Doctrine and Covenants 3-5: “My Work Shall Go Forth” (January 18-24)

Portrait of Martin Harris by Lewis A. Ramsey

God’s work will not fail. We can rely on that. Furthermore, we can be part of it, if we’re willing to do things His way, instead of insisting on doing them our way.

That’s the main message I get from three revelations Joseph Smith received in 1828 and 1829. Here is a brief overview of those revelations with some relevant Book of Mormon passages and blog posts.

The lost 116 pages: Doctrine and Covenants 3

Joseph was devastated when the first 116 pages he translated, the Book of Lehi, were lost. He had entrusted them to Martin Harris, a wealthy friend who had provided substantial assistance during the process of translation, but Joseph knew he was personally responsible to keep the plates and the translation safe. He thought he had failed in the mission given him by the angel Moroni.

But God had already made provision for this failure. Fourteen hundred years earlier, Mormon had been inspired to include an apparently redundant set of plates in his record (Words of Mormon 1:3-7). A thousand years before that, the prophet Nephi had created those plates, without understanding why (1 Nephi 19:1-3). Joseph learned two important lessons from this experience:

  1. We should not fear man more than God (v. 7). (See 2 Nephi 8:12-13, Moroni 8:16.)
  2. God’s work cannot be frustrated (v. 1-3). (See Alma 37:12.)

Here are some relevant blog posts:

Qualifications for the ministry: Doctrine and Covenants 4

“If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:3). Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints frequently recite this revelation, which Joseph Smith received on behalf of his father. But the principles contained in it apply to all disciples of Jesus Christ. As we intentionally work to develop the qualities listed in this revelation, God qualifies us to assist Him in accomplishing His purposes.

Here are some blog posts about some of the qualities listed in this revelation:

Guidance to Joseph and Martin: Doctrine and Covenants 5

Several months after the loss of the 116 pages, Martin Harris requested additional evidence of the existence of the gold plates. In response to this request, Joseph received a revelation in which he and Martin both received warnings and promises. In particular, Martin was promised that he would eventually see the plates if he humbled himself sufficiently (Doctrine and Covenants 5:24).

Here are some relevant blog posts:

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