“My Work Shall Go Forth” (Doctrine and Covenants 3–5)

Episode #4 Published: January 15, 2020

No one likes the feeling of being in trouble—that sinking, gut-wrenching feeling that just makes you want to hide under a blanket forever. At one point, Joseph Smith and Martin Harris felt that to an extreme most people will never know. However, there was still hope for them. In this week’s study of Doctrine and Covenants 3–5, we’ll find out what led Martin and Joseph to feeling this way and hear the incredible message of mercy and love that can help all of us climb out from under our blankets.

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Show Notes: 

Tammy Uzelac Hall

Tamara Uzelac Hall grew up in Utah and Missouri fully intending to get married, raise her 12 children while putting her husband through medical school, God had other plans. She went to college and received both her bachelor's and master’s degrees from BYU. She served a mission in Fresno, California, and worked as a social worker until God steered her life in a completely different direction, becoming a full-time seminary and institute teacher instead. After buying a house and settling nicely into a family ward, she was set up on (another) blind date with a widower, which miraculously worked and catapulted her into married life and became an insta-mom to two little girls. Currently, she and her husband are the parents to four girls and live in Utah. She is a host for Time Out for Women, a featured speaker at Temple Square Youth Conferences, Retreat for Girls, girls’ camp, and has been a speaker at BYU Women’s Conference. She loves all things scripture and is a lifelong student of the Hebrew language. A good flash mob makes her cry, she is a (self-proclaimed) champion Oreo eater, and she believes that cheese is God’s way of saying, “Hey, everything is going to be OK.”

Amy Whitmore

Amy Whitmore, born of goodly parents, grew up in Marin County just north of San Francisco. She fell in love with island life, The Book of Mormon, Spanish, and the people of Puerto Rico while serving in the San Juan mission. Amy’s love of the Spanish language came in handy as she opened restaurants and family entertainment centers throughout the country (and when visiting cities like Juarez, Mexico, where a certain karaoke contest practically made her famous with the locals!) Amy took a break from her career after meeting and marrying her “dream man,” becoming an instant mom to three children, and settling in the Pacific North West.  Amy and “Dream Man” welcomed two more children together and are now happy to call Denver, Colorado, home. When she’s not building forts with her girls, installing a new toilet, dabbling in real estate, FaceTiming her precious granddaughter, cheering on the Young Women in her ward or hosting a kitchen dance party, Amy loves to travel with her husband (and sometimes even with the children) to beautiful, island destinations!

Sue Cutler

Sue Hunsaker Cutler grew up in Logan, Utah. She is a proud Utah State Aggie, with a degree in Business Marketing, and is always up for a new adventure. During her college years, she: went on a mission to Indianapolis, Indiana, was in the Hill Cumorah Pageant, did a one-year national student exchange to the University of Georgia, and was an intern at the Utah State House of Representatives. After graduating from college, Sue moved to Salt Lake to find her next adventure. She worked for Mrs. Fields Cookies, Zuka Juice and Jamba Juice as a marketer, where she split time between doing live TV spots to raise money for local food banks, and running 5K races in a banana suit. Sue, or Susie (she goes by both) thought the next step in her twenties was to get married, but it wasn’t until the age of 32 that she was set up on a blind-date by her brother, and married that amazing man eight months later. Now 20 years later, they have four beautiful teenage daughters. There is always a lot of singing and dancing and a little bit of chaos going on in her home. She has spent many years serving in PTA and is currently the costume helper/creative assistant for Smash Dance Academy in Provo, where her girls spend many hours per week dancing. She loves listening to books and podcasts, and walking up the Provo Canyon trail each morning… followed by a Diet Coke and a sugar cookie to create balance.

Tammy's favorite Doctrine and Covenants resources

  • Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price Journal Edition

    Deseret Book's journal edition versions contain the full text of The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price alongside wide margins that can help with both your daily study and your journaling efforts. This larger canvas provides space to express your thoughts, document insights you’ve received, or create your own visual art, illuminations, or calligraphy, enhancing your daily study and creating a record that will endure.

    Learn More

  • Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants

    Coming to know the individuals mentioned in the revelations of the Doctrine and Covenants, their specific stories and circumstances, will shed greater light on how we can apply those revelations to ourselves.
    This "Who’s Who" was written by Susan Easton Black, an award-winning professor, and writer, who is truly an expert on Church history and the Doctrine and Covenants.
    This book will be a cherished reference for gospel teachers and students alike.

    Learn More

  • A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1

    This first volume of a comprehensive four-volume series, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, by Stephen E. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett, answers historical and doctrinal questions about the Doctrine and Covenants. Volume 1 covers, verse by verse, the first 40 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.
    Doctrinal points may be clearer if we know the historical context. In this informative volume, the authors introduce each section of the Doctrine and Covenants in its historical setting. Suddenly, we see familiar verses in a new light and with new insights.
    The authors have drawn from countless sources — original diaries, journals, maps and atlases — to bring to life the history and doctrine of the Doctrine and Covenants in an easy-to-read format. Throughout the detailed studies, in-depth analysis, and perceptive commentary contained in this remarkable book, the authors' love for the Doctrine and Covenants shines forth.
    All 4 volumes in this series are available on Bookshelf PLUS+

    Learn More

  • Saints, Vol. 1: The Standard of Truth, 1815-1846

    In 1820, a young farm boy in search of truth has a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ. Three years later, an angel guides him to an ancient record buried in a hill near his home. With God's help, he translates the record and organized the Savior's church in the latter days. Soon others join him, accepting the invitation to become Saints through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
    But opposition and violence follow those who defy old traditions to embrace restored truths. The women and men who join the church must choose whether or not they will stay true to their covenants, establish Zion, and proclaim the gospel to a troubled world.
    The Standard of Truth is the first book in Saints, a new, four-volume narrative history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fast-paced and meticulously researched, Saints recounts true stories of Latter-day Saints across the globe and answers the Lord's call to write history "for the good of the church, and for the rising generations" (Doctrine and Covenants 69:0). 699 total pages including notes and maps.

    Learn More

  • Repicturing the Restoration

    While existing artwork that portrays the Restoration is rich and beautiful, until now many key events in Latter-day Saint history have surprisingly never been depicted to accurately represent the historical record. The purpose of this volume is to produce paintings of some of the underrepresented events in order to expand our understanding of the Restoration. Each image includes a richly researched historical background, some artistic insights into the painting's composition, an application section providing one way this history may inform our present faith, and an analysis section offering potent questions that can be considered for further discussion. Through these new paintings, artist, author, and professor Anthony Sweat takes readers through a timeline history of pivotal events and revelations of the early Restoration. This book is not just a wonderful art book; it is also a pedagogical book using art as a launching pad to learn, evaluate, apply, and discuss important aspects of Latter-day Saint history and doctrine as readers repicture the Restoration.

    Learn More

Segment 1:

Section 3 Title: Lost Manuscript

13 Who has set at naught the counsels of God, and has broken the most sacred promises which were made before God, and has depended upon his own judgment and aboasted in his own wisdom (D&C 3:13).

  • Sacred promises: The covenant that Martin Harris made to only show the 116 pages to his wife Lucy, his brother, his parents, and Lucy's sister. 

Joseph Discovers the Pages Are Gone:

"Upon which Mr. Harris pressed his hands upon his temples, and cried out in a tone of deep anguish, ‘Oh, I have lost my soul! I have lost my soul!’

“Joseph who had not expressed his fears till now, sprang from the table, exclaiming, ‘Martin, have you lost that manuscript? Have you broken your oath, and brought down condemnation upon my head as well as your own?’

“‘Yes; it is gone,’ replied Martin, ‘and I know not where.’ …

“Said Joseph, … ‘All is lost! all is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned—it is I who tempted the wrath of God. I should have been satisfied with the first answer which I received from the Lord; for he told me that it was not safe to let the writing go out of my possession.’ He wept and groaned, and walked the floor continually.

“At length he told Martin to go back and search again.

“‘No’; said Martin, ‘it is all in vain; for I have ripped open beds and pillows [looking for the manuscript]; and I know it is not there.’

“‘Then must I,’ said Joseph, ‘return with such a tale as this? I dare not do it. And how shall I appear before the Lord? Of what rebuke am I not worthy from the angel of the Most High?’ …

“The next morning, he set out for home. We parted with heavy hearts, for it now appeared that all which we had so fondly anticipated, and which had been the source of so much secret gratification, had in a moment fled, and fled forever” (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley [1958], 125–29).

 "As a result, Moroni took the Urim and Thummim and Joseph lost the gift to translate. However, Moroni promised that Joseph could receive them again if he would be 'humble and penitent'" (Doctrine and Covenants Seminary Teacher Manual, Lesson 11: Doctrine and Covenants 3, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

The aworks, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be bfrustrated, neither can they come to naught.

For God doth not awalk in crooked paths, neither doth he bturn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his ccourse is one eternal round.

Remember, remember that it is not the awork of God that is frustrated, but the work of men; (Doctrine and Covenants 3:1–3). 

  • Frustrated: Prevented from progressing, succeeding, or being fulfilled (see languages.oup.com).
  • One eternal round: God's course begins and ends with Christ.

Segment 2:

When Joseph Smith received the First Vision, some religions taught that God was angry and ready to send anyone into eternal damnation on a whim (see the show notes and transcript for Lesson 2: “I Saw a Pillar of Light” (Joseph Smith—History 1:1–26)). 

Joseph’s mom Lucy wrote in her personal journal that she felt a sense of “a dark and lonesome chasm, between myself and the Savior” (Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, p. 36).

And behold, how aoft you have btransgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the cpersuasions of men (Doctrine and Covenants 3:6).

What Joseph Smith should/should not have done:

For, behold, you should not have afeared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and bdespise his words—

Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and asupported you against all the fiery bdarts of the cadversary; and he would have been with you in every time of dtrouble (Doctrine and Covenants 3:7–8).

But what did God say to Joseph to give him hope?

Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt afall.

10 But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art aagain called to the work; (Doctrine and Covenants 3:9–10).

Quote: “Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it. 

“However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Laborers in the Vineyard," April 2012 general conference). 

Segment 3:

Title of Section 4: Called to Labor—Joseph Smith, Sr.

Doctrine and Covenants section 4 in Spanish:

He aquí, una aobra maravillosa está a punto de aparecer entre los hijos de los hombres.

Por tanto, oh vosotros que os embarcáis en el aservicio de Dios, mirad que le bsirváis con todo vuestro ccorazón, alma, mente y fuerza, para que aparezcáis dsin culpa ante Dios en el último día.

De modo que, si tenéis deseos de servir a Dios, sois allamados a la obra;

pues he aquí, el acampo blanco está ya para la bsiega; y he aquí, quien mete su hoz con su fuerza catesora para sí, de modo que no perece, sino que trae salvación a su alma;

y afe, besperanza, ccaridad y damor, con la emira puesta únicamente en la fgloria de Dios, lo califican para la obra.

Tened presente la fe, la avirtud, el conocimiento, la templanza, la bpaciencia, la bondad fraternal, piedad, caridad, chumildad, ddiligencia.

aPedid, y recibiréis; llamad, y se os abrirá. Amén (Doctrine and Covenants 4).

Amy's scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants section 4 in English:

Now behold, a amarvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

Therefore, O ye that embark in the aservice of God, see that ye bserve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand cblameless before God at the last day.

And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:

But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the apriest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a bsweet savour unto the Lord.(Leviticus 1:8–9).

  • Inwards = heart; head = mind; fat = might; legs = strength

Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are acalled to the work;

  • Called = invited or encouraged

For behold the afield is white already to bharvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in cstore that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

And afaith, bhope, ccharity and dlove, with an eeye single to the fglory of God, gqualify him for the work.

Remember faith, avirtue, knowledge, btemperance, cpatience, dbrotherly ekindness, fgodliness, charity, ghumility, hdiligence.

aAsk, and ye shall receive; bknock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen (Doctrine and Covenants 4).

(For the background of how the revelation for Doctrine and Covenants section 4 came about, see "Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Day, Vol. 1, "6: The Gift and Power of God," p. 56). 

Segment 4:

Qualifications for being called to the work:

For behold the afield is white already to bharvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in cstore that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

  • White field = harvest time
  • Already = now

And afaith, bhope, ccharity and dlove, with an eeye single to the fglory of God, gqualify him for the work.

Remember faith, avirtue, knowledge, btemperance, cpatience, dbrotherly ekindness, fgodliness, charity, ghumility, hdiligence (Doctrine and Covenants 4:4–6).

aAsk, and ye shall receive; bknock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen (Doctrine and Covenants 4: 7). 

Segment 5:

Title of Section 5: Witness of the Book of Mormon—Martin Harris

(For background of why Martin asked to see the plates, see Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Day, Vol. 1, "6: The Gift and Power of God," p. 56–57).

Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant aMartin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me; (Doctrine and Covenants 5:1). 

Law of Witness:

Deuteronomy 19:15

2 Nephi 1:2–4

2 Corinthians 13:1

Martin Harris Giving Joseph Smith $50:

Hoping to get his finances in order, Joseph went to town to settle some of his debts. While he was in a store making a payment, Martin Harris strode up to him. “Here, Mr. Smith, is fifty dollars,” he said. “I give it to you to do the Lord’s work" (Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Day, Vol. 1, "5: All Is Lost," p. 45).

Why Martin asked for a witness:

At this time, Martin had never seen the gold plates himself, although he had acted as a scribe for Joseph. After traveling to Joseph’s home, Martin expressed his desire to receive a further witness of the reality of the gold plates. He may have believed that if he could see the plates himself, he would be prepared to testify in court of their existence and clear his and Joseph Smith’s names of fraud. After Joseph listened to Martin’s request to see the plates, he inquired of the Lord and received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 5 (Doctrine and Covenants Seminary Teacher Manual, "Lesson 14: Doctrine and Covenants 5," ChurchofJesusChrist.org).

How God Answered Martin's Request:

And now, behold, this shall you say unto him—he who spake unto you, said unto you: I, the Lord, am God, and have given these things unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and have commanded you that you should stand as a awitness of these things;

And I have caused you that you should enter into a acovenant with me, that you should not bshow them except to those cpersons to whom I commanded you; and you have no dpower over them except I grant it unto you (Doctrine and Covenants 5:2–3).

Who Could Joseph Show the Plates To?

11 And in addition to your testimony, the atestimony of three of my servants, whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things, and they shall go forth with my words that are given through you (Doctrine and Covenants 5:11).

16 And behold, whosoever abelieveth on my words, them will I bvisit with the cmanifestation of my dSpirit; and they shall be eborn of me, even of water and of the Spirit (Doctrine and Covenants 5:16). 

Quote: "Signs are not given to produce faith but to confirm faith and to bless the faithful," (see "Signs," ChurchofJesusChrist.org). 

23 And now, again, I speak unto you, my servant Joseph, concerning the aman that desires the witness (Doctrine and Covenants 5:23).

Segment 6:

Conditions Martin had to Meet to Receive a Witness:

24 Behold, I say unto him, he exalts himself and does not ahumble himself sufficiently before me; but if he will bbow down before me, and humble himself in mighty cprayer and faith, in the dsincerity of his heart, then will I grant unto him a eview of the things which he desires to see.

25 And then he shall say unto the people of this generation: Behold, I have seen the things which the Lord hath shown unto Joseph Smith, Jun., and I aknow of a surety that they are true, for I have seen them, for they have been shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.

26 And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say.

27 But if he deny this he will break the acovenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned.

28 And now, except he humble himself and acknowledge unto me the things that he has done which are wrong, and covenant with me that he will keep my commandments, and exercise afaith in me, behold, I say unto him, he shall have no such views, for I will grant unto him no views of the things of which I have spoken.

29 And if this be the case, I command you, my servant Joseph, that you shall say unto him, that he shall do no more, nor trouble me any more concerning this matter (Doctrine and Covenants 5:24–25). 

32 And now, because I foresee the lying in wait to destroy thee, yea, I foresee that if my servant Martin Harris humbleth not himself and receive a witness from my hand, that he will fall into atransgression; (Doctrine and Covenants 5:32). 

  • Receive a witness from my hand = simple witness

Story of Naaman and his simple witness: 2 Kings 5

35 And if thou art afaithful in keeping my commandments, thou shalt be blifted up at the last day. Amen (Doctrine and Covenants 5:35).

Quote: “Our witness of Christ typically begins with the testimony of others—people we know or know about and trust“ (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Becoming a Witness of Christ," Ensign, March 2008).

Quote: “We have the special witnesses of our own time who live among us and from whom, with our own eyes and ears, we receive a confirming testimony. Many are further blessed to hear the testimonies of parents, grandparents, and faithful friends. It is a spiritual gift to believe the words of others and a further gift “given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world” (D&C 46:13). This witness often comes in feelings—a burning, a peace, a feeling of assurance, a sense of enlightenment ”(Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "Becoming a Witness of Christ," Ensign, March 2008).