Voice of Warning

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And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in the last days. (Doctrine and Covenants 1:4)

The voice of warning, a theme present throughout the Doctrine and Covenants, shows the love of our Heavenly Father to His children. It is His message of salvation and protection from sorrow and regret. It is His reminder that the day of judgment is near. It is His invitation to listen and embrace His doctrine. It is also a divine command from Him to each of us to reach out to others.

Before the Savior Jesus Christ returns to earth in glory, He desires that all will be warned of His coming and the judgments that will follow His arrival. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled.” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38)

The Lord has used the symbol of the sounding of a trump and the raising of the warning voice to signify His call to repentance, His call to defense against evil and designing men, His call to battle in the war of righteousness against the evil foe. In short, today the warning voice gives the world a clear signal of the restoration of gospel truths. The message of the Doctrine and Covenants is one of jubilee and celebration for the righteous; but it is a terrible trump of warning to the wicked, alerting them to the immediate peril that awaits the unrepentant at the coming of the King of Glory. For the righteous, it is the voice of gladness announcing the joyous blessings that accompany gospel living and also the near advent of the Prince of Peace. But for those who will not heed, it is a voice of judgment and woe. For one last time, the trump warns the camp (in this case, the world) that if they do not repent, not only will they experience spiritual misery and damnation, but also the judgments of God will be unleashed on the world.[1]

In every era when the standard of the gospel has been raised, the authorized servants of the Lord have been called to take the message of salvation to those who do not have it. The divine commission to warn and bear testimony is given to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.(Doctrine and Covenants 1:4)

”Daniel Interprets King Nebuchadnezzar's Dream” by Grant Romney Clawson

President Henry B. Eyring taught, “Because the Lord is kind, He calls servants to warn people of danger. That call to warn is made harder and more important by the fact that the warnings of most worth are about dangers that people don’t yet think are real.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught that “while the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well. In fact, ‘it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.’”(Doctrine and Covenants 88:81) [2] “That command and warning of danger was given to those called as missionaries at the start of the Restoration. But the duty to warn our neighbor falls on all of us who have accepted the covenant of baptism. We are to talk with nonmember friends and relatives about the gospel. Our purpose is to invite them to be taught by the full-time missionaries who are called and set apart to teach.”[3]

It is easier to understand the voice of warning through the work of parents to warn their children of dangers and consequences. Elder Christofferson taught, “Surely love would compel parents to warn their closest “neighbors”—their own children. This means teaching and testifying of gospel truths. It means teaching children the doctrine of Christ: faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Lord reminds parents, “I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”[4] President Eyring shared a personal example.

I can still remember my mother speaking softly to me one Saturday afternoon when, as a little boy, I asked her for permission to do something I thought was perfectly reasonable and which she knew was dangerous. I still am amazed at the power she was granted, I believe from the Lord, to turn me around with so few words. As I remember them, they were: “Oh, I suppose you could do that. But the choice is yours.” The only warning was in the emphasis she put on the words could and choice. Yet that was enough for me.
Her power to warn with so few words sprang from three things I knew about her. First, I knew she loved me. Second, I knew she had already done what she wanted me to do and been blessed by it. And third, she had conveyed to me her sure testimony that the choice I had to make was so important that the Lord would tell me what to do if I asked Him. Love, example, and testimony: those were keys that day, and they have been whenever I have been blessed to hear and then heed the warning of a servant of the Lord.[5]

He added, “Our ability to touch others with our warning voice matters to all who are covenant disciples of Jesus Christ. Here is the charge given to each of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor”(Doctrine and Covenants 88:81)

Elder Christofferson said, “The motivation for raising the warning voice is love—love of God and love of fellowman. To warn is to care. The Lord instructs that it is to be done “in mildness and in meekness” and “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness …, and by love unfeigned.” It can be urgent, as when we warn a child not to put his or her hand in a fire. It must be clear and sometimes firm. On occasion, warning may take the form of reproof “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” but always it is rooted in love.”[6]

President Eyring also shares the blessing of being a voice of warning. “I testify that only accepting and living the restored gospel of Jesus Christ brings the peace the Lord promised in this life and the hope of eternal life in the world to come. I testify that we have been given the privilege and the obligation to offer the truth and the choices which lead to those blessings to our Heavenly Father’s children, who are our brothers and our sisters.”[7]

One of the most remarkable accounts of the restoration of the kingdom of God in the last days was given by Daniel. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, “enthroned in royal splendor in one of the most renowned cities of the world, had a dream. Before him stood an image with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, a belly of brass, legs of iron, and feet and toes part iron and part clay. He saw a stone cut from the mountain without hands that rolled forth and smote the image, breaking it to pieces. The pieces became like chaff, scattered before the wind. The stone, representing the restoration of the Church and kingdom of God, became a great mountain and filled the earth.” (See Daniel 2:31–36.[8])[9]

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).[10]

A Voice of Warning (1837)

Parley P. Pratt wrote a missionary tract entitled “A Voice of Warning” over a two-month period while serving a mission to New York. He used biblical texts to detail the differences between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Christian denominations. The tract was published into more than thirty English editions and several non-English versions.[11]