D&C 115:4-6 The Name and Purposes of the Church
It is April 1838 and Joseph Smith and about 2,000 Saints are living in the area of Far West, Missouri, making it the de facto headquarters of the Church. For the first eight years of the restored Church, it was known as The Church of Christ (see D&C 20:1; see also 3 Nephi 27:1-10). Here, in verse 4, the Lord reveals the full, proper name for His church in the last dispensation.
In the October 2018 general conference President Russell M. Nelson spoke of the importance of using the correct name of the Church, as revealed in Section 115. He said that this emphasis “is not inconsequential. Instead, it is a correction. It is the command of the Lord…. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended.” President Nelson explained that these nicknames disregard the Savior’s name, and that “to remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan…. When we omit His name from His Church, we are inadvertently removing Him as the central focus of our lives…. I promise you that if we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church, He whose Church this is will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen. We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord” (see Ensign, Nov. 2018).
Now read D&C 115:5-6 to see the great purposes the Lord has in mind for His latter-day church, and how these verses correspond with President Nelson’s quote above. In what ways are the Church and its stakes a light, standard, defense, and refuge for you?
D&C 115:7-16 The Far West, Missouri Temple
Even in these early years the Lord wanted the Saints to focus on temples (see also 2 Nephi 5:16). This was only two years after the dedication of the Kirtland, Ohio Temple, which was accomplished in the midst of many difficulties. Furthermore, less than two years after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, persecution against the Church and apostasy within it forced Church leaders to relinquish control and ownership of the Kirtland Temple. In April 1838, despite all the ongoing challenges in Missouri, the Lord directed that a temple be built in Far West, Missouri (see verses 7-12). Unfortunately, continued persecutions prevented the building of the Far West Temple, except for the four foundation stones, which are still in place today.
In verse 13 the Lord directed the First Presidency not to “get in debt any more for the building of a house unto my name.” Today the Church builds all temples (and other facilities) on a pay-as-we-go basis. Note in verses 14-16 the very specific instructions regarding the “pattern” for the temple’s construction. The Lord teaches us that in times of great trial, just as in all other times of our lives, we will be supported and blessed as we properly order our priorities, placing Him and His work uppermost.
D&C 116 Adam-ondi-Ahman
In this section the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the Missouri location of Adam-ondi-Ahman, a place which was highlighted in Doctrine and Covenants 107:53-57 (wherein a great gathering of Adam’s righteous posterity took place three years before Adam’s death). In Section 116, the Lord prophesies a future gathering in this same location, also to include Adam (see also Daniel 7:13-14, 22; D&C 27:5-14).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Twelve wrote of Adam-ondi-Ahman, “There, Adam our Prince will give an accounting to Christ our King … [then] the Supreme Lord of all rules and reigns on earth” (The Millennial Messiah, p. 588).
D&C 117 “What Is Property unto Me?”
By using the words saith the Lord fifteen times in this revelation, the Lord clearly reveals His mindset in relation to money, possessions, and property:
- As He instructs William Marks and Newel K. Whitney to leave Kirtland (already abandoned by Joseph Smith and most other Church members), the Lord tells them to “settle up their business speedily” (verse 1) and “not tarry” (verse 2; see also verse 3). The Lord apparently had no concern over whether or not William and Newel recouped their equity in their businesses and properties.
- In verse 4, the Lord tells them to repent of “all their covetous desires,” asserting, “what is property unto me?”
- Next, the Lord instructs them to “let the properties of Kirtland be turned out for debts,” following up immediately by saying, “Let them go” (verse 5).
- As the Lord continues to teach, He declares, “have I not the fowls of heaven, and also the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the mountains? Have I not made the earth? Do I not hold the destinies of all the armies of the nations of the earth?” (verse 6). Our God has power and dominion over all things and is willing and able to manage affairs for the benefit of His Saints and His purposes.
- Furthering His point, the Lord states, “will I not make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance?” (verse 7).
- In verse 8 the Lord assures Church members that in Missouri are the “more weighty matters,” and thus they must not “covet that which is but the drop” in Ohio. The Lord wanted them to re-order their priorities, leave behind whatever assets they could not sell, and depart for Missouri.
- Next, the Lord directs His words to Oliver Granger. Oliver had joined the Church after seeing a vision in which Moroni appeared and bore testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon, which Oliver had been reading. He was directed to stay behind in Kirtland with the assignment to “contend earnestly for the [presumably financial] redemption of the First Presidency,” and the Lord assures Oliver that “his sacrifice shall be more sacred” than his “increase” (verse 13). The Lord loves effort and will help us to “rise again,” filling in the deficient results of our own feeble labors.
- It was the Lord’s will that those still in Ohio do whatever they could to “keep and preserve” the Kirtland Temple, and He referred to the apostates (who eventually were able to take over the temple) as “moneychangers” This is the term used to describe those in the New Testament who “sold and bought in the temple” for financial gain. Jesus called them “thieves,” suggesting that beyond profiteering in a holy place, they were also cheating their customers (see Matthew 21:12-13; see also Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:13-17).
D&C 118 The Twelve
Find in verses 3-4 the four qualities the Lord invited the apostles to develop. What things did He promise them, if they do so?
The spring 1839 mission of the Twelve “over the great waters” (verse 4) refers to the missions of members of the Twelve to England and, eventually, to other parts of Great Britain, western Europe, and Scandinavia. The first to cross the Atlantic were Elders Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde (who actually went in 1837, before this revelation). In 1839 others of the Twelve departed, and by 1847, over 12,000 had been baptized in Great Britain alone; many of whom emigrated to join the Saints in America. In 1850 there were 30,000 members in Great Britain, and in the following decades many more thousands were baptized throughout Europe.
D&C 118:6 names John Taylor, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff, and Willard Richards as new apostles, to replace “those who have fallen” (they had left the Church; William E. McLellin, Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and John F. Boynton).
D&C 119 The Law of Tithing
As noted in the section heading, in this revelation the Lord defines for Church members the law of tithing, after withdrawing the law of consecration “for a time” due to “failure on the part of many” to live the law of consecration.
The first step was for members to give their “surplus property” (the excess beyond their needs) to the presiding bishop in Missouri for temple construction, Church debts, and other needs (verses 1-2). Secondly, the Lord commanded the Saints to donate “one-tenth of their interest annually,” which Church leaders have interpreted to mean “income.” Beyond this, bishops and other priesthood leaders are instructed not to offer nor impose any other definition of tithing. Members simply declare their tithing status (full-, non-, or part-tithe payers) and priesthood officers record their declarations.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland offered several important reasons for paying tithing, including this statement: “Pay your tithing as a declaration that possession of material goods and the accumulation of worldly wealth are not the uppermost goals of your existence [and also] as a personal expression of love to a generous and merciful Father in Heaven” (Ensign, November 2001).
D&C 120 The Use of Tithing and Other Funds and Properties
This revelation (given the same day as Sections 117, 118, and 119) assigns the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and Presiding Bishopric to determine how to utilize tithing and all other Church income and properties. As members, part of sustaining our leaders is to trust them in their decisions and actions, which we believe are driven by divine revelation.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that as we faithfully pay tithing, “the Lord will open the windows of heaven according to our need…. The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on the Lord’s work. The blessing to the giver…. may not be always in the form of financial or material benefit” (Ensign, December 1989, p. 4).