Unit 8: Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 35

“Unit 8: Day 4, Doctrine and Covenants 35,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)


Within six months of the Church’s organization, four missionaries, including Parley P. Pratt, journeyed west to preach to the Native Americans. On their way to the western borders of Missouri, they stopped in the area around Kirtland, Ohio, where Parley had lived for a time. They shared their message with Elder Pratt’s friend, a prominent minister named Sidney Rigdon. In a short time, more than 100 people, including Sidney Rigdon and many members of his congregation, had been baptized, more than doubling the Church’s total membership. Sidney and his wife, Phoebe, knew that joining the Church would be a great sacrifice for them. He knew that his livelihood as a minister and his reputation in the community would suffer, but he was determined to follow the truth.

After the elders left Kirtland to continue their journey, Sidney Rigdon and a friend, Edward Partridge, went to New York to meet the Prophet Joseph Smith. Soon after their arrival, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 35. In it, the Lord gave Sidney Rigdon specific responsibilities within the newly restored Church.

Doctrine and Covenants 35:1–12

The Lord tells Sidney Rigdon he has been prepared for a greater work

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, answer the following question: What have you experienced that helps you know that God is aware of you?

The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 35 shows that the Lord knew Sidney Rigdon, and He spoke to Sidney about his role in assisting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:1–3, looking for evidence that the Lord was aware of Sidney Rigdon. You may want to mark what you find.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:3 again, replacing Sidney’s name with your own. What do the Lord’s words teach about His awareness of us?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified of God’s awareness of each of us: “I testify to you that God has known you individually … for a long, long time (see D&C 93:23). He has loved you for a long, long time. … He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys!” (“Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” Ensign, May 2004, 46).

One principle we can learn from Doctrine and Covenants 35:3 is that the Lord knows us and has a work for each of us to do. Have you ever wondered what specific work the Lord has for you to do during your life?

Before he learned about the restored Church of Jesus Christ, Sidney Rigdon had been doing a good work as a minister of another church. After joining the Lord’s restored Church, he was able to perform “a greater work” (D&C 35:3) for the Lord’s kingdom. People of other faiths can do many good things. It is our responsibility to share with them the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ so they can do “a greater work.” Similarly, we can have confidence that the Lord is aware of us and that as we strive to follow Him, He will help us accomplish the work we are meant to do.

John the Baptist Preaching

As a forerunner to Jesus Christ, John the Baptist prepared many people’s hearts for His coming. Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:4–6, and look for how Sidney Rigdon was like John the Baptist. You might want to mark what you find.

While Sidney Rigdon had been like John the Baptist in some ways, he was different from John the Baptist because when Sidney had baptized people in his former congregation, he had not had authority from God to do so (see D&C 35:5–6).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:7–11, and look for what can occur in the lives of those who believe and exercise faith in God in the last days.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. What can we learn from Doctrine and Covenants 35:7–11 about what the Lord promised to show those who follow Him in faith? (The word Gentiles in verse 7 refers to those without the fulness of the gospel. The word Babylon in verse 11 refers to the world.)

    2. Why do you think miracles are so closely linked to faith in Jesus Christ? (Consider that miracles can be as subtle as a change of heart or forgiveness of sin and they come according to the Lord’s will.)

Doctrine and Covenants 35:13–19

The Lord promises to help the humble do His work

Imagine that you were putting together a sports team (think of a sport you are familiar with). In the space provided, describe the strengths and skills you would want your players to have.

winnowing wheat

Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:13, looking for whom the Lord selects to accomplish His work. Notice the characteristics of those the Lord chooses to assist Him that are unusual by the world’s standards. “The weak things of the world” refers to the Lord’s servants. The word thrash or thresh in this verse refers to threshing, which is the practice of separating grain from its stalk and sheath. In this verse it refers to separating and gathering the people who are ready to receive the gospel from those who are not. One way this is done is by missionaries contacting people and preparing them to make and keep sacred covenants.

Based on Doctrine and Covenants 35:13, we learn that God calls upon those who are weak to accomplish His work through the power of His Spirit.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think the Lord refers to His servants as “weak,” “unlearned,” and “despised”?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:14–15, looking for the Lord’s promises to those who assist in His work. You might want to mark what you find. You could also personalize these verses by reading them again and inserting your name.

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, answer two or all of the following questions:

    1. How could knowing that God uses the weak things of the world to accomplish His work through the power of His Spirit help a young person who felt nervous about serving a mission?

    2. How could this knowledge help a young woman who was asked to teach a Church class and felt inadequate?

    3. How could this knowledge help all of us when we feel prompted to share the gospel with someone?

President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson encouraged those who may feel weak or inadequate to assist in the Lord’s work: “Some of you may be shy by nature or consider yourselves inadequate to respond affirmatively to a calling. Remember that this work is not yours and mine alone. It is the Lord’s work, and when we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Remember that the Lord will shape the back to bear the burden placed upon it” (“To Learn, to Do, to Be,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 62).

The Prophet Joseph Smith would be considered by some to be weak in formal education and some other abilities. Sidney Rigdon, in comparison, was well educated and gifted in a number of ways. Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:17–19, and look for the Lord’s counsel to Sidney Rigdon regarding the Prophet Joseph.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. Why would the counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 35:17–19 be important for an educated minister like Sidney Rigdon to understand?

    2. How would it be helpful for us to remember this counsel with regard to our current Church leaders?

Doctrine and Covenants 35:20–27

Sidney Rigdon is commanded to write for Joseph Smith, to preach the gospel, and to keep his covenants

Do you have any specific callings or duties in the Church? Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:20–24, and look for the specific duties Sidney Rigdon was called to perform.

The Lord called Sidney to fill the role of scribe as the Prophet Joseph Smith continued his translation of the Bible. This translation was not from one language to another. The Prophet made inspired corrections and revisions to the Bible over a 16-year period. We call these revisions the Joseph Smith Translation. Many of these corrections can be found in the footnotes and appendix of the LDS edition of the Holy Bible. The Book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price are also part of the Joseph Smith Translation.

Notice in Doctrine and Covenants 35:23 that the Lord told Sidney Rigdon that besides writing for Joseph Smith, he should also preach the gospel, using his knowledge of the scriptures to support the Prophet’s words.

In Doctrine and Covenants 35:24, what blessings did the Lord promise Sidney Rigdon if he kept his covenants? One principle we can learn from this verse is that as we keep the commandments and honor our covenants, the Lord will help us accomplish His work.

  1. journal iconLook back at the three principles identified in this lesson. In your scripture study journal, answer the following questions:

    1. How do the three principles identified in this lesson relate to each other?

    2. When have you felt or witnessed the Lord’s help given to you or someone you know while doing the Lord’s work?

To conclude, read Doctrine and Covenants 35:26–27. From what you learned during your study of Doctrine and Covenants 35 today, why do you think Sidney Rigdon had reason to lift up his heart and be glad? What reasons do you have to lift up your heart and be glad?

  1. journal iconWrite the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 35 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: