D&C 14:1-6 We Are Called to His Work
As persecution in Harmony increased, Oliver Cowdery wrote to his friend David Whitmer to ask for help. The Whitmer family invited Joseph and Oliver to continue the translation of the Book of Mormon at their home in Fayette, New York. This revelation was given for David, and verses 1-6 are essentially the same as the opening verses given to Hyrum Smith and Joseph Knight in Sections 11 and 12. These verses can be summarized as follows:
We are called to participate in God’s great and marvelous work by heeding His word, keeping His commandments, and working with all our might. In return, He promises us everlasting salvation.
D&C 14:7-11 God’s Greatest Gift
As the Lord’s message to David Whitmer continues, we learn the following:
- Eternal life (exaltation with God) is “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (verse 7). It is indeed a gift, for even though the Lord sets standards for gaining eternal life, it is not something that we can possibly “earn.”
- The Lord called David to the work and promised him spiritual and temporal blessings. He hints that David can become one of the Three Witnesses of the truth of the Book of Mormon (verses 8, 11).
- The light of Jesus Christ cannot be hidden (verse 9).
Read again all of Section 14 and make a list of the Lord’s invitations or commandments, and a list of His promises.
D&C 15-16 John and Peter Whitmer
Except for their individual names in the first verse, these two sections are identical in wording.
- What do we learn about the Lord’s word or words in D&C 15:1-2, 5? (see also 14:2).
- Compare what the Lord said to John and Peter Whitmer in 15:3; 16:3 to what He said to Oliver Cowdery in 6:14-15, 22-24. Think of the quiet, secret things the Lord has said to you or given you.
- How do you think declaring repentance can be “of the most worth” to John and Peter, and to us? (15:4, 6; 16:4, 6; see also D&C 11:9).
- Why do you think “repentance” is singled out as the heart of our message to the world?
D&C 17 The Witnesses
Think about a time when someone did not believe you. How did it make you feel? Imagine how Joseph Smith felt about the ceaseless accusations and false rumors against him (see JS—H 1:21-22, 25).
Read the Book of Mormon prophecies about the role of the Three Witnesses in 2 Nephi 27:12 and Ether 5:2-4. Read D&C 17:1-5, looking for the following:
- What did the Lord say the witnesses must do before they would be allowed to “have a view” of the sacred items? (verses 1-2; note the prime role of “faith;” see also verse 5).
- What five items did the Lord say that the witnesses would see? (verse 1; note that Joseph Smith said that the plates, breastplate, and Urim and Thummim were deposited in the stone box in the hill [see JS—H 1:51-52, 59] but the sword of Laban and the “miraculous directors” [the Liahona; see Alma 37:38] are not mentioned in our historical documents as having been in the box; thus we conclude that they were brought forth at a later time).
- What responsibilities did the Lord say the witnesses must take upon themselves? (verses 3, 5).
- What were the blessings and benefits of having additional witnesses? (verses 4, 9). Oliver, David, and Martin saw the Angel Moroni (who showed them the plates), and heard the voice of God declaring the truth of it all (see “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” at the beginning of the Book of Mormon; History of the Church, 1:54-55). Joseph then told his mother how greatly relieved he was that finally someone else could testify with him (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, p. 152).
- Note in verse 6 the positive and powerful language the Lord used as He bore His own witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
- What promise did the Lord give in verse 8 to Oliver, David, and Martin? It is well-known that all three witnesses later withdrew from their association with Joseph Smith and the Church, but never denied their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and of what they had seen and heard. Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris eventually reunited with the Church.