Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, LDS Church History

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 9: “The Only True and Living Church”

1. The Church is organized in the latter days.

D&C 20:1 Being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years

“Does this give the exact year of Christ’s birth? That calculation places too much weight on what may have been an elaborate phrase of dating or an incidental statement. The first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary (Hyrum M. Smith) cautioned against using this to prove that Christ was born at the exact beginning of the Christian Era; so have Bible scholars J. Reuben Clark and Bruce R. McConkie. Part of the problem is that Christ was alive at the death of Herod the Great, an event of 4 B.C. in careful chronologies.” (Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 114 – 115.)

D&C 21:3 6th April 1830

See The Sixth Day of April 1830 by Howard W Hunter

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D&C 20:9 The fulness of the gospel

“Our revelations say that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel. (D. & C. 20:9; 27:5; 42:12; 135:3.) This is true in the sense that the Book of Mormon is a record of God’s dealings with a people who had the fulness of the gospel, and therefore the laws and principles leading to the highest salvation are found recorded in that book.” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine)

What changes have been made in the name of the Church? Its full designation does not appear in the revelations until 1838. (D&C 115:4)

Richard Lloyd Anderson, professor of religion and history, Brigham Young University A concise answer to this question is found by comparing the name of the Church on the title pages of the first three printings of the revelations: ‘The Church of Christ’ (Book of Commandments, 1833), ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints’ (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835), and ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ (Doctrine and Covenants, 1844).

“The Savior told the Nephites that his church should be called in his name. (See 3 Ne. 27:8.) As a result, the restored Church’s official title from 1830 to 1834 was ‘The Church of Christ.’ That title is found in the revelation on the organization and government of the Church (D&C 20:1) and in early minute books. During this period, however, members of the Church regularly called themselves ‘saints’; the word saint is used approximately three dozen times in the D&C before 1834.

“On 3 May 1834, official action modified the name of the Church. In a priesthood conference presided over by Joseph Smith, a motion passed ‘by unanimous voice’ that the Church be known as ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints.’ (See The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 2:160.) This alteration was not seen as a de-emphasis of Christ; on the contrary, it was done in hopes that the name of the Church would more clearly reflect the fact that Christ was at its head.

“In the same issue of the Kirtland newspaper in which the announcement appeared, an editorial explained that the change stemmed from a misleading nickname: the ‘Mormonite’ church. The new name also had these advantages: (1) Since American Christians, including Congregationalists and reformers, frequently designated themselves as ‘The Church of Christ,’ that title did not distinguish the restored gospel from a host of Protestant sects. (2) Since Paul and Peter used the Greek word saint (‘a holy person’) to refer to believers in Christ, the term Latter-day Saints implied that Church members were modern followers of Christ. Thus it also asserted the claim of restoration.

“Just as the term saint flourished when the official name was ‘The Church of Christ,’ the name of Christ regularly supplemented the official name of ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints.’ For example, in 1835, the church was referred to as ‘the church of Christ’ and the Twelve apostles were commissioned as ‘special witnesses of the name of Christ.’ (D&C 107:59, 23) The Saints certainly did not feel that the Church was leaving out the name of Christ.

“Sometimes during this period the first and second titles would be combined-‘the church of Christ of Latter Day saints’-as they were in priesthood minutes (Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1836, 2:266) and in the publication of the first high council minutes (see headnote, D&C 5, 1835 edition).

“A vivid illustration of the way members then understood the official name of the Church is found in a letter from John Smith, the Prophet’s uncle, to his son Elias before the latter was converted. Writing 19 Oct. 1834, Uncle John answers the question of why the name could be changed:

‘The Church of Christ is the Church of Saints and always was. This is the reason why the apostle directed letters sometimes to the Church of God, others to the Church, and again to the Brethren, sometimes to the Saints, always meaning the Church of Christ.’ (Archives, University of Utah)

“Thus, the final version of the Church’s name was no radical shift from the previous practice of using both ‘Christ’ and ‘Saints’ in designating the restored Church and its members. Revealed on 26 April 1838 (D&C 115:4), the full title, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ is striking by comparison to the names of the scores of churches that obscure their Christianity under the label  of their founders or of some characteristic belief or aspect of church organization. It is a highly effective name, for while it is distinctive, it indicates that Jesus is at its head. It is also descriptive of divine restoration. And it is more than a name-it is a public commitment to a holy life through the Savior’s power.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 13-4)

2. The Lord commands Church members to follow the prophet.

D&C 1:38 Or by the voice of my servants

‘I do not believe members of this Church can be in full harmony with the Savior without sustaining His living prophet on the earth, the President of the Church. If we do not sustain the living prophet, whoever he may be, we die spiritually. Ironically, some have died spiritually by exclusively following prophets who have long been dead. Others equivocate in their support of living prophets, trying to lift themselves up by putting down the living prophets, however subtly.

In our lifetime we have been favored with ongoing communication from the heavens, which have been open to the prophets of our time…This process of revelation comes to the Church very frequently. President Wilford Woodruff stated, “This power is in the bosom of Almighty God, and he imparts it to his servants the prophets as they stand in need of it day by day to build up Zion” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 56). This is necessary for the Church to fulfill its mission. Without it, we would fail.’ (James E Faust, “Continuing Revelation,” Ensign, Aug. 1996, 5)

D&C 21:4-5 Give heed unto all his words and commandments

‘Brigham Young was a great defender of the Prophet Joseph Smith. There were Judases in the ranks in that day, just as there were in the Savior’s day, and just as we have today, some who are members of the Church who are undercutting us, who are betraying their trusts. We are shocked when we see the places from which some of these things come.

Brigham Young was invited by some of these men who were trying to depose the Prophet Joseph from his position as President of the Church; but they made a mistake by inviting President Brigham Young into their circle. And after he had listened to what their motives were, he said something to this effect: “I want to say something to you men. You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God, and sink yourselves to hell.”‘ (Harold B Lee, “Admonitions for the Priesthood of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, 107)

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D&C 21:6 The gates of Hell

“The gates of hell are the entrances to the benighted realms of the damned where the wicked go to await the day when they shall come forth in the resurrection of damnation. Those beckoning gates prevail against all who pass through them. But those who obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel have the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:388–89.)

D&C 21:9 Believe on his words

‘We must learn the will of our Father in Heaven by earnest study. Next, we must act upon it. Study alone is not sufficient; we must act upon the words of revelation before we know of a surety of the truthfulness of the doctrines. On the day the Church was organized in 1830, the Lord gave a wonderful promise to those who labor in the vineyard:

“For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his [Joseph Smith’s] words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart.”

If we will follow, with diligence, the counsel and instruction that is the united voice of these Brethren, we will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether they speak of themselves.’ (L. Aldin Porter, “The Revelations of Heaven,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 64-5)

3. The Lord encourages Church members to meet together often to partake of the sacrament.

D&C 20:75 The sacrament

‘Usually once a week, for a little more than an hour, we have the opportunity to attend sacrament meeting and reflect on the life of our Savior; to recall with deep gratitude and reverence His life of purity, kindness, and love; to reflect upon the great atoning sacrifice; and to partake of the broken bread, symbolic of His torn flesh, and drink of the cup, symbolic of His blood that was shed on the cross.

The Savior taught the Nephites that ‘I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

‘And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; … that I might draw all men unto me.’ (3 Ne. 27:13-14.)

As we partake of the sacrament and reflect upon His sacrifice for each of us, we make a solemn commitment to keep the commandments which He has given us, that by so doing we might always have His spirit to be with us. By partaking of the sacrament each Sunday we receive the encouragement and strength to keep the commandments of God, to live uprightly, virtuously, and honestly. Did not Jesus Himself sum them all up as follows: ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’ (Luke 10:27.)

This is what every person who partakes of the sacrament is committed to do. Living God’s commandments obligates a person to a life of goodness-goodness to society and a genuine helpfulness to humanity, and excluding from one’s life hatred, enmity, immorality, selfishness, drunkenness, jealousy, and dishonesty.

May we experience the joy of regular attendance at sacrament meeting and feel the blessings of eternal progression in our personal lives through wholehearted compliance, in spirit and actions, with the sacred words of the sacrament.’ (David B Haight, “The Sacrament,” Ensign, May 1983, 14)

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D&C 20:77,79 The sacrament prayers

‘Because of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restored gospel, another blessing we can count is that we have the opportunity to take the sacrament each week—prepared, blessed, and passed by authorized servants of God. We can be grateful when the Holy Spirit confirms to us that the words of the sacrament prayers, offered by those authorized priesthood holders, are honored by our Heavenly Father.

Of all the blessings we can count, the greatest by far is the feeling of forgiveness that comes as we partake of the sacrament. We will feel greater love and appreciation for the Savior, whose infinite sacrifice made possible our being cleansed from sin. As we partake of the bread and water, we remember that He suffered for us. And when we feel gratitude for what He has done for us, we will feel His love for us and our love for Him.

The blessing of love we receive will make it easier for us to keep the commandment to “always remember him.”  Moroni 4:3 5:2  Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79 You may even feel love and gratitude, as I do, for the Holy Ghost, who Heavenly Father has promised will always be with us as we remain faithful to the covenants we have made. We can count all those blessings every Sunday and feel grateful.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, October 2016)

D&C 27:2 Always remember him

My brothers and sisters, I solemnly witness to you that these doctrines and principles are true. In view of these truths, I plead with all members of the Church, young and old, to attend sacrament meeting each Sabbath day and to partake of the sacrament with the repentant attitude described as “a broken heart and a contrite spirit”  (3 Ne. 9:20) I pray that we will do so with the reverence and worship of our Savior that will signify a serious covenant to “always remember him” ( D&C 20:77) The Savior himself has said that we should partake “with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins”  (D&C 27:2)

4. The Lord explains the duties of Church members.

D&C 28:68-69 A godly walk and conversation

“The call to discipleship is a call to a higher righteousness. The Saints are asked to put off the natural man, put away the toys of a telestial world, and grow up in the Lord. They are summoned to be obedient, to keep the commandments, to manifest ‘by a godly walk and conversation that they are worthy’ of membership in the Church and kingdom of God (D&C 20:69). They covenant to take upon them the sacred name of Jesus Christ, to bear the same with fidelity and devotion, and to behave as becomes Christians. In short, they covenant before God and man to see to it that their actions evidence their Christian commitment. Disciples are expected to have clean hands.” (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 55.)

 

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