“The Only True and Living Church”

Lesson 9 - Selected verses from D&C 20; 21; 27; 115


Ancient prophecies (Isaiah 11:1-12; 29:13-14; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Daniel 2:44-45) were fulfilled in 1830 as the Church was organized.  This followed the publishing of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the priesthood. Doctrine and Covenants Section 20 contains instructions from the Lord to Joseph Smith about the manner of organization of the Church.


The Church is organized in the latter days.


·         D&C 20:1 and its heading indicate the date for the organization of the Church and why that date was selected—because it was the Lord’s mortal birthday.


·         Ten years passed between the reception of the First Vision and the formal organization of the Church.  Many important milestones had to be accomplished in that decade of testing and preparation.


·         In 1980, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said: “This day of organization was, in effect, a day of commencement, the graduation of Joseph from ten years of remarkable schooling.  It had begun with the incomparable vision in the grove in the spring of 1820, when the Father and the Son appeared to the fourteen-year-old boy. It had continued with the tutoring of Moroni, with both warnings and instructions given on multiple occasions.  Then there was the translation of the ancient record, and the inspiration, the knowledge, the revelation that came from that experience.  There was the bestowal of divine authority, the ancient priesthood again conferred upon men by those who were its rightful possessors—John the Baptist in the case of the Aaronic Priesthood, and Peter, James, and John in the case of the Melchizedek.  There were revelations, a number of them, in which the voice of God was heard again, and the channel of communication opened between man and the Creator.  All of these were preliminary to that historic April 6(Ensign, Apr. 1980, 11-12)


·         Both the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (see D&C 20:6-12) and the restoration of the priesthood were preparatory events and had to be accomplished for the following reasons:

ü       The Book of Mormon contains a fullness of the gospel

ü       The Book of Mormon proves the holy scriptures are true

ü       The Book of Mormon proves that God does inspire men and call them as prophets in all ages

ü       The Book of Mormon shows that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever

ü       Priesthood authority was necessary to govern the Church

ü       Priesthood authority was necessary to officiate in the ordinances of salvation


·         On April 6, 1830, the log home of Peter Whitmer Sr. in Fayette, NY, was the gathering place for a group of more than 50 who met to organize the Church according to the law and at the direction of the Lord.  At least six members were required for legal formation of a church according to New York’s statutes, so six men—all of whom had previously been baptized and who had seen the gold plates of the Book of Mormon—were chosen to be the first six official members of the Church.  The six were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdrey, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer Jr., Samuel H. Smith, and David Whitmer. (History of the Church, 1:76)


·         D&C 20:1 gives the original name of the Church at its organization—“the Church of Christ”.

D&C 115:4 records “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” as the name the Lord gave to the Church in April 1838.  3 Nephi 27:8 teaches the importance of the name by which the Church is known.


·         Of course, the world gave the Church a nickname, but we have been asked by the Church leaders not to use that name when we refer to the Church or its membership.  Instead, we should always refer to the full name of the Church or use the terms of “Latter-day Saints” or “LDS”.


The Lord commands Church members to follow the prophet.


During the meeting at which the Church was organized, the presiding officers were sustained—Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey.  Then, the Lord instructed members to follow the Prophet Joseph’s direction in D&C 21.


D&C 21:4-5 teaches us how to regard the words of the living prophet (not just Joseph Smith).  We find the words and counsel of the living prophets in the Church magazines and publications, official letters, and at General Conferences.  (In class you may wish to volunteer comments about what counsel or teachings of a living prophet have been special to you.)


D&C 21:5 gives the Lord’s counsel to give heed to the words of a prophet “in all patience and faith.”  (In class you may wish to volunteer your experience about when some counsel or teaching of the prophet has required patience or faith from you.)


D&C 21:6 promises blessings for following the prophet.  These promises are fulfilled in the lives of our members each day.  These include:

·         “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against you”

·         “…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.”


       In D&C 21:9 the Lord promises “a mighty blessing” to those who labor in his service. 

(teacher’s comment: Note that the operative word here is “labor”.)


The Lord encourages Church members to meet together often to partake of the sacrament.


The meeting at which the Church was organized included the partaking of the sacrament.

D&C 20:75-79 give direction for the sacrament ordinance.

D&C 20:75 teaches that the sacrament should be partaken “often”.

D&C 20:77, 79 contain promises that we make when we partake of the sacrament.  Both prayers emphasize remembering Jesus Christ.  We are to remember Him always.  Promises are also made to us for partaking worthily. 

D&C 27:2 also contained counsel to Joseph Smith about the sacrament.


The Lord explains the duties of church members.





·          President Wilford Woodruff told of a meeting in which the Prophet Joseph Smith prophesied of the Church’s growth.  The meeting was in “a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland, and who had gathered together to go off in Zion’s camp.” After several of the men had borne their testimonies of the work, the Prophet said: “Brethren I have been much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tomight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap.  You don’t comprehend it…It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.” (Conference Report, April 1898, 57)





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