Doctrine & Covenants Lesson 12 (D&C 27–28)
The Emblems of the Sacrament
The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded: “Early in the month of August  Newel Knight and his wife paid us a visit at my place in Harmony, Pennsylvania; and as neither his wife nor mine had been as yet confirmed, it was proposed that we should confirm them, and partake together of the Sacrament, before he and his wife should leave us. In order to prepare for this I set out to procure some wine for the occasion, but had gone only a short distance when I was met by a heavenly messenger, and received the following revelation.”2
The above is Joseph Smith’s introduction to section 27. The angel instructed Joseph that elements other than bread and wine could be used for the sacrament. The angel emphasized the vital importance of always partaking of the sacrament with an eye single to the Lord’s glory.
The revelation then noted that when the Savior returned to the earth in glory, Joseph would have the privilege of partaking of the sacrament with the Lord and many great leaders of the past. Several of their names are mentioned in this section of the Doctrine and Covenants. If we desire, and if we are faithful, we may also be present on that marvelous occasion and partake of the sacrament with the Savior (D&C 27:14).
Each Sabbath day when we partake of the sacrament, if we are worthy, we are renewing our covenants, but are also foreshadowing a time when we will be with the Savior. John Taylor taught: “We have met to partake of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, for in partaking of the Sacrament we not only commemorate the death and sufferings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but we also shadow forth the time when he will come again and when we shall meet and eat bread with him in the kingdom of God. When we are thus assembled together, we may expect to receive guidance and blessings from God.”3
HOW TO AVOID BEING DECEIVED
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon beheld the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the right hand of his Father (D&C 76:20-24). This glorious vision took place on 16 February 1832 in Hiram, Ohio. The next vision opened to them on that day presented not only a warning to them but to all of us: they saw Lucifer or Satan cast out of heaven to the earth. The scripture records: “Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about” (D&C 76:29).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written: “Satan is a formal Hebrew name for the devil and means adversary, signifying that he wages open war with the truth and all who obey its principles.”4
The Prophet Joseph Smith experienced continued persecution against himself and the Church and said: “The enemies of this people will never get weary of their persecution against the Church, until they are overcome. I expect they will array everything against me that is in their power to control, and that we shall have a long and tremendous warfare. He that will war the true Christian warfare against the corruptions of these last days will have wicked men and angels of devils, and all the infernal powers of darkness continually arrayed against them.”5
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon both saw Satan and knew of his mission of destruction. In 1844, Joseph Smith died in full faith, a valiant death, with the name of the Lord upon his lips. Sidney Rigdon, who served as the Prophet’s first counselor for many years, failed in his attempt, after the death of Joseph Smith, to persuade Church members to follow him as the self-proclaimed guardian of the Church. He continued on the road to complete apostasy and never returned to the Church. The Church continued successfully under the guidance of the Lord’s authorized leadership, the Quorum of the Twelve.
How could it happen? How could Sidney Rigdon, David Whitmer, Thomas B. Marsh, and others be lost, when Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others were such stalwarts? We ask the same questions of those about us today. How can one fall while others exercise remarkable strength and cope successfully with many trials? A key to answering these questions is found in the 27th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD
We now come to the “key” or the specific counsel that if followed faithfully will permit us to “stand” as Joseph Smith did and not “fall” as Sidney Rigdon did. All of us who want to be faithful and stand against the enemies of truth and right should internalize vv. 15-18 of section 27 and also study Eph. 6:10-18 in the New Testament. We may all stand faithfully and overcome the things of this world, and be saved at the Lord’s coming and partake of the Sacrament with him, if we will put on God’s whole armor, and keep it on. No one can escape the battle; Satan makes war upon each servant of the Lord. To stand successfully and come off conqueror, we must wear the armor of the Lord. The six parts of the spiritual armor that we are to wear are enumerated.
The Armor of Truth
The first part of the armor is the girdle of armor that goes about the loins, the armor of truth. An ancient soldier wore a girdle of physical armor about his loins to protect vital parts of his body. A servant of the Lord wears the spiritual armor of “truth” to protect his virtue. Elder Harold B. Lee wrote: “Truth is to be the substance of which the girdle about your loins is to be formed if your virtue and vital strength is to be safeguarded.”6
The Breastplate of Righteousness
The next part of the armor is the “breastplate of righteousness.” One of the beatitudes says: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). We cannot build Zion without being pure in heart; to be pure in heart we must keep impurities out. That is done by wearing the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness means meeting the standards of that which is morally right and just.
Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
Elder Lee, commenting upon this part of God’s armor, said: “Your feet, which are to represent your goals or objectives in life, are to be shod. Shod with what? With the preparation of the gospel of peace…. He [Apostle Paul] knew that preparedness is the way to victory and that ‘eternal vigilance is the price of safety.’ Fear is the penalty of unpreparedness and aimless dawdling with opportunity.”7
The Shield of Faith
Fighting off Satan’s fiery darts (flaming arrows) requires a shield of faith. When persecution, heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, illness, etc., come into the life of a Latter-day Saint, the first thing he should do is get behind the shield of faith. He must let the Lord help him; if he does not, then Satan’s fiery darts may wound him spiritually. Some have sustained so many wounds that their recovery is lengthy, and there are some who have never recovered.
The Helmet of Salvation
To protect our mind, our ability to think properly, we need the “helmet of salvation.” Wilford Woodruff said that Oliver Cowdery at one time had a powerful testimony, but he “yielded to the temptation of the evil one.” Oliver began to think that he was smarter than Joseph Smith and wanted to direct the prophet; thus Oliver apostatized.8 We are all grateful to Oliver Cowdery for the great contributions he made to the Church. It is tragic that he did not keep the helmet of salvation in place. His thinking deviated from the truth first, and soon his actions followed.
The Sword of the Spirit
The sword of the Spirit is the word of God, which we are also to wear. The Lord never intended that his servants, his soldiers, fight only a defensive battle. He desires that we be on the offensive and help overcome evil, free mankind from the terrible effects of evil, and prepare the earth for the return of the Savior. The sword is primarily an offensive weapon. We are to take the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. Thus we are to study the scriptures, listen to the voices of the living prophets and have the companionship of the Holy Ghost as we move forward in God’s service.
One who wears God’s whole armor is happy and confident in the battle against evil. One who does not is devastated by the struggle. We must wear the armor always throughout life, keep it polished through service, and keep it in good repair through repentance.
Picture mentally two missionaries or a husband and wife dressed in God’s whole armor: the shining helmet, the beautiful breastplate, the glistening shield, the powerful sword, the girdle about the loins, and the footwear appropriate for the battle. It is difficult for honest-in-heart people to resist missionaries who come to their door dressed in the Lord’s armor. It is also difficult for children to resist the teachings, admonitions, and examples of parents who wear God’s whole armor.
On the other hand, picture mentally two missionaries or a father and mother wearing a tarnished helmet, a corroded breastplate, a rusted shield, a broken sword, a girdle about the loins that has slipped downward, and tattered footwear. How effective would two missionaries be in persuading someone to live gospel principles and become a member of the Lord’s Church? How effective would a father and mother be in convincing a son or daughter to give allegiance to the Lord and his gospel if they were dressed in such armor?
If we are to follow the Lord, resist evil, and build the kingdom of God on earth, we must follow the counsel of the Lord as given in section 27: “Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand” (D&C 27:15).
If we accept the Lord’s invitation to put on his whole armor, we will joyfully succeed in the battle and accomplish the Lord’s work. Regardless of the manner of the attack, regardless of the tactics used, we will be protected, overcome all, rejoice in the Lord’s goodness, and stand. We will have the privilege of partaking of the sacrament with the Lord Jesus Christ and all of the faithful in his kingdom after his triumphant return to the earth.
Not Following the Prophet
During the early years of the Church, many people claimed to receive revelations to guide the Church or sought to correct the Prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 28:2, 6-7; 43:1–3). D&C 28 was revealed when Hiram Page claimed to receive revelations for the entire Church, and D&C 43 was revealed when others made similar claims.
Just months after the organization of the Church, the Prophet returned to Harmony, Pennsylvania. While there, he received a letter from Oliver Cowdery which gave him both “sorrow and uneasiness.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “He wrote to inform me that he had discovered an error in one of the commandments—Book of Doctrine and Covenants: (D&C 20:37) ‘And truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto a remission of their sins.’ The above quotation, he said, was erroneous, and added: ‘I command you in the name of God to erase those words, that no priestcraft be amongst us!’ I immediately wrote to him in reply, in which I asked him by what authority he took upon him to command me to alter or erase, to add to or diminish from, a revelation or commandment from Almighty God.
“A few days afterwards I visited him and Mr. Whitmer’s family, when I found the family in general of his opinion concerning the words above quoted, and it was not without both labor and perseverance that I could prevail with any of them to reason calmly on the subject. However, Christian Whitmer at length became convinced that the sentence was reasonable, and according to Scripture; and finally, with his assistance, I succeeded in bringing, not only the Whitmer family, but also Oliver Cowdery to acknowledge that they had been in error, and that the sentence in dispute was in accordance with the rest of the commandment.”9
This was not the end of their confusion. Peter Whitmer, Sr., invited Joseph and Emma to live with him in Fayette, New York. They arrived at Fayette during the last week of August, 1830 “amidst the congratulations of our brethren and friends.” There he discovered that Hiram Page, one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, possessed a stone through which he claimed to receive revelations about the building of Zion and the order of the Church. Oliver Cowdery, the Whitmers, and others believed these claims, which were “entirely at variance with the order of God’s house, as laid down in the New Testament, as well as in our late revelations.”10
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “As a conference meeting had been appointed for the 26th day of September, I thought it wisdom not to do much more than to converse with the brethren on the subject, until the conference should meet. Finding, however, that many especially the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery, were believing much in the things set forth by this stone, we thought best to inquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter; and before conference, we received the following” [D&C 28].11
HOW TO AVOID BEING DECEIVED
By Following the Prophet
In this revelation, the Lord made it clear that only the President of the Church has the right to receive revelations for the Church.
Presiding Bishop H. David Burton said, “One of [Satan’s] insidious strategies is to progressively soften our senses regarding what is right and wrong. Satan would have us convinced that it is fashionable to lie and cheat. He encourages us to view pornography by suggesting that it prepares us for the real world. He would have us believe that immorality is an attractive way of life and that obedience to the commandments of our Father in Heaven is old-fashioned. Satan constantly bombards us with deceptive propaganda desirably packaged and carefully disguised.”12
President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency taught:
“When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or any extraordinary gift or inspiration, convey something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities, Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how plausible it may appear. . . . In secular s well as spiritual affairs, Saints may receive Divine guidance and revelation affecting themselves, but this does not convey authority to direct others. . . .
“The history of the Church records many pretended revelations claimed by imposters or zealots who believed in the manifestations they sought to lead other persons to accept, and in every instance, disappointment, sorrow and disaster have resulted therefrom.”13
Only the Prophet is authorized to receive revelations for the Church (D&C 28:1–8). President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency taught, “The Lord has . . . appointed one man at a time on the earth to hold the keys of revelation to the entire body of the Church in all its organizations, authorities, ordinances and doctrines. The spirit of revelation is bestowed upon all its members for the benefit and enlightenment of each individual receiving its inspiration, and according to the sphere in which he or she is called to labor. But for the entire Church, he who stands at the head is alone appointed to receive revelations by way of commandment and as the end of controversy.”14
We must avoid being deceived by those who claim falsely to have received revelation for the Church (D&C 43:4-7).
1. This lesson is taken and adapted from “Where I Am Ye Shall Be Also” (D&C 25 and 27) Leon R. Hartshorn. In Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 1: The Doctrine and Covenants .
2. History of the Church, 1:106.
3. In Journal of Discourses 14:185.
4. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , p. 677.
5. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 259.
6. Stand Ye in Holy Places , p. 331.
7. Stand Ye in Holy Places , p. 333.
8. Millennial Star 57 [30 May 1895]: 339-40.
9. History of the Church, 1:105.
10. History of the Church, 1:110.
11. History of the Church, 1:108-110.
12. In Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 60; or Ensign, May 1993, 46.
13. Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose, “A Warning Voice,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1913, 1148–49.
14. In James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:270.