As we have become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I hope that our home study these past couple of years has really brought to us insights about the blessings of having the true Church on earth. I hope also that as we study this week Doctrine and Covenants 20–22 we can find passages from these sections that help teach us why we are thankful the Church was restored and how we can keep those thoughts and knowledge with us at all times that we strengthen ourselves in Christ.
History and Background
In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord commanded that His Church be organized on April 6, 1830. Although this revelation, now found as Doctrine and Covenants 20, was recorded a few days after the Church’s organization, portions of it may have been revealed as early as June 1829. This revelation highlights the importance of the Book of Mormon, outlines responsibilities of priesthood offices, and provides instructions for the ordinances of baptism and the sacrament.
On the day the Church was organized, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 21. In it the Lord designated him as a prophet, seer, and leader of the restored Church and exhorted the Church members to heed the Prophet’s words. Soon after the Church was established, some people questioned whether those who had been baptized previously in other churches needed to be baptized again to become members of the restored Church. Joseph inquired of the Lord and received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 22, wherein the Lord taught that baptism must be performed by those with proper authority.
End of March 1830 The printing of the Book of Mormon was completed.
April 6, 1830 The Church was organized by Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York.
April 6, 1830 Doctrine and Covenants 21 was received.
After April 6, 1830 Doctrine and Covenants 20 was finalized and recorded (though portions were likely received months earlier).
April 16, 1830 Doctrine and Covenants 22 was received.
June 9, 1830 The first Church conference was held in Fayette, New York.
While it is not known exactly when the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 20 was received, the Prophet Joseph Smith summarized the flow of divine direction: “In this manner did the Lord continue to give us instructions from time to time, concerning the duties which now devolved upon us, and among many other things of the kind, we obtained of him the following, by the Spirit of Prophecy and revelation; which not only gave us much information but also pointed out to us the precise day upon which, according to his will and commandment, we should proceed to organize his Church once again, here upon the earth” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, 336; spelling standardized). Those instructions became known as the “Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ.”
The complete text of the Articles and Covenants was written soon after the organizational meeting held on April 6, 1830, and provides an overview of the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ and of offices and ordinances in it. At the first conference of the Church, held on June 9, 1830, at the home of Peter Whitmer Sr., the Articles and Covenants were read and presented to the membership for approval (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, 116–26). Over the next few years, the Articles and Covenants, now Doctrine and Covenants 20, was amended from time to time as the Prophet Joseph Smith continued to receive revelation concerning the structure of the Church. For example, Doctrine and Covenants 20:65–67 was added after the office of high priest was revealed in Kirtland, Ohio, in June 1831 (see the section heading to D&C 52).
Part One: Doctrine and Covenants 20–21 The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored.
A study of these sections provides us with the benefit of better understanding the similarities between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Church that Christ established anciently.
In reading 20:1–4, What evidence can we find that helps us understand that the Church of Jesus Christ was established under the Lord’s direction?
1 The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April—
2 Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder of this church;
3 And to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second elder of this church, and ordained under his hand;
4 And this according to the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory, both now and forever. Amen.
Verse 1: Joseph Smith taught that The day of the organization of the Church was divinely appointed stating that April 6th A.D. 33 was likely the day the Savoir was born and crucified meaning he was born and died on that day. “Let us inquire if the day observed by the Christian world as the day of Christ’s birth the 25th of December is or is not the real Christmas day. A great many authors have found out from their researches that it is not. I think that there is scarcely an author at the present day that believes that the 25th of December was the day that Christ was born….It is generally believed and conceded by the learned who have investigated the matter that Christ was born in April…It is stated that according to the best of their judgment from the researches they have made, Christ was crucified on the 6th of April. That is the day on which this Church was organized. But when these learned me go back from the day of his crucifixion to the day of his birth, they are at a loss, having no certain evidence or testimony by which they can determine it.” (Orson Pratt Quoted by B.H. Roberts in Outlines of Ecclesiastical History P. 17)
There is no authentic record of the date for the birth of Christ, but scholars consider it probable that He was born on the tenth day of the Jewish month Nisan, which in the year of the Nativity has been calculated to correspond to Saturday, April the 5th. But He was born at night and Saturday expired at sunset, the date would then be April 6th and that would be the beginning of Sunday. (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary p. 98 Hyrum M Smith)
Verse 2-4: If Joseph had not been clearly established as the head of the church confusion and problems could have arisen. Having only one revelator for the Church explains why the Lord designated a “first” and a “second” elder in the early stages of the existence of the Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith stated: “I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or anyone, to receive instructions for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them; but if any person has a vision or a visitation from a heavenly messenger, it must be for his own benefit and instruction; for the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom”(History of the Church,1:338).
What did Joseph Smith write about the organization of the Church that helps us better understand? Articles of Faith 1:6,
6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
What truths can we learn from this statement? The Lord’s Church in the latter days is organized as it was in Jesus’s day.
What do we find in the following scriptures about the organization, practices, and teachings of the Savior’s Church?
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this arock I will build my bchurch; and the gates of chell shall not dprevail against it.
19 And I will agive unto thee the bkeys of the ckingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt dbind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
16 ¶ Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 ¶ Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
- 1 Corinthians 15:29 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
What similarities do you see between Christ’s original Church and the Church in our day in the following scriptures? Doctrine and Covenants 20:17–25
17 By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;
18 And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them;
19 And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.
20 But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man.
21 Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him.
22 He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them.
23 He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day;
24 And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father;
25 That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved—
Doctrine and Covenants 20: 60 Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him.
Doctrine and Covenants 20: 72–79
72 Baptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent—
73 The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
74 Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water.
75 It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus;
76 And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this manner shall he administer it—he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying:
77 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
78 The manner of administering the wine—he shall take the cup also, and say:
79 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
Doctrine and Covenants 20: 21:1–2
1 Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,
2 Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith.
What do you learn about the Restoration of Christ’s Church from this comparison?
Why is it important to know that the Lord’s Church today was organized according to the pattern of His ancient Church?
**Point to Ponder: Brother Tad R. Callister, former Sunday School General President, has taught: The Lord’s declaration in Doctrine and Covenants does not mean that other churches do not have some truth, for certainly, they do. It does not mean that other churches do not render good, for they render much good. What it does mean is that this is the only church that has all the truth that has been revealed thus far in this dispensation—the only church that has the ordinances necessary for exaltation and the only church that has the priesthood of God to perform those ordinances with divine validity. What evidence do we have of this assertion? …If one were to match the blueprint of Christ’s original Church against every church in the world today, he would find … it will only match one—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Tad R. Callister, “What Is the Blueprint of Christ’s Church?” [Church Educational System devotional for young adults, Jan. 12, 2014], ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
It is important to understand that being a member of the “only true and living church” of Jesus Christ does not mean that we believe we are better than other people. But our membership does include a responsibility to love others and invite them to come unto Christ and receive the blessings of His restored gospel.
Part Two: Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, 75–79; 22 Sacred ordinances help us become like the Savior
In these verses of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord sets forth the duties of priesthood offices and gives instructions for baptism and the sacrament. In outlining the specifics of the instruction we can find ways to improve our knowledge of the gospel and strengthen our testimonies.
Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 Here we are taught the fundamental principles needed to for our welfare and for the church to move forward through baptism. The Lord in this verse makes it very plain and gives instruction concerning baptism which teaches that there are three requirements of a person before baptism: 1. To be humble and come with a broken heart and contrite spirit. 2. Show before the Church that they are willing to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ. 3. Manifest by works that they have received the spirit.
37 And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who ahumble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and bcontrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the cname of Jesus Christ, having a ddetermination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their eworks that they have received of the fSpirit of Christ unto the gremission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.
How do these qualifications help us prepare to be baptized into the Lord’s Church?
What does it mean to have a broken heart and contrite spirit? President Ezra Taft Benson taught what it means to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit: “Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having a ‘broken heart and a contrite spirit” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson , 83).
What does it mean to take Christ’s name upon ourselves? Mosiah 5:5–12 (click to read the reference)
What helps you maintain your “determination to serve [Jesus Christ] to the end”?
What does section 22 teach about baptism? This revelation was given specifically to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not an individual as some previous revelations teach that previous baptisms received by those desiring to join the Church, though done by emersion, were not done by the proper authority. Though it was meaningful and sincere, the ordinance of baptism must be performed again done through the proper authority. (A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants Daniel Ludlow)
If you had a friend who had been baptized into another church how could you use these sections to help them understand why re-baptism is needed for the Savior’s restored church? When missionaries invite people to be baptized they’re often met with a question: “what if I’ve already been baptized? Doesn’t that count/” Sections 20-22 explained two truths about this question. 1. Being baptized as a sign of repentance and devotion to the savior is always a good thing. The Lord is pleased when His children try to serve Him according to the knowledge they have.
2. But the priesthood, the authority to act in God's name, is found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Being baptized in good faith as a member of another Christian church is a step in the right direction, but without priesthood authority from God, “although a man should be baptized a hundred times it availeth him nothing.” (Doctrine and Covenants 22:2)
So the Answer to the original question is essentially, “Yes, your prior baptism counts as a righteous good thing that made your Heavenly Father happy. You did what was best based on what you knew at the time. But now you know more, and the Lord wants you to act on that new knowledge to show your commitment to Him.”
Doctrine and Covenants 20:75 after instructing Church members regarding baptism, the Lord commanded that the Saints meet together regularly.
75 It is expedient that the church ameet together often to bpartake of cbread and wine in the dremembrance of the Lord Jesus;
Why should church members meet together often? 75–79 To partake of the Sacrament in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The sacrament was administered by the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 6, 1830, the day that the Church was organized. The Lord commanded members of His Church to “meet together often to partake of [the sacrament] in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus” Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained one of the reasons why it is a blessing to participate in this sacred ordinance: “The sacramental prayers confirm that one of the central purposes of the sacrament, as instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ, is that we might ‘always remember him’ (D&C 20:77, 79). Remembering the Savior obviously includes remembering His Atonement, which is symbolically represented by the bread and water as emblems of His suffering and death. We must never forget what He did for us, for without His Atonement and Resurrection, life would have no meaning. With His Atonement and Resurrection, however, our lives have eternal, divine possibilities” (“To Always Remember Him,” Ensign, Apr. 2011, 49).
What words or phrases stand out when we read the sacrament prayers?
77 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this abread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and bwitness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his ccommandments which he has given them; that they may always have his dSpirit to be with them. Amen.
78 The amanner of administering the wine—he shall take the bcup also, and say:
79 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this awine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
Why is it important to partake of the sacrament each week? Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how keeping the covenant to always remember Jesus Christ can help us make better choices: “When our day-to-day challenges loom before us, it is natural to focus on the here and now. But when we do, we may make poor choices, become depressed, or experience hopelessness. Because of this human tendency, prophets have admonished us to remember the eternal perspective. Only then can we successfully navigate mortality. …“Each Sunday the sacrament helps us remember God’s goodness and marvelous promises. By partaking of simple, tangible objects—a piece of bread and a sip of water—we promise to always remember the Savior and His great atoning sacrifice. Through the sacrament, we renew our covenants and express our willingness to keep His commandments. …“With the help of the sacrament, we can always remember Him and maintain an eternal perspective” (“Maintaining an Eternal Perspective,” Ensign, Mar. 2014, 56, 59).
How would you complete the following statements? When we partake of the sacrament we witness___________ As we faithfully keep the promises made during the sacrament the Lord promises_________
When we partake of the sacrament, we witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments. As we faithfully keep the promises made during the sacrament, the Lord promises that we will always have His Spirit to be with us.
Part Three: Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–60 Priesthood service blesses Church members and their families.
When the Church was organized in 1830, the Lord outlined the responsibilities and duties of elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. Since that time, additional details have been revealed regarding these priesthood offices. Nevertheless, the important instructions outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–59 are principles that all priesthood holders should continue to study and follow.
Imagine that a recently baptized friend or family member is about to be ordained to a priesthood office. How would you use these verses to help him understand his duties? 20:38–60 (click the link to read)
**Breaking it down
Doctrine and Covenants 20:38-44: What is an Apostle and his duties? In the early years of the restored Church, the term apostle was often applied to elders involved in missionary work (see, for example, the Lord’s reference to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer in D&C 18:9, 14). It is also helpful to note that at the time the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 20 was given, the office of high priest in the Melchezidek priesthood had not yet been revealed. (Guide to the Scriptures, “Elder,” scriptures.lds.org).
Doctrine and Covenants 20:45 The office of Elder. The title “Elder” is now used to describe any Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is called to preach the gospel, regardless of his priesthood office. “For example, male missionaries are addressed as elders. Also, an Apostle is an elder, and it is proper to speak of members of the Quorum of the Twelve or Quorums of the Seventy by this title (D&C 20:38; 1 Pet. 5:1)” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Elder,” scriptures.lds.org).
Doctrine and Covenants 20:46-52: Duties of a Priest. Priests officiate at the sacrament table and offer the sacramental prayers. They can prepare and pass the sacrament. They can also baptize, confer the Aaronic Priesthood, and ordain deacons, teachers, and other priests. Priests assist the bishop in “administering … temporal things” This may include gathering fast offerings, caring for the poor and needy, caring for the meetinghouse and grounds, serving as a messenger for the bishop, and fulfilling other assignments from the bishop. Priests “preach, teach, expound, exhort, … and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” One way to do this is by serving as a home teacher. Priests also continue to “see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking” This responsibility includes being a peacemaker and being an example of moral integrity and uprightness. They continue to “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” This includes setting a good example, fellowshipping quorum members and others, speaking in Church meetings, sharing the gospel, and bearing testimony.
Doctrine and Covenants 20:53-56: Duties of Teachers. Teachers assist the bishop in “administering … temporal things This may include gathering fast offerings, caring for the poor and needy, caring for the meetinghouse and grounds, serving as a messenger for the bishop in Church meetings, and fulfilling other assignments from the quorum president. Teachers are to “watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them” Teachers also “see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often” This responsibility includes being a peacemaker, being an example of moral integrity and uprightness, and inviting others to attend church. They continue to “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” This includes setting a good example, fellowshipping quorum members and others, speaking in Church meetings, sharing the gospel, and bearing testimony.
Doctrine and Covenants 20:57-59: Duty of Deacons Deacons assist the bishop in “administering … temporal things” This may include gathering fast offerings, caring for the poor and needy, caring for the meetinghouse and grounds, serving as a messenger for the bishop in Church meetings, and fulfilling other assignments from the quorum president. They invite All to Come unto Christ. Deacons “watch over the church [and are] standing ministers unto the church” They “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” This includes setting a good example, fellowshipping quorum members and others, notifying members of Church meetings, speaking in meetings, sharing the gospel, and bearing testimony.
Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–59: Understanding Priesthood duties. President Thomas S. Monson emphasized the need to know our duty and to carry it out in the service of others: “The priesthood is not really so much a gift as it is a commission to serve, a privilege to lift, and an opportunity to bless the lives of others. The call of duty can come quietly as we who hold the priesthood respond to the assignments we receive. President George Albert Smith, that modest yet effective leader, declared, ‘It is your duty, first of all, to learn what the Lord wants and then by the power and strength of His holy Priesthood to magnify your calling in the presence of your fellows in such a way that the people will be glad to follow you’ [in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 14]” (“Do Your Duty—That Is Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 59).
Doctrine and Covenants 20:60 Ordination to these callings is to be according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There must be no office seeking, rivalry or nepotism.
In addition, how might these verses help a newly baptized sister see how she can participate in the work described here? We all work with priesthood power. “Men are ordained to priesthood offices, while both women and men are invited to experience the power and blessings of the priesthood in their lives. …“… [Women] preach and pray in congregations, fill numerous positions of leadership and service, participate in priesthood councils at the local and general levels, and serve formal proselytizing missions across the globe. In these and other ways, women exercise priesthood authority even though they are not ordained to priesthood office. …“… In ecclesiastical callings, temple ordinances, family relationships, and quiet, individual ministry, Latter-day Saint women and men go forward with priesthood power and authority. This interdependence of men and women in accomplishing God’s work through His power is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Gospel Topics, “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, Women,” topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Part Four: Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–7 We are blessed when we receive the Lord’s word through His prophet.
Following the Lord’s instructions to organize His Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith gathered approximately 60 believers together at the home of Peter Whitmer Sr. in Fayette, New York, on Tuesday, April 6, 1830. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery organized the Church according to the will of God and according to the laws of the state of New York. The meeting consisted of prayer, sustaining, ordinations, the administration of the sacrament, and confirmations of those previously baptized. At this meeting, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 21. This section contains powerful statements about following the Lord’s prophet.
The Lord guides His people through His chosen servants. In April 1830, those believers who would become members of the Church were instructed to “give heed” to the words and commandments of the Prophet Joseph Smith as if they came from the mouth of the Lord D&C 21:4–5. In another revelation, the Lord explained why the prophet can be considered as God’s mouthpiece: “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 1:38.
The Lord also counseled those who would become members of His Church to receive the Prophet Joseph Smith’s words “in all patience and faith” D&C 21:5. President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) explained how this passage applies to all Church members today: “The only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, ‘as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith’ D&C 21:4–5 There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6)” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee , 84–85).
For each of us, this week I leave a challenge. Let us ponder what you have learned from our personal study of Doctrine and Covenants 20–22 about the importance of actively participating in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Consider the following invitations, and set a goal regarding at least one of them:
- How can you make the partaking of the sacrament each week more meaningful?
- What can you do to more faithfully keep the covenants you made at baptism?
- How can you better exercise “patience and faith” D&C 21:5 in order to follow the counsel and teachings of prophets?
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
Seminary Student Manual
Doctrines of the Gospel
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church
Guide to the Scriptrues
History of the Church
Orson Pratt Quoted by B.H. Roberts in Outlines of Ecclesiastical History
Doctrine and Covenants Commentary p. 98 Hyrum M Smith
Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants Daniel Ludlow
Church Educational System