“Chapter 31: Doctrine and Covenants 84,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Chapter 31,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
In September 1832, missionaries returned to Kirtland, Ohio, from preaching the gospel in the eastern United States and reported their successes to the Prophet Joseph Smith. During their reunion, the Prophet inquired of the Lord and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. In this revelation the Lord explained how the priesthood prepares the Saints to enter God’s presence and receive all that He has. The Lord taught of the importance of hearkening to His words and reproved the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, for treating the Book of Mormon and His commandments lightly. The Lord also commanded the Saints to preach the gospel to the world and provided instructions for doing so.
- Late June 1832
Joseph Smith returned to Kirtland, Ohio, from Independence, Missouri.
- September 12, 1832
Joseph and Emma Smith moved from Hiram to Kirtland, Ohio, to live above the Newel K. Whitney store.
- September 22–23, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 84 was received.
- Early October 1832
Joseph Smith and Newel K. Whitney traveled to Boston, Massachusetts; Albany, New York; and New York City to preach the gospel and purchase merchandise for the Kirtland store.
During a conference of priesthood holders held in Amherst, Ohio, on January 25, 1832, a number of elders were called to preach the gospel in various locations in the United States (see D&C 75). In September 1832, some of these elders returned from their missions in the eastern states. Joseph and Emma Smith had just moved from the John and Alice (Elsa) Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio, to the living quarters in the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio. When the missionaries returned to Kirtland, they reported their experiences, and the Prophet Joseph Smith rejoiced in their success. While the Prophet was with these elders on September 22, he inquired of the Lord and received revelation about the priesthood. The Prophet continued to receive instruction from the Lord the following day, September 23. This revelation, received over two days, is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. Several individuals witnessed the Prophet Joseph Smith dictate the revelation. Doctrine and Covenants 84:1 suggests that six elders were present as the dictation began, but a note in an original handwritten copy of the revelation indicates that 10 high priests were present during the latter part of the revelation. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others , 289–90.)
During the Prophet Joseph Smith’s first visit to Jackson County, Missouri, in July 1831, the Lord identified the area as “the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints” (D&C 57:1). He continued: “Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion. … The place which is now called Independence is the center place” (D&C 57:2–3). Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon soon dedicated the land of Zion and a site for a temple to be built. They were familiar with earlier revelations in which the Lord had indicated that the center place of Zion would be known as the city of the New Jerusalem, where God’s people would gather and build a temple and where Jesus Christ would someday come to visit His people (see Ether 13:6, 8; D&C 42:9, 35–36; 45:66–67).
In the months after Joseph and Sidney dedicated the land, hundreds of Church members arrived and settled in Jackson County. In September 1832, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84, the Lord reaffirmed His will for the Saints to build “the city of New Jerusalem” (D&C 84:2), beginning with the temple, which the Lord commanded should “be reared in this generation” (D&C 84:4).
However, by the end of 1833, the Latter-day Saints had been driven out of Jackson County by their enemies and eventually settled elsewhere. The Saints learned that their own transgressions had contributed to their expulsion from Zion (see D&C 101:1–6; 105:1–6). Neither the city of New Jerusalem nor the temple was built at that time, as commanded in Doctrine and Covenants 84:4–5. Several years later, after the Saints had established themselves in Nauvoo, Illinois, the Lord declared that they were excused from the commandment to build the city of New Jerusalem and the temple (see D&C 124:49–51). Nevertheless, the Lord’s promises remain that Zion will one day be redeemed and the New Jerusalem will be built (see D&C 100:13; 105:9; 136:18).
Doctrine and Covenants 84 refers to events and themes found in the Old and New Testaments, highlighting important connections between God’s work in ancient times and in our day. For example, the Lord prophesied that a cloud would rest upon the latter-day temple in the New Jerusalem, as occurred when the ancient tabernacle was erected by Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness (see Exodus 40:34–35; D&C 84:5). The revelation briefly speaks of “the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood” (D&C 84:6), referring to those who, like Moses, receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, also referred to in this revelation as the “greater priesthood” (D&C 84:19). Following this phrase, the Lord interjects instruction about the priesthood. This instruction includes an explanation that the priesthood came through an unbroken line from Adam to Moses as well as important truths regarding the priesthood and priesthood ordinances (see D&C 84:6–30). Without this interjection the revelation would read, “And the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood … shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord” (D&C 84:6, 31; see also D&C 128:24).
After stating Moses’s line of Melchizedek Priesthood authority back to Adam (see D&C 84:6–16), the Lord explained that the “priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations” (D&C 84:17). This means that through the priesthood, gospel truths have been taught and saving ordinances have been administered in all dispensations. The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) taught that the priesthood “is the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing His glory at the beginning of the creation of this earth, and through which He has continued to reveal Himself to the children of men to the present time” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 108–9).
The Lord further revealed that the priesthood “is without beginning of days or end of years” (D&C 84:17), meaning it is eternal in nature. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained:
“The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed. … He is Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood. … These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.
“The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 104).
The Lord emphasized the central role of the Melchizedek Priesthood in administering the gospel to God’s children. Only through the power and authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which “holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God” (D&C 84:19), can men and women come to know God, receive the fulness of His gospel, and enter His presence.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Melchizedek Priesthood “is the channel through which all knowledge, doctrine, the plan of salvation, and every important matter is revealed from heaven” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 108; see also D&C 107:18–19). The Lord has revealed these truths in the latter days through His chosen and authorized prophets, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith and continuing to the President of the Church today. These truths are also made known to God’s children through the ordinances administered by the authority of the holy priesthood.
Every Church member who receives the gift of the Holy Ghost by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood can know by personal revelation the truthfulness of the gospel and obtain a knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see John 17:3; 1 Nephi 10:17–19; D&C 132:24). President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught that as members of the restored Church we should “rejoice to think that we have that great authority by which we may know God. Not only the men holding the priesthood know that great truth, but because of that priesthood and the ordinances thereof, every member of the Church, men and women alike, may know God” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie , 3:142–43).
The power of godliness includes the power to become like God (see 2 Peter 1:3–4; D&C 76:53–59; 93:19–22). Through the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood we learn how to return to God’s presence and receive power to do so as we live according to our covenants. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained one way that the power of godliness is manifested in our lives through the ordinances and covenants of the priesthood:
“Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, ‘the power of godliness’ (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. …
“In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high. This ‘power of godliness’ comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost. …
“… It is also the Holy Ghost, in His character as the Holy Spirit of Promise, that confirms the validity and efficacy of your covenants and seals God’s promises upon you” (“The Power of Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 22).
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how the power of godliness is related to the blessings that come from the Savior through His atoning sacrifice: “Covenants received and honored with integrity and ordinances performed by proper priesthood authority are necessary to receive all of the blessings made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For in the ordinances of the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest unto men and women in the flesh, including the blessings of the Atonement (see D&C 84:20–21)” (“Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 88).
Without the power of godliness, no man or woman can endure the presence of God. Moses saw God and spoke with Him face to face, and he said he would have “withered and died” had he not been “transfigured before [God]” (Moses 1:11). As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 67, the Lord taught that only those “quickened by the Spirit of God” can see God’s face and abide His presence (see D&C 67:11–12). These accounts refer to transfiguration, a temporary change that has allowed righteous people in various dispensations to see God and live. However, Doctrine and Covenants 84:20–22 teaches of being sanctified—a lasting change to our fallen nature that comes through the ordinances and covenants of the Melchizedek Priesthood (see also D&C 67:10; 88:68; 93:1). The Lord taught Adam that “no unclean thing can dwell … in his presence” (Moses 6:57). Only by receiving the ordinances through the power of the priesthood and keeping the associated covenants can we be cleansed from sin and become holy and pure like God. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 72).
In Doctrine and Covenants 84:23, the Lord summarized Moses’s efforts to sanctify the children of Israel so that they could receive promised priesthood ordinances and power to enter into God’s presence (see also Exodus 19:10–11). Initially, the children of Israel covenanted to do all that the Lord commanded them to do (see Exodus 19:7–8), and some of them, including Aaron and two of his sons, “saw the God of Israel” (Exodus 24:9–10). However, the children of Israel hardened their hearts and “corrupted themselves” with idolatry (see Exodus 32:7–8). Consequently, they lost the privilege of receiving the ordinances and covenants of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which would have enabled them to enter into God’s rest, “which rest is the fulness of his glory” (D&C 84:24; see also Jacob 1:7; Alma 12:33–37; 13:12–16; 3 Nephi 27:19).
Although the Lord took the Melchizedek Priesthood away from the children of Israel, He provided them with “the lesser priesthood,” or the Aaronic Priesthood, and its ordinances (see D&C 107:13–14). Bishop Keith B. McMullin, who served in the Presiding Bishopric, explained how the Aaronic Priesthood prepares God’s children for the fulness of the Savior’s gospel:
“The lesser portion of the gospel encompasses vital, saving truths and rests on the cornerstones of obedience and sacrifice. These truths school men and women, boys and girls in the fundamentals of righteousness. They consist of repentance, baptism, and observance of the law of carnal commandments unto the remission of sins. Carnal commandments are those that enable us to overcome the lusts, passions, and desires of our natural, or mortal, bodies and minds. … This lesser portion of the gospel will nourish those who are new in the Church, lead back those who have strayed, help young people recognize and overcome the temptations and deceptions of the world. Without this preparation, the fulness of gospel blessings cannot be realized or enjoyed.
“The responsibility for administering this preparatory portion of the gospel is entrusted to the Aaronic Priesthood” (“Behold the Man,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 41).
President Boyd K. Packer (1924– 2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared the following account from President Wilford Woodruff to illustrate the power that is inherent in the Aaronic Priesthood and how through it God’s children can be led to embrace the gospel:
“After President Wilford Woodruff joined the Church he desired to serve a mission.
“‘I was but a Teacher,’ he wrote, ‘and it is not a Teacher’s office to go abroad and preach. I dared not tell any of the authorities of the Church that I wanted to preach, lest they might think I was seeking for an office.’ (Leaves from My Journal, Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882, p. 8.)
“He prayed to the Lord, and without disclosing his desire to any others, he was ordained a priest and sent on a mission. They went to the Arkansas Territory.
“He and his companion struggled through a hundred miles of alligator-infested swamps, wet, muddy, and tired. Brother Woodruff developed a sharp pain in his knee and could go no further. His companion left him sitting on a log and went home. Brother Woodruff knelt down in the mud and prayed for help. He was healed and continued his mission alone.
“Three days later he arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, weary, hungry, and very muddy. He went to the largest inn and asked for something to eat and for a place to sleep, although he had no money to pay for either.
“When the innkeeper found he was a preacher, he laughed and decided to have some fun with him. He offered Brother Woodruff a meal if he would preach to his friends.
“A large audience of the rich and fashionable people of Memphis gathered and were quite amused by this mud-stained missionary.
“None would sing or pray, so Brother Woodruff did both. He knelt before them and begged the Lord to give him His Spirit and to show him the hearts of the people. And the Spirit came! Brother Woodruff preached with great power. He was able to reveal the secret deeds of those who came to ridicule him.
“When he was finished, no one laughed at this humble holder of the Aaronic Priesthood. Thereafter he was treated with kindness. (See Leaves from My Journal, pp. 16–18.)
“He was under the guiding, protecting power of his Aaronic Priesthood. The same power can be with you [who hold the Aaronic Priesthood] as well. …
“The fact that it is called the lesser priesthood does not diminish at all the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood” (“The Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 30)
In Doctrine and Covenants 84:31, the Lord continued the discussion that began in Doctrine and Covenants 84:5–6 regarding the role of “the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron … in the house of the Lord,” including the latter-day temple that will be built in the city of New Jerusalem. The sons of Moses are those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. The sons of Aaron are those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood. These priesthood bearers will “offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord” (D&C 84:31). (For further details about these latter-day offerings, see Isaiah 66:20–21; Omni 1:26; D&C 13:1; 128:24.)
The Savior declared that “all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father” (D&C 84:40). The Guide to the Scriptures explains: “An oath is a sworn affirmation to be true and faithful to one’s promises. A covenant is a solemn promise between two parties” (“Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood,” scriptures.lds.org). Elder Carlos E. Asay (1926–1999) of the Presidency of the Seventy explained the sacred nature of the oath and covenant associated with the priesthood: “Of all the holy agreements pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ, few, if any, would transcend in importance the oath and covenant of the priesthood. It is certainly one of the most sacred agreements, for it involves the sharing of heavenly powers and man’s upward reaching toward eternal goals. None of us can afford to be ignorant of the terms of this contract. To do so might cause us to miss the mark in our performance of duty and result in the forfeiture of promised blessings” (“The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 43).
The Lord has promised that those who obtain the priesthood and faithfully magnify their callings will be sanctified by the Spirit, receive the authority of the sons of Moses and Aaron, and become the seed of Abraham and the elect of God (see D&C 84:33–34). To be the seed or children of Abraham is to become heirs of the blessings promised to Abraham (see Abraham 2:9–11; D&C 132:28–31).
To be faithful in obtaining “these two priesthoods” (D&C 84:33) involves obtaining the power and blessings that come from receiving the ordinances of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods and faithfully keeping the associated covenants. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that a person obtains the fulness of the priesthood “by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 419). Therefore, the blessings of the oath and covenant of the priesthood are not just for priesthood holders. God’s greatest blessings come to men and women who are sealed to each other in the temple. Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy taught:
“The full blessings of the priesthood are received together as husband and wife or not at all.
“It is interesting that in the oath and covenant of the priesthood, the Lord uses the verbs obtain and receive. He does not use the verb ordain. It is in the temple that men and women—together—obtain and receive the blessings and power of both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods” (“Revealed Realities of Mortality,” Ensign, Jan. 2016, 21).
President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also emphasized that blessings are available to all Church members through the priesthood:
“One day Sister Nelson and I will dwell together in the presence of our family and the Lord forevermore. We will have been faithful to covenants made in the temple and to the oath and covenant of the priesthood, which have assured us, in the words of the Lord, that ‘all that my Father hath shall be given unto [you]’ (D&C 84:38).
“Faithful sisters share the blessings of the priesthood. Think of those words ‘all that my Father hath.’ … It means that no earthly reward—no other success—could compensate for the bounties the Lord will bestow upon those who love Him, keep His commandments (see Moro. 4:3), and endure to the end (see D&C 14:7)” (“Identity, Priority, and Blessings,” Ensign, Aug. 2001, 10).
The Lord taught that those who receive His servants receive Him (see D&C 84:36). Receiving the Lord’s servants means following those who hold the keys of the priesthood, beginning with the prophets and apostles and including other priesthood leaders such as stake presidents, bishops, and quorum presidents. If we receive the Lord and His servants, we also receive Heavenly Father, and He will bestow all that He has upon us (see D&C 93:26–28). Because receiving the Lord’s servants and the priesthood keys that they hold is a necessary step to receiving all that Heavenly Father has, Satan will try to undermine our faith in those priesthood keys and those who hold them. President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency cautioned: “Satan will always work on the Saints of God to undermine their faith in priesthood keys. One way he does it is to point out the humanity of those who hold them. He can in that way weaken our testimony and so cut us loose from the line of keys by which the Lord ties us to Him and can take us and our families home to Him and to our Heavenly Father” (“Faith and Keys,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 28).
President Henry B. Eyring spoke of the confidence that priesthood holders should have when entering into the oath and covenant of the priesthood:
“Rising to the possibilities of the oath and covenant brings the greatest of all the gifts of God: eternal life. That is a purpose of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Through keeping the covenants as we receive the priesthood and renewing them in the temple ceremonies, we are promised by an oath made by our Heavenly Father, Elohim, that we will gain the fulness of His glory and live as He lives. We will have the blessing of being sealed in a family forever with the promise of eternal increase. …
“… The very fact that you have been offered the oath and covenant is evidence that God has chosen you, knowing your power and capacity. He has known you since you were with Him in the spirit world. With His foreknowledge of your strength, He has allowed you to find the true Church of Jesus Christ and to be offered the priesthood. You can feel confidence because you have evidence of His confidence in you” (“Faith and the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 61–62).
The Lord warned that those who break the oath and covenant of the priesthood and “altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come” (D&C 84:41). Those individuals who turn away completely from their covenants and do not repent will forfeit the blessings of exaltation promised to those who are faithful, although they may not necessarily become sons of perdition (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:141–42).
Every person who comes to earth is enlightened and influenced by “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (see D&C 84:45–46), also referred to as the Light of Christ. Those who heed this Light will be led to God the Father, who is the source of all truth and light (see D&C 84:47).
Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained several functions of the Light of Christ, which helps all people come unto God: “The Light of Christ is that divine power or influence that emanates from God through Jesus Christ [see Topical Guide, ‘Light of Christ’]. It gives light and life to all things. It prompts all rational individuals throughout the earth to distinguish truth from error, right from wrong. It activates your conscience [see Moroni 7:16]. Its influence can be weakened through transgression and addiction and restored through proper repentance. The Light of Christ is not a person. It is a power and influence that comes from God and when followed can lead a person to qualify for the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost [see John 1:9; D&C 84:46–47]” (“Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 15).
For more information about the Spirit of Jesus Christ, or the Light of Christ, see the commentary in this manual for Doctrine and Covenants 88:5–13.
The Lord contrasted the light that comes from the Spirit of Christ with the darkness of sin, and He declared that those who choose not to come unto Him are left in darkness and under the bondage of sin (see D&C 84:45–46, 49–50). The Lord warned the Saints in Zion that their minds had been “darkened because of unbelief” and because they treated the things He had given them lightly (D&C 84:54). To treat something lightly is to ignore it or treat it disrespectfully or carelessly. The Saints in Zion were under condemnation for treating the Book of Mormon and “the former commandments” that the Lord had given them lightly (D&C 84:57). The former commandments could be previous revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith or teachings from the Bible. Speaking about this warning and admonition concerning the Book of Mormon, President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) gave Church members the following counsel:
“Brethren and sisters, I implore you with all my heart that you consider with great solemnity the importance of the Book of Mormon to you personally and to the Church collectively.
“Over ten years ago I made the following statement regarding the Book of Mormon:
“‘Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.
“‘Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life’ [“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, May 1975, 65]. …
“I reaffirm those words to you this day. Let us not remain under condemnation, with its scourge and judgment, by treating lightly this great and marvelous gift the Lord has given to us. Rather, let us win the promises associated with treasuring it up in our hearts” (“The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).
President Thomas S. Monson taught of the blessings members of the Church will receive as they regularly study the Book of Mormon: “My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives. I so testify with all my heart” (“The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 87).
Like the charge given His ancient Apostles (see Matthew 28:19–20; Mark 16:15–18), the Lord instructed the Saints of this dispensation to preach the gospel to all the world. He commanded that if there were any place that the Saints could not personally go, they were to send their testimony in some other way so that the restored gospel could be proclaimed “unto every creature” (D&C 84:62). Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited Church members to use inspired innovations in communication and technology to send the gospel message to people throughout the world:
“The Lord is hastening His work, and it is no coincidence that these powerful communication innovations and inventions are occurring in the dispensation of the fulness of times. Social media channels are global tools that can personally and positively impact large numbers of individuals and families. And I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father, His plan of happiness for His children, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the world; to proclaim the reality of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days; and to accomplish the Lord’s work. …
“What has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. … I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood (see Moses 7:59–62)” (“Flood the Earth through Social Media,” New Era, Aug. 2015, 32, 35).
Much of the counsel contained in Doctrine and Covenants 84:77–95 is similar to the instructions that the Lord gave His ancient Apostles before sending them forth to preach the gospel (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:25–27 [in the Bible appendix]; Matthew 10:5–20). It is important to remember that these instructions were given to those called to serve full-time missions rather than to Church members generally. At the time Doctrine and Covenants 84 was received, the Lord commanded His missionaries to go forth and proclaim the gospel without purse or scrip, meaning without money or other provisions (see D&C 84:78, 86). In the Savior’s day, a purse carried money and a scrip or small bag carried food and other supplies. Furthermore, the Lord instructed His missionaries to “take … no thought for the morrow” (D&C 84:81) as to their temporal needs. In other words, they were not to be overly anxious or worried about food, clothing, or lodgings. Instead, they were to trust in and rely on the Lord to provide for their sustenance and needs through other people. Similarly, missionaries were not to be overanxious about what they should teach. Rather, they were to “treasure up in [their] minds continually” the word of God so that they would be inspired as to what to say in the moment they needed it (D&C 84:85). Missionaries today rely on the inspiration of the Spirit to help them know how and what to teach, but the Lord no longer sends them forth without purse or scrip.
Those called to serve the Lord have the encouraging promise that He will go before them to prepare the way and His Spirit and ministering angels will assist them in accomplishing His work. President Henry B. Eyring explained one way that Church members may experience the fulfillment of this promise:
“The first thing you must commit to do is to go and serve, knowing that you do not go alone. When you go to comfort and serve anyone for the Savior, He prepares the way before you. Now, as the returned missionaries here tonight will tell you, that doesn’t mean that every person behind every door is prepared to welcome you or that every person you try to serve will thank you. But the Lord will go before your face to prepare the way. …
“One of the ways He goes before your face is to prepare the heart of a person He has asked you to serve. He will prepare your heart as well.
“You will also find that the Lord puts helpers by your side—on your right, on your left, and all around you. You do not go alone to serve others for Him” (“Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 17).
To learn more about the Lord’s instructions for His servants to cleanse their feet when people reject their message, see the commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 24:15 in this manual.
After the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the start of the Millennium, all people will know the Lord and “lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song” of Zion’s redemption (D&C 84:98). The Saints will rejoice and praise the Lord for establishing Zion and redeeming them by His grace, which is received through faithfully keeping His covenants. They will also rejoice that Satan is bound and that the city of Enoch, “Zion from above,” will return and meet the “Zion from beneath” (D&C 84:100; see also Moses 7:62–64).
Every member of the Church is needed to help in the Lord’s work. The Lord counseled the elders of the Church to invite those who were “weak” to assist in the work with those who were “strong in the Spirit” so that they “may become strong also” (D&C 84:106). The Lord also explained that every Church member is to contribute to the kingdom by laboring in the calling that he or she is given (see D&C 84:109). The Lord then compared the Church and its members to the physical body and its various parts (see D&C 84:109–10; see also 1 Corinthians 12:13–27).
Each part of the body is needed for the entire body to function properly. Likewise, each Church member, no matter his or her calling or position, is valued and needed—each can strengthen the Church and help edify its members. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught: “You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason. There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch. Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way” (“Lift Where You Stand,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 56).
The Lord instructed Bishop Newel K. Whitney and other elders of the Church to preach the gospel in the “notable cities and villages” and warn the people of “the desolation of abomination in the last days” (D&C 84:117). The Old Testament prophet Daniel prophesied of “the abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 11:31). The Savior taught His disciples that Daniel’s prophecy would have two fulfillments. The first fulfillment of this prophecy was when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:12). The second will be in the last days, after the restored gospel is preached in all the world (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31–32). “The desolation of abomination in the last days” (D&C 84:117) refers more generally to the judgments that will be poured out upon the wicked, both the living and the dead in the spirit world (see D&C 88:84–85). For this reason, the Lord sends His servants to warn the wicked and proclaim the everlasting gospel so that they will repent and escape the coming destruction and desolation. (See Bible Dictionary, “Abomination of desolation.”)