Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 17 (D&C 41–44)
Countering False Doctrine
● D&C 41:1–3 The elders shall govern the Church by the spirit of revelation
● D&C 41:4–6 True disciples will receive and keep the Lord’s law
Spencer W. Kimball said, “Defining and describing Zion will not bring it about. That can only be done through consistent and concerted daily effort by every single member of the Church. No matter what the cost in toil or sacrifice, we must ‘do it.’ That is one of my favorite phrases: Do It.’”1
● D&C 41:7–11 Edward Partridge is named as a bishop unto the Church.
● D&C 41:12 The importance of understanding and living according to the scriptures.
President Harold B. Lee said, “We need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. . . . But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, . . . [and] therein is one of our biggest dangers of today.”2
Elder Carlos E. Asay said, “I fear that many of us rush about from day to day taking for granted the holy scriptures. . . . Little wonder we develop anemic souls and lose our direction in living. How much better it would be if we planned and held sacred fifteen or twenty minutes a day for reading the scriptures. Such interviews with Deity would help us recognize his voice and enable us to receive guidance in all of our affairs.”3
The Law of the Church
● The Prophet was told that the Lord would reveal his law to the Saints in Ohio (D&C 38:32).
● On 9 February 1831 twelve men united in prayer and in faith and desire to receive the law.
● In response, the Lord revealed his law to them.4
● Only verses 1 through 73 of section 42 were given at that time, however.
● The rest of the revelation was received two weeks later, on 23 February.
● This latter part, according to President Joseph Fielding Smith, was “given for the establishment of the City of Zion—New Jerusalem—which was to be built by the law of consecration and obedience.”
● Because section 42 is comprised of two distinct, though closely related, revelations, it was originally printed in the Book of Commandments as two chapters: verses 1 through 73 were chapter 44; verses 74 through 93, though not in that order, comprised chapter 47.
Zion Must Consist of a Pure People
● As the Saints began to gather at Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831, they were entering a large community of Saints on the frontier—the unsettled land in Ohio known then as the Western Reserve. Many settlers who moved to that area left behind the cultural and religious norms of New England for life on the Western frontier, which was often marked by lawlessness and moral laxity.
● D&C 41:3–4 The Lord had promised to establish a basic framework of laws to govern his church and to sanctify his
D&C 88:34 people.
● D&C 42:1–10 The elders are called to preach the gospel, baptize, and build up the Church.
● D&C 42:11–13 They must be called and ordained, and teach the gospel found in the scriptures.
● D&C 42:14 They are to teach by the Spirit. Without the Spirit, teaching is not possible.
● D&C 42:18–29 The Ten Commandments
The laws revealed here are similar to the Ten Commandments recorded in Exodus 20:2–17. Joseph Fielding Smith emphasized that the Ten Commandments are part of the laws of God and that they are as binding today as they were in the days of Moses. They were revealed to people in similar situations. Both the Israelites and the Latter-day Saints were God’s people arriving at a new location; both were leaving behind an old way of life and seeking to know the will of the Lord for them under new circumstances.
Saints Commanded To: Saints Commanded Not To:
Love wife (v. 22) Kill (v. 18–19)
Love God: (v. 29) Steal (v. 20)
Serve him Lie (v. 21)
Keep his commandments Lust (v. 23)
Remember the poor (v.30) Commit adultery (v. 24)
Make garments plain (v.40) Speak evil (v. 27)
Be clean (v. 41) Do harm to neighbor (v.27)
Be proud (v. 40)
Be idle (v. 42)
● D&C 100:16 Later, the Lord revealed his intention to “raise up . . . a pure people.” Latter-day Saints, like the ancient Israelites, are a covenant people with the responsibility and the privilege to help establish God’s kingdom through obedience to his laws.
The Law of Consecration and Stewardship
● D&C 42:30–39 Laws governing the consecration of properties are set forth
President Harold B. Lee said, “You and I will not be prepared for the living of the Celestial law in preparation for the Second Coming if we are not able to live the law of tithing, and pay our Fast offerings, and subscribe wholeheartedly to the workings of the Welfare Plan at the present time.”5
● D&C 51:3 Edward Partridge, the bishop, was instructed to assign to each individual his “portion” or “stewardship”
D&C 42:32 for which he personally would be accountable.
— He was to take into account the individual’s circumstances—talents, interests, etc.—and needs, as well as wants if they were just (compare D&C 82:17). This recognizes the unique worth of each soul.
● D&C 42:42, 53–55 The steward was to contribute to the bishop the surplus above what was needed for his family’s support. This teaches industry and unselfishness.
Elder Marion G. Romney said, “We . . . should live strictly by the principles of the United Order [or law of consecration] insofar as they are embodied in present Church practices, such as fast offering, tithing, and the welfare activities. Through these practices, we could as individuals, if we’re of a mind to do so, implement in our lives all the basic principles of the United Order.”6
● D&C 42:70–73 Consecrated properties are to be used to support Church officers
● D&C 51:19 In managing our stewardships, we are to be faithful, just, and wise. If we are, we will qualify for the blessings of exaltation.
Healing the Sick
● D&C 24:13–14 Some months before section 42 was received, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had been told that they should heal the sick.
● D&C 42:43–52 When Church members are sick they should call for elders to “pray for and lay their hands upon them” in the name of the Lord.
Scriptures and Revelation
● D&C 42:56–60 Scriptures govern the Church and are to be proclaimed to the world.
● D&C 42:61–65 Revelation is promised to those who ask and are worthy
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “Revelation is communication from God to man. It can occur in many different ways. Some prophets, like Moses and Joseph Smith, have talked with God face to face. Some persons have had personal communication with angels. Other revelations have come . . . ‘through the dreams of sleep or in waking visions of the mind.’7 In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind (D&C 8:2–3: Enos 1:10), by sudden enlightenment (D&C 6:14–15), by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action, or even by inspiring performances, as in the performing arts.”8
● D&C 42:66–69 The Lord expects us to abide by his laws and covenants.
● D&C 88:34 Those who are “governed by law” shall be “preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.”
Dealing with Transgressors
● D&C 42:74–77, 60–83 God ordains marriage for his children, and those who are married are obligated to be faithful and pure in their lives.9
● D&C 42:79, 84–87 Several types of offenders are to be “delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land,” including those who kill, steal or rob, or lie.
● D&C 42:80–83 Sexual transgressors are to be dealt with according to the law of God.
Elder John A. Widtsoe said, “It should always be remembered that the Church exists to save, not to condemn men. Every effort should be made to have contending parties settle their own difficulties, with the aid of ward teachers if necessary; and to induce those who have erred to tread the way of forgiveness and thus make unnecessary the calling together of a church tribunal of justice.
“Should it be necessary to call a person to a church trial, those composing the council must use every endeavor to bring about reconciliation or confession in humility. Excommunication should be the last resort.
“All should be eager to keep those who are in the Church in full fellowship with the community of saints. We should increase our tenderness and helpfulness toward those who may, because of their errors, be subjected to disfellowshipment or excommunication.”10
Elder Theodore M. Burton said, “When people are disfellowshipped or excommunicated from the Church, it is done not to punish but to help them. Church discipline requires this action, but we should remember that the word discipline has the same root as the word disciple. A disciple is a student or follower—one who is learning. Church discipline, then, must become a teaching process. When a person is disciplined, he should not be thrust out and abandoned by his associates. It is exactly at that time that we need to show increased love for such people, to teach and show them the way back to God. It is wicked to reject a child of God simply because he made an error. We need to teach him how to start anew, to change evil practices into righteous deeds, and thus to transform his life. With repentance through service to others, he can be reinstated into fellowship or washed clean in the waters of baptism and brought back into the family of God.
“To teach people to overcome sin and change their lives for the better is the sum and substance of Christian service. We must do everything in our power to help sinners to change their lives for the better. Otherwise, as the scriptures warn us, we will have to shoulder their sins ourselves. Our obligation is to teach and help them, and the sinner’s obligation is to listen and learn. He will have to bear the whole burden himself if he refuses. But regardless of his present attitude, we must never abandon him nor think his reformation is hopeless. There is hope for everyone, and we must never cease trying to help people understand that through the atonement of Jesus Christ not only the sins of mankind in general but also their personal sins can be forgiven.”11
Elder Robert L. Simpson said, “Priesthood courts of the Church are not courts of retribution. They are courts of love.”12
Principles of Revelation
● Doctrine and Covenants 43
— D&C 43:1–7 Revelation comes only through proper channels.
President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “In a revelation given in September, 1830, (Sec. 28), the Lord gave a law to the Church in regard to the receiving of revelation. This was called forth because of the Hiram Page incident, . . . Now, again, it becomes necessary for the Lord to give further instruction on this matter. The incident which called for this direction and law was due to the activity of a woman, Mrs. Hubble, who followed the lead of Hiram Page and endeavored to give revelation for the Church, and there were some who were willing to follow her. One of the strange things with humanity is that a person can obtain followers for almost any foolish idea which he may advance. Today there are cults and parties teaching some of the strangest doctrines that this world has ever known. In this heavenly communication, the Lord gives positive instruction to the Church in relation to the order by which revelation is to be received. Common sense should teach us the wisdom of this commandment without it becoming necessary for the Lord to give counsel such as this revelation contains. There is order in the kingdom of God. There could not be order if every man was privileged to give commandments and claim the right to direct by revelation the members of the Church.
“This law is given for our government for all time. It is the one who holds the keys and who stands as the Presiding High Priest and President of the Church, who is the spokesman of the Lord for the members of the Church. Individual members may receive the inspiration and revelation for their own guidance, but not for the Church. Moreover, no member of the Church will profess to receive a revelation for his own guidance that is contradictory of any revelation coming from the President of the Church.”13
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “This woman’s name, according to the history of the church kept by John Whitmer, was Hubble. ‘she professed to be a prophetess of the Lord, and professed to have many revelations, and knew the Book of Mormon was true, and that she should become a teacher in the church of Christ. She appeared to be very sanctimonious and deceived some who were not able to detect her in her hypocrisy; others, however, had the spirit of discernment and her follies and abominations were manifest.14
— D&C 43:8–10 We are to meet together to “instruct and edify each other.”
— D&C 43:15–16 If we sanctify ourselves, we will be taught from on high and receive an endowment.
The Fourth General Conference
● Doctrine and Covenants 44
Smith and Sjodahl said, “In the latter part of February, 1831, the Lord directed that the missionaries who had gone to the various parts of the Country be summoned to Kirtland to meet in a general Conference.. The Conference referred to in this Revelation convened at Kirtland, June 3rd, 1831. It was the Fourth General Conference of the Church, and the first gathering of its kind in Kirtland.”15
1. In Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 122; or Ensign, May 1978, 81.
2. Ensign, Dec. 1972, 3.
3. Ensign, Nov. 1978, 53–54.
4. History of the Church, 1:148.
5. In Conference Report, Oct 1941, 114.
6. Improvement Era, June 1966, 537.
7. James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 229.
8. New Era, Sept. 1982, 38.
9. In Conference Report, Apr. 1922, 87.
10. Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 164–165.
11. In Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 96–97; or Ensign, May 1983, 71–72.
12. In Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 32; or Ensign, July 1972, 49.
13. Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:172.
14. History of the Church, 1:154, footnote. See also John Whitmer’s History of the Church, ch. iii.
15. Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, 249.