DC 63 Historical Background
For the Prophet to leave the members in Kirtland and travel to Missouri meant that he would be away from June 19 to August 27, 1831. There was always a danger that Satan would work his mayhem in the Prophet's absence. The Lord had instructed the Prophet while on his way home that it was time for him, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery to turn their attentions from missionary work to strengthening the members, "for their labors even now are wanted more abundantly among [the brethren] than among the congregations of the wicked." (D&C 61:32) Fortunately, the Prophet returned to find things in a much better condition than when he had first come to Kirtland from New York (see historical background for sections 42, 43, and 50).
At this time the focus of the membership was on the building of Zion. While the Brethren had been in Missouri, the Lord revealed unto them that the New Jerusalem would be built up in Jackson County (D&C 57:1-3). This news didn't make it back to the Kirtland saints until some of the missionaries returned from their travels.
Joseph Fielding Smith
When the report spread among the members of the Church that the Lord had revealed definitely where the city New Jerusalem was to be built, naturally there was rejoicing and many expressed the desire to know what they were to do in order to obtain inheritances. The Lord has given instruction repeatedly that all who go to Zion shall obey His law-the celestial law on which Zion was to be built. Those who were weak in the faith, or indifferent to the commandments, were warned that they would not be made welcome in that land unless they repented. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:229.)
DC 63:3 Who willeth to take even them whom he will take
If God has given us life, does he not have the power and the right to take it again? Yet when many see death and destruction on a large scale, they conclude that if there were a God, he would never allow such a thing. From the perspective of mortality, death is such a terrible thing-malicious, untimely, ruthless, and incomprehensible. From the Lord's perspective, death is a necessary doorway to eternity. As latter-day saints, we should strive for an understanding of this great principle.
"I have myself gone into the homes where death has come, and I have seen broken-hearted-may I say that-at least sorrowful fathers and mothers, weeping over the bier of their children, but they have looked up through their tears and said: 'I thank God, for I know my child still lives, and though God has taken him or her, from me, they still live, and the Lord liveth and the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and blessed be the name of the Lord.' Where else can you find such satisfaction? Where else can you find such true happiness? Where else can you go to find the soul-satisfaction that you can find in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? (Don B. Colton, Conference Report, October 1914, Second Overflow Meeting. 56.)
Death seldom comes at a time we deem opportune; and if we, in our blindness, were permitted to judge, we should certainly decide that the present, with its trials, its perplexities, and its sorrows, is no time to take from our midst men of counsel, of wisdom, of faith, and of judgment, such as was our beloved brother, Elder Erastus Snow, whose obsequies we this day solemnize. But He who doeth all things well has been pleased to take to Himself His servant, and we can simply bow the head and acknowledge His hand in all things, and with one of old exclaim: "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21) (Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 1, Funeral of Erastus Snow, May 30, 1888)
DC 63:7 he that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation
Spencer W. Kimball
Certainly we should not be interested in signs. Signs are available and anyone, I believe, can have signs who wants them. I believe if one wants revelations enough to crave them beyond the rightness of it, that eventually he will get his revelations-but they may not come from God. I am sure that there can be many spectacular things performed, because the devil is very responsive. He is listening and he is eager to do it. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 458.)
Matthias F. Cowley
I remember hearing president Snow say on more than one occasion how determined Lyman E. Johnson was to see an angel from the Lord. He plead with and teased the Lord to send an angel to him, until he saw an angel; but President Snow said that the trouble with him was that he saw an angel one day and saw the devil the next day, and finally the devil got away with him. (Conference Report, October 1901, Afternoon Session 18.)
WHILE traveling and preaching in the state of Mississippi, in 1841 or 1842, I was invited to remain all night with a Mr. John Knight, who was prostrate with the palsy and had been in that condition for several weeks. This man was an infidel although his family belonged to the Methodist church. Being called upon to pray, before going to bed, I remembered the afflicted head of the family. When the prayer was ended he said, that as I was praying for him, a warming influence such as he had never felt before, extended down his palsied side. After I had tarried over a few nights with him, he desired to receive the ordinance of the laying on of hands. I called in two other Elders, and we explained to him that should he be healed and then refuse to obey the gospel he would incur a great responsibility. He finally agreed that if he ever was so far relieved as to be able to get to the water he would be baptized. At this time he had lain upon what is termed a cricket, or tribet, for about six or eight weeks. His left side and limbs were powerless. When he desired to be turned over it was done by pulling a blanket, kept under him for that purpose. There lived in that vicinity a Methodist preacher by the name of Bridges. Like many of his class, he persecuted the Saints, never forgetting to demand a sign. In his public discourses he would say, "Let the Mormons heal old man Knight and we will all believe on them." But we did not propose to tempt the Lord by asking a sign to gratify the curiosity of a wicked man. We, however, anointed the palsied side, according to Mr. Knight's request, and laid our hands upon him, and when the palsy was rebuked he straightened the afflicted arm while our hands were yet upon him.
I now had to go out in my district and fill appointments which I had made; but when I returned at the end of two weeks, I learned that Mr. Knight had walked nearly half a mile and had been baptized. A goodly number of others had also been baptized... All apostatized shortly afterwards excepting Elder Gully and a few others who had believed and were anxious to get baptized before this remarkable case of healing occurred, thus proving the truth of the revelation which says, "Those who seek signs shall have signs, but not unto salvation." Even the man who received this manifestation of God's power went back to the beggarly elements of the world, although he still bore testimony to the fact that he was healed, but said he "did not know whether Joseph Smith was a true prophet or an imposter." (Scraps of Biography: Faith-Promoting Series, no. 10 [Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1883], 36.)
DC 63:8 there are those among you who seek signs
The first twenty verses of this section show the Lord's displeasure with the hypocrites among the saints. The Prophet kindly reported that the motivation for inquiring of the Lord was the "great anxiety to obtain the word of the Lord upon every subject." However, the Lord reveals that some of the saints were really seeking signs rather than divine direction, "there are those among you who seek signs," and "I, the Lord, an not pleased with those among you who have sought after signs and wonders for faith" (v. 12). Apparently, some inquired of the Prophet with less than pure motives.
DC 63:9 faith cometh not by signs
Heber J. Grant
I have met many young men who have said to me, "I do not know that the Gospel is true. I believe it, but I do not know it."...Some of them have said: "Oh, if I could only see an angel; if I could only hear speaking in tongues; if I could only see some great manifestation, then I would believe." I wish to say to all within the sound of my voice that the seeing of angels and great manifestations do not make great men in the Church and kingdom of God. Think of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. What is their testimony? It is that an angel showed them the plates, and that they knew they had been translated by the gift and power of God. How did they claim to know this? Because "His voice hath declared it unto us."...Yet these men fell by the wayside, though they remained true and steadfast to their testimony to the Book of Mormon. (Conference Report, April 1900, Afternoon Session 22 - 23.)
Neal A. Maxwell
First of all, the people of the world cannot presume to command God to provide them with signs... Some behave, however, as if they would set forth the conditions under which they will believe-complete with specifications; they then invite God to "bid" on their specifications! (Sermons Not Spoken [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985], 58.)
If the purpose of miracles is to convert, then Jesus wasted his miracles all on believers...To impress people with miracles is one thing; to give them a testimony of the gospel another. As the experience of the Apostles showed, if people will not accept the gospel by the word without miracles, they will not accept it with miracles: 'If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead' (Luke 16:31). (The World and the Prophets, p. 140-1)
Dallin H. Oaks
In our day, God does not use miracles or signs as a way of teaching or convincing the unbeliever. As a result, we should not ask for signs for this purpose, and we should be deeply suspicious of the so-called spiritual evidences of those who do. (The Lord's Way [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 86.)
DC 63:10 signs come by faith, not by the will of men
George Q. Cannon
"If you have power to heal the sick," exclaims the skeptic, "why don't you exercise it before the world and make everybody believe you?" Gently, wise scoffer. Faith does not come by seeing signs, but signs come by faith. The healings are not the cause but the effects of faith. They are not given to make people believe, but they follow them that do believe. In his own region of country Jesus did no mighty work, "and he marveled because of their unbelief." If signs were to create faith, that was the very spot where they were most needed. (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 421.)
Spencer W. Kimball
In faith we plant the seed, and soon we see the miracle of the blossoming. Men have often misunderstood and have reversed the process. They would have the harvest before the planting, the reward before the service, the miracle before the faith. Even the most demanding labor unions would hardly ask the wages before the labor. But many of us would have the vigor without the observance of the health laws, prosperity through the opened windows of heaven without the payment of our tithes. We would have the close communion with our Father without fasting and praying; we would have rain in due season and peace in the land without observing the Sabbath and keeping the other commandments of the Lord. We would pluck the rose before planting the roots; we would harvest the grain before sowing and cultivating.
... In each of our lives faith can heal the sick, bring comfort to those who mourn, strengthen resolve against temptation, relieve from the bondage of harmful habits, lend the strength to repent and change our lives, and lead to a sure knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Indomitable faith can help us live the commandments with a willing heart and thereby bring blessings unnumbered, with peace, perfection, and exaltation in the kingdom of God. (Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 4, 12.)
DC 63:11 without faith no man pleaseth God
The Father always introduces the Jesus as his "beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt 3:17) How can man please God? Not by faithless obedience, not by rote religious ritual, not by regular church attendance, but by faith. We can't please the Lord with perfect obedience because we are incapable of perfect obedience, but faith is not so exacting. It unleashes the power of the atonement which can overcome our shortcomings. As God's grace satisfies the demands of justice, the Father is pleased at the prospect of our returning to live with him. Besides, all spiritual blessings and power start with faith. It is the very first steppingstone on the straight and narrow path, and no one is allowed to skip over it.
Why is it impossible to please God without faith? The answer would be-Because without faith it is impossible for men to be saved; and as God desires the salvation of men, he must, of course, desire that they should have faith; and he could not be pleased unless they had, or else he could be pleased with their destruction. (Lectures on Faith, 7:7)
Neal A. Maxwell
We are told straightforwardly that we cannot please God 'without faith' (see Hebrews 11:6). This is not an arbitrary requirement. Since 'without faith' we cannot go home to Him, how could a loving Father be pleased with faithless children? He wants us to come home! (Lord, Increase Our Faith [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 4.)
DC 63:14 There were among you adulterers and adulteresses
The principle is as correct as the one that Jesus put forth in saying that he who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person; and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157)
When I was preaching in Philadelphia, a Quaker called out for a sign. I told him to be still. After the sermon, he again asked for a sign. I told the congregation the man was an adulterer; that a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and that the Lord had said to me in a revelation, that any man who wanted a sign was an adulterous person. "It is true," cried one, "for I caught him in the very act," which the man afterwards confessed when he was baptized. (Feb. 9, 1843.) (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 278.)
Neal A. Maxwell
Sign seekers, like adulterers, often do have a clear preference for repeated sensation. Those who do not understand why adultery is intrinsically wrong will also fail to understand why faith is a justified requirement laid upon us by God. (Sermons Not Spoken [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985], 58.)
DC 63:16 he that looketh on a woman to lust after her...shall deny the faith
See also commentary for D&C 42:23.
George Q. Cannon
Early in the history of the Church the Prophet Joseph received revelations to this effect, that he who looked upon a woman to lust after her should deny the faith, and unless he repented, he should be cast out. What an amount of purity is embodied in this statement of the Lord to us in this revelation!
A man must not only refrain from doing that which is wrong with the opposite sex; he must not only refrain from carrying his lust into the actual commission of crime, but he must be so pure in heart that he shall not look upon the other sex with a lustful eye and a lustful desire. If he does so, we are told by the Almighty that he shall deny the faith. . . . The frequent apostasies from this Church, the many who have left the Church, denied the faith, lost the Spirit of God, the most of them, no doubt, are traceable to the commission of this sin. It is, as I have said, the crying sin of the age. (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 431.)
George Q. Cannon
If you look upon woman to lust after her, you will deny the faith, unless you repent, and that sorely. You cannot indulge in this dreadful sin without grieving the Spirit of God and causing its withdrawal from you. And if we cannot look upon a woman to lust after her without grieving the Spirit of God and being in danger of losing the faith, how much more serious would it be if any of us should act towards one of the other sex in an improper manner. I say to you, in the name of the Lord, there is no more fruitful cause of apostasy than this, and you had better be warned; for God has spoken with the greatest plainness on this. The thought of doing anything that would cause me to apostatize from this Church is the most horrible that ever entered into my heart. It has filled me with a dread that my language is unable to express; and if I thought there was anything that I would do which would lead to such a dreadful result as that, I would fly from it with all my might. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 3, June 20, 1892)
Howard W. Hunter
Be faithful in your marriage covenants in thought, word, and deed. Pornography, flirtations, and unwholesome fantasies erode one's character and strike at the foundation of a happy marriage. Unity and trust within a marriage are thereby destroyed. One who does not control his thoughts and thus commits adultery in his heart, if he does not repent, shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear (see D&C 42:23; D&C 63:16). ("Being a Righteous Husband and Father," Ensign, Nov. 1994, 50)
DC 63:18 they shall not have part in the first resurrection
The liars, whoremongers, and sorcerers will spend the Millennium in spirit prison, also referred to as hell or "the second death." At the end of the Millennium they will be resurrected to a telestial glory (D&C 88:100-101). They will not have part in the first resurrection or the resurrection of the just, which includes the resurrection of celestial beings, "the first fruits," and terrestrial beings, who are "Christ's at his coming." (D&C 88:98-99)
DC 63:21 the earth shall be transfigured
"Many of our questions about the Mount of Transfiguration might be answered if we had a complete record. Doctrine and Covenants 7 is part of John's. record, 'translated from parchment, written and hid up by himself.' (History of the Church, 1:35-36.) What else John has to say in his record about his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration is unavailable to us, for the record is 'hid up.' Elder Joseph Fielding Smith shared his belief that Peter, James, and John 'received their endowments on the mount' (see Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-56, 2:165) and Elder Bruce R. McConkie has suggested that 'while on the Mount. ... they received the more sure word of prophecy.' (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-73, 1:400.) Indeed, there must have been much happen of which we are ignorant.
"This, in fact, is affirmed by the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 63:21: "When the earth shall be transfigured, even according to the pattern which was shown unto mine apostles upon the mount; of which account the fulness ye have not yet received." This verse not only affirms but demonstrates that our New Testament record of the experiences on the Mount of Transfiguration is incomplete-by revealing that the Apostles there saw the future transfiguration of the earth.
"When we are privileged to receive the full account, we may find that several other personages, in addition to those thus far mentioned, were present, and that much more was said and done than we currently know about. In the meantime, we can be anxiously engaged in stretching our minds toward understanding and our souls in worthy application of that which we have already received." (Larry E. Dahl, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Apr. 1983, 22)
DC 63:23 the mysteries of my kingdom...shall be in him a well of living water
Joseph B. Wirthlin
These latter days are a time of great spiritual thirst. Many in the world are searching, often intensely, for a source of refreshment that will quench their yearning for meaning and direction in their lives. They crave a cool, satisfying drink of insight and knowledge that will soothe their parched souls. Their spirits cry out for life-sustaining experiences of peace and calm to nourish and enliven their withering hearts.
Indeed, "there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." (DC 123:12) Let us work with all our heart, might, mind, and strength to show our thirsty brothers and sisters where they may find the living water of the gospel, that they may come to drink of the water that springs "up unto everlasting life."
The Lord provides the living water that can quench the burning thirst of those whose lives are parched by a drought of truth. He expects us to supply to them the fulness of the gospel by giving them the scriptures and the words of the prophets and to bear personal testimony as to the truth of the restored gospel to alleviate their thirst. When they drink from the cup of gospel knowledge, their thirst is satisfied as they come to understand our Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness. ("Living Water to Quench Spiritual Thirst," Ensign, May 1995, 19)
DC 63:25 the land of Zion-I the Lord, hold it in mine own hands
"Zion was not and is not today a man-made enterprise. It is more, far more that a city that focuses on social problems and solutions in fallen man's social programs. 'Other attempts to promote universal peace and happiness in the human family have proved abortive,' the Seer stated; 'every effort has failed; every plan and design has fallen to the ground; it needs the wisdom of God, the intelligence of God, and the power of God to accomplish this. The world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand Himself.' The Prophet also added: 'In regard to the building up of Zion, it has to be done by the counsel of Jehovah, by the revelations of heaven.' (Teachings, pp. 252, 254.)" (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Joseph Smith: The Choice Seer [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 22)
DC 63:28 Satan putteth it into their hearts to anger against you
Bruce R. McConkie
Satan would slay all of the saints if he could; he managed, rather quickly, to do away with all of them in the meridian of time and he would do the same again in this dispensation if he could. What a pretext he would have for persecution and slaughter if the saints gained the lands that are to be theirs by any means except those set forth in the laws of the land! (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 598.)
DC 63:29 the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood
We learn from these verses (Sec. 63:25-31) that the Lord determined that the Latter-day Saints could secure the land of Zion only by two ways: One by purchase, the other by the shedding of blood... That which I have read from the 63rd Section has been literally fulfilled. The Lord provided a way whereby they could secure the means to purchase that country, namely by the law of consecration. There was no one man in the Church that could have bought it. The people as a general thing were poor. There were no rich men that received the Gospel in those early days. But by combination and union they could have secured the means to carry out the purposes of the Almighty in regard to the purchase of that country. They failed because of their love for money. In a revelation after this we are told that they failed to give their means as they were commanded. The Lord sent Elders throughout the States, where there were Latter-day Saints to collect means for this purpose, and the people in Jackson County were required to observe the law of consecration. (Sec. 105:28-29.) But they failed to do it, and therefore the lands were not secured. The Lord could have sustained the people against the encroachments of their enemies had they placed themselves in a condition where he would have been justified in doing so. But inasmuch as they would not comply with His requirements, the Lord could not sustain them against their enemies. So it will be with us, or with any people whom the Lord calls to comply with His requirements and whom He proposes to confer the highest blessings upon, as He has in reference to us, and as He did in reference to the people in Jackson County. (CR, October 1899, pp. 23-24.) (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 2: 303 - 304.)
DC 63:31 your enemies are upon you, and ye shall be scourged from city to city
B. H. Roberts
The language in the above passage has been the subject of much controversy. Some, and among these were the old settlers of Jackson county, Missouri, pretended to see in it a threat to take possession of western Missouri by conquest, by the "shedding of blood." Surely nothing can be further removed from the intent of the passage when justly construed... "Wherefore the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood." If obtained "by purchase" the saints may be accounted blessed. If "by blood"-since they were "forbidden to shed blood"-lo, their enemies will be upon them, and they shall be "scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive an inheritance." And so the event turned out. The saints failed to respond with becoming promptness to the commandment to purchase the land of Zion; and all that was predicted in the revelation befell them. The passage then was a warning to the saints, not a threat directed at the old settlers of Jackson county; and if blood was to be shed, clearly it was to be the blood of the saints rather than that of their enemies. (A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 1: 264.)
B. H. Roberts
All this makes it very clear that while great things were promised concerning the establishment of Zion and the glory that is to be hers, yet all was predicated upon the faithfulness of the Saints in keeping the commandments of the Lord-in purchasing the lands that constituted the center place of Zion, and living upon them in all righteousness.
This they failed to do. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 3: xxxvi.)
DC 63:32 I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth
Joseph Fielding Smith
Peace has been taken from the earth. The devil has power over his own dominion. The Spirit of the Lord has been withdrawn. Not because the Lord desires to withdraw that Spirit, but because of the wickedness of mankind, it becomes necessary that the Spirit of the Lord be withdrawn. (Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 92.)
DC 63:33 the wicked shall slay the wicked
Now, I give you my views regarding these things. I speak the sentiments of my own heart and what I believe. The judgments of our God will be poured forth, but the elders of Israel will not be called upon to slay the wicked. The wicked will slay the wicked... All things will be fulfilled. The judgments of Almighty God will be poured out upon the wicked. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 21: 195.)
Jedediah M. Grant
Three days before the Prophet Joseph started for Carthage, I well remember his telling us we should see the fulfilment of the words of Jesus upon the earth, where he says the father shall be against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law; and when a man's enemies shall be those of his own household.
The Prophet stood in his own house when he told several of us of the night the visions of heaven were opened to him, in which he saw the American continent drenched in blood, and he saw nation rising against nation. He also saw the father shed the blood of the son, and the son the blood of the father; the mother put to death the daughter, and the daughter the mother; and natural affection forsook the hearts of the wicked; for he saw that the Spirit of God should be withdrawn from the inhabitants of the earth, in consequence of which there should be blood upon the face of the whole earth, except among the people of the Most High. The Prophet gazed upon the scene his vision presented, until his heart sickened and he besought the Lord to close it up again. (Take Heed to Yourselves [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966], 65.)
DC 63:33 fear shall come upon every man
John A. Widstoe
Fear, which "shall come upon every man," is the natural consequence of a sense of weakness, also of sin. Fear is a chief weapon of Satan in making mankind unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life, for the fight against evil. Therefore, the power of evil ever seeks to engender fear in human hearts. In this day of sorrow, fear walks with humanity. It directs, measurably, the course of every battle. It remains as a gnawing poison in the hearts of victors as of the vanquished.
As leaders in Israel, we must seek to dispel fear from among our people. A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well. The Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned world-mission so great that they cannot afford to dissipate their strength in fear. The Lord has repeatedly warned His people against fear. Many a blessing is withheld because of our fears. He has expressly declared that men cannot stop his work on earth, therefore, they who are engaged in the Lord's latter-day cause and who fear, really trust man more than God, and thereby are robbed of their power to serve.
The key to the conquest of fear has been given through the Prophet Joseph Smith. "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D. & C. 38:30) That divine message needs repeating today in every stake and ward. (Conference Report, April 1942, Afternoon Meeting 33.)
DC 63:34 the saints also shall hardly escape
I explained concerning the coming of the Son of Man; also that it is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and "the righteous shall hardly escape;" still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith; yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God. So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to death; and the Savior has said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 162.)
Bruce R. McConkie
We do not say that all of the Saints will be spared and saved from the coming day of desolation. But we do say there is no promise of safety and no promise of security except for those who love the Lord and who are seeking to do all that he commands. (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Behold, I Come Quickly: The Last Days and Beyond [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 91.)
Marion G. Romney
I am persuaded that a complete surrender to the principles of righteousness would lift God's people out of the turmoil of this present world. Such has been the record in the past, as witness the experiences of Enoch and his people and the record of the Nephites following their visit from the risen Redeemer. (Look to God and Live [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1971], 213.)
DC 63:37 every man should...lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth
Spencer W. Kimball
The Lord says: "And that every man [Did you catch the words, every man?] should take righteousness in his hands and faithfulness upon his loins, and lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by flight that desolation shall come upon the wicked." (D&C 63:37.)
May we emphasize again that our main purpose is the same as that of our Heavenly Father-to bring to each soul the gospel which can open the doors to eternal life for that individual. Our objective is not for power or domain; it is totally spiritual. And to every nation and people which opens its borders to the gospel will come unbelievable blessings.
If we do all we can, and I accept my own part of that responsibility, I am sure the Lord will bring more discoveries to our use. He will bring a change of heart to kings and magistrates and emperors, or he will divert rivers or open seas or find ways to touch hearts. He will open the gates and make possible the proselyting. Of that, I have great faith. ("When the World Will Be Converted," Ensign, Apr. 1984, 5)
DC 63:38 let my disciples in Kirtland arrange their temporal concerns, who dwell upon this farm
See historical background for D&C 56.
DC 63:39 let my servant Titus Billings...take his journey up unto the land of Zion
"According to family tradition, stonemason Titus Billings was the second person baptized in Kirtland, Ohio, and among the first appointed by revelation to move to Jackson County, Missouri. In August 1831 the Lord said to Joseph Smith, as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, 'Let my servant Titus Billings ... dispose of the land, that he may be prepared in the coming spring to take his journey up unto the land of Zion, with those that dwell upon the face thereof' (D&C 63:39). In obedience Titus sold his acreage and led a small company of Saints from Kirtland to Jackson in the spring of 1832.
"Upon arrival he consecrated his property to the Church:
Be it known, that I, Titus Billings of Jackson county, ... do, of my own free will and accord, having first paid my just debts, grant and hereby give unto Edward Partridge of Jackson county, and the state of Missouri, Bishop of said Church, the following described property, viz.:-sundry articles of furniture valued fifty-five dollars twenty-seven cents; also two beds, bedding and extra clothing valued seventy-three dollars twenty-five cents; also farming utensils valued forty-one dollars; also one horse, two wagons, two cows and two calves, valued one hundred forty-seven dollars.
For the purpose of purchasing lands in Jackson county, Mo., and building up the New Jerusalem, even Zion, and for relieving the wants of the poor and needy.
"In exchange for his consecration, Titus was given a lease and a loan known as his inheritance:
Be it known, that I, Edward Partridge, ... do lease unto Titus Billings, of Jackson county, ... the following described piece of parcel of land, being a part of section No. Three, township No. forty-nine.... And also have loaned the following described property, viz:-Sundry articles of furniture, valued fifty-five dollars twenty-five cents; also two beds, bedding and clothing, valued seventy-three dollars twenty-seven cents ... also one horse, two cows, two calves, and two wagons...." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 24.)
DC 63:46 visit the churches...with my servant Oliver Cowdery
And Oliver Cowdery and Newel K. Whitney were commanded to go and visit the Churches speedily-as you will see by reading the revelation given August thirty at Kirtland-The following is a copy of the epistle written by [Sidney] Rigdon's own hand:
"I, Sidney, a servant of Jesus Christ by the will of God the Father and through the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ unto the Saints who are scattered abroad in the last days, may grace, mercy and peace, rest upon you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ... In order that you may understand the will of God respecting [Zion] and the way and means of possessing it, I can only refer you to commandments which the Lord has delivered by the mouth of his prophets which will be read, to you, by our brethren Oliver Cowdery and Newel K. Whitney whom the Lord has appointed, to visit the Churches and obtain means for purchasing this our inheritance that we may escape in the day of tribulation which is coming on the earth..." (Written at Kirtland, Ohio August 31, 1831.)
Immediately after the commandment was given and the epistle written, Oliver Cowdery and N. [Newel] K. Whitney went from place to place and from Church to Church preaching and expounding the scriptures and commandments, and obtaining moneys of the disciples for the purpose of buying lands for the Saints according to commandments; and the disciples truly opened their hearts, and thus there have been lands purchased for the inheritance of the Saints. (Book of John Whitmer, BYU Archives and Manuscripts, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints 14.)
DC 63:50 blessed are the dead that die in the Lord
Heber C. Kimball
Death is merely a sleep to the body, and all the fear I have concerning it... arises from my traditions. I was taught in my youth that after death I had to go directly into the bowels of hell, and go down, down, down, because there is no bottom to it. I am not troubled about any such thing as that, for I never expect to see any worse hell than I have seen in this world. And those who do not the works of righteousness, and are not worthy to be gathered with the spirits of the Saints, [who] will go into precisely such society in the world of spirits, as they are now in. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 3: 161.)
Spencer W. Kimball
If we say that early death is a calamity, disaster, or tragedy, would it not be saying that mortality is preferable to earlier entrance into the spirit world and to eventual salvation and exaltation? If mortality be the perfect state, then death would be a frustration, but the gospel teaches us there is no tragedy in death, but only in sin. ". . . blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. . . ." (D&C 63:49.)
We know so little. Our judgment is so limited. We judge the Lord's ways from our own narrow view. (Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 101.)
Russell M. Nelson
Death is part of life. It is an essential element of God's plan of progression and happiness for his beloved sons and daughters. Death is the gateway to immortality and eternal life. (The Gateway We Call Death [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 21.)
Blessed are those who have received the Priesthood of the Son of God, and have honored it in their lives. Those who have honored their calling and Priesthood to the end die in the Lord, and their works do follow them. Our brother (speaking at the funeral of a brother Daniel Spencer) has lived faithful during his life, and has gone to his rest. We do not mourn as others do. We can truly say that we have a hope-a knowledge. The way of life and salvation has been revealed to us, giving us knowledge of the present and future. We rejoice. Shall we rejoice that we have the opportunity of paying the last respects due to this lifeless clay, which a few days ago was alive and active, full of spirit, attending the High Council, giving decisions full of knowledge? Yes, we will rejoice. It is a matter of rejoicing more than the day of his birth. It is true it is grievous to part with our friends. We are creatures of passion, of sympathy, of love, and it is painful for us to part with our friends. We would keep them in the mortal house, though they should suffer pain. Are we not selfish in this? Should we not rather rejoice at the departure of those whose lives have been devoted to doing good, to a good old age? (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 13: 75 - 76.)
DC 63:51-52 he that liveth when the Lord shall come...is appointed...to die at the age of man
A common notion among members of the church is that the righteous will be celestialized in the twinkling of an eye when the Savior comes. The scriptures teach us something quite different. This passage states that he that is alive when Jesus comes will still be appointed to die at the "age of man." When the Lord comes, the righteous will be called up to meet him in the air, but they will not change from mortal to immortal until they reach the age of 100 according to Isaiah, "for the child shall die an hundred years old" (Isa. 65:20); "an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree" (D&C 101:30).
What would happen to a faithful 30 year old man at the Second Coming? He would continue with a mortal body yet be required to live a celestial law, for "Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom" (D&C 105:5). He and his wife could still have mortal children, but they would be brought up "without sin unto salvation" (D&C 45:58). As Isaiah put it, "all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children" (Isa. 54:13). Upon reaching the "age of man", the Millenial saints will die and be resurrected to a celestial glory-as it were in an instant-or in the twinkling of an eye.
Bruce R. McConkie
Physical bodies of those living on earth during the millennium will not be subject to the same ills that attend us in our present sphere of existence. Men in that day will still be mortal; children will be born to them; spirits coming into the physical or natural bodies born in that day will then go through their mortal probation as we are now going through ours. Those born during the millennium will not be immortal, that is, their bodies and spirits will not be inseparably connected as is the case with resurrected beings. But their bodies will be changed from conditions as they now exist so that disease cannot attack them, and death as we know it cannot intervene to cause a separation of body and spirit. (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 497.)
DC 63:54 until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise
"As the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25) makes clear, many members on the rolls of the Church will have no oil (or very little) in their lamps when the bridegroom comes, and they will not be in a spiritual condition suitable to be caught up to meet him." (Sidney B. Sperry, "Q&A: Questions and Answers," New Era, May 1973, 49)
DC 63:54 at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked
Right now the wheat is mixed in with the tares. Heber C. Kimball prophesied, "I want to say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then, brethren, look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a test, a TEST, a TEST coming, and who will be able to stand?" (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Kimball Family, 1888], 446.) Who will pass the test referred to by Elder Kimball? What will this test do to separate the wheat from the tares? The wheat must be separated from the tares before the tares can be burned. It is important to understand that these prophecies are not just figurative, but that there will be a physical separation of the righteous and wicked in the near future.
DC 63:55-56 I, the Lord, am not pleased with my servant Sidney Rigdon
Joseph Fielding Smith
Sidney Rigdon was also called by revelation to write a description of it, to be sent "unto all the churches." (DC 58:50-51) One object of this description was to stir up the Saints to donate for the purchase of the lands, by placing in the hands of the bishop money for that purpose... The first description written was rejected by the Lord, and Sidney Rigdon was commanded to write another. (Essentials in Church History [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 111.)
DC 63:61 let all men beware how they take my name in their lips
Spencer W. Kimball
When we go to places of entertainment and mingle among people, we are shocked at the blasphemy that seems to be acceptable among them. It is heard on the stage, in the movies, on television, and on the radio. We understand how Lot must have felt when he was, according to Peter, "vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked" (2 Pet. 2:7). We wonder why those of coarse and profane conversation, even if they refuse obedience to God's will, are so stunted mentally that they let their capacity to communicate grow more and more narrow. Language is like music; we rejoice in beauty, range, and quality in both, and we are demeaned by the repetition of a few sour notes. ("President Kimball Speaks Out on Profanity," New Era, Jan.-Feb. 1981, 4)
Dallin H. Oaks
Satan seeks to discredit the sacred names of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, the names through which their work is done. He succeeds in a measure whenever he is able to influence any man or woman, boy or girl, to make holy names common and to associate them with coarse thoughts and evil acts. Those who use sacred names in vain are, by that act, promoters of Satan's purposes.
Profanity is profoundly offensive to those who worship the God whose name is desecrated. We all remember how a prophet reacted from a hospital bed when an operating room attendant stumbled and cursed in his presence. Even half-conscious, Elder [Spencer W.] Kimball "recoiled and implored: 'Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile.' " (Improvement Era, May 1953, p. 320.) ("Reverent and Clean," Ensign, May 1986, 51)
Neal A. Maxwell
In a world filled with rudeness and clever denunciations of Deity, some of us must reassert the holiness of the name of God. Profane parents will probably produce profane children, and, ironically, if there is no respect for God, there is seldom real respect for his children, our fellowmen. (That My Family Should Partake [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 109.)
DC 63:62 many there be...who use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority
Spencer W. Kimball
Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking his specific authorization. And no one can obtain God's authority from reading the Bible or from just a desire to serve the Lord, no matter how pure his motives. (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], chap. 4)
Dallin H. Oaks
This scripture shows that we take the name of the Lord in vain when we use his name without authority. This obviously occurs when the sacred names of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, are used in what is called profanity: in hateful cursings, in angry denunciations, or as marks of punctuation in common discourse.
The names of the Father and the Son are used with authority when we reverently teach and testify of them, when we pray, and when we perform the sacred ordinances of the priesthood.
There are no more sacred or significant words in all of our language than the names of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. ("Reverent and Clean," Ensign, May 1986, 50)
DC 63:64 that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care
"Some gospel subjects are sacred and should be spoken of not only with care but under proper conditions, in proper places, and, in some cases, by proper priesthood authorities. Regarding some gospel subjects, the Lord has revealed relatively little or has not answered certain related questions. Those with sincere questions the Lord has not yet chosen to answer need to exercise faith, knowing that at an appropriate time answers will be given. Until then, we need to broaden our gospel understanding through faith, study, and obedience.
"Alma the Younger taught: 'It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him' (Alma 12:9). (Wayne Lynn, "I Have a Question," Ensign, June 1997, 60)
Gordon B. Hinckley
I remind you of the absolute obligation to not discuss outside the temple that which occurs within the temple. Sacred matters deserve sacred consideration. We are under obligation, binding and serious, to not use temple language or speak of temple matters outside. I first went to the temple fifty-seven years ago. It was different from any other experience I had had in the Church. A young man of my association went about the same time. Thereafter, he was wont to use phrases from the language of the temple in a frivolous way. It was offensive. It was a betrayal of a sacred trust. I have watched him through the years. Once faithful, he has drifted from all Church activity and forsaken the faith of his fathers. I think that much of what has happened to him began with that small irreverential thing that he did in trivializing language which is not trivial.
Please, brethren, do not discuss outside of the temple that which occurs in the temple. While there, you are at liberty to do so. If you have questions, you may speak with the temple president or one of his counselors. But when you leave the doors of the House of the Lord, be true to a sacred trust to speak not of that which is holy and sanctified. ("Keeping the Temple Holy," Ensign, May 1990, 52)
Dallin H. Oaks
Visions do happen. Voices are heard from beyond the veil. I know this. But these experiences are exceptional. And those who have these great and exceptional experiences rarely speak of them publicly because we are instructed not to do so (see D&C 63:64) and because we understand that the channels of revelation will be closed if we show these things before the world. ("Teaching and Learning by the Spirit," Ensign, Mar. 1997, 14)
DC 63:65 Let my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, seek them a home
Prior to the trip to Missouri, Joseph and Emma had been living with the Newel K. Whitney family. Upon returning from their excursion, Joseph and Sidney would begin working again on the translation of the Bible in the home of John Johnson, in nearby Hiram, Ohio (History of the Church, 1:211). Joseph and Emma would reside with Brother Johnson for the next 6 months.
"On 12 September 1831 the Prophet and his family moved into the Johnsons' home in Hiram, viewing their hospitality as the answer to the Lord's directive to "seek them a home, as they are taught through prayer by the Spirit" (D&C 63:65). For six months Joseph enjoyed uninterrupted spiritual outpouring in the Johnson home. However, violence displaced peace on 24 March 1832, when Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 152 - 153.)
DC 63:66 overcome through patience
"How valuable is the virtue of patience! King Benjamin listed patience as one of the important attributes of a Saint (see Mosiah 3:19), and the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that patience has a refining role in preparing us for 'a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory' (D&C 63:66). On the other hand, a lack of patience presents at least one fundamental problem: It keeps us from learning some necessary lessons in life, especially those that come to us as we struggle with adversity.
"Too often, the demands of life tempt us to be impatient. We want to do everything right, and we want to do everything. We may rush to accomplish our daily chores, run to take care of family responsibilities, even hurry to offer service. One woman admitted, 'Some nights, I even line up my children for efficient good-night kisses.'
"But life is too valuable an experience to rush. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, of the Presidency of the Seventy at the time, observed that 'without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less' ("Patience," Ensign, Oct. 1980, 29).
"Perhaps even more serious, impatience-particularly impatience with adversity-may lead to debilitating spiritual weakness. The trials we endure give us experience and, depending on how we respond to them, can be for our ultimate good (see D&C 122:7). Without patience in facing tribulation, however, we may fail to endure to the end." ("Run with Patience," Ensign, Oct. 1996, 70)