D&C Section 8

Historical Background

Oliver Cowdery was working as the scribe for Joseph Smith as he translated the Book of Mormon. In section 6, we learn that Oliver could be given the power to translate, just as the prophet had, if that is what he wanted. Now, Oliver was interested in being able to have this gift. This revelation was received in response to this request. It is a revelation given to Oliver Cowdery, through the prophet Joseph Smith. (This applies to both sections 8 and 9.)

Ask in Faith and Ye Shall Receive

“OLIVER Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit (v.1).”

We have been given this same promise. In James 1:5- we read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” This was the same scripture that prompted Joseph Smith to ask the Lord which church was the true church of God. The important thing to remember is that we must do it “in faith, with an honest heart, believing that [we] shall receive”. Through our faith, we can be blessed with knowledge of many great and wonderful things.

What Was Oliver Cowdery’s Gift Concerning Ancient Records?

The gift he was given, was that he would have a knowledge of the ancient records. “Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you (v. 11).” He would be blessed to know the mysteries of God and be able to translate the records according to his faith.

The Lord was not telling Oliver that he would be the one translating the Book of Mormon, but that by his faith, he would be able to translate other ancient records which would come forth. This would not happen until after he had finished his work of being scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon.

What Is the Spirit of Revelation?

The knowledge that Oliver could receive would be by manifestation of the spirit (see v. 1 above). “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart (v. 2). Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground (v. 3).” The spirit of revelation is that power that is particularly great among the leaders of the church. They are given this gift in order to lead and guide the church according to the will of God. We are also given the spirit of personal revelation when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost into our hearts. In D&C 5:16 we read, “And behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and of the Spirit—” The Holy Ghost will influence our hearts and minds and reveal things to us as we ask in faith.

A Warning Given to Oliver Cowdery that Applies to Everyone

“Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction.” The manual explains that Oliver Cowdery was given the gift to understand the voice of the spirit. It says, “If he hearkened to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, he could protect himself from those who would seek to bring about his physical death and also from those who would tempt him to sin and thus bring his soul “to destruction”.” Sin would have caused a spiritual death, or separation from God, for Oliver Cowdery because he knows what is right and wrong. This same promise is given to all of us. Once we are made aware of the commandments of God, breaking them and not repenting may bring physical destruction, and will surely bring spiritual destruction to our souls.

In 2 Nephi 28:30 we read, “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” We can receive the gifts of God if we do what we should with what we have already been given, including listening to the spirit. When we do not use our gifts, the Lord takes them away and gives them to those who will use them to do his will. This is just a reminder still, that the work of the Lord will continue and cannot be frustrated.

What Was the Gift of Aaron?

“Oh, remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember, this is your gift (v. 5). Now this is not all thy gift; for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things (v. 6); Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you (v. 7). Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God (v. 8 ). And, therefore, whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, and you shall have knowledge concerning it (v. 9).”

Oliver Cowdery was also given the gift of Aaron. He was given the power to be a spokesperson for the prophet. Whatever he asked of the Lord, by this gift, he would receive it. Oliver used this gift and was on occasion a spokesman for Joseph Smith. He held the keys of the priesthood along with the prophet. This was an amazing gift and a sacred privilege given to him. The gifts that we are given our also sacred and should be treated as such.

How Powerful Is Faith?

Faith is a Sunrise

The Lord promised Oliver Cowdery that his faith could give power to him to know the mysteries of God (see v. 11 above). “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not (v. 10).” Faith is so powerful that nothing can be done without it. We cannot do the work of the Lord, without exercising our own faith. However, if we ask in faith, we can do anything as long as there is a righteous cause for that thing. If the things that we train ourselves to desire, are righteous and good, than nothing can stop us from gaining those things except a lack of faith.


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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.


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