The Word of God Found in the Doctrine and Covenants
In conjunction with the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price, devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others) revere the Doctrine and Covenants as a sacred volume of scripture, and as one of the standard works of scripture used in teaching and understanding Church doctrines. The Doctrine and Covenants is a book of modern scripture replete with revelations and inspired documents which the Lord gave to His chosen prophets as part of the restoration of His Church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Verily I say unto you all: arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations; and that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4-6).
Divine Revelations and Inspired Declarations
The Doctrine and Covenants is a unique book of scripture in that it was not translated from ancient documents as were the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. The volume is comprised of 138 numbered sections, and two Official Declarations at the back. Official Declaration 1 is a revelation given concerning the matter of plural marriages, and Official Declaration 2 is the revelation that was received by then, President Spencer W. Kimball, in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple in June 1978, that all worthy males regardless of race could hold the priesthood. The majority of the sections were given to Joseph Smith, the first President and Prophet of the Church, while sections 135, 136, 138, and Official Declarations 1 and 2 were received by other latter-day prophets.
The opening paragraph of the introduction for the Doctrine and Covenants gives a broad overview of what is contained therein, and how the teachings, though precisely directed to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ, can prove beneficial to all mankind, as all are invited to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of divine revelations and inspired declarations given for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days. Although most of the sections are directed to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the messages, warnings, and exhortations are for the benefit of all mankind and contain an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation.
More Precious than Gold
Joseph Fielding Smith, the 10th President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ, taught:
- This Doctrine and Covenants contains the word of God to those who dwell here now. . . . More precious than gold, the Prophet says we should treasure it more than the riches of the whole earth. I wonder if we do? If we value it, understand it, and know what it contains, we will value it more than wealth; it is worth more to us than the riches of the earth” (Doctrines of Salvation, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954-56], 3:199).
Answers to Prayers Received Through Revelations
Several sections of the Doctrine and Covenants are revelations that were received in answer to specific prayers. For example, section 121 contains the prayers and prophecies of Joseph Smith the Prophet while incarcerated in the jail at Liberty, Missouri. Having spent months with several of his companions in prison with no relief given in answer to their petitions and appeals to the executive officers and judiciary, in verses 1-6, Joseph offers up this prayer on behalf of the Saints who were suffering and enduring many persecutions:
- O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?
- How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
- Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?
- O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.
- Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and, in the fury of thine heart, with thy sword avenge us of our wrongs.
- Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.
Verses 7 through 10 provide the Lord’s answer to Joseph’s fervent cry:
- My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
- And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
- Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.
- Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.
Modern Day Scripture
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ believe that the Doctrine and Covenants is modern day scripture which contains numerous basic truths and doctrines. Within its teachings are found instructions related to the translation of the Bible, guidance for the pioneers migrating to the west, and the blueprint for the administrative and organizational structure of The Church of Jesus Christ. Other instructions and guidance for temporal and spiritual daily living include section 89, known as “The Word of Wisdom”, which gives instructions on how to live a more healthy life, section 84 which is a revelation pertaining to the oath and covenant of the priesthood, and section 42 which gives instructions for administering to the sick. In administering to the sick, it must be realized that everyone will not be healed. There are some who will not recover and will pass from this mortal life. The Lord gives great comfort in Doctrine and Covenants 42:46 where He promises that “those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them.”
Doctrine and Covenants is also an important book of scripture because it is a testimony of the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ as God's only Begotten Son, of which Latter-day Prophets and Apostles stand as living witnesses and testimonies to the world. In the introduction of the Doctrine and Covenants it states:
- Finally, the testimony that is given of Jesus Christ—his divinity, his majesty, his perfection, his love, and his redeeming power—makes this book of great value to the human family and of more worth than the riches of the whole earth.
Although the numerous revelations contained within the Doctrine and Covenants pertain directly to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is modern scripture that every person can apply to his or her daily life. The very first revelation in the book extends an open invitation to “search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:37). “For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:39).
See also: Elder Loren C. Dunn - The Doctrine and Covenants—A Scripture for All Seasons