Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017: Lesson 31: “Sealed … for Time and for All Eternity”

1. Eternal marriage is essential in Heavenly Father’s plan.

Watch: Celestial Marriage is Essential for Exaltation  President Hunter teaches celestial marriage is essential for exaltation (D&C 131:1-4). (1:22)

Watch: The Sealing Power (Malachi 4:5-6) A woman bears testimony of the sealing powers of the priesthood.

A bride with a red flower in her hair, standing and holding hands with the groom outside a temple in Hawaii.

D&C 131: 1 Celestial glory

‘There will be on the one hand those who are servants, who are ministering angels; there will be on the other hand exalted and glorified personages. The difference between these two categories-the one on the one hand, and the other on the other-the difference is the continuation of the family unit in eternity. By definition and in its nature, exaltation consists in the continuation of the family unit through all ages yet to be. If the family unit continues, if husband and wife go into the spirit world as a married couple and come up in the resurrection continuing as husband and wife, then exaltation is assured. If they go there separately and singly-either not having entered into this celestial order or, having entered into it, having not kept the terms and conditions and laws that appertain to it-they will have immortality only and not eternal life.’ (Bruce R McConkie, Conference Report, April 1957, Afternoon Meeting 20)

D&C 49:15 Marriage is ordained of God

President Joseph F. Smith once declared “that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God, alone. … God instituted marriage in the beginning. He made man in His own image and likeness, male and female, and in their creation it was designed that they should be united together in sacred bonds of marriage, and one is not perfect without the other.” (In Conference Report, April 1913, p. 118.)

D&C 132:7 The Holy Spirit of Promise

I will make an explanation of the expression, “Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.” This does not have reference to marriage for time and all eternity only, but to every ordinance and blessing of the gospel. Baptism into the Church is sealed by this Spirit, likewise confirmation, ordination, and all ordinances as well as marriage for time and all eternity.

The meaning of this expression is this: Every covenant, contract, bond, obligation, oath, vow, and performance, that man receives through the covenants and blessings of the gospel, is sealed by the Holy Spirit with a promise. The promise is that the blessing will be obtained, if those who seek it are true and faithful to the end. If they are not faithful, then the Holy Spirit will withdraw the blessing, and the promise comes to an end. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:94-95)

Watch: Holy Spirit of Promise

2. Youth should prepare now for eternal marriage.

President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled: “Choose a companion of your own faith. You are much more likely to be happy. Choose a companion you can always honor, you can always respect, one who will complement you in your own life, one to whom you can give your entire heart, your entire love, your entire allegiance, your entire loyalty” (“Life’s Obligations,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 2).

Image result for After a husband and wife are sealed in the temple, they must abide in the covenant to receive the promised blessings.

3. After a husband and wife are sealed in the temple, they must abide in the covenant to receive the promised blessings.

Watch: Marriage and Family Can Endure Forever Elder Nelson teaches how marriage and family can endure forever (D&C 132:15-24). (2:17)

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D&C 42:22 With all thy heart

“Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity. Each spouse takes the partner with the understanding that he or she gives totally to the spouse all the heart, strength, loyalty, honor, and affection, with all dignity. Any divergence is sin; any sharing of the heart is transgression. As we should have ‘an eye single to the glory of God,’ so should we have an eye, an ear, a heart single to the marriage and the spouse and family.” (Spencer W Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle,pp. 142–43.)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017- Lesson 30: “The Prisoners Shall Go Free”

1. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed the doctrine of priesthood ordinances for the dead.

Watch: Glad Tidings – The History of Baptisms for the Dead Joseph Smith’s struggle with his brother Alvin’s death led eventually to the introduction of baptisms for the dead. This new ordinance was embraced by saints in Nauvoo who did the first genealogical and family history research in Church history. (6:55)

Read: Revelations in Context – Letters on Baptism for the Dead

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‘On 15 August 1840, Joseph Smith preached the funeral sermon of Seymour Brunson, during which he declared for the first time the doctrine of baptism for the dead. It is not known precisely when the first proxy baptism or baptisms were performed; however, the first documented baptism for the dead was performed on 12 September 1840, when Jane Neyman requested that Harvey Olmstead baptize her in behalf of her deceased son Cyrus Livingston Neyman…. A short while later, upon learning the words Olmstead used in performing the baptism, Joseph Smith gave his approval of the ordinance. Later, instructions were given concerning proper procedures for performing and recording baptisms for the dead (see D&C 127-128), and it was clarified that “females should be baptised for females, and males for males” (Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 5:85). Doctrine and Covenants 124 (given five months after the first baptisms for the dead were performed) instructed that the practice of baptizing for the dead outside the Nauvoo Temple would be temporary [see vs. 29-34]. During the October 1841 general conference Joseph Smith announced, “There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord’s House…. For thus saith the Lord!” (History of the Church, 4:426). Allowance for the practice of performing proxy baptisms outside the temple lasted approximately thirteen and one-half months (15 August 1840-3 October 1841)….

On 8 November 1841, Brigham Young dedicated a temporary wooden baptismal font in the basement of the unfinished temple, and less than two weeks later, on 21 November, the first baptisms for the dead were performed in the temple by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and John Taylor.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, p.838-839 (2012)

D&C 2:2 He shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers

‘In our preexistent state, in the day of the great council, we made a certain agreement with the Almighty. The Lord proposed a plan, conceived by him. We accepted it. Since the plan is intended for all men, we become parties to the salvation of every person under that plan. We agreed, right then and there, to be not only saviors for ourselves but measurably, saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work. The least of us, the humblest, is in partnership with the Almighty in achieving the purpose of the eternal plan of salvation.’ (John A Widtsoe, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, p. 189; see also History of the Church, 6:59-61)” (Doctrine and  Covenants Student Manual, 1981, p. 8)

2. The Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo.

Image result for 2. The Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo.

D&C 124:28 What Is Meant by “The Fulness of the Priesthood”?

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“Joseph Smith said … , ‘If a man gets a fulness of the Priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.’ [History of the Church, 5:424.]

“I hope we understand that. If we want to receive the fullness of the Priesthood of God, then we must receive the fullness of the ordinances of the house of the Lord and keep His commandments. …“Let me put this in a little different way. I do not care what office you hold in this Church, you may be an apostle, you may be patriarch, a high priest, or anything else, and you cannot receive the fulness of the Priesthood unless you go into the temple of the Lord and receive these ordinances of which the Prophet speaks. No man can get the fulness of the Priesthood outside of the temple of the Lord. There was a time when that could be done, for the Lord could give these things on the mountain tops—no doubt that is where Moses got it, that is no doubt where Elijah got it—and the Lord said that in the days of poverty, when there was no house prepared in which to receive these things, that they can be received on the mountain tops. But now you will have to go into the house of the Lord, and you cannot get the fulness of the priesthood unless you go there.” (Elijah the Prophet, pp. 45–46.) (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 124:30 This ordinance belongeth to my house

Orson Pratt explained that a practical reason for centering the ordinance of baptism for the dead in the temple is that ‘the house of God is a house of order, the kingdom of God is a kingdom of order, and everything must be conducted with order, and with power and authority, so that when it is sealed on earth it is sealed in the heavens, that the records on earth and in heaven may agree-that the Priesthood on earth and in heaven may agree-that they may be one.'” (Hyrum L. Andrus, Principles of Perfection [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970], 486)

A front side view of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, with a bright, clear blue sky in the background and green lawns in the front of the temple.

“Today, facing west, on the high bluff overlooking the city of Nauvoo, thence across the Mississippi, and over the plains of Iowa, there stands Joseph’s temple, a magnificent house of God. Here in the Salt Lake Valley, facing east to that beautiful temple in Nauvoo, stands Brigham’s temple, the Salt Lake Temple. They look toward one another as bookends between which there are volumes that speak of the suffering, the sorrow, the sacrifice, even the deaths of thousands who made the long journey from the Mississippi River to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.” —Gordon B. Hinckley

3. We should be enthusiastic and joyful in our efforts to perform baptisms for the dead.

Watch: Temples Bless the Living and the Dead D&C 124:38-41) Temples bless the living and the dead. (1:02)

Watch: We Cannot Be Saved Without Our Dead Elder Nelson teaches that we cannot be saved without our dead (D&C 128:17-18). (1:52)

Watch: The Joy of Redeeming the Dead

Watch: Will I Do My Part? 

The key to freeing our ancestors from spirit prison is in our hands. We have the opportunity to put that key into action and bring the blessings of the Gospel to our families. (2:43)

D&C 128:14-18 Why Is Baptism for the Dead Such an Important Gospel Principle?

;In these verses, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following principles:

  1. The salvation of our dead ancestors is “essential to our salvation.” Our lives are closely tied to our ancestors’ lives, for we cannot become perfect without them nor they without us (D&C 128:15).
  2. Baptism for the dead is the “most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel” (v. 17). This doctrine shows the love and mercy of an all-wise Father in Heaven. Baptism for the dead and other vicarious work makes it possible for all our Father’s children to receive the same blessings, and be judged on the same terms, whether or not they had a chance to accept the gospel in mortality. President Rudger Clawson said: “Oh, the beauty of the justice and mercy of God, who is no respecter of persons! And let it be remembered that what it takes to save one who is living; it takes just that much to save one who is dead.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1931, p. 79.)
  3. Baptism for the dead helps to prevent the earth from being smitten with a curse. As President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “If Elijah had not come, we are led to believe that all the work of past ages would have been of little avail, for the Lord said the whole earth, under such conditions, would be utterly wasted at his coming. Therefore his mission was of vast importance to the world. It is not the question of baptism for the dead alone, but also the sealing of parents and children to parents, so that there should be a ‘whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories,’ from the beginning down to the end of time.

    “If this sealing power were not on the earth, then confusion would reign and disorder would take the place of order in that day when the Lord shall come, and, of course, this could not be, for all things are governed and controlled by perfect law in the kingdom of God. “Why would the earth be wasted? Simply because if there is not a welding link between the fathers and the children—which is the work for the dead—then we will all stand rejected; the whole work of God will fail and be utterly wasted. Such a condition, of course, shall not be.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:121–22.) (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 128:19-23 A Voice of Gladness

“In September 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith was hiding in the house of Edward Hunter in Nauvoo… Yet it was in the cramped quarters of Edward Hunter’s home that Joseph penned the most majestic hymn of praise of the Restoration.

“Perhaps you have been to a symphony and listened to a piece of music that begins with a single, clear note played by a violin or a flute. The single instrument holds center stage for a time and then slowly, sometimes almost imperceptibly, is joined by other instruments. As the piece continues, the music swells as more and more instruments join in until all are playing and the whole hall is filled with the beauty of sound.

“Or perhaps you have listened to a great choir perform. Often a single soloist with a clear voice will begin to sing. As with the symphony, that single voice sounds in our ears without distraction. Then, slowly, other voices begin singing until, in a wonderful unity of sound, all are singing as one.

“This is the structure of Joseph Smith’s hymn of praise, only it is a hymn not of voice in song or note of violin but in words played upon the soul and recorded in the scriptures. Joseph’s hymn, too, begins with a single voice, ‘a voice of gladness.’ Listen to the words and see if you can hear the other voices join in to sing one unified song of praise for the blessings of the Restoration:  (quotes D&C 128:19-23.)

“What could have possibly been on Joseph Smith’s mind to bring forth from his pen such a beautiful summation of the Restoration? The central theme of D&C 128:1 is the salvation of the dead through the ordinances of the House of the Lord. Indeed, the verse immediately preceding Joseph’s song of gladness speaks of a ‘welding link . . . between the fathers and the children,’ a link that would be ‘whole and complete and perfect.’ (D&C 128:18.)

“Earlier in the letter, and serving as introduction to his song of praise, Joseph Smith told the Saints, ‘[The work of the temple] seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest.’ He assured them, ‘These are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation.’ (D&C 128:1, 15.) Joseph understood that the culmination of the Restoration, the point to which all the voices were leading, was the temple and the redeeming work for both living and dead that would take place within its walls. Without that work, the song of the Restoration would have ‘become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.’ (1 Corinthians 13:1.) Or, as Malachi wrote, ‘The whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.’ (D&C 2:3.) Temple work was the soul of Joseph Smith’s song as it is the soul of the Restoration.” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 5-7)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017-Lesson 29: Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo, Illinois

1. The Saints sought refuge in Illinois.

‘After the Latter-day Saints were driven from Missouri in early 1839, most found temporary refuge in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. Between April and August, however, Latter-day Saint leaders negotiated several land purchases in Lee County, Iowa, and Hancock Count, Illinois, which included the small Mississippi riverfront village of Commerce. As a result of these acquisitions, significant numbers of Church members began to relocate in Lee and Hancock counties during the spring and summer of 1839. Joseph Smith purchased a small, two-story, square-cut log home that was named the Homestead and was situated on the outskirts of Commerce proper. Commerce (later named Nauvoo by Joseph Smith) subsequently became the principal place of Latter-day Saint settlement and the headquarters of the Church.

In late October 1839, the Prophet journeyed to Washington, D.C., to seek redress from federal government officials for the Missouri persecutions. President Martin Van Buren denied their petitions and turned a deaf ear, and U.S. Senate leaders determined that the reparation in behalf of the Saints could be secured only in Missouri’s courts. After an absence of four months, Joseph Smith returned to Illinois, where he turned his attention from the past to moving ahead to the future. His agenda became that of community builder, and thereafter he sought to establish Nauvoo as the new gathering place….

By early 1841, Nauvoo was bustling with home construction and mercantile and business development. In addition, plans for a temple and a hotel (the Nauvoo House) were already underway. The Nauvoo Charter, establishing Nauvoo as a state-sanctioned municipality with a city council, a university, and an independent militia, had been approved by the state legislature and signed by Governor Thomas Carlin in December 1840 and was set to go into effect on 1 February 1841. Nauvoo—a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful”—was on the rise and the Saints’ optimism ran high.

It was under these circumstances that Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in section 124 on 19 January 1841. It is the longest canonized revelation (5,529 words, 145 verses) and the first revelation of the Illinois period included in the Doctrine and Covenants.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, p.837)

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2. Missionaries sent from Nauvoo converted thousands of people.

Watch: The Heart and a Willing Mind  (D&C 64:34) Elder Heber C. Kimball and his family willingly serve the Lord as Elder Kimball leaves first from Kirtland and then from Nauvoo to preach the gospel in England.

3. The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the end in righteousness.

Read: Revelations in Context – Organising the Church in Nauvoo

D&C 124:12-14 Robert B Thompson

“Birth: 1 October 1811, Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England.
Death: 27 August 1841, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.

“Robert Thompson received his education and developed an interest in religion in Dunnington, Yorkshire, England. He joined the Methodists and was a preacher for some years before immigrating to Upper Canada in 1834. It was the preaching of Parley P. Pratt that led Robert to become a member of the Church in May 1836.

“Anxious to join with the Saints, he journeyed to Kirtland in May 1837, but within the year he had returned to Upper Canada to serve a mission. After baptizing many Canadians he once again attempted to settle in Kirtland, but the persecution against the Saints had increased, so Robert joined his brother-in-law Hyrum Smith and journeyed to Far West, Missouri. Escalating persecution led to open confrontation in Missouri. Robert fought in the Battle of Crooked River in defense of the Saints; consequently his enemies swore they would kill him. He suffered from exposure and lack of food as he attempted to avoid their clutches.

“He temporarily settled in Quincy, Illinois, and was employed as a writer for the Argus newspaper and as a courthouse clerk. When he moved to Nauvoo he served as a scribe for the Prophet and also gathered libelous reports and publications against the Church at the Prophet’s request. He was appointed general Church clerk, colonel and aide-de-camp of the Nauvoo Legion, Nauvoo city treasurer, and a regent of the University of Nauvoo.

“On 19 January 1841 Robert was called by the Lord to assist the Prophet in writing a proclamation to the kings, presidents, and governors of the earth. ‘Let my servant Robert B. Thompson help you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him’ (D&C 124:12).  In the revelation the Lord promised: ‘I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings; let him be faithful and true in all things from henceforth, and he shall be great in mine eyes; but let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands’ (D&C 124:13-14).

“From May to August 1841 he worked with Don Carlos Smith as an associate editor of the Times and Seasons. On 16 August 1841 he was seized with the same disease that had caused the death of Don Carlos the week before. ‘The attachment between them was so strong, it seemed as though they could not long be separated.’ Robert died on 27 August 1841 at his residence in Nauvoo at the age of twenty-nine. The Prophet said that he died ‘in full hope of a glorious resurrection.'”(Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 322)

Image result for The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the end in righteousness.

D&C 124:16-17 Why Was John C. Bennett Commended by the Lord When He Later Became Such an Enemy of the Church?

‘Smith and Sjodahl wrote that John C. Bennett “was well educated and possessed many gifts and accomplishments. He was a physician, a university professor, and a brigadier-general. On the 27th of July, 1840, he offered his services to the Church. The Prophet Joseph replied, inviting him to come to Commerce, if he felt so disposed, but warned him at the same time not to expect exaltation ‘in this generation,’ from devotion to the cause of truth and a suffering people; nor worldly riches; only the approval of God. The outcome of the correspondence was that he joined the Church and rose to prominent positions among the Saints. His fellowship with the people of God did not last long, however. On the 25th of May, 1842, he was notified that the leaders of the Church did no longer recognize him as a member, because of his impure life, and shortly afterwards the Church took action against him. Then he became one of the most bitter enemies of the Church. His slanders, his falsehoods and unscrupulous attacks, which included perjury and attempted assassination were the means of inflaming public opinion to such an extent that the tragedy at Carthage became possible.

“Why, then, did his name appear, in this Revelation, as that of a trusted assistant of Joseph? John Taylor furnishes the answer to that question. He says, ‘Respecting John C. Bennett: I was well acquainted with him. At one time he was a good man, but fell into adultery, and was cut off from the Church for his iniquity’ (History of the Church, Vol. V., p. 81). At the time of the revelation he was a good man. But he was overcome by the adversary and made the slave of his carnal desires. The Lord knew him and warned him. ‘His reward shall not fail if he receive counsel.’ ‘He shall be great … if he do this,’ etc. Bennett did not heed these warning ‘ifs’ from Him who knew what was in his heart.” (Commentary, pp. 770–71.)

The Lord does not withhold present blessings because of future sinful behavior. He blessed King David as long as he was faithful and did not withhold opportunity, although he had foreknowledge of David’s future transgressions with Bathsheba. As long as one obeys, the blessings come. With the perspective of history one may be tempted to ask why the Lord chose men who would eventually falter to be leaders in the Church, but one should remember that at the time of their calling they were faithful and true.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

4. The Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo.

A painting by Nadine Barton of Joseph Smith Jr. and his wife Emma Smith standing before a group of sitting women as they organize the Relief Society.

Read: ‘Something Better’: – The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

‘In Nauvoo, Latter-day Saint women were blessed with their own organization in the Church. It had its beginning when several women, led by Sarah Granger Kimball, organized to make shirts for the men working on the temple. The women decided to formally organize, and they asked Eliza R. Snow to write a constitution for their group. When the Prophet Joseph Smith was consulted, he told them that their constitution was excellent but offered to organize the women in a better way. On March 17, 1842, the Prophet, along with Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards, met with 20 women in the upstairs room of the Red Brick Store, where the Prophet organized the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Emma Smith was selected as the organization’s president, thus fulfilling the revelation identifying her as an “elect lady” (D&C 25:3). The Prophet later stated that the organization’s objective was to “relieve the poor” and “to save souls” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith[2007], 453).

On April 28, 1842, the Prophet met again with the sisters. He told them that they would receive instruction through the order of the priesthood and then declared, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God, and this Society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 451).’ (Foundations of the Restoration Institute Manual)

Posted in Book of Mormon, Holy Ghost, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 16: The Power of the Book of Mormon

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

Throughout his ministry, President Hinckley emphasized the importance of the Book of Mormon. In August 2005, as President of the Church, he challenged Latter-day Saints to read the entire book before the end of the year. He later reported: “It is amazing how many met that challenge. Everyone who did so was blessed for his or her effort. As they became immersed in this added witness of our Redeemer, their hearts were quickened and their spirits touched.”

How has regular reading of the Book of Mormon blessed you?

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1. Hand in hand with the Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ.

Read: They Shall Grow Together: The Relationship of the Book of Mormon, The Bible and the Joseph Smith Translation (BYU Religious Studies Centre)

Bible stories teach us
How to live like Jesus.
Book of Mormon stories, too,
Tell what He would have us do.
Hand in hand together,
the Bible and the Book of Mormon
stand forever to tell of Jesus Christ.
Bible prophets tell us
Things to bless and help us.
Book of Mormon prophets, too,
Testify of all that’s true.
Hand in hand together,
the Bible and the Book of Mormon
stand forever to tell of Jesus Christ.
Hand in hand together,
the Bible and the Book of Mormon
stand forever to tell of Jesus Christ.
© 2001 by Janice Kapp Perry

From the manual:

As the Bible is the testament of the Old World, the Book of Mormon is the testament of the New. They go hand in hand in declaration of Jesus as the Son of the Father.

What examples have you seen of the Book of Mormon and the Bible going “hand in hand” in testifying of the Savior? 

2. By the power of the Holy Ghost, we can receive a witness of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

‘This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.

We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true—and I solemnly testify that it is—then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Because the Book of Mormon is true, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth, and the holy priesthood of God has been restored for the benefit and blessing of His children.

If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far. However, once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study.

My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives. I so testify with all my heart in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’ (President Thomas S Monson, General Conference, April 2017)

Image result for By the power of the Holy Ghost, we can receive a witness of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

From the manual:

Why do you think the promise in Moroni 10:3–5 is more important than physical evidence of the Book of Mormon?

3. A testimony of the Book of Mormon leads to a conviction of other truths.

Watch: Book of Mormon Testimonies Prophets and Apostles discuss the importance of gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

“We should know the Book of Mormon better than any other book. Not only should we know what history and faith-promoting stories it contains, but we should understand its teachings. If we really do our homework and approach the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we can expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men. I have noted within the Church a difference in discernment, insight, conviction and spirit between those who know and love the Book of Mormon and those who do not. That book is a great sifter.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Image result for A testimony of the Book of Mormon leads to a conviction of other truths.

4. The Book of Mormon offers teachings that can help us find solutions to the problems of today’s society.

We should constantly ask ourselves, “Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?

From the manual:

[The Book of Mormon] narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions to those problems.

What are some passages in the Book of Mormon that have helped you in times of personal challenge?

5. The Book of Mormon has the power to change our lives and our perspective.

Watch: A Book of Mormon Story A young bishop in England describes how the Book of Mormon came to life for him and changed his perspective forever. (5:15)

From the manual:

If someone asked you about the Book of Mormon, what could you say about how it has influenced your life?

Posted in LDS Doctrine, Priesthood, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 15: The Holy Priesthood

1. God has restored the priesthood and the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

Watch: Restoration of the Priesthood Church members share how they personally have been blessed because God’s priesthood authority has been restored to the earth.

Read: Revelations in Context – Restoring the Ancient Order

Read: Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods

From the manual:

What experiences have helped you gain a testimony of these truths?

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2. The priesthood is the power and authority by which God accomplishes His work.

“Any ordinances performed without that authority are as invalid as a forged signature on a loan. Many baptisms and confirmations and other ordinances are performed by well-meaning people, but if those people lack the proper authority, they have no promise that the ordinance will be validated in this or the next life. Many, we fear, will be disillusioned when they arrive on the other side and find that the ordinances performed for them were invalid and the authority those who performed the ordinances thought they had is nonexistent. Sincerity or faith alone is not enough.” (Robert E Wells, The Mount and the Master [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 201.)

From the manual:

I love the priesthood of this Church. It is a vital, living thing. It is the very heart and strength of this work. It is the power and authority by which God, our Eternal Father, accomplishes His work in the earth.

How does this truth apply in stakes and wards? in quorums? in Relief Society?

3. The blessings of the priesthood are to be enjoyed by all.

Image result for 3. The blessings of the priesthood are to be enjoyed by all.

Watch: Blessings of the Priesthood The priesthood is the power of God, which is given to man to act in His name. (3:04)

Read: Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, Women

Read: The Ten Blessings of the Priesthood Elder Bruce R McConkie

“I think we all know that the blessings of the priesthood are not confined to men alone. These blessings are also poured out upon our wives and daughters and upon all the faithful women of the Church. These good sisters can prepare themselves, by keeping the commandments and by serving in the Church, for the blessings of the house of the Lord. The Lord offers to his daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by his sons, for neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, In Conference Report, Apr. 1970, p. 59.)

From the manual:

In what ways have you experienced the power and blessings of the priesthood?

4. Sons of God who hold His divine authority must be true to the very best that is in them.

Watch or read: Walk with Me President Henry B Eyring

“This is not a plaything. The priesthood of God is the most serious thing in the world. It was by the priesthood the world was created. And it is by the priesthood that your world will be created; and if you ever become a God in a world of your own, with your wife, your family, it will be through the magnifying of this priesthood which you hold.” (Spencer W Kimball, In Conference Report, Stockholm Sweden Area Conference, Aug. 1974, p. 100.)

‘Priesthood is the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present.

We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.’ (Elder Boyd K Packer)


From the manual:

What can we learn from President Hinckley’s teachings about the difference between priesthood authority and priesthood power?

5. A priesthood quorum can be an anchor of strength for its members.

From the manual:

What impresses you about President Hinckley’s descriptions of priesthood quorums and Relief Society?

6. In homes and in the Church, men and women work together to move the Lord’s kingdom forward.

‘In the temples of the Lord, sacred priesthood ordinances (e.g., washings, anointings, clothings) are administered to men by men and to women by women who have received the endowments of the priesthood in the temple (Teachings, p. 337) and have been given that specific priesthood responsibility. Women thus may act in priesthood power when called, set apart, and authorized by those who hold the keys; however, women officiators are not ordained to the priesthood or to an office in the priesthood to do this work.’ (See BYU Religious Studies Centre: Priesthood)

From the manual:

The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith

Gospel Doctrine 2017: Lesson 28: “O God, Where Art Thou?”

1. Joseph Smith’s prayer in Liberty Jail, and the Lord’s response

Read: Revelations in Context – Within the Walls of Liberty Jail

This article gives context for Doctrine and Covenants 121, 122, and 123.

Read: Light in the Darkness, Liberty in a Jail

This narrative will help you contemplate the suffering of Joseph Smith and other captives in Liberty Jail and ponder the power of the revelations Joseph received there.

Read: Letter to the Church and Edward Partridge 

This page from the Joseph Smith Papers website gives the text of the longer letter that Doctrine and Covenants 121 and 122 were extracted from.

Image result for 1. Joseph Smith prayer in Liberty Jail, and the Lord’s response

D&C 121:1 O God, Where art Thou?

‘It is expedient for all of us, particularly those who may be weighed down by grief because of acts of misconduct or misfortune, to recall that even the Prophet Joseph Smith had hours of despair because of his very trying experiences in the Liberty Jail. Perhaps he too was entitled to question, “What did I do wrong? What have I done to displease Thee, O Lord? Where have I failed? Why are the answers to my prayers and pleas withheld?” In response to the feelings of his heart and mind he cried out:  O God, where art thou?’ (Marvin J Ashton, “If Thou Endure It Well,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 20)

D&C 121:7-10 Adversity

‘My purpose today is to assure you that our Heavenly Father and the Savior live and that They love all humanity. The very opportunity for us to face adversity and affliction is part of the evidence of Their infinite love. God gave us the gift of living in mortality so that we could be prepared to receive the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is eternal life. Then our spirits will be changed. We will become able to want what God wants, to think as He thinks, and thus be prepared for the trust of an endless posterity to teach and to lead through tests to be raised up to qualify to live forever in eternal life.

It is clear that for us to have that gift and to be given that trust, we must be transformed through making righteous choices where that is hard to do. We are prepared for so great a trust by passing through trying and testing experiences in mortality. That education can come only as we are subject to trials while serving God and others for Him.

In this education we experience misery and happiness, sickness and health, the sadness from sin and the joy of forgiveness. That forgiveness can come only through the infinite Atonement of the Savior, which He worked out through pain we could not bear and which we can only faintly comprehend.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, April 2009)

‘I]t is necessary that we pass through certain ordeals, and that we be tried. But why is it that we should be tried? There is just the same necessity for it now that there was in former times. I heard the Prophet Joseph say, in speaking to the Twelve on one occasion: “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (said he) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.” Some people have wondered why so many of the Twelve fell away. God tries people according to the position they occupy.’ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 24:197)

2. The Savior’s perfect understanding of our sufferings and adversity

“In the garden and on the cross, Jesus saw each of us and not only bore our sins, but also experienced our deepest feelings so that he would know how to comfort and strengthen us” (Elder Merrill J. Bateman, Ensign, May 1995, p. 14).

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3. Purposes of adversity

Watch: Preparation of Joseph Smith – Strengthened by Trials

This two-minute video features quotes from Joseph Smith about trials.

D&C 127:2 Deep Waters are What I am Wont to Swim in

“It is difficult to say for certain how many times Joseph was arrested or had lawsuits leveled against him. Brigham Young reported that Joseph was subjected to forty-six lawsuits. Some of these were simply harassments, the equivalent of claiming that he was a disturber of the peace…

“Joseph ever remembered the word of the Lord in the Liberty jail concerning trials: ‘The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?’ (D&C 122:8.)

“Still, life became a burden when at every turn was one more subpoena, one more arrest, one more skirmish with the law. Even the mobs who formed against Joseph and the Saints often did so claiming that the law was on their side.” (Scot Facer Proctor, Witness of the Light: A Photographic Journey in the Footsteps of the American Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Maurine Jensen Proctor [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 189)

“The personal spiritual qualities seen in both Paul and Joseph Smith are impressively similar. Both men trusted deeply in God… To cite only one of numerous examples, in 1832 [Joseph] wrote to [Emma] of a delay in returning home, mentioning his heartfelt prayers to God for forgiveness and blessings, and speaking of God as his friend and comfort: ‘I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me, only to do his will.’

“Sacrifices for the work characterize the missions of both men. When the Corinthians doubted the Resurrection, Paul simply asked them why he would live a life of discomfort, risking his life every hour for something not true. On one occasion, he listed some of the adversity he had suffered in his ministry:

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (2 Cor. 11:24-28.)

“Joseph Smith also proved his sincerity by sacrifice. Writing to the Church during unfair arrest attempts that kept him in hiding in and out of Nauvoo for months, he also looked back: “The envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life … and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation.” (D&C 127:2.) Indeed, although the Prophet didn’t summarize all his trials, any historian could easily take Paul’s format and adapt it to Joseph Smith’s life, as Joseph himself did in Liberty Jail in alluding to his lifetime burdens. (See D&C 122:5)

“For instance, a number of times professing Christians leveled guns at him with the threat of death. Once he was beaten, tarred and feathered, and left unconscious. Twice he was endangered by stagecoach runaways when on the Lord’s business. He took back roads and waded through swamps to escape his enemies. He endured years of inconvenient travel on land for the kingdom, as well as risking many steamboat journeys on waterways. He faced years of unjust legal harassment, which made his own home unsafe, and he was imprisoned for a long winter in a filthy jail on unverified charges. Through all, he maintained the responsibility of leading the Church, worrying, praying, and planning for the welfare of his family and his fellow Saints.

“Why did Paul and Joseph Smith do these things? Because they positively knew the truth of the gospel, the Resurrection, and the Judgment. Joseph explained that his lifelong persecutions for telling his visions made him feel ‘much like Paul. … [T]here were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise … though they should persecute him unto death … So it was with me.’ (JS-H 1:24-25)”  (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith,” Ensign, Apr. 1985, 16-17)

D&C 101:4 Chastened and Tried

‘All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. If we obtain the glory that Abraham obtained, we must do so by the same means that he did. If we are ever prepared to enjoy the society of Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or of their faithful children, and of the faithful Prophets and Apostles, we must pass through the same experience, and gain the knowledge, intelligence, and endowments that will prepare us to enter into the celestial kingdom of our Father and God. How many of the Latter-day Saints will endure all these things, and be prepared to enjoy the presence of the Father and the Son? You can answer that question at your leisure. Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.345; emphasis added)

4. The Lord’s counsel to those who experience adversity

Watch: If Thou Endure it Well

Elder Hales teaches about enduring trials (D&C 121:7-8). (2:12)

Watch: Come What May and Love it

The way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.

D&C 24:8 Be patient in afflictions

‘Let us not presume that because the way is at times difficult and challenging, our Heavenly Father is not mindful of us. He is rubbing off our rough edges and sensitizing us for our great responsibilities ahead. May His blessings be upon us spiritually, that we may have a sweet companionship with the Holy Ghost, and that our footsteps might be guided along paths of truth and righteousness. And may each of us follow the Lord’s comforting counsel: “Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.”‘ (James E Faust, “The Blessings of Adversity,” Ensign, Feb. 1998, 7)

D&C 98:1 and in everything give thanks

‘In this world upheaval, in this day of wanton destruction, we, as a people must look upward. There must be trust and faith in our hearts. Hope must walk by our side. We must remember charity also. We must treasure the warm words of the Father to His Church, “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you”  D&C 68:6 We who have been called to leadership in the Church of Christ must lead our people from anxiety and fear and doubt, to trust and faith in the Lord, and certainty in the outcome of the Lord’s plan of salvation. We must repeat with gladness the words of the Lord, “Fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks”  D&C 98:1′ (John A Widtsoe)

Image result for 2. The Savior’s perfect understanding of our sufferings and adversity

5. The Lord’s promises to those who are faithful in adversity

D&C 3:8 Extended his arm and supported you

‘The Prophet Joseph Smith learned from firsthand experience that the Lord expects us to avoid misery by living His gospel and wants us to understand that we can repent. When he lost the 116 pages of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon translation by giving in to the persuasions of men, Joseph was miserable. The Lord told him: “You should have been faithful; and [God] would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble”  (D&C 3:8) Such is the case for each of you young men: be faithful, and you will be supported by the hand of God. ‘ (Marcus B Nash, General Conference, October 2006)

D&C 122:7 all these things shall give thee experience

“The Prophet was lying in a dungeon [Liberty, Missouri] for the gospel’s sake. He called upon God, ‘who controlleth and subjecteth the devil,’ and God answered telling him that his sufferings should be but ‘a small moment.’ ‘Thou art not yet as Job,’ said the Lord, ‘thy friends do not contend against thee.’ Job’s friends, it will be remembered, tried to convince him that he must have done something wrong or those trials would not have come upon him. But Job had done no wrong; it was ‘without cause’ that Satan had sought to destroy him. God said to Joseph: ‘If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; perils among robbers; perils by land and sea; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the billowing surge conspire against thee, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.’

“There is the reason. It is for our development, our purification, our growth, our education and advancement, that we buffet the fierce waves of sorrow and misfortune; and we shall be all the stronger and better when we have swum the flood and stand upon the farther shore.” (Orson F Whitney, Improvement Era, Nov. 1918, pp. 5–6.)

D&C 121:8 If thou endure it well

‘Why is adversity often such a good schoolmaster? Is it because it teaches so many things? Through difficult circumstances we are often forced to learn discipline and how to work. In often unpleasant circumstances we may also be subjected to a buffeting, a honing, and a polishing that can come no other way.’ (James E Faust, Ensign, Feb. 1998, 5)

 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Obedience

Gospel Doctrine 2017: Lesson 27: “They Must Needs Be Chastened and Tried, Even as Abraham”

1. The Saints settle in Jackson County, Missouri, and are later driven out.

D&C 57:2-3 This is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion

‘It is of this city, a city that shall be built before the Second Coming, that the Lord said to Enoch: “I shall prepare, and Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.” (Moses 7:62.) It is in this city, the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, that the house of the Lord unto which all nations shall come in the last days shall be built, “which temple,” the Lord said in September 1832, “shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.” (D&C 84:1-5.)

Because the saints were “hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression,” the Lord withdrew the time limitation (D&C 124:49-54), and the command now in force is: “Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time.” (D&C 136:18.) When that is to be remains to be seen, but that it will surely come to pass, as part of the preparation of the Lord’s people for his glorious return, is as certain as that the sun shines or that the Great God is Lord of all. When the appointed time comes, the Lord will reveal it to his servants who preside over his kingdom from Salt Lake City, and then the great work will go forward. They will direct the work; they hold the keys of temple building; the temple will be built by gathered Israel and particularly by Ephraim, for it is unto Ephraim that the other tribes shall come to receive their temple blessings in due course. Some Lamanites may assist and some Gentiles may bring their wealth to adorn the buildings, but the keys are with Ephraim, and it is Ephraim that is now stepping forth and that yet shall step forth to bless the rest of the house of Israel.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 281.)

D&C 63:24 Not in haste

‘President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that land in Zion was to be purchased. “This fact was taught the early members. They were warned against creating antagonism among their neighbors, many of whom were extremely bitter towards the members of the Church. The Lord said the land could not be obtained by the shedding of blood. Those who had the privilege of assembling there should not go up to Zion in haste, but gradually. The reason for this advice is apparent, for haste would lead to confusion, unsatisfactory conditions and pestilence, and then, also, it creates consternation and fear in the hearts of their enemies and arouses greater opposition. Satan desired to destroy them and in his anger endeavored to stir them up to strife and contention as well as the older settlers in Missouri.” (Church History and Modern Revelation,1:232.)’ Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

mob-attacking-settlement-jackson-county_1864250

2. The Lord instructs the Saints who were driven from Jackson County.

Read: Revelations in Context – Waiting for the Word of the Lord

Read: Joseph Smith Papers – Historical Introduction D&C 101

Watch: The Lord Tests His People President Faust teaches that the Lord tests His people (D&C 101:1-19). (1:23)

D&C 101:2 I, the Lord, have suffered affliction to come upon them

‘The Lord has told us in this book that he would scourge this people, and would not suffer them to go on in wickedness as he does the world. He will make a difference in this respect between those who profess his name and the world. The world may prosper. They have not the religion of Heaven among them; they have no revelators and prophets among them; they have not the baptism of the Holy Ghost, nor the gifts and blessings of God among them, and consequently though they transgress the revealed word of God, he suffers them to go on, apparently without checking them, until they are fully ripened in iniquity, then he sends forth judgment and cuts them off, instead of chastening them from time to time. Not so with the Saints. God has decreed, from the early rise of the Church, that we should be afflicted by our enemies, and by various afflictions, and he would contend with this people and chasten them from time to time until Zion should be clean before him. He has done this, and more especially while we were in the States. We were inexperienced, and did not then understand the necessity of strictly obeying every word spoken by the mouth of God, and we had to suffer because of this.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 15:335)

‘This great tribulation would not have come upon Zion had it not been for rebellion: Firstly, there were rebellions against the one to whom were entrusted the keys, & from thence it has spread down to the lowest & least member! not this alone, but those who were void of understanding were continually telling that which was not true, & putting false coloring to the things of  God! I mean those whose mouths are continually open, & whose tongues cannot be stayed from tatling! & the church will never have peace while such remain in her, therefore, brethren purge them out, & have no confidence in any except such as will lay down their lives for this sacred cause for none others are worthy of it. It was necessary that these things should come upon us: not only justice demands it, but there was no other way to cleanse the church. (Oliver Cowdery, Letter to Missouri, 10 August 1833; josephsmithpapers.org)

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D&C 101:4 They must be chastened and tried

“Don’t be afraid of the testing and trials of life. Sometimes when you are going through the most severe tests, you will be nearer to God than you have any idea, for like the experience of the Master himself in the temptation on the mount, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross at Calvary, the scriptures record, ‘And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.’ (Matthew 4:11.) Sometimes that may happen to you in the midst of your trials.” (Harold B lee, In Conference Report, Munich Germany Area Conference 1973, p. 114.)

3. Zion’s Camp is organized and marches to Missouri.

Read: Joseph Smith and Zion’s Camp (Ensign June 2005) The gospel lessons learned during the two months of Zion’s Camp defined and refined the Prophet Joseph Smith and others as leaders of the Church.

Read: Revelations in Context – The Acceptable Offering of Zion’s Camp

Watch: Zion’s Camp Several events from the march of Zion’s Camp show how it fulfilled the purposes of God.

Read: We also marched – the women and children of Zion’s Camp Much like the women of the Mormon Battalion and other military expeditions, the Zion’s Camp women contributed in various ways to the overall character of the group and its success and helped prepare for later mass migrations to the West. The women helped with the traditional domestic duties of cooking and laundering and caring for children. They also provided a civilizing influence on the camp. This article tells the stories of twelve women and several children known to have traveled with the more than 200 men of Zion’s Camp. Also, a woman (Ruth Vose) made the largest financial contribution to the funding of the march.

Zionscamp02

‘According to its ostensible purpose, [Zion’s Camp] was a failure. But most of the men who were to lead the Church for the next half-century, including those who would take the Saints across the plains and colonize the Intermountain West, came to know the Prophet Joseph and received their formative leadership training in the march of Zion’s Camp. As Elder Orson F. Whitney said of Zion’s Camp:

“The redemption of Zion is more than the purchase or recovery of lands, the building of cities, or even the founding of nations. It is the conquest of the heart, the subjugation of the soul, the sanctifying of the flesh, the purifying and ennobling of the passions.” (The Life of Heber C. Kimball, 2d ed., Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, 1945, p. 65.’) [Dallin H Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 61-62]

D&C 103:9 They were set to be a light to the world

‘It is easy to despair when we see about us the moorings of society slipping. We must remember, however, that the Lord sent His Saints into the world “to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men.” (D&C 103:9.) This is a time when “Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.” (D&C 82:14.) The contrast between the Church and the world will be increasingly marked in the future, which contrast, we hope, will cause the Church to be more attractive to those in the world who desire to live according to God’s plan for us, His children.’  (Ezra Taft Benson, “May the Kingdom of God Go Forth,” Ensign, May 1978, 33)

4. The Lord reveals that His people must “wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion.”

Watch: Gather in Stakes The Lord has commanded us to gather in stakes (D&C 101:20-22,63-75). (1:17)

D&C 103:7 They shall never cease to prevail

“There cannot be a doubt in any faithful man’s mind concerning the truth of this promise—the promise of victory and deliverance on the one hand, the promise of punishment, disaster and trouble on the other. The Latter-day Saints have in their experience proved fully the truth of these words. They have seen them fulfilled to the very letter. When they have been faithful in keeping the commandments of God they have prospered and they have had deliverance. When they have been unfaithful they met with trouble and serious difficulty. It is necessary that the wicked should have the opportunity to exercise their agency in relation to the work of God; for they have an agency as well as we. It is their privilege to assist in building up the word of God, or they can exercise their agency in fighting the work of God. They have the privilege to do everything in their power to destroy it, and they will be permitted to do this until the cup of their iniquity is full.” (George Q Cannon, In Conference Report, Oct. 1899, p. 48.)

D&C 105:3-4 They have not learned to be obedient

“In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord reveals that Zion cannot be established ‘unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.’…

“The Lord commanded the Saints in 19th-century New York, for example, to make sure that they took care of the poor and unfortunate among them. He also commanded them in the same revelation to be united, for if they were not one they were not his people. He gave these commandments to them as they were preparing to leave New York to go to Ohio in 1831. This was the first step in gathering to Zion in Jackson County, Missouri. Within eight months of these instructions some of these members were already in Independence. Two years later mobs drove them out. Subsequently the Lord explained in a revelation the reason he had allowed this to happen: they had not done as he had instructed-they were not taking care of the unfortunate, and they were not united.

“Thus it would appear that taking care of the unfortunate and being united according to the model of the celestial kingdom are high on the Lord’s list of expectations for his people. When we covenant with him to sacrifice and to consecrate ourselves and all we have to his service, we need to make these covenants manifest in our lives.

“In the revelation explaining why ‘mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion,’ the Lord said it was so that ‘they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.’ Today, nearly 163 years later, we may well ask ourselves if we as individuals and families are preparing more perfectly for the establishment of Zion.” (Robert J. Woodford, “The Remarkable Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 47-48)

Posted in service, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 14: Losing Ourselves in the Service of Others

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

Watch video: Preparation of Gordon B Hinckley: Forget Yourself and Go to Work A missionary letter from his father motivates Elder Gordon Hinckley to dedicate himself to the Lord’s work. (2:03)

1. Our lives are gifts from God and are to be used in the service of others.

“We know from these inspired words that even the most extreme acts of service fall short of the ultimate ‘profit’ unless they are motivated by the pure love of Christ. If our service is to be most efficacious, it must be unconcerned with self and heedless of personal advantage. It must be accomplished for the love of God and the love of his children.” (Dallin H Oaks, Pure in Heart [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 47.)

From the manual:

If we would claim to worship and follow the Master, must we not strive to emulate his life of service? None of us may rightly say that his life is his own. Our lives are gifts of God. We come into the world not of our own volition. We leave not according to our wish. Our days are numbered not by ourselves, but according to the will of God.

How can we make serving others a way of life?

2. Service is the best medicine for self-pity, selfishness, despair, and loneliness.

Watch or read: What Have I Done For Someone Today? – President Thomas S Monson

From the manual:

I believe that for most of us the best medicine for loneliness is work and service in behalf of others. I do not minimize your problems, but I do not hesitate to say that there are many others whose problems are more serious than yours. Reach out to serve them, to help them, to encourage them. There are so many boys and girls who fail in school for want of a little personal attention and encouragement. There are so many elderly people who live in misery and loneliness and fear for whom a simple conversation would bring a measure of hope and brightness. …

There are so many who have been injured and who need a good Samaritan to bind up their wounds and help them on their way. A small kindness can bring a great blessing to someone in distress and a sweet feeling to the one who befriends him.

There are so many out there whose burdens you can lift. There are the homeless, there are the hungry, there are the destitute all around us. There are the aged who are alone in rest homes. There are handicapped children, and youth on drugs, and the sick and the homebound who cry out for a kind word. If you do not do it, who will?

How has service brought you happiness? 

3. When we reach out to help others, we find our true selves.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi

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Watch video: Whoever Will Lose His Life for My Sake Shall Find It

From the manual:

I testify that as each of you reach out to help others, you will find your true selves and bless greatly the world in which you live.

Why does losing ourselves in the service of others help us “find [our] true selves”?

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4. The Church provides many opportunities for unselfish service.

Watch or read: The Greatest Among You – President Dieter F Uchtdorf

‘In the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one takes the place to which one is duly called, which place one neither seeks nor declines.’ (President J Reuben Clark)

From the manual:

Brothers and sisters, you will never be happy if you go through life thinking only of yourself. Get lost in the best cause in the world—the cause of the Lord. The work of the quorums, and of the auxiliary organizations, temple work, welfare service work, missionary work. You will bless your own life as you bless the lives of others.

What blessings has Church service brought into your life?

Posted in self reliance, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 13: Peace and Contentment through Temporal Self-Reliance

1. As we work with integrity, our lives are blessed forever.

From the manual:

I believe in the gospel of work. There is no substitute under the heavens for productive labor. It is the process by which dreams become realities. It is the process by which idle visions become dynamic achievements.

What have you learned through hard work?

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2. We have a responsibility to help others lift themselves and become self-reliant.

Read: The Perpetual Education Fund – A Prophet’s Rescuing Hand

From the manual:

It is our solemn obligation … to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5). We must help them to become self-reliant and successful.

How can we help others become self-reliant?

3. Prophets have encouraged us to prepare ourselves spiritually and temporally for catastrophes to come.

Watch: Temporal preparation President Hinckley encourages church members to be prepared for future calamities.

Read or watch: Becoming self-reliant

From the manual:

We teach self-reliance as a principle of life, that we ought to provide for ourselves and take care of our own needs. And so we encourage our people to have something, to plan ahead, keep … food on hand, to establish a savings account, if possible, against a rainy day. Catastrophes come to people sometimes when least expected—unemployment, sickness, things of that kind.

What are some small, gradual things we can do to prepare ourselves?

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4. We enjoy independence and freedom as we avoid debt to the extent possible and set aside money for times of need.

Read: Debt – A Self-defence Guide

Read: All is Safely Gathered In

J Reuben Clark gave some great advice about interest in 1938:

‘Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you. ‘ (in Conference Report, Apr., 1938)

Steps to using a budget

1. List all your expenses – go through your bank statement and list everything you spent money on. Look at the cash you withdrew from the cash machine and write down what you spent it on. This exercise will also help you to review your spending habits. Do you really need to buy a newspaper? Do you really need all of those channels on your TV? How much are your phones and electronic devices costing you? Look at your shopping habits – are you buying lots of food that you then throw away because it has gone out of date? You can avoid this by shopping to menus?

2. Prepare a budget – use this information to prepare a budget showing all of your income and expenditure. There is a simple pro-forma in the ‘All Is Safely Gathered In’ pamphlet.

Don’t forget to pay the Lord first – make sure that you include your tithes and other offerings in your budget.

Plan to save – if you save what is left there won’t be anything left! So decide on a fixed sum or percentage to save and build that into your budget. BYU suggests that we should save 10% of our income,

Then adjust your spending to fit your income. Don’t forget to take into account irregular or annual payments such as road fund tax, birthdays, Christmas etc.

3. Implement your budget – discipline yourself to keep to the budget you have set. You will sleep better at night.

4. Compare your budget and your actual expenditure – at the end of the week or the month review how well you did. You may find that there were some items of expenditure that you forgot about – build them into the next budget. If you kept to the budget – pat yourself on the back and then keep keeping to it!

Within a family setting, this will only work if both husband and wife are committed to it – family finances and budgeting should be a joint responsibility. Marvin J Ashton wrote:

New attitudes and relationships towards money should be developed constantly by all couples. After all, the partnership should be full and eternal. Management of family finances should be mutual between husband and wife in an attitude of openness and trust. Control of the money by one spouse as a source of power of authority causes inequality in the marriage and is inappropriate. Conversely, if a marriage partner voluntarily removes himself or herself entirely from family financial management, that is an abdication of necessary responsibility. (Marvin J Ashton, One for the Money)

Build a reserve

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‘Gradually build a financial reserve, and use it for emergencies only. If you save a little money regularly, you will be surprised how much accumulates over time.’ (All is Safely Gathered In)

As mentioned above, save a specific amount. Aim to build up an emergency cushion of 3 months essential obligations (mortgage, fuel, Council tax etc). Save for missions, weddings, education, a deposit on a house, retirement. Shop around for the best rates of return but be careful to avoid get rich quick schemes. If something seems to be too good to be true, it is because it is too good to be true.

Watch: Becoming provident providers Elder Robert D. Hales encourages us to stay out of debt and live frugally as he recounts a story from the early days of his marriage, when his wife exemplified the principles of provident living.

 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 26: “Go Ye into All the World, and Preach My Gospel”

1. The Lord poured out great blessings during the Kirtland period.

While the Prophet Joseph was living in the Kirtland area, he received numerous revelations, 65 of which are included in the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations taught the Lord’s will in connection with welfare, sign seeking, moral conduct, dietary principles, tithing, priesthood authority, the role of a prophet, the three degrees of glory, missionary work, the Second Coming, the law of consecration, and many other subjects.

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2. The Saints in Kirtland made great sacrifices to share the gospel.

Read: Revelations in Context: ‘I Quit Other Business’: Early Missionaries

Read: Revelations in Context: A Mission to the Lamanites

Read: Revelations in Context: Take Special Care of Your Family

Watch: This Grand Opportunity  Elizabeth McCune and the First Sister Missionaries

The Saints in the 1830s had very little money. At tremendous sacrifice they had constructed a temple. The United States at that time was gripped by a spirit of financial speculation, which resulted in a financial crash in 1837. In Kirtland, people turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith and a great sifting took place between the faithful and those whose eyes were set upon the things of the world.

It was in these difficult times, on Sunday, 4 June 1837, that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve, while Brother Kimball in the Kirtland Temple, and whispering to [him], said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: ‘Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’ ”

Imagine, one man who had very little telling another who had practically nothing that he was to go across the sea to open the work there.

One can understand Heber C. Kimball’s response. Feeling his weakness he said, “O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!”

Brother Kimball said at the time: “The idea of such a mission was almost more than I could bear up under. I was almost ready to sink under the burden which was placed upon me.”

“However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed; and although my family was dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, I felt that the cause of truth, the Gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.” (Ibid., p. 104.)

Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, and Joseph Fielding responded with similar faith, and these four were joined in New York by John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder.

Tuesday, June 13, was the scheduled departure date for the four who were to leave Kirtland. One who looked in on the Kimball household that morning described the prayer that was uttered by the father who was leaving and who  laid his hands upon his childrens’ heads to give them a blessing

“While thus engaged his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around, who tried in vain to suppress them. The idea of being separated from their protector and father for so long a time was indeed painful. He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. His emotions were great, and he was obliged to stop at intervals, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks.”

After eighteen days and eighteen hours on the water the ship pulled into the Mersey. They spent a few days in Liverpool seeking direction from the Lord, and then felt the confirming whispering of the Spirit directing them to go to Preston. There they found a city in a state of excitement over elections for members of Parliament. Queen Victoria had ascended the throne three days earlier and had called for a national election.

As they came up the street in Preston, a banner unfurled before them with the words “Truth Will Prevail.”

This they adopted as the motto of their mission. It may seem a strange motto for a political party today but it is a motto that we could do well to adopt

In a dark and troubled hour the Lord said to those He loved: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Heber C Kimball and his colleagues took heart from the simple motto truth will prevail. They then worked as hard as they could with body mind and spirit to share the Gospel. The Lord then blessed them with success in their work.

D&C 42:6 Go forth in the power of my Spirit

‘The power of a missionary is not determined by his or her height, weight, or physical prowess. Nor is it determined by his or her smoothness of tongue or cleverness of mind. It is, however, determined by his or her receptivity to the Spirit and willingness to heed its promptings.

To go forth in the power of the Spirit means that a missionary must be taught and led by the Spirit and must teach by the Spirit. Therefore, the conscientious missionary courts the Holy Spirit every day of his mission. Such courting involves the exercise of faith, prayer, study, work, and righteous living. All of this is done with these promises in mind: (1) “The Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith” (D&C 42:14) and (2) “If ye will . . . receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5). There is also the instruction that “if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14).

Missionaries must bear in mind that the Spirit or Holy Ghost enables a missionary to speak persuasively with “the tongue of angels” (2 Ne. 32:2). It serves as a conduit, if you will, through which the message passes from a missionary’s heart to the heart of the listener. It is the power that converts.’ (Carlos E Asay, The Seven M’s of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 4)

D&C 88:81 Warn the people

‘We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”  Luke 10:30 and so forth.’ (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2017)

3. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve taught thousands in England.

Read: Brigham Young in England

Read: History of the Church in Great Britain

D&C 112:21 Power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation

‘When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. Even in persecution and hardship, they went and opened doors which evidently have been allowed to sag on their hinges and many of them to close. I remember that these fearless men were teaching the gospel in Indian lands before the Church was even fully organized. As nearly as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland 1853, Italy 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. When you look at the progress we have made in some countries, with no progress in many of their nearby countries, it makes us wonder. Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith.

These men of valor began to walk the earth with dignity and honor, with mantles on their shoulders and keys in their hands and love in their hearts.’ (Spencer W Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6)

4. Many Saints in Kirtland remained valiant despite persecution.

‘Saints who looked back on this period learned some compelling lessons of which we today need to be aware. One of the pointed lessons we learn from the Kirtland apostasy is that no one should consider himself secure from the loss of faith. Pride, criticism, speculation, envy, greed—these are enough to cause the most faithful to stumble. Parley P. Pratt, for example, declared that “envyings, lyings, strifes and divisions” caused “trouble and sorrow” in Kirtland. He admitted that he was a victim of these failings. But the Lord knew his faith—his “integrity of purpose”—and helped him in his victory against an opposing spirit.

Orson Hyde recalled that, because he acted foolishly during this period of darkness, he temporarily lost “the light of the Holy Ghost.” Luke S. Johnson admitted that his mind became darkened and he neglected his Church responsibilities after he had “partaken of the spirit of speculation.

And yet, through it all, 87 percent of the Kirtland Saints continued to nurture their faith. They continued to sustain Joseph Smith as a prophet, sacrificing nearly all their material possessions rather than forsake the restored gospel. Despite opposition, they sacrificed their homes, the sacred temple they had built, and even their lives to carry the work of the Lord forward. We would do well to emulate their example.’ (Milton V Backman, A Warning from Kirtland, Ensign, April 1989)