Archive for the 'Doctrine and Covenants' Category

Ponderizing – Week 12 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is Doctrine and Covenants 59:23.

But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

The greatest blessings that can be ours, are peace and eternal life. The Lord promised this peace to his apostles during his ministry on the earth. We learn of this in John 14:27, when we read, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” God gives us peace. His peace, is a peace of mind. His peace keeps fear from our hearts. His peace is only available when we strive to live righteously. I believe that this is because, when we do works of righteousness, we invite the spirit into our lives. The spirit brings heavenly peace to our hearts and minds. The reward for doing right, is the companionship of the spirit and the peace we can feel in knowing we are going to be okay. This peace can encourage us to continue enduring whatever may happen in our lives. This peace can be a driving force in the choices we make, which will ultimately lead us to God and the gift of eternal life, which he offers to the righteous. This verse is a promise, that the best gifts will come to those who faithfully do good and bring the light of Christ to others through their actions.

With this verse in mind, I ask myself something like, what am I doing right now, to enable me to feel the peace that the Lord promises to me? What am I doing to ensure that eternal life will be my reward? Is this thing I am doing right now, leading me towards the peace of mind that I desire and the life in heaven that I hope for? If not, what do I need to do differently? If so, how can I continue on this path? I know that this principle is a true and eternal principle of life.

But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

In light of all the Christmas baking this week, my thoughts go to logic in the process of baking. I could not make bread if I did not add the right ingredients together in order to make dough. If bread is what I want, I need to add those things that are known to produce bread. Seven cups of flowers in my dough will result in a mess without any substance or shape. Likewise, works of unrighteousness added into my life, will not be able to result in a reward of righteousness. Do good to receive the greatest good.

Ponderizing – Week 12

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is Doctrine and Covenants 59:23.

But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

What’s your verse?

Ponderizing – Week 9 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is
Doctrine and Covenants 90:24.

Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.

This promise is amazing. I love this verse, because it is a reminder that no matter what I am experiencing, it will all work out. If I can remember the covenants I have made with God and do the little things that I have been taught to do each day, things will be for my good. Scripture study (ancient and modern), continual prayer, believing in the Lord, keeping the commandments and covenants, are the things I must do. Earlier in my life, I looked at that simple list as daunting. I thought I would never be able to do all that was required of me each day. I have learned and continue to learn, that as we do these specific things, God blesses us with the capacity to do them and so much more. When we make the time to study the scriptures, diligently and with purpose and dedication, we begin to truly understand the purposes of prayer. Then finding the time to formally pray often, and to keep a prayer in our hearts throughout the day, becomes easier and even something we have a natural desire to do. Experiencing the results of regular study and prayer, helps to build our faith and belief in Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. The more we believe in Them, the greater desire we have to live in a manner that is pleasing to God. Likewise, we will think more often about the promises, or covenants, that we have made and the blessings hoped for by keeping them. For myself, doing these things has blessed me with a greater perspective in my life. It is awesome to me, how something that could have broken me in the past, becomes something I can not only handle, but also something that I can see good in. This does not mean that it always works out the way I want it to, or may have thought it would, but it does work out. God’s ways are better than my own, in fact, they are the best ways for where who I will ultimately become from this life experience. Through following these steps, I can see that my experiences provide opportunities for growth and learning, help me to have greater empathy and compassion towards others, and give me strength to do more and become more like the Savior.

Ponderizing – Week 9

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is
Doctrine and Covenants 90:24.

Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.

What’s your verse?

Would Your Life Make Sense Without the Gospel?

This is the question posed by Elder K. Brett Nattress (Of the Seventy) today during our stake conference.  I’m just throwing out here for some food for thought.  Personally, I know that the gospel is the glue that holds everything together, that I care deeply about.  I cannot separate the gospel from my life, without taking the reason away from all that I do.  I find so much joy and happiness in the gospel, and the truth of it speaks to the center of my being.  I know that my life would make any sense, if I did not have the gospel in it.  I challenge you to think about this question in your own life.

Joseph Smith-History (Part 4)

This is a continuation of the previous post (Joseph Smith-History part 3).

At this point in the history of Joseph Smith, he has witnessed the first vision, experienced a lot of persecution, had several visits from the Angel Moroni regarding the plates of Gold, had the location of the plates revealed and been prepared to be a prophet, seer and revelator in the latter-days. This record continues:

55 As my father’s worldly circumstances were very limited, we were under the necessity of laboring with our hands, hiring out by day’s work and otherwise, as we could get opportunity. Sometimes we were at home, and sometimes abroad, and by continuous labor were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance.
56 In the year 1823 my father’s family met with a great affliction by the death of my eldest brother, Alvin. In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango county, State of New York. He had heard something of a silver mine having been opened by the Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna county, State of Pennsylvania; and had, previous to my hiring to him, been digging, in order, if possible, to discover the mine. After I went to live with him, he took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.
57 During the time that I was thus employed, I was put to board with a Mr. Isaac Hale, of that place; it was there I first saw my wife (his daughter), Emma Hale. On the 18th of January, 1827, we were married, while I was yet employed in the service of Mr. Stoal.
58 Owing to my continuing to assert that I had seen a vision, persecution still followed me, and my wife’s father’s family were very much opposed to our being married. I was, therefore, under the necessity of taking her elsewhere; so we went and were married at the house of Squire Tarbill, in South Bainbridge, Chenango county, New York. Immediately after my marriage, I left Mr. Stoal’s, and went to my father’s, and farmed with him that season.

During the four years in which he was being prepared to receive the gold plates, he continued to work for his family. Joseph seems to have been a good worker, and a good example of dedication and great work ethic to those who would later join the church. It is my understanding that Alvin, who died just months after the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph for the first time, was very close and beloved to Joseph and that loosing him was very difficult. This love and sadness at his death, would prove to be a great testimony builder when eventually the revelation that work could be done for those who had already died without the opportunity to have the blessings of priesthood ordinances. Alvin was a great example to Joseph, and he helped to keep Joseph committed to his calling. It would be good for all of us to try to be that kind of example in the lives of our family members, both by the things we teach others and the things we do.

Joseph met Emma and about 2 years later, they were married. This was in the same year that he would receive the plates. I look up to Emma for her courage in the face of difficulty. Even before they were married, I am sure that the persecution placed on Joseph became something that she had to deal with as well. I imagine that it was really difficult at times and she must have been a strong woman to be able to stick with him through it all. She lost the approval of her family when she chose to be married to Joseph and that is something that can be extremely difficult to deal with. She is a great example to me of one who is supportive of the priesthood and callings even when it meant extreme trials and heartache at times.

59 At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.
60 I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me. Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose. The persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them from me if possible. But by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him; and he has them in his charge until this day, being the second day of May, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight.

Joseph was allowed to have the plates for translation, just as he had been promised. With his calling to translate the plates, he was also given the duty to keep them safe no matter what. Joseph must have been a very trustworthy man, with only the best of intentions in his heart. This was such an enormous responsibility that was given to the prophet. Because of this, Satan worked extremely hard to get men to try every way possible to get the plates from him. His persecution turned into physical violence against him, raids against his family home and more. Joseph recognized the hand of God in keeping them safe until he was able to return them to Moroni. I am sure there was a heavy weight until that day, when he no longer had to protect the plates from the hands of wicked men.

61 The excitement, however, still continued, and rumor with her thousand tongues was all the time employed in circulating falsehoods about my father’s family, and about myself. If I were to relate a thousandth part of them, it would fill up volumes. The persecution, however, became so intolerable that I was under the necessity of leaving Manchester, and going with my wife to Susquehanna county, in the State of Pennsylvania. While preparing to start—being very poor, and the persecution so heavy upon us that there was no probability that we would ever be otherwise—in the midst of our afflictions we found a friend in a gentleman by the name of Martin Harris, who came to us and gave me fifty dollars to assist us on our journey. Mr. Harris was a resident of Palmyra township, Wayne county, in the State of New York, and a farmer of respectability.
62 By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pennsylvania; and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them, which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father, in the month of December, and the February following.

Because of the help of others, Joseph was able to remove himself from the intense persecution at his family home. He and his wife moved to Pennsylvania, where her family lived, because Martin Harris gave them the money to do so. Once in Pennsylvania, Joseph was able to work on the translation of the Book of Mormon by the power of God with the use of the Urim and Thummim. He had translated several characters in the first few months of working on this. It was at this time, that Martin, who had become a close friend to Joseph and acted as his scribe, asked the prophet to let him show some of the translated pages to others. After asking the Lord twice with the response that he was not to do this, the prophet asked again and was told that he could let Martin take the pages.

63 Sometime in this month of February, the aforementioned Mr. Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off the plates, and started with them to the city of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters, I refer to his own account of the circumstances, as he related them to me after his return, which was as follows:
64 “I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian. I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic; and he said they were true characters. He gave me a certificate, certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him.
65 “He then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell, who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.”

Martin had hoped to receive the proof from wise men, so that others would believe the translation was true. The problem with this, is that it assumes that men can gain a full understanding of a spiritual thing from men. Martin Harris did not understand at this point, that the only way for people to believe the translations were true, would be by the power of the spirit, not by the word of man. This event of talking with a learned man who could not read a sealed book, was fulfillment of scripture. In Isaiah 29:11 it says, “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed”.

While away from Joseph, Martin lost the translated pages to the hands of wicked men. Martin was removed from his calling as the scribe for Joseph. This time became a trial of faith and obedience for Joseph, who had to sincerely repent for what he had done before he could begin translating again. We should never trust in the word of men over the promises that are given to us by God. This lesson teaches us that the Lord will allow us to have the things we truly desire, and if those desires are not the best He will give us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. This learning is meant to refine us into more obedient and faithful followers of Christ. I am grateful for the lessons that I have been able to learn from my own mistakes. I recognize that the pain that goes along with those lessons is necessary for our growth and that I will probably go through a lot more of these lessons throughout the rest of my life.

Official Declaration 2

1978 was a very special year for the modern saints in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most members I talk to, who were old enough to remember this time, often share the memories of exactly where they were and how they felt when this was announced to the church. The declaration reads:

To Whom It May Concern:

On 30 September 1978, at the 148th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the following was presented by President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church:

In early June of this year, the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church. President Kimball has asked that I advise the conference that after he had received this revelation, which came to him after extended meditation and prayer in the sacred rooms of the holy temple, he presented it to his counselors, who accepted it and approved it. It was then presented to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who unanimously approved it, and was subsequently presented to all other General Authorities, who likewise approved it unanimously.

President Kimball has asked that I now read this letter:

June 8, 1978

To all general and local priesthood officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world:

Dear Brethren:

As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the Church in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the Church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.

Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.

He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.

We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.

Sincerely yours,

Spencer W. Kimball
N. Eldon Tanner
Marion G. Romney
The First Presidency

Recognizing Spencer W. Kimball as the prophet, seer, and revelator, and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is proposed that we as a constituent assembly accept this revelation as the word and will of the Lord. All in favor please signify by raising your right hand. Any opposed by the same sign.

The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous in the affirmative.

Salt Lake City, Utah, September 30, 1978.

I was interested in a greater understanding as to why the priesthood was to be withheld from those who came from this lineage. Here are the scriptures which lead me to my understanding of this topic. In Genisis 4 we read about Cain and Able.

1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, was cursed for his wickedness and was marked so that others would know him and would not kill him. This mark was passed through the lineage. In Moses 7:22 we read, “And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.” Adam was also the father of Seth, who son was Enos, who was the father of Cainan, who was the father of Mahalaleel, who was the father of Jared, who was the father of Enoch. Then, Enoch had a son named Methuselah, who was the father of Lamech, who had a son named Noah (see Genesis 5). Noah then had a son named Ham (Genesis 5:32).

In Genesis 7:7 we read, “And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.” Ham and his wife, went into the ark and were saved from the floods. Ham’s wife was a woman named Egyptus. In Abraham 1:21-27 we read the following:

21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.
22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.
23 The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;
24 When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.
25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.
26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry; (emphasis added)

Egyptus, the wife of Ham, was of the lineage of Cain. (See Early Family of the Earth, Ensign March 1973.) Therefore her descendants and those of Ham, were marked with that same curse which was given to Cain. They had a daughter named Egyptus who went to the land of Egypt, which had been cursed and forbidden before the flood. She settled there in Egypt and her descendants remained marked. From Ham down to the generations of the 1970’s, all those who followed this lineage were marked and were not able to hold the priesthood because of the curse on Cain.

June 1, 1978, was the day when the Lord revealed that this would no longer be the case, and that all worthy men in the church, would be able to receive the priesthood and all the blessings that come with it. I think that only the Lord knows why we had to wait so many thousands of years after cain, for this to happen, but the important thing is that it did. It was a huge milestone in the full restoration of the gospel to the earth. An interesting thing that I learned from additional study, is that the revelation came first to the prophet and then consequently each of the brethren who was present to vote on it, meaning the counselors and members of the twelve apostles who were there, received the revelation as well. I am sure that this was an incredible experience and made it undeniable to those who were there. I am so happy that all the children of God can experience all the blessings of the gospel, because of the priesthood and this revelation which extended its power and authority.

Official Declaration 1

As part of the printed Doctrine and Covenants, there are two documents included. The first one is Official Declaration—1, and it is regarding the issue of polygamy and the saints in 1890. I know that it was a much greater issue at the time, than it is now. I think the greatest thing to learn from it, is that the Church, under the direction of God, will follow the laws of the land, and that the Lord will guide those whom he has called to lead and direct the saints. The declaration reads:

To Whom It May Concern:
Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy—

I, therefore, as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.

One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the Spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay.

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.

Wilford Woodruff
President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:

“I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.”

The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.

Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6, 1890.

Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto

The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

It matters not who lives or who dies, or who is called to lead this Church, they have got to lead it by the inspiration of Almighty God. If they do not do it that way, they cannot do it at all. …

I have had some revelations of late, and very important ones to me, and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me. Let me bring your minds to what is termed the manifesto. …

The Lord has told me to ask the Latter-day Saints a question, and He also told me that if they would listen to what I said to them and answer the question put to them, by the Spirit and power of God, they would all answer alike, and they would all believe alike with regard to this matter.

The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue—to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people (all of which of themselves would stop the practice); or, after doing and suffering what we have through our adherence to this principle to cease the practice and submit to the law, and through doing so leave the Prophets, Apostles and fathers at home, so that they can instruct the people and attend to the duties of the Church, and also leave the Temples in the hands of the Saints, so that they can attend to the ordinances of the Gospel, both for the living and the dead?

The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for … any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our Prophets and Apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed. A large number has already been delivered from the prison house in the spirit world by this people, and shall the work go on or stop? This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves. I shall not answer it; but I say to you that that is exactly the condition we as a people would have been in had we not taken the course we have.

… I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done. I have had this spirit upon me for a long time. But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write. …

I leave this with you, for you to contemplate and consider. The Lord is at work with us. (Cache Stake Conference, Logan, Utah, Sunday, November 1, 1891. Reported in Deseret Weekly, November 14, 1891.)

Now I will tell you what was manifested to me and what the Son of God performed in this thing. … All these things would have come to pass, as God Almighty lives, had not that Manifesto been given. Therefore, the Son of God felt disposed to have that thing presented to the Church and to the world for purposes in his own mind. The Lord had decreed the establishment of Zion. He had decreed the finishing of this temple. He had decreed that the salvation of the living and the dead should be given in these valleys of the mountains. And Almighty God decreed that the Devil should not thwart it. If you can understand that, that is a key to it. (From a discourse at the sixth session of the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, April 1893. Typescript of Dedicatory Services, Archives, Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah.)

There were years in church history, where plural marriage was practiced regularly. It is a practice that is not against the patterns of God. We can read the revelations and doctrine regarding it in the Doctrine and Covenants 132. However, the laws of the land became such, that it was made an illegal practice. This law against plural marriage was made official in 1862. Being illegal and immoral are two different things. One is against the laws of the land, where the other is against the laws of God. However, as good standing members of the church, the saints must obey the laws of the land. It does not mean that we must agree with them, but they should sustain them and follow them when possible. President Wilford Woodruff took a stand for the church in stating that as a whole, the church was no longer practicing the act of plural marriages. I am sure that those who had been married to multiple spouses were suffering persecution from others outside of the church, and maybe even within it. I understand that even before Wilford Woodruff was the president of the church, President John Taylor was in hiding because of the outcomes from this issue.

There will always be powerful people who will try to find ways to stop the church and to oppress it members. The wisdom of the Lord was to reveal to the president and prophet, that the members needed to be strict in obeying the laws of the land, so that those outside of the church could not find ways to destroy it. In publicly making this manifesto, they were able to show that the church had made its stand to follow the laws and anyone who did not do this, was not acting according in proper authority. The church has taken a stand on this issue multiple times, especially in the years following this manifesto. I have even had people approach me in the past few years, sharing their thoughts that they believed the saints still practiced plural marriage. I know that those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do not practice plural marriage. It has not been practiced since the anti-pologamy act was passed into law. The Church will continue to support and sustain the laws of the lands that it is in, because that is what God has told us to do. The work of the Lord will not be stopped by men. I find great hope and happiness in that truth.

D&C Section 138 (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of the previous post on this section (D&C Section 138 Part 1).

In the previous post on this section, we learned that President Joseph F. Smith received a vision regarding the souls who the Savior taught in the spirit world (see 1 Peter 34). We learn about the process of revelation and understanding from pondering over the scriptures. We learn about the organization of the work of sharing the gospel in the spirit world. This section continues:

38 Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all,
39 And our glorious Mother Eve, with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and worshiped the true and living God.
40 Abel, the first martyr, was there, and his brother Seth, one of the mighty ones, who was in the express image of his father, Adam.
41 Noah, who gave warning of the flood; Shem, the great high priest; Abraham, the father of the faithful; Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, the great law-giver of Israel;
42 And Isaiah, who declared by prophecy that the Redeemer was anointed to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound, were also there.
43 Moreover, Ezekiel, who was shown in vision the great valley of dry bones, which were to be clothed upon with flesh, to come forth again in the resurrection of the dead, living souls;
44 Daniel, who foresaw and foretold the establishment of the kingdom of God in the latter days, never again to be destroyed nor given to other people;
45 Elias, who was with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration;
46 And Malachi, the prophet who testified of the coming of Elijah—of whom also Moroni spake to the Prophet Joseph Smith, declaring that he should come before the ushering in of the great and dreadful day of the Lord—were also there.
47 The Prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers,
48 Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.
49 All these and many more, even the prophets who dwelt among the Nephites and testified of the coming of the Son of God, mingled in the vast assembly and waited for their deliverance,
50 For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage.
51 These the Lord taught, and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father’s kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life,
52 And continue thenceforth their labor as had been promised by the Lord, and be partakers of all blessings which were held in reserve for them that love him.

President Smith saw many of the prophets of old, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. They were in the spirit world waiting in bondage for the redemption and salvation that was to come through Jesus Christ. All the righteous had to wait for the resurrection of the Savior, before they could be resurrected. Some of those who have gone before us have been resurrected already and are doing the work that they have been asked to do. I believe that others are still waiting for the time of the Second Coming when the righteous will be resurrected and will have the opportunity to serve the Lord as he rules on this earth. Until the resurrection, all spirits will remain in bondage. Meaning that they will not be able to progress and work to their fulness, until they are once again reunited with their bodies.

I strongly believe in the words of Elijah. There is much work to be done, and the righteous have a responsibility to do this work for those who no longer are able to do it for themselves. In doing this work, the hearts of those who serve are turned towards their ancestors. And likewise, their ancestors are turning and relying on them for their salvation. This work is only possible because we have holy temples on the earth, in which we can perform saving ordinances for others. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve in the temple.

53 The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work,
54 Including the building of the temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead, were also in the spirit world.
55 I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.
56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.
58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,
59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.
60 Thus was the vision of the redemption of the dead revealed to me, and I bear record, and I know that this record is true, through the blessing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, even so. Amen.

I love the lesson here that we will have the opportunity after this life, to pay for the transgressions that we do now. No matter how hard I try, I know that I do things I should not do, that I may not think to repent for. Those things do not go away with time, but remain as a stain on our souls until we are washed clean of them. I know there will be mercy through repentance in this life, which takes away our burden of suffering for specific sins, but it is good to know that we all will be able to pay for what we have done that we have not repented for, and then we will move on to gain whatever reward we deserve.

There were modern day prophets, which he saw, and other righteous saints in the spirit world with the prophets of old. He saw that all of these had been prepared for their great work, before they came to the earth in life. He saw that missionary work, or the work of teaching the gospel and saving souls, continues on after this life. These verses confirm to me the thought that work is an eternal principle. This life is in preparation for even greater work after this life. This stresses to me the importance of being productive and serving in this life. If we live a life of laziness and dependence on others, we will not be willing to work after this life. If we are not willing to work, I am certain that we will not be able to progress and receive all the blessings that eternity has to offer to us.

I am so glad to have scriptures which teach us what is to come after this life. There are multiple witnesses of heaven and who and what will be there. I believe these things are true. I hope to live a life that is worthy to be among these great righteous leaders and to work and learn from them. I am glad to be given opportunities to serve and work in this life. I have grown a lot through the service that I have had the chance to give and my life has been greatly blessed for it. This chapter is one of those that causes me to look forward to life after death, and all the wonderful things that will happen there. It is such a blessing to have this gospel and to have the confirming power of the spirit with me, to know these things are true.

D&C Section 138 (Part One)

In 1918, President Joseph F. Smith received a vision regarding the spirit world, which was unanimously accepted by the First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles, and the Patriarch. It was published for the saints at that time, then later it was added to the pearl of great price, and has since been added to the book of Doctrine and Covenants.

1 On the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures;
2 And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world;
3 And the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world;
4 That through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved.
5 While I was thus engaged, my mind reverted to the writings of the apostle Peter, to the primitive saints scattered abroad throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and other parts of Asia, where the gospel had been preached after the crucifixion of the Lord.
6 I opened the Bible and read the third and fourth chapters of the first epistle of Peter, and as I read I was greatly impressed, more than I had ever been before, with the following passages:
7 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
8 “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
9 “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18–20.)
10 “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6.)

President Smith was another example of how we can learn and have revelations from reading the scriptures. When we take time to sincerely ponder over principles of the gospel, and we use the scriptures to study about that particular topic, we give the spirit the opportunity to teach us great and wonderful things. Because of seriously pondering over the scriptures and the atonement of the Savior, he was led to consider scriptures about those spirits that the Savior visited. As I have studied these verses, and read from other sources, I have gained a greater understanding of the need to have an open mind when studying the scriptures. What I mean by an open mind, is more of having our thoughts free of the other things in our lives. If we are consumed with thoughts on other things, the spirit cannot find a way in to reveal things to us. An open mind and a teachable heart, are the things we need to get the most from our study and pondering.

As I consider how this vision came about, I wonder what it would be like for the Savior to have suffered such great pain for all of mankind, and then for so many to not have the opportunity to know the gospel and know how to repent and use the atonement. It seems like that would make so much of what He did, an act of so much effort in vain. It would serve no purpose. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the spirits would have the same opportunities to learn the gospel as we have in this life. The Savior himself, went to the spirits who were already waiting, and preached to them. We learn of this because Peter wrote of it to the saints who lived in the days after the Savior was crucified. These spirits needed to hear the gospel and then choose not to accept or to accept, in order to be judged the same way that all men would be judged.

11 As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.
12 And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
13 And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer’s name.
14 All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
15 I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.
16 They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.
17 Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy.
18 While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;
19 And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.
20 But unto the wicked he did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised;
21 Neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold his presence, nor look upon his face.
22 Where these were, darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace;
23 And the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell.
24 Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name.

As President Smith pondered over the scriptures he read, the understanding became clear to him. When I have had moments of understanding, it feels like I can finally see something that was there all along and I realize that it makes perfect sense. Saying that the mind is opened is a great way to explain it. It is as if there are parts of our brains that are closed or turned off, and all of the sudden they are open and active. In the church we often refer to the veil that has been placed over our minds in mortality. I think in these moments of understanding, portions of the veil become thinner or are removed. I know however, that it is possible for us to make choices which close our minds again, even after we have great understanding. We need to be continually striving for knowledge and for the companionship of the spirit, so that we do not loose the knowledge that we have gained.

In this moment of understanding, the righteous spirits were seen waiting for Christ to come and deliver them from the prison which held them. They waited for their own resurrections, which would follow the resurrection of the Savior. The Savior came to them, taught them, and redeemed them. We do not know or understand the way time works outside of the life we are living, but I know what it feels like when I am anxiously waiting for something. There are times when minutes seem like hours and the expected moment seems like it takes forever to arrive. I am sure that these spirits were so excited and anxiously waiting that moment to come. They had been halted in their progression. I think it is probably a lot like being ‘stuck in a rut’ in life, but in this case the only hope of getting out of it, is the arrival of the Savior of God. I can only imagine what a glorious celebration it was for those who were there.

25 I marveled, for I understood that the Savior spent about three years in his ministry among the Jews and those of the house of Israel, endeavoring to teach them the everlasting gospel and call them unto repentance;
26 And yet, notwithstanding his mighty works, and miracles, and proclamation of the truth, in great power and authority, there were but few who hearkened to his voice, and rejoiced in his presence, and received salvation at his hands.
27 But his ministry among those who were dead was limited to the brief time intervening between the crucifixion and his resurrection;
28 And I wondered at the words of Peter—wherein he said that the Son of God preached unto the spirits in prison, who sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah—and how it was possible for him to preach to those spirits and perform the necessary labor among them in so short a time.
29 And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding quickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the wicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them;
30 But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.
31 And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel.
32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.
33 These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,
34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
35 And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross.
36 Thus was it made known that our Redeemer spent his time during his sojourn in the world of spirits, instructing and preparing the faithful spirits of the prophets who had testified of him in the flesh;
37 That they might carry the message of redemption unto all the dead, unto whom he could not go personally, because of their rebellion and transgression, that they through the ministration of his servants might also hear his words.

President Smith wondered at how the Savior could preach to all the souls in such a short amount of time, and he received understanding about this. We often say that God created the earth, and it is true, but He did it through the work of His Son. In the same sense, the Lord visited with all the spirits in spirit prison through the work of His servants. This organization is the same as we it is in life. The prophet is given direct revelation from God, then he turns to his counselors and the twelve and delegates certain responsibilities. This delegation continues down to the individuals in each ward and branch around the world, so that the work can be accomplished. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the prophet to report the work, his work, to the Lord directly. The Savior could not go into certain portions of the spirit world to preach, because he could not dwell in the presence of wickedness, but his servants could do it for him.

This section will be continued.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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