Our ninth article of faith states, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Thus, we believe in continuous revelation from the Lord to His Church. The purpose of this lesson is to show that the Lord continues to guide the Church through revelation to latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators.
Every Prophet Receives Revelation
Elder Harold B. Lee said during the Mutual Improvement Association conference of 1969: “I know that Jesus Christ lives and that he’s closer to this Church and appears more often in Holy places than any of us realize excepting sometimes to those whom he makes personal appearance.”1
President Harold B. Lee said, “Elder John A. Widtsoe of the council of the Twelve once told of a discussion he had with a group of stake officers. In the course of the discussion someone said to him, ‘Brother Widtsoe, how long has it been since the Church received a revelation?’ Brother Widtsoe rubbed his chin thoughtfully and said in reply, ‘Oh, probably since last Thursday.”2
President Spencer W. Kimball declared:
“We testify to the world that revelation continues and that the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is, since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord.
“Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption.”3
Prophets, Seers, and Revelators
Members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators (D&C 1:38; 68:1-4). We sustain them as such at every general conference of the Church.
These apostles and prophets continue to receive revelation to guide the Church, and their direction is “the will of the Lord, . . . the mind of the Lord, . . the word of the Lord, . . . the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (D&C 68:4). But only one of them, the President of the Church, receives revelation and direction for the entire Church.
In Joseph Smith’s day, and a few times since then, new revelations were placed into the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations that appear therein are accepted as scripture and doctrine for the Church. But many, many more revelations are given for the general guidance of the Church, which are not published in the Doctrine and Covenants. So how do these revelations get presented to the members of the Church?
During the administration of President David O. McKay, beginning in the 1950s, the Church became a worldwide organization. In an effort to ensure that all Church programs everywhere in the world were achieving the Church’s sacred objectives, the Quorum of the Twelve announced the priesthood correlation program. A committee, chaired by Elder Harold B. Lee of the Quorum of the Twelve, was assigned to conduct a thorough, prayerful study of how this might best be done. In 1961, with First Presidency approval, Elder Lee announced that policies would be developed to govern planning, writing, and implementation of all Church curriculum materials.
At the same time, the Church sought to correlate all programs and activities—including welfare, missionary, and family history work—to better accomplish the Church’s mission.4
● D&C 84:109–110 Every part of the Church organization is vital and must work together in harmony for all of the Lord’s purposes to be achieved.
● D&C 132:8 As the Lord’s Church, it must always be orderly and not confusing.
Church correlation continues to operate today by revelation from the Lord to His prophets. Through the process of Church correlation, they preserve “the right way of God” (Jacob 7:7) so that members are not “carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Every Church unit everywhere in the world teaches the scriptures and doctrine in purity, avoiding apostasy and heresy. Ultimately Church correlation is intended to help accomplish, the mission of the Church, which is to invite all people to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32; see also D&C 20:59). It does so by:
— Maintaining purity of doctrine.
— Emphasizing the importance of the family and the home.
— Placing all the work of the Church under priesthood direction.
— Establishing proper relationships among the organizations of the Church.
— Achieving unity and order in the Church.
— Ensuring simplicity of Church programs and materials.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve said that correlation is a process “in which we take all the programs of the Church, bring them to one focal point, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, involve all members of the Church in the operation—and do it all under priesthood direction.”5
Our lesson manual lists all of the following as being emphasized through correlation:
Family Home Evening. The correlation effort has emphasized the importance of the family through the establishment of the family home evening program. Parents are to hold a weekly family home evening to teach and strengthen their families. Monday evenings are reserved for family home evening throughout the Church and should be kept free from Church meetings and activities.
Supporting the Home. The correlation effort has also emphasized the importance of the family by clarifying the role of the organizations, programs, and activities of the Church in relation to the family. The Church Handbook of Instructions states: “The most important place for gospel teaching and leadership is in the family and the home (see Mosiah 4:14–15; D&C 68:25–28). . . Quorums, auxiliaries, programs, and activities in the Church should strengthen and support the family. They should enhance gospel-centered family activities, not compete with them.”6 The correlation effort also emphasizes that Church programs and activities should not make unnecessary demands on the effort, time, or other resources of Church members.
Unification and Coordination. One important role of correlation is to unify and coordinate the auxiliary organizations of the Church—the Relief Society Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School. For many years these organizations were somewhat independent. At the general Church level, some had their own magazines, funding, and conferences. As they grew, they became increasingly complex and often had unnecessary duplication in their programs and materials. Through the process of correlation, such complexity and duplication have been reduced.
Priesthood Leadership for Auxiliaries. Through correlation, there has also been an emphasis on auxiliary organizations functioning under the direction of priesthood leaders. For example, in a ward these organizations all function under the direction of the bishopric.
Church publications, lesson manuals and Church magazines are produced to help members learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. The correlation process helps ensure that these materials are scripture-based, doctrinally accurate, and appropriate for the intended audience. All Church publications are planned, prepared, reviewed, and implemented under the direction of the First Presidency and. Quorum of the Twelve.
One result of correlation in Church publications is that adult and youth Gospel Doctrine classes and most Primary classes study the same book of scripture during the year. This can encourage and facilitate discussion of the scriptures in the home.
Home visits by priesthood holders have been part of the Church since the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 20:53–55). As part of the correlation effort, these visits were reemphasized in the 1960s and called home teaching. Home teaching continues to be a vital responsibility of teachers, priests, and Melchizedek priesthood holders.
Every President of the Church since Joseph Smith has received visions and revelations for the Church. Some of the most prominent in recent history include the following.
Lowering Ages for Missionary Service
In the opening session of October Conference of 2012, President Thomas S. Monson announced:
“I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.
“As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.”7
This announcement precipitated a large increase in the number of young people serving missions to about 80,000. It also demonstrated that the day for the Lord to “hasten His work in its time” had come (D&C 88:73).
In June 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball announced a revelation that extended the blessings of the priesthood to every worthy male member of the Church. Today, this revelation resides in the Doctrine and Covenants as Official Declaration 2.
New LDS Editions of the Scriptures
The Bible. In 1979, after years of careful work under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, the Church published a Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible. This edition of the Bible has the same text as the King James Version, but it includes special study aids, such as the Topical Guide, the Bible Dictionary, and footnotes referring to passages in other books of scripture and to excerpts from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible.
The Triple Combination. In 1981, the Church published a new edition of the triple combination (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in a single volume), with expanded footnotes and index entries. Footnotes in the Bible refer to scriptures in the Book of Mormon, and many footnotes in the Book of Mormon refer to scriptures in the Bible.
These references and topical guides vastly improve our ability to study the scriptures in a meaningful way. For example, note the many listings about the Savior. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve called this list “the most comprehensive compilation of scriptural references on the subject of Jesus Christ that has ever been assembled in the history of the world.”8
● Ezekiel 37:15–19 As we carry and study these new scriptures we fulfill the prophecy of Ezekiel that “the stick of Judah” (the Bible) and “the stick of Ephraim” (the Book of Mormon) become “one in [our] hand”.
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve observed: “The stick or record of Judah—the Old Testament and the New Testament—and the stick or record of Ephraim—the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ—are now woven together in such a way that as you pore over one you are drawn to the other; as you learn from one you are enlightened by the other. They are indeed one in our hands.”9
Soon after these scriptures were printed, Elder Boyd K. Packer prophesied: “With the passing of years, these scriptures will produce successive generations of faithful Christians who know the Lord Jesus Christ and are disposed to obey His will. . .. The revelations will be opened to them as to no other [generation] in the history of the world. Into their hands now are placed the sticks of Joseph and of Judah. They will develop a gospel scholarship beyond that which their forebears could achieve. They will have the testimony that Jesus is the Christ and be competent to proclaim Him and to defend Him.”10
In the April 1995 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley made an observation that shows that Elder Packer’s words are being fulfilled: “I look back to my own youth. Neither young men nor young women were doing much scripture reading at that time. What a marvelous change has been wrought. A new generation is arising who are familiar with the word of the Lord.”11
Additional Quorums of the Seventy
As the Church has grown, the Lord has revealed how general Church administration should change to meet the needs of members all over the world. These changes have been especially evident in the organization of additional Quorums of the Seventy.
● D&C 107:25, 34 The Seventy have tremendous responsibilities in the Church.
For many years there were only seven General Authorities of the Church who served as Seventies. They made up the First council of the Seventy. In 1975, others were called; they served in the First Quorum of the Seventy. Further expansion came in 1989, when a Second Quorum of the Seventy was added. Today, there are eight quorums of seventy.
Area Authorities. In April 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the calling of new local officers, called Area Authorities, who would serve for a period of about six years.12 Two years later, in 1997, President Hinckley announced that Area Authorities would be ordained Seventies and would form the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy. Unlike Seventies who serve as General Authorities, Area Authority Seventies serve in the areas in which they live and continue in their present employment.13
● D&C 107:93–97 Additional Quorums of the Seventy are authorized in this revelation.
President Hinckley said: “With these respective quorums in place, we have established a pattern under which the Church may grow to any size with an organization of Area Presidencies and Area Authority Seventies, chosen and working across the world according to need. Now, the Lord is watching over His kingdom. He is inspiring its leadership to care for its ever growing membership.”14
We believe in continuous revelation. President Spencer W. Kimball said “the sound of the voice of the Lord [to His prophets] is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal.” How grateful we should be that we are led by living prophets who can bring us the word of the Lord on a continuing basis as the events of the world and the Church require. “We thank Thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter days!”
1. MIA Conference Address, 29 June 1969, Church Historical Department.
2. Stand Ye in Holy Places , 132-33.
3. In Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 115; or Ensign, May 1977, 78.
4. Our Heritage, A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 117–118.
5. Let Every Man Learn His Duty [pamphlet, 1976], 2.
6. Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders , 299.
7. “Welcome to Conference,” opening conference address for the October general conference, 2012.
8. “The Peaceable Followers of Christ,” Ensign, Apt 1998, 64.
9. In Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53.
10. In Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 53.
11. In Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 117; or Ensign, May 1995, 87.
12. See Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 71-72; or Ensign, May 1995, 52.
13. See Conference Report, Apt 1997, 4-5; or Ensign, May 1997, 5-6.
14. In Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 5; or Ensign, May 1997, 6.