D&C 49 Correcting Mistaken Beliefs
The section heading mentions four of the beliefs or practices of the members of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (also known as “Shakers,” because of their tendency to shake and contort when they felt they were full of the Spirit of God). These are:
- Jesus Christ had already returned, in the person of Ann Lee (she was the primary founder of the Shaker movement, and had died in 1784).
- Baptism by water is not essential.
- Marriage is to be rejected in favor of a life of celibacy.
- Meat should not be eaten (although not all their members believed and practiced this).
What did the Lord say about the Shakers in verse 2? What did he say to Leman Copley (who had formerly belonged to the Shakers) in verses 1, 4?
Regarding the four points above, the Lord revealed His true doctrines, and He added more. Find the following:
- What did the Lord say to declare the truth regarding His Second Coming? (verses 5-7, see also verses 22-25). What additional, related truths did He teach in these verses?
- What did He say about baptism? (verses 8-14). What other doctrines did He add in these verses?
- What was the Lord’s response to the Shakers’ belief regarding marriage? (verses 15-17). What further truths about marriage did He add in these verses?
- How did He reply regarding the eating of meat? (verses 18-21). What other related truths did He add in these verses?
To push the point further, it is always instructive to see that in addition to correcting the wrong beliefs, the Lord also revealed foundational, underlying truths and doctrines that pertain to each point, such as:
- “They have done unto the Son of Man even as they listed; and he has taken his power on the right hand of his glory, and now reigneth in the heavens” (verse 6).
- “I have sent unto you mine everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning” (verse 9).
- “Marriage is ordained of God unto man … that the earth might answer the end of its creation” (verses 15-16).
- “The beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment” (verse 19). Regarding the unnecessary shedding of the blood of “beasts” and “fowls” (as stated in verse 21), see also JST Genesis 9:11 (in footnote 21a); D&C 59:16-20; 104:13.
Indeed, all gospel truths are underlined by doctrines and principles. The Lord not only commands us, but He also teaches us His truths, purposes, and reasoning, and He adds His promises.
As assigned (in verse 1), the brethren shared this revelation with the Shakers and attempted to teach them, but they were rejected. What do you think are effective ways to share the restored gospel with people who are active in other religions?
D&C 49:23-28 “Be Not Deceived, But Continue in Steadfastness”
As the Lord further expounds on His Second Coming and some of the events leading up to it, look for the many things He prophesied for our day in verses 23-25. What closing promises did the Lord make to His Saints in verses 26-27?
D&C 50:1-9 False Spirits
As we saw in Sections 28 and 43, again the Lord sees fit to counsel the Saints regarding deception through false spiritual phenomena. Satan is real and has a measure of power and influence, as confirmed in these statements of the Lord:
- “There are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world” (verse 2).
- “Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you” (verse 3).
- “Wo unto them who are deceivers and hypocrites … who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power” (verses 6-7).
- “Let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me” (verse 9; see also verse 15).
We may feel that we are never deceived by the adversary and his followers, but clearly there are lessons in these verses for all of us.
D&C 50:10-22 Only by the Spirit
The next set of verses help us see how the Lord operates among mankind, providing crucial guidance for us. Find in verses 10-21 the Lord’s eight uses of by the Spirit, by the Comforter, or in the Spirit. Note the things He said we must do by the Spirit:
- Reason together, understand Him and understand each other (verses 10-12).
- Preach His gospel (verses 14, 17-18, 21-22).
- Grow from weakness to strength (verse 16).
- Receive the word of truth (verses 19-22).
Verse 22 gives us three keys for knowing if our teaching and preaching are done in God’s way. It tells us that both the teacher and the ones being taught “understand one another,” that “both are edified,” and that they “rejoice together.” When these three things happen, we know we have spoken and listened by the Spirit.
D&C 50:23-29, 35 Light versus Darkness
Verse 23 is a simple, yet powerful key for judging our entertainment, activities, media, relationships, thoughts, and so forth: “That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness” (see also Moroni 7:12-17). And verses 24-29, 35 teach us the glorious present and future of those who receive light.
D&C 50:40-46 I Am in Your Midst
Read and ponder these verses carefully, and list the Lord’s sweet instructions and promises. How do these verses make you feel? These closing verses are a perfect example of the Lord’s teachings in this section regarding how to recognize and follow the Spirit, and how to reject darkness and choose light. Also, these verses offer us great hope regarding the Lord’s rewards for the faithful.