“I am the law and the light,” the Savior said to an ancient group of people on the American continent. “Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live” (3 Nephi 15:9).
“I am your lawgiver,” He told members of His newly organized church in January 1831. He promised that if they would relocate to Ohio, He would give them His law (Doctrine and Covenants 38:22, 32).
The following month, in Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith received a preparatory revelation, instructing the saints how to prepare to receive His law (Doctrine and Covenants 41).
A few days later, he received a revelation entitled “The Laws of the Church of Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 42). It’s a complex document, containing many different kinds of laws. Some are restatements of well-known commandments given anciently (don’t kill, steal, lie, or commit adultery: verses 18-29, 74-87). Some are practical instructions (how to teach the gospel, how to bless the sick: verses 11-17, 43-52). And a good portion of the document explains the law of consecration, including how to administer consecrated funds (verses 30-42, 53-55, 70-73).
Later that month, the prophet received two additional revelations: one reiterating how revelations are received in the church (Doctrine and Covenants 43) and one instructing all elders to gather for a church conference (Doctrine and Covenants 44).
Here are some of the principles taught in these revelations, together with some relevant blog posts:
Section 41: Preparing to receive the law
- Be careful how and when you share sacred things: The Things Which I Have Written – 1 Nephi 14:28-30.
Section 42: The Laws of the Church of Christ
- Observe, defend, and fulfill: What Does It Mean to “Keep” God’s Commandments?
- Effective gospel teaching has the following three components: authority, the scriptures, and the Spirit: According to the Revelation of the Truth – Alma 6:8.
- We invite the Holy Ghost into our lives through prayer and by seeking virtue: That Which They Most Desired – 3 Nephi 19:9.
- The Spirit not only directs our words when we teach, but also infuses those words with power: He Spake with Power and Authority from God – Mosiah 13:5-6.
- We can have confidence in the people assigned to teach us when we have confidence in the people who made those assignments: He Consecrated All Their Priests and All Their Teachers – Mosiah 23:16-18.
- Our temporal possessions become holy when they are used to fulfill spiritual purposes: What Does It Mean to Consecrate Something?
- Some truths can only be learned by revelation: What Are the Mysteries of God?
- The knowledge we receive from God will bring us joy: Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children – 3 Nephi 22:13.
- We need to reduce the commotion in our lives to receive that knowledge: Peaceable Things
- We can prepare for the return of Jesus Christ by promoting unity, holiness, and charity: What Is the New Jerusalem?
Section 43: How laws are received
- Contributing to an organization includes respecting the roles of other people in the organization, including the authority of those who lead you: “In Wisdom and Order” – Mosiah 4:27.
- We should treasure the word of God and “let the solemnities of eternity rest upon [our] minds” (Doctrine and Covenants 43:34): 2 Nephi 4:16 My Soul Delighteth in the Things of the Lord.
Section 44: The importance of gathering to receive instruction
- We should meet with other church members as often as we can in order to strengthen and support one another: “Meet Together Oft” – Moroni 6:5.