Doctrine and Covenants 20

Section 20

Revelation on Church organization and government, given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at or near Fayette, New York. Portions of this revelation may have been given as early as summer 1829. The complete revelation, known at the time as the Articles and Covenants, was likely recorded soon after April 6, 1830 (the day the Church was organized). The Prophet wrote, “We obtained of Him [Jesus Christ] the following, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation; which not only gave us much information, but also pointed out to us the precise day upon which, according to His will and commandment, we should proceed to organize His Church once more here upon the earth.”

1–16, The Book of Mormon proves the divinity of the latter-day work; 17–28, The doctrines of creation, fall, atonement, and baptism are affirmed; 29–37, Laws governing repentance, justification, sanctification, and baptism are set forth; 38–67, Duties of elders, priests, teachers, and deacons are summarized; 68–74, Duties of members, blessing of children, and the mode of baptism are revealed; 75–84, Sacramental prayers and regulations governing Church membership are given.

1 The arise of the bChurch of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the ccoming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly dorganized and established agreeable to the elaws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April—

2 Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was acalled of God, and bordained an capostle of Jesus Christ, to be the dfirst eelder of this church;

3 And to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the asecond elder of this church, and ordained under his hand;

4 And this according to the agrace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory, both now and forever. Amen.

5 After it was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a aremission of his sins, he was bentangled again in the cvanities of the world;

6 But after arepenting, and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy bangel, whose ccountenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all other whiteness;

7 And gave unto him acommandments which inspired him;

8 And agave him power from on high, by the bmeans which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon;

9 Which contains a arecord of a fallen people, and the bfulness of the cgospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also;

10 Which was given by inspiration, and is confirmed to aothers by the ministering of angels, and is bdeclared unto the world by them—

11 Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are atrue, and that God does binspire men and call them to his choly work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old;

12 Thereby showing that he is the asame God yesterday, today, and bforever. Amen.

13 Therefore, having so great witnesses, by athem shall the world be judged, even as many as shall hereafter come to a knowledge of this work.

14 And those who receive it in faith, and work arighteousness, shall receive a bcrown of eternal life;

15 But those who aharden their hearts in bunbelief, and creject it, it shall turn to their own dcondemnation

16 For the Lord God has spoken it; and we, the elders of the church, have heard and bear awitness to the words of the glorious Majesty on high, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

17 By these things we aknow that there is a bGod in heaven, who is infinite and ceternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same dunchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;

18 And that he acreated man, male and female, after his own bimage and in his own likeness, created he them;

19 And gave unto them commandments that they should alove and bserve him, the only cliving and true dGod, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.

20 But by the atransgression of these holy laws man became bsensual and cdevilish, and became dfallen man.

21 Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his aOnly Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him.

22 He asuffered btemptations but gave no heed unto them.

23 He was acrucified, bdied, and crose again the third day;

24 And aascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the bFather, to creign with almighty power according to the will of the Father;

25 That as many as would abelieve and be baptized in his holy name, and bendure in faith to the end, should be saved—

26 Not only those who believed after he came in the ameridian of time, in the bflesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who cspake as they were inspired by the dgift of the Holy Ghost, who truly etestified of him in all things, should have eternal life,

27 As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the agifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which bbeareth record of the Father and of the Son;

28 Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are aone God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.

29 And we know that all men must arepent and bbelieve on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and cendure in dfaith on his name to the end, or they cannot be esaved in the kingdom of God.

30 And we know that ajustification through the bgrace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true;

31 And we know also, that asanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who blove and serve God with all their cmights, minds, and strength.

32 But there is a possibility that man may afall from bgrace and depart from the living God;

33 Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into atemptation;

34 Yea, and even let those who are asanctified take heed also.

35 And we know that these things are true and according to the revelations of John, neither aadding to, nor diminishing from the prophecy of his book, the holy scriptures, or the revelations of God which shall come hereafter by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, the bvoice of God, or the ministering of angels.

36 And the Lord God has aspoken it; and honor, power and glory be rendered to his holy bname, both now and ever. Amen.

37 And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who ahumble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and bcontrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the cname of Jesus Christ, having a ddetermination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their eworks that they have received of the fSpirit of Christ unto the gremission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

38 The aduty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ—An bapostle is an celder, and it is his calling to dbaptize;

39 And to aordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons;

40 And to administer abread and wine—the bemblems of the flesh and blood of Christ—

41 And to aconfirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of bhands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures;

42 And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church;

43 And to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost;

44 And to take the alead of all meetings.

45 The elders are to aconduct the bmeetings as they are cled by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God.

46 The apriest’s duty is to preach, bteach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament,

47 And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to apray bvocally and in secret and attend to all cfamily duties.

48 And he may also aordain other priests, teachers, and deacons.

49 And he is to take the alead of meetings when there is no elder present;

50 But when there is an elder present, he is only to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize,

51 And visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.

52 In all these duties the priest is to aassist the elder if occasion requires.

53 The ateacher’s duty is to bwatch over the cchurch always, and be with and strengthen them;

54 And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither ahardness with each other, neither lying, bbackbiting, nor cevil dspeaking;

55 And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.

56 And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest—

57 And is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the adeacons, if occasion requires.

58 But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the asacrament, or lay on bhands;

59 They are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.

60 Every aelder, bpriest, teacher, or deacon is to be cordained daccording to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be eordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him.

61 The several elders composing this church of Christ are to ameet in conference once in three months, or from time to time as said conferences shall direct or appoint;

62 And said conferences are to do whatever church business is necessary to be done at the time.

63 The elders are to receive their licenses from other elders, by avote of the church to which they belong, or from the conferences.

64 Each priest, teacher, or deacon, who is ordained by a priest, may take a certificate from him at the time, which acertificate, when presented to an elder, shall entitle him to a license, which shall authorize him to perform the duties of his calling, or he may receive it from a conference.

65 No person is to be aordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the bvote of that church;

66 But the presiding elders, traveling bishops, high councilors, high priests, and elders, may have the privilege of ordaining, where there is no branch of the church that a vote may be called.

67 Every president of the high priesthood (or presiding elder), abishop, high councilor, and bhigh priest, is to be ordained by the direction of a chigh council or general conference.

68 The aduty of the members after they are received by bbaptism—The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their cunderstanding, previous to their partaking of the dsacrament and being confirmed by the laying on of the ehands of the elders, so that all things may be done in forder.

69 And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a agodly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and bfaith agreeable to the holy scriptures—walking in choliness before the Lord.

70 Every member of the church of Christ having achildren is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their bhands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.

71 No one can be received into the church of Christ unless he has arrived unto the years of aaccountability before God, and is capable of brepentance.

72 aBaptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent—

73 The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

74 Then shall he aimmerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water.

75 It is expedient that the church ameet together often to bpartake of cbread and wine in the dremembrance of the Lord Jesus;

76 And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this amanner shall he administer it—he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying:

77 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this abread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and bwitness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his ccommandments which he has given them; that they may always have his dSpirit to be with them. Amen.

78 The amanner of administering the wine—he shall take the bcup also, and say:

79 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this awine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

80 Any member of the church of Christ atransgressing, or being bovertaken in a fault, shall be dealt with as the scriptures direct.

81 It shall be the duty of the several churches, composing the church of Christ, to send one or more of their teachers to attend the several conferences held by the elders of the church,

82 With a list of the anames of the several members uniting themselves with the church since the last conference; or send by the hand of some priest; so that a regular list of all the names of the whole church may be kept in a book by one of the elders, whomsoever the other elders shall appoint from time to time;

83 And also, if any have been aexpelled from the church, so that their names may be blotted out of the general church brecord of names.

84 All members removing from the church where they reside, if going to a church where they are not known, may take a letter acertifying that they are regular members and in good standing, which certificate may be signed by any elder or priest if the member receiving the letter is personally acquainted with the elder or priest, or it may be signed by the teachers or deacons of the church.