A Latter-day Testament of Biblical Truth

“A Latter-day Testament of Biblical Truth,” Ensign, Jan. 2001, 24

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History

A Latter-day Testament of Biblical Truth

The Doctrine and Covenants testifies of biblical prophets, their doctrinal teachings, historical events, and fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

When the Bible was first written, it contained the plain and precious truths of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nephi saw that many of these plain and precious truths, as well as the covenants of the Lord, were taken from the Bible (see 1 Ne. 13:24–29). In this dispensation the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly” (A of F 1:8). He later wrote, “From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.”1

Nephi saw that in the last days, as part of the Lord’s plan of restoration, other books of scripture would come forth by the power of God, including the Doctrine and Covenants.2 These other scriptures would have four primary purposes: to corroborate the truth of the Bible, to restore some of the plain and precious truths taken from the Bible, to witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Eternal Father, and to testify that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ (see 1 Ne. 13:39–40). In 1835, 12 men called to be Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ appended their testimony to the Doctrine and Covenants and declared “that these commandments were given by inspiration of God, and are profitable for all men and are verily true.” The Doctrine and Covenants corroborates the truth of the Bible and is “in fulfillment of and in concert with the words of all the holy prophets since the world began.”3 The following are just a few of the doctrinal truths confirmed by latter-day revelation.

Verifying Biblical Prophets, Events, and Prophecies

The Doctrine and Covenants helps establish the truth of the Bible by verifying the actual existence of biblical prophets, by testifying of the reality of biblical events, and by confirming the fulfillment of biblical prophecies.

Prophets. In a time when many Bible prophets (especially Old Testament prophets) are looked upon as mythical characters, it is refreshing to have a renewed testimony of their actual existence as well as to receive additional information regarding their ministries. The Doctrine and Covenants confirms that Adam was the first man on the earth and the first to receive the priesthood (see D&C 84:16–17). He obtained the first presidency4 and continues to hold a position of great importance through his possession of the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of Jesus Christ (see D&C 78:16).

The Prophet Joseph Smith referenced “the voice of Michael, the archangel,” as having instructed him (D&C 128:21). At a future time Adam will return again and preside at the great council at Adam-ondi-Ahman (see D&C 116). Adam will sound the trump at the Second Coming and say, “It is finished! The Lamb of God hath overcome” (D&C 88:106). He will lead the righteous forces in the final battle against Satan and his followers at the end of the Millennium (see D&C 88:106–16). Finally, Adam will administer to his righteous posterity in the patriarchal order through all eternity.5

The Prophet Joseph Smith identified Noah as the angel Gabriel and taught that he (Noah) stands next to Adam in authority in the priesthood.6 The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that Noah was among the mighty ones in the world of spirits (see D&C 138:41). He was ordained to the patriarchal priesthood when he was 10 years old (see D&C 107:52). According to the Old Testament, Noah found favor with the Lord and was commanded to build an ark to preserve human and animal life during the Flood (see Gen. 5–9). Noah was among those redeemed by the Lord at His Resurrection (see D&C 133:54). As a resurrected being, Noah also instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 128:21).

Because Melchizedek, a great Bible prophet, is almost unknown to the world, many people are confused about his true identity (see Gen. 14:18–24; Heb. 5:6). The Bible record gives the false impression that Melchizedek was without father or mother or descent, with neither beginning of days nor end of life (see Heb. 7:3).

We can look to Joseph Smith and the Doctrine and Covenants for revelations concerning Melchizedek, one of God’s ancient high priests of whom “none were greater” (see Alma 13:10, 19). Melchizedek conferred the priesthood upon Abraham and received his tithing (see D&C 84:14; Alma 13:15). Melchizedek was honored by having his name used to identify the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God, thus enabling men to avoid the too frequent repetition of the name of Deity (see D&C 107:2–4). In the eyes of his people Melchizedek stood as a prototype of the Son of God: both bore the title “Prince of Peace,” and both were joint heirs of the Father’s kingdom.7 We also learn that it was the priesthood, not Melchizedek, that was “without beginning of days or end of years” (D&C 84:17; see also JST, Gen. 14:28; JST, Heb. 7:3, Bible appendix).

The many other examples of biblical prophets described in the Doctrine and Covenants are too numerous to detail. For example, we learn more about Adam’s son Seth (see D&C 107:42–43, 53), Enoch and his city (see D&C 45:11–14; D&C 107:49), Moses and the priesthood (see D&C 84:25–26; D&C 110:11), Elijah and the sealing keys (see D&C 110:13–16), and the appearances of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John (see D&C 13:1; D&C 27:12). Finally we read that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have “entered into their exaltation, … and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods” (D&C 132:37).

Events. The Doctrine and Covenants testifies of the reality of sacred events recorded in the Bible, such as the Creation of the universe and the Fall of Adam and Eve. It reaffirms that God “created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness” (D&C 20:18) and placed them in the Garden of Eden with specific laws and commandments (see Moses 3:8). Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation of Satan and transgressed the commandment of God, which caused them to be cast out of the Garden of Eden (see D&C 29:35–50). Thus all mankind are born into a fallen world and by transgressing the laws of God become sensual, devilish, and fallen (see D&C 20:20). The Doctrine and Covenants confirms that Adam and Eve were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ by angels (see D&C 29:42).

Other biblical events verified by the Doctrine and Covenants include the Savior’s Creation of the earth (see D&C 14:9), the Lord’s taking of Enoch and Zion (see D&C 38:4; D&C 45:11–14), the Flood (see D&C 138:41), the division of land after the Flood (see D&C 133:24), the parting of the Red Sea (see D&C 8:3), the loss of the Melchizedek Priesthood (see D&C 84:23–27), the sounding of a trump on Mount Sinai (see D&C 29:13), and Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane (see D&C 19:15–19).

Prophecies. The Doctrine and Covenants testifies of the literal scattering and gathering of Israel. It was prophesied that the house of Israel would be scattered among all nations (see D&C 45:19). Today the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord (see D&C 113:10). On 3 April 1836 in the Kirtland Temple, Moses appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and committed unto them the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth (see D&C 110:11). Additionally, we read of the long-promised coming of Elijah, who was to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers (see D&C 2; D&C 110:13–16).

Early Church missionaries were instructed that they were called to bring to pass the gathering of the Lord’s elect (see D&C 29:7) and that they were sent forth to recover the Lord’s people, the house of Israel (see D&C 39:11). Since Moses and Elijah returned to restore priesthood keys, the words of Bible prophets concerning these events have begun to be fulfilled.

The Doctrine and Covenants sheds light on two prophecies about the coming forth of the Church in the latter days. Section 65 confirms Daniel’s prophecy that the Lord’s kingdom would roll forth in the last days (see Dan 2:45). Section 86 shows that the parable of the wheat and the tares has reference to our day: Satan sows the tares, and “the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness” (D&C 86:3).

Today many people question or misunderstand the Second Coming of Christ. Bible prophets clearly taught that Jesus Christ would stand at the latter day upon the earth (see Job 19:25) and that He would build up Zion and appear in His glory (see Ps. 102:16). To His disciples in the meridian of time, Jesus indicated the conditions that would exist prior to His Second Coming (see Matt. 24; see also JS—M 1). Both section 45 and Joseph Smith—Matthew add significantly to our understanding of the Second Coming.

Other sections testify of the reality of the Second Coming. Modern Saints are instructed, “Prepare ye, … for the Lord is nigh” (D&C 1:12), and “The day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am” (D&C 38:8). We learn that “the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near” (D&C 110:16) and that “the Lord … shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign” (D&C 133:25).

In summary, the Doctrine and Covenants testifies, “The hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by mine apostles must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass; for I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand” (D&C 29:10–11).

Restoring Plain and Precious Things

The Doctrine and Covenants restores many plain and precious truths by expanding or interpreting Bible passages. A few representative examples follow:

  1. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

    The Doctrine and Covenants adds that those who do this “shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear” (D&C 63:16).

  2. “For many be called, but few chosen” (Matt. 20:16).

    In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn that they are not chosen “because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men” and “do not learn … that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven” and can be controlled “only upon the principles of righteousness” (see D&C 121:34–40).

  3. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them” (Matt. 25:1–3).

    The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that the wise virgins are those who “have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived” (D&C 45:57). Those who lack oil shall be cast into the fire and not abide the day of His coming (see D&C 45:56–57).

  4. “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).

    The Doctrine and Covenants testifies that the Father and the Son are separate individuals with glorified bodies of flesh and bone (see D&C 130:22) and that this promised visit of the Father and the Son is an actual personal appearance (see D&C 130:3).

In the course of translating the New Testament, Joseph Smith received many revelations that clearly expand understanding of our present Bible, some of which are included in the Doctrine and Covenants, such as sections 77, 84, 86, and 88. For example, in 1832 while Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were working on the translation of the Bible, they said that the Lord touched the eyes of their understanding and the glory of the Lord shone round about (see D&C 76:15–19). This vision was recorded and is now section 76, the great revelation on the three degrees of glory.

These few examples, plus many others which could be given, stand as a testimony that the Doctrine and Covenants does restore many plain and precious truths lost from the Bible.

Testifying That Jesus Christ Is the Son of God

The Doctrine and Covenants clearly testifies concerning the true nature and reality of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. It provides the foundation of truth essential for building faith which leads to eternal life. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ as two separate personages “whose brightness and glory defy all description” (JS—H 1:17). He later wrote that God the Father “has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also” (D&C 130:22).

We learn with clarity that Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of the spirit children of the Father (see D&C 93:21–23). He was chosen before the earth was formed to work out the infinite and eternal Atonement. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth (see D&C 76:24; D&C 93:9–10). He is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh (see D&C 93:11). He redeemed all mankind, making possible immortality and eternal life (see Moses 1:39).

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery saw Jesus Christ in the Kirtland Temple and testified of His reality: “The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:1–4).

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon testified: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

Testifying That Salvation Is Only through Christ

Jesus Christ told Moses, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Immortality refers to the permanent reuniting of the body and the spirit in the Resurrection. The Apostle Paul taught, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Jacob said, “There must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall” (2 Ne. 9:6). The Doctrine and Covenants testifies that the Atonement of Christ broke the bands of death and that through the triumph and glory of the Lamb all mankind shall be brought forth by the Resurrection (see D&C 76:39).

The Doctrine and Covenants also testifies that eternal life, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God (see D&C 14:7), comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ coupled with gospel ordinances and personal obedience to gospel teachings. The gospel is that Jesus “came into the world … to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; that through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power” (D&C 76:40–42).

The Savior said: “He that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” (D&C 39:5–6; see also D&C 33:12). This gospel is the rock upon which Christ will build His Church. The gates of hell shall not prevail against those who continue in this gospel (see D&C 33:11–13). Eternal life consists of gaining an inheritance in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, which assures a continuation of the family in eternity (see D&C 131:1–4).

In these latter days, the Doctrine and Covenants stands with the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price as one in support of the Bible (see Ezek. 37:15–17). Modern revelation affirms that the saving truths, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ are the same now as they were anciently. The Doctrine and Covenants in particular corroborates the truth of the Bible, restores some of the missing plain and precious things, testifies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and witnesses that salvation is in Jesus Christ. It allows us to see more clearly how the Bible stands in fulfillment of and in concert with the words of all the holy prophets since the world began.

Let’s Talk about It

Most Ensign articles can be used for family home evening discussions. The following questions are for that purpose or for personal reflection:

  1. What does the Doctrine and Covenants add to our knowledge of such prophets as Adam, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

  2. What plain and precious things does the Doctrine and Covenants restore to biblical truths?

Adam Ordaining Seth, by Del Parson

City of Zion Translated, by Del Parson

The Lord Fulfilleth All His Words, by Clark Kelley Price

Detail from The Premortal Christ, by Robert T. Barrett

Detail from The Second Coming, by Harry Anderson