DC 78 Historical Background
"In the two weeks between 1 and 15 March 1832, as the Prophet Joseph Smith continued the work of translating the Bible, he received four revelations now known as sections 78-81. Joseph's own account concerning these revelations is brief: 'Besides the work of translating, previous to the 20th of March, I received the four following revelations' According to the Kirtland Revelations Book, Joseph, who was living in Hiram, Ohio, at the time, traveled to Kirtland between 29 February and 4 March and received Doctrine and Covenants 78 on 1 March while in Kirtland...
"In March 1832 it had been a little over a year since the Lord had revealed his law to the Church, including the law of consecration (see D&C 42). The publishing interests of the Church and those leaders involved in them had subsequently organized a consecrated 'order' known as the Literary Firm (see D&C 70). By March 1832, however, the Saints had not yet organized a storehouse either in Kirtland or in Missouri, even though an important part of the Lord's plan for the consecration of his Saints was the establishment of a bishops' storehouse, and some instruction concerning the storehouse had already been received by the Church (see D&C 51:13). Therefore, in order to help the Church take this necessary step in implementing the principles of consecration, the Lord directed in this revelation that Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Newel K. Whitney form a business partnership for the purpose of generating revenue for the Church and establishing a bishops' storehouse in Kirtland. This partnership was called the united firm-also known as the united order of the order of Enoch-and it would operate on many of the same principles as the previously established literary firm.
"Within three months of receiving section 78, Bishop Whitney's mercantile store was fully consecrated as the bishops' storehouse in Kirtland. This united firm operated like a Church-owned corporation with the managers Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Newel Whitney taking out a salary sufficient for their needs while the corporate profits went toward providing for 'the poor of my people' (D&C 78:3). In Kirtland the united firm also purchased building lots, businesses, and the eventual site of the Kirtland Temple. Thus, the united firm gives us one example of how the principles of consecration might be applied in a business, mercantile, or manufacturing situation rather than in farming or agriculture, just as the literary firm provides an example for consecration in the business of publishing.
"The three members of the united firm in Kirtland were further instructed in Doctrine and Covenants 78 to travel to Zion to strengthen the Church there and also to create a branch of the united firm there and provide for a bishops' storehouse. It must be understood that the united firm, or united order, never included the general membership of the Church, and there were never more than twelve individuals included in the partnership. Members of the united firm were generally Church leaders with property or businesses to be consecrated toward the establishment or continuation of the storehouse and the pursuit of other Church financial projects. In a period before the leading quorums of the church were fully organized, the united firm was intended for a limited time to provide financial leadership and accountability for the Church, and its members dealt with matters of Church financial policy that would later be the responsibility of General Authorities. Modern analogues to the united and literary firms can be seen in the corporation of the First Presidency, the corporation of the Presiding Bishopric, and the various financial, publishing, welfare, and other committees of the Church.
"Although the term united order is often used as an equivalent for 'the law of consecration,' this usage is technically incorrect, since the united firm was specifically the consecrated business partnership between Joseph Smith and other church leaders in Kirtland and Missouri between March 1832 and April 1834 (compare D&C 104). The law of consecration is the broader term and the eternal principle; the united order was merely one example of how the law of consecration was implemented in the business affairs of the Church during the Kirtland period." (Stephen E. Robinson, H. Dean Garrett, A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2001] 2:350-352)
DC 78 Why would Joseph Smith use code names in some of the early revelations?
What would be the benefit of using code names to conceal the identities of Joseph Smith, Newel K. Whitney, and Sidney Rigdon? Apparently, early criticism of the Church was particularly focused on Joseph Smith's claim to be receiving revelations on a regular basis, mocking those mentioned in the revelations.
"An example of the critics' response to Mormon belief was the sharp and constant criticism of the doctrine of continual revelation. When John Whitmer arrived in Kirtland in January 1831, the Painesville Telegraph announced that he was carrying a 'new batch of revelations from God' that he pretended had 'just been communicated to Joseph Smith.' In subsequent issues, E. D. Howe maintained that the Saints were not permitted to question 'the infallibility' of Joseph Smith or of anything he might declare to be a commandment of God. All members who dared question or express doubts concerning these messages, Howe claimed, were 'immediately expelled as heretics.' Moreover, he insisted, many of the revelations were kept secret, not being shown to the 'weaker' members. After Joseph Smith moved to Hiram in September 1831, the Telegraph continued its barrage. It announced that he had moved to Portage County so he could manufacture additional 'revelations' and could remodel the New Testament by pretending to translate it through inspiration from heaven. Such comments inflamed the minds of many readers-preventing them, as Joseph Smith wrote, from gaining a correct understanding of the restoration.
Journalists not only criticized the doctrinal contents of the revelations, but also ridiculed individuals whose names appeared in them, especially condemning those who complied with the commandments. Such ridicule of Church leaders was initiated during the winter of 1831-32 by the Ohio Star and the Painesville Telegraph. In March 1832, shortly after the denunciations were printed, Joseph Smith began to identify certain persons in the revelations by code names, such as 'Enoch' for Joseph Smith, 'Ahashdah' for Newel K. Whitney, and 'Pelegoram' for Sidney Rigdon. The code names were probably used so members of the Church might avoid public ridicule. (Milton V. Backman, Jr., The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830-1838 [Salt Lake City: Desert Book Co., 1983], 58.)
DC 78:3 the storehouse for the poor of my people
Ezra Taft Benson
Today there are seventy-eight bishops storehouses in the Church storehouse system. These storehouses are used for almost the identical purpose they were used for under the united order. Members consecrate their time and talents and means to produce, process, package, manufacture, and purchase commodities to care for those in need. To stock these storehouses, members of more than 3,000 Latter-day Saint wards throughout the Church participate in production and processing projects producing vegetables, grains, fruits, and other food and nonfood items. Some of these commodities are sold on the open market to pay operating costs. The balance of these commodities are kept in and distributed through the storehouse system to those in need. Total assistance through storehouses during 1976 amounted to several millions of dollars.
Our bishops storehouses are not intended to stock enough commodities to care for all the members of the Church. Storehouses are only established to care for the poor and the needy. For this reason, members of the Church have been instructed to personally store a year's supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel. By following this counsel, most members will be prepared and able to care for themselves and their family members, and be able to share with others as may be needed. ("Ministering to Needs through the Lord's Storehouse System," Ensign, May 1977, 82)
DC 78:5 that you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things
Bruce R. McConkie
There is a common axiom among us which states: A religion that cannot save a man temporally does not have power to save him spiritually. If we cannot care for our temporal needs in this world, how can we ever succeed in spiritual things in the world to come? ("Stand Independent above All Other Creatures," Ensign, May 1979, 92-93)
DC 78:6 if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things
Joseph Fielding Smith
The saints are instructed that it is essential that they be equal in all things, else there can be no righteousness. What would the celestial kingdom be like, if there were not unity and equality prevailing there? So it should be in the Church on earth. The Lord says: "That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things, also, for the obtaining of heavenly things; for if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things; for if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things; for if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you." (vs. 6-7.) It was because Enoch and his people were united in temporal things as also in heavenly things, that they met with such success that the Lord took them. Had there been inequality, selfishness, bickerings, and accusations against Enoch, as we have accusations and fault-finding against the brethren whom the Lord has appointed in this day, then Enoch's city might have found its fate along with all the rest of the world, in Noah's day. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 2: 75 - 76.)
The Latter-day Saints, in their conduct and acts with regard to financial matters, are like the rest of the world. The course pursued by men of business in the world has a tendency to make a few rich, and to sink the masses of the people in poverty and degradation... The Latter-day Saints will never accomplish their mission until this inequality shall cease on the earth... The earth is here, and the fullness thereof is here. It was made for man; and one man was not made to trample his fellowman under his feet, and enjoy all his hearts desires, while the thousands suffer. (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 50 - 51.)
Supposing that the people had complied with the law when it was first given, in every respect, instead of seeing inequality that has reigned for these many years in this Church, we should now have seen a different order of things. But we lacked experience, and there was too much covetousness in our hearts, for a full consecration of property, then. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 2: 99.)
The time will come when there will be no poor. The object of this last dispensation is to make the people one as the Father and the Son are one, or as the Book of Doctrine and Covenants says, to make them "equal in earthly things, that they may be made equal in heavenly things."
To bring about this object, and do away with poverty, and make all the people rich, the Lord has introduced laws, and rulers, and governors, to teach us our duty while poverty reigns in the world. If you think it hard to pay back a just and honest debt to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, what will you think when the pure laws of God are introduced, and you are required by His law to pay over every farthing you have in the world! not only to pay your just and honest dues to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, but to pay everything in your possession. If you cannot deal justly in relation to these small accounts, how is it to be expected you will perform the pure law of God-the law of consecration? I tell you, we have got to begin and attend faithfully to these small things. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 2: 57.)
DC 78:8 it is expedient that all things be done unto my glory...in this order
John A. Widtsoe
A full understanding of the United Order requires careful study of the revelations on the subject. In briefest outline it is formed and operated as follows: It is organized under Church authority by the voluntary action of a group of men holding the Holy Priesthood, for themselves and their families. All officers are drawn from the membership of the order. All members, upon entrance into the order, pool their resources, that is, place them, as a consecration, in the common treasury of the order (D. & C. 42:32, 33). Each man is then given, from the treasury, his "portion" or "inheritance," that is, the means or capital with which to make a living for himself and his family -- a farm and implements for the farmer, a shop and tools for the mechanic, etc. (D. & C. 51:3) As the youth within the order grow into maturity they are likewise given their "inheritances" from the common treasury. His "inheritance" is deeded to each member; it is his very own; it is private property. This "inheritance" he is free to use as he chooses. His free agency is carefully guarded. (D. & C. 51:4; 104:73-75) He is under one obligation only: to be loyal to the order and to be wise and industrious in the use of the "portion" given him. Especially, the idler has no place in the order. (D. & C. 75:29)
Should the use of a man's "inheritance" yield a surplus above the needs of himself, his family, and his business, such surplus is placed in the common treasury, for the benefit of the order, to provide inheritances for the young, to care for the unfortunate, and for all ventures and institutions for the public benefit, as may be approved by the membership of the order.
Should a man, because of insufficient natural endowment, or caught by uncontrollable circumstances, fail to make his inheritance yield enough to meet his needs, he would receive assistance from the common treasury. The fortunate would thus assist the unfortunate. None would be allowed to suffer.
The principles operating in such a "United Order" are almost self-evident. The order rests upon the acceptance of the gospel, faith in God, Jesus Christ and the prophet of the restoration, and the moral and spiritual life required by the gospel. It is formed for the benefit of each individual member. The members do not exist for the welfare of the order but the order for their benefit. The equal rights of men to seek prosperity are recognized. The right of free agency is strictly respected. Every man is given an equal chance in life as he is given his "inheritance." (Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era], 375.)
DC 78:9 sit in council with the saints which are in Zion
"With the designation of Kirtland, Ohio, as one gathering place and Jackson County, Missouri, as another, there developed two centers of Mormon activity beginning in 1831. The foundation of the Church membership in Missouri consisted mainly of the early converts from the Fayette-Colesville area of New York, while the Ohio membership was made up largely of Sidney Rigdon's followers in the area of Kirtland. In consequence of this dual concentration, a certain spirit of jealousy arose between the members in the two places. This derived from the fact that the Prophet resided in Ohio, that most of those in high Church positions came from there, and that the Missouri Saints had not participated in rapid developments in Church organization. To allay these feelings Joseph Smith and other Church leaders were directed by revelation to 'sit in council' with the Saints in Missouri, 'otherwise Satan seeketh to turn away their hearts.' Hence, the Prophet, Newel K. Whitney, Sidney Rigdon, and Jesse Gause traveled to Missouri in April 1832. On April 26, meetings commenced at Independence in which personal grievances were settled and important Church business transacted.
Ten days later Joseph, Newel, and Sidney left Independence to return to Ohio by stagecoach. Between Vincennes and New Albany, Indiana, a runaway occurred in which Newel's leg was badly broken, preventing further travel. Consequently, Rigdon proceeded on to Kirtland and Joseph remained with his disabled companion at the Porter tavern in Greenville, Indiana, until the leg was healed sufficiently to continue the journey. (The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984], 237 - 238.)
DC 78:10 Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth that they become blinded
M. Russell Ballard
One of Satan's clever tactics is to tempt us to concentrate on the present and ignore the future. The Lord warned Joseph Smith that "Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them." (D&C 78:10.) The "things which are prepared for them" are the promised rewards of eternal life, which come as a result of obedience. The devil attempts to blind us to these rewards. President Heber J. Grant said that "if we are faithful in keeping the commandments of God His promises will be fulfilled to the very letter. ... The trouble is, the adversary of men's souls blinds their minds. He throws dust, so to speak, in their eyes, and they are blinded with the things of this world." (Gospel Standards, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1942, pp. 44-45.) He tempts us with the transitory pleasures of the world so that we will not focus our minds and efforts on the things that bring eternal joy. The devil is a dirty fighter, and we must be aware of his tactics. ("Purity Precedes Power," Ensign, Nov. 1990, 36)
DC 78:12 he who breaketh it shall...be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan
Does it seem harsh that those who were to enter into this United Firm would be punished for violating the covenant? Perhaps, but this helps us to see how serious the Lord is about our covenants with him. If we break them, we deserve to be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan. If we keep them, we are preserved from the power of Satan. We can have it one way or the other.
Unfortunately, many saints are so sure of the mercies of the Lord, that they forget the grave consequences of violating covenants. They assume, incorrectly so, that if they violate only one of their covenants God will be merciful, saying, in effect, "God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God." (2 Ne. 28:8). However, violation of temple covenants delivers us right into the hands of Satan. He rejoices over covenant breakers, saying, now "they will be in my power."
DC 78:14 that the church may stand independent...
"Ever since the Lord commanded the restored Church and its members in 1832 to become independent and self-reliant, latter-day prophets have emphasized the importance of principles related to that directive (see D&C 78:13-14; Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1978, p. 79).
"'We want you henceforth to be a self-sustaining people. ... This is what the Lord requires of this people,' President Brigham Young said. '... It is our duty to be active and diligent in doing everything we can to sustain ourselves' (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978, pp. 293-94).
"Church leaders have reiterated that message in our day. President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, 'We feel the need to emphasize with greater clarity the obligation for members of the Church to become more independent and self-reliant, to increase personal and family responsibility, to cultivate spiritual growth and to be more fully involved in Christian service' (regional representatives' seminar, 1 Apr. 1983, quoted in Ensign, May 1986, p. 24).
"The responsibility for our spiritual, physical, emotional, social, and economic well-being rests first upon ourselves, then upon our families, then upon the Church, President Spencer W. Kimball said. He added: 'No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able, will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family's well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life' (Ensign, Nov. 1977, pp. 77-78). (Lauradene Lindsey, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Apr. 1996, 51)
James E. Faust
The Lord said that it is important for the Church to "stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world." (D&C 78:14.) Members of the Church are also counseled to be independent. Independence means many things. It means being free of drugs that addict, habits that bind, and diseases that curse. It also means being free of personal debt and of the interest and carrying charges required by debt the world over. ("Responsibility for Welfare Rests with Me and My Family," Ensign, May 1986, 21)
Albert E. Bowen
The only way the Church can stand independent is for its members to stand independent, for the Church is its members. It is not possible to conceive of an independent Church made up of dependent members-members who are under the inescapable obligation of dependency. The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience. It is not believed that any person or people can live from gratuities-rely upon them for means of subsistence and remain wholly free in thought, motive and action. History seems to record no such instance. That is why the Church is concerned that its members, who have physical and mental capacity to do so, shall render service commensurate with their capacities for aid extended. That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving is to help people into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.
Hesitancy to extend basic welfare principles to this previously unthought of application arises, no doubt, out of a natural human reluctance to forego an apparent benefit which may be had for the taking and ostensibly without price, though this latter is a delusion, since no one ever gets something for nothing, the recipient always pays; if not in money, then in forfeiture of some invaluable right or freedom. (J. Thomas Fyans, "Employment Challenges in the 1980s," Ensign, May 1982, 82)
DC 78:16 Michael [holds] the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One
"In order for Adam to fulfill his role as patriarch of the human family and provide ordinances for their salvation, it was necessary for him to hold the priesthood with all its attendant keys. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that Adam stood next to Christ in priesthood authority relative to those who have lived on earth: 'How have we come at the Priesthood in the last days? It came down in regular succession. Peter, James, and John had it given to them and they gave it to others. Christ is the Great High Priest; Adam next' (Teachings, 158). Adam 'held its keys from generation to generation' with 'Adam receiving his Presidency and authority from the Lord' (Teachings, 169; see also D&C 78:15-16). 'The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam's authority. ... He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him,' said Joseph Smith (Teachings, 157).
"It is evident that the Prophet Joseph Smith was aware of Adam's important priesthood role and that he himself served under Adam's direction, who served under the Lord Jesus Christ." (Arthur A. Bailey, "What Modern Revelation Teaches about Adam," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 26)
"Adam, who was the first man...is Michael, because he was the first and father of all, not only by progeny, but the first to hold the spiritual blessings, to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the salvation of his posterity unto the end, and to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom Christ has been revealed from heaven, and will continue to be revealed from henceforth. Adam holds the keys of the dispensation of the fullness of times; i.e., the dispensation of all the times have been and will be revealed through him from the beginning to Christ, and from Christ to the end of the dispensations that are to be revealed. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 167.)
DC 78:18 be of good cheer, for I will lead you along
Neal A. Maxwell
Brothers and sisters, it is my testimony to the Church that the Lord will lead us along, just as promised. He balances giving to the Church and its people the needed, specific directions, with providing the relevant learning experiences, including having our faith and patience tried in order to be strengthened. Thus He leads us along, but He desires that during that process we take His yoke upon us in order to learn of Him by our personal experiences. We surely feel the weight of that yoke at times, but the path is clear.
Jesus, our Shepherd, has "marked the path and led the way, And ev'ry point defines" (Hymns, 1985, no. 195). His clearly defined footprints are easy to see. They are pressed distinctly and deeply into the soil of the second estate, deeply and distinctly because of the enormous weight which pressed down upon Him, including the awful burden of all of our individual sins. ("For I Will Lead You Along," Ensign, May 1988, 9)
Spencer W. Kimball
Let us "be of good cheer" (D&C 78:18), for the Lord will, as he has promised, lead us along and show us the way. He will help us as we decide from day to day on the allocation of our time and talent. We will move faster if we hurry less. We will make more real progress if we focus on the fundamentals. We will even come to know more as we serve more, for as we learn to bear more we are made ready to hear more (see John 16:12 and Mark 4:33).
The Lord has helped to make us ready for major progress. Let us now go to and make the world ready for his coming! ("Let Us Move Forward and Upward," Ensign, May 1979, 83)
DC 78:19 he who receiveth all things with thankfulness
"The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith in March 1832, "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more." (D&C 78:19.)
"When we give thanks to God, our lives are lifted, our burdens are made bearable, and our deeds are designed not for our own glory and honor, but the glory and honor of Him whose children we are.
"We are the recipients of God's choicest blessings. No people on earth has had what we have. For that our hearts should be turned to God in gratitude and thanksgiving." (An Offering of Thanksgiving , LDS Church News, 1989, 11/18/89)
Ezra Taft Benson
The Prophet Joseph said at one time that one of the greatest sins of which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty is the sin of ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a great sin. There is a great tendency for us in our prayers and in our pleadings with the Lord to ask for additional blessings. But sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. We enjoy so much. Of course we need the daily blessings of the Lord, but if we sin in the matter of prayer, I think it is in the lack of our expressions of thanksgiving, for blessings that we receive daily. (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 199.)
DC 78:20 What does the term Son Ahman mean?
Ahman means God the Father in the Adamic language and refers to Elohim. Hence, Adam-ondi-Ahman means the place where Adam meets God. Therefore, the term Son Ahman is another name-title for Jesus Christ.
DC 78:21 ye are the church of the Firstborn
What do you think the name of the Church will be during the Millennium? Will it be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Millennial saints? That sounds funny, but we do know the name of the Church once the earth is celestialized, it is "The Church of the Firstborn." Elder McConkie said it this way, "The Church of Jesus Christ is his earthly church, so The Church of the Firstborn is his heavenly church." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 46.) Once God's government is brought to earth, once the heavenly Jerusalem descends from heaven, and once the tabernacle of God dwells with men (Heb. 12:22-23; Rev. 21:1-3), the Church of the Firstborn will be the only Church on the earth. Our goal should be to become a member of this church. In this particular verse, the early saints are told that they are the church of the Firstborn, but this promise is contingent upon them keeping their covenants.
Whether or not members of the Church are admitted into the church of the Firstborn depends on their faithfulness. We are assured that "all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn" (D&C 93:22). They are those "who overcome by faith and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise" (D&C 76:53). See also D&C 76:54-70.