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.

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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.

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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

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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

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 35: “A Mission of Saving”

A painting by Clark Kelley Price depicting two members from the Martin handcart company laying one of their dead into a grave surrounded by snow.

1. President Brigham Young guided the rescue of the Martin and Willie handcart companies.

A painting by Clark Kelley Price illustrating a young man walking through the icy Sweetwater River carrying a child wrapped in a blanket.

See: Five Things You May Not Know About the Handcart Rescue

Read: How the Rescue of Handcart Pioneers Helped Revive the Relief Society

‘In the 1850s Church leaders decided to form handcart companies as a way to reduce expenses so that financial aid could be extended to the greatest number of emigrants. Saints who traveled this way put only 100 pounds of flour and a limited quantity of provisions and belongings into a cart and then pulled the cart across the plains. Between 1856 and 1860, ten handcart companies traveled to Utah. Eight of the companies reached the Salt Lake Valley successfully, but two of them, the Martin and Willie handcart companies, were caught in an early winter and many Saints among them perished.

Nellie Pucell, a pioneer in one of these ill-fated companies, turned ten years old on the plains. Both her parents died during the journey. As the group neared the mountains, the weather was bitter cold, the rations were depleted, and the Saints were too weak from hunger to continue on. Nellie and her sister collapsed. When they had almost given up hope, the leader of the company came to them in a wagon. He placed Nellie in the wagon and told Maggie to walk along beside it, holding on to steady herself. Maggie was fortunate because the forced movement saved her from frostbite.

When they reached Salt Lake City and Nellie’s shoes and stockings, which she had worn across the plains, were removed, the skin came off with them as a result of frostbite. This brave girl’s feet were painfully amputated and she walked on her knees the rest of her life. She later married and gave birth to six children, keeping up her own house and raising a fine posterity.10 Her determination in spite of her situation and the kindness of those who cared for her exemplify the faith and willingness to sacrifice of these early Church members. Their example is a legacy of faith to all Saints who follow them.

A man who crossed the plains in the Martin handcart company lived in Utah for many years. One day he was in a group of people who began sharply criticizing the Church leaders for ever allowing the Saints to cross the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart company provided. The old man listened until he could stand no more; then he arose and said with great emotion:

“I was in that company and my wife was in it. … We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? … [We] came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.

“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”’ (Handcart Pioneers in Our Heritage)

2. The Savior rescues us through His atoning sacrifice.

“I remember reading about a fire fighter in the eastern United States who ran into a burning house to rescue several children from an arson-induced fire. While his colleagues battled the blaze to keep it from spreading to other structures in the neighbor-hood, this man dashed into the building again and again, each time emerging with a child in his arms. After rescuing the fifth child, he started back into the inferno once more. Neighbors shouted that there were no more children in the family. But he insisted that he had seen a baby in a cradle, and he dove into the intensifying heat.

“Moments after he disappeared into the fire and smoke, a horrifying explosion shook the building and the entire structure collapsed. It was several hours before fire fighters were able to locate their colleague’s body. They found him in the nursery near the crib, huddled protectively over a life sized—and practically unscratched—doll.

“As I think about such heroism, however, I’m reminded that the most heroic act of all time ever was performed in behalf of all mankind by the Son of God. In a very real sense, all of humanity—past, present, and future—was trapped behind a wall of flame that was fueled and fanned by our own faithlessness. Sin separated mortals from God (see Romans 6:23), and would do so forever unless a way was found to put out the fires of sin and rescue us from ourselves”  (Cited in Our Search for Happiness: M. Russell Ballard, p. 11).

D&C 18:11-12 He suffered the pain of all men

“The results of childhood abuse, whether sexual, physical, or emotional, can be devastating…Truly the Atonement plays the crucial role in the healing process as people with broken hearts and scarred spirits realize they are not alone in their pain and that the Savior has provided a way for them to find peace.

“‘In October 1995 I was sitting in a chapel listening to general conference,’ remembers one woman. ‘Elder Jeffrey Holland spoke on remembering the Lord during the passing of the sacrament…he said, `To those who stagger or stumble, he is there to steady and strengthen us. In the end he is there to save us, and for all this he gave his life` (“This Do in Remembrance of Me,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 69).

“‘I was amazed. I knew Jesus Christ had given his life to pay for the sins of the world. But I did not know the Savior had given his life for the pains, abuse, and tearful suffering we all have to endure in this life, oftentimes as innocent victims of terrible circumstances far beyond our own control.

“‘I raced home after conference in order to look up scriptures about this aspect of the Savior’s Crucifixion. I found a wonderful scripture: Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

“‘For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him (D&C 18:10-11). He did not suffer just for people’s sins; he also suffered their pains. What a powerful message that was to my heart to learn he had suffered for those of us who had been abused. I can honestly say that my healing began on that day.'” (“The Journey to Healing,” Ensign, Sept. 1997, 19-20)

3. As Latter-day Saints, we are to rescue those in need.

Watch: Tried in All Things (D&C 136:29-33) Elder Maxwell explains how the Saints will be tried in all things. (1:47)

Watch: Ministering (2014/15 Auxiliary Training)

D&C 4:3 If Ye Have Desires

‘Actually, everything depends-initially and finally-on our desires. These shape our thought patterns. Our desires thus precede our deeds and lie at the very cores of our souls, tilting us toward or away from God (see D&C 4:3).’ (Neal A Maxwell, “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 23)

D&C 18:10-16 The Worth of Souls is Great

“And how are we to determine the value of souls? This matter has been determined for us also by revelation. The souls of men are so precious in the sight of God that He gave to the world His Only Begotten Son, that by the shedding of His blood He might draw all men unto Him. That is why the great Prophet of this dispensation, Joseph Smith, and these others, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the rest, were called to bring souls unto Christ. And if one of these men should labor all his days, and bring save it be but one soul unto Christ, and that one should be his wife, what great joy he would have with his wife in heaven. Then if he should labor all his days and bring unto Christ the souls of his wife and his children, and none else perchance, how great would be his joy in heaven with his wife and children.” (Rudger Clawson In Conference Report, Apr. 1901, pp. 7–8.)

D&C 52:40 Remember in All Things the Poor and Needy

‘That one cannot be a true disciple of Christ without significant giving is dramatically emphasized in the revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, on June 7, 1831. In this revelation, the Lord directed twenty-eight of the elders to travel two by two from Kirtland to Jackson County, Missouri. They were to go by different routes, preaching the gospel as they went. You will recall that they were destitute in those days and had to travel through primitive country. Joseph Smith and his immediate companions “journeyed by wagon and stage and occasionally by canal boat to Cincinnati, Ohio,” then to Louisville, Kentucky, and on to St. Louis by steamer. “From this city on the Mississippi, the Prophet of God walked across the entire state of Missouri to Independence, Jackson County, a distance of nearly three hundred miles as traveled.” (George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1958, p. 117.) I call these facts to your attention that you may have in mind the background against which the Lord said to these men as they started, “Remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.” (D&C 52:40.) Imagine that! These elders were nearly destitute and the Lord said, “Remember … the poor and the needy.”‘ (Marion G Romney, “Living Welfare Principles,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 92)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Faith, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Leadership

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 34: Faith in Every Footstep

1. The Lord instructed the Saints regarding their physical preparations for their journey.

Section 136, … Brigham Young’s only canonized revelation, was proclaimed on 14 January 1847 in the depths of a very cold winter and at a most trying moment in Church history. Having been driven from their comfortable homes and their glorious temple in Nauvoo, some twelve thousand Latter-day Saints huddled in various makeshift settlements, including Winter Quarters in Nebraska Territory on Indian lands just west of the Missouri River; Council Bluffs (Kingsville), Iowa Territory; other communities stretching along the Missouri River as far south as St. Louis; and temporary settlements such as Mt. Pisgah and Garden Grove, along the trail from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley. Some five hundred of the Saints’ most able men had been called into service by the United States Army of the West and were then marching to the Pacific coast as the Mormon Battalion. Church members were largely uprooted and spread out on their way west in a full-scale exodus of man and beast to a new Zion in some valley of the Rocky Mountains.

During the winter of 1847, the Quorum of the Twelve and others counseled together on how best to move the large body of Saints to the Great Basin. While they were discussing how they should travel in companies with presidencies over each company and captains of hundreds, fifties, and tens (as did the ancient Israelites under Moses; Deuteronomy 1:15), Brigham Young received this revelation. (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, (2012), p.856)

Read: Revelations in Context: This Shall Be Our Covenant

This article shows how difficulties crossing Iowa helped lead to the Lord revealing what is now known as Doctrine and Covenants 136.

‘[D&C 136] was read to each quorum in the area and sustained as the word of the Lord to them. Copies were made and members of the Twelve and the local high councils traveled to all the other camps, read the revelation, and obtained sustaining votes. Thus, the revelation was canonized by the Saints within days of its reception and is evidence that these people were committed to the leadership of Brigham Young and the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Furthermore, the revelation transformed their travels and travails from a mere westward departure into an exodus of modern Israel with divine design and purpose. Spelling out the revised organization by which they would begin to travel west of the Missouri through hostile Indian country, the revelation was at once a resolution and an explanation, a vindication and a promise.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, (2012), p.856)

D&C 136:1–3. How Was the Camp of Israel Organized?

Smith and Sjodahl wrote: “The Saints were driven from their homes in Nauvoo under the most trying circumstances and in poverty and destitution in large measure, for they had been robbed by their enemies. Therefore it was extremely needful for a revelation from the Lord for their guidance in their journeyings to the Rocky Mountains. The Lord did not fail them in this hour of distress and gave this revelation to President Brigham Young to guide them in their journeyings and admonishing them to keep His commandments. All the members of the Church were to be organized in companies and were required to keep the commandments faithfully that they might have the guidance of His Spirit with them in all their trying circumstances. These companies were to be on the order followed by Zion’s Camp in their remarkable march from Kirtland to Missouri, with captains, over hundreds, fifties and tens and all under the direction of the council of Apostles.” (Commentary, p. 857.)

D&C 136:6 When the companies are organized let them… prepare for those who are to tarry

“In accord with a 14 January 1847 revelation (see D&C 136), President Young organized the Saints carefully into companies of 100, 50, and 10 (meaning people in this case, not wagons). He served as company president and main captain, aided by 2 captains of 100, 5 captains of 50, and 14 captains of 10. Their story is one of ‘organization, foresight, and discipline,’ wrote one historian, saying that they stopped more days for Sabbath worship than for delays caused by travel hazards.

“For half their journey, this advance, exploratory company followed the north side of the Platte River. Later travelers joked that the lazy Platte was ‘a mile wide and an inch deep, too thin to plow, too thick to drink.’ As much as possible, they followed somewhat established trails, smoothing and improving the way for following pioneer companies and only occasionally blazing new trail segments.” (William G. Hartley, “Gathering the Dispersed Nauvoo Saints, 1847-1852,” Ensign, July 1997, 19)

2. The Lord instructed the Saints regarding their conduct.

D&C 136:18–27. Zion Will Be Redeemed

Smith and Sjodahl wrote that “the members of the Church had been disappointed, if not discouraged, because Zion had not been redeemed. No doubt it was trying to the faith of some to be on the way to the unknown region of the Rocky Mountains. All that they had heard of this territory was discouraging and the redemption of Zion seemed farther away than ever from fulfillment. Now they were to take courage, for the Lord had not forgotten Zion, and it should be redeemed in the due time of the Lord. It was well, therefore, for the members to obey counsel and not seek to build themselves at the expense of others; should this be done they would lose the reward. The Lord would lead them as he led the children of Israel, and he was just as mindful of the Saints today as he was then. Every man should respect the rights and property of the rest, and all should be wise stewards.” (Commentary, p. 860.)

D&C 136:21 Keep yourselves from evil to 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)

D&C 136:23 cease to speak evil one of another

‘Faultfinding, evil speaking, and backbiting are obviously unchristian. The Bible commands us to avoid “evil speakings.” (See 1 Pet. 2:1.) It tells us to “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you.” (Eph. 4:31.) Modern revelations direct us to avoid “backbiting,” “evil speaking,” and “find[ing] fault one with another.” (See D&C 20:53-54; D&C 42:27; D&C 88:124; and D&C 136:23.)

We are given these commandments for a reason. The Apostle Paul advised the Saints to “grieve not the holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30) by evil speaking. Of faultfinders, President Brigham Young said, “The Spirit of God has no place in [such] persons.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:13.) The primary reason we are commanded to avoid criticism is to preserve our own spiritual well-being, not to protect the person whom we would criticize.

Elder George Albert Smith said this about criticism: “Aren’t we rather prone to see the limitations and the weaknesses of our neighbors? Yet that is contrary to the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a class of people who find fault and criticize always in a destructive way. There is a difference in criticism. If we can criticize constructively under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, we may change beneficially and properly some of the things that are being done. But if we have the spirit of faultfinding, of pointing out the weaknesses and failings of others in a destructive manner, that never comes as the result of the companionship of the Spirit of our Heavenly Father and is always harmful.”‘ (Dallin H Oaks, “Criticism,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, 68)

 

3. Under the direction of President Brigham Young, the Saints journeyed to the Salt Lake Valley.

A painting by Glen S. Hopkinson depicting Joseph F. Smith as a young man walking next to the oxen pulling their wagon, with his mother, Mary Fielding Smith, following close behind.

Watch: Learning Through Trials  Elder Robert D Hales

A painting by Jonathan Leo Fairbanks illustrating a man standing by a tree and looking down at Winter Quarters while a woman places green leaves on a grave, with a child standing close by.

Watch: Ministry of Brigham Young – A Visionary Leader

A painting by Clark Kelley Price depicting two members from the Martin handcart company laying one of their dead into a grave surrounded by snow.

‘On 21 July 1847, Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow of the first pioneer company preceded the emigrants into the Salt Lake Valley. They saw grass so deep that a person could wade through it, promising land for farming, and several creeks that wandered through the valley. Three days later, President Brigham Young, who was ill with mountain fever, was driven in his carriage to the mouth of a canyon that opened onto the valley. As President Young looked over the scene, he gave his prophetic benediction to their travels: “It is enough. This is the right place.”

As the Saints who followed emerged from the mountains, they, too, gazed at their promised land! This valley with its salty lake gleaming in the western sun was the object of vision and prophecy, the land of which they and thousands after them dreamed. This was their land of refuge, where they would become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.

Several years later, a convert from England, Jean Rio Griffiths Baker, recorded her feelings as she viewed Salt Lake City for the first time. “The city … is laid out in squares or blocks as they call them here; each containing ten acres and divided into eight lots, each lot having one house. I stood and looked, I can hardly analyze my feelings, but I think my prevailing ones were joy and gratitude for the protecting care had over me and mine during our long and perilous journey.”’ (This is the Right Place in Our Heritage)

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 33: President Brigham Young Leads the Saints

1. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the Twelve the keys of the kingdom and taught the principles of succession in the Presidency.

Image result for The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the Twelve the keys of the kingdom and taught the principles of succession in the Presidency.

Watch: Succession in the Presidency President Hinckley teaches about succession in the Presidency. (2:13)

D&C 107:22-24 Equal in authority and power

‘With reference to this subject, the fourth President of the Church, Wilford Woodruff, made a few observations in a letter to President Heber J. Grant, then a member of the Twelve, under date of March 28, 1887. I quote from that letter: “. . . when the President of the Church dies, who then is the Presiding Authority of the Church? It is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (ordained and organized by the revelations of God and none else). Then while these Twelve Apostles preside over the Church, who is the President of the Church [?] It is the President of the Twelve Apostles. And he is virtually as much the President of the Church while presiding over Twelve men as he is when organized as the Presidency of the Church, and presiding over two men.” And this principle has been carried out now for 140 years—ever since the organization of the Church. Then President Woodruff continued:

“As far as I am concerned it would require . . . a revelation from the same God who had organized the church and guided it by inspiration in the channel in which it has travelled for 57 years, before I could give my vote or influence to depart from the paths followed by the Apostles since the organization of the Church and followed by the inspiration of Almighty God, for the past 57 years, by the apostles, as recorded in the history of the Church.”‘ (Harold B Lee, General Conference, April 1970)

Read: The Kingdom of God Will Roll On: Succession in the Presidency Brent Top and Lawrence R Flake, Ensign, August 1996

2. After Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, the Twelve presided over the Church until Brigham Young was sustained as President.

A painted portrait of President Brigham Young wearing a black suit, by George Martin Ottinger.

Watch: Preparation of Brigham Young: Preparation of a Leader 

‘When the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in Carthage Jail, many of the Quorum of the Twelve and other Church leaders were serving missions and were absent from Nauvoo. Several days passed before these men learned of the deaths. When Brigham Young heard the news, he knew that the keys of priesthood leadership were still with the Church, for these keys had been given to the Quorum of the Twelve. However, not all Church members understood who would replace Joseph Smith as the Lord’s prophet, seer, and revelator.

Sidney Rigdon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, arrived from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 3 August 1844. In the year before this time, he had begun taking a course contrary to the counsel of the Prophet Joseph Smith and had become estranged from the Church. He refused to meet with the three members of the Twelve already in Nauvoo and instead spoke to a large group of the Saints assembled for their Sunday worship service. He told them of a vision he had received in which he had learned that no one could replace Joseph Smith. He said that a guardian to the Church should be appointed and that guardian should be Sidney Rigdon. Few Saints supported him.

Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, did not return to Nauvoo until 6 August 1844. He declared that he wanted only to know “what God says” about who should lead the Church.19 The Twelve called a meeting for Thursday, 8 August 1844. Sidney Rigdon spoke in the morning session for more than one hour. He won few if any adherents to his position.

Brigham Young then spoke briefly, comforting the hearts of the Saints. As Brigham spoke, George Q. Cannon remembered, “it was the voice of Joseph himself,” and “it seemed in the eyes of the people as if it were the very person of Joseph which stood before them.”20 William C. Staines testified that Brigham Young spoke like the voice of the Prophet Joseph. “I thought it was he,” Staines said, “and so did thousands who heard it.”21 Wilford Woodruff also recalled that wonderful moment and wrote, “If I had not seen him with my own eyes, there is no one that could have convinced me that it was not Joseph Smith, and anyone can testify to this who was acquainted with these two men.”22 This miraculous manifestation, seen by many, made clear to the Saints that the Lord had chosen Brigham Young to succeed Joseph Smith as leader of the Church.

In the afternoon session, Brigham Young again spoke, testifying that the Prophet Joseph had ordained the Apostles to hold the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world. He prophesied that those who did not follow the Twelve would not prosper and that only the Apostles would be victorious in building up the kingdom of God.

Following his talk, President Young asked Sidney Rigdon to talk, but he chose not to. Following remarks by William W. Phelps and Parley P. Pratt, Brigham Young spoke again. He talked of completing the Nauvoo Temple, obtaining the endowment before going into the wilderness, and the importance of the scriptures. He spoke of his love for Joseph Smith and his affection for the Prophet’s family. The Saints then voted unanimously in favor of the Twelve Apostles as leaders of the Church.

While a few others would claim a right to the Presidency of the Church, for most Latter-day Saints the succession crisis was over. Brigham Young, the senior Apostle and President of the Quorum of the Twelve, was the man God had chosen to lead his people, and the people had united to sustain him.’ (Succession in the Presidency in Our Heritage)

3. Before leaving Nauvoo, the Saints received temple ordinances.

A back and side view of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple in the evening, with an orange and pink sunset filling the sky overhead.

“Notwithstanding that I had announced that we would not attend to the administration of the ordinances, the House of the Lord was thronged all day, the anxiety being so great to receive, as if the brethren would have us stay here and continue the endowments until our way would be hedged up, and our enemies would intercept us. But I informed the brethren that this was not wise, and that we should build more Temples, and have further opportunities to receive the blessings of the Lord, as soon as the saints were prepared to receive them. In this Temple we have been abundantly rewarded, if we receive no more. I also informed the brethren that I was going to get my wagons started and be off. I walked some distance from the Temple supposing the crowd would disperse, but on returning I found the house filled to overflowing.

“Looking upon the multitude and knowing their anxiety, as they were thirsting and hungering for the word, we continued at work diligently in the House of the Lord. Two hundred and ninety-five persons received ordinances” (Brigham Young in History of the Church, 7:579).

4. The Saints experienced trials and miracles as they began journeying west.

Read: Trail of Hope

‘The evacuation of Nauvoo was originally planned to take place in April 1846. But as a result of threats that the state militia intended to prevent the Saints from going west, the Twelve Apostles and other leading citizens hurriedly met in council on 2 February 1846. They agreed that it was imperative to start west immediately, and the exodus began on 4 February. Under the direction of Brigham Young, the first group of Saints eagerly began their journey. However, that eagerness faced a great test, for there were many miles to be covered before permanent camps gave them respite from late winter weather and an exceptionally rainy spring.

To seek safety from their persecutors, thousands of Saints first had to cross the wide Mississippi River to Iowa territory. The perils of their journey began early when an ox kicked a hole in a boat carrying a number of Saints and the boat sank. One observer saw the unfortunate passengers hanging on to feather beds, sticks of wood, “lumber or any thing they could get hold of and were tossed and sported on the water at the mercy of the cold and unrelenting waves. … Some climbed on the top of the wagon which did not go quite under and were more comfortable while the cows and oxen on board were seen swimming to the shore from whence they came.”1 Finally all the people were pulled onto boats and brought to the other side.

Two weeks after the first crossing, the river froze over for a time. Though the ice was slippery, it supported wagons and teams and made the crossing easier. But the cold weather caused much suffering as the Saints plodded through the snow. In the encampment at Sugar Creek on the other side of the river, a steady wind blew snow that fell to a depth of almost eight inches. Then a thaw caused the ground to become muddy. Around, above, and below, the elements combined to produce a miserable environment for the 2,000 Saints huddled in tents, wagons, and hastily erected shelters while they waited for the command to continue on.

The most difficult part of the journey was this early stage through Iowa. Hosea Stout recorded that he “prepared for the night by erecting a temporary tent out of bed clothes. At this time my wife was hardly able to sit up and my little son was sick with a very high fever and would not even notice any thing that was going on.”2 Many other Saints also suffered greatly.’ (The Trials of a Winter Trek in Our Heritage)

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017- Lesson 32: “To Seal the Testimony”

1. The Prophet Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood.

A portrait by Alvin Gittins of Joseph Smith in a white shirt and brown suit, holding sheets of paper, with his hand on his side.

D&C 135:4-5 I am calm as a summer’s morning

‘Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood. He could have saved his life…. He loved life. He loved his wife and family and friends. He wasn’t anxious to go over into eternity. He wanted to live a normal and natural life. He either had to give up his testimony-to recant-or he had to give up his life. He wasn’t willing to give up his testimony. He said, “Who am I to deny that I have had heavenly manifestations-that the Lord has appeared before me?”

And so he went calmly, knowing that his life would be taken. He said, “I go as a lamb to the slaughter”; and he went up to Carthage, knowing that the mob was gathering there and knowing they had bullets in their guns. He went calmly and passed on. He said, as he passed on, “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ‘(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 143)

‘President Brigham Young and Elder Wilford Woodruff spent a portion of the day together in the city of Boston, and were sitting together in the railway depot at the time of the massacre of the Prophets; they felt very sorrowful, and depressed in spirits, without knowing the cause.

Elders Heber C. Kimball and Lyman Wight traveled from Philadelphia to New York by railway and steamboat. Elder Kimball felt very mournful as though he had lost some friend, and knew not the cause.

Elder Orson Hyde was in the hall occupied by the saints in Boston, examining maps, and designating or pointing out each man’s district or field of labor, in company with Elders Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff and others, a part of the day. He felt very heavy and sorrowful in spirit, and knew not the cause, but felt no heart to look on the maps. He retired to the further end of the hall alone, and walked the floor; tears ran down his face…. He never felt so before, and knew no reason why he should feel so then.

Elder Parley P. Pratt was on the canal boat between Utica and Buffalo, N. Y., on his return to Nauvoo, and was much depressed in spirit; his brother William Pratt came on board of the same boat, and Parley asked him if he had any books or pamphlets containing the gospel of Christ, or the words of life; if so, to put them under lock and key, for the people are not worthy of them for, said Parley, “I feel that the spirit of murder is in the hearts of the people through the land.”

Elders Willard Richards and John Taylor were the only two of the Quorum of the Twelve who were not on missions, and the only two men who were with the martyrs when they fell and sealed their testimony with their blood.

Elder George A. Smith rode with Elder Crandall Dunn, from Napoleon, to Elder Noah Willis Bartholemew’s, near Jacksonburg, Jackson county, Michigan, and felt unusually cast down and depressed in spirits. About five o’clock he repaired to an oak grove, and called upon the Lord, endeavoring to break the spell of horror which had dominion over his mind. He remained there a long time without finding any relief, and then went back to Brother Bartholomew’s, and went to bed with Elder Crandall Dunn; he could not sleep, but spent the night in a series of miserable thoughts and reflections. Once it seemed to him that some fiend whispered in his ear, “Joseph and Hyrum are dead; ain’t you glad of it?”

Elder Amasa Lyman was in the city of Cincinnati, and felt that depression of spirit mentioned by his brethren.’ (History of the Church, 7:132-133)

2. The Prophet Joseph Smith did more for the salvation of men in this world than anyone except Jesus.

A metal statue of brothers Hyrum and Joseph Smith stands in Carthage, Illinois, near Carthage Jail.

Watch: Joseph Smith – Prophet of the Restoration (D&C 135) This review of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s ministry shows that he “has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world.” (13:09)

Watch: Those Who Knew Joseph Best Elder Oaks teaches about those who knew Joseph best (D&C 135). (0:50)

Watch: Testimony of the Book of Mormon A modern-day Apostle describes the unwavering faith the Church’s founders showed, even in the face of death, to remain true to their testimonies of the Book of Mormon.(4:39)

D&C 135:3 ..has sealed his mission

‘If it be the will of the Lord for the people to live, they will live. If it had been the will of the Lord that Joseph and Hyrum should have lived, they would have lived. It was necessary for Joseph to seal his testimony with his blood. Had he been destined to live he would have lived. The Lord suffered his death to bring justice on the nation. The debt is contracted and they have it to pay.’  (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 467)

Eye witness accounts of Joseph Smith

Jane James, an Afro-American convert :

I could not begin to tell you what he was, only this way, he was tall, over six feet; he was a fine, big, noble, beautiful man! He had blue eyes and light hair, and very fine white skin.

Rachel Ridgeway Grant (mother of Heber J Grant)

I guess you have seen the picture where Brother Joseph was preaching to the Indians. I was there at that time. The Indians were all kneeling down on the grass in front of the Mansion, and if you have seen that picture, that just describes the way everything was, though it is a miserable picture of the Prophet. He was a fine, noble-looking man, always so neat. There are some of the pictures that do not look a particle like him. When he was preaching you could feel the power and influence.

Jacob Jones

The Prophet weighed about 150 pounds, had nice brown hair, was always jovial and could crack a joke. He could sing well and loved music, loved to dance and would leave a meal at any time to wrestle with anyone. He was nimble as a cat and he was fond of us boys and would often play with us.

Anyone could not help but love him and he loved everybody. He always shook hands with all, even the babes. He had a very fine gray horse that he always rode whenever there was a parade.

Matthew S. Davis, member of Congress:

Washington 6th February 1840. My Dear Mary- I went last evening to hear Joe Smith, the celebrated Mormon, expound his doctrine. I with several others, had a desire to understand his tenets as explained by himself. He is not an educated man: but he is a plain, sensible strong minded man. Everything he says, is said in a manner to leave an impression that he is sincere. There is no levity, no fanaticism, no want of dignity in his deportment. He is apparently from forty to forty five years of age, rather above the middle stature, and what you ladies would call a very good looking man. ln his garb there are no peculiarities, his dress being that of a plain unpretending citizen. He is by profession a Farmer; but is evidently well read.

Josiah Quincy III, Mayor of Boston and President of Harvard University:

Pre-eminent among the stragglers by the door stood a man of commanding appearance, clad in the costume of a journeyman carpenter when about his work. He was a hearty, athletic fellow, with blue eyes standing prominently out upon his light complexion, a long nose, and a retreating forehead. He wore striped pantaloons, a linen jacket which had not lately seen the wash tub, and a beard of some three days’ growth. This was the founder of the religion which had been preached in every quarter of the earth.

A fine looking man is what the passerby would instinctively have murmured upon meeting this remarkable individual who had fashioned the mould which was to shape the feelings of so many thousands of his fellow-mortals.

George  Q Cannon, Liverpool born member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

He was more than six feet in height, with expansive chest and clean cut limbs ” a staunch and graceful figure. His head, crowned with a mass of soft, wavy hair, was grandly poised. His face possessed a complexion of such clearness and transparency that the soul appeared to shine through. He wore no beard, and the full strength and beauty of his countenance impressed all beholders at a glance. He had eyes which seemed to read the hearts of men. His mouth was one of mingled power and sweetness. His majesty of air was natural, not studied. Though full of personal and prophetic dignity whenever occasion demanded, he could at other times unbend and be as happy and unconventional as a boy. This was one of his most striking characteristics; and it was sometimes held up to scorn by his traducers, that the chosen *’man of God” should at times mingle as a man of earth with his earthly brethren.

Louisa Young Littlefield, met the Prophet as a 12 year old girl in 1834:

I will speak of a prominent trait of his character which was perhaps more marked in his early career than was the case after public cares and responsibilities multiplied upon him from so many sources. I mean his natural fondness for children. In Kirtland, when wagon loads of grown people and children came in from the country to meeting, Joseph would make his way to as many of the wagons as he well could and cordially shake the hand of each person. Every child and young babe in the company were especially noticed by him and tenderly taken by the hand, with his kind words and blessings. He loved innocence and purity, and he seemed to find it in the greatest perfection with the prattling child.

James Worthington Phippen:

I was favorably impressed with his noble mien, his stately form and his pleasant, smiling face and cheerful conversation.  Before I ever saw Joseph Smith I was satisfied that he was a man inspired of God, and when I beheld him if anything further could have increased my knowledge of him being a Prophet of the Lord, I was confirmed. During my acquaintance with him from 1839 until 1844, his teachings and examples were strong proof to me of his divine calling, without the inspiration of the Lord. I was an attentive listener and observer of the teachings, sayings and example of the Prophet Joseph Smith from the first time I saw him till the month of May, 1844, at which time I left Nauvoo for the state of New York on a mission. And being quite familiar with the history of his life as written, I remember many sayings recorded that I heard him utter. In common with those who were acquainted with his public life and doings in the midst of the Saints in Nauvoo, I had great joy and satisfaction in listening to his teachings.

Emmeline B Wells, 5th Relief Society General President:

In his manner he was gentle and kindly, and he was always affectionate to his friends, and at times demonstrative. He was strong and ardent in his nature and valued highly the quality of sincerity in friendship. He was manly to an unusual degree, yet tender-hearted as a woman on occasions. In his tastes he was literary as well as spiritual, fond of the drama, of music and of poetry. A very dear friend of mine who knew the Prophet intimately . . .[said] that she had known him to shed tears when hearing some specially fine vocal music, particularly old-fashioned songs and ballads. With such noble characteristics it is not strange that he was so intensely beloved.

John S. Reed, lawyer who helped Joseph Smith  in some of his early law suits:

… The first acquaintance I had with General Smith was about the year 1823. He came into my neighborhood, being then about eighteen years of age, and resided there two years, during which time I became intimately acquainted with him. I do know that his character was irreproachable, and that he was well known for truth and uprightness; that he moved in the first circles of the community, and he was often spoken of as a young man of intelligence and good morals, and possessing a mind susceptible of the highest intellectual attainments. I early discovered that his mind was constantly in search of truth, expressing an anxious desire to know the will of God.

Peter H. Burnett, a former Governor of California:

You could see at a glance that his education was very limited. He was an awkward and vehement speaker. In conversation he was slow, and used too many words to express his ideas, and would not generally go directly to a point. But, with all these drawbacks, he was much more than an ordinary man. He possessed the most indomitable perseverance, was a good judge of men, and deemed himself born to command, and he did command. His views were so strange and striking, and his manner was so earnest, and apparently so candid, that you could not but be interested. There was a kind, familiar look about him, that pleased you. He was very courteous in discussion, readily admitting what he did not intend to controvert, and would not oppose you abruptly, but had due deference to your feelings. He had the capacity for discussing a subject in different aspects, and for proposing many original views, even of ordinary matters. His illustrations were his own. He had great influence over others. As an evidence of this I will state that on Thursday, just before I left to return to Liberty [Missouri], I saw him out among the crowd, conversing freely with every one, and seeming to be perfectly at ease. In the short space of five days he had managed so to mollify his enemies that he could go unprotected among them without the slightest danger.

Dr. John M. Bernhisel, close friend of Joseph Smith:

Having been a boarder in General Smith’s family for more than nine months, and having therefore had abundant opportunities of contemplating his character and observing his conduct, I have concluded to give you a few of my “impressions” of him.

General Joseph Smith is naturally a man of strong mental powers, and is possessed of much energy and decision of character, great penetration, and a profound knowledge of human nature. He is a man of calm judgment, enlarged views, and is eminently distinguished by his love of justice. He is kind and obliging, generous and benevolent, sociable and cheerful, and is possessed of a mind of a contemplative and reactive character. He is honest, frank, fearless and independent, and as free from dissimulation as any man to be found.

But it is in the gentle charities of domestic life, as the tender and affectionate husband and parent, the warm and sympathizing friend, that the prominent traits of his character are revealed, and his heart is felt to be keenly alive to the kindest and softest emotions of which human nature is susceptible; and I feel assured that his family and friends formed one of the greatest consolations to him while the vials of wrath were poured upon his head, while his footsteps were pursued by malice and envy, and reproach and slander were strewn in his path, as well as during numerous and cruel persecutions, and severe and protracted sufferings in chains and loathsome prisons, for worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

He is a true lover of his country, and a bright and shining example of integrity and moral excellence in all the relations of life. As a religious teacher, as well as a man, he is greatly beloved by this people. It is almost superfluous to add that the numerous ridiculous and scandalous reports in circulation respecting him have not the least foundation in truth.

Lorenzo Snow

I shall never forget the first time I saw Joseph Smith. It was in Father Johnson’s house, in the township of Hiram, in the State of Ohio, about twenty-five miles from Kirtland. It was near Father Johnson’s where the mob tarred and feathered him. When I saw him he was standing in the doorway. Before him was a small bowery occupied by about a hundred and fifty or two hundred men and women. There for the first time I heard his voice. When I heard his testimony in regard to what the Lord had revealed to him, it seemed to me that he must be an honest man. He talked and looked like an honest man. He was an honest man.

Margarette McIntire Burgess, convert who lived in Nauvoo as a child:

Another time my older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph’s brick store. It had been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got fast in the mud, and could not get out, and of course childlike, we began to cry, for we thought we would have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavyladen shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing.

Brigham Young:

When I first heard him preach, he brought heaven and earth together; and all the priests of the day could not tell me anything correct about heaven, hell, God, angels, or devils; they were as blind as Egyptian darkness. When I saw Joseph Smith, he took heaven, figuratively speaking, and brought it down to earth; and he took the earth, brought it up, and opened up in plainness and simplicity, the things of God; and that is the beauty of his mission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

D&C 131: 1 Celestial glory

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

D&C 49:15 Marriage is ordained of God

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

D&C 132:7 The Holy Spirit of Promise

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

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

Watch: Holy Spirit of Promise

2. Youth should prepare now for eternal marriage.

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

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

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

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

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

D&C 42:22 With all thy heart

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