This week we will be studying the D&C 41-44 Come Follow Me Lesson. This section was often referred to as The Law among the Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in those days. In this lesson we talk about the protection and the power that comes from living the laws of God.
Here is what you have to look forward to this week:
The lens of the law.
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This revelation was dictated the same day Joseph Smith arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, from New York. According to John Whitmer’s headnote, inscribed a few months later in spring 1831, the revelation was a response to Joseph’s prayer regarding an offer made by new convert Leman Copley to provide Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon “houses & provisions” on his farm in Thompson Township, Ohio, about twenty miles east of Kirtland.
Joseph and his family were in need of housing because of their recent move, and Sidney and Phebe Rigdon had lost a house apparently being built for them by his former Campbellite congregation in nearby Mentor, Ohio, when he converted to the Church of Christ.
Excerpt from Joseph Smith Papers D&C 41
A late December 1830 revelation first directed members of the Church of Christ to migrate from New York to Ohio, and at a church conference a few days later, another revelation declared, “There [in Ohio] I will give unto you my law.” Within a month, Joseph Smith himself relocated to Ohio, and immediately after his arrival in Kirtland, the church received on 4 February 1831 the revelatory promise, “By the prayer of your faith ye shall receive my law that ye may know how to govern my Church.” Less than a week later, on 9 February, Joseph dictated the revelation featured here during the course of a meeting of twelve elders who were “called together, and united in mighty prayer.” John Whitmer titled it “The Laws of the Church of Christ.”
Excerpt from Joseph Smith Papers D&C 42
Joseph Smith dictated this revelation following his arrival in Kirtland, Ohio. It clarified Joseph’s position as the only person authorized to “receive commandments & Revelations” for the Church of Christ. Before Joseph’s arrival in Kirtland, the converts in the area were left for several months without any experienced leadership.
Sidney Rigdon and many of his followers in Ohio had been baptized into the church in November 1830, and Rigdon then left Ohio to meet Joseph in New York while Oliver Cowdery and other missionaries who had baptized the Ohio believers left for the western borders of the United States. Concerned about the lack of leadership, Joseph sent John Whitmer to Ohio with copies of the revelations “to comfort and strengthen my brethren in that land.”
Excerpt from Joseph Smith Papers D&C 43
Shortly after Joseph and Emma Smith relocated to Kirtland, Ohio, in early February 1831, a revelation established laws to govern the church. The “first Commandment” declared on that occasion was for the elders to go two by two “in to the regions westward” to preach the gospel and build up the church. A short time later Joseph dictated the revelation featured here, which commanded the elders to assemble together so that the Lord could “pour out” his Spirit in preparation for more missionary work.
Excerpt from Joseph Smith Papers D&C 44
The law of consecration requires the Saints to remember the poor and make a solemn covenant to use their temporal properties for relieving poverty, thus consecrating their possessions. This is to be done by making free will offerings to Christ’s bishop, Edward Partridge, and his counselors. After consecration, the property belongs to the Church, but the law of consecration is about receiving as much as giving. Saints are in turn to receive property from the bishop and be accountable to Christ for the sacred stewardship they have received, which will amply supply the needs of their families.
Discontent grew between the Mormons and the Missourians in Independence, with angry Missourians threatening the Saints and doing bodily harm to Church leaders. Bishop Partridge recorded that on 20 July 1833:
I was taken from my house by the mob, … who escorted me about half a mile, to the court house, on the public square in Independence; and then and there, … I was stripped of my hat, coat and vest and daubed with tar from head to foot, and then had a quantity of feathers put upon me; and all this because I would not agree to leave the county, and my home where I had lived two years….
… I bore my abuse with so much resignation and meekness, that it appeared to astound the multitude, who permitted me to retire in silence, many looking very solemn, their sympathies having been touched … ; and as to myself, I was so filled with the Spirit and love of God, that I had no hatred towards my persecutors or anyone else.
“Thirty years’ experience has taught me that every moment of my life must be holiness to the Lord, resulting from equity, justice, mercy and uprightness in all my actions, which is the only course by which I can preserve the Spirit of the Almighty to myself.”
The D&C 41-44 Come Follow Me Lesson paints such a vivid picture of the hardships the Saints faced when spreading the work to Ohio and Missouri. We can’t imagine the suffering the early Saints went through in order to restore and build up the Church. We are so grateful for their sacrifices, faith, and love for God and His people. We pray we will continue to find strength through these stories and revelations in Doctrine and Covenants. Follow us on Instagram @dontmissthisstudy to keep studying with us!