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

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

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

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

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

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

D&C 63:24 Not in haste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Obedience, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 12: Obedience: Simply Live the Gospel

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

“I have been interviewed by many [news] reporters. The one thing they say is, ‘Now what is going to be your theme during your presidency?’ I simply say, ‘The same theme which I have heard repeated in this Church by the presidents of the Church and the apostles for as far back as I can remember: Simply live the gospel, and every one who does so will receive in his heart a conviction of the truth of that which he lives.’”

How can you increase your desire to live the gospel?

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1. We are a covenant people, and great are the obligations that go with that covenant.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ we have voluntarily entered into holy covenants, promising to obey the Lord’s commandments. Willing, righteous obedience leads to celestial life, indeed there is no eternal progress without it.

From the manual:

We are a covenant people, and great are the obligations which go with that covenant. We cannot be ordinary people. We must rise above the crowd. We must stand a little taller. We must be a little better, a little kinder, a little more generous, a little more courteous, a little more thoughtful, a little more outreaching to others.

What are some ways the covenants you have made with God influence your daily living?

2. The Lord expects us to live the gospel in every aspect.

Obedience to the commandments seems to be one of man’s challenges.  Sometimes it is not convenient – some of us have got too comfortable in our armchairs to go and do the work of the Lord. we find it too much hassle to go to the temple. Some of us say to ourselves, ‘I’ve done my share, someone else can do it now.’ Some of us are reluctant to leave our comfort zones. And then we wonder why we don’t feel the same sense of excitement about the gospel that we used to.

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From the manual:

We live in an age of compromise and acquiescence. In situations with which we are daily confronted, we know what is right, but under pressure from our peers and the beguiling voices of those who would persuade us, we capitulate. We compromise. We acquiesce. We give in, and we are ashamed of ourselves. … We must cultivate the strength to follow our convictions.

How do we sometimes compromise our convictions?

3. God will shower down blessings upon those who walk in obedience to His commandments.

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See: Christ-like attributes – obedience

“The treasure house of happiness is unlocked to those who live the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity and simplicity. Like a mariner without stars, like a traveler without a compass, is the person who moves along through life without a plan. The assurance of supreme happiness, the certainty of a successful life here and of exaltation and eternal life hereafter, come to those who plan to live their lives in complete harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ—and then consistently follow the course they have set” (Spencer W Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 259).

From the manual:

The gospel is not a philosophy of repression, as so many regard it. It is a plan of freedom that gives discipline to appetite and direction to behavior. Its fruits are sweet and its rewards are liberal. 

How would you respond to someone who feels that the commandments are too restricting?

4. Church leaders point out the way and invite members to live the gospel.

Video: I will go and do (1 Nephi 3:7) President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks about being willing to go and do the things the Lord commands.

From the manual:

I have … served in the general councils of this Church for [many] years. … I want to give you my testimony that although I have sat in literally thousands of meetings where Church policies and programs have been discussed, I have never been in one where the guidance of the Lord was not sought nor where there was any desire on the part of anyone present to advocate or do anything which would be injurious or coercive to anyone.

5. Small decisions can lead to tremendous consequences.

From the manual:

I approached a large farm gate one day. I lifted the latch and opened the gate. The movement at the hinges was so slight as to be scarcely discernible. But the other end of the gate cut a great arc sixteen feet in radius. Looking at the movement of the hinges alone, one would never dream of the magnified action that came as a result of that tiny movement.

So it is with the decisions in our lives. Some small thought, some small word, some small action can lead to tremendous consequences.

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

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

6. By living the gospel, we strengthen the Church and help God’s work grow across the earth.

Video: Cling to God’s values (Numbers 6:1-21) President Hinckley encourages saints to cling to God’s values.

From the manual:

I see a wonderful future in a very uncertain world. If we will cling to our values, if we will build on our inheritance, if we will walk in obedience before the Lord, if we will simply live the gospel, we will be blessed in a magnificent and wonderful way. We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness.

How can living the gospel help us cope with uncertainties in the world?