“Chapter 16: Doctrine and Covenants 42,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Chapter 16,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
The Lord commanded the Saints living in New York to move to Ohio and promised that they would receive His law there (see D&C 37:3; 38:32). On February 9, 1831, shortly after Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, 12 elders of the Church met and prayed together, as the Lord had commanded them to do (see D&C 41:2–3). As these Church leaders sought the Lord’s direction concerning the growing Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:1–72. Two weeks later, on February 23, 1831, the Prophet sought further instruction from the Lord; the additional direction he received is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:74–93. The additional details recorded in verse 73 were added later by the Prophet at the time the Doctrine and Covenants was published. Together, these revelations are known as “the law of the Church” (D&C 42, section heading). In these revelations the Lord introduced spiritual and temporal laws directing Church members to help the poor, finance various Church undertakings, and assist other Saints who would be coming to Ohio. These laws also gave direction to the young Church and helped prepare them to become a Zion people.
- January 2, 1831
The Saints in New York were promised that they would receive God’s law when they gathered to Ohio (see D&C 38).
- Early February 1831
Joseph and Emma Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio.
- February 4, 1831
Edward Partridge was called as the first bishop of the restored Church (see D&C 41).
- February 9 and 23, 1831
Doctrine and Covenants 42 was received.
When the Prophet Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, at the beginning of February 1831, he discovered that in the absence of prophetic guidance, the Saints there did not fully understand Church doctrine and policies. They had many questions and misconceptions regarding spiritual manifestations, how to live together as a community of Saints, Church leadership, and how the gathering of the Saints should take place.
Before learning of the restored gospel, some of the newly baptized Church members in Kirtland belonged to a communal group known as “the family.” This group based their practices on the New Testament descriptions of the early Christian Saints having “all things in common” (see Acts 2:44–45; 4:32). After becoming members of the restored Church, many of these new converts continued to practice their system of communal living. One such group was living on Isaac Morley’s farm, outside the village of Kirtland. “When John Whitmer arrived from New York in mid-January , he noted that what they were doing created many problems. For example, Heman Bassett took a pocket watch belonging to Levi Hancock and sold it. When asked why, Heman replied, ‘Oh, I thought it was all in the family.’ Levi responded that he did not like such ‘family doing’ and would not endure it any longer [Levi W. Hancock, ‘Levi Hancock Journal,’ Church History Library, Salt Lake City, 81]” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 95).
Upon arriving in Kirtland, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned of this problematic economic system. He knew that many Church members from New York were sacrificing much to leave their homes and join with the Saints in Ohio. He also knew that the Church would need money, goods, and property in order to help the poor and assist immigrants who were gathering in Ohio. Joseph began planning for this influx of Saints from the East and for the establishment of Zion in Missouri “on the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9).
In obedience to the Lord’s direction recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 41:2–3, the Prophet Joseph Smith and 12 elders met on February 9, 1831, and prayed together, supplicating the Lord to manifest His law. These brethren asked the Lord about five matters in particular: (1) whether the various communities of Saints should gather in one place or remain separate for the time being, (2) what the Lord’s law was for governing and regulating the Church, (3) how they should care for the families of those called to serve as missionaries, (4) how the Saints living under the principles of consecration should deal with nonmembers, and (5) what preparations should be made in order to care for the Saints arriving from the East (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, ed. Michael Hubbard MacKay and others , 246–47, note 42). In response, the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:1–72, which is a composite of revelatory answers that the Lord gave these brethren in answer to the first three questions. The revealed answers to the remaining questions were not published as part of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Two weeks later, on February 23, 1831, Joseph Smith and seven elders approached the Lord with further questions regarding implementing the law of the Church. The Lord gave these men additional direction. This direction was added to the February 9 revelation and is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:74–93. The additional details recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:73 were added later by the Prophet at the time the Doctrine and Covenants was prepared for publication. It is important to note that the Prophet Joseph Smith occasionally made changes or additions to previously recorded revelations to clarify or reflect additional understanding that the Lord had revealed. These inspired revisions illustrate the ongoing nature of revelation and are an example of the right and authority of the Lord and His prophet to amend or clarify previous revelation.
The Prophet Joseph Smith referred to the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42 as “the law of the Church” (D&C 42, section heading). These revelations fulfilled the Lord’s earlier promise to give the Saints His law if Joseph Smith and the Saints living in New York obeyed the commandment to relocate to Ohio. Included in this law were the Lord’s teachings on a variety of issues in response to the petitions of the Prophet and 12 elders who met to receive the law. The Lord declared that the truths He revealed would be “[His] law to govern [His] church” (D&C 42:59), and He commanded the Saints to “hearken and hear and obey [this] law” (D&C 42:2).
President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901) of the First Presidency taught the following about Doctrine and Covenants 42: “Altogether this was a most important revelation. It threw a flood of light upon a great variety of subjects and settled many important questions. Faithful men and women were greatly delighted at being members of a Church which the Lord acknowledged as His own, and to which He communicated His word through his inspired Prophet as he did at this time” (Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet , 109).
After Church members in New York were commanded to move to Ohio, Church leaders wondered whether those in other growing congregations in northeastern Ohio should also relocate to Kirtland. The Lord indicated that the time would come when the Saints would “be gathered in one” in “the city of the New Jerusalem,” but that time had not yet arrived (D&C 42:9). But when the time did come, by gathering to the New Jerusalem the Saints would be fulfilling the promise made to ancient Israel that they would “be [God’s] people” and He would “be [their] God” (D&C 42:9; see also Exodus 6:7; 19:5–6; Revelation 21:2–3).
To facilitate this gathering the elders were to go forth from Kirtland, “preaching [the] gospel, two by two” (D&C 42:6) and building up the Church wherever believers were to be found (see D&C 42:8). Those who preached the gospel were to “go forth in the power of [the] Spirit” and “in [Jesus Christ’s] name, … declaring [His] word like unto angels of God” (D&C 42:6). Both missionaries and angels perform a similar work; the prophet Mormon explained that the ministry of angels is “to call men unto repentance … by declaring the word of Christ,” thus preparing God’s children to “have faith in Christ” (Moroni 7:31–32).
After Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, and the other missionaries left Ohio, the new converts in the Kirtland area were left without strong Church leadership. Some of these new members followed traditions derived from other faiths or cultures and participated in extreme and foolish religious practices. President George A. Smith of the First Presidency later related that during that time some Church members claimed that “they could see angels, and letters would come down from heaven, … and they would be put through … unnatural distortions” (“Historical Discourse, Deseret News, Dec. 21, 1864, 90).
When the Prophet Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, he observed that “some strange notions and false spirits had crept in among them [the Ohio Saints]” (in History of the Church, 1:146). As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:11, the Lord prohibited those who had not been duly called and appointed by Him from assuming roles as teachers, leaders, or revelators in the Church. He clarified that those who are authorized to preach His gospel and build up His Church are those who are “known to the church” and have been “ordained by the heads of the church” (D&C 42:11). President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“There is purpose in members of the Church everywhere in the world being able to identify the general and local authorities. In that way they can know from whom they learn. …
“There have been too many names presented, too many sustaining votes taken, too many ordinations and settings apart performed before too many witnesses; there have been too many records kept, too many certificates prepared, and too many pictures published in too many places for anyone to be deceived as to who holds proper authority” (“From Such Turn Away,” Ensign, May 1985, 34).
“We always know who is called to lead or to teach and have the opportunity to sustain or to oppose the action. It did not come as an invention of man but was set out in the revelations [D&C 42:11]. … In this way, the Church is protected from any imposter who would take over a quorum, a ward, a stake, or the Church” (“The Weak and the Simple of the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 6).
The Lord declared that those who are called to teach His gospel should “teach the principles of [His] gospel” as found in the scriptures (D&C 42:12). At the time that this revelation was given, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, along with a growing number of latter-day revelations, were the only scriptures available to Church members. Eventually, more of God’s scriptures would be given, including the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of the Bible (see D&C 42:15, 56–58). In our day, the scriptural sources from which we are to teach are referred to as the standard works.
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) explained why the scriptures are called the standard works: “‘The Standard Works’ … are the reservoir of our doctrine from which flows the waters of gospel light. They provide the standard by which all gospel doctrine is measured. All other books, manuals, and study courses should spring from the word of the Lord as set forth in these volumes” (“Cornerstones of Responsibility” [address given at the Regional Representatives’ seminar, Apr. 5, 1991], 1).
Inspired and effective teaching helps God’s children become strengthened and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord promised that His Spirit would “be given … by the prayer of faith” to those called to teach, and He emphasized that those who do not have the Spirit “shall not teach” (D&C 42:14). In other words, true gospel learning will not take place unless the Spirit is present, even if the teacher is using effective teaching techniques. Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “It is our privilege to have the Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead, as our constant companion, to edify and inspire us in our preparation as teachers. We should prepare ourselves through obedience to God’s commandments, that our confidence will wax strong when we call upon the Lord, that His Spirit might magnify us as we teach. When we have the Spirit to direct us, we are capable of teaching with great power” (“Teach Them the Word of God with All Diligence,” Ensign, May 1999, 8).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“If we have the Spirit of the Lord to guide us, we can teach any person, no matter how well educated, any place in the world. The Lord knows more than any of us, and if we are his servants, acting under his Spirit, he can deliver his message of salvation to each and every soul.
“President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: ‘The Spirit of God speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with heavenly beings. Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten’ (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:47–48)” (“Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 7).
In Doctrine and Covenants 42:18–29 the Lord reviewed many of the commandments or laws that He gave to ancient Israel, as contained in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. He reminded the Saints that those who love Him must serve Him and keep His commandments (see D&C 42:29).
One law that the Lord reaffirmed in our day is the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” (D&C 42:18). Those who shed innocent blood, meaning that they commit murder, “shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come” (D&C 42:18). Furthermore, they should be “delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land” (D&C 42:79).
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) explained the Lord’s warning that those who kill will not be forgiven: “John says there are two kinds of sins [see 1 John 5:16–17]. One kind that can be forgiven; the other kind a sin unto death, for which there is no forgiveness. Murder is one of the latter class. That is where one deliberately sheds innocent blood. … The mercy of the Almighty, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, reaches out and embraces every soul who will forsake his sins, except those who have wilfully sinned, as John says, ‘unto death’” (The Restoration of All Things , 204–5).
Handbook 2: Administering the Church gives the following counsel regarding two issues related to this commandment that some may wonder about:
“As far as has been revealed, a person may repent and be forgiven for the sin of abortion” (, 21.4.1).
“It is wrong to take a life, including one’s own. However, a person who commits suicide may not be responsible for his or her acts. Only God can judge such a matter” (21.4.14).
Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Seventy explained: “The happiest marriages I have seen radiate obedience to one of the happiest commandments—that we ‘live together in love’ [D&C 42:45]. Speaking to husbands, the Lord commanded, ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart and shalt cleave unto her and none else” [D&C 42:22]. A Church handbook teaches: ‘The word cleave means to be completely devoted and faithful to someone. Married couples cleave to God and one another by serving and loving each other and by keeping covenants in complete fidelity to one another and to God.’ Both the husband and wife ‘leave behind their single life and establish their marriage as [their] first priority. … They allow no other person or interest to have greater priority … than keeping the covenants they have made with God and each other’ [Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 1.3.1]. Watch and learn: successful couples love each other with complete devotion” (“Marriage: Watch and Learn,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 85).
In Doctrine and Covenants 42:23, “to lust after” means to have unrighteous sexual desires toward another person. The scriptures clarify that when a person looks on another to lust after him or her, it is as though he or she has “committed adultery … already in his [or her] heart” (Matthew 5:28; see also 3 Nephi 12:28; D&C 63:16). Impure thoughts, words, or behavior will not only result in the loss of the Spirit but will eventually lead a person to “deny the faith” (D&C 42:23; 63:16). Satan uses sexual lust to erode the spiritual strength of God’s children and lead them to destruction.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton warned:
“There’s a spiritual snare today called pornography, and many, allured by its provocative messages, enter this deadly trap. Like any trap, it is easy to enter but difficult to escape. Some rationalize that they can casually view pornography without suffering its adverse effects. They say initially, ‘This isn’t so bad,’ or, ‘Who cares? It won’t make any difference,’ or, ‘I’m just curious.’ But they are mistaken. The Lord has warned, ‘And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out’ (D&C 42:23). …
“Along with losing the Spirit, pornography users also lose perspective and proportion. … They try to conceal their sin, forgetting that nothing is hidden from the Lord (see 2 Nephi 27:27). Real consequences start to accumulate as self-respect ebbs away, sweet relationships sour, marriages wither, and innocent victims begin to pile up. Finding that what they have been viewing no longer satisfies, they experiment with more extreme images. They slowly grow addicted even if they don’t know it or they deny it, and … their behavior deteriorates as their moral standards disintegrate” (“Blessed Are All the Pure in Heart,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 52).
Sexual relations between a husband and wife are a sacred expression of love and a manifestation of the most exalted power God has bestowed upon His children—the power to create life. The proper use of this power is central to Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, and He has given strict commandments governing its use. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:
“Marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel.
“The power of procreation is spiritually significant. Misuse of this power subverts the purposes of the Father’s plan and of our mortal existence. Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of Their creative power. Specific guidelines for the proper use of the ability to create life are vital elements in the Father’s plan. How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity. …
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 42).
The sin of adultery often begins with impure or lustful thoughts. President Howard W. Hunter (1907–1995) gave the following warning:
“The Lord forbids and his church condemns any and every intimate relationship outside of marriage. Infidelity on the part of a man breaks the heart of his wife and loses her confidence and the confidence of his children (see Jacob 2:35).
“Be faithful in your marriage covenants in thought, word, and deed. Pornography, flirtations, and unwholesome fantasies erode one’s character and strike at the foundation of a happy marriage. Unity and trust within a marriage are thereby destroyed. One who does not control his thoughts and thus commits adultery in his heart, if he does not repent, shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear (see D&C 42:23; 63:16)” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter , 215).
On January 2, 1831, during the final Church conference that was held in New York, the Lord taught, “Let every man esteem his brother as himself” (D&C 38:24). This proved to be an essential principle to prepare the Saints to establish a latter-day Zion. On February 4, 1831, after the Prophet Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord instructed him to call Edward Partridge as the first bishop of the Church, “to see to all things as it shall be appointed him in my laws in the day that I shall give them” (D&C 41:10). Five days later, on February 9, the Lord revealed to Joseph the essential principles of the law of consecration, outlining His plan to care for the poor and the needy, build up His Church, and prepare His people to build Zion (see D&C 42:30–39).
To consecrate means to make holy, to set aside and devote to a sacred purpose. Consecration is the act of dedicating our possessions, time, and resources to God and willingly giving them to Him. Through consecration, true disciples of Jesus Christ can care for the poor and the needy and help build God’s kingdom here on the earth. Consecration is based upon the principle of “every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 82:19; see also D&C 38:24–25). President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) explained:
“Consecration is the giving of one’s time, talents, and means to care for those in need—whether spiritually or temporally—and in building the Lord’s kingdom. …
“Zion is a name given by the Lord to his covenant people, who are characterized by purity of heart and faithfulness in caring for the poor, the needy, and the distressed. (See D&C 97:21.) …
“This highest order of priesthood society is founded on the doctrines of love, service, work, self-reliance, and stewardship, all of which are circumscribed by the covenant of consecration” (“Welfare Services: The Gospel in Action,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 78).
In the revelations known as the law of the Church, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42, the Lord instructed Church members to help the poor by consecrating their properties “with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken” (D&C 42:30). President J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961) of the First Presidency explained why the Lord’s people should be willing to make such a sacrifice: “The basic principle of all the revelations on the [law of consecration] is that everything we have belongs to the Lord; therefore, the Lord may call upon us for any and all of the property which we have, because it belongs to Him. … (D. & C. 104:14–17, 54–57)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1942, 55).
The law of consecration is referred to frequently in the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 38; 42; 44; 48; 51; 54; 56; 58; 70; 72; 78; 82–85; 92; 96–97; 104–6; 119–20; 136). Many of the passages include instructions to help the Saints implement this law. While the principles of the law of consecration have remained constant, procedures have sometimes been changed to meet different circumstances and needs. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The law of sacrifice and the law of consecration were not done away with and are still in effect” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 639). Today, faithful Saints keep the law of consecration when they strive to love God and to dedicate their money, time, and other resources to building God’s kingdom and helping to relieve the suffering of the poor and the needy. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“It is written: ‘He who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.’ (D&C 88:22.) The law of sacrifice is a celestial law; so also is the law of consecration. Thus to gain that celestial reward which we so devoutly desire, we must be able to live these two laws. …
“We are not always called upon to live the whole law of consecration and give all of our time, talents, and means to the building up of the Lord’s earthly kingdom. …
“But what the scriptural account means is that to gain celestial salvation we must be able to live these laws to the full if we are called upon to do so. Implicit in this is the reality that we must in fact live them to the extent we are called upon so to do” (“Obedience, Consecration, and Sacrifice,” Ensign, May 1975, 50).
The Lord outlined a pattern for implementing the law of consecration in the early days of the Church. Families were directed to consecrate their money and property to the Church by giving these resources to “the bishop of [the] church and his counselors” (D&C 42:31). The bishop, serving as the Lord’s representative, was then to appoint a portion of land and goods to each family based on the family’s “circumstances and … wants and needs” (D&C 51:3; see also D&C 42:32–33). This portion was called a “stewardship” (D&C 42:72). Thus, each family was entrusted with property and resources, which its members privately owned and were to manage using their agency. As stewards of the Lord’s resources, families were accountable to Him and fully responsible for what He entrusted to them. Any surplus beyond the needs and wants of the family remained with the bishop to be used “to administer to those who [had] not” (D&C 42:33).
In the pattern outlined by the Lord, any “residue,” or surplus, of consecrated money or properties was to be kept in the storehouse (D&C 42:34; see also verse 55). The bishop would then use these resources “to administer to the poor and the needy” (D&C 42:34) and to accomplish other objectives, such as purchasing property for the Church, building houses of worship, and “building up … the New Jerusalem” (D&C 42:35). Today, the storehouse is defined as “a place where a bishop receives, holds in trust, and dispenses to the poor consecrated offerings of Latter-day Saints. Each storehouse may be as large or as small as circumstances require. Faithful Saints donate talents, skills, materials, and financial means to the bishop to take care of the poor in time of need. Therefore, a storehouse may include a list of available services, money, food, or other commodities. The bishop is the agent of the storehouse and distributes goods and services according to need and as directed by the Spirit of the Lord (D&C 42:29–36; 82:14–19)” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Storehouse,” scriptures.lds.org).
The Book of Mormon prophet Moroni spoke of the spiritual challenges that God’s children would face in the last days. Among these challenges would be pride manifested through “the wearing of very fine apparel” while neglecting “the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Mormon 8:36–37). In the early days of the restored Church, the Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not be proud in thy heart” and told the Saints that their “garments [should] be plain” (D&C 42:40). This instruction may mean that as Church members, we should avoid excess or extravagance in our clothing.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about our choices regarding dress and appearance: “For you to fully claim Heavenly Father’s blessings and protection, we ask you to stay true to the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ and not slavishly follow the whims of fads and fashions. The Church will never deny your moral agency regarding what you should wear and exactly how you should look. But the Church will always declare standards and will always teach principles” (“To Young Women,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 28–29).
God has commanded His children to work and labor (see D&C 52:39; 56:17; Moses 4:25). Those who are slothful or lazy are guilty of idleness, which is condemned by the Lord. President Gordon B. Hinckley testified of the importance of the gospel principle of work:
“There is no substitute under the heavens for productive labor. It is the process by which dreams become realities. It is the process by which idle visions become dynamic achievements.
“Most of us are inherently lazy. We would rather play than work. We would rather loaf than work. A little play and a little loafing are good. But it is work that spells the difference in the life of a man or woman. It is stretching our minds and utilizing the skills of our hands that lift us from mediocrity. It is work that provides the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the homes in which we live. We cannot deny the need for work with skilled hands and educated minds if we are to grow and prosper individually and if our nation is to stand tall before the world.
“When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, Jehovah declared: ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.’ (Gen. 3:19.)” (“I Believe,” Ensign, Aug. 1992, 4).
The duration of a person’s mortal life is under God’s control. Doctrine and Covenants 42:44, 48 indicates that a person who needs healing and who has sufficient faith and “is not appointed unto death” (verse 48) will be healed. Elder Lance B. Wickman of the Seventy explained: “All too often we overlook the qualifying phrase ‘and is not appointed unto death’ (‘or,’ we might add, ‘unto sickness or handicap’). Please do not despair when fervent prayers have been offered and priesthood blessings performed and your loved one makes no improvement or even passes from mortality. Take comfort in the knowledge that you did everything you could. Such faith, fasting, and blessing could not be in vain! That your child did not recover in spite of all that was done in his behalf can and should be the basis for peace and reassurance to all who love him! The Lord—who inspires the blessings and who hears every earnest prayer—called him home nonetheless. All the experiences of prayer, fasting, and faith may well have been more for our benefit than for his” (“But If Not,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 30–31).
For those who are faithful and endure to the end, death “shall be sweet unto them,” while the rebellious and unrepentant will find that “their death is bitter” (D&C 42:46–47). This does not mean that the righteous will not suffer physical pain; rather, they will be free from the spiritual torment that the wicked experience when they die. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles illustrated this principle:
“A few months ago I had the opportunity of visiting a man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. As a devoted priesthood holder, he was confronted with the realities of mortality. He found strength, however, in the example of the Savior, who said, in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘After this manner therefore pray ye: … Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’ (Matt. 6:9–10). …
“My friend came to accept the phrase ‘Thy will be done’ as he faced his own poignant trials and tribulations. …
“… We discussed how he had spent his life striving to be faithful, to do what God asked of him, to be honest in his dealings with his fellowmen and all others, to care for and love his family. Isn’t that what is meant by enduring to the end? We talked about what happens immediately after death, about what God has taught us about the world of spirits. It is a place of paradise and happiness for those who have lived righteous lives. It is not something to fear.
“After our conversation, he called together his wife and the extended family—children and grandchildren—to teach them again the doctrine of the Atonement that all will be resurrected. Everyone came to understand that just as the Lord has said, while there will be mourning at the temporary separation, there is no sorrow for those who die in the Lord (see Rev. 14:13; D&C 42:46). … He passed away the next afternoon at peace, with all his family at his side. This is the solace and comfort that comes to us when we understand the gospel plan and know that families are forever” (“The Eternal Family,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 66).
Like death, grieving for those who die is part of mortality. Though we can experience powerful feelings of love for family and friends, we can also feel deep sadness and heartache when someone we love dies. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that it is natural and appropriate to mourn the loss of loved ones:
“Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: ‘Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.’ (D&C 42:45.)
“Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life” (“Doors of Death,” Ensign, May 1992, 72).
After settling in the Kirtland area, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon continued to work on the inspired revision or “translation” of the Bible. As indicated in Doctrine and Covenants 42:56, the Prophet did not follow a traditional process of translation in which words in one language are converted into words of another. Rather, Joseph sought the Lord’s guidance through prayer, and the Lord directed him accordingly.
The Lord also said that when the Saints had “received them [His scriptures] in full” they were to “teach them unto all men” (D&C 42:57–58; see also D&C 42:15). In a letter from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams to Church leaders in Missouri on July 2, 1833, they wrote, “We this day finished the translating of the Scriptures, for which we returned gratitude to our Heavenly Father” (in History of the Church, 1:368). Beginning in 1979, the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible has included hundreds of passages from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible in its study helps. Since that time, selections from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible have also been made available to members of the Church in many languages in the scripture study helps, helping fulfill the Lord’s command to teach them “unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people” (D&C 42:58).
The Lord promised that those who obey His law can receive an increasing amount of divine revelation and knowledge—even to “know[ing] the mysteries” (D&C 42:61). Elder David A. Bednar taught:
“The spirit of revelation is available to every person who receives by proper priesthood authority the saving ordinances of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost—and who is acting in faith to fulfill the priesthood injunction to ‘receive the Holy Ghost.’ This blessing is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives. …
“… Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently ‘distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven’ (D&C 121:45). …
“Both the history of the Church and our personal lives are replete with examples of the Lord’s pattern for receiving revelation ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ [2 Nephi 28:30]. For example, the fundamental truths of the restored gospel were not delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith all at once in the Sacred Grove. These priceless treasures were revealed as circumstances warranted and as the timing was right” (“The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 87–88).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that in our search for ongoing revelation, we must understand that there is a difference between continuing revelation and continuous revelation:
“We should recognize that the Lord will speak to us through the Spirit in His own time and in His own way. …
“… We pray continuously for guidance, but we shouldn’t expect continuous revelation. We expect continuing revelation, which is the continuing assurance of revelation whenever we seek guidance and our circumstances are such that a wise and loving Lord chooses to give it to us” (“In His Own Time, in His Own Way,” Ensign, Aug. 2013, 22, 27).
After the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:1–72 was received, Church leaders had further questions about how to deal with Church members who had transgressed God’s law. Two weeks later, on February 23, 1831, the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 42:74–93 was received. The Lord had declared that the “law” of the Church, as found in Doctrine and Covenants 42, was meant to “govern [His] church” (D&C 42:59). Furthermore, members of the Church were to “observe to keep all the commandments and covenants of the church” (D&C 42:78).
Elder David A. Bednar explained how we should respond when someone offends us:
“In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless.
“You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended. …
“Interestingly, the admonition to ‘be ye therefore perfect’ [Matthew 5:48] is immediately preceded by counsel about how we should act in response to wrongdoing and offense [see Matthew 5:43–44, 46]. Clearly the rigorous requirements that lead to the perfecting of the Saints include assignments that test and challenge us. If a person says or does something that we consider offensive, our first obligation is to refuse to take offense and then communicate privately, honestly, and directly with that individual. Such an approach invites inspiration from the Holy Ghost and permits misperceptions to be clarified and true intent to be understood” (“And Nothing Shall Offend Them,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 91–92).