Monday, October 11, 2021

Come Follow Me: D&C 115-120

 Come Follow Me: D&C 115-120

D&C 115

During the early years of the Church, it held various names, including: the Church of Christ, and the Church of the Latter-day Saints. Mostly, it was known as the Mormon or Mormonite Church. In this section, it would be officially given its full name by the Lord: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, this name is significant. For years, he's noted that in the Book of Mormon, the Lord insisted to the Nephites that to be the Lord's Church is must be called after His name (3 Nephi 27):

And Jesus again showed himself unto them, for they were praying unto the Father in his name; and Jesus came and stood in the midst of them, and said unto them: What will ye that I shall give unto you?

And they said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter.

And the Lord said unto them: Verily, verily, I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?

Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;

And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.

Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.

And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. (3 Nephi 27:2-8)

This command has been repeated several times in the last few years, including in the penultimate talk in the October 2021 General Conference by Elder Neil L. Anderson, The Name of the Church is Not Negotiable.

 It has been difficult for the members of the Church and the world to reclaim its proper title after more than a century of being called Mormons. It has taken time to figure out the best way to use the Church's name and what we call ourselves:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint-ers?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint-ites?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint-ists?

It follows that we settled upon "members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." We can also call ourselves "saints" or "Latter-day Saints" when referring to members, after first use of the full name of the Church. This also applies to shortened versions of the Church, after first using the full name: "The Church of Jesus Christ", "the Restored Church of Jesus Christ", etc.

This title is so important that the Lord revealed it to Joseph Smith during a very critical period in Church history. Far West, Missouri is a beautiful place. It is one of my favorite places on earth. I live about 6 hours from it, and to visit it means time for peaceful and quiet reflection. However, in Joseph's day, it was a very dangerous place for the Saints. 

Many have apostatized from the Church, including Thomas Marsh (president of the Quorum of Twelve), Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer. Over the next 6 months, more will leave the Church, including W. W. Phelps, who will be involved in deceiving Joseph Smith in his arrest to the Missouri militia. The Church was driven out of Jackson County a few years earlier, and now was hoping to establish itself in Clay County, which was established by the state specifically for the members of the Church. Sadly, it wouldn't last long.

Besides establishing the name of the Church, this revelation also established that Far West was still part of the "land of Zion."

"Let the city, Far West, be a holy and consecrated land unto me; and it shall be called most holy, for the ground upon which thou standest is holy." (vs 7)
The Land of Zion is anywhere that a stake of Zion is established in righteousness. Later, Joseph Smith would note that

 all of North and South America would be the land of Zion.

The Lord also commanded a temple be built in Far West. They did not have the opportunity to build it, but the cornerstones were laid and are still at this peaceful site today.

D&C 116

This revelation designates Spring Hill, north of Far West, as the original location for Adam-Ondi-Ahman. It was at this place where Adam met with his descendants prior to his death and blessed them (D&C 107). 

A temple was also planned for the city of Adam-Ondi-Ahman, but like the Far West Temple, was not built, due to the persecution that soon would come upon the saints.

It is at Adam-Ondi-Ahman that another giant conference will be held, including prophets and saints of previous times. According to tradition, all the keys will be returned to Adam, who will then give them again to Jesus Christ. It will be at this time that the Millennium will open and all things will prepare for Christ's return  in glory at his official Second Coming to the world.

D&C 117

In this revelation, the Lord commands William Marks, Newell K. Whitney and Oliver Granger to sell everything in Kirtland and move to Missouri. Their leadership was needed in Far West and the surrounding area, and the Kirtland era was over, as apostates had driven the Prophet Joseph out of the city months before.

While the time in Far West and the region would be short-lived for the saints, the call to Zion and to give all regardless of the outcome is necessary for salvation. In this recent General Conference, Elder Holland noted regarding salvation:

Although Isaiah reassures us it is available “without money and without price”—and it is—we must be prepared, using T. S. Eliot’s line, to have it cost “not less than everything.” (Jeffrey Holland, The Greatest Possession, Oct 2021 General Conference)
Building and establishing Zion requires everything from us. Sometimes the Lord may ask us to bathe seven times in the River Jordan to become clean, and sometimes to sell everything. One example is found in the second volume of history called Saints. Addison Pratt was sent on a mission to the islands of the Pacific when Joseph Smith was still alive in Nauvoo. Five years later, he met up with his family in Salt Lake, reuniting with a wife and daughters who barely knew him. A year later, he would be sent again to Tahiti on another mission.

Are we prepared to "move to Zion?" Are we prepared to build Zion where we live?

D&C 118

Apostles are called to replace those who have left the Church. Thomas Marsh was still the president of the Twelve, but would also leave the Church, and David Patten die in October. The Twelve are called to leave for a mission in England the following April from the Far West temple site. Brigham Young, who will be the president of the Twelve, will ensure those leaving for the mission will secretly lay the cornerstone for the Far West temple on their way to England.

D&C 119

Prior to this revelation, the term "tithing" meant any free-will offering given to the Church. In this revelation, it is established as one-tenth of one's increase. While it increases our understanding on what a tithe is, it does not establish whether tithes are paid on all our moneys, or if an "increase" means after taxes. This decision has been left up to the individual saint to prayerfully decide with the Lord's guidance.

The Law of Tithing is a terrestrial law. So important is it that without this minimum law (under the law of consecration) the stakes of Zion cannot be established.

"And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you." (vs 6)
D&C 120

This establishes that all tithes given by the saints would be distributed or used by a counsel consisting of the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric and the Twelve.

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