Week 13 is scheduled for study March 22-28, 2021. We review the plan for our salvation, the process of the Gathering, and we define and discuss the elect.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 29 – Heavenly Father prepared the perfect plan for our exaltation.

One of the purposes of studying the scriptures is to learn doctrine, or gospel truths that are essential for our salvation. As you study Doctrine and Covenants 29 this week, look for doctrinal insights that are meaningful to you.

Before I read this day’s lesson, I read this section to see what we would be considering. The manual talks about the various parts of the plan of salvation and wants you to search them out and consider why the Lord included them in this section. When I read the verses of section 29, I was immediately impressed by the constant references to the relationships the Lord referred to over and over again throughout. As you follow the suggestions in the manual for today’s lesson, consider as well the observations I refer to in the following article. Consider what it takes to build a holy relationship with another person, especially with the Lord or our spouse, or even with a best friend. There is real work involved, and it seems to me that everything the Lord requires of us in this life has to do with the relationships we need to build for the next life, which lasts for eternity.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 29:1-8 – Jesus Christ will gather His people before His Second Coming.

One of the purposes of studying the scriptures is to learn doctrine, or gospel truths that are essential for our salvation. As you study Doctrine and Covenants 29 this week, look for doctrinal insights that are meaningful to you.

The manual is pretty straightforward about this topic, so I would like to focus on a couple of words or phrases that come from these verses. First, I want to address the gathering process, which leads us to the second item, the idea of being the “elect.”

The Lord often uses the image of a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. This imagery is used in large measure, because it represents the protective nature of a mother toward her offspring. When a bird of prey is spotted by the hen, she immediately gathers her chicks under her outstretched wings, so the hunter cannot see, and attack her children. In essence, she uses her own body as a shield to protect her young. This is just another of many Christ types in the scriptures.

Who is it that Christ wants to protect? Why does he refer to some as elect people? Have you ever thought about who the elect are, and why Christ, himself states in the scriptures that there are those whom the Father has “given” him as his inheritance? This sounds like a very elite group of people. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as elite people. If Jesus isn’t referring to us then who is he talking about?

Let’s look at some verses in just the Book of Mormon where the prophets are talking about those who are “more righteous” than those among whom they lived. This has a direct bearing on the questions in the paragraph above.

2 Nephi 30:1

And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.

The message of this verse is that all people are equal in God’s eyes. Those who repent and turn to Him will be spared and protected, while those who turn their backs on him and follow any other path will be destroyed.

3 Nephi 9:13

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

Even those who are declared to be “more righteous” than someone else needs to repent and be converted. Just being more righteous than the wicked around us isn’t good enough. If we want to be healed, made whole (which is the definition of perfection) we need to turn to Christ.

Jacob 3:5

Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.

Being the “chosen” of the Lord means little in the end if we choose wicked practices that violate the commandments.

Helaman 7:24

24 For behold, they are more righteous than you, for they have not sinned against that great knowledge which ye have received; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them; yea, he will lengthen out their days and increase their seed, even when thou shalt be utterly destroyed except thou shalt repent.

The message in this verse is that God’s mercy is given to those who live up to the light and knowledge they have received. We can all be covenant people, but the covenants we make can’t save us if we don’t honor those covenants. Even those we consider to be wicked can be considered to be more righteous than us, if they are keeping God’s commandments and we are not.

3 Nephi 10:12

12 And it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved, and it was they who received the prophets and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the saints, who were spared —

Once again, we have an example of those who were spared, not because they were uber righteous, but because they didn’t stone the prophets and drive them out.

How let’s look at what the Lord defines as those who are his elect. This is found in our reading assignment for today (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7).

And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;

That is it. Pretty simple. We are the elect only when we hear his voice and harden not our hearts. Those who hear his voice and harden not their hearts against him are those whom the Father has promised to Jesus for his eternal inheritance. They are the ones who will live with them in the eternities. We see references to this throughout the scriptures. If you want to check it out for yourself, do a search on the Church website under the term “given me.” See what comes up. The verses above were found by searching the term “more righteous.”

We are supposed to become the Lord’s elect. That doesn’t mean we are to feel special and more important than others. It only refers to those who are willing to listen and obey. These are they who have elected to honor their covenants and are, in turn, honored by God with greater blessings and promises than His other children have qualified for. There is nothing in this relationship that elevates us or makes us more loveable than others. We should be striving, as those who have been so richly blessed, to be helping others to make the same choices that will make them the elect and more blessed of God.

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 29:31-35 – “All things unto me are spiritual.”

One of the purposes of studying the scriptures is to learn doctrine, or gospel truths that are essential for our salvation. As you study Doctrine and Covenants 29 this week, look for doctrinal insights that are meaningful to you.

I recently wrote an article that discusses the importance of relationships to God. The purpose of the article is to talk about the idea that everything to God is about our relationship with Him/Christ. If you haven’t already read it, look at the article link in this week’s first day’s lesson.

Though I suggest you read the article, you can still do today’s assignment from the manual and get a lot from the exercise without having read the article  first.

Let’s consider a commandment that appears to many to be almost strictly a physical commandment. Let’s talk about tithing. The law of tithing is simple, in that it is the requirement that we pay to the Lord’s church ten percent of our gross increase each year. For most of us that needs to be done in small increments throughout the year, as we get paid on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. How do we help someone learn to see this as a spiritual commandment, and not the “financial” one it appears on the surface to be?

If you have had children you have probably had a time when you asked them to do something, and all they could wrap their heads around was that they were being required to do something that appeared to be detrimental, or at least inconvenient, to them, like serving their sibling, doing chores, or contributing to a fundraiser, etc. It is the job of the parent to help them see that serving their siblings builds character, engenders love between them, and helps them learn to not be selfish. Doing chores teaches, again, character, and the ability to care for themselves when mom and dad no longer control so much of their life. We see the lessons to be learned, but the children take a while before they learn to appreciate what those lessons did for them. Tithing is much the same way.

When we pay our tithing we are fulfilling the commandment to contribute to the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth. Like it or not, for anything to prosper in mortality, money is required. The Lord gives us the opportunity to play a tiny part in the filling of His storehouses, and the building up of His kingdom through our ten percent tithe. What makes this a spiritual commandment is that we must trust the Lord in order to pay this tithe. We don’t see where the money goes. We give it to our church leader, and that is the last we see of it. We just have to trust that the leaders of the Church are using it wisely. So much of what the Lord requires of us in this life demands that same kind of trust.

The trust the Lord requires of us isn’t a blind trust. Once we learn that whenever we put our trust in the Lord, the rewards are more plentiful than we could imagine, we soon learn that we don’t need to micromanage God in order to feel safe in His hands. Giving Him our trust becomes a privilege. This type of trust allows us to develop in our faith in other areas, for when times become challenging, we can look back on the simple things we have done that have brought the blessings of the Lord into our lives, and that gives us the ability to trust Him in more difficult ways.

This is just one small example of what appears to many to be a pretty cut and dried physical commandment, but one that holds so many spiritual blessings within it. Think about the other everyday requirements placed upon us by the Lord and His servants. We have cleaning the chapel, ministering, the fulfilling of our individual callings, etc. Try the exercise in the manual on some of these subjects, or one that is personal to you, and see what fulfilling the demands placed upon us do for us in the long run. Try to see how they affect our relationship with God.

Day 4 

Doctrine and Covenants 29:36-50 – Jesus Christ redeems us from the Fall.

One of the purposes of studying the scriptures is to learn doctrine, or gospel truths that are essential for our salvation. As you study Doctrine and Covenants 29 this week, look for doctrinal insights that are meaningful to you.

I think the key to appreciating the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve is that the Fall opened the door for the salvation offered through Christ. Without the Fall there would never be a need for an atonement. The atonement reconciled us with God and redeemed us from the Fall. These two events are the two halves of the coin of salvation. You can’t have one without the other, and together they create something that is of immense value to all the children of God.

Without the Fall none of us would have the opportunity for mortality, the opportunity to choose who we want to follow and obey, or the opportunity for exaltation. Without the Fall of Adam, and the necessity of a Redeemer to save us from the results of the Fall, none of us would have had the opportunity to return to our heavenly home and live with God for the rest of eternity. The whole plan for our salvation would have been frustrated, and would have come to naught. In other words, the Fall of Adam is every bit as important to our salvation as the atoning sacrifice of Christ. For without the first event we could not have enjoyed the fruits of the second event. Notice how the Lord walks us through the gist of the basics of the plan of salvation in the fifteen verses of today’s lesson.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 29:2, 7-8 – Gathering the elect

What is the purpose of missionary work, especially in the last days? There are many right answers to this question, but consider this aspect of the process of missionary work. Here is verse eight:

Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked.

Why does the Lord say we need to do missionary work in the last days? He wants to spare all those who will listen to him and come and make covenants with him by preparing them “in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked.” We are just now beginning to move into the days of tribulation and desolation. Our need to warn our neighbor is like one chick, who has heard the hen calling the chicks to come to safety under her wing, telling another chick that the hawk is circling and they need to come home to safety. Most will laugh at the chick, because they don’t see the hawk descending every closer. But there will be a few who can be brought to safety under the protective wings of the Savior. These are the elect we search for.

There is nothing personal or threatening about doing missionary work. This is the work of the Lord. We are but mouthpieces and examples of love he uses to draw and entice others to come to him.

One last note that needs to be included. When we discuss the “gathering” we generally say, the gathering of Israel. But remember that all who choose to make covenants with God through His priesthood authority become children of Israel, for children of Israel of the children of the covenant. No one can ultimately claim the birthright blessings of the new and everlasting covenant except those who come into the waters of baptism and become the sons and daughters of Christ by virtue of the covenants they make with him. I refer you back to the verses above about being “more righteous.” Even the blood children of Israel will be destroyed if they reject the covenants God made with their fathers. All that matters here is who is willing to make and keep the covenants. They are the children of Israel who will be saved and protected by God when tribulation and desolation is poured out without measure on the earth in the last days.

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Jesus Christ Will Gather His People

Week 13