Joseph Smith Seer Stones: Doctrine and Covenants 6-9 Insights (Part 3)

Dr. Tyler Griffin

Dr. Tyler Griffin

Source Expert

Dr. Tyler Griffin’s career in education started with six years teaching seminary in Brigham City. He then spent seven years instructing at the Logan LDS Institute and helped launch the online seminary program. Currently, he’s a professor at BYU with over ten years of experience. Dr. Griffin co-founded the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group and holds degrees in Electrical Engineering, Instructional Technology (Master’s and PhD). He has authored and co-authored several religious books.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Just as we move forward, you’re going to hear people talking about the different mechanics. At the end of the day, I think if I were you, I would default to Joseph’s statement of, it was “translated by the gift and power of God”. Rather than getting focused on how, let’s focus on what we got through the translation process with the plates and the seer stones. Now back to Oliver Cowdery, the man. He’s wrestling with something. Oliver Cowdery desires and receives an additional witness that this is the Lord’s work.

He wants a little further witness that this is the Lord’s work. Does that tell you something? After everything that we’ve already talked about up to this point, he’s experienced all these things with the translation process in those early chapters of Mosiah, and he’s still sitting there, like Martin Harris before him, saying, I need a little more proof. Does that tell you a little bit about revelation? That it’s a process that unfolds, and it grows over time. It’s not a big flash of light right at the beginning. Now, it was with the First Vision with Joseph, but for most of us it’s not that way. It’s this unfolding revelatory process.

So, notice verse 15 and 16, it’s hinted here. He says: “Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;”. And then he takes it further in verse 16: “Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.” So as Joseph is receiving that revelation for him, he is probably thinking oh, good. God’s answering Oliver’s question. But then it becomes crystal clear a few verses later. Look at verse 21: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Notice how, at the beginning of the section, he introduced himself: “I am God;”. Here he clarifies, “…I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not”. And now this part: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”. Brothers and sisters, Oliver is then going to share his full story with Joseph Smith seer stone. That part of the story, that back in Palmyra when he was living in the Smith home, he had poured his heart out to God, and God had spoken peace to him that this is what he needed to do, was to go down to Harmony and help with this work. And now, Oliver hadn’t told anybody about that experience, but now God is explaining exactly that experience. The two who had had it together, the Lord and Oliver, they’re coming back together in this instance, at which point Oliver says okay, this is enough. Joseph has revealed things that nobody but God and I alone were aware of. And that was what he needed to be able to help propel him through the rest of this coming forth of the Book of Mormon process with the plates and seer stones.

D&C 6:32 “Where two or three are gathered together in my name” Assurance given to Joseph and Oliver that Jesus Christ is with them as they translate.

Notice verse 32 here towards the end of the section: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples,” so this is going back to the New Testament, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them – even so am I in the midst of you.” I love the fact that here you have Joseph and Oliver, who are wrestling with some things, they’re struggling with some things. They’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got, but they recognize they’re lacking, and here Jesus reminds them: where two or three are gathered in my name to do my work, there am I in the midst of them. And so now, that’s exactly what you have going on here: Oliver and Joseph, with Jesus in the midst of them, strengthening them. And notice how he strengthens them, after all of this incredible section, look how he finishes it, verse 33.

Certainly, here’s the transcript polished up:

Notice you could mark these if you want: “Fear not…”. Notice now often it comes up. “Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward”. You can’t plant weeds and grow fruit. If you grow, or if you plant good seeds, and nurture them, you’re going to pick good fruit, and that’s what he’s reminding them here. And what they’re sowing right now are some of the best seeds: the seeds of scripture, the seeds of the Spirit, the seeds of the Restoration are being sown by a poor farmer and his wife, and by this poor school teacher. They’re doing the best they can. I love that. I love that God is doing his work through simple people, not through the big, famous, brilliant scholars of the day. But through these simple people, God is bringing forth some of the greatest truths to ever come to light through miraculous ways like the seer stones.

Notice verse 34: “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you,” which it will, by the way, “…for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.” Among all of the opposition, brothers and sisters, God could have made the coming forth of the Book of Mormon so easy, so pleasant, fully funded from the beginning, totally taken care of with no mob action, no family members fighting against you. Emma’s father Isaac thought the whole thing was a sham and kept telling him, and her, to be done with it. He didn’t believe it. There’s another relative of Emma’s who comes and flippantly tells Joseph, if you have the gift to translate — and he gives him some text in Greek — says, use your Urim and Thummim and tell me what this says. And Joseph doesn’t translate it for him, and he walks away saying, see, he’s not a prophet, without ever giving any thought to the fact that God doesn’t give prophetic power in order to answer the unbelief of naysayers, of people who want you to prove that the work is true, prove that you have a gift to translate, prove that you’re a prophet, or prove that God exists, or prove that the book is true. God doesn’t seem to use his power to answer those kinds of questions. But he does use his power to answer the heartfelt pleas of people who are asking in sincerity and lowliness of heart to know the truth so they can know which direction to go.

God could have made this entire process very easy, but he didn’t. He let them wrestle, he let them struggle with the translation with the seer stones. I wonder if there’s an applicable lesson in that for you and me today. You see, God could take away all of your pain. He could take away all of your doubts. He could take away all of your questions. He could fix every relationship that’s struggling in your life. He could cure every disease that you or your loved ones face. He could solve every financial problem that you’re facing right now, and he could do it just like that, but he doesn’t. He lets us wrestle. He lets us move forward. He lets us recognize, over and over and over again, that, I can’t do it alone. I can’t do this work that I’ve been called to do on my own power alone, on my force of intellect alone, or my capacity for having influence alone. I have to rely on him. It’s his work, and he’s called me to assist in it. He hasn’t called me to do it for him. And there’s a beautiful principle that, if he’ll even allow these early saints to struggle like that, I don’t think you and I should feel like we should be immune from having to wrestle through difficult tests of mortality and trials of faith as we move forward on the covenant path as well.

Now you’ll notice verse 36: “Look unto me in every thought;”. He doesn’t say, look unto the world, he doesn’t say, go to the experts, go to the scholars and the learned people. He says, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not”. There’s the third time: “…fear not”. I think there’s a message for us today. We live in a world that is filled with fear, filled with anxiety, filled with questions, and doubt, and struggle. And here’s Jesus reminding these two men, and through them by extension, reminding you and me: fear not, fear not, fear not. I think hymn number 85 comes in handy here: “Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.” I think we have a pretty firm foundation for our faith, and a foundation that allows us to not fear.
Now, notice how he finishes that section: “Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet…”. I wonder why Jesus would have ended the section that way. I wonder if perhaps he’s reminding Joseph and Oliver, and once again by extension you and me, I wonder if he’s saying, just because you do good things doesn’t mean that the world’s going to stand up and applaud you, and reward you openly for your goodness and your wonderful efforts to build the kingdom. Remember, it’s not what the world has to offer you; it’s what God has to offer you. I wonder if he’s pointing them to the fact that, get ready, there’s going to be some persecution. There’s going to be some pain. There’s going to be some abuse. You’re going to hurt, but you’re doing my work by translating using the plates and the seer stones. And notice he says, “…be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen”. It’s a pretty powerful scripture to receive if you’re Oliver Cowdery, early on in this process. It’s a flood from heaven.

By Dr. Tyler Griffin, Source Expert

Dr. Tyler Griffin embarked on his professional journey by teaching seminary courses for a period of six years in Brigham City, Utah. Following that, he dedicated the subsequent seven years to instructing at the Logan LDS Institute, located adjacent to Utah State University. Alongside his participation in the Seminary Preservice program, he spearheaded and supervised the implementation of the online seminary program. Dr. Griffin has been an educator at BYU for well over a decade and holds a co-founding position within the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group. His undergraduate degree is in Electrical Engineering, while both his master’s and doctorate degrees center around Instructional Technology. Dr. Griffin is the exclusive author of “When Heaven Appears Distant” co-author of “Come Unto Me: Illuminating the Savior’s Life, Mission, Parables, and Miracles” and co-editor of “Millions Shall Rediscover Brother Joseph.”

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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