Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 23 (D&C 60–62)
May 29–June 4

Important Teachings on the Way Back to Kirtland

Following their mission to Missouri to dedicate the land of Zion, the brethren, including the Prophet Joseph Smith, made their way back to Kirtland by way of several different methods. Along the way, the Prophet received several important revelations about the cursing of the waters in the last days, the blessings of missionary work, and the importance of agency in making decisions.

D&C 60:14   Having completed their mission to the land of Zion, where they have “proclaimed my word,” the brethren are to “speedily return, proclaiming my word among the congregations of the wicked, not in haste, neither in wrath nor with strife.”

The Waters are Cursed in the Last Days

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “On the 9th, in company with ten Elders, I left Independence landing for Kirtland. We started down the river in canoes, and went the first day as far as Fort Osage, where we had an excellent wild turkey for supper. Nothing very important occurred till the third day, when many of the dangers so common upon the western waters, manifested themselves; and after we had encamped upon the bank of the river, at McIlwaine’s Bend, Brother Phelps, in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision. The next morning after prayer, I received the following: [D&C 61].”1

D&C 61:1–6   The Lord has decreed many destructions upon the waters.
D&C 61:13–22   The waters were cursed by John, and the destroyer rideth upon them.
D&C 61:23–29   Some have power to command the waters.

The Lord Wants Us to Make Some Decisions “As Seemeth [Us] Good”

D&C 60:5   The Lord makes it clear that they may choose “as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me,” whether to make or buy a craft for sailing to St. Louis.

D&C 61:22   The Lord declares that “it mattereth not unto me . . . whether they go by water or by land” on this journey home; they may do “according to their judgments.”

D&C 61:30–35   The elders are commanded to journey two by two and preach the gospel along the way.

D&C 62:5   The Lord later declares that they may travel “altogether, or two by two, as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me” so long as they are “faithful, and declare glad tidings . . . among the congregations of the wicked.”

President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don’t receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable.

“We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment.”2

Testimonies are Recorded in Heaven

The Lord is pleased when we open our mouths to share the gospel. As members of the Church, we know that the restored gospel is a great treasure that blesses the lives of God’s children. So why do we sometimes hesitate to share our testimony with others?

D&C 62:3   When a person has a testimony of the gospel and bears witness to others, that testimony is recorded in heaven, and the angels rejoice.

D&C 60:2- 3   “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine danger is kindled against them. And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it [their testimonies] shall be taken away, even that which they have.”

D&C 60:7   “. . . in this place let them lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them.”

D&C 60:13   They (and we) “have been sent to preach my gospel among the congregations of the wicked; wherefore, I give unto [you] a commandment, thus: Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent [testimony] that it may not be known.”

Missionary Work Brings Forgiveness of Sins

The Lord will cleanse and forgive the sins of those who serve in righteousness and testify of the gospel to the world.

D&C 60:7   The brethren are to “lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them. For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you.”

D&C 62:3   When we bear our testimonies, “they [the angels] rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.”

Bruce R. McConkie said, “By reclaiming an erring brother, we save both him and ourselves. Our sins are hidden (remitted) because we ministered for the salvation and blessing of another member of the kingdom. In principle this special reward for Christ’s ministers applies also to those who preach the gospel and bring souls into the kingdom. The minister is rewarded with salvation and, of necessity, in the process, is freed from his own sins. (D&C 4:1–4).”3


1.  History of the Church, 1:202–203.
2.  “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oc t. 1994, 13- 14.
3.  Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:279.

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