D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 8
D&C 20-22

  1. Introductory Comments.
  2. Section 20.
    1. Historical Background.
      1. Joseph & Martin Harris were able to persuade Egbert B. Grandin, manager and principal owner of the Wayne Sentinel (newspaper), printed in Palmyra, to print the Book of Mormon.
        1. Grandin agreed to the proposition for $3,000.
        2. Since Joseph, Oliver, or none of the others had the money, Martin Harris mortgaged his farm to Grandin. The agreement was that if the $3,000 was not paid within 18 months, Grandin was authorized to sell the Harris farm at public auction to secure the cash.
      2. The Prophet's history says nothing about the difficulties that arose while the Book of Mormon was being printed.
        1. Care was taken to protect the manuscript.
        2. Oliver transcribed the entire manuscript.
        3. The copy was taken to the printer in small quantities.
          1. John H. Gilbert, the typesetter, tells of Hyrum Smith bringing the first installment of 24 pages hidden under his vest, with vest and coat closely buttoned over it.
        4. The manuscript was picked up at night and taken back to the Smith house.
        5. When it was returned home mother Smith says: "I then placed it in a chest, which was so high that when placed under the bed, the whole weight of the bedstead rested upon the lid. Having made this arrangement, we felt quite at rest, and that night, the family retired to rest at the usual hour, all save Peter Whitmer, who spent the night on guard." (HJS, p. 159)
        6. One Esquire Cole, ex-justice of the peace, published in the Palmyra Reflector parts of the Book of Mormon in a different form on January 2, 11, 13, 22, 1830. He promised his subscribers to publish a portion each week. He only stopped after the Prophet threatened to have him arrested for copyright violation.
          1. His mother said of this work: "In this, he had thrown together a parcel of the most vulgar, disgusting prose, and the meanest, and most low-lived doggerel, in juxtaposition with a portion of the Book of Mormon, which he had pilfered." (HJS, pp 164-165)
        7. When that didn't work, the people of Palmyra and vicinity held a mass meeting and resolved to pledge themselves not to purchase a copy of the Book of Mormon and use their influence to persuade others not to buy it.
          1. This caused Grandin to stop the publication of the Book. After several conferences with Joseph, Martin, and others he agreed to continue the work if the $3,000 was placed in his hands in gold eagles ($10 gold pieces).
          2. Martin was tardy in making the payment. On April 7, 1831, Martin Harris sold 151 acres to Thomas Lakey for $3,000.
      3. Sometime prior to April 6, 1830, Joseph received the revelation now known as Section 20 which gave information pertaining to the organization of the Church.
        1. It has been called the Constitution of the Church.
        2. This revelation, along with Section 22 were called the Articles and Covenants of the Church.
    2. The Restoration Revelations.
      1. V1 - The day of the organization of the Church appointed April 6, 1830.
        1. WHY WAS THE CHURCH ORGANIZED ON APRIL 6?
          1. Harold B. Lee: "April 6, 1973, is a particularly significant date because it commemorates not only the anniversary of the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this dispensation, but also the anniversary of the birth of the Savior, our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ." (CR, Apr. 1973)
          2. Joseph Smith on the anniversary of the Church in 1833 recorded: "The day was spent in a very agreeable manner, in giving and receiving knowledge with appertained to this kingdom--it being just 1800 years since the Savior laid down His life that men might have everlasting life, and only three years since the Church had come out of the wilderness, preparatory for the last dispensation." (DHC 1:337)
      2. V2 - Joseph called to be an apostle and the 1st Elder of the Church.
      3. V3 - Oliver called to be an apostle and the 2nd Elder of the Church.
      4. There was a listing of some of the events leading to the organization of the Church.
        1. V5 - Reference is made to the First Vision where it says, "After it was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world;"
          1. WHAT DOES THE LORD MEAN WHEN HE REFERS TO JOSEPH BEING "ENTANGLED AGAIN IN THE VANITIES OF THE WORLD"?
            1. The Prophet says this of the time between the First Vision and the appearance of Moroni in 1823: "I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament." (JS-History 1:28)
        2. V6-8 - Reference is made to the visitations by Moroni after Joseph humbles himself and repents..
        3. V10 - The vision of the 3 witnesses is referred to here.
      5. Ten years passed between the First Vision and the restoration of the Lord's Church.
        1. DURING THIS TIME, HOW HAD THE EVENTS IN JOSEPH SMITH'S LIFE BEEN A PREPARATION FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH?
          1. Joseph grew personally.
            1. He learned humility.
            2. He learned obedience to the Lord's commandments.
            3. He learned that the truth is something to be safeguarded.
          2. The Book of Mormon was translated and published.
            1. A tool which led to the restoration of God's authority.
            2. A vital tool in bringing people to the truth.
          3. The restoration of the priesthood by John the Baptist & Peter, James, & John.
          4. Gordon B. Hinckley: "This day of organization was, in effect, a day of commencement, the graduation for Joseph from ten years of remarkable schooling."
    3. Articles of Faith & Doctrine.
      1. These verses provide items of faith and doctrine.
        1. These statements of belief are points of departure from conventional religion of that day.
      2. The Doctrines:
        1. There is a God, who is infinite & eternal. The creator of heaven and earth and all things (17).
          1. This language eliminates all such incomprehensible language about God that had crept into other Christian faiths such as a God "without body, parts, and passions".
        2. He created man after His own image (18).
        3. He gave men commandments to show their love for God and to serve (19).
        4. It is through transgression of these commandments that men became fallen and sensual (not through Adam's transgression) (20).
        5. Thus the Father gave His Son as a sacrifice (21).
        6. All who believe, in all times, in Christ, and are baptized in His name, and endure to the end are saved (25-26).
          1. Often we are accused of not being Christian. But here we find in this early declaration of doctrine verses that speak of Jesus Christ.
        7. Mention of the doctrines of justification and sanctification. (30-31).
    4. Instructions of Church Operation.
      1. Baptism.
        1.  READ V37.
          1. A good reminder of the covenants we made at the time of baptism.
          2. HOW CAN WE IMPROVE OUR COMMITMENT TO KEEP THE PROMISES WE MADE AT THE TIME OF BAPTISM?
      2. V38 - "The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ--"
        1. Contained in v38-70.
        2. The duty of the members (69): "And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures--walking in holiness before the Lord."
      3. Instructions on baptism (71-74).
      4. Instructions on the administration of the sacrament (75-79).
      5. Additional instruction on the operation of the Church & maintenance of Church records (80-84).
  3. Section 21.
    1. Historical Background.
      1. On April 6, 1830 several of the believers gathered at the home of Peter Whitmer to organize the church according to the laws of New York. State law required 3-9 trustees to transact the affairs of a new religious organization. Six men, including the Prophet & Oliver Cowdery were selected. According to David Whitmer there were approximately 50 persons present.
      2. Events:
        1. Opened w/solemn prayer.
        2. A vote taken by those present to accept Joseph & Oliver as their teachers in the Kingdom and to organized the church according to the commandment received (see Section 20).
        3. Joseph ordained Oliver an elder, then Oliver ordained Joseph.
        4. The sacrament was blessed & passed to those present.
        5. Those previously baptized were confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost.
        6. The Holy Ghost was poured out and some prophesied.
        7. Several were baptized on the day of organization including the Prophet's parents, Martin Harris, and Orin Porter Rockwell (almost 17 years old). Porter worked odd jobs giving what little money he could to aid the Prophet in publication of the Book of Mormon.
      3. Section 21 was revealed to the Prophet on this occasion.
    2.  READ V1-2,4-6. Joseph Smith called a prophet and we should heed his words.
      1. WHAT ARE WE COMMANDED TO DO?
        1. Give heed to all his words & commandments.
        2. Receive, as if from the Lord's own mouth, in patience and faith.
      2. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GIVE HEED TO THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET?
      3. WHAT WILL BE THE RESULT OF GIVING HEED? (See verse 6)
        1. "the gates of hell shall not prevail against you"
        2. "cause the heavens to shake for your good"
        3. Harold B. Lee: "Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet, 'as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; ... as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.' (D&C 21:4-5.) There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory.' (D&C 21:6.)" (CR, Oct 1970)
      4. President Benson: "The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has . . . instructions from God for us today. God's revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Every generation has need of the ancient scripture plus the current scripture from the prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering which you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord's mouthpiece."
      5. My testimony of our current prophet: Gordon B. Hinckley.
  4. Section 22.
    1. Historical Background.
      1. Given shortly after the organization of the Church.
      2. Some wished to join the Church and had previously been baptized in other Churches. They questioned the necessity of being baptized again.
        1. Such may have been the case with the Prophet's mother, as with others:
          1. In her early marriage she was miraculously healed after a personal revelation assured her she would not die.
          2. Said mother Smith: "At length I considered it my duty to be baptized and, finding a minister who was willing to baptize me and leave me free in regard to joining any religious denomination, I stepped forward and yielded obedience to this ordinance, after which I continued to read the Bible as formerly until my eldest son had attained his twenty second year." (HJS, p.36)
      3. Here the Lord sets straight, at the beginning of the Church, the necessity for baptism by one with proper authority.
    2.  READ 22:1-4.
      1. Consider the power of true baptism when attended by good works.
        1. John A. Widtsoe: "I remember the man who baptized me into the Church, a very common, ordinary man to begin with, a ropewalker with a jug of beer two or three times a day, a glass of whiskey a little later, and a cud of tobacco mostly all day long, living a useless, purposeless life, except for three meals a day, and the satisfaction of some of the carnal appetites. He heard the gospel and accepted it. It was good. It was something he had been longing for. The man grew in power and stature in the Church. As I recall it, he filled five or six missions and presided over one of the missions of the Church. He was the same man, with the same arms, same feet, same body, same mind, but changed because of the Spirit that comes with the acceptance of eternal truth. Have not we seen this in our own families and friends, in the little towns in which we live? Have not we felt our own strength grow mightier in love for our fellow men, in love for our daily tasks, in love for all the good things of life?" (CR, Apr. 1952)
  5. Next Week.
    1. Lesson 9: Sections 23-27.