“It Is the Duty of the Lord’s Clerk . . . to Keep a History, and a General Church Record of All Things That Transpire in Zion”

Doctrine and Covenants 85:1–5

1 It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop;
2 And also their manner of life, their faith, and works; and also of the apostates who apostatize after receiving their inheritances.
3 It is contrary to the will and commandment of God that those who receive not their inheritance by consecration, agreeable to his law, which he has given, that he may tithe his people, to prepare them against the day of vengeance and burning, should have their names enrolled with the people of God.
4 Neither is their genealogy to be kept, or to be had where it may be found on any of the records or history of the church.
5 Their names shall not be found, neither the names of the fathers, nor the names of the children written in the book of the law of God, saith the Lord of Hosts.

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“First the duty of the Lord’s clerk is stated [in D&C 85]. We have studied previously the importance in the sight of the Lord of correct record keeping. We are informed that we are to be judged out of the books that are kept, therefore they should be accurate in every detail.

“The thought that it is not a very important matter who is called to keep the records as long as he can write, is a very fatal error. In the choosing of recorders, and clerks in wards and stakes or in other Church work where vital information is to be recorded, the choosing of the most efficient and capable man should be chosen. This is just as important as it is to choose a good bishop or president of a stake, for the records are to be permanent and to contain all the essential and vital information pertaining to an organization, a quorum, or the Church. This truth is too frequently lost sight of, however, by our officers in making a choice of recorders.

“The Lord’s clerk in the matter of consecration and inheritance was to keep a history and ‘a general Church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop’ [D&C 85:1]. Not only was this recorder, or clerk, to keep this record, but he was to keep a record also of their manner of life, their faith, and works; and also of the apostates who apostatize after receiving their inheritances. It is seen from this that this was a very important position requiring the attention of someone who was alert and filled with the Spirit of faith and obedience to the gospel. To keep a record of the manner of life of these consecrated members was important because of the nature of the covenant which they were required to make when they entered into this order, or covenant. Those who would not work, were not to receive the blessings. Previously the Lord had declared in a standing commandment to the Church: ‘And let all things be done in cleanliness before me. Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garment of the laborer’ (D&C 42:41–42). When stewardships were assigned, it was supposed that each man would be given the work which he was most capable of doing, and if he had faith he would put forth every effort to be successful for the building up of the kingdom and the establishment of Zion. The names of all faithful members were to be recorded, with an account of their stewardship, their faith, and their works. What a happy people they would have been if they had hearkened with singleness of heart to these commandments, for the Lord had promised to protect them in these inheritances if they would be faithful to Him. The Lord knew that there would be some among them who would falter; some who would come to Zion not willing to enroll themselves and consecrate themselves and their property to the welfare of Zion, and therefore could not be given stewardships in the covenant which the Lord had made with the Saints. He, therefore, commanded that all those who came to Zion and who were not willing to receive an inheritance, and consecration agreeable to His law should not be numbered among the faithful. It was the intention of the Lord to have His people consecrated in preparation ‘against the day of vengeance and burning’ [D&C 85:3], when so many of the prophets in ancient times as well as now, have predicted shall come. This class, as well as the apostate who may have entered into these covenants, were not to have their genealogy kept, ‘or to be had where it may be found on any of the records or history of the Church’ [D&C 85:4]. This was a matter far more serious perhaps than it was supposed at the time this revelation was given. The Lord said, ‘Their names shall not be found, neither the names of the fathers, nor the names of the children written in the book of the law of God, saith the Lord of Hosts’ [D&C 85:5]. The book of the law of God, was the book to be kept by the Lord’s clerk. There is also another book which is kept in heaven, and the one kept by the Lord’s clerk should be accurately kept so that it would agree with the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life’ [Revelation 21:27]. In the Lamb’s Book of Life only the names are received of those who have washed their garments white ‘in the blood of the Lamb’ [Revelation 7:14].This is in harmony with the word of the Lord to John:

“‘And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.’—[Revelation 21:27].

(Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:348–49.)

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