DC 68 Historical Background
Even though the church had been organized for over 18 months, the nature of church government had not been completely revealed. As the church grew, a more formal organizational structure was revealed, line upon line. The fall of 1831 was a time of organization: the Lord revealed section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord commanded that these revelations be published (D&C 67), and more revelation was given on the responsibilities of the Bishop and First Presidency (D&C 68).
Joseph Fielding Smith
While this revelation was given at the request of these brethren it was not intended for them alone, but for the guidance of all officers and members of the Church. There had been bishops ordained some months before this time, but their duties and authority were not clearly defined. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 29 - 30.)
DC 68 Biographical Sketch: Orson Hyde
"Orson Hyde was born in the same year as the Prophet... Sagacious, tactful, diplomatic, as well as intelligent and courageous, Hyde made a good impression on the Mormon leader. Perhaps no other man in the church was employed by the Prophet on so many special missions. With Hyrum Smith he traveled among the Campbellites in Ohio; with Gould he went to Missouri to negotiate peace between the expelled Saints and their neighbors; with Parley P. Pratt he went to the Missouri capital to arrange with the governor for the protection of the exiles after their return to their homes; with Orson Pratt he went to Washington to induce the Congress to approve and authorize the movement of the Mormons to the Rocky Mountains; and alone he made the journey to Palestine, to dedicate that land for the return of the Jews." (John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith, an American Prophet [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 68-69.)
B. H. Roberts
Orson Hyde was born January 8th, 1805, at Oxford, New Haven county, Connecticut. He was the son of Nathan and Sally Hyde. His father served in the United States army in the war of 1812. When Orson was seven years old his mother died, and the large family of Nathan Hyde, consisting of nine sons and three daughters, were scattered. Orson was taken in charge by a man of the name of Nathan Wheeler. Seven years later, or when young Hyde was fourteen years of age, Mr. Wheeler moved from the state of Connecticut to Ohio, settling in the vicinity of Kirtland. Orson accompanied him and continued to live with him in Ohio for about four years, after which he engaged in various occupations on his own account, at last becoming a clerk in the firm of Gilbert & Whitney, merchants. In the year 1827 a religious revival of unusual fervor occurred in Kirtland and vicinity, and under its influence Orson Hyde became a convert to the Methodist faith; and shortly afterwards was made a class leader. "At about the same time," writes Edward Tullidge, in a biographical sketch of him, "he heard that a 'golden Bible' had been dug out of a rock in the state of New York. It was treated, however, as a hoax; but, on reading the report, Hyde remarked: 'Who knows but that this 'golden Bible' may break up our religion and change its whole features and bearing." (Utah and her Founders, Biographical Sketches, p. 70). Some time subsequent to his becoming a Methodist he heard Sidney Rigdon preach the Campbellite faith, and being convinced that the doctrine Rigdon advocated was more scriptural than that which he had embraced, he accepted it and was baptized into the Campbellite church. He also became a theological student under his new teacher's instruction, with a view of becoming a minister of the new church; and, in fact, began to preach and had already assisted in founding several Campbellite congregations in Lorain and Huron counties. In 1830, he was made pastor over these congregations. In the fall of that year the Lamanite mission of the Church of Jesus Christ arrived in the northeast part of Ohio, and soon the whole country was agitated by the presentation of the Book of Mormon and its attendant message, the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. At first Orson Hyde, at the request of members of the Campbellite faith, opposed the Book of Mormon in public addresses; but feeling reproved by the Spirit for this course, he suspended his opposition in order to make further inquiry, with the result that after much prayer and some hesitancy he accepted the great latter-day message, and was baptized, as related in the text. (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], 1:217-218, footnote)
The first Sunday in October, Orson Hyde, a clerk in Brother Sidney Gilbert and Newel K. Whitney's store, in Kirtland, was baptized, and became a member of the Church. He was soon after designated as one of the chosen men of the Lord, to bear His word to the nations. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:217)
DC 68:1 Orson Hyde, was called...to proclaim the everlasting gospel...from people to people and from land to land
"The prophecy in this verse was literally fulfilled. Orson Hyde proclaimed the gospel 'from people to people, from land to land.' In 1832 he and Samuel H. Smith traveled in the States of New York, Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island-two thousand miles-on foot. In 1835 he was ordained an Apostle, and in 1837 he went on a mission to England. In 1840 he was sent on a mission to Jerusalem. He crossed the Ocean, traveled through England and Germany, visited Constantinople, Cairo, and Alexandria, and, finally, reached the Holy City. On October 24th, 1841, he went up on the Mount of Olives and offered a prayer dedicating Palestine for the gathering of the Jews." (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 409.)
"Although the precise date is not known, some time after Orson's baptism, the Prophet Joseph Smith gave Orson a most unusual blessing:
'In due time thou shalt go to Jerusalem, the land of thy fathers, and be a watchman unto the house of Israel; and by thy hands shall the Most High do a great work, which shall prepare the way and greatly facilitate the gathering together of that people.'
"...Elder Hyde would figure greatly in that commencement. In March 1840, he told of an extraordinary spiritual experience he had as he lay in bed pondering where the Lord would have him serve. He later recorded parts of this experience in a letter:
"'The vision of the Lord, like clouds of light, burst into my view. ... The cities of London, Amsterdam, Constantinople and Jerusalem, all appeared in succession before me, and the Spirit said unto me, `Here are many of the children of Abraham whom I will gather to the land that I gave to their fathers; and here also is the field of your labors.` '
"The following month, during April conference 1840, the Prophet commissioned Elder Hyde to go to Palestine and there dedicate that land for the return of the Jewish people.
"After a long and arduous trip fraught with suffering and personal sacrifice, Elder Hyde arrived in Jerusalem. On Sunday, 24 October 1841, Elder Hyde climbed the Mount of Olives, and just as he had seen in the vision, offered a heavenly inspired dedicatory prayer." (David B. Galbraith, "Orson Hyde's 1841 Mission to the Holy Land," Ensign, Oct. 1991, 16-18)
DC 68:2-4 this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood
Most of the time when someone quotes this passage, they are reinforcing the idea that the Prophet of the Church gives us the word of the Lord-that his teachings are scripture for us. However, the promise is unto all the priesthood who are called and sent forth.
Not all scripture is canonized. Some may be written, such as conference talks and books. Some may be oral, such as individual testimonies. This passage gives us a very liberal definition of what constitutes scripture. If a missionary bears his testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, isn't that scripture to that individual? If a patriarch gives a patriarchal blessing by the power of the Spirit, doesn't that blessing become scripture to that individual? If the Bishop in Sacrament meeting delivers his message by the voice of the Spirit, isn't his message scripture for the ward? If so, then we are obligated to follow the directions given by those individuals as they speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. J. Reuben Clark remarked, "We can tell when the speakers are 'moved upon by the Holy Ghost,' only when we, ourselves, are 'moved upon by the Holy Ghost.' In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak." (Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985], 409 - 410.)
George Q. Cannon
This promise is made to the Elders. They can go forth and speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and when they do speak thus, it is revelation to the people, it is scripture, it is the voice of the Lord, it is the word of the Lord, it is the power of the Lord, etc. But, of course, the Elders have to be careful to speak by the influence of the Holy Ghost. If they do not, that which they speak is not the word of the Lord. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 1, March 3, 1889)
B. H. Roberts
The word of these men, when spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is indeed the word of God... there are times when you and I have listened to the words of the servants of God, when the white light of God's inspiration rested upon them, and we needed no man to tell us that they spoke by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost, that we were being taught of God. But that is not always the case with respect of the preaching we hear. (Defense of the Faith and the Saints, 2 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907], 1: 522.)
Joseph F. Smith
It is the privilege of all to know whether I speak the truth by the Spirit of God or not. To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it is given as a commandment that we shall hearken to the voice of the Spirit made manifest through those channels that God has appointed for the guidance of His people. If they do it not, then are they in transgression and in sin, and bondmen, not free men. If we speak the truth and if we do the truth, then the people are under obligations by their covenants and by the very name that they bear, by the allegiance that they owe to God and His work, to hearken to the counsels of those men whose right it is to counsel. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 4, Nov. 10, 1895)
DC 68:3-4 they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost
I have traveled over one hundred and fifty thousand miles preaching the Gospel to large and small congregations, to saints and to sinners; and I have never yet seen the day, on arising to my feet, that I have known what I was going to say to the people. And this is the case with the Elders generally in their ministrations. You who have attended the meetings of this Conference perceived that we called upon brethren from the right and left to speak to us; and if you have any discernment you certainly can testify that they spoke by the Spirit and power of God.
I have attended Conferences during my whole life, in company with the Prophet Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, with the first Twelve Apostles, all of whom are in the spirit world, mingling with the Gods; and I have never attended a Conference when I have felt better and been more edified in listening to the remarks of the same number of men, than at this Conference. The Elders have spoken by inspiration... We are all dependent upon the Holy Ghost... When a man speaks as he is moved upon by the Holy Ghost, it is the spirit of inspiration; it is the word of God; it is the will of God. It cannot lie; it cannot deceive. It leads into all truth and reveals to man the will of his Maker. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 1, Oct. 6, 1889.)
Bruce R. McConkie
Truly, the Holy Ghost is a revelator. He speaks and his voice is the voice of the Lord. He is Christ's minister, his agent, his representative. He says what the Lord Jesus would say if he were personally present.
Speaking "unto all those who" are "ordained unto" his "priesthood," the Lord says: "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation" (D&C 68:2-4).
Truly this is that promised day when "every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world" (D&C 1:20).
If all of the Latter-day Saints lived as they should, then Moses' petition would be granted: "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Num. 11:29).
This is the promised day when "God shall give unto" us "knowledge by his Holy Spirit," when, "by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost," we shall gain knowledge "that has not been revealed since the world was until now" (D&C 121:26).
This is the day of which Joseph Smith said: "God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them" (Teachings, p. 149).
And we look forward to that glorious millennial day when "they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord" (Jer. 31:34). ("Thou Shalt Receive Revelation," Ensign, Nov. 1978, 61)
DC 68:6 be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you
Marvin J. Ashton
Over the last number of weeks as I have contemplated this occasion, I have been strongly impressed to share some thoughts about the Lord's invitation to "be of good cheer"-yes, to be of good cheer without fear. With world conditions of riots, protests, arms buildups, wars and rumors of war, mistrust, poverty, disappointments, terrorism, tragedies, etc., there has never been a period in history when there is a greater need to accept another of the Lord's eternal promises.
"Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.
"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come." (D&C 68:5-6.)
Good cheer is a state of mind or mood that promotes happiness or joy. Some like to think good cheer is found in a bottle, a six-pack, an injection, a pinch under the lip, rationalization, or self-deceit. Incidentally, it has been my observation over the years that those who try to drown their sorrows with drink only sicken their tomorrows. With God's help, good cheer permits us to rise above the depressing present or difficult circumstances. It is a process of positive reassurance and reinforcement. It is sunshine when clouds block the light. ("Be of Good Cheer," Ensign, May 1986, 66)
Barbara W. Winder
Years ago, when our four-month-old son had an operation, I felt forsaken and alone in a hospital waiting room. Another mother there was particularly comforting to me. She took me down the hall to meet her twelve-year-old daughter, who was suffering from leukemia. I found her to be like her mother, peacefully and cheerfully accepting this fatal illness. The girl was busy knitting dishcloths for her nurses. Her brightness helped me put my own concerns temporarily aside.
A few days later, our little one, now at home, was much better. I received a note from this mother. The affliction had taken my new young friend back to her Heavenly Father, but before she died, she asked her mother to send me a hand-knit dishcloth.
What a beautiful example they were to me of "good cheer" even in such a difficult circumstance. They had learned to accept those things they could not change and remembered the Savior's words, "Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you" (D&C 68:6).
I, too, remembered the Savior's words, "They who have endured the crosses of the world, ... shall inherit the kingdom of God, ... and their joy shall be full forever" (2 Ne. 9:18). ("Finding Joy in Life," Ensign, Nov. 1987, 96)
DC 68:7 Historical Background: Luke and Lyman Johnson
"Of the original Twelve Apostles, three are largely 'forgotten,' their histories primarily unknown by the membership of the Church. They are Lyman E. Johnson, his brother Luke S. Johnson and John F. Boynton.
"The Johnson brothers came into the Church largely through the combined influence of their parents, John and Elsa Johnson, and Joseph Smith. Mrs. Johnson was the subject of a miracle performed by the Prophet soon after his arrival in Ohio.
"Luke Johnson wrote of the experience: 'Soon after Joseph Smith moved from the state of New York, my father, mother and Ezra Booth, a Methodist minister, went to Kirtland to investigate 'Mormonism.' My mother had been laboring under an attack of chronic rheumatism in the shoulder, so that she could not raise her hand to her head for about two years; the Prophet laid hands upon her, and she was healed immediately.'
"Concerning the results of that event, Luke went on, 'My father was satisfied in regard to the truth of Mormonism, and was baptized by Joseph Smith, jun., in the winter of 1830-1 and furnished him and his family a home while he translated a portion of the Bible.' (Millennial Star, Dec. 1864, p. 834.)
"Not only did John Johnson join the Church, but also his family. Lyman, four years younger than Luke, joined the Church in February 1831 at age 19, being baptized by Sidney Rigdon. He was later ordained an elder by Oliver Cowdery. Luke was baptized by Joseph Smith May 10, 1831, at age 23, and ordained a priest by Christian Whitmer, one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. The record does not say who ordained Luke an elder, but after a fruitful mission to various parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania, Luke was ordained a high priest by Joseph Smith; a high post for a 24-year-old convert of less than a year. Lyman was equally capable as a missionary and the two of them helped bring scores of saints into the rapidly growing Church." (Calvin N. Smith, "Among First Apostles, 3 'forgotten'", LDS Church News, 1989, 02/25/89 .)
"Luke S. JOHNSON (1807-61), a native of Pomfret, Vermont, was baptized in 1831 and ordained a high priest the same year. He was a member of the Kirtland high council and of Zion's Camp. In 1835 he was ordained an Apostle, but he was disfellowshipped in 1837 and excommunicated in 1838. He was rebaptized in Nauvoo in 1846 and migrated to Utah in 1847.
"Lyman E. JOHNSON (1811-56), brother of Luke Johnson and a native of Vermont, was baptized in 1831 and was a member of Zion's Camp. He was ordained an Apostle in 1835, but, like his brother, was excommunicated in 1838. He, however, did not return to the Church. He was killed in a drowning accident in the Mississippi River in 1856." (Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1844 [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 245.)
DC 68:7 Historical Background: William E. McClellin
"Birth: 18 January 1806, Smith County, Tennessee. Son of Charles McLellan.
Death: 24 April 1883, Independence, Jackson County, Missouri.
William E. McLellin1 first heard the preaching of Mormonism in the summer of 1831... William was baptized [August 20, 1831] by Hyrum Smith...
"William journeyed to Ohio to meet the Prophet. He lived with him for about three weeks, 'and from my acquaintance then and until now I can truly say I believe him to be a man of God, a prophet, a seer and revelator to The Church of Christ.' Desirous to receive a revelation from the Lord through his Prophet, 'I went before the Lord in secret, and on my knees asked him to reveal the answer to five questions through his Prophet, and that too without his having any knowledge of my having made such request.' He then asked Joseph Smith to inquire of the Lord concerning him. The subsequent revelation both commended and reproved his actions (see D&C 66:1-3). He wrote in response to the revelation, 'I now testify in the fear of God, that every question which I had thus lodged in the ears of the Lord of Sabbath, were answered to my full and entire satisfaction.'
However, just one month later William criticized the language of the revelations in the proposed Book of Commandments. Through Joseph Smith the Lord challenged anyone, particularly 'him that is the most wise among you,' to imitate even the least of the revelations contained therein (see D&C 67:6-7). Joseph later wrote, 'William E. M'Lellin, as the wisest man, in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord's, but failed.'
"By winter 1832 William was serving a mission with Parley P. Pratt in Missouri and in Illinois. His success on the mission led to leadership in the Church by 1834, when he became a member of the high council in Clay County and later an assistant teacher in the School of the Elders in Kirtland. On 15 February 1835 he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
His faithfulness in that Quorum was short-lived. In 1835 he wrote a letter censuring the First Presidency and by 1836 had apostatized. He explained his actions in a letter to J. T. Cobb: 'I left the church in Aug. 1836 ... because the Leading men to a great extent left their religion and run into and after speculation, pride, and popularity! ... I quit because I could not uphold the Presidency as men of God.'" (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 191-192.)
DC 68:8 Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature
Gordon B. Hinckley
Question [from Mike Wallace]: "Why is your Church so aggressive about spreading the word, having missionaries knock on doors where they may not be welcome and where they're obviously not invited?"
Answer: "We believe that the Lord meant what He said when He said, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature' [Mark 16:15]. We believe in that mandate. We think it rests upon us to try to fulfill it. We are doing that with all of the energy and resources that we have." ("This Thing Was Not Done in a Corner," Ensign, Nov. 1996, 51)
Gordon B. Hinckley
The resurrected Lord had said to His beloved disciples: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15.)
That was a tremendous charge given to a handful of men who had neither means nor standing before the world to carry out that encompassing mandate! They gave their lives in doing all that they could. ("Taking the Gospel to Britain: A Declaration of Vision, Faith, Courage, and Truth," Ensign, July 1987, 2)
Ezra Taft Benson
As members of the Lord's Church, we must take missionary work more seriously. The Lord's commission to "preach the gospel to every creature" will never change in our dispensation. We have been greatly blessed with the material means, the technology, and an inspired message to bring the gospel to all men. More is expected of us than any previous generation. ("Our Responsibility to Share the Gospel," Ensign, May 1985, 6)
DC 68:9 he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned
Hamlet is famous for asking one question, "To be, or not to be?" However, poor Hamlet was too self-absorbed to ask the right question. To believe, or not to believe? That is the question! The answer to that question is an individual one which represents the first question of discipleship and most important exercise of one's agency.
Some may say that it is not fair to punish someone for the way they believe. Like Corianton, these would question "the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner" (Alma 42:1). Others may define belief systems as a passive product of culture, upbringing, environment, education, and even genetic predisposition. But the scriptures speak of it more as a choice, an act of volition, a decision on the part of every individual. Will I seek out my maker? Will I exercise faith in Jesus Christ? Will I be religious? Will I covenant by baptism to take upon me the name of Jesus Christ? These are the greatest and most fundamental questions an individual can consider. To be, or not to be doesn't matter if one has already decided to believe and be baptized.
DC 68:11 unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times
The saints who are carefully reading their scriptures and attentively following the Brethren will not be deceived. They will "know the signs of the times" such that the Lord's appearance will not be as a thief in the night. Paul declared,
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day." (1 Thess. 5:4-5)
"As we move closer to the end of time, we would do well to live in such a manner that we can discern the signs of the times; we would be wise also to keep our eyes fixed and our ears riveted on those called to direct the destiny of the Church." (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 557.)
"It is for us that the signs have been given. We have both a duty and a privilege to watch, so that we may know the 'times' during which the Lord will come; by watching in soberness, we can have our lives, our hearts, our families, and our overall circumstances in readiness for his coming. On the other hand, 'he that watches not for me shall be cut off,' the Lord has said (D&C 45:44).
"And so we watch and pray, seeking his coming to cleanse a wicked world, to bring millennial peace and glory..." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 7.)
DC 68:12 you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life
"There were many instances in the early days of the Church when the basic sealing powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood were employed to seal the Saints as individuals to eternal life. In 1831, a revelation said: 'Of as many as the Father shall bear record, to you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life.' Earlier, in the forepart of February, 1831, Joseph Smith sealed to eternal life a group of Saints at Kirtland, Ohio. While in Missouri in the summer of 1831, he also sealed the members of the Colesville branch to eternal life. In reporting the sealing of certain brethren, in January, 1833, Joseph Smith said: 'By the power of the Holy Ghost I pronounced them all clean from the blood of this generation; but if any of them should sin wilfully after they were thus cleansed, and sealed up unto eternal life, they should be given over unto the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption.'
"This practice was not limited to the Prophet's personal ministry, but was carried on by some missionaries as they visited the several branches of the Church. In January, 1832, Jared Carter sealed to eternal life a group of Saints at Benson, Vermont. Lyman Johnson and Orson Pratt sealed a group at Charleston, Vermont, in August, 1833, and another group at Bath, New Hampshire, during the following month.
"The basic sealing powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood were associated with the sacred ordinances performed in the Kirtland temple during the winter of 1836 and after the temple was dedicated that spring. Having been sealed as individuals to eternal life, or celestial glory, many of the brethren experienced the spiritual blessings that relate to the second Comforter. The Prophet thus observed in January, 1836: 'Many of my brethren who received the ordinance with me saw glorious visions also.'" (Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 442-443.)
DC 68:14 There remain...other bishops to be set apart unto the church
"At that time Edward Partridge, who was living in Missouri, was the only bishop in the Church. The growth of the Church made ordination of other bishops for specific areas a logistical necessity. One month after this revelation, Newel K. Whitney was ordained the bishop for Kirtland (see D&C 72:2, 8). Neither of these brethren was Presiding Bishop in the modern sense, since neither presided over the other. Rather, they were general bishops each presiding over a specific geographical are of the Church-Bishop Partridge in the West and Bishop Whitney in the East." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 1:247)
DC 68:16 literal descendants of Aaron...have a legal right to the bishopric
"The first bishop appointed in this dispensation was Edward Partridge. He was not of Levi, but he had the Melchizedek Priesthood. The revelation talks about what a bishop will do. There are many such items in the Doctrine and Covenants, and if we're not looking for them, we have a tendency to just pass them by. We have in the Church today people whose patriarchal blessings designate them as Levites, and some who are even designated of the family of Aaron, but the Lord has not seen fit to call them into the Presiding Bishopric or any presiding office. This is probably because the time is not right." (Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 191.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
If the rightful heir to this office could prove the same he could claim his anointing under the hands of the Presidency of the Church. Today we are under the necessity of having high priests act as bishops in the Church, in all local offices as well as in the presiding office in this Priesthood. The direct descendants of Aaron could act without counselors, but unless they were also high priests, they could not serve as bishops in the same capacity and authority as do the bishops of the present order, who are high priests. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:259.)
DC 68:17 the firstborn holds the right of the presidency over this priesthood
Now, I desire to draw your attention to one thing very distinctly, that you may comprehend-"For the first-born holds the right of presidency over this Priesthood." Over what Priesthood? The Bishopric. There is a Presidency in that Priesthood; and this first-born of the literal descendants of Aaron would have a legal right to that Presidency. No man has a legal right to this office, to hold the keys of this Priesthood, except he be a literal descendant of Aaron, and the first-born among his sons. Then, he would have a legal right to it. I could tell you the reason why, but it would take too long a time; and these things will be spoken of hereafter more fully. But I wish to speak of one or two leading principles pertaining to this subject; and as a High Priest of the Melchizedek Priesthood has authority to officiate in all the lesser offices, he may officiate in the office of Bishop, when no literal descendant of Aaron can be found, and it is stated, "And they shall be set apart under the hands of the first Presidency of the Melchizedek Priesthood." To what authority? To what power? To what calling? To what Bishopric? To the Presiding Bishopric. This is what is here referred to...(Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 22: 194.)
DC 68:22 no bishop or high priest...shall be tried...save it be before the First Presidency
Early in church history, disciplinary actions involving bishops and high priests were handled by the First Presidency. There were so few bishops and high priests in those days that this was the practice. Today, the Presiding Bishop would still be tried before the First Presidency, but bishops and high priests are not.
The current pattern is that the stake presidency and stake high council hold disciplinary councils for local bishops and high priests. Throughout the Doctrine and Covenants, we will see that many of the duties originally given to the First Presidency and the Twelve are currently performed by the stake presidency and the high council. This is an important pattern in that it reminds us that each stake in Zion is set up after the pattern of the First Presidency and the Twelve; three high priests preside and a council of twelve acts under their direction. To the stake are delegated many of the tasks that the First Presidency had responsibility for in the 1830's, including disciplinary councils.
DC 68:25-28 inasmuch as parents have children in Zion
"Each family is given a 'window of time' in which to teach children correct principles. While parents often think in terms of 18 to 20 years to raise a child, those years are not of equal worth. Recognizing that children are more receptive in earlier years, the Lord commanded parents to teach their children the basic doctrines of the gospel by age eight (see D&C 68:25).
"Within this window of time, children are innocent and Satan cannot tempt them. 'Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to be accountable' (D&C 29:47). No wonder this is such a teachable time! During these early years, young children are without guile and hold a special love for us as parents. They love our stories and greatly benefit from family prayer and scripture study, and they generally are receptive to our teachings. This is our window of opportunity to establish a firm gospel foundation." (John W. and Marjorie E. Hasler, "Train Up a Child," Ensign, Apr. 1999, 50-51)
Merlin R. Lybbert
This teaching is to be done before a child reaches the age of accountability, and while innocent and sin-free. This is protected time for parents to teach the principles and ordinances of salvation to their children without interference from Satan. It is a time to dress them in armor in preparation for the battle against sin. When this preparation time is neglected, they are left vulnerable to the enemy. To permit a child to enter into that period of his life when he will be buffeted and tempted by the evil one, without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and an understanding of the basic principles of the gospel, is to set him adrift in a world of wickedness. ("The Special Status of Children," Ensign, May 1994, 31-32)
Gordon B. Hinckley
Bring up your children in light and truth as the Lord has commanded. ... I make you a solemn and sacred promise that if you will do this, the time will come when, looking upon those you have created, nurtured, and loved, you will see the fruits of your nurturing and get on your knees and thank the Lord for His blessing to you. (Ensign, Nov. 1993, p. 60).
DC 68:25 teach them...to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ...and of baptism...
Joseph L. Wirthlin
I wonder when a child is approaching the age of eight, whether or not the head of the family, the father, he who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, calls his child to his side and gives him some instruction with reference to having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ explaining to him what repentance means, the great significance of the baptismal ordinance, wherein having been baptized their sins are remitted, and the great significant fact that when they go into the waters of baptism, they are buried with the Christ in death, coming up out of the water is symbolical of His resurrection. I do not feel that these teachings are beyond the understanding of a child eight years old.
I am certain that a child of eight years of age will understand the significance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. If a child has been properly taught and has a proper concept of the Godhead, he will know that there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in the Godhead. And this great spiritual being, called the Holy Ghost, can be so explained to a child that he will understand what the Holy Ghost is. And along with that, teach him that when the authorized servants of God lay their hands upon his head, that individual so laying his hands upon his head has the authority to do so-restored authority in these the last days. And through the imposition of hands and receiving the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost, if that child is taught to live a sweet, clean life, the Holy Ghost will come and be his companion. I think he can understand that he will be led into the path of truth and light, that he will be blessed with a sense of perception which will give him the power to differentiate between that which is good and that which is evil. (Conference Report, April 1951, General Priesthood Meeting 68.)
George Albert Smith
Notwithstanding the many things that occupy our time-the business of life, theatres, parties, socials, automobiles, pleasure resorts, the canyons and lakes-all these things that we may enjoy in moderation; notwithstanding the pursuit of life whereby we gain a livelihood, that prophet of the Lord gave to us this advice: That we should so arrange our time that one evening each week would find the Latter-day Saints in their own homes, associated with their own children, and there teach them the things that the Lord has decreed that they should know. It is not sufficient that my children are taught faith, repentance and baptism, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost in the auxiliary organizations. My Father in heaven has commanded that I should do that myself. (Conference Report, April 1926, Afternoon Session 145 - 146.)
DC 68:25 the sin be upon the heads of the parents
Failure to raise our children in light and truth can be a great source of affliction for us. One instructive example of this occurred 18 months after this revelation was given. The First Presidency, consisting of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, were chastised for failing to meet their duties at home. President Williams was told, "You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments...and this is the cause of your affliction" (D&C 93:42, italics added) Note that the father was afflicted for failure to teach his children correctly. This should make us wonder if some of our own afflictions occur for the same reason. Sidney was chastised because he had "not kept the commandments concerning his children; therefore, first set in order thy house" (D&C 93:44). Joseph was told that he had not kept the commandments and that his family "must needs repent and forsake some things, and give more earnest heed unto your sayings" (D&C 93:48).
Even the Bishop in Kirtland, Newel K. Whitney, was chastised and told to "set in order his family, and see that they are more diligent and concerned at home, and pray always, or they shall be removed out of their place" (D&C 93:50). The Lord was obviously upset that the leadership of the young church was not keeping this important commandment. Remarkably, it was the First Presidency and the Bishop that were in error. Their failure to set in order their house, including teaching their children correctly was a stumbling block for them. The other great lesson is that the command to raise our children in light and truth applies to all, especially the leaders of the Church.
Heber J. Grant
The Lord has given us a commandment that we shall teach our children the principles of the Gospel and have them baptized when they are eight years of age. If we fail to keep this commandment, the blessings that are promised to us by the Lord will be revoked, and we will have mourning and sorrow in seeing our children grow up without a desire to serve God; and in after years, when we endeavor to instill into their minds the principles of the Gospel, we will make a failure of it. It is boasted by the Catholics that if they can have the training of a child until it is twelve years of age, they will defy the world to turn that child from Catholicism. If we do our duty in teaching our children the principles of the Gospel, we ought to be able to defy the world to turn them away from the truth. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 4, April 6, 1894)
Dallin H. Oaks
Even after children reach the age of accountability, before we parents chasten them as sinners for committing a wrongful action, we should ask ourselves whether we have taught them the wrongfulness of that conduct. Have we taught them the commandments of God on that matter? This is a profound challenge and lesson for us. ("Sins and Mistakes," Ensign, Oct. 1996, 65)
Joseph F. Smith
Do not let your children out to specialists..., but teach them by your own precept and example, by your own fireside. Be a specialist yourself in the truth. ... Not one child in a hundred would go astray, if the home environment, example and training, were in harmony with the truth in the gospel of Christ, as revealed and taught to the Latter-day Saints. (Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Spiritually Strong Homes and Families," Ensign, May 1993, 70)
DC 68:27 their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins
Delbert L. Stapley
Frequently when meeting a young boy or girl of seven years, I inquire what will happen to them when they attain the age of eight. It pleases me when they quickly reply, "I am going to be baptized!" I know these young children have been taught of their parents and prepared to receive baptism when they become accountable before God. (April 26, 1966, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1966, p. 6.)
DC 68:28 they shall also teach their children to pray
Dallin H. Oaks
Modern revelation commands parents to "teach their children to pray." (D&C 68:28.) This requires parents to learn and pray with the special language of prayer. We learn our native language simply by listening to those who speak it. This is also true of the language with which we address our Heavenly Father. The language of prayer is easier and sweeter to learn than any other tongue. We should give our children the privilege of learning this language by listening to their parents use it in the various prayers offered daily in our homes.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, or to come into His presence." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 22.) The special language of prayer reminds us of the greatness of that privilege. ("The Language of Prayer," Ensign, May 1993, 18)
Gordon B. Hinckley
There may be an occasional disagreement; there may be small quarrels. But if there is prayer in the family, and love, and consideration, there will be a residue of affection that will bind forever and a loyalty that will always guide. ("Pillars of Truth," Ensign, Jan. 1994, 5)
Ben B. Banks
Speaking to the inhabitants of Zion, the Lord said, "They shall ... teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord" (D&C 68:28).
Early one Saturday morning while serving as stake president, I received a phone call from Bishop Nelson asking for help. He said the Janzen family from his ward, while on a family outing in the mountains, had lost their seven-year-old son, Mathew. Darkness had brought the search to a halt Friday evening. But within a short period of time Saturday morning, over a hundred brothers and sisters from the stake drove to the rescue site to join the search. After several hours of combing the trails, roads, and backwoods, little Mathew was finally found. Can you imagine the joy as he was swept into the arms of his mother and father? I listened through tears of grateful parents as they asked, "What happened?" Then this reply: "I took the wrong turn and got lost. When it got dark I tried to build a shelter and sleep, but it was so cold I couldn't. I knelt down on a rock and prayed five times last night and again this morning. You taught me if I was ever lost, if I would pray to Heavenly Father and stay on the trail, I would find you. Heavenly Father did answer my prayers." ("Take Time for Your Children," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 28)
DC 68:28 they shall also teach their children... to walk uprightly before the Lord
Ruth B. Wright
What does it mean to walk uprightly before the Lord? The word upright is defined as honest, honorable, straightforward. Thus, to walk uprightly, our children need to choose to live in an honest, honorable, straightforward manner. Children who understand and live the gospel today can walk with assurance and joy and someday will enter the presence of the Lord, walking uprightly. ("Teaching Children to Walk Uprightly before the Lord," Ensign, May 1994, 84)
DC 68:31 there are idlers among them
The first church historian, John Whitmer, records that in the early Kirtland days, there were some who were attracted to the church because they were looking to get something for nothing. The congregation of Sidney Rigdon's Campbellites had a practice called the plan of "common stock," in which property belonged to everyone in the community. This was an unsuccessful attempt to pattern themselves after the New Testament saints who had "all things common" (Acts 4:32). When the Prophet arrived in Kirtland, he said this practice was "readily abandoned for the more perfect law of the Lord." (History of the Church, 1:147)
About these days (Feb. 1831) Joseph and Sidney arrived at Kirtland to the joy and satisfaction of the Saints. The disciples had all things common, and were going to destruction very fast as to temporal things; for they considered from reading the scripture that what belonged to a brother, belonged to any of the brethren. Therefore they would take each other's clothes and other property and use it without leave which brought on confusion and disappointments, for they did not understand the scripture... There were some of the disciples who were flattered into the Church because they thought that all things were to be common, therefore they thought to glut themselves upon the labors of others. (The Book of John Whitmer, typescript, [Provo: BYU Archives and Manuscripts], chap. 2-3)
DC 68:32 Let my servant Oliver Cowdery carry these sayings unto the land of Zion
It had been decided by the conference that Elder Oliver Cowdery should carry the commandments and revelations to Independence, Missouri, for printing, and that I should arrange and get them in readiness by the time that he left, which was to be by-or, if possible, before-the 15th of the month [November]. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 229.)
DC 68:33 he that observeth not his prayers before the Lord
Joseph Fielding Smith
I do not suppose that we have read that verse in this section any too much, and I wonder sometimes if we realize how important this command really is. No man can retain the Spirit of the Lord, unless he prays. No man can have the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, unless in his heart is found this spirit of prayer. We are commanded in the scriptures to seek the Lord, to praise his holy name, to labor diligently, that his spirit may abide with us. (Conference Report, October 1919, Third Day-Morning Session 142.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Now, I say this is a very serious thing. We ought to be a praying people, and if there are in Zion those who do not observe their prayers in the season thereof, they are amenable to the law of the Church and may be brought before the judge, or in other words, the bishop, and he can try them for their fellowship, because the Lord himself has declared it in these words which I have read unto you. (Conference Report, October 1918, Second Day-Morning Session 57.)