Lesson 37: Doctrine and Covenants 30

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

In September 1830, shortly after a Church conference in Fayette, New York, Joseph Smith received revelations for David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., and John Whitmer. These revelations were originally published separately, but Joseph Smith had them combined into one section in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–4

The Lord chastens David Whitmer for not giving heed to the Spirit and the Lord’s appointed servants

    Ask students to silently consider the following situations:
  1. 1.

    A young man has been listening to music that does not meet the standards outlined in For the Strength of Youth. Although he enjoys listening to this music, he is beginning to realize that its messages are causing him to lose the Spirit and drift away from his family, his friends, and the Church.

  2. 2.

    After a number of dates with one young man, a young woman begins to recognize, by the promptings of the Holy Ghost, that the young man has been slowly attempting to persuade her to break the law of chastity.

Point out that the Holy Ghost will warn us when we are in danger spiritually. However, if we do not heed His warnings, the Spirit of the Lord will withdraw from us. Doctrine and Covenants 30 contains doctrines and principles that can help us prepare to receive and follow warnings from the Spirit.

Explain that the first part of Doctrine and Covenants 30 is a revelation that the Prophet Joseph Smith received for David Whitmer.

  • What do you know about David Whitmer? (Answers may include that he and his parents had provided a place for Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon, that he was one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, and that he was one of the six original members of the Church.)

Explain that even though David Whitmer had been faithful in many ways, the Lord chastened him about neglecting his responsibilities in the Church. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–2. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s words of chastening.

  • Why did the Lord chasten David Whitmer? (You may want to list students’ responses on the board. Answers may include that David had feared men, had not relied on the Lord for strength, had placed his mind more on the things of the earth than on the things of the Lord, had not followed the direction of the Spirit and Church leaders, and had been persuaded by those whom the Lord had not called.)

Invite students to suggest principles we can learn from Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–2. They might suggest some or all of the following principles:

Rather than fear men, we should rely on the Lord for strength.

We should place our minds on the things of God more than on the things of the earth.

We should follow the Spirit and the counsel of Church leaders rather than be persuaded by those whom the Lord has not called.

To help students understand and feel the importance of these principles, ask some or all of the following questions:

  • What do you think it means to fear men? (Answers may include that it means to allow teachings of other people to lead us away from the teachings of God.)

  • What are some things we can do to rely on the Lord for strength? When have you felt that the Lord has strengthened you?

  • What do you think it means to have our minds on the things of the earth more than on the things of the Lord? What are some dangers of being guilty of this?

  • How have you been blessed as you have followed the Spirit and the counsel of Church leaders?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:3–4 aloud. Encourage the class to look for the Lord’s counsel to David Whitmer.

  • After chastening David, what did the Lord command David to do? (To ponder the things he had received and to attend to his Church duties.)

  • How can pondering the things we have received from God help us remain faithful?

  • How are we influenced for good when we dedicate ourselves to the callings we have received?

Encourage students to review Doctrine and Covenants 30:1–4 silently, looking for counsel that applies particularly well in their lives. Also ask them to ponder what they can do to follow that counsel. Invite them to write their thoughts in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

Doctrine and Covenants 30:5–8

Peter Whitmer Jr. is called to go with Oliver Cowdery on a mission to the Lamanites

Bring to class a heavy object or a bag filled with weighty items, such as books or stones. Invite a student to hold the object in front of him or her. While the student is holding the object, explain that in addition to the revelation to David Whitmer, Doctrine and Covenants 30 contains two additional revelations, addressed to David’s brothers Peter and John. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:5 on their own and look for what the Lord called Peter Whitmer Jr. to do.

  • What did the Lord call Peter Whitmer Jr. to do? (Declare the gospel.) Who was to be Peter’s leader in this effort? (Oliver Cowdery.)

Invite a second student to help the student who is holding the heavy object. Ask the first student to describe the difference he or she feels in having the support of someone else. Explain that the Lord gave counsel to Peter, describing how he was to support Oliver Cowdery. Invite students to search Doctrine and Covenants 30:5–8, looking for phrases describing how Peter was to sustain Oliver. You may want to suggest that students mark these phrases.

  • What phrases did you find? (You may want to invite a student to write students’ responses on the board.)

  • What do you think it meant for Peter to be “afflicted in all [Oliver’s] afflictions”? (Peter was to stand by Oliver, even in difficult times.)

  • According to verse 6, what role does prayer play in supporting our Church leaders?

Doctrine and Covenants 30:9–11

John Whitmer is called to preach the gospel

Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 30:9–11 contains a revelation for John Whitmer. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 30:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord called John Whitmer to do. (It may be helpful to explain that Philip Burroughs’s wife was a member of the Church. The Burroughs family lived about seven miles north of the Whitmers, in Seneca Falls, New York. Though Philip Burroughs is referred to as “brother” in verse 10, there is no record of him ever joining the Church.)

After students report what they have found, ask them to search Doctrine and Covenants 30:11, looking for a principle about how we should serve the Lord. Encourage them to express what they learn in an “if–then” sentence.

  • What principle do you see in verse 11? (Students may use different words, but they should express the following principle: If we serve the Lord with all our soul, then He will be with us.)

Invite students to share an experience they have had in which they have felt the Lord with them as they have served Him. (You may also want to share your testimony of this principle.) Encourage students to look for opportunities to draw nearer to the Lord by serving Him.

Commentary and Background Information

Doctrine and Covenants 30:5–7. Oliver Cowdery as a counselor to Joseph Smith

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

“Peter [Whitmer Jr.] was informed that there was none appointed to be Oliver’s counselor, except Joseph Smith. Thus Peter understood that it was his duty to take, not to give, counsel while on this journey. The fact that Oliver Cowdery had shared with Joseph Smith in the conferring of Priesthood and authority on all occasions naturally gave to him the authority to stand second in the Church to Joseph Smith in the government of the Church” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:146–47).