D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 38
- Introductory Comments.
- Historical notes for Sections 129-131.
- 1839: Nauvoo Stake organized with three wards. By 1842 there were ten
wards in Nauvoo with a Bishop presiding over each. Shortly thereafter a
stake was organized on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River known as
the Zarahemla Stake.
- 1841: An epistle was issued from Hyrum Smith calling for all Saints
in Kirtland and elsewhere to gather to the Nauvoo area. Daily the Saints
came to Nauvoo. From 1840-1846 about 5000 British converts sailed from
England to Nauvoo.
- March 1842: The Prophet organized the Relief Society. The sisters elected
Emma Smith as President & she chose Sarah M Cleveland & Elizabeth
Ann Whitney as counselors. Eliza R Snow was appointed secretary. They were
prompted to organized due to the need to provide clothing for the workmen
on the temple.
- Sections 129-131 are not revelations, but instructions from the Prophet
Joseph Smith. All three sections were given in the early part of 1843 in
Illinois. They were not included in the Doctrine & Covenants at this
- They eventually made their way into the history of Joseph Smith (now
known as the History of the Church or Documentary History of the Church).
- These instructions first appeared in print in 1856 when they were published
in the Deseret News.
- These "instructions" were included in the 1876 version of
the Doctrine & Covenants under the direction of Brigham Young.
- Section 129.
- Historical Background.
- The instructions in Section 129 were originally given to the Twelve
in June & July of 1839 prior to the apostles leaving for their mission
to England. Parley P. Pratt was not present at that time since in was still
incarcerated at Richmond jail in Missouri.
- Section 129 contains the instructions given by the Prophet to Parley
Pratt upon his return from England in February 1843. Parley had remained
on his mission to England more than a year and a half longer than his other
brethren of the Twelve to preside over the Church and to edit the Millennial
- Upon Parley's return the Prophet was eager to hear the report of the
British mission. The Prophet spent the better part of two days with Parley
after his return.
- At this time Parley was eager to learn more about the doctrine of angels
and the keys to distinguish angels of the Lord from the angels of the devil.
The information given to Parley at this time is the source of Section 129.
- Discussion of Section 129.
- READ 129:1-3.
- THESE VERSES IDENTIFY TWO KINDS OF BEINGS IN HEAVEN, ANGELS & SPIRITS.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A "SPIRIT" AND AN "ANGEL"?
- In one sense an angel is "any being who acts as a messenger
for our Heavenly Father".
- Section 129 limits this definition.
- Angels = "resurrected personages have bodies of flesh and bones
and translated beings". (D&C Student Manual, p320)
- Spirits = "Spirits are children of God who have not yet entered
mortality, and are thus unembodied; or spirits are those whose spirits
are separated from their bodies in death, who are disembodied."
(Student Manual, p320)
- IN V3 IT REFERS TO "SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT". WHAT
IS MEANT BY THIS PHRASE?
- The spirits of individuals who have worked out their salvation, but
are awaiting the day of their resurrection. (Studies 1:505)
- READ 129:4-9. The Three Grand Keys.
- WHY THE NECESSITY FOR THESE THREE GRAND KEYS?
- When the Prophet was instructing the Twelve in 1839 he stated: "We
may look for angels and receive their ministrations, but we are to try
the spirits and prove them, for it is often the case that men make a mistake
in regard to these things.... Lying spirits are going forth in the earth.
There will be great manifestations of spirits, both false and true."
- The Prophet told this story: "A sister in the state of New
York had a vision who said it was told her that if she would go to a certain
place in the woods an angel would appear to her. --She went at the appointed
time and saw a glorious personage descending arrayed in white, with sandy
coloured hair; he commenced and told her to fear God and said that her
husband was called to do great things, but that he must not go more than
one hundred miles from home or he would not return; whereas God had called
him to go to the ends of the earth: and he has since been more than one
thousand miles from home and is yet alive. Many things were spoken by this
personage and many things that were false. --How it may be asked was this
known to be a bad angel?" (Studies 1:505)
- THIS IS CERTAINLY A SITUATION IN WHICH THE MESSENGER SHOULD HAVE BEEN
- The Prophet went on to say in reference to the above story that this
bad angel could have also been know "by the color of his hair"
and "by contradicting a former revelation."
- The Prophet was so familiar with beings from the other side that it
seems he did not always need these Three Grand Keys. Another time the Prophet
related: "A man came to me in Kirtland, and told me he had seen
an angel, and described his dress. I told him he had seen no angel, and
that there was no such dress in heaven." (Studies 1:505)
- In 1839 the Prophet said that an angel never has wings. (Studies 1:504)
- WHAT ARE THE THREE GRAND KEYS?
- If an angel appears, he will shake your hand and you will feel it.
- If a righteous spirit appears he will refuse to shake your hand.
- If an evil spirit appears, he will attempt to shake your hand, but
you will not feel it.
- CAN YOU IMAGINE SHAKING THE HAND OF MESSENGER OF THE ADVERSARY AS AN
ANGEL OF LIGHT?
- Section 130.
- Historical Background.
- The Prophet arrived in Ramus, Illinois on Saturday, April 1, 1843.
He stayed at the home of his good friend, Benjamin F. Johnson. He came
with Orson Hyde of the Twelve and his scribe William Clayton.
- Early that morning the Prophet and Brother Johnson went into the nearby
woods for a talk. The Prophet introduced Brother Johnson to the principle
of plurality of wives which had earlier been received by revelation. He
asked Benjamin to help him convince Almira, Benjamin's sister, that she
should become one of Joseph's plural wives. This was shocking to Benjamin.
The Prophet calmed the young man's fears and prophesied that soon he would
receive a testimony of the "principle".
- A public meeting was held that morning at 10:00 AM. Elder Hyde was
the first speaker.
- He preached regarding the Second Coming of the Savior and said, "He
will appear on a white horse as a warrior."
- He also gave it as his opinion that "It is our privilege to
have the Father and the Son dwelling in our hearts."
- At lunch the Prophet told Orson that he was going to offer some correction
of Orson's morning sermon. Orson replied: "They shall be thankfully
- The Prophet preached at the afternoon and evening meetings. His words
were recorded by his scribe, William Clayton. A portion of those teachings
constitute Section 130.
- Discussion of Section 130.
- READ 130:1-3. Eternal principles.
- WHAT PRINCIPLES ARE TAUGHT HERE?
- When the Lord appears he will have a body like unto ourselves.
- Salvation & life in the eternities takes places in a society, not
in a lone cabin in the woods.
- God manifests Himself in the hearts of the righteous through the Holy
Spirit, but when God comes to a man it is in a personal appearance such
as at the First Vision and as in the Kirtland Temple.
- V4-5: "In answer to the question--Is not the reckoning of God's
time, angel's time, prophet's time, and man's time, according to the planet
on which they reside? "I answer, Yes...."
- WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
- According to Alma 40:8: "...all is as one day with God, and
time only is measured unto men."
- Einstein in his theory of relativity suggests that time is measured
differently relative to a person's position in space.
- Lael Woodbury, at one time dean of the College of Fine Arts at
- BYU made the following comments regarding time:
- "The evidence suggests that God...perceives time as we perceive
space. That's why all things are round about him and he is above all things,
and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things.
Time like space, is 'continually before the Lord'..."
- "We perceive a space object immediately. We simply look at
it, and to a certain degree we 'know' it. We do not go through a one-by
one, sequential, additive process. We perceive that it is, and we are able
to distinguish it from any other object.
- "I'm suggesting that God perceives time as instantaneously
as we perceive space. For us, time is difficult. Lacking higher facility,
we are as blind about time as a sightless man is about space. We perceive
time in the same way that we perceive music--sequentially...."
- "Equally complete now is each of our lives before the Lord.
We explore them sequentially because we are time-blind. But the Lord, perceiving
time as space, sees us as we are, not as we are becoming. We are, for him,
beings without time. We are continually before him--the totality of our
psyches, personalities, bodies, choices, and behaviors." (SM,
- READ 130:5-8.
- COMMENTS ON THESE VERSES?
- READ 130:9
- WHAT DOES THIS VERSE MEAN?
- Brigham Young: "When it [the earth] becomes celestialized,
it will be like the sun, and be prepared for the habitation of the saints,
and be brought back into the presence of the Father and the Son, it will
not then be an opaque body as it now is, but it will be like the stars
of the firmament, full of light and glory; it will be a body of light.
John compare it, in its celestial state, to a sea of glass." (JD
- Brigham Young: "This earth, when it becomes purified and sanctified,
or celestialized, will become like a sea of glass; and a person, by looking
into it, can know things past, present, and to come; though none but celestialized
beings can enjoy this privilege. They will look into the earth, and the
things they desire to know will be exhibited to them, the same as the face
is seen by looking into the mirror."
- READ 130:14-17. Time of the second coming.
- Joseph Smith's teachings as to time of the Second Coming in these "instructions"
were particularly useful to the Saints in the Nauvoo period when speculation
was rife concerning the Lord's appearance.
- Many millennialistic prophecies were in the air in the U.S. in the
- Foremost among those who were predicting actual dates was William Miller,
who had predicted--according to his biblical interpretation--that Christ
would appear on April 3, 1843.
- At the April 1843 general conference of the Church, the Prophet stated:
"Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple,
and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea
be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and
the temple, &; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will
make his appearance."
- READ 130:18-19. Whatever knowledge we gain in this life will go with
us into the next.
- Some might suggest that we wait until we pass on and the veil is lifted,
but as it states in verse 19 whatever we gain in this life will give us
an advantage in the next.
- WHAT KNOWLEDGE SHOULD WE BE ATTEMPTING TO GAIN?
- President Kimball: "No man can ever really find God in a university
campus laboratory.... God and his program will be found only in deep pondering,
appropriate reading, much kneeling in devout, humble prayer, and in a sincerity
born of need and dependence.... "President Joseph Fielding Smith [said]
'that a man cannot be saved in ignorance of the saving principles of the
Gospel. We cannot be saved without faith in God. We cannot be saved in
our sins.... We must receive the ordinances and the covenants pertaining
to the Gospel and be true and faithful to the end.'... "The ultimate
and greatest of all knowledge, then, is to know God and his program for
our exaltation." (CR, Oct. 1968, p.130)
- READ 130:20-21. The law of cause & effect.
- Whatever good we do will have positive consequences. The converse is
true. And how far reaching those consequences may be for good or evil.
- READ 130:22-23. The personality of the Godhead.
- Section 131.
- Historical Background.
- The Prophet arrived in Ramus for another visit on Tuesday, May 16,
1843. He made several social calls and then went to the home of Benjamin
Johnson for the evening.
- Wrote Brother Johnson in his memoirs: "In the evening he called
me and my wife to come and sit down, for he wished to marry us according
to the Law of the Lord. I thought it was a joke, and said, I should not
marry my wife again, unless she courted me, for I did it all the first
time. He chided my levity, told me he was in earnest, and so it proved,
for we stood up and were sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise."
- That evening the Prophet gave the instructions contained in 131:1-4
to William Clayton.
- 131:5-6 were part of a sermon delivered the following day. Later that
same day a Methodist preacher by the name of Samuel Prior was called upon
to speak to the congregation. After Prior concluded his remarks to Prophet
politely asked Prior for permission to make comments on his speech.
- 131:7-8 were part of the comments made at that time.
- Discussion of Section 131.
- READ 131:1-4. The significance of eternal marriage.
- WHAT IS ETERNAL INCREASE?
- Joseph Smith: "Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting
covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power
and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when
they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection."
- The 1st Presidency declared on June 30, 1916: "So far as the
stages of eternal progression and attainment have been made known though
divine revelation, we are to understand that only resurrected and glorified
beings can become parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted souls
have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal life; and the
spirits born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence through
the several stages or estates by which the glorified parents have attained
- READ 131:5-6. More sure word of prophecy.
- WHAT IS "THE MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY?"
- The Prophet defined this further when he stated: "The assurance
that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life
in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was
an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll
and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around,
yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial,
trouble, and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom
- Bruce R. McConkie: "Those members of the Church who devote
themselves wholly to righteousness, living by every word that proceedeth
forth from the mouth of God, make their <calling and election sure.>
That is, they receive the more sure word of prophecy, which means that
the Lord seals their exaltation upon them while they are yet in this life.
Peter summarized the course of righteousness which the saints must pursue
to make their calling and election sure and then (referring to his experience
on the Mount of Transfiguration with James and John) said that those three
had received this more sure word of prophecy. (2 Pet. 1.) "Those so
favored of the Lord are sealed up against all manner of sin and blasphemy
except the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and the shedding of innocent
blood. That is, their exaltation is assured; their calling and election
is made sure, because they have obeyed the fulness of God's laws and have
overcome the world." (MormDoc, p110)
- READ 131:7-8. All spirit is matter.
- "The materials out of which this earth was formed are just
as the materials of the glorious personage of the Lord himself.... This
Being, when he formed the earth, did not form it out of something that
had no existence, but he formed it out of materials that had an existence
from all eternity; they never had a beginning, neither will one particle
of substance now in existence ever have an end. There are just as many
particles now as there were at any previous period of duration, and will
be while eternity lasts. Substance had no beginning; to say that laws had
no beginning would be another thing; some laws might have been eternal,
while others might have had a lawgiver. But the earth was formed out of
eternal materials, and it was made to be inhabited and God peopled it with
creatures of his own formation." (JD 19:286)