President Joseph Fielding Smith stated:
“[Doctrine and Covenants 4] is very short, only seven verses, but it contains sufficient counsel and instruction for a lifetime of study. No one has yet mastered it. It was not intended as a personal revelation to Joseph Smith, but to be of benefit to all who desire to embark in the service of God. 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” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 1:35).
For added insight into this revelation, see the historical background for section 4 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (p. 11).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 74, 82, 125.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 11–12.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 4. The Lord promises to give the qualities that are necessary for righteous service in the kingdom of God to those who seek them.
Bring to class a suitcase packed with white shirts, ties, scriptures, or other items a missionary might need. Show students the suitcase and invite them to imagine it is packed for a missionary who is on the way to serve. Ask: What do you think might be in the suitcase? Open the suitcase and show the class its contents.
Explain that there are other things a missionary needs to take that do not necessarily fit in a suitcase. Have them look for these items in Doctrine and Covenants 4. (You could write the qualities named in section 4 on separate pieces of paper, and take them out of the suitcase as students find them in their scriptures.) Discuss each quality. If desired, find other scriptures that relate to each quality. Or invite students to tell how they have seen these qualities demonstrated in the lives of Church leaders.
Ask students to use the index in their triple combination to find a scripture that describes God’s work (for example, Moses 1:39). Have them list ways we might be called to serve God (as teachers quorum president, Primary teacher, mother or father, missionary, and so forth). Read section 4 and discuss the following questions:
According to verses 2, 4, what is one benefit of serving God and helping do His work?
How should we serve? (see v. 2).
What qualities does the Lord say we ought to have in order to best serve Him?
How can we obtain these qualities? (see v. 7).
Although this section is often used to discuss missionary work, consider the following statement by President Harold B. Lee: “The most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home” (Strengthening the Home [pamphlet, 1973], 7).
Ask students how they can apply the principles of section 4 in all the areas of their life.
Doctrine and Covenants 4. The Lord tells us what is required to do His work.
All seminary students would benefit from someday memorizing section 4. Many will be required to do so for their full-time missions. Now might be a good time to begin the effort. Write the entire revelation on the board. Have students recite it repeatedly. Erase a few words randomly before each recitation, until you have erased the entire section. Suggest to students that they study and ponder this section often. (For more ideas on memorization, see “Scripture Mastery” and “Methods for Teaching Scripture Mastery” in the appendix [pp. 292–96].)