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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 46: “Zion—The Pure in Heart”

1. The word Zion has several meanings.

D&C 97:21 The pure in heart

‘God has given us the perfect definition: Zion is the pure in heart-the pure in heart, not merely the pure in appearance. It is not a society or religion of forms and observances, of pious gestures and precious mannerisms: it is strictly a condition of the heart. Above all, Zion is pure, which means “not mixed with any impurities, unalloyed”; it is all Zion and nothing else. It is not achieved wherever a heart is pure or where two or three are pure, because it is all pure-it is a society, a community, and an environment into which no unclean thing can enter. “Henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (3 Nephi 20:36). It is not even pure people in a dirty environment, or pure people with a few impure ones among them; it is the perfectly pure in a perfectly pure environment. “I . . . will contend with Zion . . . and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean before me” (D&C 90:36).

This makes it so different from our world that it almost begins to sound distasteful. But a moment’s reflection will show that Zion cannot possibly be other than wholly pure. For Zion is the eternal order; it has existed elsewhere from the eternities and will someday be permanently established on this earth. Even the smallest impurity or flaw in anything designed to continue forever would, in the course of an infinite stretching of time, become a thing of infinite mischief. The most perfect structures men have been able to erect have been short-lived because of tiny, all-but-imperceptible flaws. Hence, any flaw, no matter how small, must be removed from a system designed to be timeless; otherwise, there will be no end of trouble.’ (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 27)

D&C 82:14 Stakes

‘Zion is to increase in size, beauty, and holiness. Think upon that challenge as if we spoke of a tent. Stakes must be added, but this is not to be a common tent. The curtains must be more beautiful. The activities within this tent are not to be common or profane. A larger, more beautiful, and holier tent sounds like a description of the ancient tabernacle. Reflect upon the words of President Howard W. Hunter, who invited the Church to “look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership.”

Why the call for beauty? Perhaps Zion will need to expand because its beauty will serve as an attraction to those it seeks to gather. Similarly, the call for increased holiness may be to ensure the Lord’s protecting hand upon the Church. Just as each component in a tent interacts with the other components to accomplish its purposes, perhaps the growth, beauty, and holiness of Zion interact to fulfill its destiny.’ (Richard W Hall, Her Stakes Must Be Strengthened)

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D&C 45:66-67 The New Jerusalem

‘The city has yet to be built, and it will not be built and cannot be built except by a people who are living a celestial law. And after it is built, the fear and dread of the Lord will rest upon the wicked as they see how and in what manner the Lord preserves its righteous inhabitants.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 303.)

2. Zion has existed in previous dispensations.

Watch or read: Israel, Israel, God is Calling Jeffrey R Holland CES Broadcast

3. The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish Zion.

Read: Revelations in Context – Newel K Whitney and the United Firm

D&C 6:6 Establish the cause of Zion

“The commandment to reestablish Zion became for the Saints of Joseph Smith’s day the central goal of the Church. But it was a goal the Church did not realize because its people were not fully prepared. In the wisdom of God, who comprehends the end from the beginning, the redemption of Zion will assuredly come as promised, but not until he has a prepared people who can live by Zion’s laws.” (William O. Nelson, “To Prepare a People,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 18)

D&C 57:1-3 Independence

‘Let Israel gather to the stakes of Zion in all nations. Let every land be a Zion to those appointed to dwell there. Let the fullness of the gospel be for all the saints in all nations. Let no blessing be denied them. Let temples arise wherein the fullness of the ordinances of the Lord’s house may be administered….

But still there is a center place, a place where the chief temple shall stand, a place to which the Lord shall come, a place whence the law shall go forth to govern all the earth in that day when [Christ] reigns personally upon the earth. And that center place is what men now call Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, but which in a day to come will be the Zion of our God and the City of Holiness of his people. The site is selected; the place is known; the decree has gone forth; and the promised destiny is assured.’ (Bruce R McConkie, New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 595)

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D&C 105:9 Wait for a little season

‘We must live God’s laws if we desire to reap his promises. The Latter-day Saints of Jackson County were a far better people than those who mobbed them and drove them from their homes; but a lack of preparedness hindered them from playing their full part in the great work that God had designed. The mighty event, however, was only postponed. Zion, in due time, will be redeemed; Israel will be gathered; and the preparation made that is necessary to precede the advent of the King of kings.’ (Orson F Whitney, Conference Report, October 1919, Afternoon Session 73.)

D&C 101:6-8 They polluted their inheritances

‘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)

D&C 38:27 If ye are not one ye are not mine

“If we are not united, we are not his. Here unity is the test of divine ownership as thus expressed. If we would be united in love and fellowship and harmony, this Church would convert the world, who would see in us the shining example of these qualities which evidence that divine ownership. Likewise, if in that Latter-day Saint home the husband and wife are in disharmony, bickering, and divorce is threatened, there is an evidence that one or both are not keeping the commandments of God.

“If we, in our wards and our branches, are divided, and there are factions not in harmony, it is but an evidence that there is something wrong. If two persons are at variance, arguing on different points of doctrine, no reasonable, thinking persons would say that both were speaking their different opinions by the Spirit of the Lord. …

“If it is so important, then, that this people be a united people, we might well expect that upon this principle the powers of Satan would descend for their greatest attack. We might well expect, also, that if there be those of apostate mind among us, they would be inclined to ridicule and to scorn this principle of oneness and unity as being narrow-minded or as being unprogressive. We would likewise expect that those who are enemies would also seek to fight against that principle.” (Harold B Lee, In Conference Report, Apr. 1950, pp. 97–98.)

Image result for The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish Zion.

D&C 64:34 The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind

‘It doesn’t say that the Lord requires competence, or a Ph.D. or immaculate housekeeping, or professional success. But it doesn’t say that he’ll be satisfied with a half-hearted you, either. He wants your whole heart, and for good reason. Real power does not lie in external forces, but in the heart’. (Chieko Okazaki, Lighten Up! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 69.)

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

‘In the early 1830’s, the Lord directed the Saints to implement the “royal law” by living the United Order. In this they failed. Because they did not learn to impart of their substance as becometh Saints to the poor and afflicted among them  D&C 105:3 the Lord permitted them to be driven from Missouri, and the requirement that they live the United Order was withdrawn. But the “royal law” was not withdrawn. It remained in full force. At least partially to fulfil it, the Saints, since then, have been bound by the law of tithing and the “fast.”‘ (Marion G Romney, General Conference, October 1954)

D&C 97:13-14 A place of instruction

“Temple work … gives a wonderful opportunity for keeping alive our spiritual knowledge and strength. … The mighty perspective of eternity is unraveled before us in the holy temples; we see time from its infinite beginning to its endless end; and the drama of eternal life is unfolded before us. Then I see more clearly my place amidst the things of the universe, my place among the purposes of God; I am better able to place myself where I belong, and I am better able to value and to weigh, to separate and to organize the common, ordinary duties of my life, so that the little things shall not oppress me or take away my vision of the greater things that God has given us.” (John A Widtsoe, In Conference Report, Apr. 1922, pp. 97–98.)

D&C 105:10 That my people may be taught more perfectly

‘The modern Church even today is instructed to “wait for a little season” to build up central Zion. Why? So that we “may be prepared … and have experience.” (D&C 105:9-10.) We gain knowledge through particular experiences, but only incrementally, “in that thing.” (Alma 32:34.) Hence the ongoingness of it all, and perhaps we can be forgiven for wondering, “Is there no other way?” Personal, spiritual symmetry emerges only from the shaping of prolonged obedience. Twigs are bent, not snapped, into shape.

Without patient and meek endurance we will learn less, see less, feel less, and hear less. We who are egocentric and impatient shut down so much of our receiving capacity.

In any case, brothers and sisters, how could there be refining fires without enduring some heat? Or greater patience without enduring some instructive waiting? Or more empathy without bearing one another’s burdens-not only that others’ burdens may be lightened, but that we may be enlightened through greater empathy? How can there be later magnification without enduring some present deprivation?

The enlarging of the soul requires not only some remodeling, but some excavating. Hypocrisy, guile, and other imbedded traits do not go gladly or easily, but if we “endure it well” (D&C 121:8), we will not grow testy while being tested.

Moreover, we find that sorrow can actually enlarge the mind and heart in order to “give place,” expanded space for later joy.

Thus, enduring is one of the cardinal attributes; it simply cannot be developed without the laboratory time in this second estate. Even the best lectures about the theory of enduring are not enough. All the other cardinal virtues-love, patience, humility, mercy, purity, submissiveness, justice-they all require endurance for their full development.’ (Neal A Maxwell, “Endure It Well,” Ensign, May 1990, 34)

4. The scriptures include glorious promises about the future of Zion.

D&C 97:18 If Zion do these things she shall prosper

“The Saints did not build the temple in Jackson County. The command to build one ‘speedily’ must have sounded to them like a strange demand in light of their situation. Their leaders had been tarred and feathered. Their press had been destroyed and their homes ransacked and burned. Yet the Lord was counseling them to walk into the center of Independence and start laying the foundation of a temple.

“I have often wondered what would have happened if all the Saints in Missouri had dropped whatever they were doing, picked up their tools, and marched, en masse, to Independence and started digging foundations. It would have taken tremendous courage, but the history of the Church might have been much different. Let us never underestimate the protective power of the temple. ‘Every time a temple is dedicated to the Lord,’ Spencer W. Kimball said, ‘the darkness pushes farther back, . . . and light comes into the world.’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 534.)” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 65 – 66)

D&C 97:25 Zion shall escape

‘My brethren and sisters, why should we hope to escape, who have been baptized into this Church, yet ignore the commandments of the Lord? For there are among us those who do not keep the Word of Wisdom, some of us do not pay our tithing; we do not sanctify ourselves by adding unto our faith, virtue: to virtue, knowledge, to knowledge, temperance, and patience, and godliness, and brotherly kindness. Why should we claim exemption-we who know the truth, we who have been warned, we who will testify that we believe God has spoken-why should we escape if we do not keep the commandments of the Lord? And I say this with a feeling in my heart of deep appreciation that the Latter-day Saints are, notwithstanding all this, the best people in the world…  The Lord is speaking… to the whole Church, crying repentance unto us, calling us to set our houses in order, to keep the commandments of the Lord.’ (Melvin J Ballard, Conference Report, June 1919, Second Day-Morning Session 89.)

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Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Family, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Priesthood, Temples, virtue

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 45: “The Family Is Ordained of God”

1. The family is central to God’s plan.

A mother and father sit down with their six children.

Watch: The Plan and the Proclamation (Dallin H Oaks, general Conference, October 2017)

Watch: The Family is Ordained of God Women from around the world testify of the blessings of the family in God’s plan. (5:30)

Watch: The Family is Central to the Creator’s Plan Various people express their thoughts on the importance of the family. (3:21)

Watch: The Home is a Divine Institution

D&C 131:2 A man must enter into this order of the priesthood

‘No man receives the fulness of the priesthood without a woman at his side. For no man, the Prophet said, can obtain the fulness of the priesthood outside the temple of the Lord.  And she is there beside him in that sacred place. She shares in all that he receives. The man and the woman individually receive the ordinances encompassed in the endowment. But the man cannot ascend to the highest ordinances-the sealing ordinances-without her at his side. No man achieves the supernal exalting status of worthy fatherhood except as a gift from his wife. ‘(Boyd K Packer, “The Relief Society,” Ensign, May 1998, 73)

2. Sacred ordinances make it possible for families to be together eternally.

In the temple we receive the ordinances that will enable us to return to the presence of God. We also make covenants to live the laws of the gospel.

An ordinance is a sacred ceremony that has a spiritual meaning and effect.Ordinances in the Church include naming and blessing of babies, baptism, confirmation, the sacrament, ordination to the priesthood, and temple ordinances.)

Ordinances performed by the power of the priesthood are essential to our exaltation. It is through these ordinances that we receive the power of God in our lives.

Image result for 2. Sacred ordinances make it possible for families to be together eternally.

“How important are the ordinances to us as members of the Church?

“Can you be happy, can you be redeemed, can you be exalted without them? Answer: They are more than advisable or desirable, or even than necessary. More even than essential or vital. They are crucial to each of us.” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple page 29)

‘The Lord always has commanded His people to build temples, holy places in which worthy Saints perform sacred gospel ceremonies and ordinances for themselves and for the dead. Temples are the most holy of all places of worship. A temple literally is the house of the Lord, a sacred space specifically set apart for worshipping God and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises.

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The Lord has directed in this dispensation, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” The principal focus of temple worship is participating in ordinances and learning about, receiving, and remembering covenants. We think, act, and dress differently in the temple than in other spaces that we may frequent.

A principal purpose of the temple is to elevate our vision from the things of the world to the blessings of eternity. Removed for a short time from the worldly settings with which we are familiar, we can “look to God and live” by receiving and remembering the great and precious promises whereby we become partakers of the divine nature.

Please note that the Sabbath day and the temple, respectively, are a sacred time and a sacred space specifically set apart for worshipping God and for receiving and remembering His exceeding great and precious promises to His children. As instituted by God, the principal purposes of these two divine sources of help are exactly the same: to powerfully and repeatedly focus our attention upon our Heavenly Father, His Only Begotten Son, the Holy Ghost, and the promises associated with the ordinances and covenants of the Savior’s restored gospel.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, October 2017)

3. The power to create mortal life is sacred.

‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, April 2013)

4. Parents have a sacred duty to care for each other and teach their children.

‘We plead with fathers and mothers to teach personal purity by precept and example and to counsel with their children in all such things. We ask parents to set an example of righteousness in their own lives and to gather their children around them and teach them the gospel, in their family home evenings and at other times.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, April 1970)

D&C 68:25-28 Teaching children

‘We are to teach our children the principles and doctrines of the gospel. We need to help them have faith in Jesus Christ and prepare them for baptism when they are eight years old. [See  Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–28 We must be faithful ourselves so that they can see our example of love for the Lord and His Church. This helps our children feel joy in keeping the commandments, happiness in families, and gratitude in service to others.’ (David F Evans, General Conference, April 2012)

D&C 93:40 Bring up your children in light and truth

“The spirit of the times is worldliness. Hoodlumism is common. Supposedly good youth from recognized good families express their revolt in destructive acts. Many defy and resist the law-enforcing officers. Respect for authority, secular, religious, and political, seems to be at a low ebb. Immorality, drug addiction, and general moral and spiritual deterioration seem to be increasing, and the world is in turmoil. But in our time the Lord has offered his ageless program in new dress and it gives promise to return the world to sane living, to true family life, family interdependence. It is to return the father to his rightful place at the head of the family, to bring mother home from social life and employment, the children away from unlimited fun and frolic. The home teaching program with its crowning activity, the family home evening, will neutralize the ill effects only if people will apply the remedy.” (Spencer W Kimball, “Home: The Place to Save Society,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, pp. 3–4.)

5. Successful marriages and families are based on righteous principles.

D&C 121:43-44 Righteous principles

‘This, my brethren and sisters who stand at the head of families, is the key to government in the home directed by the Holy Spirit. I commend those words to every parent and do not hesitate to promise that if you will govern your families in the spirit of those words, which have come from the Lord, you will have cause to rejoice, as will those for whom you are responsible.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Feed the Spirit, Nourish the Soul,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 5)

Watch: Earning the Trust of the Lord and Your Family (Richard G Maynes, General Conference, October 2017)

See: P.A.T.R.I.A.R.C.H.

6. Strengthening families is everyone’s responsibility.

Watch: The Needs Before Us (Bonnie L Oscarson, General Conference October 2017)

‘As a journalist for the Saturday Evening Post in the 1930s Dorothy Thompson witnessed Hitler’s rise to power. Speaking in 1941 she said:

“Before this epoch is over, every living human being will have chosen. Every living human being will have lined up with Hitler or against him. Every living human being will either have opposed this onslaught or supported it. For if he tries to make no choice, that in itself will be a choice. If he takes no side, he is on Hitler’s side. If he does not act, that is an act – for Hitler”

I don’t want to talk about Hitler’s onslaught but I want to talk about Satan’s onslaught on the family. Sheri Dew recast Dorothy Thompson’s words but relating them to the family:

“Before this era is over, every living human being will have chosen. Every living human being will have lined up in support of the family as we know it and as God intended it, or against it. Every living human being will either have opposed the onslaught against the family or supported it. For if we make no choice, that in itself will be a choice. If we do not act in behalf of the family, that in itself will be an act in opposition to the family.”’ (Sheri Dew, No One Can Take Your Place  p 157)

“The family is falling apart all over the world. The old ties that bound together father and mother are breaking everywhere. Can we not do better? Of course we can. It is selfishness that brings about most of these tragedies. As I look to the future, I see little to feel enthusiastic about concerning the family in America and across the world. The situation will get worse unless there is an underlying acknowledgement, yes, a strong and fervent conviction, concerning the fact that the family is an instrument of the Almighty. It is His creation. It is also the basic unit of society”(Gordon B Hinckley,  Look to the Future p 69.)

 

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 44: Being Good Citizens

1. Participating in government

D&C 134:1 he holds men accountable

‘No member of the Church can be true to his country, true to his Church, true to his God, who will violate the laws which relate to the moral welfare and spiritual advancement of mankind. Members of the Church should uphold the law everywhere. And it is time all of us-the leaders of this country, the politicians, the statesmen, the leaders in civic affairs in the state and in the cities, as well as parents and private citizens-should so speak of and so uphold the constitutional law of the land that everywhere there will be a renewal of respect for it and a revival of the virtues of honor, honesty, and integrity.’ (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 100)

D&C 134:7 Religious freedom

‘There is one thing I wish to say to the congregation, and I would say the same to the whole world if I had the power—it is this: I have heard the Prophet Joseph Smith say on several occasions when speaking on the agency of man, and the liberty and rights of men, that if he were emperor of the earth, having control of the whole human family, he would give every man, woman and child the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, leaving them to be responsible alone to their Creator for their individual acts. These are my sentiments, and they are the sentiments of this people today, and have been from the beginning of the organization of this Church, and I trust will be to the end of time. And this we believe to be a principle emanating from heaven; and while we accord this right to our fellow men, and while we declare it to be a heaven-born right guaranteed unto all American citizens through the Constitution of our country, we claim the exercise of the same right ourselves; and we claim this right and privilege under the Constitution under which we live, and we claim it by the laws of God to man. And whenever any people rise up and attempt to make war upon the rights of men because of their religion, they go beyond their right, they transcend their own powers, whether their power be derived either from God or man.’ (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 23:76-77)

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D&C 98:10 honest and wise men

‘The Church maintains a policy of strict political neutrality, favoring no party or candidate, but every member should take an active part in the political process. We should study the issues and the candidates to be sure our votes are based on knowledge rather than hearsay. We need to pray for our public officials and ask the Lord to help them in making momentous decisions that affect us. Our beliefs regarding earthly governments and laws are summarized in section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants and the twelfth article of faith. We should support public policy that coincides with these moral beliefs.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Seeking the Good,” Ensign, May 1992, 87-88)

Obeying the laws of the land

D&C 134:6 Laws

“Abraham Lincoln once observed: ‘Bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible; still, while they continue in force, they should be religiously observed.’

“This is the attitude of the Church in regard to law observance. …

“There is no reason or justification for men to disregard or break the law or try to take it into their own hands.

“It is the duty of citizens of any country to remember that they have individual responsibilities, and that they must operate within the law of the country in which they have chosen to live.” (N Eldon Tanner, In Conference Report, Oct. 1975)

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D&C 58:22 let no man break the laws of the land

‘”The law of Christ” is all-inclusive. It concerns not only rules that shall govern beyond the grave, but also the law of nature here and now-local, national, and international.

Latter-day Saints should strictly obey the laws of the government in which they live. By our own declaration of faith we are committed to do so, for we declare to the world that “we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (A of F 1:12.)

This we do in harmony with the Lord’s command:

Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.

Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet. (D&C 58:21-22.)

“Civil authority is of divine origin. It may be more or less adapted to the needs of man; more or less just and benevolent, but, even at its worst, it is better than anarchy. Revolutionary movements that aim at the abolition of government itself are contrary to the law of God. …” (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 339.)

When the “rule of law” breaks down in a family, a community, a state, or a nation, chaos reigns.

The kingdoms of heaven are to be free from chaos, because no one will be in any one of them who does not by his own free will obey the laws thereof.

A Latter-day Saint should strictly obey every law of God, including the constitutional laws of the land in which he lives, and do it with a good and honest heart.’ (Marion G Romney, “The Rule of Law,” Ensign, Feb. 1973, 3)

D&C 98:4-6 The laws of the land

“All the laws of God and the laws of nature and the laws of the land are made for the benefit of man, for his comfort, enjoyment, safety, and well-being; and it is up to the individual to learn these laws and to determine whether or not he will enjoy these benefits by obeying the law and by keeping the commandments. My whole purpose … is to show that laws exist for our benefit and that to be happy and successful we must obey the laws and regulations pertaining to our activities; and these laws will function either to our joy and well-being or to our detriment and sorrow, according to our actions” (N Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, p. 62; or Improvement Era, June 1970, p. 31).

3. Strengthening the community

D&C 58:27 anxiously engaged

‘The Church is a relatively small minority even when linked with people who are like-minded. It will be hard to change society at large, but we must work to improve the moral culture that surrounds us. Latter-day Saints in every country should be good citizens, participate in civic affairs, educate themselves on the issues, and vote.’ (Quentin L Cook, General Conference, October 2013)

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‘We are a global church, brothers and sisters. Our membership is found throughout the world. May we be good citizens of the nations in which we live and good neighbors in our communities, reaching out to those of other faiths, as well as to our own. May we be men and women of honesty and integrity in everything we do.

There are those throughout the world who are hungry; there are those who are destitute. Working together, we can alleviate suffering and provide for those in need. In addition to the service you give as you care for one another, your contributions to the funds of the Church enable us to respond almost immediately when disasters occur anywhere in the world. We are nearly always among the first on the scene to provide whatever assistance we can. We thank you for your generosity.’ (Thomas S Monson, General Conference, October 2008)

Read: Gospel topic – Citizenship

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, virtue

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 43: “Take upon You My Whole Armor”

1. Put on the whole armour of God.

Read: Gospel Topics – Satan

D&C 76:26 Perdition

Perdition means lost. It means losing something that you had. It means one fallen from high estate. You can’t be Perdition; you can’t be lost unless you were found. And you can’t be fallen unless you were high, fallen from high estate. (Hugh Nibley, Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price.)

D&C 766:29 He maketh war with the saints of God

“The Lord our God has sent us here to get experience in these things so that we may know the good from the evil and be able to close our hearts against the evil. … It is true that some have greater power of resistance than others, but everyone has the power to close his heart against doubt, against darkness, against unbelief, against depression, against anger, against hatred, against jealousy, against malice, against envy. God has given this power unto all of us, and we can gain still greater power by calling upon Him for that which we lack. If it were not so, how could we be condemned for giving way to wrong influences?

“There could be no condemnation for our doing what we could not help; but we can help yielding to wrong influences and being quarrelsome and selfish. We can help giving way to the spirit of theft, and we can resist the spirit of lust. God has given us power to resist these things, that our hearts may be kept free from them and also from doubt; and when Satan comes and assails us, it is our privilege to say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan, for I have no lot nor portion in you, and you have no part in me. I am in the service of God, and I am going to serve Him, and you can do what you please. It is no use you presenting yourself with your blandishments to me. You come and try to insinuate into my heart evil thoughts about the servants of God or about the work of God, and I will not listen to you; I will close my heart against you. …’

“Whenever darkness fills our minds, we may know that we are not possessed of the Spirit of God, and we must get rid of it. When we are filled with the Spirit of God, we are filled with joy, with peace and with happiness no matter what our circumstances may be; for it is a spirit of cheerfulness and of happiness.” (George Q Cannon, Gospel Truth, 1:19–20.)

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D&C 27:15-18 My whole armor

‘Truth is to be the substance of which the girdle about your loins is to be formed, if your virtue and vital strength are to be safeguarded. You should all strive to keep yourselves worthy to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in the temple for time and all eternity.

Now what about the breastplate which will safeguard your heart, or your conduct in life? It shall be made of stuff called righteousness. The righteous man strives for self-improvement, knowing that he has daily need of repentance for his misdeeds or his neglect.

His body is not dissipated by the burdens imposed by the demands of riotous living; his judgment is not rendered faulty by the follies of youth; he is clear of vision, keen of intellect, and strong of body.

Your feet, which represent your goals or objectives in life, are to be shod with “the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Preparedness is the way to victory, and “eternal vigilance is the price of safety.” Whether in speech or in song, in physical or moral combat, the tide of victory rests with him who is prepared.

Now to the last piece of the prophet-teacher’s armored dress. We will put “the helmet of salvation” upon our head. Our head or intellect is the controlling member of the body. It must be well protected against the enemy, for “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Salvation means the attainment of the eternal light to live in the presence of God the Father and the Son as a reward for a good life in mortality. With the goal of salvation ever in our mind’s eye, as the ultimate to be achieved, our thinking and our decisions, which determine action, will always challenge all that would jeopardize that glorious future state.’ (Harold B Lee, A Message from the First Presidency, Ensign Jan 1971)

2. Live the law of chastity.

Image result for Live the law of chastity.

Watch: We Believe in Being Chaste – Elder Bednar

D&C 42:23 He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her

‘I plead with you boys tonight to keep yourselves free from the stains of the world… You must not fool around with the Internet to find pornographic material. You must not dial a long-distance telephone number to listen to filth. You must not rent videos with pornography of any kind. This salacious stuff simply is not for you. Stay away from pornography as you would avoid a serious disease. It is as destructive. It can become habitual, and those who indulge in it get so they cannot leave it alone. It is addictive.

It is a five-billion-dollar business for those who produce it. They make it as titillating and attractive as they know how. It seduces and destroys its victims. It is everywhere. It is all about us. I plead with you young men not to get involved in its use. You simply cannot afford to.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Living Worthy of the Girl You Will Someday Marry,” Ensign, May 1998, 49)

D&C 121:45-46 Virtue

‘ Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants.

The world places so much emphasis on physical attractiveness and would have you believe that you are to look like the elusive model on the cover of a magazine. The Lord would tell you that you are each uniquely beautiful. When you are virtuous, chaste, and morally clean, your inner beauty glows in your eyes and in your face. My grandfather used to say, “If you live close to God and His infinite grace—you won’t have to tell, it will show in your face.” When you are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, you are confident and your inner beauty shines brightly. And so “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.”’ (Elaine Dalton, General Conference, April 2010)

Marion G Romney said ‘I can think of no blessings to be more fervently desired than those promised to the pure and virtuous. Jesus spoke of specific rewards for different virtues but reserved the greatest gift, so it seems to me, for the pure in heart, for they, said he, shall see their God. (Matt 5:48) And not  only shall they see the Lord but they shall feel at home in his presence.’

3. Be honest.

Watch: Honesty -You Better Believe It

D&C 42:21 Thou Shalt Not Lie

“The seriousness of lying is not measured only in injury or pain inflicted on the one deceived. Lying has a devastating effect also on the perpetrator. It robs the liar of self-respect, and deadens his ability to recognize the difference between truth and error. When a lie is told often enough, even the one who knowingly spread it may begin to believe it. This was the case with the antichrist Korihor in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 30:52-53).” (Robert J. Matthews, “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 56)

D&C 97:8 Hearts are Honest

‘Those who are honest are fair and truthful in their speech, straightforward in their dealings, free of deceit, and above stealing, misrepresentation, or any other fraudulent action. Honesty is of God and dishonesty of the devil; the devil was a liar from the beginning. Righteousness is living a life that is in harmony with the laws, principles, and ordinances of the gospel.’  (Joseph B Wirthlin,”Without Guile,” Ensign, May 1988, 80-81)

4. Use language that reverences God and is edifying.

‘How you communicate should reflect who you are as a son or daughter of God. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind. Good language that uplifts, encourages, and compliments others invites the Spirit to be with you. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith, hope, and charity.

Choose friends who use good language. Help others improve their language by your example. Be willing to politely walk away or change the subject when those around you use inappropriate language.

Speak kindly and positively about others. Choose not to insult others or put them down, even in joking. Avoid gossip of any kind, and avoid speaking in anger. When you are tempted to say harsh or hurtful things, leave them unsaid.’ (For the Strength of Youth)

D&C 63:61-62 The name of the Lord

‘This scripture shows that we take the name of the Lord in vain when we use his name without authority. This obviously occurs when the sacred names of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, are used in what is called profanity: in hateful cursings, in angry denunciations, or as marks of punctuation in common discourse.

The names of the Father and the Son are used with authority when we reverently teach and testify of them, when we pray, and when we perform the sacred ordinances of the priesthood.

There are no more sacred or significant words in all of our language than the names of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 1986)

D&C 136:21 Take the name of the Lord in vain

‘In the revelation given to President Brigham Young on January 14, 1847, while the Saints were preparing to leave Winter Quarters for these valleys in the West, the Lord said to them, “Keep yourselves from evil to take the name of the Lord in vain, for I am the Lord your God, even the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob” (D&C 136:21).

In a general epistle to the entire Church issued by the First Presidency on April 8, 1887, a hundred years ago, they said concerning this problem, which evidently was serious then as it is now, “The habit … , which some young people fall into, of using vulgarity and profanity … is not only offensive to well-bred persons, but it is a gross sin in the sight of God, and should not exist among the children of the Latter-day Saints” (in Messages of the First Presidency, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75, 3:112-13).

I once worked with a group of railroad men who seemed to pride themselves on the use of profanity. They tried to make an art of it. I recall handing a written instruction to a switchman. It was his job to take care of the matter as instructed, but he thought it inconvenient that he should have to do so at that time. On reading the order, he flew into a tantrum. He was a fifty-year-old man, but he acted like a spoiled child. He threw his cap on the ground and jumped on it and let forth such a string of expletives as to seem to cause the air to turn blue around him. Every third or fourth word was the name of Deity spoken in vain.

I thought, how childish can a grown man be? The very idea of a man acting and speaking like that was totally repugnant. I could never again give him my full respect.

When I was a small boy in the first grade, I experienced what I thought was a rather tough day at school. I came home, walked in the house, threw my book on the kitchen table, and let forth an expletive that included the name of the Lord.

My mother was shocked. She told me quietly, but firmly, how wrong I was. She told me that I could not have words of that kind coming out of my mouth. She led me by the hand into the bathroom, where she took from the shelf a clean washcloth, put it under the faucet, and then generously coated it with soap. She said, “We’ll have to wash out your mouth.” She told me to open it, and I did so reluctantly. Then she rubbed the soapy washcloth around my tongue and teeth. I sputtered and fumed and felt like swearing again, but I didn’t. I rinsed and rinsed my mouth, but it was a long while before the soapy taste was gone. In fact, whenever I think of that experience, I can still taste the soap. The lesson was worthwhile. I think I can say that I have tried to avoid using the name of the Lord in vain since that day. I am grateful for that lesson.

On one occasion, Jesus said to the multitude, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matt. 15:11).’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Take Not the Name of God in Vain,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 45-46)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2017, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 41: “Every Member a Missionary”

1. The Church is coming forth out of obscurity.

D&C 1:30 Out of Obscurity

‘Even the world can see the emergence of a power beyond what might have been reasonably predicted. Yet few seem to recognize that the power stems not from organization or programs or wealth. Rather, it comes from individual hearts changed by faith to keep the commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Henry B Eyring, “Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 9)’

D&C 65:1-6 The Kingdom of God

“The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, nor left to other people; and the very time that was calculated on, this people were struggling to bring it out. …

“I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. … It will not be by sword or gun that this kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:364–65.)

D&C 109:72-74 Fill the Whole Earth

President Hinckley said: ‘It is a time to move forward without hesitation. … The little stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands as seen in Daniel’s vision is rolling forth to fill the whole earth.’

2. Latter-day prophets have challenged us to take the gospel to all the world.

“After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 330).

‘President Gordon B. Hinckley has given the clarion call for our time. In a worldwide satellite address to missionaries and local leaders, he asked for “an infusion of enthusiasm” for missionary work “at every level in the Church” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 107). Though missionaries must continue their best efforts to find persons to teach, he declared that the “better way … is through the members of the Church” (105). He asked each of us to give our very best efforts to assisting missionaries in finding persons to teach. He also asked that each stake president and each bishop “accept full responsibility and accountability for the finding and friendshipping of investigators” within their units (107). President Hinckley also invoked the blessings of the Lord upon each of us “in meeting the tremendous challenge that is ours” (104).’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, October 2001)

Watch: Ministry of Brigham Young – A Faithful Missionary Brigham Young dedicates years of his life to selfless missionary labours. (2:03)

Watch: Ministry of John Taylor – Bold and Faithful Missionary John Taylor is a successful, devoted missionary in the U.S., Canada, England, and France. (2:13)

Watch: Ministry of Lorenzo Snow – A Faithful Missionary in Europe While serving as a missionary on the borders of France and Italy, Elder Snow pronounces a blessing on a young boy. By the power of God, the boy is healed. (1:55)

Watch: Teachings of George Albert Smith – A Personal Creed: Be a Missionary George Albert Smith pens a personal creed to guide the actions of his life. One element of this creed reminds him to be a missionary of the Lord’s gospel. (1:42)

3. “Every member a missionary.”

A painted portrait by Alvin Gittins of President David O. McKay in a black suit, sitting in a chair with his fingers clasped together.

Watch: Teachings of David O McKay – Every Member a Missionary President McKay reminds every member of his or her responsibility to live and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1:43)

 

A painted portrait of President Spencer W. Kimball in a black suit, white shirt, and red tie, holding an open book.

Watch: Ministry of Spencer W Kimball – Expanded Missionary Force President Kimball invites all to “lengthen their stride” when it comes to missionary work. (1:19)

President Gordon B Hinckley said that ‘The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found.’ (Preach My Gospel, pages 160-161).

‘If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart—painted, as Paul said, “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3). And returned missionaries, find your old missionary tag. Don’t wear it, but put it where you can see it. The Lord needs you now more than ever to be an instrument in His hands. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle.’ (Neil L Andersen, General Conference, April 2013)

D&C 1:4-5 The Voice of Warning Shall be unto All People

‘The call of Elder Heber C. Kimball and his associates to cross the sea to Britain was a declaration by the Prophet Joseph of the great destiny of this restored work. As I have read of the condition of the Saints in Ohio and Missouri at that time, and of the smallness of their number, I have marveled at the breadth of their vision. From that time forth there has never been a dimming of that vision. Through the years that followed, regardless of drivings, persecution, poverty, oppression, and every other force the adversary could exercise against them, the work has grown and expanded until today we have 203 missions and are teaching the gospel in 75 sovereign nations and 18 territories, colonies, and possessions.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Taking the Gospel to Britain: A Declaration of Vision, Faith, Courage, and Truth,” Ensign, July 1987, 4-5)

Watch: Those Warned Must Warn Others President Eyring explains those warned must warn others (D&C 88:81-82). (1:14)

D&C 88:81 It Becometh Every Man Who Has Been Warned to Warn His Neighbour

‘While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well. In fact, “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”  Doctrine and Covenants 88:81 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)

4. Nurturing new converts is our continuing responsibility.

‘So, my brothers, it is your duty to reach out to anyone who appears at the doors of your Church buildings. Welcome them with gratitude and without prejudice. If people you do not know walk into one of your meetings, greet them warmly and invite them to sit with you. Please make the first move to help them feel welcome and loved, rather than waiting for them to come to you.

After your initial welcome, consider ways you can continue to minister to them. I once heard of a ward where, after the baptism of two deaf sisters, two marvelous Relief Society sisters decided to learn sign language so they could better communicate with these new converts. What a wonderful example of love for fellow brothers and sisters in the gospel!’ (Gerard Caussee, General Conference, October 2013)

Watch: No Man is an Island Richard H Winkel, General Conference, October 1999

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 40: Finding Joy in Temple and Family History Work

1. The Spirit of Elijah is prompting people to turn their hearts to their ancestors.

A painting by Dan Lewis showing Elijah in a white robe, standing by a window inside the Kirtland Temple and talking to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

The desire to discover one’s ancestors and complete temple ordinances for them is sometimes referred to as the Spirit of Elijah. In 1844 Joseph Smith asked, “What is this office and work of Elijah?” He then promptly answered his own question:

It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed. This is the Spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven. This is the power of Elijah.”

It is the Spirit of Elijah that motivates Church members, to perform proxy baptisms, temple endowments, and sealing ordinances on behalf of their ancestors .

But also the spirit of Elijah is the spirit of family kinship and unity. It is the spirit that motivates people – Saints and non- Saints throughout the world  to search out ancestral family members through family history.

At the conclusion of his mortal life, Elijah was translated; that is, he experienced some type of change from mortality without experiencing mortal death. A major reason for Elijah´s translation was to enable him to return to the earth to confer keys of authority on the three chief apostles before Jesus´ crucifixion and resurrection Since spirits cannot lay hands on mortal beings (D&C 129), and since Moses and Elijah could not return as resurrected beings because Jesus was the first to be resurrected  the need for the translation of Elijah and Moses is evident. On the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–9), Elijah specifically restored the priesthood keys of sealing, the power that binds and validates in the heavens all ordinances performed on the earth.

On April 3, 1836, in a vision to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the newly completed Kirtland Temple, Elijah appeared and announced that the time had come when Malachi´s prophecy was to be fulfilled. He committed the sealing keys of the priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (D&C 110:13–16). This restoration was necessary so that the sealing ordinances and covenants of God could be administered in righteousness upon the earth (DS 2:117). Joseph Smith explained:

The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God…. What you seal on earth, by the keys of Elijah, is sealed in heaven; and this is the power of Elijah [TPJS, pp. 337–38].

Watch: The Promised Blessings of Family History

Modern apostles, including David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, Neil L. Andersen and Dale G. Renlund have promised many powerful blessings to those who participate in Family History and Temple Service. (3:11)

D&C 110:15 The mission of Elijah

“This sealing power bestowed upon Elijah, is the power which binds husbands and wives, and children to parents for time and eternity. It is the binding power existing in every Gospel ordinance. … It was the mission of Elijah to come, and restore it so that the curse of confusion and disorder would not exist in the kingdom of God.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Elijah the Prophet and His Mission, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957, p. 5.)

2. Each member of the Church can participate in temple and family history work.

“Saints in every temple district must be taught to provide their own names. Japanese people should provide the names for their own Tokyo temple. South American people should provide the names for their own Sao Paulo temple. Likewise in Mexico and Seattle and in every other established area. If they do so, then they will save their own dead. If they do not, and depend on Salt Lake City to send names…, they do not save their own dead, but instead they work on other people’s ancestry.” —Spencer W. Kimball, regional representatives seminar, Sept. 30, 1976

Watch: Now I’m Converted This video shows how the youth in one stake were blessed as they responded to Elder Bednar’s invitation to participate in family history. (4:21)

Watch: Teachings of Wilford Woodruff – Gather Family Records President Woodruff teaches the importance of finding the records of our ancestors and completing temple work for them. (1:46)

Watch: Find, Take, Teach Elder Quentin L. Cook outlined a new focus on finding a name, taking it to the temple, and teaching others to do the same. (1:17)

Watch: Sealed Together – The Manaus Temple Caravan

In the 1990s, Church members in Manaus, Brazil, were 4,000 kilometers from the nearest temple, which was in São Paulo. The rain forest, half the length of the Amazon, and most of the Brazilian coast lay in between, and yet their leaders dreamed of helping as many Saints as possible reach the temple. In 1992, they planned a six-day caravan by boat and bus that would make the dream of reaching the temple a reality for many.

In the temple, the Saints were sealed to their families and ancestors. Through the journey, they also developed spiritual strength and unity that laid a foundation for the future growth of the Church in Manaus.

3. The Church provides many resources to help us participate in temple and family history work.

Image result for Gospel Doctrine 2017 - Lesson 40: Finding Joy in Temple and Family History Work

Watch: It’s About the Dash

Elder Bradley D. Foster demonstrates how easy family history can be, and discusses new changes to Familysearch.org (2:56)

Watch: He Was a Blacksmith This video shows how family history consultants find creative ways to involve an entire family in family history and temple work. (2:11)

Image result for The Church provides many resources to help us participate in temple and family history work.

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 39: “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn to Their Fathers”

1. Elijah: “The keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands.”

A painting by Dan Lewis showing Elijah in a white robe, standing by a window inside the Kirtland Temple and talking to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Watch: By the Hand of Elijah the Prophet

Elder Quentin L. Cook testifies of the mission of the prophet Elijah. The salvation of the whole human family is interdependent and interconnected—like the roots and branches of a great tree. (3:32)

‘The doctrine or sealing power of Elijah is as follows:-If you have power to seal on earth and in heaven, then we should be wise. The first thing you do, go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself, and yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory, and go ahead, and not go back, but use a little wisdom, and seal all you can, and when you get to heaven tell your Father that what you seal on earth should be sealed in heaven, according to his promise. I will walk through the gate of heaven and claim what I seal, and those that follow me and my counsel.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 340)

D&C 110:13-16 Elijah

‘Today is April 1. Two days from now, April 3, marks 181 years from the day when Malachi’s prophecy was fulfilled. On that day, Elijah did come, and he gave to Joseph Smith the priesthood power to seal families eternally (see  D&C 110:13–16

From that day to this, interest in exploring one’s family history has grown exponentially. At ever-increasing rates, people seem drawn to their ancestry with more than just casual curiosity. Genealogical libraries, associations, and technologies have emerged around the world to support this interest. The internet’s power to enhance communications has enabled families to work together to do family history research with a speed and thoroughness never before possible.

Why is all of this happening? For lack of a better term, we call it the “spirit of Elijah.” We could also equally call it “fulfillment of prophecy.” I bear testimony that Elijah did come. The hearts of the children—of you and me—have turned to our fathers, our ancestors. The affection you feel for your ancestors is part of the fulfillment of that prophecy. It is deeply seated in your sense of who you are. But it has to do with more than just inherited DNA.

For example, as you follow the promptings to learn about your family history, you may discover that a distant relative shares some of your facial features or your interest in books or your talent for singing. This could be very interesting and even insightful. But if your work stops there, you will sense that something is missing. This is because to gather and unite God’s family requires more than just warm feelings. It requires sacred covenants made in connection with priesthood ordinances.

Many of your ancestors did not receive those ordinances. But in the providence of God, you did. And God knew that you would feel drawn to your ancestors in love and that you would have the technology necessary to identify them. He also knew that you would live in a time when access to holy temples, where the ordinances can be performed, would be greater than ever in history. And He knew that He could trust you to accomplish this work in behalf of your ancestors.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, April 2017)

D&C 138:47. What Is Meant by the Phrase “Plant in the Hearts of the Children the Promises Made to Their Fathers”?

President Joseph Fielding Smith identified the “promises made to the fathers” as “the promise of the Lord made through Enoch, Isaiah, and the prophets, to the nations of the earth, that the time should come when the dead should be redeemed. And the turning of the hearts of the children is fulfilled in the performing of the vicarious temple work and in the preparation of their genealogies.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:154.)

2. President Wilford Woodruff: “Somebody has got to redeem them.”

A painting by H. E. Peterson of President Wilford Woodruff in a black suit sitting in a red armchair and resting one arm on a table.

Watch: Ministry of Wilford Woodruff – The Work of the Temple

‘Wilford Woodruff was one of the Church’s most successful missionaries and was also known for his prophetic insights and loyalty to the Church. He kept meticulous journals, which provide much information about the early history of the Church. He was serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when John Taylor died, and almost two years later he was sustained as the President of the Church.

During his administration, the political crusade against the Latter-day Saints intensified, but the Church moved forward. Temples were operating in three Utah towns—St. George, Logan, and Manti—and the Salt Lake Temple was nearing completion. These houses of the Lord enabled thousands of Saints to obtain their endowments and do ordinance work for their kindred dead. President Woodruff had a lifelong interest in temple and family history work. He admonished the Saints on many occasions to perform ordinances in the temple for their ancestors.

The following incident emphasizes the importance of the work the Saints were performing for the dead. In May 1884, Bishop Henry Ballard of the Logan Second Ward was signing temple recommends at his home. Henry’s nine-year-old daughter, who was talking with friends on the sidewalk near her home, saw two elderly men approaching. They called to her, handed her a newspaper, and told her to take it to her father.

The girl did as she was asked. Bishop Ballard saw that the paper, the Newbury Weekly News, published in England, contained the names of more than 60 of his and his father’s acquaintances, along with genealogical information. This newspaper, dated 15 May 1884, had been given to him only three days after it was printed. In a time long before air transportation, when mail took several weeks to get from England to western America, this was a miracle.

The next day, Bishop Ballard took the newspaper to the temple and told the story of its arrival to Marriner W. Merrill, the temple president. President Merrill declared, “Brother Ballard, someone on the other side is anxious for their work to be done and they knew that you would do it if this paper got into your hands.”7 This newspaper is preserved in the Church Historical Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.’ (pages 98-99, Our Heritage)

‘Long before the Latter-day Saints founded a genealogical society, Church members gathered records documenting the lives of their dead ancestors. Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, and Heber J. Grant are among those who obtained the names of thousands of ancestors for whom they performed temple ordinances. In 1894, the First Presidency directed that a genealogical society be organized with Elder Franklin D. Richards as its first leader. A library was established, and representatives of the society went throughout the world in search of names of people for whom temple ordinances could be performed. This society led to the creation of the Family History Department of the Church.

During the April 1894 general conference, President Woodruff announced that he had received a revelation about genealogical work. He declared that God wanted the Latter-day Saints “to trace their genealogies as far as they can, and to be sealed to their fathers and mothers. Have the children sealed to their parents and run this chain through as far as you can get it. … This is the will of the Lord to his people,” he said, “and I think when you come to reflect upon it you will find it to be true.”8 Latter-day Saints are still encouraged to seek out the records of their deceased ancestors and perform temple ordinances in their behalf.

From 1885 to 1900, many Church members served genealogical missions. They were invited to Salt Lake City to receive a blessing for their mission from a General Authority. They were also provided with a missionary card and a letter of appointment. They visited relatives, recorded names from gravestones, and studied parish records and family Bibles, returning to their homes with valuable information that allowed temple work to be performed. Many missionaries reported spiritual experiences that gave them the firm assurance that the Lord was with them and often directed them to a needed source or relative.‘ (page 101, Our Heritage)

Watch: Their Hearts are Bound to You

President Henry B. Eyring poignantly describes why our family are so important to us, not only now but for forever. The Mormon Tabernacle choir punctuates the doctrine in song. (3:15)

Watch: Sharing the Temple Challenge Elder Andersen talks about the many blessings and promises that come from accepting the challenge to find and take a name of one of your own ancestors to the temple. (3:19)

Watch: Your Fingers Have Been Trained

The youth have been prepared to participate in temple and family history work. (1:47)

Watch: Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord?

Elder Neil L. Andersen illustrates the vast work of bringing the ordinances of the gospel to every man, woman, and child who has ever lived on the earth. (3:31)

3. President Joseph F. Smith: “The eyes of my understanding were opened.”

A portrait by A. Salzbrenner of Joseph F. Smith in a black suit, white shirt, and glasses.

‘Death haunted mankind in 1918. The Great War, known today as World War I, was in the process of claiming more than nine million lives. That staggering figure paled in comparison with the number of people slain in even less time by a global influenza pandemic. Worldwide the virus reaped a grim harvest of perhaps fifty million souls. It killed more than 195,000 Americans in October 1918, the deadliest month in American history, the month the Lord revealed Doctrine and Covenants 138.

The “pervasiveness and ubiquity of death were overwhelming,” yet it is hard to grasp for those of us who live distant from what witnesses themselves could hardly imagine and what cultural historians have described as creating a terrible, gnawing emptiness in tens of thousands of families mourning the losses of loved ones whose bodies were never recovered from the war’s devastation or whose families were wiped out by disease.

In the midst of the dead and dying was Joseph F. Smith, president of the Church. His life’s experiences equipped him to grasp the enormity of death and its implications. His father, Hyrum, had been brutally shot to death when Joseph was five. Not many years later he lost his mother, “the sweetest soul that ever lived,” he wrote, “when I was only a boy.” Death marked his life. His first child, Mercy Josephine, died at age two, leaving Joseph “vacant, lonely, desolate, deserted.” His beloved eldest son died unexpectedly in January 1918, creating what President Smith called “my overwhelming burden of grief.” Between these untimely deaths, President Smith buried a wife and eleven other children. He tasted deeply the bitterness of death.

As general conference neared in October 1918, President Smith himself was less than two months from the end of his own mortality. Unwell, he surprised the Saints by appearing at conference on October 4. He spoke briefly, saying, “I have dwelt in the spirit of prayer, of supplication, of faith and of determination; and I have had my communications with the Spirit of the Lord continuously.” Indeed he had. Just the day before, the Lord had given him the revelation recorded now in Doctrine and Covenants 138. After conference he dictated it to his son Joseph Fielding Smith.’ (Steven C Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants)

Watch: Ministry of Joseph F Smith – A Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

Read: Revelations in Context – Susa Young Gates and the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead

4. President Gordon B. Hinckley: “We are determined … to take the temples to the people.”

A portrait of President Gordon B. Hinckley smiling in a black suit, white shirt, and glasses.

‘Connected with President Hinckley’s optimism and his focus on individuals was his prophetic vision for the future. Most profoundly, that vision concerned temples. The ordinances of the temple, President Hinckley emphasized, are “the crowning blessings the Church has to offer.”18

When he became President of the Church in 1995, there were 47 operating temples worldwide. Under his leadership, the Church more than doubled this number in a little over five years. His vision regarding temples was bold and expansive, but the entire purpose was to bless individuals one by one.

The inspiration for this new era of temple building came in 1997 when President Hinckley went to Colonia Juárez, Mexico, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a Church-owned school. Afterward, during a long, dusty drive, he was contemplative. “It got quiet,” recalled his secretary, Don H. Staheli. “And then, as I understand it, the revelation started coming. He had thought about smaller temples in the past, but not in the way that he thought about them this time.”19

President Hinckley later described the process: “I began to ask myself what could be done to make it possible for these people to have a temple. … As I meditated on this, the thought came into my mind that … we can build all of the essential elements of a temple into a relatively small building. … I sketched out a plan. … The whole picture came into my mind very clearly. I believe with all my heart that it was inspiration, that it was revelation from the Lord. I came home and talked with my counselors about it, and they approved of it. I then presented it to the Twelve, and they approved of it.”20

Four months later in general conference, President Hinckley made the historic announcement that the Church would begin to build smaller temples in areas where there were not enough members to justify larger ones. “We are determined … to take the temples to the people and afford them every opportunity for the very precious blessings that come of temple worship,” he said.21

In the next general conference, President Hinckley made another historic announcement, saying that plans were going forward to have 100 temples in operation by the end of the year 2000. “We are moving on a scale the like of which we have never seen before,” he stated.22 When he reported on the progress of temple building in April 1999, he used a familiar phrase: “This is a tremendous undertaking, with many problems, but no matter the difficulty, things work out and I am confident we will reach our goal.”23

Gordon B. Hinckley and others at Boston Massachusetts Temple

In October 2000, President Hinckley traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, USA, to dedicate the Church’s 100th temple—one of 21 he dedicated that year on four continents. By the end of his life, 124 temples were completed and another 13 were announced or under construction.’ (Andrew D Olsen, Gordon B Hinckley, A prophet of Optimism and Vision, Ensign January 2017)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2017, self reliance

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 38: “In Mine Own Way”

1. Developing spiritual self-reliance

Watch: The Power of a Personal Testimony – Dieter F Uchtdorf

“Without the gift or revelation, which is one of the gifts or the Holy Ghost, there could be no Church of Jesus Christ. This is apparent from the obvious fact that in order for his Church to exist, there must be a society of people who individually have testimonies that Jesus is the Christ. According to Paul, such testimonies are revealed only by the Holy Ghost, for said he, ‘. . . no man can [know] say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.’ (See 1 Cor. 12:3.) In the 46th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord specifically lists such knowledge as one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, as follows: ‘To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’ (D & C 46:13.) Everyone who has a testimony of Jesus has received it by revelation from the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a revelator, and everyone who receives him receives revelation.

“Wherever and whenever revelation is operative, manifestations of other gifts of the Holy Ghost are prevalent.” (Marion G Romney, Conference Report, April 1956, Afternoon Meeting 69.)

Read: Valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ – Elder Quentin L Cook

Read: Receiving a testimony of light and truth – President Dieter F Uchtdorf

Read: Personal revelation and testimony – Sister Barbara Thompson

2. Developing temporal self-reliance

See Principles of financial self reliance

‘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. ‘ (J Reuben Clark in Conference Report, Apr., 1938)

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)

D&C 38:30 If ye are prepared ye shall not fear

‘On a daily basis we witness widely fluctuating inflation; wars; interpersonal conflicts; national disasters; variances in weather conditions; innumerable forces of immorality, crime, and violence; attacks and pressures on the family and individuals; technological advances that make occupations obsolete; and so on. The need for preparation is abundantly clear. The great blessing of being prepared gives us freedom from fear, as guaranteed to us by the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).

Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. Each of us needs to take the time to ask ourselves, What preparation should I make to care for my needs and the needs of my family?

We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.

First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family…

Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements…

Third, avoid excessive debt…It is so easy to allow consumer debt to get out of hand. If you do not have the discipline to control the use of credit cards, it is better not to have them. A well-managed family does not pay interest-it earns it. The definition I received from a wise boss at one time in my early business career was “Thems that understands interest receives it, thems that don’t pays it.”

Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over.’ (Elder L Tom Perry, “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 35-36)

3. Caring for the needy

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Watch: Teachings of George Albert Smith – A Personal Creed – Caring for the Needy This two-minute video discusses Church relief efforts after World War II.

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Watch: That We Might Be One This 12-minute video describes how Dutch Saints overcame hard feelings to serve German Saints after World War II.

Watch: Teachings of Thomas S Monson – Rescuing Those in Need

‘When Jesus Christ came to earth, He spent much of His ministry caring for the poor and needy. Through His Church, the Lord has provided a way for us to care for those in need. He has asked us to give generously according to what we have received from Him. “The Lord’s way of caring for the needy is different from the world’s way. The Lord has said, ‘[Caring for the poor] must needs be done in mine own way.’ He is not only interested in our immediate needs; He is also concerned about our eternal progression. For this reason, the Lord’s way has always included self-reliance and service to our neighbor in addition to caring for the poor”’ (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Providing in the Lord’s Way,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 54).

4. The Church welfare program

Watch: Ministry of Heber J Grant – The Welfare Plan During the Depression years, President Grant receives revelation regarding the implementation and practice of a program that would teaches Church members self-reliance and care for the poor. (1:47)

Watch: Ministry of Harold B Lee – Organizing the Church Welfare Program Harold B. Lee is called to help oversee the Church Welfare Program, following the existing organization and purposes of the priesthood. (2:53)

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 37: “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”

1. Our need for a living prophet

Watch: We Need Living Prophets Members of the Church across the world bear testimony of living prophets and apostles and speak of the blessings of peace and hope that arise from that knowledge.

Watch: Gods Words Never Cease Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testifies of the truth of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and continuing revelation from God to His children.

See: Prophets of the Restoration

“The very first [dispensation of the gospel] was in the time of Adam. Then came dispensations of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others. Each prophet had a divine commission to teach of the divinity and the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. In each age these teachings were meant to help the people. But their disobedience resulted in apostasy. …

“Thus a complete restoration was required. God the Father and Jesus Christ called upon the Prophet Joseph Smith to be the prophet of this dispensation. All divine powers of previous dispensations were to be restored through him” (Russell M Nelson in Conference Report, Oct. 2006).

“I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal” (Spencer W Kimball in Conference Report, Apr. 1977).

2. The roles of our living prophet

Watch: Watchman on the Tower (Ezekiel 33:1-7) The Lord calls prophets to be the “watchmen” on the tower.

Watch: Ministry of Thomas S Monson – Rebuilding Lives An invitation to write an article for the Washington Post, ten years after the atrocities of 9/11, allows President Thomas S. Monson to speak to the world of forgiveness and hope.

D&C 1:38 Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same

‘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 21:1 A seer, a translator, a prophet

‘A prophet is a teacher of known truth; a seer is a perceiver of hidden truth, a revelator is a bearer of new truth. In the widest sense, the one most commonly used, the title, prophet, includes the other titles and makes of the prophet, a teacher, perceiver, and bearer of truth.’ (John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 258)

D&C 107:91-92 Preside Over the Whole Church

‘The President of the Church directs the use of all of the keys and authority of the priesthood and is the only person who can exercise all of them, even though all of the ordained Apostles hold these keys, some of which are in latent form.

Brethren, I have been a member of the First Presidency for only a few days. It seems as though before I had this calling I had limited vision, but I have now put on glasses that allow me to see more clearly, in a small way, the magnitude of the responsibility of the President of the Church. I am afraid I am like the aristocrat who wore a monocle in one eye. Of him it was said, “He could see more than he could comprehend.” The men who see most clearly the big picture are these giants of the Lord, President Hinckley and President Monson, who have served many years faithfully as counselors to the previous Presidents of the Church.’ (James E Faust, Ensign, May 1995, 47)

3. Heeding the words of our living prophet

Image result for Our need for a living prophet

Read: Give Heed Unto the Prophet’s Words Quentin L Cook, April 2008

“We have been promised that the President of the Church, as the revelator for the Church, will receive guidance for all of us. Our safety lies in paying heed to that which he says and following his counsel” (James E Faust, Ensign, Aug. 1996)

“It is no small thing, my brothers and sisters, to have a prophet of God in our midst. … When we hear the counsel of the Lord expressed through the words of the President of the Church, our response should be positive and prompt. History shows that there is safety, peace, prosperity, and happiness in responding to prophetic counsel as did Nephi of old: ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded’ (1 Nephi 3:7).’ (Elder M Russell Ballard, General Conference, April 2001)

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D&C 21:4-6 His Word Ye Shall Receive

‘In other words, the Lord has said it was not only important that there be revelation to his Church through his mouthpiece, the one who held the keys, but his Church must also be founded on personal revelation, that every member of the Church who has been baptized and has received the Holy Ghost must be admonished so to live that each might receive a personal testimony and a witness of the divine calling of him who was called to lead as the President of the Church so that he will accept those words and that counsel as if from the mouth of the Lord himself. Otherwise, the gates of hell would prevail against that individual.’ (Harold B Lee, General Conference, April 1953)

4. Latter-day prophets’ example of Christlike love

Watch: Teachings of Spencer W Kimball – Man of Compassion Elder Spencer W. Kimball blesses a tiny Native American boy in Denver, Colorado. (0:56)

Watch: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley – Love for the People While preparing for a ground-breaking ceremony, President Hinckley learns that an old missionary companion is in the audience. He seeks him out. (1:31)

Watch: Teachings of Thomas S Monson- Rescuing Those in Need Bishop Thomas Monson and his ward welcome a poor German family into their community, providing them with housing, warmth, and food for Christmas. (5:01)

Teachings of Joseph Smith:

A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. (History of the Church, 4:227.)

It is a duty which every Saint ought to render to his brethren freely—to always love them, and ever succor them. (History of the Church, 2:229)

Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (History of the Church, 5:23–24 (9 June 1842))

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 36: “The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom as the Rose”

1. “Right here will stand the temple of our God.”

A side view of the Salt Lake Temple and grounds, including a fountain and trees.

 

Watch: Ministry of Brigham Young – The Master Builder

Watch: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley – Temple Building 

The construction of temples across the globe allows the blessings of the temple to attend LDS families wherever they reside. (1:57)

‘Two days after the first company’s arrival, Brigham Young and several of the Twelve climbed a round bluff on the mountainside that President Young had seen in vision before leaving Nauvoo. They looked out over the valley’s vast expanse and prophesied that all nations of the world would be welcome in this place and that here the Saints would enjoy prosperity and peace. They named the hill Ensign Peak after the scripture in Isaiah that promised, “He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel” (Isaiah 11:12).

President Young’s first public act, on 28 July 1847, was to select a central site for a temple and put men to work planning its design and construction. Placing his cane on the chosen spot he said, “Here we shall build a temple to our God.” This declaration must have comforted the Saints, who only a short time before had been forced to discontinue temple worship when they left Nauvoo.’ (Our Heritage)

“The next morning he and the Twelve who came with him took a walk. He had been quite feeble, but he was then able to walk with the assistance of his staff. We walked along until we came to this Temple Block. It was covered with sagebrush. There was no mark to indicate that God ever intended to place anything there. But while walking along Brother Brigham stopped very suddenly. He stuck his cane in the ground and said, ‘Right here will stand the great Temple of our God.’ We drove a stake in the place indicated by him, and that particular spot is situated in the middle of the Temple site” (Wilford Woodruff, Collected Discourses, Vol. 5, delivered on April 6, 1992).

“The pioneers were hungry and weary; they needed food and rest; a hostile desert looked them in the face; yet in the midst of such physical requirements they turned first to the building of temples and to the spiritual food and strength that the temples provide.” (Elder John A Widtsoe, Conf. Rpt., Apr. 1943, 38).

2. The Saints were obedient as they settled and colonized the Salt Lake Valley and the surrounding areas.

D&C 58:2-4 Faithful in tribulation

“If the Saints could realize things as they are when they are called to pass through trials, and to suffer what they call sacrifices, they would acknowledge them to be the greatest blessings that could be bestowed upon them” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 345).

A portrait painting by A. Westwood of President John Taylor wearing a black suit and sitting in a chair.

D&C 64:33 Be not weary in well-doing

‘A major reason this church has grown from its humble beginnings to its current strength is the faithfulness and devotion of millions of humble and devoted [members]… He encourages us to “be not weary in well-doing, for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” May we be faithful in fulfilling the duties of whatever calling we have in the kingdom. Let us pay heed to the “small things” that make all the difference. Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments as we have made sacred covenants to do. As our heritage and our growth clearly show, we are, indeed, “laying the foundation of a great work.”

Let us dedicate ourselves to doing the Lord’s work to the best of our abilities. May we honor the faith of our fathers by giving our own faithful service to this great cause.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Faith of Our Fathers,” Ensign, May 1996, 34)

3. Missionaries made sacrifices to teach the gospel throughout the world.

‘With the hum of labor and domestic life filling the air, President Brigham Young turned to the concerns of the Church. At the general conference held on 6 October 1849, he assigned several members of the Twelve, along with newly called missionaries, to serve foreign missions. They accepted these calls even though they would leave behind their families, their new homes, and many unfinished tasks. Erastus Snow and several elders opened missionary work in Scandinavia, while Lorenzo Snow and Joseph Toronto traveled to Italy. Addison and Louisa Barnes Pratt returned to Addison’s former field of labor in the Society Islands. John Taylor was called to France and Germany. As the missionaries traveled east, they passed Saints headed to the new Zion in the Rocky Mountains.

In their fields of labor, the missionaries witnessed miracles and baptized many people into the Church. When Lorenzo Snow, who later became President of the Church, was preaching in Italy, he saw a three-year-old boy on the verge of death. He recognized an opportunity to heal the child and open the hearts of the people in the area. That night he prayed long and earnestly for God’s direction, and the following day he and his companion fasted and prayed for the boy. That afternoon they administered to him and offered a silent prayer for help in their labors. The boy slept peacefully all night and was miraculously healed. Word of this healing spread across the valleys of the Piedmont in Italy. The doors were opened to the missionaries, and the first baptisms in the area took place.5

In August 1852, at a special conference held in Salt Lake City, 106 elders were called to go on missions to countries throughout the world. These missionaries, as well as those who were called later, preached the gospel in South America, China, India, Spain, Australia, Hawaii, and the South Pacific. In most of these areas, the missionaries had little initial success. However, they sowed seeds that resulted in many coming into the Church in later missionary efforts.

Elder Edward Stevenson was called to the Gibraltar Mission in Spain. This call meant a return to the place of his birth, where he boldly proclaimed the restored gospel to his countrymen. He was arrested for preaching and spent some time in jail until authorities found he was teaching the guards, almost converting one of them. After his release he baptized two people into the Church and by January 1854 a branch of ten members had been organized. In July, even though six members had left to serve with the British army in Asia, the branch had eighteen members, including one seventy, one elder, one priest, and one teacher, giving the branch the leadership it needed to continue to grow.6

Local governments in French Polynesia drove the missionaries out in 1852. But the converted Saints kept the Church alive until further proselyting efforts in 1892. Elders Tihoni and Maihea were especially valiant as they endured imprisonment and other ordeals rather than deny their faith. Each of them tried to keep the Saints active and faithful to the gospel.7

For those who joined the Church outside the United States, this was a time for gathering to Zion, which meant traveling by boat to America. Elizabeth and Charles Wood sailed in 1860 from South Africa, where they had labored several years to acquire money for their travel. Elizabeth kept house for a wealthy man, and her husband made bricks until they obtained the needed funds. Elizabeth was carried aboard the ship on a bed 24 hours after delivering a son and was given the captain’s berth so she could be more comfortable. She was very ill during the journey, almost dying twice, but lived to settle in Fillmore, Utah.

Missionaries became very dear to the Saints in the countries where they served. Joseph F. Smith, near the end of his mission to Hawaii in 1857, became ill with a high fever that prevented him from working for three months. He was blessed to come under the care of Ma Mahuhii, a faithful Hawaiian Saint. She nursed Joseph as if he were her own son, and a strong bond of love developed between the two. Years later, when he was President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith visited Honolulu and just after his arrival saw an old blind woman being led in with a few choice bananas in her hand as an offering. He heard her call, “Iosepa, Iosepa” (Joseph, Joseph). Immediately he ran to her and hugged and kissed her many times, patting her on the head and saying, “Mama, Mama, my dear old Mama.”’ (Our Heritage)

Read: Sacrifice – Missionary Style Elder Adney Y Komatsu