Come Follow Me: D&C 41-44
Kirtland, Ohio. It was the first gathering place for the Saints in these last days. Joseph Smith was promised in revelation that if the Saints gathered there, they would receive the Law and an endowment of power. In this lesson, we see the fulfillment of the first.
When Joseph Smith arrived, Kirtland was the wild west. Many members did not understand revelation, the workings of the Spirit, or the rules by which to live. In the Church's new history book, Saints, we read the following:
"Some of the Saints in Kirtland took their beliefs to wild extremes, reveling in what they took to be gifts of the Spirit. Several people claimed to have visions they could not explain. Others believed the Holy Ghost made them slide or scoot across the ground. One man bounced around rooms or swung from ceiling joists whenever he thought he felt the Spirit. Another acted like a baboon." (Saints, chapter 10, Gathered In)Perhaps the biggest point in section 41, is the call of Edward Partridge as a bishop. He was the first bishop called in the Church. From this revelation would begin the evolution of the office of bishop to what it is today. He would be responsible for the tithes/consecrations given tot he church, among other things. The Lord explained why he chose Partridge for this calling:
"And this because his heart is pure before me, for he is like untoof old, in whom there is no ." (D&C 41:11)
Bishops require two things: to have a pure heart and to be without guile. These are key points for anyone wishing to deal with finances and the heavy burdens of the members of a congregation. Compassion, empathy, and understanding come from these two attributes.
D&C 42 is the Law.
Interestingly, the first thing we read in the Law is our calling to go forth and preach the gospel. We cannot escape the concept that the Church is a True and Living Church. It is true, because of continual revelation. It is living because it continually receives new life blood through conversion. Today, we would expand this preaching to both sides of the veil, with family history and temple work as part and parcel of this work of Gathering. Nonetheless, we are to share our testimonies with the world, regardless of whether they embrace the gospel or not.
For those wishing to know how to share the gospel, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a great talk on this recently in General Conference: Missionary Work, Sharing What is in Your Heart.
Next, we learn that we are to preach the principles found in scripture, but then also preach what the Holy Spirit moves us to say. Interestingly, this counsel gives us a foundation upon which to work, but then allows revelation to determine which part of the scriptures to emphasize in the moment. At times, the Spirit may also allow us to expand upon scripture with greater knowledge and insight.
Commandments, obedience, and healing the sick through the priesthood are also discussed.
Finally, the Lord notes that the center stake of Zion would soon be named:
"If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive upon revelation, upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the and things—that which bringeth , that which bringeth life eternal.
"Thou shalt ask, and it shall be revealed unto you in mine own due time where the shall be built." (vs 61-62)
Again, the Gathering is forefront in the Lord's revelations for the Saints. Tied to the Gathering is revelation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a True and Living Church, true because of continuing revelation, and living because of the Gathering, which brings spiritual immigrants into its fold continually.
As mentioned above, the Kirtland members struggled with several receiving false revelations. Church revelations come only through the living Prophet of the Church. It is only through the Prophet we receive new commandments governing the entire church. All others can receive revelation for themselves and their responsibilities, but can give these teachings to others as guidance, and not commandments.
Even today, we hear of members who claim revelations and seek to guide others to stop listening and believing the teachings of modern prophets. Denver Snuffer is one recent example of this. Sadly, many listen to such people, because they have itching ears, bored with the current teachings of the prophets, they want something exciting to dig into. They do not understand that they can receive their own personal revelation, which must be guided by scripture and the living prophet's teachings. Otherwise, it is very easy to be led astray. Don't get your revelations from other members - learn to Hear Him for yourself.
Interestingly, President Russell M. Nelson continually encourages us to seek personal revelation. It is only in gaining personal revelation that we can come to know Christ face to face, and to have the faith necessary to withstand the evils and deceptions in our own day. Personal revelation brings us to knowledge of mysteries and the peaceable things, joy and eternal life.
The Saints are called to hold a conference:
"And it shall come to pass, that inasmuch as they are faithful, and exercise faith in me, I will pour out my upon them in the day that they assemble themselves together." (vs 2)
Gathering, whether temporarily at a Conference or in bringing converts permanently unto the Lord, is again the topic. Here, the elders are to return from their missions to gather for a conference.
What is the difference between being faithful and "exercise faith?" I believe that being faithful is gauged by our actions to obey and endure to the end. Being obedient in our missions and callings, is necessary for the work to be accomplished. Meanwhile, exercising faith seems to be a mental and emotional effort. We believe and increase our faith, so that God can bring greater goodness and even miracles. In this case, the Lord specifically promises to "pour out my Spirit upon them." The Lord will "pour" or give generously, based upon our faith and obedience.
Finally, the Lord encourages us to take care of the poor. While our fast offerings help in this effort today, we should prayerfully consider whether our current offerings are sufficient. As we seek out others to share the gospel with, perhaps we should also seek out the poor, in order to bless and lift them up. The Gathering is not complete, if there are poor among us. Future lessons in the Doctrine and Covenants will teach us more about the Law of Consecration and the United Firm/Order. In this, we will learn how charity and stewardship lead us to being a people with no poor. We will become a Zion people.