D&C 102 Membership Councils
This section is composed of meeting minutes which give instructions regarding “important difficulties that arise in the Church,” including procedures for “hearing cases” (see the section summary, which follows the section heading). What were once called church courts, then disciplinary councils, are now designated as membership councils. Those who have participated in such councils—both leaders and those in need of repentance—are apt to refer to them as “courts of love,” for the Spirit of the Lord and His love are often manifested to a great degree.
Significant points from D&C 102 include:
- The brethren assigned to this first council were asked “whether they would act in that office according to the law of heaven” (verse 4).
- “The accused, in all cases, has a right to one-half of the council [as advocates], to prevent insult or injustice” (verse 15).
- “Every man is to speak according to equity and justice” (verse 16).
- “In all cases, the accuser and the accused shall have a privilege of speaking for themselves before the council” (verse 18).
- “Should the parties, or either of them be dissatisfied with the decision of said council, they may appeal” (verse 27).
D&C 103:1-14 To Redeem Zion
In relation to the events preceding this revelation, Elder Parley P. Pratt recorded: “After making our escape into the county of Clay—being reduced to the lowest poverty…. In the winter of 1834, when a conference was held at my house, in which it was decided that two of the elders should be sent to Ohio, in order to counsel with President Smith and the Church at Kirtland, and take some measures for the relief or restoration of the people thus plundered and driven from their homes, the question was put to the conference: ‘Who would volunteer to perform so great a journey?’ The poverty of all, and the inclement season of the year made all hesitate. At length Lyman Wight and myself offered our services, which were readily accepted. I was at this time entirely destitute of proper clothing for the journey; and I had neither horse, saddle, bridle, money, nor provisions to take with me; or to leave with my wife, who lay sick and helpless” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p. 87).
After a winter journey of six weeks, Brothers Wight and Pratt arrived in Kirtland and gave their report on conditions in Missouri to the Prophet Joseph Smith, who then sought the Lord’s will and received Section 103. Look for the following:
- What did the Lord say He would teach the Saints in this revelation? (verse 1).
- What did the Lord say He would do to the Saints’ oppressors? (verse 2).
- What are the two reasons the Lord gave for not intervening earlier to put a stop to the evil being foisted upon the Saints? (verses 3-4).
- What promises did the Lord make? (verses 6-7, 11-13).
- What warnings did He give? (verses 8-10, 14).
How do you think D&C 103:12 can be applied to your life now?
D&C 103:15-28 “Let Not Your Hearts Faint”
Although much of what He outlined in these verses is yet to be fulfilled, the Lord promised:
- The redemption of Zion (the possession, population, and building up of Zion in Missouri), which “must needs come by power” (verse 15, see also verse 17).
- Rather than provide His travelling Saints an angel to guide them to Zion (as was done in the case of the children of Israel as they were led out of Egypt), the Lord promises that in the last days He will personally lead them along (verses 19-20).
- Further sacrifices will be required, and the Lord expects His true disciples to be willing to lay down their lives for His purposes (verses 27-28).
How might you apply D&C 103:19-20 to yourself?
D&C 103:29-36 “All Victory and Glory”
Read verses 29-36 regarding the “companies” the Lord instructed the Saints to organize for a march to Missouri.
The Lord directed Joseph to organize a body of men to travel to Missouri to deliver clothing and other necessaries, and to seek the “restoration and redemption” of the land. A few elderly workmen were left behind in Kirtland to continue building the temple. Throughout its journey of almost two months, this movement—which became known as Zion’s Camp—was gradually strengthened with additional volunteers, arms, supplies, and money from Latter-day Saints living in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. At the Salt River in Missouri—where Joseph Smith had arranged to meet Hyrum Smith’s company from Pontiac, Michigan—the army was at its largest: 207 men, 11 women, 11 children, and 25 baggage wagons. In the end, the men did not engage in any fighting against the Missourians, but they learned valuable lessons. Many of those who became leaders in the Church learned from the experience, including all those who became members of the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (established one year later) and also most of the first Quorum of the Seventy.
Read again D&C 103:36 and ponder your own diligence, faithfulness, and prayers.
D&C 104 “For the Salvation of Men”
Problems persisted in the organization and implementation of the law of consecration and its United Firm (United Order), which was established to carry it out. In this revelation, the Lord makes clear from the beginning the purposes of the law of consecration, and what can impede our success in living it:
- It is “for the benefit of my church, and for the salvation of men” (verse 1); as well as “for the purpose of building up my church and kingdom on the earth, and to prepare my people for the time when I shall dwell with them” (verse 59).
- It will lead to “a multiplicity of blessings” and “a crown of glory” for its adherents (verses 2, 7).
- It can fail because of covetousness, “feigned” (fake or pretended) words, covenant-breakers, and mockers against God (verses 4-6; see also verse 52).
- It can bring upon transgressors the calamity of being cursed, trodden down, and subject to the wrath of God and “the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption” (verses 4-5, 8-10; see also D&C 105:15).
The Lord pointed out that some Church members were waiting to see if things worked out well in Missouri, before they would be willing to donate money and to move to Missouri (see verses 7-8). We must not place conditions upon our obedience!
The Lord follows with these affirmations:
- We are stewards before God; accountable to Him for our care and use of all earthly blessings we may receive (verses 11-13, 17).
- God has created all things and they all belong to Him and have a purpose (stated emphatically in each of verses 13, 14, 15, 17; see also verses 55-56).
- The earth is full and contains all that mankind may ever need, even “enough and to spare” (verse 17).
- The Lord commands us to take of “the abundance” which He has given us and impart our “portion … to the poor and the needy.” Our failure to obey can lead us to be numbered with the tormented and wicked in hell (verse 18; see also Luke 16:19-23; Mosiah 4:16-27).
- All this is followed by the Lord’s specific instructions—in relation to the law of consecration—to seven men regarding their stewardships and the promised blessings for them and their families, in this life and into the eternities (verses 19-46).
- An additional important instruction is to “pay all your debts,” and that the Lord will help us as we exercise “diligence and humility and the prayer of faith” (verses 78-79; in verse 83 the Lord refers to debt as “bondage”).
Each is left to determine what is our “abundance” and what is the “portion” we are to impart to the poor and needy, and how to do it.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Twelve wrote, “Because of greed … and the worldly circumstances in which they found themselves, the saints did not achieve great success in the practice of [the law of consecration], and in due course the Lord withdrew from them the privilege of so conducting their temporal affairs. Many of the underlying principles which were part of the law of consecration, however, have been retained and are still binding upon the Church” (Mormon Doctrine , p. 158).
D&C 105 More on Redeeming Zion
The Missourians heard that a “Mormon army” was advancing, so they assembled a militia and began drilling. Among other persecutions, they burned 150 homes belonging to the Saints. Joseph Smith sent Orson Hyde and Parley P. Pratt to Jefferson City, the state capital, to ascertain whether Governor Dunklin was still willing to honor his promise to reinstate the Saints in Jackson County with the assistance of the state militia. The interview was a bitter disappointment, with Dunklin claiming that calling out the militia would probably plunge the state into open war. He advised the brethren that they could avoid bloodshed by relinquishing their rights, selling their lands, and settling elsewhere. While in Missouri with Zion’s Camp, Joseph received Section 105 from the Lord.
Find the following:
- What did the Lord say were the reasons for the Saints’ failure to carry out His will for them? (verses 2-4, 17).
- As a result of their failure, what did the Lord say the Saints needed to experience? (verses 5-6).
- Note that the Lord declared that there would be a period of waiting before Zion would be redeemed (see verses 9, 34, 37).
- What did the Lord say would happen—and the results of these happenings—during the waiting period for the redemption of Zion? (verses 10-12, 18, 19, 27, 33).
Ultimately, the Lord said, “I will fight your battles” (verse 14) and that He is with us (verse 41). For now, we are to seek peace, even with those who may oppress us (verses 38-40).
How can you be preparing now to live in Zion?