One of the most amazing declarations and prophecies in modern revelation is found in section 21.
In that section, the Lord commands (and prophesies about) the canonization of the revelations that Joseph had been and would in the future, be receiving.
This revelation was given on the same day that section 20, containing the articles of the church, was given. It was given on the day that the church was formally organized.
In this revelation the saints were commanded to publish and canonize the revelations that Joseph Smith was receiving.
If Joseph Smith had been an impostor, making up revelations about prophecy and doctrine and instruction, out of thin air, canonizing over 100 make-shift revelations, (some being extemporaneously given in front of others), for the whole world to see, study, search and compare to the Bible, it would have been a very foolish disaster.
This is because it is impossible for a human being to fabricate that many revelations without having many of them contradict each other and contradict the other three canons of scripture. In fact most human beings cannot even fabricate one revelation without getting tripped up by the true word of God.
Talk about putting yourself out there for scrutiny!
What charlatan that is fabricating scripture would be stupid enough to provide so much rope for people to hang him with?
Imagine canonizing over 100 revelations about doctrine and prophecy, as well as day to day counsel for the saints that needs to also be congruent with the principles, commandments and declarations previously given in ancient scripture.
This is one of the many reasons I stand amazed at the D&C as well as the Book of Mormon, the New Testament and the Old Testament. The consistency of the meticulous doctrinal and prophetic content and narratives in ALL of these canons of scripture, not only within themselves, but also cumulatively, is simply mind-boggling.
Not only is the content within the D&C consistent with the other canons of scripture, it often clarifies and adds to the content in the previously canonized snippets from the mouth of God. Many of the ancient scriptural passages don’t even make sense until they are viewed in light of modern revelation.
I have probably done over 10,000 keyword searches in the scriptures ever since my employer forced me to become computer literate many years ago to verify consistency.
I pay close attention to the exactness of words and phrases and concepts because I have been comparing these words, phrases and doctrinal concepts between the various canons of scripture to verify the consistency and congruence of God’s Holy WORD in scripture
I love it when those who are claiming to be prophets actually provide “Thus sayeth the Lord” revelations of their own for me to read because it gives me the opportunity to see how congruent their revelations are with the canons of scripture that we have sustained as the word of God.
In modern revelation we have a challenge from God for those who were to bear testimony of the truthfulness of the revelations in the book of Commandments, but were fearful and doubtful about their veracity, to find fault with one of them, or make one up out of thin air that could pass scrutiny.
“Now, seek ye out of the Book of Commandments, even the least that is among them, and appoint him that is the most wise among you; Or, if there be any among you that shall make one like unto it, then ye are justified in saying that ye do not know that they are true; But if ye cannot make one like unto it, ye are under condemnation if ye do not bear record that they are true.” (See Section 67)
The historical narrative of that event informs us that he who considered himself the most wise among those that were doubting, actually took it upon himself to construct a revelation and thusly humiliated himself in front of his associates with the utter foolishness of what he wrote.
In 2 Timothy, Paul gives some really important counsel
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
We need to study the scriptures to be approved of God.
We need to study the scriptures to be able to “rightly divide the word of truth“. We need to correctly interpret what the passages are saying and be able to separate the meaning of passages that otherwise seem contradictory with a surface reading.
We need to become intimately familiar with the scriptures in order to detect the false prophets that arise among us claiming to be holy vessels and oracles of God.
Section 21 informs us that Joseph Smith was inspired to “lay the foundation” of the restored church and to “build it up to the most holy faith.”
I would submit to you that that short sentence contained a reference to the second watch and also to the third watch. That is the amazing thing about reading the words of God because all time, past, present and future is continually before his eyes and therefore his words to us often include references to the past present and future.
I am going to suggest that the building up of the church unto the most holy faith is primarily a reference to Joseph’s calling in the third watch.
I am not taking anything away from Joseph’s efforts in the second watch.
Clearly he was successful in restoring the fulness of the gospel/priesthood for a three and a half year period of time in which an intercession was made, however, the Gentile church cumulatively rejected the fulness after receiving it and the Church and Kingdom of God fled back into the wilderness after the prophetic 3 1/2 year period. The church and world have been in a state of darkness and apostasy from that time to the present.
I just don’t think that history or the scriptures would categorize Joseph’s effort and accomplishments during his 2nd watch ministry as having built up the church to the most holy faith. Certainly not in the long term.
Therefore, I interpret the above snippet from Section 21 to be referring to the last restoration during the Marvelous Work and a Wonder, when the cause of Zion will be realized.
That is when Joseph will ultimately be successful in building up the church to the “most holy faith”.
Section 21 notes that Joseph has been inspired to “move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good”
Did Joseph move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good during the 2nd watch?
Was that accomplished following the restoration of the church back when Joseph was alive?
I would suggest not.
Clearly it is a prophecy of a future event when Joseph returns to the vineyard to complete his stewardship, as prophesied of in sections 101 and 103 and other passages..
In section 21 the saints of the newly established church are given this most sobering commandment:
“Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.”
The above passage is just pregnant with inspired counsel and doctrine and prophecy.
First, it is informing us that when God establishes his church, He speaks to his people through a designated Prophet with a capital “P”.
Every Saint is commanded and expected to be inspired of the Holy Ghost, and therefore to be a prophet with a small “p”, and to be inspired for themselves, for their own personal stewardships on a day to day basis. Furthermore, they are responsible for getting a witness from the Holy Ghost that the sayings, pronouncements and teachings of the Prophet are true. But the general word of God to the church as a whole, always comes through a Prophet with a captical “P” who is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator and has been called and ordained by God’s voice out of heaven, and sustained by the church through the law of common consent.
This is why modern revelation informs us that the President of the Church is to be like Moses:
“And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses—
Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.”
As you can see, Moses is the grand prototype for the President of the High Priesthood and Church, when the fulness of the Gospel is on the earth. Even if Joseph was to have successors as the Prophet and President of the Church, they would need to qualify as being “like Moses”, and they would need to be Prophets Seers and Revelators.
The above passage informs us that the saints are to receive the revelations uttered by the President of the church who is like Moses, as if they came from the mouth of God… because they did come from the mouth of God.
The next observation I would share is that the saints are only supposed to “give heed” to the “words and commandments” which the President of the High Priesthood gives, when he is “walking in holiness before [the Lord]”.
How is that for a caveat?
This is where the need for being a prophet with a small “p” becomes so critically important.
It actually makes a lot of sense to me.
This is part of the grand test, to be able to spiritually discern when a Prophet is actually speaking as a Prophet.
This means it is possible for the President and Prophet of the Church to fall from grace and teach false doctrine and give false commandments. This is completely consistent with the protocol given in the D&C which provides instructions on how to excommunicate the President of the church.
Another reason why the President of the Church who is like Moses, might stop walking in holiness before the Lord is if he, like Moses, offered up an intercessory atonement offering in behalf of Israel. That is exactly what Moses did anciently.
This would place the sins of the people upon his head, causing him to sin, just like Moses sinned anciently.
As you can see from section 21, God actually uses fallible mortal men as his mouthpiece to give his teachings and commandments to the people and to bless and test the people.
Now then, here is the promise associated with the saints that are accepting and listening to God’s Prophet when he is walking in holiness before the Lord:
“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you”
This is a grand principle and promise that has been given to the saints of God in helping them to avoid being deceived anytime the true church is on the earth.
If the Prophet of the Church is walking in holiness before the Lord and the Saints use their personal discernment to know that the Prophet is walking in holiness,and truly delivering God’s word to them, they can avoid being swallowed up by the gates of hells by following the President of the Church who is a true Prophet of the Lord.
Imagine that! We can avoid being prevailed against by the gates of hell by listening to and following the counsel of a mortal man as long as he is ordained of God, sustained by the saints, and walking in holiness before God.
Now then, there has been a lot of chatter on the Internet of late about how Joseph Smith was only called to translate the Book of Mormon and that his “thus sayeth the Lord” revelations are false.
Those making that claim are false teachers.
There has been a lot of chatter on the Internet stating that we don’t need a main prophet to lead us and that we should all just be our own prophet and have a direct relationship with the Lord.
That is a false doctrine.
They reject the “strongman” doctrine that shows up countless times in prophecy stating that one mighty and strong, like unto Moses, will lead the saints of the church in giving doctrine and commandments from the mouth of God and ultimately, it will be one who is mighty and strong that will lead the saints out of bondage into Zion.
Those making the claim, that we don’t need a main prophet to lead us are false teachers.
They either don’t study the scriptures or they don’t understand them, or they simply don’t believe the infallible word of God.
The belief that we should each just get our own revelation and do our own thing is contrary to the pattern set in the New Testament and 3 Nephi. The belief that somehow, mystically, everyone will receive the exact same revelations with regard to how Zion will be achieved, and Zion will mystically emerge, is ridiculous. God has never worked that way in the past and his prophecies about the future establishment of Zion do not depart from the doctrinal and prophetic pattern already given.
There is now a person claiming to be a prophet that has offered up the following “thus sayeth the Lord” declaration from the Lord:
“Tell them, that they need not rely on any man, for if they do, the gates of hell will swallow them whole, leaving the Zion that could have come, desolate and bare.”
That supposed pronouncement from the Lord was followed by the following commentary:
” I mean I have to laugh, haven’t we all had enough of organized religion? Haven’t we all had enough of some leader mistakenly thinking we need them? “
While section 21 informs us that the only way for the church to avoid being swallowed up by the gates of hell is to follow the designated man that God has called as the president and prophet of the church, the revelation quoted above appears to be saying just the exact opposite.
Remember what I said about being able to spot a false revelation ifyou treasure up the word of God?
The above revelation and associated commentary appears to me to be 100% contrary to what the Lord says in section 21, 43, 101,103, 107 and many other passages of scripture. Indeed it mocks the words, protocol and prophecies of God to the church. It is easy to tell that this fellow has been initiated by the same false spirit that his spiritual mentor has been initiate with.
The exact same doctrine about the gates of hell and the importance of following God mortal leader is found in the New Testament regarding Peter. Just Google gates of hell.
The scriptures give two very strict admonitions for those desiring to avoid being deceived by the craftiness of men and devils.
The first is to “treasure up the word of God”
“And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” JST 1:37
Another is to take the Holy Ghost as your guide
“And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.
For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.”
One of the great secrets pertaining to the two passages above is that it is impossible to take the Holy Spirit as ones guide and avoid being deceived, if one has not studied to be approved of God and treasured up the Word of God.
You don’t get the Holy Ghost first and then study God’s word later. You don’t get the Holy Ghost while in a state of confusion and ignorance and then bypass studying the scriptures altogether.
You first study God’s word so that you can stand justified before the Lord and stand approved. Then you will be worthy of getting the endowment of the Holy Ghost.
I simply don’t believe you can take a short cut and bypass studying the scriptures to show yourself approved of God if you are literate and have the financial means to acquire a set of holy scriptures.
IMO, people who refuse to take the scriptures seriously and study them profusely, WILL ALWAYS BE DECEIVED AND WILL NEVER BE GIVEN THE ENDOWMENT OF THE HOLY GHOST AS THEIR GUIDE. And yet many of them become led by lying spirits and begin uttering prophetic statements that contradict Gods word.
They cannot become prophets with a small “p” being able to receive true inspiration for themselves and being able and willing to follow THE Prophet, because they have neglected to nourish themselves with the word of God as we have been commanded to do. (See Jacob 5 & 6)
The doctrine of following the prophet has gotten a lot of bad press in the alternative LDS blogging world recently and justly so, but not because it is a false doctrine. When a true prophet is on the earth, it is a true and essential doctrine.
The problem takes place when a true Prophet is not on the earth and people use the doctrine to justify following pretenders who are not Prophets that have been ordained by God HIMSELF.
Anyone desiring to avoid being deceived needs to immerse themselves in the word of God while bathed in the spirit of God. By so doing, they render themselves quite able to easily spot a false revelation from a false prophet and false teachings from false teachers. By their fruits ye shall know them.
I have pasted section 21 below:
BEHOLD, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,
2 Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith.
3 Which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April.
4 Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
6 For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.
7 For thus saith the Lord God: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard.
8 Yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen, and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer; for his days of rejoicing are come unto the remission of his sins, and the manifestations of my blessings upon his works.
9 For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a mighty blessing, and they shall believe on his words, which are given him through me by the Comforter, which manifesteth that Jesus was crucified by sinful men for the sins of the world, yea, for the remission of sins unto the contrite heart.
10 Wherefore it behooveth me that he should be ordained by you, Oliver Cowdery mine apostle;
11 This being an ordinance unto you, that you are an elder under his hand, he being the first unto you, that you might be an elder unto this church of Christ, bearing my name—
12 And the first preacher of this church unto the church, and before the world, yea, before the Gentiles; yea, and thus saith the Lord God, lo, lo! to the Jews also. Amen.