mysteries
?
A mystery is a truth that cannot be known except through divine revelation
a sacredsecret. In the days of Paul the important truth that Gentiles were to be admitted tothe Kingdom of God without observing the Law of Moses was a
mystery
(Ephesians1:9
11; Colossians 1:25
27). In our day such great truths as those pertaining to therestoration of the Priesthood, the work for the dead, and the re-establishment of theChurch are
mysteries,
because they could not have been discovered except byrevelation.
10
 
i)
 
These mysteries are what are referred to in the Word of Wisdom as ―
great treasuresof knowledge, even hidden treasures
(D&C 89:19).ii)
 
 At the time of this revelation (spring 1829), the content of the Book of Mormon was amystery, and many things what we take for granted today as basic principles of therestored gospel were still mysteries to Oliver and Joseph.iii)
 
Joseph Smith advised ―
all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper intothe mysteries of Godliness.
11
 iv)
 
 We should, however, make a distinction between the ―mysteries of Godliness‖ and what we might call the ―vain mysteries‖: Things that have not been revealed and
about which speculation is a pointless distraction.
12
 d)
 
How will
―many‖ be brought to ―the knowledge of the truth‖ and convinced of ―the errorof their ways‖?
 
8
See D&C 3:11; 5:4, 31; 6:10
13, 25
28; 8:4
8; 10:2, 7, 18; 11:10; 14:7; 17:7; 18:32.
9
The Book of Mormon, more clearly than any other scripture, teaches that salvation is a gift from God (2 Nephi 2:4;26:27). In five separate places it teaches that we are saved wholly, completely, and alone by the merits of Jesus Christ, not by our own merits (2 Nephi 2:8; 31:19; Alma 24:10; Helaman 14:13; Moroni 6:4).
10
Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl,
 Doctrine and Covenants Commentary
(Deseret Book, 1972 rev. ed.), 141.
11
Joseph Smith, address given 12 April 1844.
 HC 
6:363 (
http://byustudies2.byu.edu/hc/6/18.html#363
);
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
364;
Words of Joseph Smith
365.
12
 
For example, the ultimate fate of the ―sons of perdition‖ has not been revealed, ―
neither will be revealed unto man,except to them who are made partakers thereof 
(D&C 76:45
46).

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