Come Follow Me: D&C 71-75
Simonds Ryder, a friend of Ezra Booth, was angry because his name was misspelled in a revelation given to Joseph Smith. Along with Booth, he set out to criticize and destroy the Church.
So powerful were these critics, that the Lord told Joseph and Sidney to pause the work of translating the Bible and go out and preach the gospel for a month to quell the growing tensions with non-members and members alike.
Booth had seen a miracle. He had been present when revelations were given to Joseph. Yet, these two men could not accept the idea that prophets are regular people, just like you and me, doing their best to serve the Lord.
Having served with several bishops and stake presidents over the years, I can assure you that such issues continue today. If there is a bishop or other leader out there that hasn't offended at least one person, it is a rare thing. Our leaders do their best, but are asked to be instant experts in many things: finances, psychologist, judge, counselor, speaker, youth leader, etc.
I once had a bishop who was a brick layer. Imagine the experience he had and now suddenly expected to guide hundreds of others, each with their own strengths and struggles.
Once I was with a stake president at a stake function. A long time member walked up to us, pulled out his temple recommend and told the stake president that he could no longer sustain him and handed in his temple recommend. When asked why, the man explained that he had applied to be the custodian of his chapel, but someone else received the job. The stake president asked the man to visit with him after the function was over. Then he turned to me and said, "this is a sad thing. I don't decide who will get the custodial positions, I only submit the names."
Think for a moment about the Church leader(s) who have offended you. What do you know about him/her? Is the person old or young? Educated or not? Introvert or extrovert? A people person or book smart? Experienced in counseling or just learning? Large family or small? Rich or poor? Personal struggles that can be seen or are hidden? Family issues or not? Disabilities, fears, struggles, etc?
It is amazing how much good these leaders do for the Church and us. Often we do not see the endless hours they spend dealing with the struggles of the members, while also handling the struggles int heir own lives.
Yet Ezra Booth, Simonds Ryder and others would not give Joseph Smith such consideration. They expected Joseph and Sigdon to be perfect, having been set apart by God to an important calling and task.
"Verily I say unto you, proclaim unto the world in the regions round about, and in the church also, for the space of a season, even until it shall beknown unto you.
"Verily this is a mission for a season, which I give unto you.
"Wherefore, ye in my vineyard. Call upon the inhabitants of the earth, and bear record, and prepare the way for the commandments and revelations which are to come.
"Now, behold this is wisdom; whoso readeth, let him and also;" (vs 2-5)
.We are to take an occasional "season" to preach the gospel. While full time missionaries may travel the globe, we are to serve in the regions round about our homes, and in the church itself. Why? Because many members fail in their testimonies on occasion, and we may be the tool the Lord uses to strengthen them. Note that while this revelation was specifically for Joseph and Sidney, in verse 5 we see that we are to receive this counsel also for ourselves.
"Wherefore, your ; call upon them to you both in public and in private; and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shall be made manifest.
"Wherefore, let them bring forth their against the Lord.
"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you—there is no that is formed against you shall prosper;
"And if any man lift his voice against you he shall be in mine own due time." (vs 7-10)
We are not to contend with our enemies, but to confound them. We are not to shy away from having a discussion, based on reason. Note, this is how we are to deal with enemies, not with friends church members nor investigators. We should not seek to confound those seeking truth, but to guide them to truth.
The Church recently shared a video on how to naturally share the gospel with friends. I highly recommend it:
With the first bishop of the Church, Edward Partridge, living in Independence, a new bishop was needed for Kirtland. Newell K. Whitney would be their bishop. Some duties have changed since this early period, but the duties still include dealing with consecration and as a judge.
"And verily in this thing ye have done wisely, for it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every , to render an of his , both in time and in eternity.
"For he who is faithful and in time is accounted worthy to inherit the prepared for him of my Father.
"Verily I say unto you, the elders of the church in this part of my vineyard shall render an account of their stewardship unto the , who shall be appointed of me in this part of my vineyard." (vs 3-5)
We, as stewards of personal callings, responsibilities, families, and tithing, render an account of our efforts to our bishops. This occur in tithing settlement and in interviews for baptism, callings, temple recommends, etc. This rendering of our works and efforts will follow us into the next life. The day will come when we shall each stand before the Judge of All, Jesus Christ, and part of the judgment will be given from these earlier accounts:
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (Revelation 20:12)
This is a revelation given in 1830 regarding baptism. Some viewed Paul's writings in 1 Corinthians as justifying infant baptism. However, the Lord reemphasized what is taught in the Book of Mormon.
The section discusses traditions the Jews held, which were being incorporated into early Christianity, such as circumcision. The Jews and others believed that children were born into sin, and so circumcision, and for the Christians, infant baptism would be necessary.
However, through Christ, little children are innocent before the Lord.
"But little are , being through the of Jesus Christ; and this is what the scriptures mean." (vs 7)
"Hearken, O ye who haveyour names to go forth to proclaim my gospel, and to my vineyard.
"Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be but with your might—
"Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, the according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you.
"And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many , and with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life." (vs 2-5)
For the past year, we have hunkered down due to Covid 19. Much of the world still is hunkered down, awaiting vaccination.
Yet, the call to share the gospel has not been postponed. It was adjusted to the times, as much of the work moved on-line. Here in America, we are now entering back into a period where we can now be with people face-to-face. It is time to renew our goals and energies towards sharing the gospel with our neighbors. We can no longer tarry, nor be idle. It is time to renew the work, while there is time to do it.
We do not know whether next year will bring another pandemic or war, which could again stop much of the missionary work in the world. It is time for members everywhere, as possible, to again share the gospel.
For those vaccinated, share it in person. For those awaiting safer days in their nations, share it on-line, over the phone and social media. If you do Facebook, Instagram, or any of a dozen other social media sites, how much of your interactions include sharing the gospel?
Are we doing only once a week in sharing the gospel, while spending hours on social media sharing other things? Why? Let's set a goal to increase our missionary efforts. I encourage each of us to share something inspiring at least once per day: preferably in person, but also on social media.
In the United States, Europe and other areas, Christianity is slowly dying. While people call themselves "spiritual," they are not connected to things of the Spirit. They are not connected to Jesus Christ and His atonement. Do your friends, coworkers and others in your life know you to be a dedicated Christian? Or do they wonder where you stand spiritually?
Many people seek the gospel and Jesus, but do not know where to look. They haven't found it yet. Are we part of their solution? Or are they still looking because we haven't been the light they needed?
Again, I encourage you to watch the Church's broadcast on how to naturally share the gospel. It is our reentry into this important work of the Lord, prior to the Second Coming.