Section 33

DC 33 Biographical Sketch: Northrop Sweet

"Birth: 1802, New York.

"A few days after Northrop Sweet's baptism in October 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation for him: (quotes D&C 33:1-2.)

"It appears that Northrop accepted the revelation and was faithful during the early New York era. He joined with the Saints in moving to Kirtland.

"However, in 1831 Northrop apostatized and formed a religion called 'The Pure Church of Christ' with Wycam Clark and four others. They claimed 'they could carry the whole world with them by preaching 'Mormon' principles. They had two or three meetings; but the society would never have been known in the world, had not a few of us remembered the circumstances and told of it.'  The church was 'composed of six members ... but that was the extent of the growth of this early schism.'  When the newly formed church failed to prosper, Northrop moved from Kirtland to Lake County, Ohio. He remained a resident of Ohio until about 1845, when he moved to Batavia, Michigan. He was living with his son Hezekiah in Bethel, Michigan, in 1880 at the age of seventy-eight." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 310-311.)

Elder George A. Smith

I think the first church attempted to be established in opposition to "Mormonism" was that established by Wycam Clark, in Kirtland. He was baptized about the same time as Sidney Rigdon, and, in company with Northrop Sweet and four others, seceded from this Church, and said they could carry the whole world with them by preaching "Mormon" principles. They had two or three meetings; but the society would never have been known in the world, had not a few of us remembered the circumstance and told of it. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols., 7:114)

DC 33 Biographical Sketch: Ezra Thayer

"Birth: 14 October 1791, Randolph, Windsor County, Vermont. Son of Ezra Thayer and Charlotte French.

"Ezra Thayre (or Thayer), a bridge, dam, and mill builder in the Palmyra, New York, area, wrote of his conversion to the Book of Mormon through the preaching of Hyrum Smith:

When Hyrum began to speak, every word touched me to the inmost soul. I thought every word was pointed to me.... The tears rolled down my cheeks.... When Hyrum got through, he picked up a book and said, "Here is the book of Mormon." I said, "Let me see it." I then opened the book, and I received a shock with such exquisite joy that no pen can write and no tongue can express. I shut the book and said, "What is the price of it?" "Fourteen shillings," was the reply. I said, "I'll take the book." I opened it again, and I felt a double portion of the Spirit, that I did not know whether I was in the world or not. I felt as though I was truly in heaven.

"Ezra was baptized in October 1830 by Parley P. Pratt. After his baptism he experienced opposition from friends and family, but the appearance of an angel and other signs from heaven convinced him of the correctness of his religious choice.

"A few days after Ezra's baptism the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation directing him and Northrop Sweet to serve a mission (see D&C 33:1-2). Ezra accepted this directive as a revelation from God. En route from New York to Ohio he preached at several houses and baptized many into the Church." (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 310-311.)

DC 33:3 it is the eleventh hour

Delbert L. Stapley

In setting up his latter-day Church, the Savior has affirmed that this is the last time his kingdom shall be established upon the earth. (See D&C 27:13.)

The prophet Daniel, speaking of God's work in the last days, revealed that the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor left to another people, and it shall stand forever. (See Dan. 2:44.)

This dispensation of the gospel, then, is the last. The Lord has never indicated that his Church of the latter days would fail. God will ultimately triumph over all his enemies, including his archenemy, Satan. It will definitely benefit each of us to be on the Lord's side by keeping his laws and commandments. During these perilous last days, our responsibility to give warning to the world is vital. ("To Make a People Prepared for the Lord," Ensign, Nov. 1975, 49)

Joseph Fielding Smith

The Prophet Joseph Smith instructed his brethren and informed them of the calamities that were to come. He warned the world of its wickedness, and he told these good men of the Council of the Twelve, who were associated with him, that because of the wickedness of the world and its corruption, destruction would come upon it. Some of these brethren say that as he told them of these things he wept as our Savior wept when he looked upon Jerusalem. President Wilford Woodruff, speaking of this testimony and this warning to the world which the Prophet had seen in vision of things which were coming upon the earth, said: "I heard the Prophet Joseph Smith bear his testimony to these events that would transpire in the earth," and after predicting that they were now at our doors, he said also; "We cannot draw a veil over the events that await this generation. No man that is inspired by the Spirit and power of God can close his ears, his eyes, or his lips, to these things." I think we have no right to close our ears, and we have no right to be silent and shut our eyes against the warnings that the Lord has given and placed before us which we are commanded to declare to the nations of the earth. (Conference Report, April 1946, Morning Meeting, p.155 - 156)

DC 33:5 this church have I...called forth out of the wilderness

If you were to ask a hundred pastors from a hundred churches the meaning of Rev. 12:6, you would probably get a hundred different answers. In that verse John sees a woman who "fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God." The woman represents the church. The time the woman spent in the wilderness represents the Great Apostasy. Here, the Lord declares that the Restoration represents the church coming forth out of the wilderness.

The Lord references many scriptures in this message to Ezra and Northrop. He references the laborers in the vineyard from Jacob 5; he references the church called out of the wilderness from Rev. 12; he references the faith and diligence of "Nephi of old" (v. 8); he references the coming forth of the Bridegroom and the parable of the ten virgins (v. 17). The Lord uses the scriptures to teach us. We should use them to teach others, for the Lord said, "the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction; and the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things." (v. 16)

DC 33:8-10 Open your mouths and they shall be filled

"The Lord promises to help as we do our part: 'Open your mouths and they shall be filled, ... for lo, I am with you' (D&C 33:8-9). 'Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour' (D&C 84:85).

"Sometimes we are a little fearful of sharing our testimonies, perhaps because we do not wish to offend or to be criticized. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, tells of a time when he faced the choice of bearing testimony or remaining silent. On an airplane flight, an off-duty flight attendant sat next to him and began reading a copy of A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Engaging her in conversation, President Monson discovered that a friend had given the book to her and that she was not a member of the Church. President Monson recalls:

"'I wondered silently, Should I be forward and say more about the Church?

"'The words of the Apostle Peter crossed my mind: `Be ready always to give an answer to every [one] that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you` [1 Pet. 3:15]. I decided that now was the time for me to share my testimony with her.'

"This young woman later joined the Church and thanked President Monson for sharing his testimony. "I am the happiest person in all the world," she told him (Ensign, May 1995, 50).

"That joy comes not only to those who find the gospel but also to those who share it. Like President Monson, many Latter-day Saints have felt the intense gratitude that comes from helping bring friends and loved ones to the truth by courageously sharing their testimonies." ("A Witness at All Times and in All Places," Ensign, Aug. 1996, 68)

Joseph B. Wirthlin

Recently I was reminded of how vital it is to always be alert to the quiet whispering of the Holy Ghost. While on an assignment in Hawaii, Sister Wirthlin and I visited the island of Molokai, where one of the world's few remaining leper colonies is found. We drove into the mountains to a trail that leads to an overlook...As we walked back to our car, we passed a young man headed toward the overlook. I offered a polite greeting, and from his answer, I could tell that he was from Germany.

I served a German-speaking mission in Austria and Switzerland as a young man. Here was a young man whose countenance bespoke a sincere heart and an approachable personality, and I spoke his language and understood his culture. I felt prompted to open my mouth and introduce the gospel to him, but because other people were around us, our brief encounter was interrupted, and we went our separate ways without my having said a word about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I failed to be the missionary that every member of the Savior's church ought to be.

As we drove away, I had the disturbing feeling that I had failed in my duty to proclaim the gospel. I remembered the Lord's words in the Doctrine and Covenants: "But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them." (D&C 60:2.)

We drove around the island to see Molokai's beautiful waterfalls. After many miles, the road came to a dead-end, and we got out of our car to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. We had been there only a few moments when another car drove up and stopped. The young man we had seen on the overlook trail got out of the car, smiled, and gave me a warm handshake. As I grasped his outstretched hand, I thought to myself, This time I will do my duty!

We introduced ourselves, and I learned that he attended a university in a small city south of Dusseldorf, Germany. I spoke of my experiences in his country and of my admiration for the German people. Speaking of my work in Europe gave me an opportunity to explain some of the basics of the gospel. As we parted, I asked for his address and telephone number, which he gladly shared with me. I felt that he was truly a newfound friend and an interested investigator.

Upon my return to Salt Lake City, I wrote to the president of the Germany Dusseldorf Mission. I explained how Sister Wirthlin and I had met this outstanding young man and gave him his address, asking him to send missionaries to continue the gospel discussion that I had begun in Hawaii.

I don't believe it was happenstance that my wife and I met this young man twice. Our meetings were not chance encounters or mere coincidence. But the Lord doesn't always give us a second chance to share the gospel. I had failed to follow the Spirit the first time when the still small voice spoke to my heart and mind to prod me to action. But when I saw that young man get out of his car later, I quickly made up my mind I would not fail a second time and that I would open my mouth as the Lord so emphatically commands in revelations that apply to all of us.

In the thirty-third section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord commands us three times in three verses to "open our mouths": "Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old . . . Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you. Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (D&C 33:8-10.) (Finding Peace in Our Lives [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 238-241)

Joe J. Christensen

It is interesting that the Lord tells us three times in three succeeding verses to open our mouths.

It is not always easy for us to "publish [the gospel] among every people that [we shall] be permitted to see" (D&C 19:29) because many of us are shy, and starting a conversation with a stranger can be challenging. Yet it is one of the most important things we can do if the message is to be taken to everyone. Miracles could happen if we would just open our mouths.

Think what could happen in the next twenty years if each year we were to help just one person find the truth, and then encourage that person to do the same! The exponential growth rate in the Church would be very rapid...We could help so much if we would just let people know who we are. And often we don't need to do much more than open our mouths. ("Open Your Mouths: The Courage to Share the Gospel," Ensign, Dec. 1981, 6-7)

Brigham Young

Open your mouths, and have faith that God will fill them with useful and instructive information, that all who hear may be blessed and built up in the strength of God. (Journal of Discourses, 9: 267.)

DC 33:12 verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel

It's not uncommon to hear statements like "I have a testimony of this gospel," or "The gospel has brought so many blessings in my life." We talk about "the gospel" all the time. But do we know what the gospel is? Can we define "the gospel"?

Often, members speak of the gospel as if it includes all of revealed religion-a conglomerate of all scriptural truth and spiritual knowledge. At other times, the term is used as a synonym for "the Church." In the scriptures, the gospel is much more specific and well defined.

What then is the good news of the gospel? It is the message that the consequences of the Fall of Adam do not condemn all of mankind to utter destruction (2 Ne. 9:9). It is the message that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can reconcile fallen man with God. This is the good news. This is why the Savior defines the gospel in terms of 1) his Atonement and 2) our responsibility to repent and be baptized:

   ...this is the gospel which I have given unto you-that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

   And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil-

   And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

   And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

   ...Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

   Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church (3 Ne. 27:13-16, 20-21, italics added)

   Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

   Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved;

   And upon this rock I will build my church; yea, upon this rock ye are built, and if ye continue, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you. (DC 33:11-13, italics added)

   And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me.

   And this is my gospel-repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom. (DC 39:5-6, italics added)

"It is significant that in Christ's own definition the gospel consists essentially of two parts-the atonement of Christ, and the principles and ordinances required of us to make the atonement effective in our lives."  (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 8: Alma 30 to Moroni, p.210)

DC 33:13 upon this rock I will build my church

"Not only is Jesus a Rock, but his gospel also is likened to a rock, a sure foundation. To Peter, who had obtained a testimony of Jesus by the revelation of the Holy Ghost, Jesus said, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' (Matt. 16:18.) The meaning of this statement is given in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith: 'Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved; and upon this rock I will build my church; yea, upon this rock ye are built, and if ye continue, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.' (D&C 33:12-13.) Likewise, 'Build upon my rock, which is my gospel; Deny not the spirit of revelation, nor the spirit of prophecy.' (D&C 11:24-25.) 'Behold, you have my gospel before you, and my rock, and my salvation.' (D&C 18:17.)

"The faithful disciple will build his life upon the foundation rock of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than upon the shifting sands of man's wisdom. Such a disciple is 'like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock; and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.' (Luke 6:48.) (Robert J. Matthews, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Jan. 1984, 52)

DC 33:14 remember the church articles and covenants to keep them

Delbert L. Stapley

May I paraphrase that verse: "And ye shall remember the church articles (the laws, commandments, and doctrines) and covenants (the covenant of baptism, sacrament, priesthood, and of the temple, and all other holy ordinances) to keep them." (Conference Report, April 1954, Afternoon Meeting, p.136)

DC 33:16 the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction

"Yes, the scriptures do give us counsel and prepare us in all things. They are pertinent to the situations we find ourselves in daily: how to meet temptation, how to recognize the pitfalls of prosperity, how to handle hurt feelings, maintain family stability, be a good neighbor, and manage one's finances; the list extends as far as study and human need will take us." (Thomas E. Hays, "The Challenge: 15 Minutes' Daily Reading," Ensign, Jan. 1975, 62)

John A. Widtsoe

I fear that too many Latter-day Saints know the Gospel only superficially, and take most of it for granted, without making the effort of inquiry. This is in direct contradiction to the Gospel principle that every member of the Church must, as it were, stand upon his own feet, and know for himself that the Gospel is true. The words of the Lord are clear: "And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction, and the power of my spirit quickeneth all things."

I urge upon all Latter-day Saints to read the scriptures, thoughtfully, every day. In some households it may even be possible to read a chapter from the scriptures before the evening meal begins, when the family are seated around the table. The practice is helpful to young people.

Whoever has failed to read the scriptures has missed much in life. The beauty and eloquence of language, and the sublimity of ideas, found in the Bible, are not even approached in any man- made literature. The simple faith, and clear exposition of eternal truth, in the Book of Mormon, are as a light on the path of life. The solemnity of thought, and the echo of the voice of the Lord, in the D&C, guide men in the actions of their lives. And the picture of the eternal love of God for his children as set forth in the Pearl of Great Price makes the human heart swell with joy. We may well pity the man who does not know the scriptures of the Lord. (Conference Report, April 1939, First Day-Morning Meeting 21-23.)

Ezra Taft Benson

The Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching, and missionary work. Of this we must repent. I do not know of a man living today who has been more true to the Book of Mormon than President Marion G. Romney. In a general conference address, he declared that the Book of Mormon was "the most effective piece of missionary literature we have." He quoted the Doctrine and Covenants, which states that "the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction" (D&C 33:16) and that "the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon." (D&C 42:12.) President Romney added, "It is of course obvious that unless we read, study, and learn the principles which are in the Book of Mormon, we, the elders, priests, and teachers of this church, cannot comply with this direction to teach them.

"But there is another reason why we should read it," President Romney continued. "By doing so we will fill and refresh our minds with the constant flow of that 'water' which Jesus said would be in us-'a well of water springing up into everlasting life.' (John 4:14.) We must obtain a continuing supply of this water if we are to resist evil and retain the blessings of being born again. ...

"If we would avoid adopting the evils of the world, we must pursue a course which will daily feed our minds with and call them back to the things of the Spirit. I know of no better way to do this than by reading the Book of Mormon."

And then he concluded: "And so, I counsel you, my beloved brothers and sisters and friends everywhere, to make reading in the Book of Mormon a few minutes each day a lifelong practice." I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to that counsel. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity-the pure love of Christ-will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness." (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1960, pp. 110-13.) ("Cleansing the Inner Vessel," Ensign, May 1986, 5-6)

Marion G. Romney

Another reason I like the Book of Mormon and want you to read it is that it will sustain you against attacks being made by the modernists against that other great scripture, the Bible. The Book of Mormon is not only a new witness for God; it is also a witness to the truth of the Bible. If I had the time, I could give you many specific instances on that point. The Book of Mormon accepts the Bible unreservedly as the word of God. It accepts the five books of Moses as having been written by Moses. This the modernists deny. It accepts the great prophecies of Isaiah as the prophecies of the son of Amos. The resurrected Lord himself said, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, "Great are the words of Isaiah," and he advises us to read them. Further, this Book of Mormon, the doctrines in it will sustain you against many false doctrines that are current in the world today. (Conference Report, April 1949, Afternoon Meeting 37 - 38.)

DC 33:16 the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things

Spencer J. Condie

I believe that "all things" means all things. He will not usurp or override our moral agency, but when given an invitation, his Spirit will augment and accelerate our agency. When the Spirit, the gift of the Holy Ghost, is given a chance to influence us, decisions become easier and despair dissipates as solutions to our challenges become clearly evident.

The Book of Mormon prophets make it very clear that the Holy Ghost is willing to exert a very powerful influence in our lives when we are responsive to his promptings. Nephi, Mormon, and Ether explained that the Spirit strives with us to guide our lives on righteous paths (see 2 Ne. 26:11; Morm. 5:16; Ether 2:15). Moroni proclaimed that the Spirit persuades us to do good (see Ether 4:11-12). Amulek taught that the Holy Ghost contends with us to do that which is right (see Alma 34:38), and King Benjamin explained that the Holy Ghost entices us to be righteous (see Mosiah 3:19).

The promptings of the Spirit were never intended to supplant our moral agency, but the Spirit will underscore preferable options in our behavior and clarify a certain course of action in our hearts and minds. ("Agency: The Gift of Choices," Ensign, Sept. 1995, 21)

DC 33:17 having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you

There are several instructive elements of the Lord's counsel regarding the parable of the Ten Virgins. First of all, in the scriptures oil is almost always representative of the Spirit. When the time comes, we will need oil, or in other words, the Spirit to be with us. We must be spiritually prepared for the Bridegroom. There will be no time to go and buy more oil when the Lord comes.

But that is not all. Ultimately, oil without a lamp will also leave you in darkness. You must also have a lamp in which to store and burn the precious oil. The lamp can be likened to a reservoir-a reservoir of spiritual experiences, a reservoir of testimony, a reservoir of faithful service. This reservoir makes it possible to store enough oil so as not to run out. Anyone can have a moment of spirituality, a fleeting episode of religious zeal, but only those who have an adequate reservoir will have enough oil to last to the appointed hour.

Finally, one more element is needed. Not only must we have the oil and a reservoir to put it in. We must also be anxiously awaiting and anxiously preparing for the Lord. Lamps which are "trimmed and burning" are ready. The Spirit need not go to waste sitting idly in the lamp. The power of that fuel is to be used for the benefit and illumination of all around. Trimmed and burning lamps are already working. They are burning already and will burn brighter when the Bridegroom comes. There is an enduring power in keeping our lamps trimmed and burning. The once faithful but "burned out" cannot endure with those who are always sharing the power of the Spirit with those around them.

Neal A. Maxwell

Yet, we live in a time in which far too many Church members are dimming rather than trimming their lamps. Trimming, by the way, means "to prepare for efficient burning," a state of readiness. Among the most sad words in all of scripture are those of the foolish virgins who lamented, "Our lamps are going out." (Matthew 25:8, alternate rendering of Greek.) Today, the lamps of some Church members, alas, 'are going out' needlessly." (We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ, 154)

DC 33:17 be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom

Wilford Woodruff

The parable of the ten virgins is intended to represent the second coming of the Son of Man, the coming of the Bridegroom to meet the bride, the Church, the Lamb's wife, in the last days; and I expect that the Savior was about right when he said, in reference to the members of the Church, that five of them were wise and five were foolish; for when the Lord of heaven comes in power and great glory to reward every man according to the deeds done in the body, if he finds one-half of those professing to be members of his Church prepared for salvation, it will be as many as can be expected, judging by the course that many are pursuing. (12 September 1875, Journal of Discourses, 18:110.)

Spencer W. Kimball

Even the foolish ones trimmed their lamps, but their oil was used up and they had none to refill the lamps. They hastened to make up for lost time. Now, too late, they were becoming conscious of the tragedy of unpreparedness. They had been taught. They had been warned all their lives. (Faith Precedes the Miracle, 254-255.)

Elder Delbert L. Stapley

I wonder, my brothers and sisters, which of the two categories we as members of the Church fall into? Do we and our families belong with the wise virgins or the foolish? Will we heed the Savior's warning given in this parable and make honest and wise preparation for entrance into his kingdom? Preparation for eternal glory must go progressively forward every day of our lives if we are not to be caught unprepared when earth life is finished or the great day of the Lord comes. (Conference Report, April 1959, Afternoon Meeting 107.)