Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants Section 30 Mission Calls

Have you ever wondered why different people get “called” to different places to serve missions for the Lord?

Doctrine and Covenants Section 30 is a great example of how the Lord knows each of us so personally and what is best for us in our lives.

Section 30 originally was three different revelations to three brothers, but was combined to form one inclusive revelation. The three brothers were the Whitmer brothers, David, Peter, and John. Each of these three brothers were called by the Lord to serve missions, but each were called to serve in different areas for different reasons.

In a previous revelation, Oliver Cowdery was informed by the Lord through the prophet Joseph Smith that he would be serving a mission to the Lamanites, to preach the gospel to them. If you think about it, having just received the Book of Mormon and understanding that the Lamanites would need to be brought to a knowledge of their fathers, this would have been a very desirable mission call to receive. (You know the old Australia vs. Idaho complex!) In Section 30 the Lord makes it very clear who, out of the three brothers, would get to accompany Oliver and why.

The first mission call or revelation was directed to David, who was one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. One of the major responsibilities of the three witnesses was not only to testify of the Book of Mormon itself, but to testify that Joseph Smith received the power to translate it by God. However, David had just been recently involved in an incident involving Hyrum Page, who was his brother-in-law, and a seer stone. Hyrum claimed to be receiving revelation for the Church regarding the future location of the city of Zion which he had received through the stone itself. It is interesting to note that David needed to be reinstructed by the Lord of the position Joseph held as the authorized spokesperson for the Lord because of this incident.

David, who should have known better, was taken in by the false spirit that was revealed through the stone. The Lord explained five great stumbling blocks that David had experienced. Can you find them in the following scripture verse?

Section 30:1 Behold, I say unto you, David, that you have feared man and have not relied on me for strength as you ought.

2 But your mind has been on the things of the earth more than on the things of me, your Maker, and the ministry whereunto you have been called; and you have not given heed unto my Spirit, and to those who were set over you, but have been persuaded by those whom I have not commanded.

3 Wherefore, you are left to inquire for yourself at my hand, and ponder upon the things which you have received.

These stumbling blocks can be seen as a process to impede progression. These are universal and should be a lesson for us all. Because David had been wavering in his convictions, the Lord knew he need to stay close to the Church to be strengthen and perfected in his testimony before he embarked out in the mission field. His mission was to remain at home and minister in the Church and the regions round about. Some may view this as a punishment for disobedience; I simply see it as a Father who knew what is best for His child.

Peter, on the other hand, by keeping the commandments ( we can assume this was the case as the Lord instructs him to be “diligent” in keeping the commandments, this shows that he must continue to keep them...implying he already was) received the opportunity to accompany Oliver on the mission to the Lamanites.

Section 30 outlines very clearly the relationship of Oliver and Peter, as the Lord explained the principle of the “senior companion”.

Seciton 30:5 Behold, I say unto you, Peter, that you shall take your journey with your brother Oliver; for the time has come that it is expedient in me that you shall open your mouth to declare my gospel; therefore, fear not, but give heed unto the words and advice of your brother (meaning Oliver not David at this point), which he shall give you.

6 And be you afflicted in all his afflictions, ever lifting up your heart unto me in prayer and faith, for his and your deliverance; for I have given unto him power to build up my church among the Lamanites;

7 And none have I appointed to be his counselor over him in the church, concerning church matters, except it is his brother, Joseph Smith, Jun.

8 Wherefore, give heed unto these things and be diligent in keeping my commandments, and you shall be blessed unto eternal life. Amen.

The final mission call is given to John. We are not given a lot of information about him personally but are told that he was called to serve in the area around Fayette at a man named Philip Burroughs place. According to Susan Easton Black in her book, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, Philip Burroughs was actually John Whitmers neighbor. It seems that John was responsible to preach in his own neighborhood, opening his mouth continually, “not fearing what man can do”. Sometimes it is hardest to do just that, preach to those with whom you associate daily.

Three brothers received three different mission calls. The message one might gather about David’s mission call is the important of perfecting the saints, beginning with himself. Peter was to go forth as one crying from the dust, to bring light to a people who sat in darkness. This rebirth of the gospel could be seen as a mission to redeem the dead. As for John, we are given a great illustration of a mission simply to continually proclaim the gospel. When you combine these three mission calls and the message they might give to us as readers today, we see that the three fold mission of the Church is the priority given by the Lord.

Different missions are given to different people for many reasons, sometimes only known by the Lord alone. Our faith in Him, and the understanding that He is all knowing, gives us the motivation needed to carry on in whatever work He sees fit to assign. Simply stated, it doesn’t matter where you serve, do it to the best of your ability. The Lord needs laborers in his vineyard and He knows best where to put them to gain the most from what they have to offer. So whether you are called to Australia, Idaho, or simply your own backyard, serve with your whole heart, might, mind, and soul.

The blessings will follow.

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