“Chapter 38: Doctrine and Covenants 98–100,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Chapter 38,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
In 1833 the growing population of Latter-day Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, became a great concern to the original settlers of the county because of the significant cultural, political, and religious differences between the two groups. On July 20, 1833, a group of Missouri citizens demanded that the Latter-day Saints leave Jackson County. Before the Saints could adequately respond, a mob destroyed the Church’s printing office and tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen. Three days later a large mob threatened further violence, and Church leaders were forced to sign an agreement that all Mormons would leave Jackson County no later than April 1, 1834. On August 6, 1833, in Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 98, in which the Lord taught the Saints how to respond to persecution. The Lord also counseled the Saints to follow “the constitutional law of the land” (D&C 98:6) and warned them to keep their covenants.
John Murdock joined the Church when the first missionaries from New York arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, in November 1830. He immediately began preaching the gospel. In June 1832 he returned from serving a mission to areas in the midwestern United States. In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith on August 29, 1832, which is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 99, the Lord called John Murdock to continue serving as a missionary.
In October 1833 the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon departed for a brief mission to Upper Canada. On October 12, 1833, they stopped in Perrysburg, New York, and the Prophet received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 100. The Lord assured the Prophet and Sidney that their families in Ohio were well. He also comforted them concerning the Saints in Missouri, who were suffering persecution.
John Murdock returned from a mission to areas in the midwestern United States.
August 29, 1832
Doctrine and Covenants 99 was received.
July 20, 1833
A mob in Jackson County, Missouri, destroyed the Church’s printing office in Independence and tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen.
July 23, 1833
Under threat of mob violence, Church leaders in Missouri signed an agreement that Mormons would begin leaving Jackson County by the end of the year.
August 6, 1833
Doctrine and Covenants 98 was received.
August 9, 1833
Oliver Cowdery arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, with news of the mob violence toward the Saints in Missouri.
October 5, 1833
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon left Kirtland, Ohio, to preach the gospel in New York and in Mount Pleasant, Upper Canada (now Ontario).
October 12, 1833
Doctrine and Covenants 100 was received.
Shortly after the Lord declared that the city of Zion and a temple were to be built in Independence, Missouri (see D&C 57:1–3), hundreds of Latter-day Saints began to gather to the surrounding Jackson County area. By the summer of 1833, it is estimated that more than 1,200 Church members had settled in Missouri (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, ed. Gerrit J. Dirkmaat and others , 121). This growing population of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, became a great concern to the original settlers of Jackson County because of the significant cultural, political, and religious differences between the two groups, which led to misunderstanding and conflict.
In July 1833, William W. Phelps published an editorial titled “Free People of Color” in the Church newspaper in Missouri, The Evening and the Morning Star. Some of the local citizens who supported slavery viewed the title of William W. Phelps’s article as a political statement and interpreted it as an invitation for former slaves to settle in Missouri. This created significant tension, and days later, approximately 300 citizens signed a document calling for all Mormons to leave Jackson County. On July 20, 1833, a committee representing these citizens presented Church leaders in Jackson County with their list of demands and ordered that they respond within 15 minutes. When Church leaders refused to comply with the group’s demands, a hostile crowd in the city of Independence proceeded to destroy the Church’s print shop where the Book of Commandments was being produced. The mob also tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 186–87). Three days later, on July 23, 1833, a mob of about 500 residents threatened further violence against Church members living in Jackson County. Six Church leaders “‘offered themselves as a ransom [to the mob] for the church, willing to be scourged or die, if that [would] appease their anger toward the church’ [“To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 114], but the mob declared that all church members must leave or die” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 187). Under this threat of violence, Church leaders signed an agreement pledging that Church leaders and half of the members of the Church would leave Jackson County by January 1, 1834, with the rest leaving by April 1, 1834 (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 187).
Oliver Cowdery immediately left Independence, Missouri, and traveled to Kirtland, Ohio, to provide the Church leaders there with a firsthand account of what had happened. He arrived in Kirtland on August 9, 1833. On August 6, 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith had dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 98, in which the Lord taught the Saints how they should respond to persecution. That revelation, along with the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 94 and 97, was copied into a letter and sent to Missouri Church leaders on August 7, two days before Oliver Cowdery arrived in Kirtland. While the Prophet was certainly aware of increasing tensions between Church members and non-Mormon residents in Jackson County, he could not have known of the hostilities that had occurred on July 20 and 23 in Independence, Missouri, before receiving this revelation.
Even though the Prophet Joseph Smith had not yet received news of the violence and hostilities that occurred in Jackson County, Missouri, on June 20 and 23, 1833, the revelation he received on August 6, in Kirtland, Ohio, shows that the Lord was very aware of the trials and suffering of the Church members there. The Lord assured the Saints that He had heard their prayers and encouraged them to “fear not,” saying, “All things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (D&C 98:1, 3; see also Romans 8:28). Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that trials can refine and strengthen us:
“The revelations, for which we are grateful, show that we should even give thanks for our afflictions because they turn our hearts to God and give us opportunities to prepare for what God would have us become. … Brigham Young understood [this principle]. Said he, ‘There is not a single condition of life [or] one hour’s experience but what is beneficial to all those who make it their study, and aim to improve upon the experience they gain’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 179). …
“… We read these words of President John Taylor on the subject of gratitude for suffering: ‘We have learned many things through suffering. We call it suffering. I call it a school of experience. … I have never looked at these things in any other light than trials for the purpose of purifying the Saints of God that they may be, as the scriptures say, as gold that has been seven times purified by the fire’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor , 203). Pioneers like President John Taylor, who witnessed the murder of their prophet and experienced prolonged persecution and incredible hardships for their faith, praised God and thanked Him. Through their challenges and the courageous and inspired actions they took to meet them, they grew in faith and in spiritual stature. Through their afflictions they became what God desired them to become, and they laid the foundation of the great work that blesses our lives today” (“Give Thanks in All Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 96).
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency expanded our understanding of giving thanks in all things:
“It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?
“Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be. …
“When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
“We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
“Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.
“This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind” (“Grateful in Any Circumstances,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 75–76).
The Saints who suffered harsh treatment in Jackson County, Missouri, during the summer of 1833 should have received protection based on the constitutional law of the United States. The Lord explained that when the “law of the land … is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges,” that law “belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before [Him]” (D&C 98:5). The Saints are then justified in following that law (see D&C 98:6; see also D&C 101:77–80). The Lord taught the Saints that despite what they had endured by those who ignored the law, they were to befriend, or follow, “the constitutional law of the land” (D&C 98:6).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) taught: “The Constitution under which we [in the United States] live, and which has not only blessed us but has become a model for other constitutions, is our God-inspired national safeguard ensuring freedom and liberty, justice and equality before the law” (“The Times in Which We Live,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 73).
Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urged Saints around the world to learn about and support the laws in their own nations: “As Church members, we live under the banner of many different flags. How important it is that we understand our place and our position in the lands in which we live! We should be familiar with the history, heritage, and laws of the lands that govern us. In those countries that allow us the right to participate in the affairs of government, we should use our … agency and be actively engaged in supporting and defending the principles of truth, right, and freedom” (“A Meaningful Celebration,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 72).
The Lord instructed the Saints to support “the constitutional law of the land” (D&C 98:6), which was designed to maintain the “rights and privileges” of all people (D&C 98:5), and to seek “diligently” for civic leaders who were “honest,” “good,” and “wise” (D&C 98:10). No matter how ethical the law is, when government leaders are corrupt, “the people mourn” and suffer the effects of unrighteous leadership (D&C 98:9; see also Proverbs 29:2).
Because it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked (see D&C 10:37), members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to actively study issues and the positions of candidates in their local and national areas. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“We should seek to support those we believe will act with integrity and carry out our ideas of good government. …
“The Church maintains a policy of strict political neutrality, favoring no party or candidate, but every member should take an active part in the political process. We should study the issues and the candidates to be sure our votes are based on knowledge rather than hearsay. We need to pray for our public officials and ask the Lord to help them in making momentous decisions that affect us” (“Seeking the Good,” Ensign, May 1992, 87–88).
The Lord promised His Saints in Missouri that if they were obedient to His commandments, they had no need to fear their enemies (see D&C 98:14). He also explained that He would provide spiritual instruction to His people “line upon line” (D&C 98:12), meaning that they would receive understanding in parts rather than all at once. With the limited knowledge the Saints had received, God would “try [them] and prove [them]” to see if they would be faithful and keep the covenant He had offered them (D&C 98:12; see also D&C 66:2). President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency taught: “The test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us. And to endure well is to keep those commandments whatever the opposition, whatever the temptation, and whatever the tumult around us” (“In the Strength of the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 17).
The Lord said that He was “not well pleased with many” of the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, because “they do not forsake their sins, and their wicked ways, the pride of their hearts, and their covetousness, and all their detestable things, and observe the words of wisdom, and eternal life which [He had] given unto them” (D&C 98:19–20). He warned that He would chasten them if they did not repent and obey His commandments (see D&C 98:21).
The Lord assured the Saints in Missouri that if they obeyed His commandments, He would “turn away all wrath and indignation” and “the gates of hell [would] not prevail against” them (D&C 98:22). President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:
“Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God.
“Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all. He has said, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46:10)” (“The Times in Which We Live,” 74).
The counsel to “renounce war and proclaim peace” (D&C 98:16), together with the detailed instructions the Lord gave regarding when war is justified, helped to clarify how the Saints should respond to the violent persecution they were facing in Jackson County, Missouri.
Principles taught in Doctrine and Covenants 98 have been reemphasized by modern prophets and apostles. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed how we can “proclaim peace” as individuals: “As a Church, we must ‘renounce war and proclaim peace’ [D&C 98:16]. As individuals, we should ‘follow after the things which make for peace’ [Romans 14:19]. We should be personal peacemakers. We should live peacefully—as couples, families, and neighbors. We should live by the Golden Rule. … We should … expand our circle of love to embrace the whole human family” (“Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 41).
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught the importance of proclaiming peace, but he also pointed out that there are times when war is justified:
“In a democracy we can renounce war and proclaim peace. … However, we all must also be mindful of another overriding responsibility. …
“It is clear [from examples in the scriptures] that there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression.
“When all is said and done, we of this Church are people of peace. We are followers of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Prince of Peace. But even He said, ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword’ (Matthew 10:34).
“This places us in the position of those who long for peace, who teach peace, who work for peace, but who also are citizens of nations and are subject to the laws of our governments. Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do. It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression” (“War and Peace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 80).
On August 9, 1833, several days after the Presidency of the High Priesthood sent the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 94 and 97–98 to the Saints in Missouri, Oliver Cowdery arrived from Jackson County and informed the Prophet Joseph Smith of the hostilities and attacks that had occurred in Missouri. The Prophet wrote a letter on August 18, 1833, to comfort the Saints in Missouri. News of the mob violence in Missouri also emboldened enemies of the Saints in Ohio, making it necessary for Church members to watch their homes at night “to keep off the Mob[b]ers” (Joseph Smith, in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 263).
In his August 18 letter to the Saints in Missouri, the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–1844) taught that the Lord would deliver them if they were faithful:
“Satan has come down in great wrath upon all the Church of God and there is no safety, only in the arm of Jehovah. None else can deliver, and He will not deliver unless we prove ourselves faithful to him in the severest trouble, for he that will have his robes washed in the blood of the Lamb must come up through great tribulation, even the greatest of all affliction. But know this: when men thus deal with you and speak all manner of evil of you falsely for the sake of Christ, that He is your friend, and I verily know that He will speedily deliver Zion, for I have His immutable covenant that this shall be the case. But God is pleased to keep it hid from mine eyes the means how exactly the thing will be done. …
“… We must wait patiently until the Lord come[s]” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 263–65; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization standardized).
John Murdock received a copy of the Book of Mormon when the missionaries from New York first arrived in the Kirtland, Ohio, area in November 1830. “He wrote that ‘the spirit of the Lord rested on me’ when he read the Book of Mormon, ‘witnessing to me of the truth.’ John’s wife, Julia Clapp Murdock, ‘was filled with the spirit as [he] read’ to her. They were baptized and confirmed, and he was ordained an elder. ‘It was truly a time of the outpouring of the spirit,’ he wrote. ‘I know the spirit rested on me as it never did before’” (Steven C. Harper, “Murdock, John,” in Dennis L. Largey and Larry E. Dahl, eds., Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion , 429). In April 1831, Julia died giving birth to twins, leaving John with five young children to care for. Emma Smith had also given birth to twins in April, but they had died at birth. Following these tragedies, John allowed Joseph and Emma to adopt his twins and raise them as their own. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others , 272.)
In a revelation the Prophet Joseph Smith received on June 6, 1831, the Lord called John Murdock to Missouri to preach the gospel (see D&C 52:2–3, 8–9). John arranged for the care of his older three children and then accompanied the elders to Missouri, where he continued to preach the gospel for many months. When he returned to Ohio in June 1832, he learned that one of the twins who were adopted by Joseph and Emma had died of measles in March of that year following the violent mob incident in Hiram, Ohio, during which the Prophet had been tarred and feathered. (See Lisa Olsen Tait, “‘I Quit Other Business’: Early Missionaries,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg , 87–88, or history.lds.org.)
John Murdock spent the summer of 1832 caring for his three oldest children. In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith on August 29, 1832, John was again called to serve as a missionary. In this revelation the Lord instructed him to send his three children to Missouri to be cared for by Bishop Edward Partridge (see D&C 99:6). After making arrangements for the care of his children, John departed for the eastern area of the United States on September 24, 1832. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 272–73.)
The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 99 is not in chronological sequence with other sections in the book because an error was made in the dating of the revelation when the 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was printed. That error was corrected in the 1981 edition, but the placement of the revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants and its section number were preserved so that references to the section number in other publications would remain correct. (See Dennis A. Wright, “Historical context and overview of Doctrine and Covenants 99,” in Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, 805.)
During Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry, He called, commissioned, and sent His servants to proclaim the gospel. In doing so, He told them, “He that receiveth you receiveth me” (Matthew 10:40). The Lord repeated this promise in August 1832 when He called John Murdock to continue proclaiming the gospel (see D&C 99:2; see also D&C 84:35–38).
This principle of receiving those whom the Lord calls also applies to our sustaining of Church leaders. President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988) of the First Presidency taught: “This statement is worth emphasizing. ‘He that receiveth my servants receiveth me’ [D&C 84:36]. Who are his servants? They are his representatives in the offices of the Priesthood—the General, Stake, Priesthood Quorum, and Ward officers. It behooves us to keep this in mind when we are tempted to disregard our presiding authorities, bishops, quorum and stake presidents, etc., when, within the jurisdiction of their callings, they give us counsel and advice” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, 73).
The Lord promised John Murdock, “You shall have power to declare my word in the demonstration of my Holy Spirit” (D&C 99:2). Those called to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are to rely upon the Spirit rather than on their own abilities and talents. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “No man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 332).
President Brigham Young (1801–1877) taught the following regarding the Spirit’s convincing power:
“Anything besides that influence [of the Spirit] will fail to convince any person of the truth of the gospel of salvation. …
“… When I saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only just say, ‘I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord[,’ t]he Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminate[d] my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality [were] before me. I am encircled by it, filled with it, and know for myself that the testimony of the man is true. … My own judgment, natural endowments, and education, bowed to this simple, but mighty testimony” (“A Discourse,” Deseret News, Feb. 9, 1854, 4).
In obedience to the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 99, John Murdock sent his three older children to Bishop Edward Partridge in Missouri, who then arranged for them to live with Latter-day Saint families in Zion. John then departed on his mission to the eastern United States (see D&C 99:1). In later years he moved to Missouri and then to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he served as a bishop. After going west with the Saints to Utah, John again served as a bishop and then served as one of the first missionaries to Australia. (See Harper, “Murdock, John” in Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, 429.)
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) recounted a similar example of commitment when speaking of his father, George T. Benson:
“When I think of how we show faith, I cannot help but think of the example of my own father. I recall vividly how the spirit of missionary work came into my life. I was about thirteen years of age when my father received a call to go on a mission. …
“We gathered around the old sofa in the living room, and Father told us about his mission call. Then Mother said, ‘We’re proud to know that Father is considered worthy to go on a mission. We’re crying a bit because it means two years of separation.’ …
“And so Father went on his mission. Though at the time I did not fully comprehend the depths of my father’s commitment, I understand better now that his willing acceptance of this call was evidence of his great faith. Every holder of the priesthood, whether young or old, should strive to develop that kind of faith” (“Godly Characteristics of the Master,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 45–46).
Freeman Nickerson lived in Perrysburg, New York, and was baptized in April 1833 with his wife, Huldah. Two months later, the Nickersons’ son Moses visited them from Upper Canada and expressed interest in hearing the gospel. In September 1833, Freeman and Huldah traveled to Kirtland, Ohio, and asked the Prophet Joseph Smith to travel to New York and Upper Canada to preach the gospel to their family members. In response to their request, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon left with the Nickersons on October 5, 1833, arriving at their home in Perrysburg, New York, on October 12, 1833.
On the day they arrived in Perrysburg, the Prophet wrote in his journal, “I feel very well in my mind the Lord is with us but have much anxiety about my family” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1833, 323; see pages 321–23). And on that same day, he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 100, containing assurances from the Lord. The Prophet and Sidney Rigdon then continued their journey to Canada and preached the gospel for more than a week, baptizing 14 people, including Moses Nickerson and his brother Eleazer.
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon returned home to their families in Kirtland on November 4, 1833, after which the Prophet wrote that his family was “all well according to the promise of the Lord, for which blessings I feel to thank his holy name” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 323; punctuation standardized).
By October 1833 the Prophet Joseph Smith had left his home and family on a number of occasions to preach the gospel and conduct Church business, including taking two lengthy journeys to Jackson County, Missouri, and back. When he left for a mission to New York and Upper Canada with Sidney Rigdon on October 5, 1833, he had understandable concerns about leaving his family. He and Emma had had four young children die within the first six years of their marriage, and in October 1833, Joseph and Emma had two young children at home—Julia, who was two years old, and Joseph III, who was nearly one year old. The Prophet was also anxious for the safety of his family because opposition to the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, was increasing. (See Eric Smith, “A Mission to Canada,” in Revelations in Context, 202–3, or history.lds.org.) The Prophet’s anxiety for his family was calmed when the Lord assured him and Sidney, “Your families are well; they are in mine hands” (D&C 100:1).
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency gave the following comforting counsel and promise to those who serve the Lord:
“As we give devoted service to [the Lord], He draws closer to those we love in our families. Every time I have been called in the Lord’s service to move or to leave my family, I have come to see that the Lord was blessing my wife and my children. …
“You remember the Lord’s promise to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon when they were away from their families on His errands: ‘My friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power’ [D&C 100:1]. …
“My promise to you who pray and serve the Lord cannot be that you will have every blessing you may wish for yourself and your family. But I can promise you that the Savior will draw close to you and bless you and your family with what is best. You will have the comfort of His love and feel the answer of His drawing closer as you reach out your arms in giving service to others. As you bind up the wounds of those in need and offer the cleansing of His Atonement to those who sorrow in sin, the Lord’s power will sustain you. His arms are outstretched with yours to succor and bless the children of our Heavenly Father, including those in your family” (“Come unto Me,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 24).
Beginning in early 1833, missionaries visited western New York and baptized many converts (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, 321). During their one-month mission to upstate New York and Upper Canada, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to open “an effectual door” as they preached the gospel to many individuals (D&C 100:3). Moses Nickerson, the son of Freeman Nickerson, was baptized after hearing the gospel message from these missionaries. In 1836, Elder Parley P. Pratt returned to the same area of Upper Canada to preach the gospel. Moses Nickerson provided Elder Pratt with a letter of introduction, which Elder Pratt used to meet John Taylor, who would become the third President of the Church. (See Smith, “A Mission to Canada,” in Revelations in Context, 206, or history.lds.org.)
The Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to preach the gospel by speaking “the thoughts that [He would] put into [their] hearts” (D&C 100:5). The Lord then promised, “For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say” (D&C 100:6), echoing the promise He had made to His disciples during His mortal ministry (see Matthew 10:19–20).
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how the Lord puts thoughts into our hearts: “It is the Holy Ghost that bears witness of your words when you teach and testify. It is the Holy Ghost that, as you speak in hostile venues, puts into your heart what you should say and fulfills the Lord’s promise that ‘you shall not be confounded before men’ (D&C 100:5)” (“The Power of Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 22).
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“Trust the Lord. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice; and today the voice of the Good Shepherd is your voice and my voice. …
“You don’t have to be an outgoing person or an eloquent, persuasive teacher. If you have an abiding love and hope within you, the Lord has promised if you ‘lift up your voices unto this people [and] speak the thoughts that [He] shall put into your hearts, … you shall not be confounded before men;
In fulfillment of a prophecy recorded in the Book of Mormon, the Lord appointed Sidney Rigdon to be “a spokesman” for the Prophet Joseph Smith (see 2 Nephi 3:17–18; D&C 100:9–11). President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901) of the First Presidency said: “Those who knew Sidney Rigdon know how wonderfully God inspired him, and with what wonderful eloquence he declared the word of God to the people. He was a mighty man in the hands of God, as a spokesman, as long as the prophet lived, or up to a short time before his death” (“Discourse by Prest. George Q. Cannon,” Deseret News, Apr. 23, 1884, 210).
While Sidney was to be “a spokesman” for the Prophet, Joseph Smith was to be “a revelator” unto Sidney, and in this way Sidney Rigdon was to “know the certainty of all things pertaining to the things of [the Lord’s] kingdom on the earth” (D&C 100:11). Sadly, it was this calling as “spokesman” that Sidney Rigdon used to falsely claim the right to be “a guardian to the people,” or the person who should lead the Church, in the weeks following the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith (see History of the Church, 7:229–30).
In late August 1833 the Prophet Joseph Smith sent Orson Hyde and John Gould to Jackson County, Missouri, with letters and other documents to comfort the suffering Church members there. These two men returned to Kirtland, Ohio, on November 25, 1833, with the unfortunate news that attacks on the Saints in Jackson County had resumed. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March, 1834, 325, note 39.)
On October 12, 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith had received a promise from the Lord that Zion would be redeemed after a season of chastening (see D&C 100:13). Such chastening was the means of preparing “a pure people” who would “serve [the Lord] in righteousness” (D&C 100:16). Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “For the Church, the scriptures suggest both an accelerated sifting and accelerated spiritual and numerical growth—with all this preceding the time when the people of God will be ‘armed with righteousness’—not weapons—and when the Lord’s glory will be poured out upon them (1 Nephi 14:14; see also 1 Peter 4:17; D&C 112:25). The Lord is determined to have a tried, pure, and proven people (see D&C 101:4; 100:16; 136:31), and ‘there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it’ (Abraham 3:17)” (“For I Will Lead You Along,” Ensign, May 1988, 8).