The Spirit prepares those who seek the truth and draws them to the gospel. Thomas B. Marsh came to Palmyra, New York, because of a newspaper report about the printing of a “golden Bible.” He met with Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery and obtained a proof sheet of the first 16 pages of the Book of Mormon, which he took back to his family in Massachusetts. He and his wife believed the message and moved to New York to join the Saints. Thomas B. Marsh was baptized by David Whitmer on September 3, 1830, and was ordained an elder a few days later by Oliver Cowdery. Section 31, addressed to Thomas B. Marsh, was received in late September that year. He was called as one of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1835 and served as its first President. Tragically, he apostatized and was excommunicated in 1839. In 1857, after an 18-year separation, he sought out the Church, was rebaptized, and went to Utah to be with the Saints. Although he died in full fellowship, he was never restored to his position as an Apostle. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 74–75, 199.)
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 74–75, 199.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, p. 65.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 31:1–10. If we faithfully serve in God’s kingdom, He will bless us and our families.
Ask students who have brothers or sisters serving missions to tell where they are serving. Invite students to imagine that they are serving full-time missions away from family and home. Have them search section 31 and mark verses they think would be encouraging to them as missionaries. Invite some of them to share the verses that they selected and explain why they chose them.
Read verse 3, emphasizing the words rejoice and joy. Ask: How do you think missionary work is joyful? Read Alma 29:1–9; Doctrine and Covenants 18:10, 15–16 with students, and discuss why serving the Lord brings joy. Invite students to cross-reference these verses with Doctrine and Covenants 31:3. Bear testimony of the joys you have felt in serving in the Lord’s Church. Read or sing
Doctrine and Covenants 31. The Lord knows each of us personally and can give specific counsel to help us be happy and avoid sorrow.
Write the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley on the board:
“He who is the Creator and Governor of the universe knows me, knows you, each of you children here today. He knows you, He loves you, He is concerned for you” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Aug. 1996, 61).
Have students read and ponder the statement, and ask:
How can realizing that the Lord knows you and is concerned about you affect your prayers?
How does knowing this affect your willingness to accept His advice and warnings?
How does the Lord give us counsel and warning?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 31:9–13 and identify the Lord’s counsel to Thomas B. Marsh. List their findings on the board. The following questions may be helpful:
How can you receive personal revelation from Heavenly Father?
How do personal prayer, pondering the scriptures, father’s blessings, and patriarchal blessings affect personal revelation?
What danger might there be in not heeding the personal counsel the Lord gives us?