Saturday, February 1, 2014

Why I Believe: Evidence Two: How Ministers Are To Teach The Gospel To Non-members

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith Was A Prophet

Evidence Two: 
How Ministers Are To Teach The Gospel To Non-members© 

Last week I initiated this series with comments about D&C 38:41 which imposed a high ideal upon Mormon ministers when preaching.  I observed that this seemed rather unusual for a lad of twenty-five years of age to give to the new church.  I want to follow up that with other statements by the youthful Prophet that give this ideal even greater significance to the young Church and its ministers.  This is further evidence to me of his prophetic calling and inspiration, and perhaps his uniqueness.

The passage quoted last week was one of a number of statements in Joseph Smith’s early revelations which instruct the ministry in the way of their duties.  In June of 1829, Section 18 of the Doctrine and Covenants was given. In verses 20-21 the Lord said to David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery: “Contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil.  Take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness.”  In March of 1830, in Section 19:29 the Lord told Martin Harris to “declare glad tidings” and “publish it upon the mountains...among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see.”  In verses 30 and 31 the Lord instructed, 
And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers.  And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost. [Emphasis added.]
Ten months later the Lord gave the revelation quoted last week–D&C 38:41: “And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.”  
By December of 1833, Joseph was including some of these things in his instructions to departing missionaries.  He cautioned them regarding their manner of interacting with non-members.
Let the Elders be exceedingly careful about unnecessarily disturbing and harrowing up the feelings of the people.  Remember that your business is to preach the Gospel in all humility and meekness, and warn sinners to repent and come to Christ.
Avoid contentions and vain disputes with men of corrupt minds, who do not desire to know the truth.  Remember that “it is a day of warning, and not a day of many words.”  [D&C 63:58] If they receive not your testimony in one place, flee to another, remembering to cast no reflections, nor throw out any bitter sayings.  If you do your duty, it will be just as well with you, as though all men embraced the Gospel. [Joseph Smith, HC 1:468; TPJS, p. 43, emphasis added.]
On 30 March 1836, preparations were being made for administering the sacrament in the Kirtland Temple.  An account of what transpired follows:
While waiting, I made the following remarks–that the time that we were required to tarry in Kirtland to be endowed, would be fulfilled in a few days, and then the elders would go forth...but to go in all meekness, in sobriety, and preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified; not to contend with others on account of their faith or systems of religion, but pursue a steady course.  This I delivered by way of commandment; and all who observe it not will pull down persecution upon their heads, while those who do, shall always be filled with the Holy Ghost; this I pronounced as a prophecy, and sealed with Hosanna and Amen. [HC 2:431; or TPJS, 109, emphasis added.]
Here Joseph makes it clear that these revelations constitute a commandment to missionaries.  A commandment with a promise. 

In a day when extreme and militant religionists dominate the planetscape, hate-filled promulgation of their faith by confrontation, argument, rudeness, vitriol, ridicule, insult, debate, falsehood, slander, deceit, persecution, violence, and even war are commonplace. The result?   Hearts grow cold and hard.  In attempting to drive many to God they are driven from him and those who claim to represent him.  The commandment Joseph Smith gave Mormon missionaries is consonant with the teachings of Jesus Christ when he said “love your enemy” and “love one another as I have loved you.”  And the promise is if they will keep these commandments they shall be “filled with the Holy Ghost”–the single most important thing for a missionary to possess in preaching the Lord’s gospel.  

Thank God for Joseph Smith.  Let's think together again, soon.


  1. Again you have an interesting pick for second in your series. I haven't thought of this except when I was taught the very wisdom of not "bible bashing" on my mission. It was good council then and now I know it came very early in this dispensation through the Prophet. Thanks.

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    2. It is not something which is taught to mission presidents (at least when we went through the MTC), so I suspect most MPs teach what your's did or something similar. I wish I would have put this together for my missionaries for inclusion in the hadbook we gave to them upon arrival. Alas, we are sometimes too late smart!

  2. The Prophet definitely understood the principle taught in Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievios words stirth up anger.

    The same principle taught to missionaries then is very applicable to teaching and working with people today. Man is much like the mule, he will be stubborn when he is dealt with aggressively.