Posted in Finances, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 17: The Law of Tithing and the Law of the Fast

1. The Lord has commanded us to pay tithing. He has promised great blessings to those who obey this commandment.

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See: Revelations in Context: The tithing of my people

D&C 119:4 One tenth of all their interest annually

‘Tithing is so simple and straightforward a thing. The principle, as it applies to us, is actually set forth in one verse of section 119 of the Doctrine and Covenants. That fourth verse consists of thirty-five words. Contrast that with the cumbersome and complex tax codes enacted and enforced by governments. In the one case it is a brief statement from the Lord, the payment left to the individual and motivated by faith. With the other it is a tangled web created by men and enforced by law. ‘(Gordon B Hinckley, “The Miracle Made Possible by Faith,” Ensign, May 1984, 47)

D&C 59:21 Gratitude

‘The payment of tithing helps us develop a submissive and humble heart and a grateful heart that tends to “confess … his hand in all things”  D&C 59:21 Tithe-paying fosters in us a generous and forgiving heart and a charitable heart full of the pure love of Christ. We become eager to serve and bless others with an obedient heart, submissive to the Lord’s will. Regular tithe payers find their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ strengthened, and they develop a firm, abiding testimony of His gospel and of His Church. None of these blessings are monetary or material in any way, but surely they are the Lord’s richest blessings.’ (Carl B Pratt, General Conference, April 2011)

D&C 120:1 The Council on the Disposition of the Tithes

‘Before my call to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, I read many times in the Doctrine and Covenants about the council appointed to oversee and disburse sacred tithing funds. The Council on the Disposition of the Tithes was established by revelation and consists of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric (see D&C 120). As I prepared in December of 2004 to attend my first meeting of this council, I eagerly anticipated a most remarkable learning opportunity.

I still remember the things I experienced and felt in that council. I gained a greater appreciation and reverence for the Lord’s laws of finance for individuals, for families, and for His Church. The basic financial program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—for both income and disbursement—is defined in sections 119 and 120 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Two statements found in these revelations provide the foundation for the fiscal affairs of the Church.

Section 119 simply states that all members “shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, … saith the Lord” (verse 4).

Then, concerning the authorized disbursement of the tithes, the Lord said, “It shall be disposed of by a council, composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council, and by my high council; and by mine own voice unto them, saith the Lord” (D&C 120:1). The “bishop and his council” and “my high council” referred to in this revelation are known today as the Presiding Bishopric and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, respectively. These sacred funds are used in a rapidly growing church to spiritually bless individuals and families by constructing and maintaining temples and houses of worship, supporting missionary work, translating and publishing scriptures, fostering family history research, funding schools and religious education, and accomplishing many other Church purposes as directed by the Lord’s ordained servants.

I marvel at the clarity and brevity of these two revelations in comparison to the complicated financial guidelines and administrative procedures used in so many organizations and governments around the world. How can the temporal affairs of an organization as large as the restored Church of Jesus Christ possibly operate throughout the entire world using such succinct instructions? To me the answer is quite straightforward: this is the Lord’s work, He is able to do His own work (see 2 Nephi 27:20), and the Savior inspires and directs His servants as they apply His directions and labor in His cause.

In that first council meeting I was impressed by the simplicity of the principles that guided our deliberations and decisions. In the financial operations of the Church, two basic and fixed principles are observed. First, the Church lives within its means and does not spend more than it receives. Second, a portion of the annual income is set aside as a reserve for contingencies and unanticipated needs. For decades the Church has taught its membership the principle of setting aside additional food, fuel, and money to take care of emergencies that might arise. The Church as an institution simply follows the same principles that are taught repeatedly to the members.

As the meeting progressed, I found myself wishing that all members of the Church could observe the simplicity, the clarity, the orderliness, the charity, and the power of the Lord’s own way (see D&C 104:16) for conducting the temporal affairs of His Church. I have now participated in the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes for many years. My gratitude and reverence for the Lord’s pattern has grown each year, and the lessons learned have become even more profound.

My heart swells with love and admiration for the faithful and obedient members of this Church from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. As I travel the earth, I learn about your hopes and dreams, your varied living conditions and circumstances, and your struggles. I have attended Church meetings with you and visited in some of your homes. Your faith strengthens my faith. Your devotion makes me more devoted. And your goodness and willing obedience to the law of tithing inspires me to be a better man, husband, father, and Church leader. I remember and think of you each time I participate in the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes. Thank you for your goodness and faithfulness as you honor your covenants.

The leaders of the Lord’s restored Church feel a tremendous responsibility to care appropriately for the consecrated offerings of Church members. We are keenly aware of the sacred nature of the widow’s mite.

“And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

“And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

“And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

“For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:41–44).

I know from firsthand experience that the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes is vigilant in caring for the widow’s mite. I express appreciation to President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors for their effective leadership in discharging this holy stewardship. And I acknowledge the voice (see D&C 120:1) and hand of the Lord that sustain His ordained servants in fulfilling the duty to represent Him.’ (David A Bednar, “The Windows of Heaven,” Ensign, November 2013)

2. The Lord has commanded us to fast and to pay generous fast offerings.

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D&C 59:13 That Thy fasting may be perfect

“Now, while the law requires the Saints in all the world to fast from ‘even to even’ and to abstain both from food and drink, it can easily be seen from the Scriptures, and especially from the words of Jesus, that it is more important to obtain the true spirit of love for God and man, ‘purity of heart and simplicity of intention,’ than it is to carry out the cold letter of the law. The Lord has instituted the fast on a reasonable and intelligent basis, and none of his works are vain or unwise. His law is perfect in this as in other things. Hence, those who can are required to comply thereto; it is a duty from which they cannot escape; but let it be remembered that the observance of the fast day by abstaining twenty-four hours from food and drink is not an absolute rule, it is no iron-clad law to us, but it is left with the people as a matter of conscience, to exercise wisdom and discretion. Many are subject to weakness, others are delicate in health, and others have nursing babies; of such it should not be required to fast. Neither should parents compel their little children to fast. I have known children to cry for something to eat on fast day. In such cases, going without food will do them no good. Instead, they dread the day to come, and in place of hailing it, dislike it; while the compulsion engenders a spirit of rebellion in them, rather than a love for the Lord and their fellows. Better teach them the principle, and let them observe it when they are old enough to choose intelligently, than to so compel them.

“But those should fast who can, and all classes among us should be taught to save the meals which they would eat, or their equivalent, for the poor. None are exempt from this; it is required of the Saints, old and young, in every part of the Church. It is no excuse that in some places there are no poor. In such cases the fast donation should be forwarded to the proper authorities for transmission to such stakes of Zion as may stand in need.” (Joseph F Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 243–44.)

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 16: “Thou Shalt … Offer Up Thy Sacraments upon My Holy Day”

1. The Lord established the Sabbath.

First Presidency Statement on the Sabbath, January 1993

Since the creation of the earth, the Sabbath day has been established by God for the spiritual well-being of His children. Throughout generations of time, the sacred law of the Sabbath has been upheld by the prophets of God as a holy observance to help sanctify and bring joy to those who would keep the commandments of the Lord. So important is this matter that the observance of the Sabbath was one of the Ten Commandments written by the finger of the Lord on Mount Sinai.

Shortly after the restoration of the gospel, the Lord reaffirmed the importance of Sabbath day observance when He declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
“Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
“But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
“And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.’ (D&C 59:9–13.)

We sense that many Latter-day Saints have become lax in their observance of the Sabbath day. We should refrain from shopping on the Sabbath and participating in other commercial and sporting activities that now commonly desecrate the Sabbath.

We urge all Latter-day Saints to set this holy day apart from activities of the world and consecrate themselves by entering into a spirit of worship, thanksgiving, service, and family-centered activities appropriate to the Sabbath. As Church members endeavor to make their Sabbath activities compatible with the intent and Spirit of the Lord, their lives will be filled with joy and peace.

Ezra Taft Benson
Gordon B. Hinckley
Thomas S. Monson

2. Pay devotions to God by worshiping Him in Sunday Church meetings.

Watch video: Keep thyself unspotted from the world. President Hinckley teaches how to “keep thyself unspotted from the world (D&C 59:9-14).”

D&C 59:9 Thou shalt go to the house of prayer

“To serve the Lord, is one of the great objects of our existence; and I appreciate as a great privilege the opportunity we enjoy of worshiping God on the Sabbath day. And when we do meet to worship God, I like to see us worship him with all our hearts. I think it altogether out of place on such occasions to hear people talk about secular things; these are times, above all others perhaps, when our feelings and affections should be drawn out towards God. If we sing praises to God, let us do it in the proper spirit; if we pray, let every soul be engaged in prayer, doing it with all our hearts, that through our union our spirits may be blended in one, that our prayers and our worship may be available with God, whose Spirit permeates all things, and is always present in the assemblies of good and faithful Saints.” (John Taylor In Journal of Discourses, 22:226.)

D&C 25:12 The song of the heart

“Alexander Schreiner, one of the great tabernacle organists, recalled a story about someone who asked a music director how he could stand to hear Brother Stanton bellow off-key at Church gatherings. The wise old leader replied, ‘Brother Stanton is one of our most devout worshipers, and when he bellows he is a supreme musician. . . . Don’t pay too much attention to the sounds he makes. If you do, you may miss the music.'” (Ensign, March 2000, p. 19)

3. Pay devotions to God by partaking of the sacrament.

Watch video: The sabbath and the sacrament (L Tom Perry, April 2011)

Watch video: Reverence the sacrament Elder Quentin L. Cook explains explains that through taking the sacrament, we show our willingness to follow the Saviour.

Watch video: Upon my holy day – getting closer to God. Elder Jeffery R. Holland discusses how we can draw closer to God on the Sabbath.

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D&C 59:12 Thou shalt offer thine oblations

‘One thing that greatly disturbs me as I go around a little bit is the consciousness of the great number of people who are losing their opportunities and their blessings by the misuse of the Sabbath day. All of our lives we have heard of the great wonders that can be accomplished by even fifteen minutes a day devoted to well-directed study and concentrated thought. We know of many who have raised themselves to great heights of achievement by this simple means. But think how wonderfully we can upgrade our spirituality by making effective use of “The Lord’s Day”  D&C 59:12 which he has set aside especially to enrich our lives.’ (Sterling W Sill, General Conference, April 1957)

4. Pay devotions to God by resting from your labours.

D&C 59:10 Rest from your labours

‘The scripture therefore requires that we not only desist from our usual pursuits, on his holy day, but that we do so with a particular purpose in mind, which is, that we may more properly and without interference pay our devotions unto the Most High. In plain, blunt words, we are commanded to change our usual routine and go to church and worship God on the Sabbath.’ (Mark E Petersen, General Conference, April 1975)

5. The Lord blesses those who keep the Sabbath day holy.

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D&C 59:16-17 The fulness of the earth is yours

‘I wish I had the power to convert this whole Church to the observance of the Sabbath. I know our people would be more richly blessed of the Lord if they would walk in faithfulness in the observance of the Sabbath. ‘(Earl C. Tingey, “The Sabbath Day and Sunday Shopping,” Ensign, May 1996, 10)

 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Holy Ghost, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 15: “Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts”

1. All faithful members of the Church can receive gifts of the Spirit.

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D&C 46:13 It is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God

‘It will take study of the word of God. It will take prayer and anxious seeking of the source of all truth. It will take living the gospel, … following the teachings. I do not hesitate to promise, because I know from personal experience, that out of all of this will come, by the power of the Holy Ghost, a conviction, a testimony, a certain knowledge.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Ye May Know That He Is,” Ensign, Feb. 1997, 31)

D&C 46:14 To others it is given to believe on their words

‘”To some it is given,” says the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants, “by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world”  (D&C 46:13)

It is to these I refer who stand firm upon the rock of revelation in the testimony that they bear to the world. But the Lord says further that there are those to whom it is given to believe upon the testimony of the words of others  (D&C 46:14) Note that. They believe upon the words of others that they may also receive salvation if they continue faithful. For all these, however, there comes a testimony also of daily experience. The members of the Church throughout the world find confirmation of their testimony in every performance of duty. They know that the gospel teaches them to be better individuals, that obedience to the principles of the gospel makes them stronger men and truer women. Every day such knowledge comes to them, and they cannot gainsay it. They know that obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ makes them happier, better, and truer husbands, true and honored wives, obedient children. They know that obedience to the principles of the gospel makes them in every respect ideal home builders. The ideal is there. They sense it in their minds. They cannot gainsay it. They know it, and they know that transgression of these principles will have the opposite effect upon their individual lives and upon their home lives. They know that obedience to the gospel fosters true brotherhood and fellowship among mankind. They know that they are better citizens by virtue of obedience to the laws and ordinances So, as they go through their daily activities and apply religion in their weekly vocations, the truth of the gospel becomes exemplified in their lives, thus with a testimony of the Spirit, the testimony of reason, and the testimony of daily experience, members of the Church throughout the world stand impregnable. (David O McKay, General Conference, October 1960)

D&C 46:15 The differences of administration

‘There are two spiritual gifts in particular—the gifts of administration and of discernment—that the Lord has placed in his church to keep his people from being led astray. The saints need not fall heir to false doctrine; they have no need to accept false ordinances; they need not be led astray by false gifts; and their worship can be kept pure and perfect—as long as these two gifts are in active operation.

Paul says that “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” Then he names some of the spiritual gifts that are administered or dispensed to the individual saints. He compares these gifts to the members or parts of the body, each gift being a separate member but all of them together forming one body. The church, he says, is “the body of Christ,” and each of the saints is a part or member of that body. Apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healings, governments—all of these, he says, are found in the true church. And through the officers named, the church is governed and the gospel is administered. (1 Corinthians 12.)

Paul then gives a comparison between charity and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 13), followed by a long discussion on the relative importance of prophecy and tongues. Following this, certain conclusions are reached, such as: All things are to be done unto edifying. Only two or three should speak in tongues in one meeting. An interpreter must always be present. Two or three prophets may speak while the other prophets sit in judgment upon their words. All prophetic utterances are subject to and governed by other prophets. Presiding prophets are always in control. There is to be no confusion, no disorder. All things are to be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14.) That is to say, there is order and system in the church. Someone is always in charge. Members do not act independently as their whims dictate. The Lord’s house is a house of order. Someone with discernment sits in judgment on what is said and done, rejecting the bad and approving the good.

Moroni says that “there are different ways that these gifts [of God] are administered.” (Moroni 10:8.) In the revelation on spiritual gifts that has come in our day, the Lord approaches the problem directly. He says: “Ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally.” It is the Lord’s work; he will determine what ought to be done and said in his church. “And that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving.” Manifestly, anyone who walks in such a godly course will be in tune with the Spirit and will know the mind and will of the Lord. As to why the saints must so seek and so live, the divine word says: “That ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils. Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts.”

The gifts used in administering and regulating the church are then named: “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.” All of the gifts of the Spirit must be dispensed in an orderly way, according to the needs and conditions of the moment. All of the affairs of the earthly kingdom must be administered as changing needs and circumstances require.

Also: “It is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.” It is to the gift of discernment that reference is here made. Appointed leaders must be able to divide true doctrine from false, to single out true prophets from the false, to discern between true spirits and false ones.

“And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God. And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; that unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby.” (D&C 46:7-29.)

As long as the Lord’s people enjoy the gifts of the Spirit, including the gifts of administration and discernment, they will never go astray. And “all these gifts, which are spiritual,” Moroni says, “never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.” (Moroni 10:19.)’ (Bruce R McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.277-278)

D&C 46:16 The gift to know the diversity of operations

‘The world today is filled with false philosophies and false prophets. This gift gives one the ability to distinguish between those things that are of the devil and those that are of God. To avoid deception requires constant vigilance and acquiring the gift or following those who have received the gift; otherwise, even the elect, according to the covenant, could be deceived.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 46:17-18 Wisdom and knowledge

‘Gaining knowledge is one thing and applying it, quite another. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge; and true education-the education for which the Church stands-is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character.

A man may possess a profound knowledge of history and of mathematics; he may be authority in psychology, biology, or astronomy; he may know all the discovered truths pertaining to geology and natural science; but if he has not with this knowledge that nobility of soul which prompts him to deal justly with his fellow men, to practice virtue and holiness in personal life, he is not a truly educated man.’ (Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953], 440.)

Knowledge-Hierarchy

D&C 46:19 Faith to be healed

‘Though the authority to administer to the sick belongs to the elders of the Church in general, some possess this power in an unusual degree, having received it as an especial endowment of the Spirit. Another gift, allied to this, is that of having faith to be healed, which is manifested in varying degrees. Not always are the administrations of the elders followed by immediate healings; the afflicted may be permitted to suffer in body, perhaps for the accomplishment of good purposes, and in the time appointed all must experience bodily death. But let the counsels of God be observed in administering to the afflicted; then if they recover, they live unto the Lord; and the assuring promise is added that those who die under such conditions die unto the Lord.’ (James E Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 205)

D&C 46:20 Faith to heal

‘Faith to heal the sick is one of the most desirable gifts of the gospel and should be sought after by all Melchizedek Priesthood holders. They should always be ready to exercise this power in behalf of those who need a blessing. They should seek to have and develop the gift of faith, faith to heal and faith to be healed. “And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith,” the Lord has said, “they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.” (D&C 35:9.)

Administration to the sick should be done at the request of the sick persons or someone close to them who is concerned about them, that it might be done through their faith.’ (James A Cullimore, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 28)

D&C 46:21 The working of miracles

“I bear my witness to you that if a record had been made of all those who have been afflicted, those who have been given up to die, and who have been healed by the power of God since the establishment of the Church of Christ in our day, it would make a book much larger than the New Testament. More miracles have been performed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than we have any account of in the days of the Savior and His Apostles. Today, sickness is cured by spiritual power … The dead have been raised. My own brother was announced to be dead, but by the prayer of faith he lives and presides over one of the stakes of Zion. I know, as I know I live, that the healing power of Almighty God … is in the Church of Christ of which you and I are members.” (Heber J Grant, Conference Reports, October 6, 1910, p. 119)

D&C 46:22 The gift of prophecy

“All members of the Church should seek for the gift of prophecy, for their own guidance, which is the spirit by which the word of the Lord is understood and his purpose made known.” (Joseph FielChurch History and Modern Revelation, 3 vols., Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Co., 1953, 1:201.)

D&C 46:23 Discerning of spirits

‘First, I mention the gift of discernment, embodying the power to discriminate, which has been spoken of in our hearing before, particularly as between right and wrong. I believe that this gift when highly developed arises largely out of an acute sensitivity to impressions-spiritual impressions, if you will-to read under the surface as it were, to detect hidden evil, and more importantly to find the good that may be concealed. The highest type of discernment is that which perceives in others and uncovers for them their better natures, the good inherent within them. It is the gift every missionary needs when he takes the gospel to the people of the world. He must make an appraisal of every personality whom he meets. He must be able to discern the hidden spark that may be lighted for truth. The gift of discernment will save him from mistakes and embarrassment, and it will never fail to inspire confidence in the one who is rightly appraised.’ (Stephen L Richards, Where Is Wisdom? [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955], 199 – 200.)

D&C 46:24-25 Speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues

“Be not so curious about tongues, do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present; the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners, and if persons are very anxious to display their intelligence, let them speak to such in their own tongues. The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God does not intend, they prove an injury, a snare and a curse instead of a blessing.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:31–32)

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2. God gives gifts of the Spirit for the benefit of His children.

D&C 46:9 And him that seeketh so to do

‘When there was a controversy in the early Church regarding who was entitled to heaven’s blessings and who wasn’t, the Lord declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Verily I say unto you, [the gifts of God] are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep … my commandments, and [for them] that seeketh so to do.” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:9) Boy, aren’t we all thankful for that added provision “and … seeketh so to do”! That has been a lifesaver because sometimes that is all we can offer! We take some solace in the fact that if God were to reward only the perfectly faithful, He wouldn’t have much of a distribution list.’ (Jeffrey R Holland, General Conference, April 2016)

D&C 46:11-12, 26 To some is given one

‘Spiritual gifts are endless in number and infinite in variety. Those listed in the revealed word are simply illustrations of the boundless outpouring of divine grace that a gracious God gives those who love and serve him. ‘ (Bruce R McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.367-377)

3. We should seek and cultivate gifts of the Spirit.

D&C 46:8 Seek ye earnestly the best gifts

“What are the best gifts, or what gifts ought we seek? The answer: those gifts that would find best service in the office and call that is ours. For the Apostle it may be the testimony of Christ. For the bishop it may be the gift of discernment. For a patriarch it will likely be the gift of prophecy. A faithful father might seek to be endowed with the gift of wisdom, while a mother might yearn in prayer for the pure love of Christ. The newly called missionary might seek to speak with the tongue of angels. And so forth. With the companionship of the Holy Ghost comes the right to a gift, but none are limited to a single gift save those who fail to seek others.” (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Joseph Smith: The Choice Seer [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 33)

D&C 46:7 Ask of God

‘Now the Lord would give us gifts. He will quicken our minds. He will give us knowledge that will clear up all difficulties, and put us in harmony with the commandments that he has given us, and with a knowledge that will be so deeply rooted in our souls that the knowledge can never be rooted out, if we will just seek for the light and the truth and the understanding which is promised to us, and which we can receive if we will only be true and faithful to every covenant and obligation pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ.’ Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, October 1958)

D&C 46:32 Give thanks unto God

‘And about what shall we pray in our prayers? We should express joyful and sincere gratitude for past blessings. The Lord has said, “And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with.” (D&C 46:32.) A wonderful and assuring spirit comes over us as we express sincere gratitude to Heavenly Father for our blessings-for the gospel and the knowledge of it that we have been blessed to receive, for the efforts and labors of parents and others in our behalf, for our families and friends, for opportunities, for mind and body and life, for experiences good and helpful throughout our lives, for all of our Father’s helps and kindnesses and answered prayers.’ (Spencer W Kimball, “Pray Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1981, 4)

 

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 14: The Law of Consecration

1. The Lord revealed the law of consecration to the Saints.

See Revelations in Context: The Law

D&C 42:30 Consecrate of thy properties

“In principle, consecration means to give all we possess or may possess to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to administer to the poor and needy and to build Zion, the New Jerusalem (see v. 35). Only those who are willing to give everything to the Lord are worthy to receive everything from him. All Church members who have been to the temple have covenanted to live the law of consecration, though at present the institutional expectations of the Church require them to live only the law of tithing (see D&C 119) and to accept those demands on their resources that are made in their home wards and branches. Those who have difficulty living the law of tithing, which gives only 10 percent of our increase to the Lord, will undoubtedly have even greater difficulty living the law of consecration, which gives 100 percent to the Lord. Those individuals who have accepted the law of consecration by covenant yet will not observe the law of tithing or make other sacrifices of time or resources requested of them have broken their temple covenants.

“Consecration requires faith that the principle will work and unselfishness to give our possessions to help the poor or the cause of Zion. A Zion people eventually will not have any poor among them (see D&C 104:16; 4 Nephi 1:3; Moses 7:18), so implementing the law of consecration is necessary in order to establish Zion.

“The principle of consecration can be applied in several different ways. A possible application in the early Church was the system instituted in Ohio and Missouri between 1831 and 1833 (see D&C 51, 56, 72). Another was the united order (see D&C 78:3-12; 92:1; 104:53), and still another was the implementation of various united orders in the Salt Lake Great Basin. But when Zion is established in the last days, the principle of consecration might be applied differently than it has been earlier. The ‘law of consecration’ and the ‘united order’ are not necessarily synonymous terms, and one should recognize the difference between the principle of consecration itself and the many different possible systems under which the financial portions of that principle might be implemented.” (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 2:21-22)

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D&C 42:35 Purposes of the law of consecration

‘The law of consecration … is that one’s time, talents, strength, property, and money are given up to the Lord for the express purpose of building up the kingdom of God and establishing Zion on the earth.’ (Ezra Taft Benson, Brigham Young University, 12 April 1977)

D&C 42:40 Let all thy garments be plain

“This [verse] doesn’t refer to the time of Isaiah nor to the time of Alma, but comes right down to the day in which we live. Through His prophets He admonishes us with reference to our duties, and among the things He says are these: ‘And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands.’ What a splendid thing to contemplate in our community. …

“Now, my brethren and sisters, I think that is worthy of our consideration. When discussing the high cost of living, examine your own household, and I am talking to myself while I talk to you. Am I increasing the cost of living by extravagance, or am I teaching my family to make the garments they wear? …

“Let us set an example; let us live within our means; let us be lenders instead of borrowers; let us not place our homes or the lands that produce our living under mortgages, in order that we may ride in fine conveyances or keep up with the pace set by our neighbors who may be able to afford it. Let us be more concerned about the adornment of our minds that are eternal, rather than adornment of our persons with things that are of no lasting benefit.” (George Albert Smith, In Conference Report, Apr. 1915, p. 97.)

D&C 42:42 Thou shalt not be idle

‘In this last dispensation, the Lord has again spoken plainly on the subject. “Thou shalt not be idle,” he said. “For he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” (D&C 42:42.) “And the idler shall not have place in the Church, except he repent and mend his ways.” (D&C 75:29.)

In light of these scriptures, no member should desire or seek to voluntarily shift the responsibility for his own maintenance to another. Rather, each member, through work, should seek to find great satisfaction in personal achievement; and thus, he will be entitled to the fruits of his labors-both temporal and spiritual.

Furthermore, self-reliance, as we understand it, implies at least one additional thought-personal accountability. Abinadi tells us that in spiritual matters, we shall all be “brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to [our] works whether they be good or whether they be evil.” (Mosiah 16:10.)

Just as each individual is accountable for his choices and actions in spiritual matters, so also is he accountable in temporal matters. If we have been frugal and saved for a rainy day, then we can more easily weather the financial storm. If we have lived beyond our means, then we pay the consequences of our own actions when the bills come.’ (Marion G Romney, “Principles of Temporal Salvation,” Ensign, Apr. 1981, 4)

D&C 51:9 Be alike

‘Under the united order everyone was alike in that they were independent and had full opportunity to use their gifts and talents in building the kingdom of God. They were also alike in that all had equal opportunity to benefit from whatever talents and abilities existed in the community. The idea that everyone was alike in goods possessed or income received is in error. The order was united in love, purpose, and commitment, but unity does not mean sameness. A couple with seven children has needs different from one just beginning married life.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 78:3-7 Equal in earthly things

‘It was because Enoch and his people were united in temporal things as also in heavenly things, that they met with such success that the Lord took them. Had there been inequality, selfishness, bickerings, and accusations against Enoch, as we have accusations and fault-finding against the brethren whom the Lord has appointed in this day, then Enoch’s city might have found its fate along with all the rest of the world, in Noah’s day.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 75 – 76.)

D&C 78:14 Stand independent

‘When the winds blow and the rains pour, they blow and pour on all. Those who have built their foundations on bedrock rather than sand survive the storms. [See  Matthew 7:24–27] There is a way to build on bedrock by developing a deep personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing how to receive inspiration. We must know—and know that we know. We must stand spiritually and temporally independent of all worldly creatures. [See  D&C 78:14] This begins by understanding that God the Father is the Father of our spirits and that He loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior, and that the Holy Ghost can communicate with our minds and our hearts. [See  D&C 8:2–3] This is how we receive inspiration. We need to learn how to recognize and apply these promptings.’ (Allen F Packer, General Conference, April 2009)

D&C 82:17-19 Every man seeking the interest of his neighbour

“It is verily true that before we can enter into the celestial kingdom we will have to learn how to live in unity with the love of our fellows at heart, desiring their good as well as our own, and not preferring ourselves before them. Here the Lord gave to the Church the plan and the opportunity to prepare themselves by obedience to celestial law. They failed, and the privilege to practice this law of consecration had to be postponed because we were not able to esteem our neighbor as ourselves.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:322.)

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2. The law of consecration is an eternal law.

‘[God] has from the beginning of time provided ways for His disciples to help. He has invited His children to consecrate their time, their means, and themselves to join with Him in serving others.

His way of helping has at times been called living the law of consecration. In another period His way was called the united order. In our time it is called the Church welfare program.

The names and the details of operation are changed to fit the needs and conditions of people. But always the Lord’s way to help those in temporal need requires people who out of love have consecrated themselves and what they have to God and to His work.

He has invited and commanded us to participate in His work to lift up those in need. We make a covenant to do that in the waters of baptism and in the holy temples of God. We renew the covenant on Sundays when we partake of the sacrament.’ (Henry B Eyring, “Opportunities to Do Good,” Ensign, May 2011)

‘We are not always called upon to live the whole law of consecration and give all of our time, talents, and means to the building up of the Lord’s earthly kingdom. Few of us are called upon to sacrifice much of what we possess, and at the moment there is only an occasional martyr in the cause of revealed religion.

But what the scriptural account means is that to gain celestial salvation we must be able to live these laws to the full if we are called upon to do so. Implicit in this is the reality that we must in fact live them to the extent we are called upon so to do.

How, for instance, can we establish our ability to live the full law of consecration if we do not in fact pay an honest tithing? Or how can we prove our willingness to sacrifice all things, if need be, if we do not make the small sacrifices of time and toil, or of money and means, that we are now asked to make?

As a young man, serving at the direction of my bishop, I called upon a rich man and invited him to contribute a thousand dollars to a building fund. He declined. But he did say he wanted to help, and if we would have a ward dinner and charge $5 per plate, he would take two tickets. About ten days later this man died unexpectedly of a heart attack, and I have wondered ever since about the fate of his eternal soul.’ (Bruce R McConkie, Ensign, May 1975, 50)

3. We can consecrate our lives to the Lord now.

D&C 104:13 Every man accountable

‘If there is one principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ that goes directly to the very foundation of justice and righteousness, it is that great and glorious and God-like principle that every man will have to render an account for that which he does, and every man will be rewarded for his works, whether they be good or evil. ‘(Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 69.)

D&C 19:26 Thou shalt not covet thine own property

‘As we consider ourselves trustees of wealth for the benefit of God’s children, we should not worship property, whether it be of great or small value. If we are guilty of worshiping property, then we have need to repent and straighten out our values.

A person who places the wealth of this world in the scales against the things of God evidences little understanding of eternal values.

We talk about making sacrifices to build the kingdom of God, but the word to me is a misnomer—to be able to participate in building the kingdom is a great privilege and blessing.’ (Franklin D Richards, General Conference, April 1971)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Doctrine, Uncategorized

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 13: “This Generation Shall Have My Word through You”

1. The Lord declared that the people in this dispensation would receive His word through Joseph Smith.

D&C 5:10 This generation shall have my word through you

“I’ve listed the most prolific scriptural producers besides Joseph Smith:

Mormon 338 pages
Moses 308 pages
Jeremiah 170 pages
Paul 122 pages
Nephi 117 pages
Luke 103 pages
Unknown writer of Chronicles 86 pages
Isaiah 81 pages
Unknown writer of 1 and 2 Samuel 81 pages
John 74 pages

“Now consider Joseph Smith’s accomplishments in bringing forth scripture:

Book of Mormon 531 pages
Doctrine and Covenants 1-134 280 pages
Pearl of Great Price 58 pages
Joseph Smith Translation 30 pages

“These 10 most prolific scriptural producers authored a total of 1,480 pages. Joseph Smith alone was responsible for 900. His total pages equal nearly 61 percent of the total pages of the other top 10 producers, and he is responsible for nearly three times as many pages as either of the two next highest scriptural producers, Mormon and Moses. Before Joseph Smith, the world had only the 1,590 pages of the Bible; through this one man, the Lord increased our scriptural library by more than half.

“Yet counting pages serves only to indicate how prodigious the Prophet Joseph Smith’s efforts were; what really matters is the content of the new scriptures that he gave to the world. Joseph Smith gave us new or expanded knowledge about a full spectrum of gospel topics:

  • The nature of the Godhead
  • The role and functions of the Holy Ghost
  • The nature of intelligences
  • The premortal existence
  • The Council in Heaven
  • Jesus Christ’s and Lucifer’s premortal roles
  • The Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement
  • Family and parental responsibilities
  • Priesthood keys, organization, and ordinances
  • The laws of consecration and stewardship
  • The temple endowment and temple sealings
  • Work for the dead
  • Spirit paradise and spirit prison
  • The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
  • The three degrees of glory and outer darkness

“In addition to canonized scripture, Joseph Smith also gave us many journals, sermons, lectures, and histories that provide additional gospel teachings and knowledge of the Lord’s work in the latter days. As the Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘This generation shall have my word through you [the Prophet Joseph Smith]’ (D&C 5:10).

“In fact, it could be truly said that the depth and consistency of the gospel’s saving doctrines can be traced to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s accomplishment in bringing forth new scriptures. ‘I never told you I was perfect,’ Joseph Smith said, ‘but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught’ (History of the Church, 6:366).” (Gerald N Lund, “A Prophet for the Fulness of Times,” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 52-53)

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2. Many ancient and latter-day scriptures have come through Joseph Smith.

See This generation shall have my word through you by Elder Bruce R McConkie

See Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham. This Gospel Topics essay discusses the book of Abraham, addressing questions that have been raised about the relationship between the papyri Joseph Smith obtained and the text we have today.

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D&C 35:20 Thou shalt write for him

“To Sidney He gave a special command that he should write for Joseph. The Lord made known to Sidney what Joseph already understood—that the Scriptures should be given, even as they were in God’s own bosom, to the salvation of His elect. And soon after this time, Joseph began a new translation of the scriptures. While he labored, many truths, buried through scores of ages, were brought forth to his understanding, and he saw in their purity and holiness all the doings of God among His children, from the days of Adam unto the birth of our Lord and Savior.” (George Q Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, pp. 83–84.)

3. Plain and precious doctrines of the gospel have been restored through Joseph Smith.

See Revelations in Context: Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation. This article discusses the translation process and the ways in which different sections of the Doctrine and Covenants relate to the Bible translation.

See Old Testament Revision 2. This page from the Joseph Smith Papers website introduces Joseph Smith’s Bible translation.

See  Plain and Precious Truths Restored. A careful examination of the Book of Mormon reveals many significant doctrines not found in the Bible.

See The Joseph Smith Translation: “Plain and Precious Things” Restored. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired revisions of the King James Version of the Bible, we receive truths essential to a full understanding of the gospel.

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 12: “The Gathering of My People”

1. The Lord is gathering His people.

See Encyclopaedia of Mormonism: ‘Gathering’

D&C 45:71 The righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations

‘This revelation was given March 7, 1831. The Church was not then a year old, and but very few had accepted the faith; but the Lord revealed through His servant, the Prophet Joseph, the glory that should come unto Zion, and He told him that the people of Zion should be gathered from every nation. Think of this young man called to lead the Church, then but twenty-five years of age, given this promise that there should be established a Zion to which the people should gather out of all nations! What likelihood was there for him to imagine this himself, when he looked at the small flock around him that believed in his words? But it was not his imaginings; it was the revelation of God unto him that there should be established a Zion to which people should come from out of all nations. It was the fulfillment of the prophecies in the second chapter of Isaiah, and fourth chapter of Micah, in language similarly worded, when they looked down through the vista of time and saw there was to be a gathering, and that the people would go up to the “mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,” in order that they might learn of His ways and walk in His paths. Isaiah prophesied to this effect, and we bear testimony it is coming to pass.’ (Anton H Lund, Conference Report, April 1908, First Day-Morning Session. 11.)

D&C 29:8 They shall be gathered into one place

“The spirit of gathering has been with the Church from the days of that restoration. Those who are of the blood of Israel, have a righteous desire after they are baptized, to gather together with the body of the Saints at the designated place. …

“… The Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well—before the frightening events concerning the fulfilment of all God’s promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction is given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority.” (Harold B Lee, In Conference Report, Apr. 1948, p. 55.)

D&C 110:11 Keys of the gathering of Israel

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‘Moses, who in the majesty of the Melchizedek Priesthood led enslaved Israel out of Egyptian bondage into their promised Palestine, brings back those very keys….

These keys empower those who hold them to lead all Israel, the ten tribes included, from all the nations of the earth … to the mountains of the Lord’s houses, there to be endowed with power from on high.’ (Bruce R McConkie, “The Keys of the Kingdom,” Ensign May, 1983, p. 21-23)

2. The Saints gathered in Ohio.

D&C 37:3 Assemble together at the Ohio

‘Oliver Cowdery had been on a mission to the Lamanites since 15 October 1830 (see D&C 30:5–6; 32:2). This mission took him and his companions on a fourteen-hundred-mile journey through New York and Ohio to Missouri. The Saints were commanded to move to Ohio in preparation to receive further instructions concerning the establishment of Zion after Oliver Cowdery’s return from “the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9).’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 38:32 For this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio

As early as January, 1831, at Fayette, New York, looking forward to the erection of a temple unto the Most High in Ohio, and of ordinances to be performed therein, this revealed statement from the Lord concerning the endowment was given to Joseph Smith: “for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law (D&C 42); and there you shall be endowed with power from on high.”  ‘

At Kirtland, Ohio, in December of the following year, the Lord gave the commandment to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his followers to “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, (temple) even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119) One of the purposes for the erection of a temple at Kirtland, Ohio, the first in this present dispensation of the gospel, was to bless the faithful saints with the sacred ordinance of the endowment. While the temple was in process of erection, the Lord again refers to the blessing of the endowment: “But inasmuch as there are those who have hearkened unto my words, I have prepared a blessing and an endowment for them, if they continue faithful.” (D&C 105:18)’ (Alvin R. Dyer, Who Am I?, p.376 – 377)

D&C 39:15 I have kept in store a blessing

‘The Lord told us, when we were living in the State of New York, to go to the Ohio; there to build a Temple to the name of the Most High. And there the Lord condescended to bestow upon his servants and people a great endowment, (D&C 38:32) a blessing such as was not known among the children of men.( D&C 39:15) And from thence they should go the nations of the earth and publish these things. (D&C 38:33 D&C 110:7-10) We went to the Ohio; and after we had been sufficiently taught and instructed, the Lord commanded us through Joseph, to build a Temple, (D&C 88:119-136) giving the pattern thereof, and the size thereof, the size of the inner and outer courts, the size of the several rooms and apartments, and the form of the pulpits and everything pertaining to it, was given by the inspiration of the Almighty that rested upon Joseph, and upon those associated with him. (D&C 95:1-17) When the Temple was built, the Lord did not see proper to reveal all the ordinances of the Endowments, such as we now understand. He revealed little by little. No rooms were prepared for washings; no special place prepared for the anointings, such as you understand, and such as you comprehend at the period of the history of the Church! Neither did we know the necessity of the washings, such as we now receive. It is true, our hands were washed, our faces and our feet. The Prophet Joseph was commanded to gird himself with a towel, doing this in the Temple. (John 13:1-17 D&C 88:140-141) What for? That the first Elder might witness to our Father and God, that we were clean from the blood of that wicked generation, (D&C 88:138-139) that then lived. We had gone forth according to our best ability, to publish glad tidings of great joy, for thousands of miles, upon this continent. After this we were called in, and this washing of hands and feet was to testify to God that we were clean from the blood of this generation. (D&C 88:138-139) The holy anointing was placed upon the heads of his servants, but not the full development of the Endowments in the anointing. (D&C 132:41) These administrations in the Kirtland Temple were revealed, little by little, corresponding with what I have already been saying, that the Lord does not give the fullness at once, but imparts to us according to his own will and pleasure. Great were the blessings received. We were commanded to seek to behold the face of the Lord; (Ps. 24:6 1 Chr. 16:11 D&C 101:38) to seek after revelation; (D&C 42:61) to seek after the spirit of prophecy, (Num. 11:29 1 Cor. 14:39) and the gifts of the Spirit; (D&C 46:8) and many testify to what they saw.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

D&C 95:8 Power from on high

‘An endowment is a gift or a bequest. In the Church it usually refers to a temple ordinance in which members make certain promises and receive a gift of knowledge and spiritual power in return. The endowment spoken of here, however, is not the same as the ceremony administered in later temples. Priesthood members in Kirtland did participate in a “partial endowment,

the full ordinance being reserved for a future performance when a temple designed for ordinance work itself should be built” (Bruce R. McConkie, “A New Commandment: Save Thyself and Thy Kindred!” Ensign, Aug. 1976, p. 10). The first complete endowment in this dispensation was given by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo on 4 May 1842.

The endowment received in Kirtland included washings and anointings, as well as the washing of feet for official priesthood brethren. The Lord also poured out His Spirit, or in other words endowed them with spiritual power, and many received revelations or other gifts (see History of the Church, 2:308–10).'(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

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D&C 38:27 Be one

‘Satan would segregate Father’s children into groups with strongly held individual interests. He would encourage a tenacious preservation of those interests regardless of the consequences to others. Father’s plan is expressed in His Son’s words, “Behold, … I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27).’ (Richard G Scott, “Removing Barriers to Happiness,” Ensign, May 1998, 86)

D&C 38:39 Pride and riches

“There is something in the human heart of that character that when human beings are prospering they are apt to be lifted up in pride and to forget the cause or the source of their prosperity; they are apt to forget God, who is the fountain of all their blessings, and to give glory to themselves. It requires a constant preaching of the word of God, a constant pleading with the people, a constant outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the people to bring them to a true sense of their real condition. … Is it right that we should be prudent, that we should take care of those gifts and blessings which God has given unto us, that we should husband our resources, that we should be economical, and not extravagant? Certainly; this is right, this is proper, we should be culpable if we were not so. But with this there is also something else required, and that is, to keep constantly in view that the management and care of these things is not the object that God had in sending us here, that is not the object of our probation. … I have been in reduced circumstances; been on missions when I did not know where to get a mouthful to eat; turned away by the people who dare not entertain me because of the anger that was kindled against us. I could stand by and weep, being a boy and away from all my friends. But I, nevertheless, was happy. I never enjoyed myself in my life as I did then. I know that happiness does not consist in the possession of worldly things. Still it is a great relief when people can have the means necessary for the support of themselves and families. If they possess these things and the Spirit of God with them, they are blessed.” (George Q Cannon, In Journal of Discourses, 22:100–101.)

3. The Saints gathered in Missouri.

D&C 57:1-3 Independence

“Independence was then a raw frontier settlement, the final ‘civilized’ stop for Santa Fe traders. One of the elders in Joseph Smith’s party described the village as ‘a new town containing a court-house built of brick, two or three merchants’ stores and 15 or 20 dwelling houses, built mostly of logs hewed on both sides.’ Both residents and visitors praised the country’s astonishing beauty and productivity. The famous writer Washington Irving passed through Independence the next year and wrote, ‘The soil is like that of a garden [and the] beauty of the forest exceeded anything that I have seen.’

“For the Latter-day Saints, however, both Jackson County’s newness and its fertility were secondary to its sacredness; for in July, the Lord spoke to the Prophet: ‘Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the court-house’ (D&C 57:3)…

“‘Gathering to Zion’ immediately became a topic for Church leaders and missionaries. W. W. Phelps gave the [Evening and Morning Star] a strong ‘last days’ emphasis with articles in every issue about the new revelations, Enoch’s Zion, the Second Coming, or disasters that would befall a wicked world.

“But more than a refuge against calamity, Zion was to become headquarters for the millennial government of Christ, wrote Phelps… Thus, the Saints gathering in Jackson County could rightfully feel the worth of their labors and the immense importance of that location.” (Max H Parkin, “Missouri’s Impact on the Church,” Ensign, Apr. 1979, 59)

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D&C 28:9 Zion

‘The Church had its beginning in New York. Persecution came upon the Saints from the beginning, and they were driven out. The Lord gave them a commandment to assemble in Ohio  D&C 37:3 They established their headquarters at Kirtland in that state. No doubt they had no intention of leaving, when they first went there, but the Lord revealed to them that there was another place, the place which he called “Zion,” on the borders of the Lamanites  D&C 28:9 and so their hearts were turned to that place; however, they never had intended to forsake altogether their headquarters in Kirtland, but persecution came upon them, and they were forced out. With rejoicing they assembled in large measure in Jackson County where it had been made known to them that the great city, the new Jerusalem or Zion would be built  D&C 101:70-71 and they rejoiced over it, but they were not privileged to remain there. Their enemies came upon them with hatred and bitterness in their hearts and drove them out. They moved to another part of the state of Missouri and there again intended and tried to establish themselves, but persecution still followed them, and the hatred of the officials in that state resulted in their banishment and an edict coming from the governor of that state that they would have to leave or be exterminated. They went back eastward, crossed the great river, and made their settlement at Nauvoo, in the state of Illinois. For a season they prospered but not without persecution, not without hatred, and finally that hatred reached its peak, and their prophet and his brother, my grandfather, were martyred. Their enemies thought that would be the end of the Church. The papers so declared it. Their enemies rejoiced, but it did not bring the end. Still the Church grew. So also grew the animosity and the hatred of their enemies, and finally the Saints were driven from their homes, robbed of practically all that they possessed and thus set upon their journey to this western land, destitute, in poverty, and the world said they had gone to their destruction, and rejoiced.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, April 1947)

D&C 30:5-6 Take your journey with your brother Oliver

“Oliver (D&C 28), Peter Whitmer, Jr. (D&C 30), and then Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson (D&C 32) were called in October 1830 to go to Missouri as special missionaries to the Lamanite nations.

“Their knapsacks and satchels loaded with copies of the Book of Mormon, the quartet headed west. After a stop at the Cattaragus Indian reservation in western New York, they made a second proselyting stop at the door of Parley’s former pastor, Reverend Sidney Rigdon, at Mentor, Ohio. Sidney listened, let them preach to his congregation, and two weeks later became a Latter-day Saint. His conversion was considered the most effective advertising received by the Church since its inception; and it triggered a chain reaction which resulted in 130 baptisms before the missionaries departed, and hundreds of others later as the new Ohio converts themselves turned into missionaries. (Porter, “A Study of the Origins of the Church,” p. 281-84; Journal History, Oct. 1830.) On the Missouri frontier, however, government agents refused to allow Indian tribes to listen to the missionaries.

“While the Lamanite missionaries worked in the west, new converts Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge traveled east in December, met Joseph Smith, and added their labors to the New York missionary work. Sidney, probably the most culturally eloquent speaker the young Church had, drew crowds in many important towns before he and Joseph journeyed to Kirtland in January.

“Because of the work of these first missionaries, and others whom records do not identify, the six-month-old Church by December 1830 had about 190 members in New York and hundreds more in the Kirtland area. The white field was being harvested, and the Church stepped unhesitatingly into the role it has never since relinquished, that of a missionary Church committed to preaching the gospel to every nation, tongue, and people.” (William G. Hartley, “Every Member WAS a Missionary,” Ensign, Sept. 1978, 24)

D&C 32:1 Be meek and lowly of heart

“Parley P. Pratt was admonished to be meek and lowly of heart. In the year 1837, there were ‘jarrings and discord’ in the Church at Kirtland, and he was overcome with that spirit. He even tried to turn John Taylor from the Prophet by pointing out to him what he regarded as Joseph’s error. Elder Taylor rebuked him as a brother, and Parley P. Pratt went to the Prophet in tears and confessed his sin, whereupon the Prophet frankly forgave him, prayed with him, and blessed him. This was meekness. It was also manliness. Only a really strong character can possess true humility.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, pp. 170–71.)

D&C 52:2-5 Journey to the land of Missouri

“In the same revelation, twenty-six other elders were called to start on missions to the West. They were to travel by twos, preaching the gospel on the way. All were to meet at Independence, Missouri, where the Lord would reveal the location of the New Zion.

“The idea that there would be a New Zion upon the earth in the latter days may be obtained from a reading of the Bible. It was not the study of ancient prophecies, however, which so fired the Saints with a zeal for Zion. To them God had spoken anew. Zion was to be realized.” (William E. Berrett, The Restored Church, 7th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1953], 118.)

D&C 54:8 Unto the land of Missouri

“Revelation given through the Prophet Joseph to Newel Knight sent them ‘westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.’ (D&C 54:8) They arrived in Independence on 25 July 1831 and helped the Prophet ‘lay the first log as a foundation for Zion in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence,’ on 2 August 1831. Newel notes that the first log ‘was carried by twelve men in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel.’ At least five of those twelve were Colesville Saints and members of the Knight family: Joseph Knight, Sr., Aaron Culver, Hezekiah Peck, Ezekial Peck, and Freeborn DeMill. Newel Knight stood with a small group clustered around the Prophet the next day when he dedicated the temple site in Independence.

“Mother Knight had been seriously ill on her journey to Jackson County, but refused to give in to her sickness, even though Newel, deeply concerned, bought lumber to have on hand for her coffin while they travelled. But ‘her greatest desire,’ he says, ‘was to set her feet upon the land of Zion and to have her body intered in that land. … The Lord gave her the desire of her heart.’

“She was the first Latter-day Saint to die in Missouri, and the Prophet preached her funeral sermon on August 7. Father Knight’s record contains a poignant notation: ‘She was Burried in the woods a Spot Chosen out By our selves. I was along By where she was Buried a few Days after and I found the hogs had Began to root where She was Buried. I Being verry unwell But I took my ax the next Day and went and Bilt a pen round it. It was the Last I done for her.’

“She was the first to die but not the last. Her daughter Esther soon followed her, then their uncle Aaron Culver, leaving his wife, Esther, in Newel’s care. Newel’s record shows no complaint. He simply says that the frontier life was ‘new and strange … yet we took hold with cheerful hearts, and a determination to do our best.’ Conferences with the Prophet Joseph left them feeling ‘renewed in spirit.'” (Larry Porter, “The Joseph Knight Family,” Ensign, Oct. 1978, 43)

4. The Saints now gather to the stakes of Zion in their own lands.

D&C 115:6 A refuge from the storm

‘The Lord will stand by His Church and people and keep them in safety until His coming. There will be peace in Zion and in her stakes, for He has proclaimed “that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth”  (D&C 115:6) (Bruce D Porter, General Conference, April 2013)

The Church stands as a bulwark of safety for its members. Though conditions in the world may become very vexing at times, faithful Latter-day Saints will find sanctuary in the stakes of Zion. The Lord has decreed that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth until it has filled the whole earth (see  Daniel 2:31–45  D&C 65:2 And no human power can stay its course, for God is the author of this work and Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone.

 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine -Lesson 11: “The Field Is White Already to Harvest”

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1. “Serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.”

D&C 4:1 A marvellous work

“Can you think of a time in the earth’s history greater than this dispensation? Could there be a greater cause than to prepare the earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ? As a stone rolls on until it becomes a great mountain, the kingdom rolls on to its divine destiny-a great movement with great momentum and steady acceleration. When the Lord says “a marvelous work is about to come forth,” he is saying that something wonderful is going to happen, and more importantly, he is giving us the opportunity to be a part of it. “The work is so marvelous that the Lord is going to give us the privilege of participating in it with him, but only if we desire to. He does not twist arms or preach duty or try to instill obedience through guilt. He simply tells us that the work itself will be its own reward. In fact, it will be marvelous.” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 126 – 127.)

2. Prepare to serve the Lord.

D&C 4:3 Desires

‘Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of our brethren….

A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others.’ (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], p.248-249)

D&C 11:8 If you desire

‘So many times you and I have been called to serve in positions and places for which we knew we were unqualified. But the Lord never cares about that. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, he knew nothing about dividing seas or building tabernacles. What he had was a desire to serve God. We must have a great desire to serve and and proceed with a perfect confidence that the Lord will sustain us in our efforts.’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)

D&C 4:5 Faith, hope, charity and love

‘…labor with love. There is no substitute for love. Often this love is kindled in youth by a mother, expanded by a father, and kept vibrant through service to God. Remember the Lord’s counsel: “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.” Well might each of us ask himself: Today, have I increased in faith, in hope, in charity, in love? When our lives comply with God’s standard and we labor with love to bring souls unto Him, those within our sphere of influence will never speak the lament, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. 8:20)’ (Thomas S Monson, “That All May Hear,” Ensign, May 1995, 49)

D&C 12:8 Humility

‘Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.

Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite. Pride draws its energy and strength from the deep wells of selfishness. The moment we stop obsessing with ourselves and lose ourselves in service, our pride diminishes and begins to die.

My dear brethren, there are so many people in need whom we could be thinking about instead of ourselves. And please don’t ever forget your own family, your own wife. There are so many ways we could be serving. We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, October 2010)

D&C 11:6,20 Keep my commandments

‘President Heber J. Grant used to tell us…that as he approached the end of his ministry, knowing that his life wouldn’t be too far prolonged, he thought if there were some unusual thing that the Father would like him to do, he would be so pleased; and so he sought earnestly to know what would the Father have him do during his remaining years, thinking, I suppose, of some outstanding thing, like the building of a temple or something of the sort. And in answer to his inquiry, the Lord said that the most important thing that he could do as president of the Church was to teach this people to keep the commandments of God.’ (Harold B Lee, “The Way to Eternal Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1971, 11)

D&C 11:21 Obtain my word

‘Hyrum’s life is a witness to his obedience to this instruction. To the very last day of his life, he devoted himself to obtaining the word through study of the scriptures. In Carthage Jail, he read and commented on extracts from the Book of Mormon. The scriptures were obviously part of Hyrum’s being, and he turned to them during times when he needed comfort and strength the most.

Just think of the spiritual strength we could gain in our lives and how much more effective we would be as teachers, missionaries, and friends if we studied the scriptures regularly. I am sure we, like Hyrum, will be able to endure our greatest trials if we search the word of God as he did.’ (M Russell Ballard, “Hyrum Smith: ‘Firm As the Pillars of Heaven,’ ” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 7)

3. “The field is white.”

D&C 4:4, 11:3, 33:3 The field is white

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‘Brothers and sisters, all of you out in the wards and stakes and in the districts and branches, I invite you to become a vast army with enthusiasm for this work and a great overarching desire to assist the missionaries in the tremendous responsibility they have to carry the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. “The field is white [and] ready to harvest”  D&C 4:4 The Lord has repeatedly declared this. Shall we not take Him at His word?’ (Gordon B Hinckley, General Conference, April 1999)

D&C 60:1-3 They will not open their mouths

“It was pleasing to the Lord that the elders had traveled to Missouri, and now they were to return speedily to Ohio. But the Lord was not pleased with some of them. President Joseph Fielding Smith noted: “They had been commanded to preach the Gospel along the way and bear testimony among the people, but some had failed to magnify this commandment because of their fear of man. It is true that not every man is a natural missionary, and there are those who shrink from the responsibility of raising their voices in proclamation of the Gospel, and yet this is an obligation that we owe to this fallen world. The elders in the very beginning had been commanded to serve the Lord with all their ‘heart, might, mind and strength,’ for the field is white and ready for the harvest. A penalty was to be inflicted upon those who failed and they were not to stand blameless at the last day. The preaching of the Gospel was to be a means to them by which they were not to perish, but bring salvation to their souls. There are many who have been sent forth who have had a fear of man, yet the Lord has promised to support them in their labors if they will trust in him.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:220–21.)

4. “Open your mouths and they shall be filled.”

D&C 11:9 Say nothing but repentance

“When the Lord calls upon his servants to cry nothing but repentance, he does not mean that they may not cry baptism, and call upon the people to obey the commandments of the Lord, but he wishes that all that they say and do be in the spirit of bringing the people to repentance. Any missionary who fails to do this in his ministry is derelict in his duty.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:57.)

D&C 15:6 The thing which will be of most worth

‘There is nothing in all this world that can be compared to the value of a human soul, redeemed, sanctified, and made worthy to receive the blessings of God our Father. There is no investment which you men can put your money or your time into that will pay you so well in time or in eternity as to invest in a human soul, whether that shall be in the missionary field or at home, in the care of those precious ones who have come under our supervision. We have already heard scripture in this conference, from the Lord Jesus Christ, wherein he declares that the worth of souls is great in his sight, and if we should labor all our days and as the result of that labor bring, save it be but one of those precious souls, how great will be our joy! I know that I need not convert you to the fact that this is a true doctrine, but we constantly need to be appealed to, to be willing to give ourselves and our means in the accomplishment of this, the greatest work there is in all the world.’ (Melvin J Ballard, Conference Report, October 1925, Afternoon Session 129.)

D&C 18:6 The world is ripening in iniquity

‘During our Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said the great difficulty with our country and our people was, “We had forgotten God.” In a modern revelation to you and to me and to the people of this generation the Lord, speaking through the Prophet Joseph: Smith, has said, “Behold, the world is ripening in iniquity; and it must needs be that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance”  D&C 18:6 Let us therefore as a nation return to church, let us partake worthily of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, let us, come into closest possible communion and cooperation with God, the Eternal Father, and pray that freedom and liberty, that gift of God by us so highly prized, may come to all the people of all nations of the earth. And I pray humbly that we in this land, choice above all other lands, may be a righteous people who deserve the blessings the Almighty has promised to those who love Him and serve Him and keep His commandments, and I do this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.’ (Richard R Lyman, General Conference, October 1942)

D&C 31:3-4 Our message

‘This is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. We as a people are Latter-day Saints. We testify that the heavens have been opened, that the curtains have been parted, that God has spoken, and that Jesus Christ has manifested Himself, followed by a bestowal of divine authority.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this work, and it is built upon a “foundation of … apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20).

This wondrous Restoration should make of us a people of tolerance, of neighborliness, of appreciation and kindness toward others. We cannot be boastful. We cannot be proud. We can be thankful, as we must be. We can be humble, as we should be.

We love those of other churches. We work with them in good causes. We respect them. But we must never forget our roots. Those roots lie deep in the soil of the opening of this, the final dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times.

What an inspiration it has been to look into the faces of men and women across the world who carry in their hearts a solemn conviction of the truth of this foundation.

When it comes to divine authority, this is the sum and substance of the whole matter.

God be thanked for His marvelous bestowal of testimony, authority, and doctrine associated with this, the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

This must be our great and singular message to the world. We do not offer it with boasting. We testify in humility but with gravity and absolute sincerity. We invite all, the whole earth, to listen to this account and take measure of its truth. God bless us as those who believe in His divine manifestations and help us to extend knowledge of these great and marvelous occurrences to all who will listen. To these we say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. This invitation I extend to men and women everywhere with my solemn testimony that this work is true, for I know the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, Nov 2002, 78)

D&C 33:10 Make his paths straight

“Eastern potentates, when traveling from one part of the kingdom to another, would proclaim their coming and order their subjects to prepare the way for them, by building roads where there were none, if necessary; by leveling hills and filling up depressions, and straightening out the winding paths. Semiramis is said to have had roads constructed especially for her journeys. In modern times the Turkish government built a good road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, when the German Emperor signified his intention of visiting the Holy City. To prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight is to acknowledge His sovereignty and to make all necessary preparations for His reception. He will not come to reign until all necessary preparations for his coming have been made. ‘Hear this, O Earth! The Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843 … nor until everything for the Bridegroom is ready’ (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. V., p. 291.)” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 174.)

D&C 42:12 Teach the principles of my gospel

‘Teachers who are commanded to teach “the principles of [the] gospel” and “the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) should generally forgo teaching specific rules or applications. For example, they would not teach any rules for determining what is a full tithing, and they would not provide a list of dos and don’ts for keeping the Sabbath day holy. Once a teacher has taught the doctrine and the associated principles from the scriptures and the living prophets, such specific applications or rules are generally the responsibility of individuals and families.

Well-taught doctrines and principles have a more powerful influence on behavior than rules. When we teach gospel doctrine and principles, we can qualify for the witness and guidance of the Spirit to reinforce our teaching, and we enlist the faith of our students in seeking the guidance of that same Spirit in applying those teachings in their personal lives.’ (Dallin H Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 79-80)

D&C 52:9 Saying none other things

 “The truth of all things is measured by the scriptures. That which harmonizes with them should be accepted; that which is contrary to their teachings, however plausible it may seem for the moment, will not endure and should be rejected.” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 765.)

D&C 18:20-21 Contend against no church

‘When we are commanded to “contend against no church save it be the church of the devil,” we must understand that this is instruction to us to contend against all evil, that which is opposed to righteousness and truth. James declares, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” and the scriptures also teach “for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord; and that which is evil cometh from the devil.” (Omni 25.) All who go forth to teach should do so in wisdom and not contend with the churches or engage in profitless debates, but teach in the spirit of kindness and try to persuade people to receive the truth.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 78.)

D&C 38:41 In mildness and in meekness

“We live in a time when some misrepresent the beliefs of those they call Mormons and even revile us because of them. When we encounter such misrepresentations, we have a duty to speak out to clarify our doctrine and what we believe. We should be the ones to state our beliefs rather than allowing others the final word in misrepresenting them. This calls for testimony, which can be expressed privately to an acquaintance or publicly in a small or large meeting. As we testify of the truth we know, we should faithfully follow the caution to speak “in mildness and in meekness”  (D&C 38:41) We should never be overbearing, shrill, or reviling. As the Apostle Paul taught, we should speak the truth in love (see  Ephesians 4:15) Anyone can disagree with our personal testimony, but no one can refute it.” (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2008)

D&C 14:8 The Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance

‘Now we want to carry this message to the world in the way that the Lord wants us to carry it. We want to preach the truth in purity and in perfection, and to do it in the way the Lord wants it done. The only single formula whereby we may do this is for us so to live (and our elders in the mission fields so to live) that we can be guided by the Holy Ghost. We must be guided by the Spirit. We have to have the Lord tell us how he wants us to teach the message of the restoration, and every doctrine of the gospel, and he will do this by revelation from the Holy Ghost if we are worthy to receive it.

One of the chief differences between us and the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, is that the Holy Ghost gives us utterance  (D&C 14:8) if we are faithful, but that the people in the world teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost which giveth utterance  (2 Ne. 28:4). (Bruce R McConkie, General Conference, October 1949)

D&C 31:3 Lift up your heart and rejoice

‘Your level of spirituality is also directly related to how well you fill the Lord’s commandments to “Be of good cheer” and “Lift up your heart and rejoice” (D&C 31:3). How many times in the scriptures did the Lord command us to be of good cheer? He didn’t say, “Be of good cheer if everything is going well, if you have enough money to pay all your bills, if your biorhythms are up,” or whatever. No. For us to be of good cheer is a commandment and not merely a suggestion.

Here is a practical suggestion that has helped me in the past. Take a sheet of paper and write on it a list of the blessings you consider to be important in whatever order they come to your mind. Then place them in order of priority. What is your most precious blessing? Probably somewhere near the top of your list will be the big “Four Fs”-your faith, family, freedom, and friends.

Note how many blessings you have at the top of the list for which you would hope to have the courage to give up your mortal lives to protect. Then note how far down the list you go before you come to any blessing that you can buy for money. The most precious blessings are without price; they are priceless.’ (Joe J Christensen, “Ten Ideas to Increase Your Spirituality,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 59)

5. The Lord promises great blessings to those who labor in His service.

D&C 75:5, 31:5 Sheaves

‘Anciently, grain was cut by hand and tied into large bundles or sheaves which were then carried to the place of threshing. To see a person or an animal “laden with many sheaves” (D&C 75:5) was proof that the person had reaped an abundant harvest and would now enjoy the fruits of his labors.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 18:15-16 How great will be your joy

‘This is God’s work. He wants us to participate with Him and His Beloved Son in bringing the gospel into the lives of all of His children. The Lord has promised us that our joy will be great if we bring just one soul unto Him (see  D&C 18:15–16) Let us exercise greater faith and work together, members and missionaries, to bring many more souls unto Him. Let every family in the Church include as part of their daily family prayers a plea with the Lord to go before your family members and help them to find someone prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2000)

D&C 71:10 If any man lift his voice against you

‘President Harold B. Lee explained that what the Lord “is trying to have us understand is that he will take care of our enemies if we continue to keep the commandments. So, you Saints of the Most High God, when these things come, and they will come—this has been prophesied—you just say,

“‘No weapon formed against the work of the Lord will ever prosper, but all glory and majesty of this work that the Lord gave will long be remembered after those who have tried to befoul the name of the Church and those of its leaders will be forgotten, and their works will follow after them.’

“We feel sorry for them when we see these things happen.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 167; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 126.)’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 84:80 Shall not be weary

‘One major cause of real fatigue, little appreciated by those so afflicted, is trying to serve two masters. This is devastating double duty. If so divided, one inevitably ends up being ineffective, even disloyal, in respect to one master or another-a most fatiguing circumstance.’ (Neal A Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 115.)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Family, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 5: Daughters of God

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

This section talks about the great blessings that came into President Hinckley’s life through his mother, Ada, and his wife Marjorie Pay.

Video: President Hinckley – The Women in Our Lives

From the manual:

“How thankful I am, how thankful we all must be, for the women in our lives. God bless them. May His great love distill upon them and crown them with luster and beauty, grace and faith.”

Who are the great women who have blessed your life?

1 Women have a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God.

The Church is publishing a series of in depth essays on its website on certain gospel topics. One that may be relevant to this lesson is on Mother in Heaven.
From the manual:
‘You are very precious, each of you. … You occupy a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God, our Father in Heaven. You are His daughters, precious to Him, loved by Him, and very important to Him. His grand design cannot succeed without you.’
Why is it important for us to understand the “high and sacred place” of women in God’s eternal plan?

2 The Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith applies to all.

For useful background information on Emma Smith and D&C 25 see the Revelations in Context article Thou Art an Elect Lady
emma-smith
From the manual:
What aspects of the Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith are especially helpful to you?

3 Mothers have a sacred calling to bring up their children in righteousness and truth.

From the manual:
‘I remind mothers everywhere of the sanctity of your calling. No other can adequately take your place. No responsibility is greater, no obligation more binding than that you rear in love and peace and integrity those whom you have brought into the world.’

Russell M. Nelson (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles): The earth was created and this Church was restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally. (“Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Nov 2008, p. 93)

For parents, why is “no obligation more binding” than rearing their children “in love and peace and integrity”?
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4 Women have great responsibilities in the work of salvation.

From the manual:
‘Women in the Church are associates with their brethren in carrying forward this mighty work of the Lord. … Women carry tremendous responsibilities and they are accountable for the fulfillment of those responsibilities. They head their own organizations, and those organizations are strong and viable and are significant forces for good in the world. They stand in an associate role to the priesthood, all striving together to build the kingdom of God in the earth. We honor and respect you for your capacity. We expect leadership, and strength, and impressive results from your management of the organizations for which you are responsible. We uphold and sustain you as daughters of God, working in a great partnership to assist him in bringing to pass the immortality and the eternal life of all of the sons and daughters of God.’

‘Blessings of the priesthood are shared by men and women. All may qualify for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. All may take upon themselves the name of the Lord and partake of the sacrament. All may pray and receive answers to their prayers. Gifts of the Spirit and testimonies of the truth are bestowed regardless of gender. Men and women receive the highest ordinance in the house of the Lord together and equally, or not at all (see  D&C 131:1–3)

Opportunities for development of spiritual and intellectual potential are equal. Masculinity has no monopoly on the mind, and femininity has no exclusive dominion over the heart. The highest titles of human achievement—teacher, educated professional, loyal employee, faithful friend, student of the scriptures, child of God, disciple of Christ, trusted companion, loving parent—are earned under a uniform requirement of worthiness.’ (Russell M Nelson, General Conference, October 1989)

Why is it important that men and women work together to move the Lord’s work forward? What are some examples you have seen of this?

5 Relief Society is a source of immeasurable blessings.

Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they:

  • Increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement;
  • Strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and
  • Work in unity to help those in need.
    Handbook 2: Administering the Church, [2010], 9.1.1
From the manual:
‘God bless the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. May the spirit of love which has motivated its members … continue to grow and be felt over the world. May their works of charity touch for good the lives of uncounted numbers wherever they find expression. And may light and understanding, learning and knowledge, and eternal truth grace the lives of generations of women yet to come, throughout the nations of the earth, because of this singular and divinely established institution.’
How can you strengthen the Relief Society in your ward?

6 Rise to the stature of the divinity within you.

We know we shall reap
Whatsoever we sow
We promise, we keep
Wherever we go
We need not look far
To find gratitude
We share a bright star
For good attitude,
To live as we should

It’s time to rise
With stature divine,
With virtuous eyes,
And a wholesome mind
With love for the land
And the sky above
We labor by hand,
We give and we love,
And we do not shove

A struggling mother
Much marred by abuse,
Needs hope not smother
To feel she’s of use
As a morning star
We shouted for joy
For just where we are-
With life to enjoy
For each girl and boy

With minds full of light,
We’re full of glory
The oppressed now bright
Know a new story
A broad horizon
Can master one’s fate
For daughter and son-
It is not too late-
For love’s bloom, not hate!

We can cultivate
Beauty all around
Through prayer and not fate
We are safely sound
To safeguard from sin,
Stand above evil
And rise and begin (clean the drab within)
Speak against what’s ill-
And, harvests then fulfill

– Gordon B Hinckley

From the manual:
‘I feel to invite women everywhere to rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.’
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Patricia T. Holland:

“On a pristinely clear and beautifully bright day, I sat overlooking the Sea of Galilee and reread the tenth chapter of Luke. But instead of the words on the page, I thought I saw with my mind and heard with my heart these words: ‘[Pat, Pat, Pat,] thou art careful and troubled about many things.’ Then the power of pure and personal revelation seized me as I read, ‘But one thing-only one thing-is truly needful.’ (See Luke 10:40-41.) …As I sat pondering my problems, I felt that same sun’s healing rays like warm liquid pouring into my heart, relaxing, calming, and comforting my troubled soul.

“Our loving Father in heaven seemed to be whispering to me, ‘You don’t have to worry over so many things. The one thing that is needful-the only thing that is truly needful-is to keep your eyes toward the sun-my Son.’ Suddenly I had true peace. I knew that my life had always been in his hands, from the very beginning! The sea lying peacefully before my eyes had been tempest-tossed and dangerous-many, many times. All I needed to do was to renew my faith and get a firm grasp of his hand, and together we could walk on the water.” (Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 81.)

How can we gain a better vision of what God sees our potential to be? How can we progress toward reaching our potential?
Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 10: “This Is My Voice unto All”

1. Husbands and wives should support and comfort each other.

D&C 25:5 Consoling words

‘There is so much of argument in the homes of the people. It is so destructive. It is so corrosive. It leads only to bitterness, heartbreak, and tears. How well advised we would be, each of us, when there is tension, when there is friction, when there is affliction, to speak with consoling words in the spirit of meekness. ‘ (Gordon B Hinckley, “If Thou Art Faithful,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 91)

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D&C 25:14 Spirit of meekness

“Let us continue to live in humility and meekness before God, seeking in faith and good works to get an increased portion of his Holy Spirit, that we may comprehend the laws of God and live according to the principles of eternal truth….” (John Taylor, JD, 18:334-335, December 31, 1876)

2. We should be meek and avoid pride.

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D&C 23:1 Beware of pride

‘Three times in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord uses the phrase “beware of pride,” including a warning to the second elder of the Church, Oliver Cowdery, and to Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet. (D&C 23:1; see also D&C 25:14; D&C 38:39.)

Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance. (See Mosiah 3:11; 3 Ne. 6:18.) In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride-it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby. (See 2 Ne. 4:15; Mosiah 1:3-7; Alma 5:61.)

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity-enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.

Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philip. 2:21.)

Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled.

The proud cannot accept the authority of God giving direction to their lives. (See Hel. 12:6.) They pit their perceptions of truth against God’s great knowledge, their abilities versus God’s priesthood power, their accomplishments against His mighty works.’ (Ezra Taft Benson, “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4)

D&C 38:39 Beware of pride

‘Let us note that, although the Lord can bestow on us ‘the riches of the earth,’ the riches he most wants to bless us with are ‘the riches of eternity.’ As he counsels elsewhere, ‘Seek not for riches, but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.’ (D&C 6:7.)

“One of the problems with material wealth is that it sometimes corrupts those who have it. It is for this reason that the Lord’s promise of riches in section 38 cited above ends with the warning: ‘But beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.’ (D&C 38:39.)

“If we set our minds on the ‘treasures of earth’ rather than on the things of eternity, we will lose our spirituality and begin to rely on our own wisdom. Indeed, it was the Nephites’ pride and lust for riches and their failure to dedicate their blessings to the Lord’s work that stirred Jacob to condemn them for failing to ‘think of [their] brethren like unto [them]selves’ and for not being ‘familiar with all and free with [their] substance.’ (Jacob 2:17.)” (Alan Webster, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Apr. 1990, 52-53)

“Some fall victim to greed when they think that the Lord and his church are failing them economically. Paul describes the result in his love-of-money passage: ‘They have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.’ (1 Tim. 6:10.)

“… Our greed begins when we think more about what God owes us than what we owe him. The Lord has promised the faithful the ‘riches of eternity.’ We should be content with that promise and serve for the joy of serving.” ‘(Richard Tice, “Greed: When Enough Is Not Enough,” Ensign, June 1989, 34)

D&C 90:17 Be admonished

‘Although this counsel is valuable to all members of the Church, it was perhaps especially significant for Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, who both later opposed the Prophet and left the Church, though Frederick G. Williams eventually returned.’ (D&C Institute Manual)

D&C 98:19 I, the Lord, am not well pleased

‘On the 11th of December (1836), the Prophet sharply rebuked the Kirtland Saints for their sins and backsliding. He warned them to repent, lest judgment should come upon them as it had come upon the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri. Those were trying times. They were days of separation when it became necessary to separate the unworthy from those who were of the household of faith. Kirtland was not to be the abiding place of the Saints. They must give up their possessions and their love for the city they had striven so hard to adorn.’ (Wilford Woodruff, His Life and Labors, comp. Matthias F. Cowley [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1916], 65 – 66)

D&C 1:28 They were humble

‘Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught us that “all progress in spiritual things is conditioned upon the prior attainment of humility.1 [Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (1966), 370.] Humility has been described as having the “desire to submit to the Lord,” the “desire to seek the Lord’s will and glory,” and the “desire to remove pride.”2 [Gospel Principles (1997), 4.] King Benjamin told his people that they should “always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility”  Mosiah 4:11 The Lord counseled in the Doctrine and Covenants that “inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time”  D&C 1:28

May we each develop our humility by submitting to the will of the Lord in all things so that we may retain a remission of our sins.'(Keith Crockett, General Conference, October 2000)

D&C 19:23 Learn of me, and listen to my words

‘These words give me the feeling of such closeness to, such intimacy with the Savior, looking at him, listening to him, learning from him, walking with him, and feeling his peace like his very arms around me. Within each of us is an intense hunger for this intimacy with and closeness to him. I think we all want to feel his spirit around us.’ (Chieko N Okazaki, Lighten Up! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 199.)

D&C 112:10 Be thou humble

‘I believe, brothers and sisters, that only those who are humble are able to acknowledge and understand the Lord’s answers to their prayers. The humble are teachable, recognizing how dependent they are on God and desiring to be subject to His will. The humble are meek and have the ability to influence others to be the same. God’s promise to the humble is that He will lead them by the hand. I truly believe that we will avoid detours and sadness in our lives as long as we walk hand in hand with the Lord.’ (Ulisses Soares, General Conference, October 2013)

3. We should rejoice and be of good cheer.

D&C 29:5 Your advocate with the Father

‘Jesus Christ came upon the scene as the Mediator between man and God, and the Advocate for man with the Father. He pleads our cause. As our Mediator, through his ministry, he labors to reconcile us, to bring us into agreement with God his Father.

An advocate is one who defends or pleads for or in behalf of another. A mediator is one who reconciles or brings about agreement between parties.

That is part of his great mission. He stands between the Father and man. When he was upon earth, he prayed frequently for his disciples, pleading with his Father in their behalf, and he has been pleading ever since, and he stands between us and God our Father.’  (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 1: 26.)

D&C 6:36 Be of good cheer

‘If we by nature are not happy, something is wrong with us. We ought to find out what it is and correct it as soon as possible, because until we do, we will not enjoy the Spirit with us as much as if we were of good cheer. Developing an attitude of gratitude for our many blessings can be a giant step forward in fostering happiness.’ (Joe J Christensen, “Toward Greater Spirituality: Ten Important Steps,” Ensign, June 1983,9)

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D&C 68:6 I the Lord am with you

‘You are not alone on this journey. Your Heavenly Father knows you. Even when no one else hears you, He hears you. When you rejoice in righteousness, He rejoices with you. When you are beset with trial, He grieves with you.

Heavenly Father’s interest in you does not depend on how rich or beautiful or healthy or smart you are. He sees you not as the world sees you; He sees who you really are. He looks on your heart. [See  1 Samuel 16:7 And He loves you [See  1 Peter 5:6–7 because you are His child.

Dear sisters, seek Him earnestly, and you will find Him. [See  Jeremiah 29:13

I promise you, you are not alone.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2013)

D&C 78:18 I will lead you along

‘Brothers and sisters, it is my testimony to the Church that the Lord will lead us along, just as promised. He balances giving to the Church and its people the needed, specific directions, with providing the relevant learning experiences, including having our faith and patience tried in order to be strengthened. Thus He leads us along, but He desires that during that process we take His yoke upon us in order to learn of Him by our personal experiences. We surely feel the weight of that yoke at times, but the path is clear.

Jesus, our Shepherd, has “marked the path and led the way, And ev’ry point defines” (Hymns, 1985, no. 195). His clearly defined footprints are easy to see. They are pressed distinctly and deeply into the soil of the second estate, deeply and distinctly because of the enormous weight which pressed down upon Him, including the awful burden of all of our individual sins.’  (Neal A Maxwell, “For I Will Lead You Along,” Ensign, May 1988, 9)

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 -Lesson 8: The Restoration of the Priesthood

1. Definition and purpose of the priesthood

D&C 107:8-12 Right to officiate

‘This high priesthood, we are told, has held the right of presidency in all ages of the world. But there is a difference between the general powers of the priesthood, and the particular office and calling to which men are set apart; and you, when I tell you, will understand it very easily; for instance, the presidency of the priesthood, or the presidency of the church, are high priests. The Twelve are high priests. The presidents of stakes and their counselors, the high council of a stake, and of all the stakes, are high priests. The bishops are ordained and set apart through the high priesthood, and stand in the same capacity; and thus bishops and their counselors are high priests. Now, these things you all know. There is nothing mysterious about them.

ALL PRIESTHOOD FUNCTIONS UNDER DIRECTION IN CHURCH CAPACITY.-There is another question associated with this matter. Because a man is a high priest, is he an apostle? No. Because a man is a high priest, is he the president of a stake, or the counselor to the president of a stake? No. Because he is a high priest, is he a bishop? No, not by any means. And so on, in all the various offices. The high priesthood holds the authority to administer in those ordinances, offices, and places, when they are appointed by the proper authorities, and at no other time; and while they are sustained also by the people… It is not because a man holds a certain class of priesthood that he is to administer in all the offices of that priesthood. He administers in them only as he is called and set apart for that purpose.’ (John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 202.)

2. The restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

D&C 13 Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

‘What a glorious day it was for Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in May 1829 when they went into the woods to pray about the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins that they had read about while translating the Book of Mormon. There were many teachings about baptism being taught by different churches in the early 1800s, and Joseph and Oliver knew they could not all be true. They wanted to know about the correct manner of baptism and also who had the authority to baptize.

In answer to their petitions to the Lord, a messenger from heaven, John the Baptist, appeared to them. He placed his hands on their heads and conferred upon them the authority to baptize with these words: “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron”  D&C 13:1

What a marvelous day in the history of the world! The priesthood was restored to the earth.

When we receive the priesthood, we receive the authority to act in the name of God and lead in ways of truth and righteousness. This authority is a vital source of righteous power and influence for the benefit of God’s children on earth and will last beyond the veil. It was necessary for the priesthood to be restored before the true Church of Jesus Christ could be organized.’ (L Tom Perry, General Conference, October 2013)

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D&C 84:26-27 The children of Israel

‘If they had been sanctified and holy, the children of Israel would not have traveled one year with Moses before they would have received their endowments and the Melchizedek Priesthood. But they could not receive them, and never did. Moses left them, and they did not receive the fullness of that Priesthood…. The Lord told Moses that he would show himself to the people; but they begged Moses to plead with the Lord not to do so.’ (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6:100; Address delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, by Pres. Brigham Young; November 29, 1857)

D&C 107:14 The lesser priesthood

‘The fact that it is called the lesser priesthood does not diminish at all the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood. The Lord said it is necessary to the Melchizedek Priesthood. (See D&C 84:29.) Any holder of the higher priesthood should feel greatly honored to perform the ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood, for they have great spiritual importance.

I have, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, passed the sacrament. I assure you I have felt honored and humbled beyond expression to do what some might consider a routine task.’  (Boyd K Packer, “The Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov 1981, 30)

3. The restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood

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D&C 27:12-13 Priesthood keys

‘One of the remarkable evidences of the Restoration is the testimony of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery regarding the manner in which the priesthood and its directing powers were returned to earth. In each case, priesthood and priesthood keys were restored by divine messengers who had held them in earlier times. John the Baptist brought back the Aaronic Priesthood with the keys of repentance and baptism.See D&C 13  JS—H 1:68–72 Peter, James, and John restored not only the Melchizedek Priesthood but also “the keys of [the] kingdom.”See  D&C 27:12–13Moses and Elijah returned with the “gathering” and “sealing” keys.See  D&C 110:11–16 The events describing the return of the priesthood are remarkable in that they conform precisely with the biblical pattern of priesthood restoration in earlier dispensations. For example, consider the restoration and transfer of priesthood powers during the Savior’s time.

Near the end of His ministry, Jesus promised Peter “the keys of the kingdom,”See  Matt. 16:19 knowing that Jesus would soon leave and that priesthood keys were needed by the Apostles if they were to direct the work after His ascension. In order for them to receive the keys, Matthew records that Jesus took “Peter, James, and John … up into an high mountain” where He “was transfigured before them” and Moses and Elias “appeared unto them.”  Matt. 17:1–3 Shortly after this event, the Savior declared that the Apostles now had the keys to direct the ministry.  Matt. 18:18  D&C 7:7 The Prophet Joseph Smith states that “the Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured before him.” [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 158.]

The pattern of priesthood restoration described by Matthew is the same pattern followed in our dispensation. Apostles and prophets designated by the Lord to hold keys in earlier dispensations returned them to earth as this dispensation began.’ (Merrill J Bateman, General Conference, October 2003)

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D&C 84:19-22 The power of godliness

Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, “the power of godliness” (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. Our participation in those ordinances also demonstrates that we are prepared to accept the additional responsibility that comes with added light and spiritual power.

In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high. This “power of godliness” comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is part of the new and everlasting covenant. It is an essential part of our baptism, the baptism of the Spirit. It is the messenger of grace by which the blood of Christ is applied to take away our sins and sanctify us (see 2 Nephi 31:17). (D Todd Christofferson, Ensign, May 2009)

D&C 110:11-16 Elias

‘After Moses, came Elias. We know not who he was in mortality. There were many prophets who bore that name and title. One was Noah. Apparently this Elias lived in the day of Abraham, and may even have been Abraham himself. In any event he “committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” (D&C 110:12)—not, be it noted, the gospel of Christ, for that had already been received, but the gospel of Abraham, meaning the great commission which God gave Abraham in his day. That commission dealt with families, those of Abraham and his seed, who were and are promised continuance “in the world and out of the world … as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them” (D&C 132:30).’ (Bruce R McConkie, “This Final Glorious Gospel Dispensation,” Ensign, Apr. 1980, 22–23)

D&C 107:18 The keys of all spiritual blessings

“Priesthood is given us for two purposes, first, that we may ourselves receive exaltation, and, second, that we may be the means of helping others to obtain like blessings” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection [1932], 221–22).