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Doctrine and Covenants Week 30: D&C 137138

1) [SLIDE 2] These two sections are the most recent additions to the Doctrine and Covenants. a) These revelations were both published soon after they were received, but have been canonized only relatively recently.1 b) On 25 March 1976 the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve approved the addition of these revelations to the Pearl of Great Price. c) In General Conference, 3 April 1976, President N. Eldon Tanner presented these two revelations for a sustaining vote to be added to the standard works. The motion was carried unanimously.2 d) On 22 June 1979 the First Presidency announced that these revelations would be moved to the Doctrine and Covenants, where they would become sections 137 and 138.3 2) These two revelations are important because they expand our understanding of the doctrine of the post-mortal spirit world. a) Outside of a handful of references, the Bible does not explain the nature of post-mortal life. i) Its assumed from the text of the Bible that there is conscious life after death, but there are only a few passages that actually describe this belief. 4 Hence modern Christianity has been divided over the issue of what happens immediately after death.5 b) [SLIDE 3] For Latter-day Saints, our doctrinal foundation on the post-mortal spirit world is found in the Book of Mormon, as taught by the prophet Alma2:
Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrectionBehold the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state

1 The vision canonized as Section 137 was received 1836, and first published in 1852 as part of a serialized Life of Joseph Smith; Deseret News 2/22 (4 September 1852), 1 (http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/ref/collection/deseretnews1/id/171225). The vision in Section 138 was received 3 October 1918 and published simultaneously in the Deseret Evening News, 30 November 1918, 4:7 (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=DV41AAAAIBAJ&pg=6898%2C2562385) and the Improvement Era 22/2 (December 1918), 16670 (http://archive.org/stream/improvementera2202unse#page/166). 2 N. Eldon Tanner, The Sustaining of Church Officers, General Conference, April 1976 (http://www.lds.org/generalconference/1976/04/the-sustaining-of-church-officers). 3 Janet Brigham, News of the Church: Three Additions to Be in Doctrine and Covenants, Ensign, August 1979 (http://www.lds.org/ensign/1979/08/news-of-the-church/three-additions-to-be-in-doctrine-and-covenants.p2). This move was to accommodate the cross-referencing system instituted in the 1981 edition of the Triple Combination. 4 The ancient Hebrews believed that, after death, both good and bad individuals went to sheol, usually translated in the King James Old Testament as grave (31), hell (31), or pit (3). As demonstrated by the story of the witch from En-dor (1 Samuel 28), the belief was that spirits who dwelt in sheol could be brought back to the mortal world temporarily by necromancy. In the Greek New Testament, departed spirits go to hades, which is a place of rest for the righteous (paradeisos) or a place of torment for the wicked (gehenna). In the King James New Testament, gehenna is translated as hell (9) or hell fire (3). See Theodore J. Lewis, Dead, Abode of the, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, David Noel Freedman, ed. (New York, New York: Doubleday, 1992), 2:10105; also, notes to New Testament lesson 7, pages 910, including footnotes (https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/nt/week07). 5 Some Christian religious traditionsmost notably Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovahs Witnesseshold to the doctrine of soul sleeping, which asserts that there is no consciousness between death and the resurrection. For a list of supporters and the scripture passages they marshal in defense of this belief, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul_sleep

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of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evilfor behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their houseand these shall be cast out into outer darkness;6 there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil. (Alma 40:1113.)

c) The two revelations in D&C 137 & 138 are a significant expansion on the conditions of and activities in the post-mortal world. We are blessed to have them as part of our scriptural canon. 3) D&C 137. a) [SLIDE 4] Joseph Smith received this vision in the evening of 21 January 1836 on the third floor of the Kirtland Temple. i) At a meeting of the First Presidency and the high councils of Kirtland and Zion (Missouri), the Presidency anointed Joseph Smith, Sr., with oil and each gave him a blessing. After this, Joseph Smith, Jr., was seated, and received a blessing from his father, after which
all of the presidency laid their hands upon me [Joseph Smith, Jr.] and pronounced upon my head many prophesies, and blessings, many of which I shall not notice at this time, but as Paul said, so say I, let us come to vissions and revelations7

After which he received a vision, the first part of which is included in section 137. b) [SLIDE 5] 137:5. In the vision, Joseph saw I saw father Adam, and Abraham and Michael and my father and mother, my brother Alvin that has long since slept.8 i) Since Josephs parents were alive in January 1836and his father was in the room with himthis must have been a vision of the future, possibly after the resurrection. ii) [SLIDE 6] Who was Alvin Smith? (1) Alvin was the oldest son (and first surviving child) of Joseph Smith, Sr., and Lucy Mack Smith. He was born in Tunbridge, Vermont in 1798, two years before Hyrum and nearly seven years before Joseph, Jr. (2) He was a strong believer in Josephs visions and calling. (3) On 15 November 1823 Alvin experienced severe stomach cramps, perhaps caused by appendicitis. His family diagnosed it as bilious fever,9 and administered

6 The phrase outer darkness here is a synonym for spirit prison. Neither the scriptures nor Joseph Smith (as far as I have been able to determine) refer to final abode of the sons of perdition as outer darkness. This usage seems to have arisen sometime after Joseph. 7 Joseph Smith, journal (handwriting of Warren Parrish), 21 January 1836, p. 136 (http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/journal-1835-1836?p=137); compare History of the Church 2:37980 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/2/29.html#379). The reference to Paul is a quote from 2 Corinthians 12:13. 8 Original reading from Joseph Smith, journal (ibid.). Warren Parrishs transcription of Josephs vision seems to differentiate Adam and Michael as two separate individuals. Yet Joseph identified Michael as Adam at least a year earlier (D&C 27:11), and made the same connection several times in Nauvoo (Words of Joseph Smith 8, 13, 39; cf. HC 3:38586, 4:207). Theres no satisfactory answer to why his 1836 vision differentiates the two. One of the Church scribes working on the official history of the Church (probably Willard Richards, working between December 1842 and March 1844) dropped the and Michael as part of the general editing practice of correcting errors and smoothing out inconsistencies and difficulties. The resulting Manuscript History of the Church, completed in 1857/58, became the basis for B.H. Roberts 7-volume History of the Church, published beginning in 1902. HC, in turn, became the source text for D&C 137.

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calomel.10 His condition worsened and he died on 19 November. He was 25 years old.11 (a) This was only two months after Moroni had first visited Joseph, nearly three years before Joseph received the plates, and six-and-a-half years before the Church was organized. (4) Alvins death was a huge blow to the Smith family and to Joseph in particular. c) [SLIDE 7] 137:710. What do we learn from this revelation? i) That the Lord judges us not just by our actions, but by our intentionswhat we do is as important as why we do it. Therefore, those who would have received the gospel with all their hearts, had they heard it in this life, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.12 (1) This is a prologue to the doctrine of baptism for the dead, which Joseph revealed in 1840 at Nauvoo.13 ii) Likewise, children who die before being old enough to account for their actions will be saved in the celestial kingdom. (1) [SLIDE 8] Joseph later taught:
The Lord takes many away even in infancy that they may escape the envy of man. The sorrows & evils of this present world & they were two pure & to lovly to live on Earth, Therefore if rightly considered [we] have, instead of mo[u]rning we have reason to rejoice, as they are deliverd from evil & we shall soon have them again. . The moment that Children leave this world they are taken to the bosom of Abraham[.]14 The ownly [only] difference between the old & young dying is one lives longer in heaven & Eternal light & glory than the other & was freed a little sooner from this miserable wicked world Notwithstanding all this glory we for a moment loose sight of it & mourn the loss but we do not mourn as those without hope.15

9 Bilious fever was a medical diagnosis in the 18th and 19th centuries for any fever that exhibited the symptom of nausea or vomiting, along with an increased body temperature and diarrhea. Bilious means the condition was thought to arise from disorders of bile. 10 Mercurous chloride, a toxic compound that was popular remedy for a variety of physical and mental ailments during the age of heroic medicine (17801850). 11 Joseph dictated these remembrances of his brother, Alvin: Alvin my oldest brother, I remember well the pangs of sorrow that swelled my youthful bosom and almost burst my tender heart, when he died. He was the oldest, and the noblest of my fathers family. He was one of the noblest of the sons of men: Shall his name not be recorded in this Book? Yes, Alvin; let it be had here, and be handed down upon these sacred pages, forever and ever. In him there was no guile. He lived without spot from the time he was a child. From the time of his birth, he never knew mirth. He was candid and sober and never would play; and minded his father, and mother, in toiling all day. He was one of the soberest of men and when he died the Angel of the Lord visited him in his last moments. Joseph Smith, journal, 23 August 1842, p. 180 (http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/journal-december-1841-december-1842?p=57); cf. HC 5:12627 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/5/7.html#126%20-%20127). 12 Along with this, D&C 76:72 implies that those who would not have received the gospel, had they heard it during mortality, but who accept it in the spirit world, will inherit the terrestrial kingdom. See notes to week 16, pages 10 11 (https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/dc/week16). 13 See notes to week 26, pages 5 8 (https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/dc/week26). 14 This is a reference to Jesus parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:1931). 15 Joseph Smith, 20 March 1842, sermon in the grove, west of the Nauvoo Temple, recorded by Wilford Woodruff. WJS 10607; cf. HC 4:55354 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/4/33.html#553); Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 19697.

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d) [SLIDE 9] There is more to the vision that was not canonized, including:16 i) A vision of the Twelve Apostles of the restored Church, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle much fatiegued, with their clothes tattered and feet swolen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus <standing> in their midst, and they did not behold him.17 ii) Apostle William McLellin preaching to a vast multitude in the South, and healing a lame man.18 iii) Brigham Young standing in a Strange land, in the far southwest, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of colour preaching to them in their own toung[e] while being protected by an angel.19 iv) The Twelve in the celestial kingdom, and the redemption of Zion. v) Joseph concluded:
Many of my brethren who received this ordinance with me, saw glorious visions also, angels ministered unto them, as well as my self, and the power of the highest rested upon, us the house [i.e., the Kirtland Temple] was filled with the glory of God, and we shouted Hosanah to the God and the Lamb[.]20

4) [SLIDE 10] D&C 138. a) The first eleven verses of section 138 record its historical setting. i) Joseph F. Smith21 was seventy-nine years old when he received this revelation, and had served as the sixth President of the Church for seventeen years (19011918). ii) [SLIDE 11] President Smith had six wives, through whom he fathered 43 children and adopted five more. Of these 48 children, 14 preceded him in death.22 His son, Hyrum M. Smith, had died unexpectedly at age 45 the January previous to this revelation.23

16 The practice of canonizing only a portion of a revelation is not unique to Section 137. Sections 121, 122, and 123, for example, are an extract of a much longer letter written by Joseph from Liberty Jail. See notes to lesson 25, pages 56 (https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/dc/week25). 17 This vision may have been fulfilled by the mission of the Twelve to Great Britain in 183941. 18 William McLellin did serve a mission to the South in the spring and summer of 1836. He lost his testimony in 1837 and was excommunicated the following year. For more on McLellin, see notes to lesson 14, pages 5 6 (https://sites.google.com/site/hwsarc/home/dc/week14). 19 This part of the vision is particularly interesting, in that it may have its fulfillment in Brigham Youngs journey west as the leader of the Saints and the settlement of Utah and surrounding areas. 20 Joseph Smith, journal, 21 January 1836, p. 138 (http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/journal-18351836?p=139); HC 2:381 (http://byustudies.byu.edu/hc/2/29.html#381). 21 Joseph F. Smith (18381918) was the first child of Hyrum Smith (Josephs brother and Church Patriarch) and his second wife, Mary Fielding. Joseph F. was born while his father was incarcerated in Liberty Jail, and was only 5 years old when his father was killed in Carthage, Illinois. At the age of seven he drove his mothers team of oxen to Winter Quarters, and, in spring 1848, at the age of 9, he drove the family wagon across the plains to Utah. He was ordained an elder at the age of 15, and served a four-year mission (185457) to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). From 186063 he served a mission in England, followed by another mission to the Sandwich Islands in 1864. On 1 July 1866, at the age of 27, he was ordained an apostle by Brigham Young. He later served as second counselor in the First Presidency during the administrations of John Taylor (1880 87), Wilford Woodruff (188998), and Lorenzo Snow (18981901). Following the death of President Snow, he was ordained President of the Church on 17 October 1901. 22 A list of Joseph F. Smiths wives and children can be found at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_F._Smith#Marriages_and_family

23 Hyrum M. Smith (18721918) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve from 1901 until his death. He is well-known for the book Doctrine and Covenants Commentary (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1916), which he co-authored with Janne M. Sjdahl. He died of a ruptured appendix. One of Hyrum M. Smiths daughters, Geraldine Smith, became the mother of Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

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iii) [SLIDE 12] World War Ithe war to end all warswas still raging in Europe, and a worldwide flu pandemic had just broken out.24 iv) President Smith himself had been seriously ill for five months when he received this vision. (He died on 19 November 1918, only seven weeks later.) v) All of these things weighed heavily on his mind. He had spent considerable time pondering the scriptures. [SLIDE 13] At October 1918 General Conference, he announced
I have not lived alone these five months. I have dwelt in the spirit of prayer, of supplication, of faith and of determination; and I have had my communication with the Spirit of the Lord continuously.25

(1) On 3 October 1918, one day prior to the beginning of General Conference, he was pondering the atonement of Christ and read two passages in the New Testament epistle of 1 Peter that teach of Christ preaching the gospel to the dead between his death and resurrection (138:610). b) [SLIDE 14] 138:1117. This portion of the vision takes place just prior to the death of Jesus on the cross. What do we learn about that portion of the spirit world, called paradise, where the righteous go? i) 138:1213. Those who are there formed an innumerable company of the spirits of the just who had been faithful in their testimonies of Jesus, sacrificed in his name, and endured tribulation. (1) These are they who will become just men made perfect through Jesus atonement (D&C 76:69; Hebrews 12:23). ii) 138:15. They were filled with joy and gladness at their impending deliverance through the grace that was to be brought about by Jesus atonement. iii) 138:17. Once their resurrection has taken place, they will then be able to receive a fulness of joy. (A reference to D&C 93:33.) (1) 138:50 reiterates that the deadlooked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage. (A paraphrase of D&C 45:17.) c) 138:1821, 2931. In these verses we learn of the appearance of the Savior to the dead between his own death and resurrection, and the events that have followed. i) 138:19. Jesus taught the righteous dead the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance. (1) These are those who did not hear the gospel in this life, but would have accepted it, had they heard it (D&C 137:7), and honorable people of the world who died without law, (2 Nephi 9:26; D&C 76:72) and died not knowing the will of God concerning them (Mosiah 3:11).26

24 World War I was the cause of over 16 million deaths, and the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 20 killed 50100 million people worldwide (about 6% of the worlds population). 25 Joseph F. Smith, General Conference, 4 October 1918. Conference Report, October 1918, 2 (http://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1918sa/conferencereport892chur#page/2 ). 26 See footnote 12

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ii) 138:20, 2931. He did not go to the wicked, ungodly, unrepentant, or rebellious, but he organizedand appointed messengers from among the righteous to teach the gospel to the wicked dead. (1) Those who had not received baptism and the other ordinances of salvation in mortality are able to accept the work done for them by us by proxy in the temple. (a) 138:5859. Are they forced to accept the work done for them? No. (i) Over the last several years, there has been media attention of vicarious temple work done by Latter-day Saints for well-known people who have died, including those who perished in the Holocaust.27 1. This is contrary to Church policy, which states that names submitted to the temple should only be those of direct ancestors or descendants. We should not submit names or perform ordinances for celebrities, Holocaust survivors, and other individuals who are outside of your family line unless the individual is a close, personal friend for whom you have permission to do the ordinances.28 (ii) Regardless if a temple ordinance has been performed with or without authorization, just because a deceased person has had their ordinances done for them by proxy does not mean that they are automatically saved or become Mormons. We provide the ordinances for all, and those who wish to accept them, may. d) A subject related to Section 138 is the location of the spirit world. Brigham Young taught:
[SLIDE 15] The inquiry will naturally arise, when our spirits leave our bodies where do they go to? I will tell you. They do not pass out of the organization of this earth on which we live. . Where is the spirit world? It is incorporated within this celestial system. Can you see it with your natural eyes? No. Can you see spirits in this room? No. Suppose the Lord should touch your eyes that you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies, as did the servant of Elijah.29 If the Lord would permit it, and it was His will that it should be done, you could see the spirits that have departed from this world, as plainly as you now see bodies with your natural eyes. . [SLIDE 16] We may enquire where the spirits dwell, that the devil has power over? They dwell anywhere[including] this continent; it is full of them. If you could see,

27 In 2009 it was reported that U.S. President Barack Obamas late mother, Ann Dunham (19421995), had been baptized and received her endowment by proxy in June 2008 in the Provo Temple. Peggy Fletcher Stack, Mormons posthumously baptize Obama's mother, The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 May 2009 (http://www.sltrib.com/faith/ci_12299851);. Scott Taylor, LDS Church investigates possible ordinances performed for Obama's late mother, Deseret News, 6 May 2009 (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,705301616,00.html).This information was discovered and revealed by critic and perennial anti-Mormon gadfly Helen Radkey, who, for years, has been on a personal quest to embarrass the Church by discovering temple work done improperly on behalf of Jewish Holocaust victims. 28 A Users Guide to the New FamilySearch Website (October 2012) (Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, International: 2012 [2nd ed.]), 176 (https://help.familysearch.org/kb/guides/en/usersguidelds.pdf). 29 Brigham Young is referring here to the prophet Elisha. See 2 Kings 6:1517.

2013, Mike Parker

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Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

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and would walk over many parts of North America, you would see millions on millions of the spirits of those who have been slain upon this continent. Would you see the spirits of those who were as good in the flesh as they knew how to be? Yes. Would you see the spirits of the wicked? Yes. . [SLIDE 17] Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of this organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity. Where else are you going? No where else, only as you may be permitted. [SLIDE 18] When the spirits of mankind leave their bodies, no matter whether the individual was a Prophet or the meanest person that you could find, where do they go? To the spirit world. Where is it? I am telling you. The spirit of Joseph, I do not know that it is just now in this bowery,30 but I will assure you that it is close to the Latterday Saints, is active in preaching to the spirits in prison and preparing the way to redeem the nations of the earth, those who lived in darkness previous to the introduction of the Gospel by himself in these days. [SLIDE 19] He has just as much labor on hand as I have; he has just as much to do. Father [Joseph] Smith [Sr.] and [Don] Carlos [Smith] and brother [Edward] Partridge, yes, and every other good Saint, are just as busy in the spirit world as you and I are here. They can see us, but we cannot see them unless our eyes were opened. What are they doing there? They are preaching, preaching all the time, and preparing the way for us to hasten our work in building temples here and elsewhere. . [SLIDE 20] Spirits are just as familiar with spirits as bodies are with bodies, though spirits are composed of matter so refined as not to be tangible to this coarser organization.31 They walk, converse, and have their meetings; and the spirits of good men like Joseph and the Elders, who have left this Church on earth for a season to operate in another sphere, are rallying all their powers and going from place to place preaching the Gospel, and Joseph is directing them.32

5) [SLIDE 21] This is our final class in the Doctrine and Covenants course of study. Its been a joy and a privilege to spend this year studying and discussing the restored gospel with you!

The bowery was a makeshift covered structure that preceded the Tabernacle on Temple Square. See D&C 131:7. 32 Brigham Young, 22 June 1856. Journal of Discourses 3:36772 (http://en.fairmormon.org/Journal_of_Discourses/3/51#367).
30 31

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