Church Member's Manual (2021 Edition)
A Church Member’s Manual has always been an important introduction for newly baptized members to the beliefs, responsibilities and ministries of the Church that Christ built. It has also been used by members in general as a source of information relating to Church procedures and policies.
This Manual was first prepared by Elder Charles A. Davies (now deceased) in 1947 for use by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Elder Davies drew on a rich source of statements by Church leaders which had appeared in various publications, thus gathering into one volume information of importance to every new member.
This current version of the Church Member’s Manual has been reviewed and revised to bring it up to date and in conformance with the original Restoration and Reorganization beliefs and practices for use by the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Now once again available, this Manual will be a great help in giving both new and current members of the Church valuable information to assist in directing their lives toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
May all be blessed and inspired by the thoughts and contents of this Church Member’s manual
THE FIRST PRESIDENCY
David Van Fleet
Becoming a Member of the Church
Membership in the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a great privilege. Because of the important commission that has been given to the Church, it is also a great responsibility. The nature of this privilege, and this responsibility, is such that one should not become a member without calm and serious consideration. It is necessary that one contemplating membership in the Church spend considerable time studying the purposes and organization of the Church and obtaining a reasonably clear idea of what membership in it entails.
From ancient times, entrance into the Church has been through submission to the ordinance of baptism by immersion, and there have always been attached thereto certain conditions. As baptism is a covenant relationship, a full understanding of the terms of the covenant is necessary; therefore we emphasize that one should be fully acquainted with these terms set down by God in His Word.
Modem revelation has made this very definite. In the word of the Lord to the Church, we have the following very concise paragraph. We should analyze it very carefully and prayerfully as we consider taking this step which will make us partners with Him in fulfilling the greatest task that has ever been envisioned in the history of mankind—the building of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Who May Be Baptized?
"All those who humble themselves before God and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the Church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his Church." (Doctrine and Covenants 17:7)
What Is Baptism?
Baptism is an action commanded by the Master, "…Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5) Here it is definitely stated to be a condition of entering His Kingdom. There is no other way acceptable by God.
A Physical Symbol
While baptism is a physical process, each step in that process symbolizes or represents a spiritual reality or truth. As a whole, baptism is a figure of salvation. "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (I Peter 3:21)
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Romans 6:3-6)
A Symbol of Our Obedience to God
Jesus came with a special mission and message from God. He not only commanded His ministry to teach and baptize all nations but also to teach them to observe all that He commanded them, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:18, 19)
A Symbol of Faith and Repentance
It is important to realize that whosoever does not believe has no true motive to be baptized, and he who does not repent has no promise of the remission of sins by his baptism. "And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37)
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38)
A Symbol of the Cleansing of the Soul
"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) "And such [i.e., the unrighteous] were some of you; but ye are sanctified." (1 Corinthians 6:11)
A Symbol of a New Relationship
"Therefore if any man live in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,..." (II Corinthians 5:17) It is in this new relationship that baptism also symbolizes the door of entrance into the Kingdom of God. It represents the new birth into the royal household of faith and into the fraternity of brotherhood with Christ and the Saints. He who is sincerely baptized is manifesting by this outward act that he believes, and has repented of his sins, has resolved to obey God, and covenants with Him to walk in His commandments. The minister who baptizes him, acting for God, acknowledges this pledge and performs this act as a spiritual symbol of the "new birth." He also introduces the candidate into the Church and household of God on earth. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27)
A Symbol of Acceptance of Stewardship Responsibilities
On becoming a member of the Church, one has acknowledged his accountability to God in all phases of life. That is, he acknowledges that he is a steward in all matters of life and conduct—whether they be spiritual, of the physical body, of social relationships, of financial blessings, or in the exercise of God—given talents entrusted to his care.
What Are the Prerequisites for Baptism?
The Receiving of Instruction Concerning the Gospel
One desiring baptism must first have received instruction concerning the nature of Christ and the Church. Jesus was definite in this because He made careful provision by sending selected disciples to teach men all that He commanded. These commands are recorded in the Scriptures, and baptism is one of them.
To receive proper instruction is so important that the unauthorized teachings and baptisms of Apollos were rejected by Paul who instructed and baptized again those who had been improperly instructed and ministered to. "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5) Also see Acts 18: 24-26; 19: 1.6.
Proper and careful instruction is essential, for those not well taught suffer spiritual loss and become like those of the Hebrew saints who were admonished, "…ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God…" (Hebrews 5:12)
Faith, or the Believing Heart
Faith is the motivation that moves one to seek God and His ways, for without it no one can acceptably approach Him. The unbeliever cannot obtain true baptism which must be based upon the sincere determination to do the will of God: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…" (Mark 16:15) Belief and faith in Jesus Christ are qualifications for baptism. The Ethiopian said, "…See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." (Acts 8:36, 37) It is clear that Philip was faithful to teach this belief before he baptized.
Repentance is turning from ways that are not in harmony with God's law and setting one's life toward His way. It involves more than expressing sorrow for wrongdoing. Practical steps to forsake wrong should be evidenced, and restitution for wrongs committed should be made, as far as is possible, before one can be said to have truly repented.
God will not compromise with sin, and John would not accept in baptism those who had not truly turned away from sin and who had given no evidence of honesty of purpose to live rightly. "…O, generation of vipers! who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?...bring forth fruits meet for repentance." (Matthew 3:33, 35) "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance…" (Mark 1:3) "…Repent, and be baptized every one of you..." (Acts 2:38) Repentance has been defined as the constant forsaking of things of lesser worth, and thereafter striving sincerely to follow Christ.
"…the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh;…that all men might repent and come unto him." (Doctrine and Covenants 16:3c) "And surely every man must repent or suffer…" (Doctrine and Covenants 18:1d). "…for all men must repent and be baptized, and not only men, but women; and children who have arrived to the years of account-ability." (Doctrine and Covenants 16:6d)
Realization of past sins and current weaknesses should not deter one from accepting God's terms of salvation through repentance and compliance with the ordinances of the gospel. "…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;..." (Isaiah 1:18) Compliance with the ordinances of the gospel and continued repentance helps one to overcome his sinful habits. Repentance is something that will need to be exercised through the whole of each lifetime. It is a continuing principle.
Is Confession of Sins before Baptism Essential?
It is by no means a rare occurrence in life for one to be wronged by another person. If that person repents and asks forgiveness, we are instructed to pardon him. Jesus instructed us thus:
"If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn to you again, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him. And the apostles said unto him, Lord, increase our faith." (Luke 17:3-5)
This represents the attitude of God to those who repent and confess. Confession is evidence of intention to reform. Confession of sins marked the repentance and baptism of converts to the faith in the New Testament. "And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds." (Acts 19:18) This principle of confession applies to God's Church today as in old times.
To Whom Should One Confess?
"And if anyone offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly . . . If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God..." (Doctrine and Covenants 42:23e, g)
The foregoing indicates that confession should be made to God and to those offended, and that unless an offense is against the group, it is not required that the group be made aware of the offense by public confession.
No priestly confessional exists in Christ's Church. The observance of the above conditions is obviously sufficient to guide members in this matter. Persons may desire to share a burden of sin; and in such case of need, the member, or offending member, has available the friendship of the ministry to give counsel. When so entrusted, no minister worthy of his calling will treat the confidence with lightness or betray the one in need.
How Is Baptism Performed?
Baptism is performed by immersion which is the only scripturally authorized mode. We follow the example of Jesus and the early disciples for our pattern in this. The translation from which our modern version, the Inspired Version is taken, uses "baptize" to denote the rite, meaning "to immerse." "And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water..." (Matthew 3:45)
"…Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him." (Mark: 1:7, 8)
These scriptures show that, to be baptized, it is necessary for one to go down into the water, be submerged in the water, and then go up out of the water.
The baptismal process as noted in the New Testament texts was similar to the instruction recorded of Jesus in the Book of Mormon: "Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name ye shall baptize them." (III Nephi 5:24)
The baptismal statement to be spoken by the officiating minister is "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." (Doctrine and Covenants 17:21) The instruction in the Doctrine and Covenants continues: "Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water." (See III Nephi 5: 25, 26.)
Thus, by immersion, is completed the symbol of the death and burial of our old life and the resurrection to a new way, a symbol of our penitent obedience and cleansing from sin; in fact, a complete regeneration as "a new man in Christ.”
Who May Baptize?
From the earliest times recorded in Biblical history, the functions of revealed religion have included rites and ceremonies that God has reserved to men chosen by Himself. One reason for this is that God intends to bring men into close relationship with Him by admitting worthy ones into the divine family and household by which they receive the name of Christ by adoption. This is the status of true disciples and Saints as explained by the Apostle Paul to those who had been inducted by baptism into the Church:
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God . . . For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,..." (Ephesians 2:19; 3:14, 15)
The authority conferred upon God's chosen ministers is called priesthood. These ministers are given specific instructions and are not authorized to disregard them or to exceed their intent. We are informed that Jesus was chosen of God as a high priest and that the priestly office can be filled only by men so chosen. "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (Hebrews 5:4)
Thus we reason that the rite of baptism is an ordinance that cannot be performed with the sanction of divine law unless administered by those who hold the priestly office from God. The great importance of authority is indicated in modem revelation to the Church which informs us that to baptize is one of the duties of an elder and of a priest. (See Doctrine and Covenants 17:10). "…but neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize,..." (Doctrine and Covenants 17:11e)
What Is Meant by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
There is reason to recognize that Jesus included both the baptism of water and the Holy Spirit as constituting, in its deepest and most complete sense, one baptism. It applied both to the body and the spirit of man as the means of rebirth. The solemn declaration of Jesus was, "…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)
From the Scriptures it is evident that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a most important and necessary factor in the life of a true believer. Whereas the outward ordinance of water baptism is a symbol of the believer's covenant to serve God, the baptism of the Spirit is the placing by God of His seal upon the covenant and His share in the keeping of that promise made by baptism: "…Repent, and be baptized every one of you . . . and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38)
In effect, spiritual baptism is the endowment of God's power upon the believer by which the covenant relationship with him is attested as being in force, and has been sometimes called "the anointing." (See II Corinthians 1:21, 22.)
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13)
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)
How Is the Holy Spirit Received?
The ordinance of laying on of hands is the function which is necessary for the confirmation of the Holy Spirit. It is a symbolic rite; the hands are used in the simple expression of the bestowal of power. God has taken the simple experiences of life, such as the use of water, and the partaking of a meal in fellowship, as a means of conveying deeper truths to the human mind. The laying on of hands dramatizes what God would have us sense in the bestowal of his power. The question is explicitly answered in Acts 8:14-17:
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God , they sent unto them Peter and John; Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
Who May Lay on Hands for the Bestowal of the Holy Spirit?
Modern revelation is in harmony with the early practice in this respect and gives explicit instruction:
"…it is his calling [of the elders] to baptize . . . and to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the Scriptures." (Doctrine and Covenants 17:8b, c)
Only those holding the Melchisedec priesthood may lay on hands for the ordinance to confirm the gift of the Holy Spirit upon another person.
When Does Confirmation Take Place?
No one should be accepted into the Church without a knowledge of the significance of baptism and the meaning of his membership in the Church. He should, according to his age and development, be given as full an understanding of the Church and its purposes as is necessary to a healthy beginning in the life of stewardship.
Where hasty initiation occurs, much of the beauty and blessing which should come to the new member is lost. Special instruction should be given about the character and work of the Holy Spirit so that he will be able to enter expectantly as well as intelligently into full covenant relationship and be susceptible to the promised power of the Holy Spirit.
Definite commandment is given in Doctrine and Covenants 17: 18b, c that members should be fully instructed in the work of the Church prior to the confirmation by the laying on of hands and partaking of the Lord's Supper:
"The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament, and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders; so that all things may be done in order. And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, walking in holiness before the Lord."
"The elders . . . are to have sufficient time" is a message of warning. These are words chosen by the Lord to convey His desire. This should undoubtedly be done before baptism as far as possible, with sufficient pause made between baptism and confirmation to allow for the significance of each ordinance to be fully appreciated. Experience has shown that administration of these two ordinances at separate services is advisable and that it allows for the particular and peculiar emphasis of each to be demonstrated more fully. That the Lord uses the words "sufficient time" indicates that the minister should use his discernment and wisdom as to the nature, age, and circumstances of each candidate for membership in the Church when he is planning the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.
"All things concerning the Church of Christ" includes all the responsibilities of a member of the Church, understanding the fundamental beliefs and practices which include the Financial Law and the ideal of Zionic stewardships, and paying due respect to the age and capacity of the one seeking membership in the Church.
Zion, the Ultimate Objective
Its Early Advocates
The prophets and spiritual leaders of Israel held before their people an ideal of government which pictured God as living in the midst of His people, and administering the affairs of His Kingdom with justice and equity. He was to rule in reality because He would first of all rule in the inner courts of life and would win men to ways of righteousness, justice, and brotherhood in the common affairs of daily living. This exalted idea of government is expressed many times in the Old Testament.
Many of the devout Jews looked forward to the day when the dominion of God would be extended until righteousness would be the rule of life even to the remote corners of the earth. They, in their eagerness, did not have a very clear idea of the "kingdom of heaven." They agreed it was to be a new social order but the more zealous interpreted these prophecies to mean the founding of an earthly kingdom established by force, if necessary, with its capital at Jerusalem. People in this category wanted to make Jesus their king.
Jesus Adds Meaning
Jesus took the words of the prophets and refashioned them to add a wealth of meaning. Although Jesus never gave a specific definition of the Kingdom, He illustrated its characteristics by many parables and word pictures, the meaning of which becomes clear only as they are studied carefully and in relation to each other. He did not try to convey His message in formal definitions about which men would have been splitting hairs from that day to this. Instead He indicated several lines of thought along which those who were eager to know could discover likeness to the Kingdom of God. He told them that the Kingdom is like leaven hidden in a measure of meal; like hidden treasure; like a merchant seeking a goodly pearl, which to obtain he would sell all his other possessions; like a growing seed; like ten virgins, five of whom were wise and five foolish. None of these parables exhaust the meaning of the Kingdom. All of them contain a portion of the truth, an understanding of which can be more fully achieved in expanding our spiritual experiences.
The Kingdom in Modern Revelation
"…this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come,..." (Matthew 24:32)
From the beginning of our history, Latter Day Saints have believed that this promise is now about to be fulfilled and that one of the major tasks of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the building of the Kingdom of God on earth —or Zion, as we often call it.
In the first months after the organization of the Church, the word "Zion" was regarded as being almost synonymous with "Church," although even then, it was undoubtedly prophetic of the greater Church that was to be. In June 1830, Joseph Smith, Jr., while making an inspired correction of the Holy Scriptures, received an extract from a prophecy of Enoch which gave great impetus to the movement toward Zion. This narrative related that Enoch, "the seventh from Adam," (Jude 14) led his followers to a land where they were especially blessed of the Lord because of their righteousness. Here the Lord came and dwelt with his people, who were “called…"Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them,..." (Doctrine and Covenants 36:2). In the course of time, Enoch and his people built a city that was called Zion, the city of holiness, which city "in process of time was taken up into heaven." (Genesis 7:27) This revelation further indicated that the Lord would again come to earth in the last days.
New Concept of World Redemption
Under the illumination of these and other prophecies, the Saints turned back to the older Scriptures and read them with new understanding. Gradually, they came to recognize that the idea of personal salvation must be merged into the idea of world redemption and that no man must think of his own salvation apart from the extension of the reign of God into the lives of others.
Even in spite of this, the ideal of Zion, as it came to be called, might not have become dominant in the life of the Church had it not been for the revelations calling on the Saints to move from western New York into Ohio and later into Missouri where the Center Place for the "New Jerusalem" was to be located. With the Church committed to the establishment of a literal social order, centering in a specific place, the gospel of the Kingdom presented a real challenge. It was a major missionary topic and attracted many converts.
Balance of Revelation and Experience
Various revelations gave considerable light on the principles and procedure of the “Gathering.” There was much to be learned, however, which could not be gained from scrutiny of the revelations only, and which required a certain amount of experience. Just as the Zion of Enoch matured gradually through many years, so the Zion of these days will be achieved by patient continuance in well-doing.
Men engaged in the Zionic enterprise are human and are subject to the dangers of overemphasis. Some are eager to win converts and may baptize those who are not yet genuine Zionbuilding material. Others are so eager to build the Kingdom that they forget that it is a major missionary project and, accordingly, fail to maintain their missionary spirit and work. Some are engrossed in the idea that the building of the Kingdom is an intensely practical affair and they become more concerned about economic and political adjustments than about cultivating the spirit of fellowship, of sympathy, of mutual understanding, and of eager contribution. But the hope of Zion continues and the composite of the zealous and dependable will bear fruit.
The Spiritual Nature of the Kingdom
The Kingdom of God does not consist simply of policies or programs, or laws, but of people. The first movement toward the building of the Kingdom is therefore to change the minds and hearts and characters of men. As this is done, programs and policies become necessary and important, but until this is done, their significance is entirely secondary. The first step toward the Gathering does not, therefore, lie in the construction of a program for society. The first step is in winning men to a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. This step we call "conversion."
Conversion is an experience something like the Day of Judgment, for it requires that a man face his God without pride and without pretense. But the test of the reality of his conversion is its effect on his relations with his fellow men. One of the vital aspects of his own salvation is that he now recognizes his obligation to society by becoming a functioning part of the Church. Now he is concerned with policies and programs and laws, but these are means to an end; and the end is the expression of the love of God which he feels in his own soul, and which urges him to include other people in his plan of life.
The Christlike method of redeeming society is through building the Kingdom of God. This kingdom-building begins with the conversion of individual people. It has its root in the change of heart and the uplifting of mind and redirection of will which we call the "new birth." But while it begins in the heart of the individual, it immediately reaches out to include all men. It finds expression in a new order of life in which men live in right relations with their brothers because they are responsive to the demands of their common fatherhood.
Zion, A New Creation
The building of the Kingdom of God is the controlling objective of Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints corporate life. This Kingdom is different from any that has gone before. It will take over the best values of the present world order, such as industry, thrift, and delight in craftsmanship, but the Kingdom is a new creation through a new spirit and enlightened by a new understanding. As a member of the Church that is striving to develop this Kingdom, you are invited to participate in the activities which add to its growth. Other chapters in this book will emphasize important principles that you should know and practice.
The Standards of Sainthood
The purpose of the Church is to establish a community of people built upon standards of personal and social righteousness. This is an ideal, but certain basic standards must be recognized at the outset of the disciple's journey if this aim is to be apparent to the world.
Certain standards for membership must be attained in order that this witness not be nullified. The following are some accepted standards to which we should subscribe when owning membership.
"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul – We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." – Excerpt from the ‘Wentworth Letter’, Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, p. 710.
What Are the Standards?
A Saint cultivates the gospel graces by "…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; And to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; And to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Peter 1:5-8)
A Saint Is Clean in Thought, Speech, and Deed
The aim to be spotless in these matters is essential. This requires that the heart and mind will be filled with the divine vision to the exclusion of the carnally-devised moral compromises of the social world. In other words, the moral standard of a member should be above reproach.
A Saint Is Sincere and Honest
The religious life must be rooted in sincerity, integrity, and honesty. Good works must proceed from a sincere heart, not from a desire for praise or honor. The word of a Saint must be as good as his bond. He must be scrupulously honest in business dealings, in friendly relations, and in all other social contacts. He must be honest with God. “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” (2 Corinthians 8:21)
A Saint Is Generous
A Saint should cultivate a generous attitude toward others as tolerance and open-heartedness are important characteristics of sainthood. Hatred, spite, envy, or revenge should not be given place in the heart. Generosity to those in need should not be restricted to those who appear worthy. In short, the "second mile" principle should govern in generosity.
A Saint Is Brotherly
There should be evidenced an attitude toward others that does not discriminate between color, creed, nation, or social class. Love to all mankind should be a standard of the saintly life.
A Saint Is a Good Citizen
A Saint should be a law-abiding citizen. To be in good standing in the Church is also the guarantee of a worthy citizen. Conscientious acceptance of the responsibilities placed upon us by state or national citizenship is obligatory upon Saints.
A Saint Leads a Useful Life
The Saint is expected to engage in useful occupations which should be in keeping with all other standards of sainthood, leading to the full utilization of stewardship skills and responsibilities which would enhance the building of Zion on earth.
A Saint Is Thrifty
A good Saint discharges his responsibility as a steward with care and consecration. There is no better guide to this achievement than a careful and studious approach to the matters contained in the chapter on the Financial Law.
A Saint Spends His Leisure Time Creatively
The standards of Sainthood requires that, as well as choosing a vocation of a useful and constructive nature, members should study the use of leisure time also, so that the stewardship of time shall be recognized. As recreation should be truly re-creative, this matter should receive more than casual study by all who would approach the standards of Christ.
A Saint Endeavors to Maintain a High Standard of Health
The Word of Wisdom (Section 86 of the Doctrine and Covenants) is an indication of the requirements of God in the matter of physical and mental well-being. Each member is invited to study this word of advice and counsel and to endeavor to apply its principles. There is no arbitrary instruction in this, but the spirit of its advice should be understood if one's body is to be a useful servant of the Spirit.
A Saint Avoids the Use of Habit-forming Drugs
The standards of sainthood preclude the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs on the basis that those who so indulge are living at a lower mental and physical standard therein than is intended in the divine purpose. Other personal and social habits, too, should be judged on the same basis and constructive decisions made in all such matters in harmony with the greater purposes of life.
A Saint Respects the Sanctity of Marriage
The standard of the Church in the marriage relation-ship is that of the highest Christlike principle. It is a fundamental concept of Latter Day Saint teaching and practice that the monogamous marriage, only to be sanctioned between a man and woman, be observed with scrupulousness. It is of particular importance that members should uphold by word and deed the sanctity of the Saintly home and seek with all diligence to maintain it.
A Saint is expected to share regularly in the worship and other activities of the Church. See Chapter 4.
A Saint is expected to be unfailing in his observance of the Lord's Supper. See Chapter 5.
A Saint is expected to take part in the work of the Church according to his gifts and opportunity. See Chapter 6.
A Saint is expected to give his share in contributing to the funds of the Church according as God has prospered him. See Chapter 11.
A Saint should maintain a standard of good reading. “The Hastening Times" and other Church periodicals should find a place in the regular reading of every Church member.
A Saint should plan for individual and family devotions and study the Word of God. See the section on family worship at end of Chapter 3.
What Official Steps Are Taken to Ensure These Standards?
If it is necessary to give evidence of worthiness of life to become a member of the Church, it is necessary to maintain and raise that standard to retain one's privileges as a member. (See Doctrine and Covenants 17: 7.) Failure to appreciate the standards of sainthood may result in the Church being forced into action to protect its members from damage done by those who become of ill-repute. The actual steps taken in such circumstances are: first, for the administrative officer of the group or area to appoint the teacher or other officer to labor kindly with the offender to bring about repentance and restitution; second, where this fails, to appoint a court for the hearing of the matter and render judgment. If adjudged guilty of an offense against the accepted standard, certain restitution may be required and, in the most extreme circumstances, expulsion from the Church may be ordered.
What Sins Would Constitute Cause for Church Action?
Where members of the Church so far forget their calling to live Saintly lives and become guilty of immoral conduct (e.g., adultery, drunkenness, thievery, and kindred sins), definite action must be taken by the Church. Repentance and adjustment are obligatory on the part of all found guilty in this way. For a first offense, repentance may be considered sufficient by the Court. However, repetition or lapses in conduct may lead to expulsion from the fellowship.
The contracting of debt without reasonable ability to meet one's obligation is immoral and the Church cannot uphold the membership of one so acting. Refusal to meet one's legitimate obligations, where there is the ability to do so, may become the subject of Church action, thus placing member privileges in jeopardy.
Drunkenness is not in keeping with the standards of a Saintly life and in this matter the Church is very strict. No member can be considered in good standing who indulges in the use of intoxicating and strong drink. Where this conduct is evidenced, administrative officers must take action that the name of the Church, and the character of its members, be not spoken of evilly.
To avoid the appearance of evil is an obligation of every member in relation to the name of Christ and His Church. Where circumstances are such that the Church and community are brought into disrepute, even though there be no conclusive evidence of sinful relationships, the Church requires the member so involved to evidence innocence or repentance by removal of the cause. Where such is not done, those so failing may be dealt with by the Church as required by the Articles and Covenants thereof.
It cannot be overemphasized that any such disciplinary action which may be taken by the Church is not designed to be punitive, but in all cases is intended to reclaim the fallen and to protect and uphold the witness of the Christlike standards. The Church has no option but to act to preserve its good influence in the community.
Lying or backbiting, for example, as well as the matters mentioned above, can be extremely disruptive and may lead to action by the Church.
Briefly stated, the membership should, at all times and in all places, remember that the standards of the Church are the standards of Jesus Christ. The Church is jealous of its name as the Church of Jesus Christ and is bound morally and spiritually to ensure that it is held high by all who enter into its fellowship.
How Shall I Adjust Personal Difficulties?
It is inevitable in our present state of weakness and humanity that difficulties of a personal nature will arise among members of the Church. In this Church there is no exception, for where there are two persons or more working and living alongside each other, there is the possibility of friction or misunderstanding.
The art of living together in peace is one that most needs developing in these days, both in smaller groups of individuals and in the global sphere of international relationships. If the major national calamities of recent years are to be avoided in the future, the art of fellowship must be perfected. To proclaim and demonstrate these principles is the duty of the Church and its members.
Therefore, the gospel, through the Church, has set the ideals and principles for social adjustment. It is essential that the members of the Church shall maintain a high level of fellowship if the witness of the message, "Peace on earth," is to be made real.
Peace among members of the Church was emphasized as essential by Jesus, as these words of Scripture show:
"…if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." (Matthew 18:15, 16)
"Therefore . . . if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, Leave thou thy gift before the altar, and go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:25, 26)
It is clearly the duty of each party to an unfortunate trespass to approach the other for reconciliation. Experience has shown that where this law is carried out, in the great majority of cases reconciliation is effected in the first stages of the breach.
It is an offense against the fellowship of the group, and the principles of Christ, to report injuries and hurts first to another not concerned in the matter. Tale bearing is a most harmful practice and not in harmony with the standards of Sainthood, and is an offense against which the Church as a body may take action and thus one's membership be affected.
What Then Are the Obligations of Members in Cases of Difficulty?
The person offended, or another Saint having knowledge of a brother or sister having been offended must, before this information with any other, approach the person concerned in the presence of the offended person, seeking to make reconciliation. If the difficulty is not big enough to do this, it is not big enough to bother anyone about. It had best be forgotten. (See Doctrine and Covenants 42:23 a.)
Should the approach not be successful, the offended party should then take another witness with strong consideration of that person being a teacher, or another officer or member of the Church, so that there be proof of the problem and its nature. Should this second effort be unsuccessful, the matter should then be presented to the branch president where both parties are members. If the difficulty is between members of different branches or groups, then the administrative officer having jurisdiction over both parties should be consulted. (See Doctrine and Covenants 42: 23 b.)
The duty of this administrative officer is to see that all possible efforts are made to effect a reconciliation, but failing reconciliation by these methods, it is his duty to appoint a suitable court to try the case.
To avoid this undesirable and extreme action, all members should endeavor at all times to apply the standards of Christ and His Church in their lives. In this connection, the following quotations are worthy of constant remembrance:
"And when ye stand praying, forgive if ye have aught against any; that your Father also who is in heaven, may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:27, 28)
"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." (Matthew 6:13)
"…wherefore I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another, for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses, standeth condemned before the Lord, for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men; and ye ought to say in your hearts, Let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds." (Doctrine and Covenants 64:2d, e)
Members should avoid taking offense over trifles or the incidental actions of others. These acts are often unintentional. Motives of others should not be called into question without foundation. If the spirit of repentance and forgiveness is constantly cultivated in each member, then the fellowship of the Saints will be preserved, and the purposes of the Church unhindered.
No one should be misled into thinking that an expression of repentance or forgiveness absolves one from doing what is right or proper under all circumstances and to repair any damage that has been done. Where practicable, full restitution to the injured party should be made.
The highest revelation given to the world should guide the Saints in dealing with the seemingly universal problem in human relationships. This revelation is contained in the life and ministry of Jesus and caught up in His words from the cross:
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:35)
Marriage and the Home
Of all the spheres of life today where the teachings of the gospel are so critical, the relationships of husbands and wives and the establishment of saintly homes are vitally important. Young people today, and especially the homes of the Church, face a great crisis. The successful meeting of immoral influence on every hand is the call of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Latter Day Saint attitude toward the sanctity of the home as the primary unit of society must be the fundamental goal for this training and development of each succeeding generation. This view is in harmony with, and supported by, evidence offered by wise students of child guidance and mental and spiritual health.
What about Preparation for Marriage?
The Church places great emphasis upon the need for adequate preparation before marriage takes place. Every member contemplating marriage should make a study of the Church's position in relation to that sacrament. The fundamental teachings of the gospel offer a sound foundation for the correct use of the God-given functions of procreation through marriage.
What Principles Govern a Happy Marriage?
The development of principles of personal integrity and sound character is essential in preparation for and the functioning of marriage. Therefore, all persons contemplating marriage should look for these characteristics in each other. To hope to establish the marriage relation-ship on any other basis is vain. Though much of the working adjustment must, of necessity, be left to the actual early years of married life, decisions as to the capacity of each partner to make those adjustments must be made prior to the wedding day.
It is the duty of every couple contemplating marriage to give these matters earnest and prayerful consideration because failure to do so brings a vast train of marital disasters in its wake. Without compatibility, the living of the Saintly life and the establishment of the saintly home is impossible.
Should One Marry Those of Other Faiths?
Marriage to those of like faith is most desirable, but the control of matters of the heart is not easy. It is essential, therefore, that in the selection of a partner one should have given much prayerful consideration before the emotions are allowed to make attachment. Choice of a partner who has like ideals leads to a more successful marriage.
Paul, in the Second Corinthian letter, admonishes the Saints to avoid being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Compatibility of religious outlook as well as of personal temperament is essential for peace and harmony of the home and the care of the family. Many other churches, and marriage counselors, also recognize the need for a common faith and shared ideals as the basis for a completely happy marriage.
To many a person who has no sympathy with another's religious ideals is to nullify that person's powers for the Kingdom task, both from a personal and family point of view.
What Characteristics Are Necessary for Successful Partnership in Marriage?
Reborn individuals who are striving to live lives characterized by intelligence, virtue, honor, integrity, righteousness, and those striving for Christlikeness in their personalities, have the material within them for successful homemaking.
Should One Be Married by Anyone Other Than Church Authority?
“…we believe . . . that the solemnization should be performed by a presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority.
We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this church from marrying out of the church, if it be their determination so to do, but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (Doctrine and Covenants 111:1c, d)
Where Should Marriage Be Solemnized?
"…we believe, that all marriages in this Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose." (Doctrine and Covenants 111:1b).
There is no more fitting place for the celebration of the sacrament of marriage than at the house of worship. That a man an woman, in the earnestness of their covenant with each other, should seek to unite their lives to the high and holy purpose of establishing a Christlike home is a very beautiful thing. At a place of worship due emphasis and a fitting atmosphere can be given to make this an occasion of lifelong memory and joy. Here is an opportunity for public and open testimony of the principles of Saintly living and of sharing with those who love them best in joyous ceremony. The home of one of the parties is also often chosen and likewise can be a very beautiful occasion although certain features are necessarily limited. Marriage by a justice of the peace, judge, or in a registry office may be accepted by the Church as legal, but such is to be deprecated because of the failure to emphasize the spiritual nature of the union. No minister of this Church is free to sanction the performance of this sacred ordinance in inappropriate surroundings, some of which are nothing more than mere opportunities for notoriety.
Is There a Particular Necessary Ceremony?
There are no rigid provisions for the ceremonial part of the marriage service except the definite use of certain words in the actual covenant. As long as these required words are used, the minister may plan with the couple to make the service beautiful in a way that is fitting and in harmony with the occasion. The words required of the minister in the ceremony are found in Doctrine and Covenants 111:2b, c, d.
“You both mutually agree to be each other's companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition; that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others, during your lives?”
"And when they have answered, “Yes,” he shall pronounce them “husband and wife'” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the laws of the country and authority vested in him: “May God add his blessings and keep you to fulfill your covenants from henceforth and forever. Amen."
What Is the Church's Attitude to Divorce?
The policy of prevention is always a better one than striving for a cure. The constructive approach to marriage and the inclusion of the principles emphasized earlier are intended to become a foundation calculated to make the partners united and thus permanent companions throughout life. Though errors of intent and judgment will occur, the Church regards divorce or separation of married persons as deplorable and a definite failure in the sphere of family life. The grounds on which it will recognize divorce as legitimate are very restricted.
What Are Recognized Grounds for Divorce?
The only causes justifying separation between married persons are: (a) adultery, and (b) abandonment without cause. (Matthew 5:35, 36; 19:9; Luke 16:23) For further delineation see G.C.R. 1034.
The person who puts away his companion who is innocent of transgression is himself in transgression, and the person so put away, or abandoned, is sinned against.
No one who is separated from a companion is excommunicated from the Church if such separation does not involve transgression worthy of condemnation. In many states, the laws of the land are less exacting than the Church's standard, and recognition of such divorces or remarriages by the Church is dependent on the question of either partner being guilty for cause as determined upon the basis of Christ's law.
What Are the Standards of a Good Latter Day Saint Home?
A particular study of the following standards both before and during married life will be invaluable to Saints, and it is suggested that these, qualities be continually striven for as the ideal standard. They should be encouraged and developed in the home life of Latter Day Saints. In the early days of the Restored Church, several members of the ministry were admonished by revelation that they regard it as a primary duty to see that Godly standards of their homes were achieved.
A Latter Day Saint Home Will Have a Sense of God
A child gains his concept of godliness first through his parents in the home. He gains his reverence for God and respect for His laws through the example of his parents. Here he learns that godly principles are the guiding factor in all true saintly conduct. Thus, the home must be established on Saintly principles if the members of it are to have true spiritual perception.
The word of God should be within easy reach of each member of the home and is available in the three books of the Church: the Bible (Inspired Version), the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants.
The reading of these Scriptures will bring an understanding of Saintly life as nothing else can do.
A Highly Moral Atmosphere in the Home Is Needed
The attitude of the growing generation toward moral principles will normally be that evidenced in the lives of their parents. The acts and conversation of parents will be the standards which will be copied. Therefore, by example and instruction, wholesome moral principles should emanate from the home. Honesty, truth, decency, and righteousness will then become the foundation of all behavior.
An Open Attitude to Knowledge Is Imperative
A Latter Day Saint should exercise an intelligent faith, and the best buffer against the assaults of modernism which can destroy the faith of children and young people is an open attitude to all inquiry. The home must seek to interpret life in terms adequate for this expanding world of knowledge. The home must be a place where the doubts and misgivings of youth can receive sympathy and tolerance while providing safe anchorage upon the foundations of the past. There is a medium to be sensed between the restrictive authority of a past age and the extreme tendency of the present to disregard all older concepts of truth. The authority of such a home will be one of respect, automatically given when an assurance of understanding and consideration to expanding experience is present.
A Missionary Urge within the Family Is Enjoined
Every home should be so constituted and conducted that, when children reach the age of eight years, they are ready to assume membership in the larger body of the Church. If the teachings of the Church have been demonstrated in the home, one of the great missionary achievements of the Church, the conservation of the natural increase, will have been realized. The saintly home will also make those not of its own family conscious of the power of the gospel, so that whoever shares in the life of the home will be influenced by its missionary spirit. (See Doctrine and Covenants 68:4.)
The Saintly Home Should Be Beautiful
Church homes should reflect the high ideals of our faith. This should show in their architectural and physical appointments. Truly the cleanliness and the arrangement of a home speaks of the ideals of those who dwell there. Beauty in decoration and in form are becoming of Zionic homes. The home should allow opportunity for the expression of each member as he develops his tastes and preferences so that it becomes more than a residence, but in fact, an expression of ideals and of an appreciation of the finer things of life.
Mutual Responsibility Characterizes Saintly Homes
The home is the cradle of an ideal. Where this is expressed by each member of the home by a regard for the welfare of the other members, and where no act is engaged in without consideration of its effect upon others, there is being developed a fundamental attitude that will carry over into the affairs of the world and business. The principles of Zion are first practiced within the walls of the home.
The Home Should Be Adequate for the Development and Care of Healthy Bodies
Simple rules of health and the care of our physical needs should be learned first in the home. A saintly home should provide the opportunity for each member to grow into a healthy adult. Studies on these laws of health are readily obtainable and this study is incumbent upon every home manager. A revelation of advice and counsel has been given to the Church in these last days on this matter. The study of Doctrine and Covenants Section 86 and selections from our current Remnant Revelations for a better understanding of principles relating to our physical health and spiritual wellbeing is very important.
The Saintly Home Requires a Financially Sound Program and Policy
A true understanding of the stewardship of temporal things is also essential if the fundamental spiritual values of the saintly home are to be realized. The careful management of our financial resources is an important phase of stewardship, and when so recognized, the benefit in the lives of growing members is invaluable. The doctrines of work and responsibility should be lived out in the home and our dependence upon God should be taught through the principles of the tithe and offerings. Thus, the Saintly home is the center of the teaching of the gospel of sharing.
Wise budgeting is essential to successful home management. The bishops and their agents will render valuable assistance with planning budgets if their aid is sought.
The Saintly Home Is Controlled by Love
No home can be successfully operated on rules of a purely arbitrary nature. Every saintly home will evidence the love enjoined upon all true brethren. Where the home is characterized by love centered in God and expressed among members of a family, the standards herein considered will be achieved without much technical application of roles. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another." (John 13:34) This is fundamental to a Saintly life.
The Home Should Be the Center of Regular Family Devotions
Family worship is a time-honored and proven institution, which has, far too often, fallen into disuse. However, where this disuse has occurred, it has been to the spiritual detriment of the family. Parents desirous of sharing with their children real spiritual experiences will not neglect this means of grace.
Should Family Worship Always Be Formal?
There are many phases of home life that can be included under the heading of family worship. In fact, any activity that is centered in God and His purpose for us would be so regarded. Many normal home activities may be made worship-centered and, in this way, avoid the monotony of stereotyped family prayers. Wise leadership can bring many ordinary home activities to a devotional climax. For instance:
A story told to the younger children at the fireside in winter or an outside activity on a summer's evening can be made the basis of a devotional climax. A period of fellowship around the piano will draw the family together in devotional appreciation for God and of each other.
When mother or father visits with the child for an informal chat at bedtime and concludes with the nightly prayer, it is worship in the home in a personal and intimate sense. The mother of Moses was successful in this way and imprinted the basic faith of her people in her son, notwithstanding all the education the Egyptians bestowed upon him. She probably had little opportunity for any but informal teaching concerning the true God.
Some other opportunities that we may study with the view to making them worship-centered are conversations around the table after meals. Any conversation may be guided to devotional purposes: Scriptures read from the Three Standard Books, instrumental and vocal music, lovely pictures, art appreciation, table talk, projects of the family working together, playtime together, sharing experiences with others than the immediate family, practicing hospitality and friendship, visiting, family worship settings, gems from our reading shared at a suitable time, and a wisely and carefully planned approach to the Lord's day can all become family worship experiences.
If formality is always insisted upon, experience has shown that family worship is difficult to maintain, whereas if the parents are wise in their approach to this need, keeping in view the fundamental requirement of every activity being made an act of essential worship, the variety so necessary in the life of growing children is achieved, while God becomes the center of each life and of the family.
Notwithstanding the emphasis placed in this section on the need for drawing all phases of family life to a devotional center, there is no substitute for the definite function of prayer in the life of every Saint. All opportunities for devotion in the family circle here referred to are definitely linked with the training of each growing person in the ability to engage in personal and collective prayer. There is definitely no substitute for an ongoing and dedicated prayer life. Prayer will then be expanded to include one's whole attitude toward living.
Keeping Spiritually Pure
When one is born into this world, he begins his physical and mental development. Should the babe be neglected, or the growing young person fail to exercise body and mind in the several ways by which healthy living is maintained, there will be a detrimental effect on the life of the person. It is necessary that the body and mind be fed and nurtured in order that this important growth may be evidenced.
Throughout the Scriptures, the birth and growth of the natural body have been used as examples of the birth and growth of the spiritual nature and it is essential that each member of the Church keep in mind this parallel. Thus it is vital that each member should seek every opportunity for the exercising of those functions and privileges that are within their reach.
In other chapters of this manual, sections have been devoted to various ordinances and ministries that are essential to healthy spiritual development, but in this chapter four vital factors are given particular emphasis: study, fasting, prayer, and the fellowship of worship.
To be physically fit we must have food. The same is true of the inner man. "…It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (Luke 4:4)
The Scriptures are replete with evidence that the Word of God is the food that feeds the soul of man. The First Psalm is a good illustration:
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (Psalm 1:1, 3)
Mosiah warned his sons that were it not for the sacred records, the Nephites would have dwindled in unbelief like the Lamanites. Amos 8:11-13 prophesies a famine, not of bread, but of hearing the Word of the Lord. Peter says that all flesh is as grass and the flowers of the field which wither and pass away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever (I Peter 1: 24, 25). To the extent that we eat the bread of God's Word, we become enduring.
All professions have textbooks. Surgeons, musicians, engineers, astronomers, lawyers, and professors of all kinds must master the text of their professions before they receive degrees, diplomas, or the authority to function in society. Ministers for Jesus Christ and "professional kingdom builders" are no exception to this rule. God has provided three textbooks for us. We can scarcely expect God to authorize (grant the power and spirit and gifts of our calling) and endow us with the Holy Ghost until we have, at least to some degree, mastered the textbooks He has provided us.
In addition to studying the Scriptures, we have been instructed to "…study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people." (Doctrine and Covenants 87:5b) "…seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning even by study, and also by faith" (Doctrine and Covenants 85:36a). Study is indeed a vital factor in "keeping spiritually alive."
Is fasting required of us by God? The Three Standard Books of the Church state that not only is fasting required of us, but it is also a clear-cut commandment of God:
"Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer, in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God." (Alma 4:6)
"Also, I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth." (Doctrine and Covenants 85:21a)
"Continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth" indicates that both are of a continuous nature. Fasting and prayer are both attitudes toward God. Kneeling down and talking to God is giving expression to the prayer attitude. Abstinence from food (and other things) is the act of giving expression to the attitude of fasting. After the act or period of expression is completed, the attitude should remain, or our fast and prayer is a farce and empty mockery.
"…let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart, that thy fasting may be perfect..." (Doctrine and Covenants 59:3a) If our hearts are single to the Kingdom of God, then the attitude of fasting is continuous. We will eat to live, not live to eat. Fasting, among other things, is an attitude of self-denial, abstention, and self-control that is meant to be continuous in our lives and has application to things other than food and drink.
There are numerous times when the act of fasting is of benefit. Prior to a General Conference, the President of the Church usually asks the membership to participate in a period of fast was one means of making spiritual preparation for the occasion. Many members voluntarily, or at the request of their presiding officer, fast prior to the Sacrament Service, or before some other service of great spiritual importance to the Church. Often a fast is held in preparation for the ordinance of administering to the sick.
Fasting is a voluntary act and the use of wisdom in performing it is advised. Fasting is not, or should not be, a hunger strike to pressure God into doing what we want Him to do. It is an act of humbling and attuning ourselves to God so His will may be done and His power be made manifest.
It is well to reflect upon the example set by the Master. He was a man of prayer. This is evidenced again and again throughout the books of the New Testament. There was no occasion of importance in the life of the Savior that He did not engage in prayer and communion with His Heavenly Father. In this, as in other things, we must look to Him as our pattern and maintain daily communication with the Father.
The Purpose of Prayer
Apostle Charles R. Hield pointed out (Saints' Herald, 1942, page 1033) the purposes of God in relation to prayer:
“Before we pray it is well that we meditate upon the great eternal purposes of God. In modern revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 22:23b, God says:
“….for this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality, and eternal life of man.”
“God . . . [has] a definite purpose in life. [His] object is to build a society here upon earth in which men will, of their own free volition, obey the eternal, everlasting, and beneficent laws of the universe. Our prayer should be sent to God with the conscious purpose that we might better understand His laws, that we might secure His wisdom to aid us in living successfully here upon this earth. When we analyze the prayers of the Bible, we find that they are concerned with the building of this new society—this society dedicated to obeying the righteous laws of eternity.”
We are admonished to make all our endeavors, both spiritual and temporal, matters of prayer. This includes the matters of our soul and character development, our relations with others, both in and out of the household of faith, matters of our daily bread and physical needs, and in particular, all the major and minor decisions of life.
Prayer is the means by which we determine the will of God. To make vital decisions in life without first seeking the Spirit of God for understanding is to risk making mistakes at the many crossroads in life. Most of the mistakes of men and women in the Church are made because of the failure to remember the injunction of Jesus that "…men ought always to pray, and not to faint." (Luke 18:1)
Prayer becomes most meaningful when it has been incorporated into the daily life and habits of the Saints. It is wise to make an appointment with God for His daily counsel and to keep that appointment religiously. Many persons make a habit of retiring for a brief period each day to some particular corner of their home for private and personal meditation and prayer. To them, this spot, of no significance perhaps to others of the same home, becomes an altar of prayer. It may be a place in one's bedroom where one may be alone, or to a corner of the living room where the Three Books of the Scriptures are kept, or some spot kept adorned with the fresh flowers of nature to help draw one near to the Father. But the essential thing is that it provides a focus for the drawing of one's soul to God in definite communion with His Spirit. It may be beside one's bed at morning or at evening that one may choose to seek the Father in counsel and wisdom, but wherever and whenever it is, it is of major importance in the saintly development that each person engage in a period of daily prayer.
Prayer is of particular help in the matters of human relationships. In another place, methods are given by which one may adjust difficulties that arise among brethren, but if the habit of true prayer is cultivated, these difficulties need never rise. Prayer for the brethren and sisters of the Church produces harmony among them and within them. It has been truly said, that when one is praying for someone, thoughts of bitterness cannot grow toward them.
One then should pray at all times; when in sorrow, when in doubt, when in need and when one is blessed, when one is experiencing joy, when alone, and when with the brethren.
The hymns of the Church are invaluable as aids to prayer and worship in a personal way. A large portion of the hymns are the outpourings of a needy soul and can be fittingly used to direct one's needs in prayer and meditation. Members should use the sacred books also in this way.
Prayer need not be a matter of private and personal devotion alone. In fact, we are commanded to practice both private and public prayer. Many opportunities are offered in the services of the Church for participation in prayer. Prayer meetings should be held in all branches and congregations of the Church and a good Church member will be mindful to keep this group appointment. Each one should endeavor to share in these prayer meetings and it will be found that the necessary ability and courage required to do so will grow with consequent benefit to the individual and the group.
Many persons coming from other churches where rituals are more formal, and personal vocal prayer is not encouraged, may find it difficult to share openly, but it is proven by experience to be one of the most unifying and stimulating of exercises in spiritual growth.
There are very few occasions in this Church where formal printed prayers are used. Our principle, printed prayers are the Lord's Prayer and the prayers for the blessing of the emblems in the Sacrament Service. Formal prayers previously prepared by someone other than the individual worshiper have the disadvantage of lacking spontaneity and particular direction, although where the worshiper can enter into the full spirit of that prayer, good is obtained. Some of the lovely prayers of others help to mold our own ability to approach the Lord in beauty and simplicity of diction. However, there is no prayer more acceptable to God than that which emanates from a full heart, though it be but a few words as one of old prayed, "…God, be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:13)
The Sample Prayer
There can be no better guide to the correct practice of prayer than the example commonly known as the Lord's Prayer. A careful study of this prayer reveals that all things needful are included, even though in a brief line or two for each particular need. This prayer recognizes our relationship to God, and then makes petition for (a) hallowing of His name by men; (b) for the coming of the Kingdom; (c) for the doing of His will on earth; (d) for the daily physical needs of life; (e) for the forgiveness of our trespasses according to our own willingness to forgive others; (f) for the strength to withstand temptation; (g) for deliverance from evil; (h) for the recognition that all power and glory are resident in the Father and for all time are at His disposal as a gift to mankind.
For all these needs, one should pray in his own way and make continual supplication to God. Each member of the Church should endeavor to cultivate and practice the art of prayer, that the purposes of God might be fulfilled in them, and the spiritual life be made more fully known to all men.
Church attendance is a vital feature of the true Saints life. The acceptance of regular attendance at Church, as a major obligation of its members, is essential to the purposes of the Church and to the needs of the individual soul. To appreciate this obligation and privilege, the nature and origin of the Church need to be fully realized.
Why Should a Member Attend Church?
Because the Church Is Divinely Instituted
The Church owes its existence to an act of God in history. It is the only institution that derives its name from God and draws its power solely from Him. It is the only institution that acts authoritatively for Him and gives as its first purpose, the fulfillment of His purpose.
Because the Church Stresses Fellowship
The Church is a community with common ideals, faith, and purposes held together by the "tie that binds." Its members stress fellowship, a sense of togetherness as children of the common Father. It is a fellowship of persons living together in relationships of mutual love, obligation, and service. It is a fellowship endeavoring to make real the ideal of brotherhood in small groups first, and then in the Zionic center. The prayer of Jesus for His followers in the seventeenth chapter of John gives a scriptural basis for the above statements. Church members would be encouraged to study it carefully.
Because at Church We Share in Common Worship
It is a place where unity of adoration and actions transforms life into a sacred purposeful thing. Here we share experiences and get new insight and inspiration; we sense together the divine presence and together dedicate ourselves to His purposes. Such worship is vital to both individual and social harmony.
Because the Church Is a Community of Love
The life of the Church is rooted in the love of God. It is "a place and relationship where men love because they are objects of God's love,'' and where fatherhood, sonship, and brotherhood are stressed. It is the home of salvation. Through the Church, the love of God is not only witnessed but set free to save those whom it touches.
Because, at Church, We Achieve a Unity of Thought
In fellowship we strive for a clearer, deeper, and richer understanding of life's meanings. Church is a place for thinking things through in terms of God, for growing clarity of thinking in regard to the true ends of life. It is a place where one may meet the "response of thought" as well as the response of love. Here we pool our best thinking for our own good, for the good of others, and for the advancement of the collective body of believers.
Because the Church Is a Learning Community
The Church is an institution commissioned for, and dedicated to, the teaching of the profound truths of the revelations of Christ. Here, through constant teaching, we become progressively converted to the mind of Christ. In the Church we join in the great creative endeavor of building men for God. Here we plan carefully, intelligently, and systematically to so build that the "Word" may indeed become flesh.
Because the Church is a Powerful, Collective Witness
The Church community is a group committed by its own knowledge, beliefs, and convictions to the sharing of such with all others. It is committed to making these known to all men. The power of witness in a branch with a well-attended, consistent program of Church services is very great, and the influence upon the community is powerful in witness.
Because We Thus Commit Ourselves to the Movement
To openly avow our allegiance and sharing with the people of God is to gain an invaluable aid in maintaining those standards to which our baptism committed us.
Can One Be A Good Member Without Attending Regularly?
Those who do not attend regularly are likely to neglect as well all other means of systematic cultivation of their spiritual lives. They will gradually find themselves separated from that fellowship which is so characteristic of and necessary in gospel action. They will fail to make any special endeavor to witness for Christ and will fail to support the Church, in other ways, in time, means, and talent. They will fail to engage in those lines of service to humanity that are a basic source of spiritual light and power and they will tend to take on the characteristics of life about them and devote themselves to its purpose, not going higher, but lessening their objective, finally drifting down and out of the fellowship of the Kingdom entirely.
The great sacramental experiences of Sainthood are not possible without continuous assembling with the Saints. All the ordinances of the Church are missed by those who do not attend. The sacraments of Communion, marriage, baptism, confirmation, and blessing are not possible unless the Church exists as a company of believers who join together to sense unity and purpose.
What Meetings Are Provided for These Purposes of Saintly Experience?
Most of the meetings of the Church find their focus in the local branch. To support the local meetings is to have regular and continuous contact with the Church at the point of most effective growth. Meeting with Saints in General Conferences, reunions and other meetings brings a sense of unity with the whole Church, but the value of these larger assemblies is based upon the personal participation and contact in the intimate branch life.
A member should attend the Sacrament and prayer services with consistency. The value of these meetings has been expressed in other sections, but their primary importance in the life of a Saint cannot be stressed too much. Nevertheless a member should attend all the services provided, as far as possible, for in the regular preaching, church school, and other departmental services, he is instructed and motivated toward expression of the Kingdom-building program of the Church.
The work of the Church finds its expression through special group organizations geared to the personal name and age of the various members. Each member should engage in active membership in the department most appropriate to meet his needs, and where he will find opportunity to make his best contribution.
In the wider sphere, a member should take every opportunity to meet with the Saints in the various conferences and reunion activities of the Church. Sharing in these brings us together as a common body.
To attend reunions planned for the area in which you reside is a most valuable aid in the development of the Zionic society which is the primary aim of the Restoration movement. Reunions are for all ages. Every young person should also endeavor to share with his age group in youth camps, and likewise, young children need the ministry of the Vacation Church School activities. Taking advantage of these activities will help the individual to grow in the building activities of the Kingdom.
The word "branch" implies the existence of a larger organism. As a branch is to a tree, so the local congregation is to the Church at large. As in the tree, there is a two-way action necessary for life-from the roots to the branches and from the branches back to the body of the tree-so also there must be two-way communication within the Church. Every member should therefore sense his part in the body of Christ and recognize that he is not only a part of the local branch, but a part of the world wide fellowship of the Church.
What is My Relation to the Church School?
The Church School is best described as the “Church at school.” By this definition it is seen that every member of the Church should receive instruction and help through the medium of this department.
The Church School differs from the older concept of the Sunday school in that it provides for and includes other activities on weekdays as well as on Sundays.
Through the Church School, all age groups are given an opportunity to learn the teachings of Christ, to develop intellectually, spiritually, and socially.
On Sunday, the school meets as a whole for worship and religious study, and every member of the Church should participate in these exercises. In most schools of average size, one period of this service is a composite one where the whole family worships together, then divides into groups graded according to age for study and other activities. Studies are prepared by the General Department of Religious Education; therefore the membership is unified throughout the Church in studying the things essential to Zion-building. Every member should attend Church School. Only in regular supervised study are results achieved.
What Other Departments Are Organized for Members?
Although adults, young adults, and children are ministered to through Church School in their particular divisions, special departmental organization has been effected for women and young people.
The Women’s Department provides an opportunity for every woman of the Church to study and to engage in those activities particularly suited to her special abilities and interests. The many activities engaged in and under this department include friendly visiting, cradle roll work, social work and activities, and family studies and helps. The department provides for special interest circles. Every member can here find a channel for service and development.
The Youth Department is organized for the overall growth and development of the youth of the Church. General improvement studies, special activities of an expressional and developmental nature, opportunities for worship, public speaking, drama, and service are found embedded within these programs. This is one of the fine opportunities for the development of leadership abilities and no young person can afford to neglect active participation in these important activities.
In addition to these departments, provision is made for junior and senior high young people. Programs such as Handmaidens for our younger ladies and Remnant Warriors for our young men possible programs throughout the Church and don’t have to be expensive to operate. Although the focus is on activities which emphasize group and personal development, exploration activities suitable to the interests of these young people are easily adaptable. Further, local branches are highly encouraged to promote and develop their own youth outreach programs as they relate to the interests and needs of each congregation.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is the most significant ordinance which follows our initial baptismal covenant and the confirmation of the Holy Ghost upon our becoming members of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is a Memorial
This service is a memorial established by Jesus Christ by which we commemorate His sacrifice in death for mankind. The character of that sacrifice, and its importance and far-reaching effects, make it necessary that it should be kept fresh in memory, otherwise we would lose sight of its significance.
Jesus Himself has defined this sacrament as a memorial. When He was together with His disciples before His crucifixion, He instituted this memorial as He passed to His followers the bread and wine, with the following words: "…Take, eat; this is remembrance of my body..." (Matthew 26:22 "…this is in remembrance of my blood..." (Matthew 26:24)
To the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, He said, "And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body,…" and "…ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood..." (3 Nephi 8:34, 40)
It is a Covenant
This sacrament is a renewal of the covenant made at the time of baptism. This is best explained in the words of the prayers of blessing which are, without exception, used at the time of administering the emblems. "O God, the eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, 0 God, the eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen." (Doctrine and Covenants 17:22d) The prayer of blessing for the wine follows in the next paragraph of the same section.
What Results Should the Lord's Supper Bring in Our Lives?
After intelligent and devout partaking of the emblems of the Lord's Supper, one should have a feeling of cleanness, of justification before God, of an opportunity to make a new start in life, and of a determination to keep more fully this first covenant in baptism. Christ knows how prone we are to neglect our original baptismal covenant, and gives us this opportunity of regaining that cleanliness so vivid on our baptism day. He has provided that we meet together often in prayer, that we meet regularly to receive the emblems of His broken body, and have the opportunity of reaffirming our intention to serve Him and keep His commandments by remembering His sacrifice.
Thus, a great value of the Communion lies in the sincerity of heart in the one partaking.
What is the Duty of One About to Partake of the Sacrament?
It is the duty of each Saint about to partake of the emblems of the bread and wine to examine his worthiness. This worthiness involves a right attitude toward others, to the Church, and especially to the Savior. The great value of the Sacrament lies in the spiritual change which occurs in the one partaking; therefore, it is a sin to treat the emblems and the service lightly. Responsibility is placed largely upon each member to see that he does partake worthily.
Has the One Partaking the Sole Responsibility of Deciding Worthiness?
There is a very definite responsibility placed upon the presiding officer and the ministers called upon to administer the Sacrament to see that one who is known to be in transgression does not bring condemnation upon himself and disgrace upon the Lord and the Church by partaking unworthily.
"And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer anyone knowingly, to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it, for who so eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul." (III Nephi 8:60)
“Therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood, ye shall forbid him; nevertheless ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him, and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name,” (III Nephi 8:61)
“And if it so be that he repenteth, and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood;” (III Nephi 8:62)
How Often Shall I Participate in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper?
Exact frequency of partaking of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is not given. We are instructed, however, that
"It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus." (Doctrine and Covenants 17:22)
At a later time, when differences of opinion arose in the Church and guidance was needed to aid the people to attain harmony, the following was given:
"…cease to contend respecting the sacrament and the time of administering it; for whether it be upon the first Lord's day of every month, or upon the Lord's day of every week, if it be administered by the officers of the church with sincerity of heart and in purity of purpose, and be partaken of in remembrance of Jesus Christ and in willingness to take upon them His name by them who partake, it is acceptable to God." (Doctrine and Covenants 119:5a, b)
It is now customary to observe the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of each month. Groups that meet only occasionally may, and do, partake of it when they meet. This is acceptable as long as the basic requirements of authorized priesthood, as mentioned above, are present and in charge.
Who May Partake of the Sacrament?
The Church follows the practice of close communion, that is, only those who have entered into the Church by the covenant of baptism, administered by authorized ministers of His Church, are offered the emblems at a Sacrament service. While this is true, anyone may attend the Sacrament Service and we are instructed to exclude none from attendance at these services.
Since this sacrament, described by President F. M. Smith as "the second great sacrament," is a renewal of a covenant, one who has not made his covenant in the waters of baptism, of course, cannot renew it. It is well that a Saint inviting friends to such meetings inform them of this belief. If this is done prior to the service, embarrassment will be avoided.
Who May Administer This Sacrament of the Lord's Supper?
Any officer of the Melchisedec priesthood may administer the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Those ordained to the office of Aaronic Priest may also assist as provided in the law. (Doctrine and Covenants 17:1Oa) Teachers and deacons of the Church do not administer the emblems of this ordinance.
Why Are Specific Prayers Commanded for Use at the Sacrament Service?
It is important that the true meaning and significance of the sacrament be preserved. A study of the full text given in Doctrine and Covenants 17 shows the following points of importance:
- It is done in remembrance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- Partaking of the emblems is a witness of one's desire and intention to continue faithfully to follow the Christ.
- It is a testimony of one's continued fellowship with the body of Christ.
- It is an explicit promise to maintain the standards of a Saintly life.
Avenues of Service
What Opportunities of Service Are There for Members of the Church?
The great missions of the Church are to help redeem men and to build the Kingdom of God. The accomplishment of these missions calls for a great many kinds of consecrated abilities from the membership. Every good gift bestowed upon men and women can be used to serve humanity and the work of the Church. It is the obligation of each member to discover his own talents, and to find joy in the service of God and his fellow creation by contributing to the great work of the Church and of the Kingdom of God.
Outside the lines of service that are the special responsibility of the priesthood, there are many things needed by the Church and the people that can be done or given by a consecrated membership. Indeed, the work of the Church cannot succeed without the dedicated efforts of talented and loyal members. The best that every member can do or give is needed in service to God and mankind.
God Calls According to Our Talents, Latent and Developed
Men have the opportunity and privilege of preparing to fulfill the functions of ministry in one of the priesthoods of the Church. While we are definite in our belief as a Church that God calls men by revelation, we are as definite in our recognition of the fact that God calls according to each man’s preparation and readiness to serve and according to the spirit of wisdom as well as revelation.
Thus, men with lives developed to the condition where they are receptive to the prophetic spirit (that is, the expression of the truth of the power of Christ in a life which is more than word only) are awaited by God. It is therefore not presumptuous to seek to qualify for the time when God will call. Read the challenge found in Doctrine and Covenants 11:2.
Service Through Evangelism or Missionary Work
Missionary work provides the widest avenue of service in the Church and the world, and is open to all within the areas of their calling and qualification. To work effectively in this avenue of service, one must be qualified by knowledge of the Church and the truths that it has been commissioned to teach. All members, both priesthood and membership, are urged to share in this great task of converting the world. Attendance at Church study classes and preaching services will help to qualify one to this end. "Let him that is warned warn his neighbor" (Doctrine and Covenants 85:22a) is the command to all Saints. We are not all commissioned to preach from the pulpit, nor to administer the ordinances of the Church, but all are called to tell the “good news” to men.
Through the Teaching Service of the Church School
The teaching service of the Church is open to both men and women of suitable preparation. Large staffs of consecrated men and women are continually needed to care for the work of the Church School and its departments. Opportunity to train for teaching and group leadership is offered regularly through the Church Schools and by the Department of Religious Education. These courses are open to all who desire to qualify. The need for trained teachers is great and very rewarding.
Through the Development of Leadership Ability
Groups in adult, young people's, and children's divisions of the Church are in need of a constant supply of developing leaders who are willing to specialize in ministering to the needs of these sections. Leadership of women, men, and youth offer a fine field of service for consecrated workers of the Church.
Leadership is an art that can be developed, and training will be available. From the ranks of those who sense their responsibilities to qualify by study and training come leaders in the various fields. "Get thy spindle and thy distaff ready, and the Lord will give you flax."
Through the Talent of Writing
There are a number of ways of spreading the gospel story and of helping those already in the Church to a fuller understanding of the message. Not least of these ways is writing. The Church is constantly in need of good writers who, with a sound knowledge of the gospel truth, are able to put it into the modern written word. Contact may be made with the Publication Department at Church Headquarters.
Through the Avenue of Musical Ability
The ministry of preaching and teaching is one avenue that has found the need of a companion ministry, and that is the ministry of music. There are few meetings of the Church today that do not find the need for the service of music. The Spirit of God is often brought to the realization of people through this ministry. Music then is an avenue of service which might be regarded as second only to the ministry of the spoken word. If one has this gift of music, it is a duty to cultivate it and to give of the increase to the services of the Church. Instruction is given in the Scripture concerning this responsibility. Read Doctrine and Covenants 119:6. Every member with gifts related to music are urged to develop those gifts from the earliest ages.
Through the Industrial and Economic Spheres
As the Church enters more fully into the practical application of the principle of Zionic stewardship, avenues of service in the technical and industrial fields as well as those of economics will become more and more important. Trained and useful participation in the great project of industrial Zion will be required in the years to come, and preparation for the acceptance of this great challenge opens unlimited opportunity. When we talk of Zion, we must be aware of the great need for practical preparation to fulfill the stewardship of bringing about such a Saintly society.
As it is in the industrial and agricultural spheres, so it is in the realm of all other career preparations, even those in all professional and vocational avenues in all the trades. There must be intense and focused preparation, both educationally as well as with on-hands experience. Doctors, mechanics, teachers, nurses, clerks, and workers of every kind, in fact all who have demonstrated skills, are challenged to use their labors toward the establishment of Zion. Craftsmen are needed for Zion. The Lord cannot use those who are insufficiently consecrated to produce that to which they are not sufficiently committed or trained.
By Contributing According to Our Material Blessings for the Church Work
One may feel limited by qualification in many of the tasks open for the developing membership of the Church organization, but the field of personal giving to the funds of the Church is one where very few are not privileged to make a donation. To study and know one's obligations to the financial needs of the Church is to become aware of a vast field of opportunity. To obey the law is to make possible much of that progress of which we dream in less practical moments.
In the Humble Role of a Good Member of the Church
Quite apart from the special avenues of service dealt with in this chapter, there is the most fundamental need of all, and that is to support those who are called and selected to carry forward the work of the Church in the entire field of ministerial and departmental labor. This should not be an inactive service, but will be one of constructive support of every activity connected with the Kingdom of God. Each should seek to find his gift and magnify it for the service of his fellow man and God.
Missionary Responsibility of Every Member
From the very beginning, the gospel has been a missionary movement. As it was in the days of the early Church, so it is today where the work has been restored. As in the days of Christ the injunction was given to the disciples to go into all the world with the message, so in this generation has the commandment been given that he that is warned should warn his neighbor.
A Commitment of Sainthood
When a person accepts membership in the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he accepts the responsibility of living a life according to the personal standards of Christ. He also accepts, along with this duty, the responsibility of sharing the “good news” he has received with every other person within the circle of his influence that has not yet heard the “good news.” The faith of Christ is a world faith and there are no boundaries for its establishment. Thus, every member has the dual responsibility of witnessing for Christ in his life and of inviting men to become members of the Church and to do their part in building up God's Kingdom.
A Saint Should Take Initiative
A Saint is one charged with delivering a message to men. If one is convinced of the vital nature of the message, there will be a sense of urgency that will not allow him to wait until others come to him to inquire. Because he realizes the importance of the warning message, he goes to all those who need the gospel in their lives.
Not Only a Charge to Ordained Ministers
Although certain men ordained to ministerial office have special responsibilities toward evangelism, every person who has accepted the gospel and has become a member of Christ's Church is charged with the task of making known the faith. "…it becometh every man who hath been warned, to warn his neighbor" . . . "in mildness and in meekness." (Doctrine and Covenants 85:22a; 38:9d)
Fields of Personal Evangelism
One of the great advantages of personal missionary endeavor is the wide and immediate field that is always open to those with the passionate urge to tell the good news. Other forms of missionary endeavor contemplate sending missionary specialists into specially selected places where, by sacrifice and devotion, they may convert people to Christ. The ordinary member of the Church, however, has a particular opportunity right where he is to tell the story.
In the Home
Most Latter Day Saint homes have a good spiritual atmosphere, but in far too many it is taken for granted that the members will make their decisions for Christ and the Church in due course. This should be regarded as the first definite responsibility of a member; that is, to complete, by conversion, the family circle as a priority.
Winning members in Latter Day Saint homes is the natural way in the field of missionary endeavor. Children, young people, husband or wife of a member of the Church should be regarded as the first responsibility of the converted person. Many thousands of potential workers for Christ are missed by failure of members to realize the urgency of this field that should not be overlooked.
In the School
Leaders in student life exercise a great influence upon their companions. Where a young student is endeavoring to witness for Christ by maintaining the personal standards of the gospel, he is assisting to fulfill the missionary injunction. Young people should ever be ready to bear witness of the Christ and His message among their fellows. There are many instances of the devout life of a student being the focus around which much teaching of the gospel message has centered. Too many students in advanced fields of education today are reluctant about speaking of the gospel to their friends. There is an urgent need for the message of Jesus Christ in schools, colleges and universities, in market places, and every place of business.
In the Realm of Business
Most adult members of the Church spend the major portion of their waking hours with their business associates. The Latter Day Saint evangel should penetrate into every relationship. The business and industrial contacts of a fully converted Saint are full of spiritual opportunities for one who is alert to take advantage of them. In the early Church many of the first disciples came directly from the business and community contacts of the Master himself. This was how Peter, Andrew, and John were contacted.
In the early days of the Church, it was impossible for a member to keep hidden his identity with the Church. To be a Saint meant a vital experience of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The same intimacy with Christ today will inspire men to a similar spiritual vitality and this must be evidenced both in action and by word in the daily contacts of office, shop, and factory.
In the Social World
Unlimited opportunity and challenge is offered to men and women in the circles of their social life. All members should take advantage of their membership in these groups in order to win others to the larger vision of the gospel. A Saint should not be reluctant about witnessing for Christ in whatever social circumstance he may be placed or found. Jesus went into all circles of society, both high and low.
Qualifications of the Missionary Member
The prerequisites for the character of a member in this great task of the Church is beautifully set forth in Doctrine and Covenants 4:1c-e: "…if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work, for, behold, the field is white already to harvest, and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perish not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; and faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualifies him for the work."
Sound Personal Conviction
It is important that those who would do this work of winning souls for Christ, as members for His Church, should have a sound personal conviction. Each one who wishes to be a missionary must have a deep and abiding faith in the Messiahship of Jesus Christ and the divine nature of His Church. He must have a conviction, beyond doubt, of the love of God for men and the plan of salvation. Merely having an opinion is not sufficient. There must be a passionate conviction of the need for salvation in the lives of men and women. If this conviction is present, then the compulsion to share this divine knowledge with everyone will also be present.
Love for Men
With the conviction of God's love for mankind, there must be a sense of oneness with all God's children. If one has this earnest desire for the wellbeing of others, it is naturally expressed in service to all fellowman. With this vision the missionary member sees men, not so much as they are, but as they can become through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. Thus he seeks with great energy to bring everyone within that influence. This often demands sacrifices, but such sacrifices automatically bring their own eternal reward to the giver.
The Prayerful Life
Vital to the missionary activity is a disposition, a willingness, to pray. One who is working in the stead of the Savior must keep close to the source of power and of love. This prayer discipline will be fruitful in the dedication of life to the great cause and make possible the expression of the Master's character before all men.
Knowledge of the Church and Its Doctrine
One cannot tell others of the message if one does not have a fundamental degree of sound understanding of the gospel and the way that it should function through the Church. Therefore, the Saints have been enjoined to study to show themselves approved before God. It is essential that the gospel’s fundamental truths be understood so that the work of Christ may not be held to ridicule because of our indifference or failure. Familiarity with the Three Standard Books of the Church is important in this regard. Many other writings are also available for the help of members in this respect.
Personal Contact Is Vital
All members should have a sense of the value of their own personal witness. In this, as in other things, each individual member counts. What you can do, another may not, and vice versa. Most members of the Church have been won to the gospel by personal contact in one way or another. And for a large percentage, this personal exposure was demonstrated very early in a friendship. By this personal contact and witness, others are exposed to the services and meetings of the Church, particularly preaching and Church School activities. In the days of Christ, and in the early Restoration, there were limited means of communication compared with today, yet the news was heralded abroad very quickly. It was by personal contact that this was done with remarkable speed. There is still no better method today.
While technical detail of all missionary methods is outside of the scope of these paragraphs, it should be the aim of every member to become acquainted with the best methods of making approaches to people who are not yet won to the Gospel. One should become familiar with the literature of the Church, knowing what tracts and texts are available. A successful missionary person will discover and develop skills in human relationships and will know when to invite prospects into suitable groups and meetings. He will be anxious to make his home available for cottage meetings and to talk with representative men of the ministry.
There is no more successful way of knowing the value of Christ and the Church than for each member to become missionary-minded and instill in himself a passion for the welfare of souls. Thus the members become grounded, the Church is built up, and the financial means for the establishment of Zion becomes available to a larger extent. In short, the entire mission of Christ is brought nearer to fruition and the Kingdom of God closer to realization.
Legislative Responsibilities of a Member
The government of the Church has been described as a Theocratic Democracy. This involves three elements of government: God, priesthood, and membership. It may be said that the Church is governed by God, through priesthood, with the consent of the people.
What Are the Functions of Priesthood in the Government of the Church?
The call to ministry originates with God, and this call is expressed through previously ordained ministers. Only authorized officers of the Church in their various administrative functions may initiate this call to ministry. In the local branch, the branch president is the only administrative officer with this authority. Others may give confirming witness to, but may not initiate, with exception of higher administrative officers, the call of any man to priesthood offices.
Nevertheless, the members have full right to approve or to disapprove, to accept or refuse the ministry of one so called. After approval by higher administrative officers, all such calls are presented to the body within whose area the ordination will take effect and where the principle of “common consent” operates. When this approval is given by a branch, district, or other appropriate jurisdiction, the rights and duties outlined in the doctrines of the Church are conferred by ordination upon the one so called. The minister then carries the right to officiate anywhere in the Church within the bounds of his calling.
Members of the Church should look to the priesthood for guidance and direction in the matters of the leadership and the Doctrine and Covenants particularly enjoins respect for this function. (See Doctrine and Covenants 125:14.)
Are All Officers of the Church Called by Revelation or Has the Membership the Right of Appointing Some?
All officers requiring ordination to the ministry are governed as stated in the previous paragraphs, but there are numerous officers chosen for other than ministerial work. These are nominated and voted upon by the “common consent” of the membership. Such officers are not necessarily ordained ministers, although they frequently may be.
The president of the local branch is chosen by the “common consent” of the membership of that branch. He may be nominated, as a rule, by a member or some minister having higher jurisdictional responsibilities. This latter nomination does not, however, prevent concurrent nomination being made by any member in good standing. Whatever the source of nominations, the branch president shall be sustained by majority vote. The only restriction being placed upon the selection of the presiding officer is that he must be chosen from the ranks of ordained ministers, preferably of the Melchisedec priesthood, except in unusual circumstances.
Are There Matters of Government Where the Complete Privilege of Initiation Rests with the Membership?
There is a large field of legislation that may be initiated by the members of the Church, quite apart from priesthood responsibility. The principle of “common consent” operates throughout the Church in the various conferences of branches, districts, and stakes and at the General Conference level. Each field has certain restrictions of responsibility, all of necessity being subject to the General Conference. In all such meetings and conferences, "the right is there exercised to discuss, amend, assent to or dissent from all proposed enactments that would govern the future conduct of the Church."
It is important that each member become familiar with Church law. This involves a study of the Scriptures, especially the Doctrine and Covenants, adopted General Conference Resolutions, and General Guidelines for Administrative Policies and Procedures.
What is Meant by Common Consent?
Movement toward the development of the Kingdom of God is possible only through an intelligent, considering, and supporting membership. A program has no value unless those involved move freely, and in the right spirit, toward participation. An officer has no real authority unless he has the full and free support of those to and for whom he ministers. Therefore, though revelation or wisdom may be correctly discerned by the leadership, unless there is open acceptance and voluntary, willing endorsement by the people, God's program will not be implemented. Neither can the results of our choices be avoided!
How is Common Consent Expressed?
Matters of democratic privilege are decided by majority vote. This does not mean that the majority is always right, but it is the only basis for effective operation. Members should not attend business meetings with the object of simply getting their point of view accepted, but with the desire to seek and do the will of God. It is then we commonly consent together and move in harmony with Divine will.
"And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith..." (Doctrine and Covenants 25:lb)
Each person should use his voting privilege as a stewardship and avoid its use in ignorance or without due respect to the principles of justice and honesty of purpose.
How Often Are Meetings for the Conduct of Business Convened?
Though business meetings may be held at any properly notified time, regular business meetings are the rule. Elections are usually held annually, with other business being considered at more frequent intervals. These meetings are vital and should be attended, especially by those who actively participate in the other meetings and worship activities of the Church. "Business" rises out of the regular activity of the members. It is not reasonable that those who are not fully active in Church affairs should be the legislative force of the group; therefore one's voice and vote should be backed with the support of regular saintly participation in the Zionic movement through regular attendance.
Area conferences meet according to the needs of the area concerned as determined by the appropriate presiding officers. Where the practice of calling a General Conference annually has been reestablished in the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, this may vary and will be determined by the call of the First Presidency or in emergency as defined in the law of the Church.
Relationship Between Ministry and Membership
Every minister of the Church is a partner with Christ in assisting his fellow men along life's way. While Jesus was on earth, He called and appointed men to carry forward the work He established. He ordained them and sent them forth to minister in various responsibilities. He chose some to go out into the world to gather in the "flock" to the shelter of the "fold"; and He chose others with special qualifications to feed the "sheep" that were gathered.
"…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.." (Mark 16:14, 15)
To Peter, He also said, "Feed my sheep."
Paul gave a clear explanation of the purpose of the various ministries of the Church when he wrote to the Saints at Ephesus:
"And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; Till we, in the unity of faith, all come to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13)
The following is a complete list of the officers that may be set apart by ordination in the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. They are found mentioned in the New Testament and in the Doctrine and Covenants:
Apostles, prophets, high priests, seventies, patriarchs, bishops, elders, priests, teachers, deacons. To these are added various presidency of quorums and orders within the Melchisedec and Aaronic ministries.
In What Way do the Functions of These Ministers Vary?
Each has a different and unique function to perform in the Church. Paul likened the Church to the human body which has many members, all performing some special function, but all having a unity of purpose. Read the Twelfth Chapter of 1st Corinthians for an understanding of the great plan of God in organizing His Church to perform the work of carrying the gospel of salvation to all mankind.
No one member or officer has all the qualities or gifts necessary for the adequate performance of all priestly functions, so God has called every one accordingly as He has seen fit, to use them in ways best suited to their abilities. Each is equally honorable in his place and calling; each, when so working, is greatly privileged and blessed.
Many of the specific callings were abandoned when the early Christian Church departed from the divine pattern. They were restored in their fullness beginning in 1830 when the gospel was brought again to earth in these latter days through His prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr.
Thus the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in authoritative succession to that 1830 commission, differs from many other organizations which have a limited number of priesthood offices seeking to perform all the functions of ministry for their flocks. Many offices of priesthood are not found among most of the churches of the day.
What Are the Two Main Orders of Priesthood?
The ministry of Christ is carried out under the guidance of two main orders of priesthood, as in days of old.
Those two main orders of the priesthood are the Melchisedec and Aaronic (Doctrine and Covenants 104:1, 2). The first includes the high priests and the elders, while the second includes the priests, teachers, and deacons. Outlined below are the two main orders and the officers included under each order with a brief explanation of their duties and functions. Detailed study from the Doctrine and Covenants and other scriptures is an extensive undertaking, but every member should be aware of the main categories of responsibility so that he is in a position to receive ministry from each in his place with intelligent cooperation.
The Melchisedec, or Higher Priesthood
Comprised of High Priests and Elders
Those who are ordained to the office of high priest are in many cases designated by revelation to minister in certain capacities. Joseph Smith, Jr. refers to the high priesthood as a Priesthood of Presidency. Both high priests and elders are called to serve in these ways.
The duties of the high priesthood of the Church concern spiritual functions and affairs and these ministers hold the primary responsibility of presiding in various areas of need.
The subdivisions of the high priesthood, and their functions, are as follows:
The First Presidency of the Church
Three high priests are selected according to the revelations of the Church to preside over the work and ministry of the entire Church in all the world, both missionary and pastoral. One of the three is the President of the High Priesthood of the Church and by virtue thereof is a prophet, seer and revelator. The other two are counselors and presidents, thus forming a Quorum of the First Presidency.
The Quorum of Twelve - Traveling High Council
Traditionally the "Twelve" apostles are chosen by inspiration through the President of the Church. They are called as a quorum to administer the work of the Church, under the direction of the First Presidency, and direct and oversee the missionary work in all the world, especially the ministry of the seventy. While the work of the First Presidency is necessarily carried out at head-quarters, the apostles go into the various mission fields, assigned by and acting for the First Presidency in all matters requiring their supervision and attention. Because the apostles are acting for the First Presidency in the entire field of Church activity, they receive their assignments from and report to the First Presidency. Members of this quorum are high priests.
The Standing High Council
This body of twelve high priests is presided over and set apart to assist the First Presidency with interpreting the law and is the "Supreme Court" of the Church in all judicial matters. This council may also, when requested, act in an advisory capacity to the Presiding Bishopric in relation to the temporal affairs of the Church.
Order of Bishops - The Presiding Bishopric
When called and ordained by the First Presidency, high priests may be designated to minister in the office of bishop. One of this number is further ordained to be the Presiding Bishop of the Church. Upon him and two counselors rests the responsibility of the active supervision and administration of the temporal programs of the Church. Thus the Bishopric has a primary interest in teaching and, in consultation and under the prophetic guidance of the First Presidency, implementing and administering the stewardship program of the Church. The Presiding Bishop is the “trustee in trust” for the Church, and the Bishopric is the custodian of all the temporal resources thereof, subject to the General Conference and other provisions in the law.
Other bishops may be called by the First Presidency to labor in the stakes of Zion, in districts, large branches, and in other special areas of financial administration as need requires and the Lord directs.
The Presiding Bishop is also the President of the Aaronic Priesthood and, in association with other jurisdictional administrators, gives leadership to the training and development of efficient ministers in that order.
Order of Patriarchs
Patriarchs are high priests ordained by the light of inspiration to the Quorum of Twelve and, when so directed, by the First Presidency, for their unique qualifications to give fatherly ministry, counsel, and pronounce patriarchal blessings. These men should be freed from the responsibility for administrative details of Church government. A patriarch is not only a personal counselor but also a revivalist to the membership in large branches or areas of concentrated membership. They are the spiritual fathers and revivalists to the Church.
There is provision for a Presiding Patriarch to preside over this order. He leads the order and, at times, may be called upon to act as a channel of divine light and counsel to the Church when there is need for particular guidance. This function would be rare and exercised only in harmony with the will of the prophet of the Church or when the prophet is incapacitated or taken by death.
The duties of high priests not called to the specific duties outlined above are essentially pastoral and administrative when not further called to the various councils and orders of the Church. Upon these ministers rest the responsibilities of presiding over stakes, districts, large branches, or other organized areas of activity. They also serve in a ministry of presidency, teaching, and supervising in the development of priesthood members wherever the Church exists.
When appointed to labor in specific administrative responsibilities, they are selected or sustained by the conference or business meeting appropriate to the responsibility being assumed, and according to the principle of “common consent.”
The high priests hold the foundational office in the Melchisedec, or high priesthood.
A seventy is a minister chosen and ordained from the ranks of the elders and specially set apart to give his first attention to the missionary activity of the Church. Those elders whose qualifications and calling fit them for missionary work may receive this ordination and, when so ordained, they labor under the direction of the Quorum of Twelve. In the latter capacity they carry with them apostolic authority when sent by that quorum or specifically sent by the direction of the Church. Seventies may on occasion be chosen to preside over branches and districts where emergencies exist, or preside over a developmental area. Whenever that area becomes reasonably mature, it should be left to the direction of the standing ministry, while the Seventy extends his work into areas of further missionary need.
This office differs from the seventy in that it is designed for those who do not travel in all the world. The office of an elder is an appendage to the high priesthood and therefore assists in many of the duties of that priesthood. It is within the calling of all elders and higher officers to baptize, confirm, ordain, administer the Sacrament, teach, preach, expound, exhort, watch over the Church, confirm by the laying on of hands, and take the lead of all meetings. From this we see that it is expedient that the eldership shall have direct contact with the everyday lives of the members of the Church. We can thus visualize an elder as the presiding elder of a branch where there is no high priest in a position to serve there. Elders may labor as missionary elders, but unless called and ordained, are not seventies. The term elder is appropriately used to identify all offices within the Melchisedec priesthood. Doctrine and Covenants 125:8
The Aaronic, or Lesser Priesthood
Comprised of Priests, Teachers, and Deacons
The following officers are members of the Aaronic priesthood.
Priests, like the elders and high priests described above, are standing ministers to the Church. That is, they are first local ministers. While the foregoing officers have been designated Melchisedec ministry, priests, teachers, and deacons are members of the Aaronic ministry. A priest's duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, baptize, administer the Sacrament, and visit the home of each member of the branch. He visits the homes with the express duty of teaching the members their duties and should be so welcomed and received in this ministry. The special emphasis placed upon visiting the members in their homes has made this the particular feature of his work. He is particularly to minister in the homes of the Saints with great emphasis placed upon prayer. In so doing he is a friend and confidant to families and all their members. Within the scope of his calling, he may assist the elders where necessary. A priest may be called upon to travel, if willing, and bear the witness of a missionary, but because of the limitations of his Aaronic priesthood, which does not entitle him to lay on hands for confirmation, his functioning as a missionary is restricted. His missionary work is thus in association with the elders.
This title identifies the specific calling of a spiritual nature. It is the duty of those ordained to the office of teacher to watch over the Church, or in other words, to be with and strengthen the Church. In particular the teacher is to minister in such a way that encroachment of sin among the membership is avoided. He is also to see that proper relationships of saintliness are maintained. He is further enjoined to be watchful against particular sins among the members which are named as lying, backbiting, and gossiping. His constructive duty is to see that members attend regularly at the house of worship, and he should keep a record to that end. It is his duty to be a specialist in the field of human relations and his ministry, in this respect, should be looked for and accepted by the membership. A teacher does not baptize, lay on hands, nor administer the Sacrament. His duties make him a preacher, a class teacher, a visiting officer to the homes of the Saints, and a counselor to members.
The work of the deacon is a very important one in the life of the Church. He is to work, when required, as an assistant to the teacher in matters of adjustment of personal difficulties, but his first and particular duties are concerned with physical comforts and the appointments of Church buildings. He is the logical holder of the keys for our houses of worship and it is his duty, in association with the presiding officer of the branch, to supervise the care and cleaning of such buildings. The deacon may be the custodian of local Church funds. He has the responsibility of providing ushering and orderly conduct at all gatherings of the membership. He, with the teacher, is more localized in his activity and his ministry is normally confined to the branch where he regularly attends; that is, he does not normally travel in the exercise of his ministry. As an assistant to the teacher, when occasion requires, the deacon also does not administer the Sacrament.
Who is the Principal Minister of the Congregation?
The branch or mission president is its chief administrative officer and executive. Administratively, he is responsible to the higher authorities of the Church at large, and the branch membership, for all the work within the branch. The branch or mission president, normally with the assistance of two counselors who are selected by him, administers the affairs of the congregation in harmony with the laws of the Church. The work of shepherding the flock is shared with all other standing ministers of the branch or mission but he is responsible for the direction of these officers in their work.
No one person has all the gifts necessary to perform every ministry. Each complements the others. The presidency, in the wide sense, represents all the local ministers. This is a wise provision of our heavenly Father to provide for the shared ministry. Each priesthood member should be prepared to assist the branch president in the pastoral care of the flock and be ready to assist with the spiritual development of sainthood, looking to the presiding officer(s) for the co-ordination and oversight necessary for effective progress.
In What Special Ways May Members Receive Pastoral Help?
A member should feel free to consult the presiding officer or any of the priesthood at any time in matters affecting life's needs. Members should expect to invite ministry into the intimate circle of their homes. Here is laid a foundation of respect and confidence for the occasions of special need. The Master Shepherd said, "…a stranger will they not follow..." (John 10:5) It is important then that the shepherds and the flock should know each other well. The branch president will be glad to provide assistance to you at the following times:
In Time of Trouble
When you need to share a burden of distress, he (they) will be a sympathetic friend.
In Times of Joy
When you have achieved success, when you have a happy anniversary, when you have friends in to share your joy, he (they) will gladly participate and celebrate with you.
In Times of Bereavement
When death enters your home circle, he (they) can help you to be nearer your Comforter, and will be glad to render practical assistance with and through your ordeal.
In Times of Ill-Health
He (they) will pray for you when sickness comes, and seek counsel from God for your wisdom and strength. He (they) will be able to suggest some practical steps to recovery and help you meet domestic and other emergencies caused by such circumstances.
In Times of Perplexity
When you are making important decisions, he (they) will be glad to share with you. He/they will not pry, but will bring special scriptural advice to bear for your help. You can talk it over with them.
In Times of Choosing a Vocation
Today's branch president and other priesthood members are becoming increasingly capable of assisting our young people, and any skill they have developed in the sphere of vocational guidance will be at your service. He (they) will assist you in getting the best help.
At the Time of Your Marriage
Your priesthood will be glad to assist you at your wedding, but will be especially concerned to help you approach this vital sacrament wisely. The branch president and other priesthood are becoming increasingly prepared for counseling in the area of home relationships and will appreciate the opportunity to help.
At Times of Wrongdoing
Because he, too, is following Christ as best he knows how, he will not berate you. He will respect confidence. He will help you lay your burden at Jesus' feet and show you the way as a father would.
In all these times of need, the pastoral and shepherding ministry is available to members for comfort, advice, and encouragement. Our ministers may not know the answer to every particular problem, but they can and will assist you to find what you most need. They are not a number of specialists rolled into one, but the qualified branch president and his fellow ministers will know or obtain the best help for you in your time of need.
Some Special Ministries of Comfort and Help
The laying on of hands is described in the Scriptures for several purposes: for confirmation, administration for the sick, ordination to the ministry, the conferring of a patriarchal blessing, and for the blessing of children.
Administration for the Sick
What Is Meant by Administration for the Sick?
This is an ordinance which was practiced by Jesus in His earthly ministry for the relief and cure of physical, mental, and spiritual illness and suffering. It is available in the Church as in days of old. Briefly described, the ordinance is one where the elders of the Church anoint the head of the sufferer with oil, lay their hands upon his head, and offer a prayer for healing and blessing.
What Is the Scriptural Basis of This Ordinance?
When Jesus sent His followers forth to carry His message to the world, He included among other promises, "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark 16:19)
The Apostle James has given the most comprehensive statement in the Bible on this ordinance:
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up ; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." (James 5:14, 15)
How Should One Proceed to Share in the Benefit of This Provision?
The one indisposed by illness or need should, first of all, call for the elders. The failure to do this robs that person of the privilege of preparing his soul by faith. The steps leading to the actual call obviously include some spiritual preparation and realization of one's relationship with God and the Church. Therefore the one in need should not expect the ministry to anticipate the requirement of this service. Some have felt injured because the elders have not moved into their life without a request. It should be remembered that, though the work of the elders includes the teaching and leading of the members to understand their duties and privileges, the duty of the one in need is clearly to take the first step in the application of this great ordinance. The duty therefore of that person, where there is neither incapacitation by age or lack of ability to make the request known, is to call for the elders. The person in need himself may call for the elders or a member of the family or an attendant may issue the call for him if he is not able, providing it is known that this would meet the desires of the sick one.
Has the Minister Any Responsibility to Decide Whether There Shall be an Administration?
It is the duty of the elders to ensure that the ordinance is entered into seriously and with reverence and understanding to the degree necessary and reason-able under the circumstances. Where one is incapacitated so that he is unable to make his wishes known, the prayers and supplications of the elders will naturally be fitting to the circumstances and be related to family wishes or requests.
What Degree of Faith is Required for the Benefit to be Received?
"…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
"Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:21)
The healing ordinance of the Church involves a cooperative approach to the Heavenly Father between member and minister. The faith and preparation of the one in need must be coordinated with that of the Church and its ministry for God to vouchsafe the full blessing. This ordinance is free to all, whether a member of the Church or not, providing it is approached with sincerity in faith believing.
What is Meant by "And if They Have Committed Sins, They Shall be Forgiven"?
This should be understood to refer to those in which sin is a direct factor in the condition of the sick person. Sin may have been committed in ignorance or by willfulness, and the statement indicates that the mercy of God is in operation. Nevertheless, it appears that before healing can take place, where there is a commission of sin, repentance and a determination to avoid that sin in the future are required. The Master's reaction to this kind of situation was "Go and sin no more." (John 8:11)
This provision of the Scriptures finds a counterpart in the most modern medical practice and scientific treatment. It takes account of the fact that many human ills are caused by mistakes, social maladjustments, and sin. It is well known that mental distress and tensions can result in physical suffering, functional disturbances, and even organic changes. In these cases one of the first steps necessary is to obtain forgiveness of sin and clear the soul of the guilt. Physicians are familiar with such cases and psychiatrists build important parts of their therapy around basic principles involved in repentance and forgiveness.
In injury and disease, the sufferer knows when he is healed. But in illness of the soul, the medicine needed is a statement from an authoritative and divine source that God forgives before healing can begin. The divine wisdom is revealed in making this statement on sin a part of the text.
What Oil Is Used and under What Conditions?
Olive oil, traditionally used in Palestine in the days of Jesus, is well suited for this purpose and is consecrated, or set apart, to be used for this purpose alone. While there is no specific command to consecrate oil for this purpose, it is reasonable and suitable that such be done as one would bless or set apart any other agent used consistently for sacred purposes. It is properly within the traditions of the elders and has been a longstanding practice that continues to be upheld in the Church.
Is the Anointing Always Made upon the Head?
It is customary during administration for one elder to anoint the head of the one in need with oil, making a brief statement of purpose and appeal for the rite. Following this, the associate elder offers a fervent prayer of faith to God, for the healing of the sick one and leaving them in God's hands. The head only should be anointed and it is obligatory to respect the proprieties in this. Recognition of the plural, "elders," is a wise thing. It is customary for two or more elders to conduct an administration and, where the sick one is alone, the rule should be considered definite for the benefit of all parties involved.
Is This Ordinance Available for Physical Ills Only?
Any condition, physical, mental, or spiritual, may indicate a need for the benefit of this rite. The call for mental and spiritual blessing becomes more imperative as the strain and stress of modem life causes a growing need of peace of soul and spiritual wellbeing. This can be gained through a correct and devout approach to this ordinance of healing.
Should Immediate and Miraculous Results be Expected?
This is not necessary. The Scriptures record a number of gradual healings. There may be factors that only the one in need can put right and that may require time. The prayer for wisdom, both that the sick one and the elders may know what course should be pursued, is an important consideration. It is generally recognized that where help, either by the person himself or by medical therapists, is available that help should be used with wisdom.
Should the Sufferer Refrain from Medical or Other Aid While Accepting the Ordinance of Administration as an Act of Faith?
Both human and divine aid may be sought without contradiction of faith. For the sick, one should do all possible to aid recovery, while asking God to work through him at the same time. Wisdom requires that we seek medical aid where life is clearly endangered. Members should be alert so that no disrepute is brought upon this valuable ordinance by extreme attitudes.
Where Should the Administration Be Performed?
The obligation to "call" suggests the home of the one in need, or it may be performed at the elder's home or the place of care, such as a hospital. It is felt that the purpose and spirit of the ordinance are best served where the administration is carried out in the presence of those most vitally concerned, and for this purpose the home or the Church building is very suitable. There are times when it is wise and desirable that a congregation may be called to fasting and prayer for the benefit of the sick, and, if advisable, the branch president will so arrange. However, the meetings of the Church should never be made an occasion for a parade of the ordinance where those not previously known to be desirous of administration approach the elders successively for administration in public. In this the wisdom of the branch president must be the guide.
The circumstances should be those that allow for undivided prayer and faith to be operative. Even hospitals at times are not conducive to this spirit, and in a ward or room a screen is usually desirable, not because of a wish to conceal the administration, but because of the previously stated need for a unity of spirit in those participating.
May a Person Call for More Than One Administration for the Same Illness?
There may be need for frequent and regular approaches to God through this ordinance. The need for strengthening faith may be the greatest factor and a continuous approach through this rite may be had. There may be need for continued searching after light and wisdom and only in this way benefit may be obtained. Consideration should nevertheless be shown for the sacrifice and consecration given by the elders at all times to such calls. Under no circumstances should mere whim be made the cause of unnecessary hardship to the elders. The principle of these men, never to refuse to give what help lies in their power, requires of us that our requests be timely and reasonable.
The ordinance for the healing of the sick is one of the most comforting and fruitful of the restored Church, and for that reason it should be highly regarded and used with restraint and understanding which alone can maintain dignity in the exercise of spiritual privileges.
The Patriarchal Blessing
What is a Patriarchal Blessing?
This is a blessing given by the patriarch accompanied by the laying on of his hands. The words of the patriarch are recorded as they are spoken at the time of the blessing. The blessing is then transcribed and a copy given to the candidate and one is kept in the files of the Patriarchal Order at Church Headquarters.
What is the Purpose of the Blessing?
The chief purpose of the Patriarchal Blessing is indicated in the term itself, to give an authoritative, priestly blessing, invoked by a spiritual father representing God and His Church. That chief function should not be forgotten. Little children receive a blessing before they are aware of what is happening or able to comprehend its meaning. More mature people come voluntarily to receive a blessing into the spirit of which they may enter intellectually and emotionally. This ordinance, coupled with faithful obedience to the will of God, brings divine blessings and guidance and can be a help through life.
Other chief functions caught up under the primary one just mentioned are to give comfort or admonition when needed, or admonition, good counsel as to a Godly way of life, help to rededicate and to consecrate, to bring a benediction from above, to help one find himself or herself, and make an adjustment to life and its problems.
In the centuries since the children of Israel were taken into captivity, they were scattered and have become known as the "lost tribes" of Israel. Some of them were mingled with many other nations and migrations have taken them to various parts of the world. Their descendants have a spiritual heritage that appears in those patriarchal blessings that indicate such a lineage.
Some may have attached too much importance to the naming of lineage; whether they are to be numbered among the children of Ephraim or Manasseh or perhaps Judah. Remember, however, that this rests with the Patriarch as he may be directed, whether he shall indicate the lineage in each case. Do not be unduly concerned if this is not done. It is not the primary purpose of blessing.
Neither is it the primary purpose of a blessing to foretell the future, though the spirit of prophecy may and often does function to different degrees. The basic value of the blessing is to give assurance and counsel in the light of one's personality and particular situation in life.
What Preparation Should One Make for Receiving a Blessing?
It is well that those who are to receive a blessing shall make some definite preparation. This preparation should include prayer, meditation, self-examination, fasting, reading of the Scriptures and meditation thereon.
The one receiving the blessing should have some clear idea concerning the purpose of the blessing and what may be expected. It is important that the occasion be approached with great sincerity and humility of spirit so that the Lord may respond to our needs in the way best suited to us.
The reading of the tract, "Your Patriarchal Blessing,” is recommended to all who are contemplating asking for a blessing. In addition to this, the request for a blessing should be conveyed to the Patriarch as early as possible so that preparation by all parties may be completed well in advance.
Is There Any Charge for Patriarchal Blessings?
No charge is ever made for a blessing. It would be most unethical to make such a spiritual matter in any way mercenary.
Is This the Only Function of the Patriarchal Minister?
Of this minister, the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church states, "The patriarch is an evangelical minister. The duties of this office are to be an evangelical minister; to preach, teach, expound, exhort, to be a revivalist, and to visit branches and districts as wisdom may direct, invitation, request, or the Spirit of God determine and require; to comfort the Saints; to be a father to the church; to give counsel and advice to individuals who may seek for such; to lay on hands for the conferment of spiritual blessing, and if so led, to point out the lineage of the one who is blessed." Doctrine and Covenants 125:3
It is seen from this quotation that the conferment of blessings is but one of the many privileges that may be received at the hands of the patriarchal ministry.
The patriarch is a minister who is free from the problems of administering the organized departments of the Church, and is freer for this personal and helpful ministry. Though one may seek the advice of this minister in the problems of personal sainthood, he is not available for the settlement of difficulties either personal or official between the Saints. It is the duty of every member to know this and to approach him for ministry in accordance with the provision of the Scriptures.
The Blessing of Children
The Scriptural Basis for the Blessing of Children
When Jesus was teaching the multitude, some of the people who surrounded Him brought their children forward that He might touch them. The disciples rebuked them and would have sent them away, but the Master said, "…Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:14)
From this statement we draw the conclusion that little children are pure in the sight of God. The Book of Mormon is particularly clear about the innocence of children. Read Moroni, Chapter 8, for a very beautiful exposition of the truth that children are pure before God until they reach an age when their choices are made with responsibility.
Because of this, a true understanding of Christ's teachings does not allow for the administration of the ordinance of baptism to those who have not reached the age of accountability (8 years). As a Church we follow the example of Jesus who "laid hands upon them." (Matthew 19:15)
"And he took them up in his arms, and put his hands upon them, and blessed them." (Mark 10:14)
What is the Purpose of Blessing Children?
It is in the nature of a dedication of the little child to God. The parents should recognize the heavy responsibility that they have assumed in undertaking to bring to maturity a little child, and in so doing, naturally desire to seek divine aid in the task. They also seek the blessing of God upon the young life.
Where is the Blessing of Children Performed?
“Every member of the church of Christ having children, is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name." (Doctrine and Covenants 17:19)
It is obvious that the most desirable place is before the congregation. This provides the opportunity for serious contemplation of paternal responsibility both by the parents of the child and those who witness the ceremony. It also brings before the congregation the ideals of purity necessary for the kingdom of God.
Should it be impossible to bring the child before a meeting of the Church, the elders will not fail to respond to the request for blessing. However, the power of this ordinance is not in the mere formal ordinance, but in the understanding and consecration to the task that comes to the parents as they present their children before the Lord.
Is There Relationship between This Rite and Baptism?
There is no similarity. "Christening" was eventually substituted for baptism because of departure from the truth. But blessing has no relationship to either "christening" or baptism. Neither is it the naming of the child, although the elders traditionally make mention of the child's given name. Baptism, or any substitute for it, would be inappropriate because it requires ability to make free choice. A young child cannot exercise choice because they have not attained the age of accountability.
What Then Actually Occurs When a Child is Presented for Blessing?
At the appropriate time in the service, the parents bring the child to the elders. If the child is small, one of the elders takes the child in his arms while the other (if two) also places his hands upon the child. The second elder offers a prayer of dedication, praying for protection through life and for wisdom in the parents to guide the development in body, mind, and spirit, and presenting the child to God for His watch care.
Should a Child of More Than Eight Years of Age be Blessed?
The Church has given instructions to the elders that when a child has reached the age of eight years he is then to be considered eligible for full membership in the Church, and therefore should not be accepted for blessing. The parents and Church officers should then consider it their responsibility to teach the child what is required in making a responsible choice to follow Jesus into the waters of baptism. A child is not a member of the Church because of the elder's blessing. Full membership requires baptism and confirmation.
Is the Salvation of the Child in Jeopardy Should Death Occur before Blessing?
While we consider the presenting of every child for blessing to be a very proper and desirable procedure, it is unscriptural to affirm that this is an ordinance of salvation. Such fear is a relic of superstitions which have been wrongly taught by those departing from the true doctrine of Christ. Should parents be so unfortunate as to lose a child before blessing, they can rest in the comfort of the words of the Master, "…for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:14)
Is it Necessary That the Parents be Members of the Church?
This ministry is available to all, irrespective of membership. It is essential, however, that the parents of the child understand the true nature of the act. Further, it is often an opportunity to bring the teachings of Christ and His Church before friends.*
A certificate of blessing is issued to parents, and the record of the blessing is kept at General Church headquarters for reference.
*However, in cases where the parents are unmarried, it will be very important that the sacredness of this sacrament not be compromised. Careful consideration must be given to avoid acceptance of the growing practice of alternate life styles not approved by the Church. In case of doubt, contact the office of the First Presidency for counsel before engaging in inappropriate arrangements.
God's Plan of Finance
What is the Responsibility of a Member of the Church toward His Possessions?
It is the responsibility of every member to regard himself as a steward of all that has been given into his care. Each member of the Church is under obligation to use every talent for the establishment of the Zionic ideal in the world. This stewardship includes mental and spiritual blessings, as well as those of material value. While making all his abilities available to the larger task of regenerating the world, it is vital that the material aspects of the kingdom be given the priority they deserve. Hence there has been given a definite law by which we should manage our temporal stewardships. D&C 101: 2c-d
What is the Financial Law of the Church?
It is God's law governing the manner in which the income of the Church is to be obtained, the purpose for which it is used, and the channels through which expenditures should be made. The financial law, as well as every other law of God, is founded upon justice, equity, and righteousness. Obedience to the financial law brings the stewards life into alignment with celestial principles. These celestial principles are the foundation of Zion.
To Whom Should One Look for Explanation of the Law Relating to Finance?
Revelations through the prophets of the Church make it the duty of the Bishopric to bring to the Church interpretation of the financial law as a result of their mutual study and research in the word of God. (See Doctrine and Covenants 129:8.) This they have done, and will continue to do, in order that these interpretations may have the acceptance of General Conference.
What is the Purpose of the Financial Law?
The purpose is manifold.
- The first and primary purpose is to build character. Faithful adherence to the principles of this law will leave little room for selfishness. Obedience to the financial law is best seen as an expression of the pure love of Christ in our daily lives.
- It will help develop ability and skill in the management of one's personal and family finances, thus avoiding the adverse effects of mismanagement which usually result in mental distress and financial insecurity. (Surplus)
- It was instituted to bring members to a higher (celestial) plane of living and thinking and to a closer relationship with Christ, because to fulfill its requirements one must work with Him and in accordance with His divine purpose. (Tithes)
- It is to enable one to properly determine the annual increase and furnish a basis for knowing the amount due to the Lord as his share of one's financial gains.
- It is the divine way of obtaining funds to pay the costs for the administration of the work of the Church as well as the building up of Zion.
- It specifies to whom payment of tithes and contributions should be made.
- t names the purposes for which the funds are to be expended.
What Steps Would Involve a Full Compliance with the Law of Stewardship?
The Order of Bishops has stated the following to be the duty of every member of the Church to fully acknowledge his stewardship:
- Filing his consecration forms
- Rendering his surplus.
- Thereafter giving an account of his stewardship annually as provided in the law of God (AnnualAccounting).
- Rendering his tithes
- Making his offerings
How Do I Proceed to Prepare My Consecration?
A form has been compiled by the Bishopric to assist members in this accounting. This form makes provision for one's total assets to be listed and balanced against one's liabilities and so the net worth is determined. The form also helps determine the steward’s annual budget, inheritance needs and stewardship in Zion. The special work of the Bishop is to assist members in the preparing of this statement. Such officers are willing to assist when invited to do so.
How is Financial Surplus Computed?
When filing your Consecration, surplus is determined from that portion of your net worth that is remaining after determination of your needs and just wants. There is not a formula that is used to determine surplus, the proper amount is determined by the steward in consultation with the Bishop.
How Often Should One Prepare His Consecration?
A Consecration should be filed once in recognition of the essential nature of the financial law, thus recognizing the principle of stewardship. Thereafter an annual accounting should be made, usually at the end of the financial year to determine tithing owed and any further surplus contributions.
How is Tithing Computed
Tithing is computed solely on increase. When one makes an annual accounting, the increase will be calculated by subtracting the amount required to be spent on necessary living from the total income for the year. Of the remainder, the increase, one tenth is due as a tithe to the Lord.
When Should One Pay Tithes?
Tithes should be paid regularly while cash is available even though these payments may be made in relatively small amounts. The reasons for this are apparent.
- To God belong the first fruits of man’s effort.
- When meeting obligations as they fall due, God’s blessing may be expected on one’s stewardship.
- To delay payment opens the way to spend what is really God’s.
- Careful and regular accounting is fundamental in relation to one’s stewardship and is required of all.
- Small periodical payments do not relieve members of their obligation to make an annual accounting. Regular payments ensure that the major part of one’s obligation is met when it falls due.
- The Church is in need of financial assistance regularly to continue its work and cannot wait for a year’s accumulation of tithes before commencing to pay its obligations.
Is the Consecration and the Payment of Tithes Compulsory?
In common with every other law of the Church, compliance is a matter of individual obedience. Nevertheless, obedience to the principle of accountability is an aid in the assessing of one's responsibilities to God and of analyzing one's temporal affairs. To obey the baptismal covenant in its truest sense, one cannot avoid this duty.
Is Any Member of the Church or Official Exempt from This Law?
No one is exempt from obedience to the law of stewardship and each should render an accounting to God of his stewardship.
For What Purposes are Surplus and Tithing Used?
- For the building up of the storehouse
- The laying the foundation of Zion
- The granting of Inheritances
- For the Priesthood, and the debts of the Presidency
- The purchase of lands
- The development of stewardships (Business, Industrial and Agricultural)
- For the care of the Poor and Needy
- The building of houses of worship
- The building up of the New Jerusalem
- It is used primarily for financing the Lord’s work which involves such expenditures as the support of missionaries and those engaged in the general work of the Church.
- It is used in maintaining the operation of General Church Offices.
- It is used to provide for the administrative expenses incurred in the operation of the Church.
- It is used for the support of the educational program of the Church.
Does Payment of Surplus or the Tithe Work a Hardship on Anyone?
To pay Surplus which is defined as that which is above ones needs and just wants by definition does not create a hardship on anyone. The payment of one-tenth of the increase also does not work a hardship on anyone. Those who have a larger increase can afford a proportionately larger payment, while those who have prospered less have correspondingly less to pay. However, those who neglect to pay when due will find a subsequent problem as the debt accumulates. No true steward would repudiate a debt accumulated by his failure to meet the obligations when first due.
Are There Not Some People Who Have Too Little from Which to Pay Surplus or Tithing?
It is possible, but rarely would there be a steward who has not handled some amount beyond the definition of "necessary living expenses," and so become regarded as increase. It is also a celestial principle to create surplus as a steward over what God has given us. We should all work towards the creation of Surplus.
The rule in offerings is "Freely ye have received, freely give." The Remnant Church of Jesus Christ is not supported by the surplus donations or bequests of the rich alone, but by the consecrated giving of the rank and file members. To pay tithing is to discharge a debt. To give offerings generously and liberally to the Church is an expression of our true character and worth, our love for and gratitude to God.
What is Meant by Tithe, Increase, Surplus, and Offerings?
TITHE literally means ONE TENTH. A tithe of one's increase actually means one-tenth of one's increase.
INCREASE in relation to each subsequent yearly accounting is simply the difference between the total income from all sources for the year, less that which as a steward, one has determined was necessary for a normal healthy life. ONE-TENTH of this increase is TITHING.
SURPLUS is that portion of one's net worth, whether money or property, above and beyond one’s needs and just wants. The word "needs and just wants" being determined by the individual's position, sphere of action, his business, and his dependents. Such payments are to be used in the building up of Zion.
OFFERINGS are monies given freely from that which is left after tithing and surplus has been computed; that is, from the nine-tenths. They may also be given in the spirit of sacrifice from that which may be regarded as one's necessary living expenses. During the year there are frequent opportunities for making offerings to the Church.
To Whom Is Surplus and Tithing Paid?
Tithing should be paid to the local agent of the Bishop who transmits such monies regularly to the Bishop's office for custody. Each officer who receives money as tithes issues an official receipt stating the amount and purpose for which it is received. Records are kept of all surplus and tithing paid over the years of one's membership.
What is the Oblation?
The oblation is a special offering that is received at the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper service. From these oblations assistance is provided to the poor throughout the Church. This is done in accordance with the ability of the Church to meet such needs. It is a General Church offering and is to be handled and dispersed through the Bishopric according to established policy.
How Are Local Expenses Met?
The needs of the congregations are met from offerings made to the local treasury by methods decided upon in each branch. These offerings are separate from those made to the Bishop for general Church needs. Local branches do not draw from the general funds for local expenses; therefore, it is necessary that each member be mindful of these needs and make regular contributions to meet local requirements.
What Accounting Helps Are Provided for a Member Desirous of Fulfilling the Requirements of the Financial Law?
The Church has prepared income and expense record books for the careful and simple accounting of income and expenditure of both adult and young members. The Adult Stewardship Record is particularly compiled for those who have set up a home. The family budget is simply handled, and all the information required at the annual accounting time is thus readily available. Every home and individual member should use this help.
The Youth Stewardship Record is provided as a special aid to the youth. It is particularly planned for the unmarried young people of the Church who wish to account for their financial stewardship in a businesslike way. It provides a means for a regular and consistent payment of the tithes, the share of increase which belongs to the Lord. Young people who have established their homes should use the regular Adult Stewardship Record book.
A Brief Statement of Belief
There is no official creed endorsed as such by the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It has been well stated that the creed of the Church is "all Truth." We believe fundamentals leading to all truth are stated in the Inspired Version of the Holy Scriptures, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.
Certain of the basic truths, however, have stood out in bold relief because of their very nature and have been gathered together in a statement or Epitome of Faith prepared by founding President Joseph Smith, Jr. This basic list is worthy of study and understanding. That, of course, can only come as a member searches diligently in the Scriptures just mentioned and in the standard literary works of representative Church writers.
In God the Eternal Father, creator of the heavens and the earth.
In the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all men who obey his gospel;
In the Holy Ghost, whose function it is to guide all men unto the truth.
In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation.
In the six fundamental doctrinal principles of the gospel:
Faith; Repentance; Baptism by immersion in water; the Baptism of the Holy Ghost; the Laying on of the Hands for the healing of the sick , for conferring of the Holy Ghost, ordination, blessing of children , and other special blessings; Resurrection of the dead, and the Eternal Judgment.
In the justice of God, who will reward or punish all men according to their works, and not solely according to their profession.
In the same kind of organization that existed in the primitive church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, bishops, seventies, etc.
In the word of God contained in the Bible, as far as it is correctly translated.
In the word of God contained in the Book of Mormon, being a record of divine dealings with men in the new world as in the old.
In the word of God revealed today and recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church.
In the willingness and ability of God to continue His revelation of His will to men to the end of time.
In the powers and gifts of the gospel: faith, discernment of spirits, prophecy, revelation, healing, visions, tongues, and their interpretation, wisdom, charity, temperance, brotherly love, etc.
In marriage as instituted and ordained of God whose law provides for but one companion in wedlock, for either man or woman, excepting in case of death. When the marriage contract is broken by transgression, the innocent party is free to remarry.
In the Book of Mormon declaration: "There shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none."
In the Doctrine of Stewardships; that is, that every man is accountable to God for the conduct of his life and the use of his material blessings.
In the Divine Commission to the Church to establish a Christian Community called Zion built upon the basis of stewardship and the principle of equality of opportunity, and where each member shall contribute according to his capacity and receive according to his needs. (Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, pp 709-710)
The three main Scriptures of the Church, the Inspired Version of the Holy Scriptures, Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants should be in every home library.
These should not be merely possessions, but regularly used sources of knowledge and inspiration. A good member sets some portion of the day apart for this study.