The Lord Gives Instructions about Missionary Work and the Gathering of the Saints

Doctrine and Covenants 42:4–13

4 Behold, verily I say unto you, I give unto you this first commandment, that ye shall go forth in my name, every one of you, excepting my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon.
5 And I give unto them a commandment that they shall go forth for a little season, and it shall be given by the power of the Spirit when they shall return.
6 And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.
7 And ye shall go forth baptizing with water, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 And from this place ye shall go forth into the regions westward; and inasmuch as ye shall find them that will receive you ye shall build up my church in every region—
9 Until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you from on high, when the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared, that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God.
10 And again, I say unto you, that my servant Edward Partridge shall stand in the office whereunto I have appointed him. And it shall come to pass, that if he transgress another shall be appointed in his stead. Even so. Amen.
11 Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.
12 And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel.
13 And they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit.

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“The first commandment given on this occasion was to the elders, priests, and teachers of the Church, who were called to take a mission, traveling two by two into the west land preaching the gospel with the power of angels, and building up branches of the Church as they journeyed among as many as would hearken to their proclamation. To avoid the preaching by some who may have been overzealous or who had not been properly called and who did not comprehend the principles of the gospel, the Lord made it known that none should go forth on this brief mission who had not been regularly ordained by the heads of the Church. In that early day the question of divine authority had not been fully established in the minds of the people and was not comprehended by some who were not members but were in sympathy with the work. The brethren holding the priesthood at that time were not very many, but they went forth as they had been commanded and returned again at the call of the Lord to attend an important conference which had been called for the early part of June 1831 [see History of the Church, 1:175]. After this conference the Elders of the Church again took up their missionary labors, traveling two by two westward to the land which was to be known later as the land of Zion. These early missionaries were commanded to preach only that which they found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon— there was no Doctrine and Covenants at that day—in which they were to find the fulness of the gospel as they were to declare it to the people. These missionaries were also to observe all the Church articles and covenants and thus set an example in righteousness.”

(Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:184.)

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