Section 11 "First Seek to Obtain My Word"

Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, (2002), 24–26


Historical Background

Following the baptisms of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on 15 May 1829, the Prophet Joseph reported:

“Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the Scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of having received the Priesthood and our having been baptized, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood. …

“After a few days, however, feeling it to be our duty, we commenced to reason out of the Scriptures with our acquaintances and friends, as we happened to meet with them. About this time my brother Samuel H. Smith came to visit us. …

“Not many days afterwards, my brother Hyrum Smith came to us to inquire concerning these things, when at his earnest request, I inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim, and received for him the following: [D&C 11].” (History of the Church, 1:43–45.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 11:9. What Does It Mean to “Say Nothing but Repentance unto This Generation”?

“When the Lord calls upon his servants to cry nothing but repentance, he does not mean that they may not cry baptism, and call upon the people to obey the commandments of the Lord, but he wishes that all that they say and do be in the spirit of bringing the people to repentance. Any missionary who fails to do this in his ministry is derelict in his duty.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:57.)

D&C 11:10–11. What Was the Gift Hyrum Smith Was Promised?

Like Oliver Cowdery (see D&C 8:6–9) Hyrum Smith was promised a gift from the Lord. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained what the gift was: “The Lord declared that Hyrum Smith had a gift. The great gift which he possessed was that of a tender, sympathetic heart; a merciful spirit. The Lord on a later occasion said: ‘Blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord.’ (D. & C., 124:15.) This great gift was manifest in his jealous watch care over the Prophet lest some harm come to him.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:57.)

Hyrum’s gift was not promised unconditionally. It would come only after he exercised faith in Jesus Christ. (See D&C 11:10.)

Hyrum Smith

“Blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith” (D&C 124:15).

D&C 11:12–14. What Is Meant by the Phrase “My Spirit … Shall Enlighten Your Mind”?

President Lorenzo Snow taught of the powerful influence that following the Spirit can have on one’s life: “There is a way by which persons can keep their consciences clear before God and man, and that is to preserve within them the spirit of God, which is the spirit of revelation to every man and woman. It will reveal to them, even in the simplest of matters, what they shall do, by making suggestions to them. We should try to learn the nature of this spirit, that we may understand its suggestions, and then we will always be able to do right. This is the grand privilege of every Latter-day Saint. We know that it is our right to have the manifestations of the spirit every day of our lives. … From the time we receive the Gospel, go down into the waters of baptism and have hands laid upon us afterwards for the gift of the Holy Ghost, we have a friend, if we do not drive it from us by doing wrong. That friend is the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, which partakes of the things of God and shows them unto us. This is a grand means that the Lord has provided for us, that we may know the light, and not be groveling continually in the dark.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1899, p. 52.)

D&C 11:15–16. How Does One Prepare to Serve the Lord?

In section 11 “the Lord … teaches Hyrum Smith several steps to be followed in preparing for a mission:

“1. Desire to serve the Lord. (11:10, 17.)

“2. Live worthily to receive the Spirit of the Lord so it can ‘enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.’ (11:13.)

“3. Keep the commandments of the Lord, assisting in the work of the Lord in any way that you might be asked. (11:18–20.)

“4. Seek to obtain the word of the Lord through (a) studying the word of the Lord that had already gone forth—the Bible—and (b) studying the word of the Lord that was then being translated—the Book of Mormon. (11:21–22.)

“5. Build upon the gospel, denying not either the spirit of revelation nor the spirit of prophecy. (11:24–25.)

“The Lord indicates further that these suggestions are for ‘all who have good desires’ to serve. (11:27.)” (Ludlow, Companion, 1:108–9.)

D&C 11:15–17. “You Need Not Suppose That You Are Called to Preach Until You Are Called”

The concept of having proper authority from God in order to act for Him is central to Church organization. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that “it is quite the common thing in the world for men to assume authority and to act in the name of the Lord when he has not called them. No man is authorized to act in the name of the Lord, or to officiate in any ordinance, unless he has been properly called. For this reason the Priesthood was restored and the Church organized. When this revelation was given the Church had not been organized. Presumably some of those who sought light and the will of the Lord felt that when the Lord spoke to them, they were authorized to go forth to act in his name. Here he informs Hyrum Smith that he was to wait (v. 15), yet he was to put his trust in the Holy Spirit and to walk humbly, to judge righteously, ‘and this is my Spirit.’” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:57.)

D&C 11:18–20. “Keep My Commandments,” a Prerequisite to Service in the Kingdom

The Lord often repeated the instruction to keep the commandments (see vv. 9, 18, 20).

In Moses 1:39 the Lord says, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (italics added), whereas to Hyrum the Lord says, “This is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength” (D&C 11:20; italics added).

Similar language was used by the Lord to respond to the question of the Pharisees about which is the great commandment in the law (see Matthew 22:36–37). Only by keeping the Lord’s commandments can one show love for the Lord and accomplish His work.

D&C 11:24. “My Rock … Is My Gospel”

On several occasions the Lord used the word rock to refer to the gospel (see Matthew 7:24–25; 3 Nephi 11:32–39; D&C 18:4–5, 17; 12:12–13).

The word rock also refers to a principle of the gospel as explained by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Jesus in His teachings says, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ What rock? Revelation.” (History of the Church, 5:258.)

Another use of the word rock in the scriptures applies directly to the Lord Himself (see D&C 50:43–44; Deuteronomy 32:2–4).

D&C 11:25. “Deny Not the Spirit of Revelation”

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that this counsel to Hyrum Smith would serve as “good counsel for all of us today. There are some members of the Church who seemingly complain because the Lord is not giving revelations to be placed in the Doctrine and Covenants, as in the beginning, and they ask why revelation has ceased in the Church. Usually it is the case that these critics are not faithfully keeping the commandments the Lord has already given and their eyes are blind to the fact that revelation and the guidance of the Lord is being meted out to the Church constantly. No one with the spirit of discernment can fail to see that the hand of the Lord has guided this people from the beginning and this guidance is manifest today as in other times to all who are humble and have a contrite spirit. (See Jacob 4:8.)” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:57.)

President Hugh B. Brown also taught the central importance of revelation in the Church: “The things of God can only be understood by the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God is a revealing spirit. The Master promised before he left the earth to send another Comforter which would lead men into all truth. [See John 15:26; 16:7.] Divine revelation had always been a characteristic of the living Church—it is absolutely essential to its continued existence in an organized state on the earth.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1961, pp. 93–94.)

Enrichment C in the Appendix contains a further discussion of personal revelation.

D&C 11:26–27. “Treasure Up in Your Heart”

See Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 for insight into the significance of this command and the blessings that result from obedience to it.

D&C 11:29–30. What Are the Implications of Receiving the Lord and Becoming the Sons of God?

See Doctrine and Covenants 76:51–60; 84:33–38; 132:22–24; Moses 6:57–68; 1 John 3:1–10.