Monday, December 12, 2011

D&C Sections 113, 114, 115 and 116

Section 113
Section 113 is comprised of five questions asked by the brethren and Joseph's inspired answers to them.  They deal with the interpretation of Isaiah. The first three questions ask who is the stem of Jesse, the rod of Jesse and the root of Jesse?  The stem is Christ and the rod and root refer to the prophet of the latter days, who is a descendent of Jesse, who will receive the keys of authority to administer in the restoration and preparations for the second coming of Christ.  This prophet is referring to Joseph Smith.  The next question asks what people are being referred to when the Isaiah says "Put on thy strength O Zion?"  The answer to this is those who hold the power of the priesthood and they are being admonished to obtain the strength of the priesthood.  The last question asks what Isaiah means when he says that Zion must loose herself  from the bands of her neck.  The answer is that Israel must remove those things that caused her to be in bondage to other nations and scattered throughout the world.  The Lord is instructing Israel to do this so that Israel can be gathered again.  One thing I find easy to lose sight of is the fact that there is a far bigger picture of the church that prophets saw regarding Israel and its gathering.  There is so much more involved with the church that tends to get lost in our every living of the gospel.  There are much bigger wheels in motion than we realize.

Section 114
Brigham Young had this section added in 1876.  Church members have rejected David and John Whitmer, and W.W. Phelps as leaders in Missouri.  This revelation regarding David W. Patten is fascinating to me.  The Lord instructs him to settle all of his business, sell his merchandise, in other words, get everything in his life in order, so that he can fill a mission in the spring.  Everyone assumed it was a normal mission, but in reality, the Lord is having him get everything in order prior to his death.  His mission was going to be in the next life because in the spring, he will be killed by the mobs.  I think it behooves all of us to always have our affairs and our lives in order because we have no idea just how long our lives are going to be.

Section 115
Given just over a week after Section 114, this revelation also comes to Joseph in Far West, Missouri. He has been forced by mobs to flee Kirtland.  Mobs have taken over the temple, riding horses through it and destroying much of the interior. It will be used a bit as a church by apostates who try to form their own restored church, but these efforts will quickly fail and eventually the temple will go into disrepair because the saints no longer can control it.  One of the important things in this section is the Lord instructs the church that they should be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Previously, it had been called the the Church of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of God and the Church of the Latter-day Saints.  I think the Lord doesn't want any ambiguity regarding his church's name.  The Lord instructs the saints to consecrate land for the building of a temple and that they should begin building it a year from that day.  At the same time, the Lord indicates that he doesn't want Joseph, Sidney and others to go into debt to build it.  The mobs who will eventually drive the saints from Far West into Missouri are aware of the instruction for the saints to begin construction in a year and vow they will kill anyone who comes near the site to attempt it.  But a year later, the 12 apostles gather at the site and lay the cornerstones prior to going on missions.  They are able to sneak in and back out right underneath the noses of the people in Far West and fulfill the command to start the temple.  If the Lord wants it done, he will find a way and it will be eventually done.

Section 116
This revelation indicates that the land called Spring Hill was named Adam-ondi-Ahman by the Lord because it is the place where Adam will come visit his people, or the people of Zion. Since that time, it has become known that this was the original site of Eden and when the Lord comes again it will be returned to its paradisiacal state.  With this revelation and Section 115, these must have raised questions in Joseph's mind as to how this could possibly be.  He knows the saints will not be allowed to remain in these lands.  While they strive to build a settlement in Far West, they are already beginning to see problems like they had in Independence.  I think the Lord is giving these revelations because he wants Joseph to know that in the end, the Lord's designs will be fulfilled, and that in the Lord's mind, the opposition is but a blink of the eye in time.

D&C Section One Hundred Eleven and One Hundred Twelve

Section 111
The church is in terrible financial condition mostly because of what has happened in Missouri.  Joseph is promised a large amount of money in Salem Mass. and he and some of the brethren go there.  As it turns out, there is no money and the brethren feel it's been a waste of time, resources and energy.  The Lord calls their trip a folly but says he is not displeased with them.  I think that is something important to remember.  There are lots of time we do things that don't turn out well, and maybe were things we should not have been done, but when our heart is in the right place, the Lord doesn't condemn us.  As it turns out, Joseph learned much genealogical information about his ancestors as a result of this trip.  So it was not entirely wasted and this information is one of the treasures that the Lord was referring to when he said there was much treasure in that city, more than one type of treasure.  The Lord encourages them to stay for a time and make acquaintances with the people of the city.  He also promises Joseph that he will be given power to pay their debts.  I can't imagine the pressure that was on Joseph at this difficult time in church history.  There is so much going on in Missouri that is devastating the church there, some of the 12 are leaving for England, the temple has been built, and people are beginning to step up their persecution in Kirtland.  The church is growing so rapidly that it is difficult to keep up with all of the administrative demands that are overwhelming the leadership.  And in the midst of this, the majority of the 12  leave Joseph for England.  This also means that their families must be watched over and provided for when they don't have means for providing for themselves.

Section 112
This revelation was given the day the gospel was first preached in England.  In one year and 14 days, there are between 7 and 8 thousand baptisms, and the church is established in nearly every town and city.  Also during this time, 5,000 Books of Mormon, 3,000 hymnals, 50,000 tracts, and 2,500 volumes of the Millennial Star are printed.  One thousand converts immigrate to the U.S.  Nine of the 12 apostles went to England during this time.  In this section, the Lord gives instruction to the Quorum of the 12 after Thomas B. Marsh, who was president of the 12 at that time, asked Joseph for a revelation regarding their duties.  There a number of things the Lord tells him, and all of these things pertain to the members just as they do the 12.  And, they pertain to the members today just as they did then.

1.  Openly work in declaring the gospel.
2.  Be prepared to preach to all nations.
3.  "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answer to thy prayers."  Love that one.
4.  Don't be partial with people placing some above others.
5.  Pray for your fellow workers.
6.  Honor the prophet and know that he possesses the keys which were given to him directly from the Lord's prophets
7.  Know you are called of God.
8.  Know that wherever you go, the Lord will be with you.
9. Those who receive the Lord's servants, receive his prophet, and receive the Lord.  You cannot accept one and not another.
10. Know the signs of the times.
11. Know how you stand before the Lord.
12. Understand the power and authority you hold.
13. Be pure.  Cleanse your hearts.

You could write paragraphs or chapters of a book about each one of these.

D&C Section One Hundred Nine and One Hundred Ten

Section 109
I do not know how they were able to build the Kirtland Temple in the condition the church was in at this time, especially when you consider the drain on the church and its members of what was happening in Missouri.  It shows the tremendous dedication they had. I believe that same sense of dedication and sacrifice is in the members today.  In the prayer, the following blessings are asked for and these blessing relate to us in our time and to all temples.  That's what shows the inspiration behind this dedicatory prayer.  It's timeless.  If you have been to the temple lately, or next time you go, think about these and see if one or more of them hasn't been fulfilled in some way in our life.  If you think about it, you'll see that they have.

1.  That all who enter the temple will feel the Lord's power and know it is a place of holiness.
2.  That it will be a house of learning.
3.  That the people will receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost.
4.  That it will be a house of prayer, organized and prepared in every way.
5.  That the Lord's servants will be able to go forth from the temple armed with the power of God to bear the truth to the whole world.
6.  That no weapon formed against the church or its people will be successful.
7.  That wickedness will have power or prevail over the church's people.
8.  That the Lord's servants will have the testimony of the covenant and be able to prepare the hearts of the saints for the judgments of God that will come upon the earth's wicked.
9.  That the people of the world will receive the Lord's servants and their testimony.
10. That the Lord will have mercy on the House of Israel and gather them to the lands of their inheritance.
11. That the Lord's people will be pure and worthy of the highest blessings after this life.

Section 110
The members were rewarded for the tremendous sacrifice they made in building the temple during the dedication ceremonies.  They had to hold several sessions of the dedication because only so many members could fit in the building.  Most everyone some type of miracle.  Even non-members in the area saw and reported things such as hearing heavenly choirs, an unusually bright light coming from the temple, or angels seen around or above it.  The greatest miracle was the appearance of the Savior as well as Moses, Elias (Noah) and Elijah.  The Savior accepted the temple and promised that he would continue to manifest himself in the temple if the people remained righteous and did not allow anything to pollute the purity of it.  The appearance of the three prophets fulfilled one of the main purposes of the temple being built.  Moses bestowed the keys of authority for the spiritual gathering of Israel.  Elias restored the keys of authority for the patriarchal priesthood making eternal marriage possible.  And Elijah returned the power to seal or ratify all ordinances.  This made possible the bestowing of all spiritual blessings in the church.  Without the keys, no one would have been able to act with authority.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Eight

Lyman Sherman is one of the seven presidents of the Quorum of Seventy and he has come to Joseph Smith in hopes of receiving a revelation through the prophet that will tell him if he is in good standing with the Lord.  I think we all would like to receive our own personal revelation through the prophet from the Lord telling us that things are fine, that the Lord is pleased with us and to just continue on the path we are on.  Unless we had a major unconfessed sin, and we were going about things as we should, I think the Lord would tell us that he's pleased with us and we're doing just fine.  I think he is tell us that through the Spirit but we let too many things interfere with the message, especially our own needless guilt that we're not perfect.  That is what the Lord has been telling Lyman through the Holy Ghost and Lyman wasn't accepting it. The Lord says, "Therefore, let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing and resist no more my voice."  The Lord then instructs Lyman on some things he can do:  1) be more careful in observing his vows, 2) be patient. 3) continue faithful, 4) strengthen your brethren through your conversations, prayers, prayers, preaching, and in everything you do. Isn't that interesting?  It isn't go out and convert the world, or be the most spiritual person on the block, or repent because you're really falling short.  It's a simple message that says be more concerned for those around you.

It reminds me of the counsel Alma gave his son Helaman in Alma 37, "Teach them to to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly of heart; for such shall find rest to their souls... Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings and he will direct thee for good."

Monday, November 7, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Seven

Six weeks before this revelation was given, the Quorum of the 12 Apostles was organized.  They were about to leave on their first mission to the east and came to Joseph, telling him that they felt they had not been equal to their calling, that they had done many things wrong, and had been light minded and vain.  As they were preparing to leave and not knowing when they would return, they tell Joseph they have sought forgiveness from the Lord and desire a revelation.  As a result, Joseph receives this great revelation on the priesthood.  This revelation has been the foundation for the organization and function of the church.  It's inspiration can be seen in how efficiently the church works, and especially in how amongst the 1st presidency and 12, there can be no seeking of power or office.  The way the priesthood is organized guarantees that the relationship of the quorums and their own responsibilities do not impede each other and also guarantee a smooth succession of leadership.  For example, the 1st Presidency is the highest quorum of the church. The next highest is the quorum of the the 12, and the next is the 1st quorum of the seventy.  When members of these quorums are ordained, they all receive the same keys of authority making them equal to each other.  However the 1st presidency presides over them all.  The 12 preside over the seventy.  The reason they are considered equal is, when the prophet dies, the quorum of the 1st presidency is dissolved and the 12 then preside over the church.  If the 1st presidency and the 12 were killed or no longer existed for some reason, then the seventy would preside and be able to reorganize those quorums.  Each quorum has a presiding officer.  

In this revelation, the Lord indicates that the 1st presidency, the 12 and 70 are responsible for all of the spiritual matters of the church and the teaching and preaching of the gospel.  The 12 have the responsibility of bearing witness of the name of Christ throughout the world.  Bishoprics are the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood and fall under the direction of the presiding officers of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The Aaronic Priesthood is responsible for all of the temporal affairs.  So at the general authority level of the church, the presiding bishopric is responsible for handling the tithes and offerings, the building of churches and temples, the grounds, etc.  At the local level, the stake president presides over the wards, being the local president of the Melchizedek Priesthood, while the Bishops preside over the wards and are the presidents of the Aaronic Priesthood in their ward.  

All of the decisions of these quorums must be unanimous, and can only be successful if they are are "made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity."  

Also in this revelation, the duties of elders, priests, teachers and deacons are given.  It is a remarkable revelation.  It doesn't seem likely to me that Joseph Smith would have been able to just write this out in one sitting and come up with so remarkable an organization, one that would work regardless of whether the church had a few thousand members like it did at the time, or the millions it does now.

Friday, October 28, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Six

Warren A. Cowdery, Oliver Cowdery's brother, is appointed to a full time position as a presiding high priest where he acts as an assistant  Joseph Smith.  This revelation instructs the church to compensate him because he will not be able to work provide for his family (he and his wife will eventually have 11 children).  He would later serve as one of the scribes for the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, and be an editor of the Messenger and Advocate, a church publication and newspaper.  In 1837, he wrote a letter in the newspaper condemning the 12 apostles for not doing there duty.  Later, he would write an apology.  In 1838, he left the church and when all of the saints left Kirtland for Missouri, he stayed back.  At one point he started his own church, called the Church of Christ, and took possession of the temple.  Neither of these things lasted.  He stayed in Kirtland the rest of his life having nothing to do with the church.

The revelation states there was joy in heaven when Cowdery accepted this calling, but did not prove himself worthy of this hire, as the revelation stated he needed to be. He was praised in this revelation for being able to separate himself from the crafts of men, but this did not last.  Verse 8 promises that he would have received grace and assurance and a crown had been prepared for him, if he remained faithful.  The crown is symbolic of receiving the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom.  You have to wonder how much influence Oliver's apostasy had on Warren.  It was Oliver who influenced Warren into joining the church.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Five

There is a lot of historical background to this section.  It was received in Missouri after Zion's Camp had come the nearly 1,000 miles to redeem the saints, put them back on their lands, and see the establishment of Zion.  The people in both Jackson and Clay counties now want the saints to leave.  Zion's camp is not going to effect any change in their situation and the members who came will have to return to Kirtland.  The reason Zion's Camp was unsuccessful is summed up in verse 3.  "But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them."  Because of all the bickering and fighting within the camp, nearly all of them, including the prophet became very ill.  Some died.  It was in that situation that those who could have provided some help, didn't.  For example, they pleaded with one of the men who had chickens to allow them to kill a chicken and make some broth to feed to the sick, but the man refused saying he would need it later.  Many men complained and rebelled against the prophet because the trip had been hard.  And from the beginning, the members in Kirtland did not send enough men or donate money to support and help the members in Missouri. There were a number of members who left the church after Zion's Camp and what it did do successfully was show who would be faithful in spite the difficulties.  Nearly all of the original 12 apostles came out of this group.  

In this section, there are six things the saints must learn and do if Zion is to be redeemed.  1. (v. 3, 6) They must learn obedience.  2.  (v. 4-5)  They must be united.  3. (v. 10)  They must be taught more perfectly.  4. (v. 10)  They need experience and must know more perfectly concerning their duty.  5. (v. 11-12)  They must be endowed with power.  6. (v. 31)  They must be sanctified.  We are still not there yet or Zion would be redeemed.  But I believe we have come a long way.  When you consider the number of temples now, that indicates the level of righteousness within the church.  The welfare program is the most successful in the world.  The missionary program continues to grow.   There are a number of things you can point to for improvement, but if there is probably one thing that we need more than anything, I would guess it is to be sanctified as a people.  I have no doubt we will get there and wonder how close we are.  I don't know the exact statistics, but the church averages around 60% for sacrament meeting attendance.  Is that an indicator?  About 40% pay tithing.  Is that an indication of our level of obedience?  I don't know the percentage that hold temple recommends, but how many attend?  I know there is much I can do better.