Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets

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“Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Council of the Twelve once told of a discussion he had with a group of stake officers. In the course of the discussion someone said to him, ‘Brother Widtsoe, how long has it been since the Church received a revelation?’ Brother Widtsoe rubbed his chin thoughtfully and said in reply, ‘Oh, probably since last Thursday’” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 132–33)

What are some revelations we have received recently?  Can you think of any right off hand?  
The first one that comes to my mind is the decrease in the age of Missionaries announced by President Thomas S Monson.  What else has been revealed to us in our lifetime, if we think about it, there are many things, there is much guidance that has been given.  The heavens are open, and the Lord continues to reveal His will to latter-day prophets.

“We testify to the world that revelation continues and that the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is, since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord. …

“Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption” (President Spencer W. Kimball Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 115; or Ensign, May 1977, 78)

D&C 1:38 Tells us that the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators. They continue to receive revelation to guide the Church. Their direction is “the will of the Lord, … the mind of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” 

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

D&C 68:4 Teaches examples of continuing revelation to guide the Church.

And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

Church Correlation A Revelation

WHAT IS CHURCH CORRELATION?  It is continuing revelation, it is principles and guidelines that help the church to stay on the path of its objective to gospel teaching.   Church correlation consists of policies that govern the planning, writing, and implementation of all Church curriculum materials. It also includes the coordination of all programs and activities including welfare, missionary, and family history work, to better accomplish the Church’s mission.

What is the Purpose of Correlation? the purpose of Church correlation is to preserve “the right way of God” (Jacob 7:7). Ultimately it is intended to help accomplish the mission of the Church, which is to invite all people to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve oversee correlation in the Church. Correlation includes:
  1. Maintaining purity of doctrine.
  2. Emphasizing the importance of the family and the home.
  3. Placing all the work of the Church under priesthood direction.
  4. Establishing proper relationships among the organizations of the Church.
  5. Achieving unity and order in the Church.
  6. Ensuring simplicity of Church programs and materials.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve said that correlation is a process “in which we take all the programs of the Church, bring them to one focal point, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, involve all members of the Church in the operation—and do it all under priesthood direction” (Let Every Man Learn His Duty [pamphlet, 1976], 2).

History of Church Correlation
As the Church has continued to grow and expand, General Authorities carry a deep concern that the programs of the Church are effective in pursuing the objective of perfecting the Saints. This concern increased as the international Church grew rapidly in the decades following World War II. 

In those years following the war, each auxiliary organized its own programs and prepared its own materials while other areas did not receive sufficient emphasis thus the concerns of the Brethren surfaced early in the century. Below is just a sampling of efforts that occurred prior to 1960. 

1907 the Committee on Adjustments recommended consolidating programs and magazines and stressed the importance of the home. 

1912 the Correlation Committee was appointed to reduce duplication among the auxiliaries.  

1928 the "Priesthood-Auxiliary Movement" sought to simplify Church activities by uniting priesthood and auxiliary meetings 

1960 the First Presidency directed the Priesthood Committee of the Twelve under Elder Harold B. Lee to conduct a study of all Church programs in the light of the Church's ultimate objectives.

The results of the study were given at the October 1961 General Conference: "It is the feeling now of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, after reviewing these studies that there should be presently more coordination and correlation between the activities and programs of the various priesthood quorums and auxiliary organizations and the educational system of the Church. They have decided, therefore, that there should be established an all-Church coordinating council and three coordinating committees: one for the children, one for the youth, and one for adults. This council and the three committees will correlate and co-ordinate the total instructional and activity programs of all auxiliaries and priesthood quorums which the brethren have now suggested should include missionary instructions and activities for the entire Church." (Harold B Lee Conference Report, Oct 1961)

With Elder Lee's announcement in 1961, the Church began a multi-year process of changing the operation of the Church with the intent of placing "the priesthood of God where the Lord said it was to be - as the center and core of the Church and kingdom of God-and to see that the Latter-day Saint homes also have their place in the divine plan of saving souls." (Harold by Lee quoted in The Church in the Twentieth Century)

Committees were organized at the Church level to coordinate and oversee the implementation of Correlation.  Responsibility for developing instructional materials for all age groups was assigned to a single department. 

1964 - The Priesthood Executive Committee and the Ward Council were established at the ward level to coordinate/correlate efforts at the local level.  Home Teaching was established, the quorums were also expected to visit with their members and auxiliaries would also connect the home relative to their programs. This was all done with the intention to bring these visits under priesthood coordination.

1965 - Family Home Evening manuals were published

1971 - All magazines for adults, youth, and children, respectively, merged under the priesthood and the responsibility for producing all instructional materials was consolidated into single department.

1980 - Consolidation of ward meeting schedules

Other changes were made and continue to be made to support the mission of the Church, particularly in its support of the family. In the 1990s, "the focus of Church correlation shifted from maintaining order among Church entities to simplifying and reducing programs and materials, and to limiting volume, complexity, and cost." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 325)

How has Correlation blessed the church?  The one eternal organization is the family. The primary purpose of correlation is to support the family in the Lord's work.  The correlation effort has emphasized the importance of the family in many ways. One is the establishment of the family home evening program.  Others include:
  • Consolidation of meetings to allow for more family time.
  • Inspiring and helpful articles from Church magazines. The correlition ensures that these materials are scripture-based, doctrinally accurate, and appropriate for the intended audience. All Church publications are planned, prepared, reviewed, and implemented under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.
  • Home teachers who provide a link from the family back to the quorums and ward D&C 20:53–55
  • The coordination of the auxiliaries in working together and in not duplicating efforts.
The correlation effort has also emphasized the importance of the family by clarifying the role of the organizations, programs, and activities of the Church in relation to the family. The Church Handbook of Instructions states:

The most important place for gospel teaching and leadership is in the family and the home (see Mosiah 4:14–15; D&C 68:25–28). … Quorums, auxiliaries, programs, and activities in the Church should strengthen and support the family. They should enhance gospel-centered family activities, not compete with them” (Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders [1998], 299)

How Correlation Works to support the family while directing auxiliries
  • Concerns about the family were presented by the Elder's Quorum president at the Priesthood Executive Committee meeting. This information was provided by the home teachers.
  • Additional information about the family was provided by the Relief Society president, the Primary president, and the Young Men's president at the Ward Council meeting.
  • The bishop charged each member of the council to prayerfully consider how the family can be assisted. It would be discussed at the following meeting.
  • At the following meeting, members provided additional information and assignments were given to the Elder's Quorum, the Relief Society, the Primary, and the youth organizations.
  • Each organization head then followed up with assignments to home teachers, visiting teachers, auxiliary instructors, and others who can assist the family.
  • The bishop then follows up with reports in subsequent meetings on the steps taken to assist the family
  • In reality, what happens is a family is supported by the correlative efforts of the ward in dealing with a variety of possible problems: a family death, unemployment, a rebellious child, marital issues, a new baby, etc. This is an amazing structure that supports or should support every family in the Church.
 Why is it important to understand that Church auxiliaries, programs, and activities exist to support the family? How have Church organizations and activities strengthened you and your family?  

D&C 84:109–10   In what ways does Church correlation help us fulfill these words?

 Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand?
110 Also the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.

D&C 132:8  Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

 What can we do individually and in our Church callings to apply the principles of Church correlation?

For additional information about church correlation see the following at
Revelation extending the blessings of the priesthood to every worthy male member of the Church

In June 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball announced a revelation that extended the blessings of the priesthood to every worthy male member of the Church. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism provides a brief history on the restriction of the priesthood:  

"The reasons for these restrictions have not been revealed. Church leaders and members have explained them in different ways over time. Although several blacks were ordained to the priesthood in the 1830s, there is no evidence that Joseph Smith authorized new ordinations in the 1840s, and between 1847 and 1852 Church leaders maintained that blacks should be denied the priesthood because of their lineage. According to the book of Abraham (now part of the Pearl of Great Price), the descendants of Cain were to be denied the priesthood of God (Abr. 1:23-26). Some Latter-day Saints theorized that blacks would be restricted throughout mortality. As early as 1852, however, Brigham Young said that the 'time will come when they will have the privilege of all and more' (Brigham Young Papers, Church Archives, Feb. 5, 1852), and increasingly in the 1960s, Presidents of the Church taught that denial of entry to the priesthood was a current commandment of God, but would not prevent blacks from eventually possessing all eternal blessings.  

"Missionaries avoided proselytizing blacks, and General Authorities decided not to send missionaries to Africa, much of the Caribbean, or other regions inhabited by large populations of blacks. Before World War II, only German-speaking missionaries were sent to Brazil, where they sought out German immigrants. When government war regulations curtailed proselytizing among Germans, missionary work was expanded to include Portuguese-speaking Brazilians. Determining genealogically who was to be granted and who denied the priesthood became increasingly a sensitive and complex issue." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 126)  

As the Church continued to grow throughout the world, the Brethren became increasingly concerned about many faithful members of the Church who were being denied priesthood blessings. At a press conference held shortly after Spencer W. Kimball was ordained president of the Church, he was asked about extending the priesthood to black members. He responded: "I am not sure that there will be a change, although there could be. We are under the dictates of our Heavenly Father, and this is not my policy or the Church's policy. It is the policy of the Lord . . . and I know of no change, although we are subject to revelations of the Lord in case he should ever wish to make a change." (quoted in LDS Church News, 06/04/88)  

Though President Kimball announced that there was no plan to change this policy, the restriction of withholding the priesthood weighed heavily on his heart. In a talk given to missionaries in October 1978, President Kimball said: "I prayed with much fervency. I knew that something was before us that was extremely important to many of the children of God. . . . Day after day I went alone and with great solemnity and seriousness in the upper rooms of the temple, and there I offered my soul and offered my efforts to go forward with the program. I wanted to do what He wanted." 

On June 1, 1978, while meeting with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple, President Kimball again brought up the possibility of conferring the priesthood on worthy brethren of all races. 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie recalled, "President Kimball asked the brethren if any of them desired to express their feelings and views as to the matter in hand. We all did so, freely and fluently and at considerable length, each person stating his views and manifesting the feelings of his heart. There was a marvelous outpouring of unity, oneness, and agreement in the council." (The Church in the Twentieth Century, pp390-391) 

President Kimball then lead the Brethren in prayer regarding this issue. He pleaded with the Lord for an answer and promised the Lord that if the restriction was to continue he would defend it to the end of his life. 

Elder McConkie described what happened: "It was during this prayer that the revelation came. The Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon us all; we felt something akin to what happened on the day of Pentecost and at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. From the midst of eternity, the voice of God, conveyed by the power of the Spirit, spoke to his prophet .... And we all heard the same voice, received the same message, and became personal witnesses that the word received was the mind and will and voice of the Lord." 

On the morning of June 9, 1978, President Kimball made the announcement that the priesthood would now be extended to all worthy male members of the Church. 

This revelation had long been hoped for by faithful people throughout the world. One of the first black persons to accept the gospel in Africa was William Paul Daniels, who learned of the Church as early as 1913. He traveled to Utah, where he received a special blessing from President Joseph F. Smith. President Smith promised him that if he remained faithful, he would hold the priesthood in this life or the next. Brother Daniels died in 1936, still a faithful member of the Church, and his daughter had the temple ordinances performed for her father soon after the 1978 revelation on the priesthood.6

Many more people in Africa developed testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel through Church literature or through miraculous personal experiences, but they were not able to enjoy all the blessings of the gospel.

For many months before the June 1978 revelation, President Kimball discussed with his Counselors and the Twelve Apostles the denial of priesthood authority to persons of African descent. Church leaders were reluctant to open missions in areas of the world where the full blessings of the gospel could not be conferred upon worthy Church members. In an area conference in South Africa, President Kimball declared: “I prayed with much fervency. I knew that something was before us that was extremely important to many of the children of God. I knew that we could receive the revelations of the Lord only by being worthy and ready for them and ready to accept them and put them into place. Day after day I went alone and with great solemnity and seriousness in the upper rooms of the temple, and there I offered my soul and offered my efforts to go forward with the program. I wanted to do what he wanted. I talked about it to him and said, ‘Lord, I want only what is right.’”7

In a special meeting in the temple with his Counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Kimball asked that they all freely express their views about giving the priesthood to black males. Then they prayed around the altar with President Kimball as voice. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was there, later said,

“On this occasion, because of the importuning and the faith, and because the hour and the time had arrived, the Lord in his providences poured out the Holy Ghost upon the First Presidency and the Twelve in a miraculous and marvelous manner, beyond anything that any then present had ever experienced.”8 It was made clear to the leaders of the Church that the time had come for all worthy men to receive the full blessings of the priesthood.

The First Presidency sent a letter dated 8 June 1978 to priesthood leaders, explaining that the Lord had revealed that “all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.” On 30 September 1978, the Saints in general conference voted unanimously to support the action of their leaders. This letter is now found in the Doctrine and Covenants as Official Declaration—2.

Since the time of this announcement, thousands of persons of African descent have come into the Church. The experience of one convert in Africa illustrates how the hand of the Lord has blessed these people. A college graduate and teacher had a dream in which he saw a large building with spires or towers, into which people dressed in white were entering. Later as he was traveling, he saw a Latter-day Saint chapel and felt impressed that this church was somehow connected with his dream, so he attended a Sunday service there. After the meetings, the mission president’s wife showed him a pamphlet. Opening it, the man saw a picture of the Salt Lake Temple, the building of his dream. Later he said: “Before I became aware I was weeping. I can’t explain the feeling. I was released of all burdens. I felt that I had gone to a place where I visited often. And now I was at home.” 
(Our Heritage, pages 125–27.)

 How has this revelation been a blessing to the Church? What can we learn from the process President Kimball went through before receiving this revelation? 

 Publication of new Latter-day Saint editions of the scriptures; A Revelation
In 1979, after years of careful work under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, the Church published a Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible. This edition of the Bible has the same text as the King James Version, but it includes special study aids, such as the Topical Guide, the Bible Dictionary, and footnotes referring to passages in other books of scripture and to excerpts from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible.
In 1981, the Church published a new edition of the triple combination (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in a single volume), with expanded footnotes and index entries.

 Ezekiel 37:15–19  states :  The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,
16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:

17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?

19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.

As latter-day saints we know that from this we are taught that “the stick of Judah” is the Bible and “the stick of Ephraim” is the Book of Mormon. How do the new editions of the scriptures help the Bible and Book of Mormon become “one in your hand”?

Many footnotes in the Bible refer to scriptures in the Book of Mormon, and many footnotes in the Book of Mormon refer to scriptures in the Bible. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve tells us: “The stick or record of Judah—the Old Testament and the New Testament—and the stick or record of Ephraim—the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ—are now woven together in such a way that as you pore over one you are drawn to the other; as you learn from one you are enlightened by the other. They are indeed one in our hands” (Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53)

 In what ways do you think the Church has been blessed because of the Latter-day Saint editions of the scriptures?

Soon after these scriptures were printed, Elder Boyd K. Packer prophesied: “With the passing of years, these scriptures will produce successive generations of faithful Christians who know the Lord Jesus Christ and are disposed to obey His will. The revelations will be opened to them as to no other [generation] in the history of the world. Into their hands now are placed the sticks of Joseph and of Judah. They will develop a gospel scholarship beyond that which their forebears could achieve. They will have the testimony that Jesus is the Christ and be competent to proclaim Him and to defend Him” (Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53)

In the April 1995 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley made an observation that shows that Elder Packer’s words are being fulfilled: “I look back to my own youth. Neither young men nor young women were doing much scripture reading at that time. What a marvelous change has been wrought. A new generation is arising who are familiar with the word of the Lord” (Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 117; or Ensign, May 1995, 87)

Additional Quorums of the Seventy Revelation
As the Church has grown, the Lord has revealed how general Church administration should change to meet the needs of members all over the world. These changes have been especially evident in the organization of additional Quorums of the Seventy.  

For many years there were only seven General Authorities of the Church who served as Seventies. They made up the First Council of the Seventy. In 1975, others were called; they served in the First Quorum of the Seventy. Further expansion came in 1989, when a Second Quorum of the Seventy was added.

In April 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the calling of new local officers, called Area Authorities, who would serve for a period of about six years. (See Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 71–72; or Ensign, May 1995, 52.)

In 1997, President Hinckley announced that Area Authorities would be ordained Seventies and would form the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy. Unlike Seventies who serve as General Authorities, Area Authority Seventies serve in the areas in which they live and continue in their present employment. (See Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 4–5; or Ensign, May 1997, 5–6.)

 D&C 107:25, 34  What are the responsibilities of the Seventy?
 The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.

 The Seventy are to act in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Twelve or the traveling high council, in building up the church and regulating all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and then to the Jews— 

D&C 107:93–97 How does creation of additional Quorums of the Seventy comply with the instructions in this revelation?

And it is according to the vision showing the order of the Seventy, that they should have seven presidents to preside over them, chosen out of the number of the seventy;
94 And the seventh president of these presidents is to preside over the six;
95 And these seven presidents are to choose other seventy besides the first seventy to whom they belong, and are to preside over them;
96 And also other seventy, until seven times seventy, if the labor in the vineyard of necessity requires it.
97 And these seventy are to be traveling ministers, unto the Gentiles first and also unto the Jews.

Concerning the creation of additional Quorums of the Seventy, President Hinckley said: “With these respective quorums in place, we have established a pattern under which the Church may grow to any size with an organization of Area Presidencies and Area Authority Seventies, chosen and working across the world according to need. Now, the Lord is watching over His kingdom. He is inspiring its leadership to care for its ever growing membership” (Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 5; or Ensign, May 1997, 6)


Though many may say, or seem to believe that we have not recieved revelation from our leaders in many years, it is evident that they cleary do.  The Lord continues to guide the Church through revelation to latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators.  President Kimball’s statement continues to be true today. The heavens are open, and the Lord continues to reveal His will to latter-day prophets wwere it not so the church would not be thirving today.  The inspired changes noted throughout this lesson present show of that continuing revelation to the Lord's modern prophets. Correlation was begun under the administration of President David O. McKay. The work leading up to the new LDS edition of the scriptures began under the direction of President Harold B. Lee and continued during the administration of President Spencer W. Kimball. The revelation extending the blessings of the priesthood came to Spencer W. Kimball as well as the evolving structure of the church.  No other church in the world runs as smoothing and cares for its members as does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That is because it is the Lord's church, it is ran by the Lord himself, thorugh his prophets.  

Our Heritage, pages 117–19, 125–27
2001-2002 Church Almanac
BYU Studies, vol 22, Number 3.
Conference Reports  
Encyclopedia of Mormonism edited by Daniel H. Ludlow.
LDS Church News.
Studies in Scripture, vol 2, edited by Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson.
The Church in the Twentieth Century by Richard O. Cowan.
The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.



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