Week 12 is scheduled for study March 15-21, 2021. Our attitude is everything when it comes to how we approach our worship. This week the Lord teaches us how He wants us to view His prophet, how to stand against evil, and what to consider when we administer the sacrament. He is a God of order.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 27:1-4 – I should take the sacrament with an eye single to God’s glory.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson said that as you study the scriptures and record impressions, “you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you” (“When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 11).

To start today’s lesson, I want to mention a word definition that we often forget, but can be helpful to remember. That word is “quick.” In verse one we read that God’s word is “quick and powerful.” Does that mean His words are fast? Of course this is not what this word means. In scripture lingo the word quick means it is alive. That is why the scriptures tell us this in Acts 10:42.

42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

The “quick and dead” means the living and the dead. Sometimes being resurrected is referred to as being “quickened.” By the same token, we can be quickened or made alive in the Spirit, which means to have an infusion of spiritual power. Take a look at Doctrine and Covenants 67:11.

11 For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God.

This verse means that if we are not changed by the Spirit of God, we cannot withstand the glory of His presence. These two examples should help us reframe how we think about the statements in the Doctrine and Covenants when the revelations state that God’s word is “quick and powerful.”

An eye single

Humans are funny creatures. We are very much in love with ritual and habit. We really get caught up in prescriptive behaviors. Possibly this is because strict behavioral codes give us something by which to measure ourselves. In verse two of this section the Lord says very clearly that He doesn’t care what we use for drink or “bread” when we participate in the sacrament, AS LONG AS we do so with an eye single to His glory. God’s glory. That focus needs to be based on us remembering unto the Father Christ’s body and his blood that he gave for us to atone for our sins.

I find it interesting that Christ is not saying ‘remember me,’ but instead he is saying ‘think of the Father when you remember me.’ This is an act of worship to our Father in Heaven. The sacramental prayer is a prayer to our Father in Heaven. We are giving Him thanks for the sacrifice of Jesus, our Redeemer and Savior. It is this single-minded focus on God, our Father, that makes what we drink and what we eat of secondary importance. I believe this is what is meant by approaching the sacrament with an eye single to His glory.

It might be helpful to go back and review the two sacramental prayers. As you read them again note who they are addressing, and how they accomplish just what the Savior told Joseph Smith, Jr., in this section of the Doctrine and Covenants we are supposed to do, to remember to God the sacrifices of His son. See Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 27:15-18 – The armor of God will help me stand against evil.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson said that as you study the scriptures and record impressions, “you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you” (“When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 11).

I confess, I have always had, and still do have a problem with the whole equating physical pieces of armor with spiritual protection. I know, I am probably the only one in the whole world with this problem, but I am trying to deal with it. So for now, please bear with me as I try to struggle my way through this comparison in these verses.

When the Lord tells us to “gird up our loins” we are to prepare ourselves. If you are preparing for battle, for example, to gird up your loins means to take your loose clothing and wrap them around your waist so they don’t slow you down or get in your way in battle. We can gird up our loins mentally for a challenge we must face, and we can gird up, or prepare spiritually for an upcoming challenge. Any way you cut it, girding yourself is a preparation for a challenge that lies ahead of you.

15 Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.

In the scriptures, sometimes we hear of the “whole armor of God,” and sometimes we hear of the ‘robe of righteousness’ (2 Nephi 4:33). Either way, these expressions describe covering ourselves with protections from God that will help us return home victorious over the efforts of Satan and his ilk to ruin us while we are here in mortality. See also 2 Nephi 4:15-37. This is Nephi’s soliloquy on how the Lord has protected him from what life has thrown at him.

I think the primary thing to remember when thinking about the “whole armor of God” is not to stretch the comparison too far. The point of the armor is that God has given us protections. If we take the comparison too far, we may overshoot the mark and forget that it is a simple example of the kinds of helps God has given us, and that those simple things are powerful ways to protect ourselves from Satan’s fury. Analogies work, but only up to a certain point. If we push an analogy too far, we either break the analogy or we start to look beyond the mark and miss the lesson it was intended to teach us. That is my opinion.

As an example, I see the fiery darts of the adversary as the doubts we are hit with on a constant basis. It is the “shield” of faith that quenches those “fiery darts.” Our faith extinguishes doubts because we choose to continue to believe, to live, and to worship as we did before someone hit us with a stinging doubt about what we have been taught. It is our faith, our willingness to persevere through doubts and continue to believe that gradually disperses those doubts. We can look at each of the parts of the armor of God and see other ways in which these simple tools given us by our Father in Heaven can arm us or protect us from the damage Satan or others would cause us if we didn’t have those protections.

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 28 – The living prophet is God’s mouthpiece for His Church.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson said that as you study the scriptures and record impressions, “you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you” (“When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 11).

My comments for this section were longer than could be included here comfortably, so I wrote them in a separate article.

Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 28:8-9 – Why was Oliver Cowdery’s mission to the Lamanites significant?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson said that as you study the scriptures and record impressions, “you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you” (“When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 11).

The Lord has always had more than one purpose for the writing of the Book of Mormon. One of its main purposes is to teach us how to survive and prosper in the last dispensation of time by learning from the lessons of the Nephites and Lamanite people. Another of its main purposes is to convince the posterity of the Lamanites that Jesus is the Christ, that they might come again into the covenant fold and learn that they are of the tribe of Israel, and of God’s chosen people.

The Lord always keeps His promises. He assured the prophets that the descendents of the Lamanites would hear the gospel in the latter days. Over and over again throughout the Book of Mormon the prophets are concerned with the spiritual welfare of their “brethren” the Lamanites. They tried over and over again to reclaim them from the false traditions of their fathers, but rarely had success. But when they did have success, those converted were more faithful in keeping their covenants than the Nephites who had been raised in the covenant tradition.

I did a quick search online in the Book of Mormon for the phrase “brethren the Lamanites.” There were no less than 20 different occasions when the prophets referred to the Lamanites using this very designation. And it wasn’t just in one spot in the Book of Mormon, but throughout the entire book. The prophets never gave up or turned their backs on those who were so bent on killing them. The whole story of the Book of Mormon is riddled with attempts of the Nephite people to teach the truth to the Lamanite people.

Is it any wonder then the Lord wasted no time in sending missionaries to the posterity of the indigenous people of the Americas from the very beginning of the Restoration? Much of the efforts of the prophets of old in the Americas were a result of their faith that someday the Lord would reclaim their brethren the Lamanites. The faith of these Book of Mormon prophets has been vindicated by the results of the Church’s missionary efforts among the people in the Americas, particularly Central and South America. There are now more Latin languages spoken in the worldwide Church (Spanish/Portuguese) than English speakers.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 28:2-7 – A prophet’s calling

The relationship between Moses and his brother Aaron is an instructive one. It is especially instructive because our relationship with the prophet is like that of Aaron to his brother Moses. Moses was the mouthpiece of the Lord. He had all the keys of the priesthood then in use. He, and he alone was decreed by God to be the receiver of revelation for all the people. Aaron was his mouthpiece, as Moses was God’s mouthpiece. Aaron taught the people the words of Moses as Moses received them from God. Aaron explained and expounded the law Moses received from the Lord.

This is what we all do in the Church, we teach the words of the prophets to each other. We receive revelation, just as Aaron was able to receive revelation, and Oliver Cowdery was able to receive revelation, but not for all the people, that is the responsibility of the mouthpiece of God, the prophet. This is why the Lord told Oliver he was to write, “but not by way of commandment.” Writing by way of commandment is for he who holds the priesthood keys for such things.

You may be aware that no Apostle is able to declare church doctrine. When there is a question about an official policy or point of doctrine, it must be referred to the First Presidency of the Church, and the Prophet issues the will of the Lord concerning the matter. Then, and only then do the brethren teach it as official Church doctrine. I refer you back to the article I wrote for day three of this week’s lessons linked above.

We are so accustomed to having a prophet, and being surrounded by those receiving revelation, it can become easy to forget the specialness of the calling of the prophet of God. Next to Jesus, our Redeemer, his prophet is the closest representative of the Godhead itself in our lives. It is a supreme privilege to be able to see him, listen to him, and to follow his counsel, for he represents Christ in the governance of God’s kingdom on the earth.

One last thing needs to be said. When I say that the prophet is the closest representative of the Godhead itself in our lives, I am referring to the running of God’s kingdom on earth. The Spirit is actually closer to each of us than the prophet. We should be receiving regular revelation and promptings from the Spirit in our private life, but when it comes to the direction of the kingdom, and the progress of God’s kingdom, it is the prophet we must look to for guidance. We must receive his counsel as we would receive the Savior’s direct counsel in all things.

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All Things Must Be Done in Order

Week 12