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Relationship to Section 84 The relationship of Verses 84:60-120 to the rest of Section 84 is discussed at D&C 84.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 84:60-120 include:
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- D&C 84:61. Here the Lord takes up what might be read as an implication of verse 57 (see commentary there) and renders it a commandment: "not only to say, but to do" here becomes "remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you." It is key that with the fulfillment of this one commandment, the sins (the darkened minds, the slighting of the scriptures, etc.) of the saints are to be forgiven. The one commandment is, however, not quite so simple as just "preaching the word." What the Lord seems to be commanding the saints to do specifically is to proclaim the gospel in a certain way, as guided, that is, by remaining "steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer." What this means must be worked out, and the working out must be guided by the preliminary commentary worked out at verse 57.
- The most important point seems to be that the Lord here draws together the word (communication) and the Word (worship or praise): the saints are to declare the word to the world, but they are to do so while constantly presenting themselves before the Word. The work of proclaiming the gospel, in other words, is not only a question of making sure that a message gets across. At the same time, neither is it a question only of praying that God accomplishes the work. Perhaps the two tasks--here drawn together--might be better understood by tying them to a distinction drawn in D&C 20:57: vocal prayer vs. secret prayer. In that verse, the priests are commanded to visit the house of the members of the Church and to exhort them to "pray vocally and in secret." The distinction is fruitful: vocal prayer seems primarily to be a question of communal praise, and secret prayer seems primarily to be a question of personal counsel and even--perhaps often--complaint. These two tasks to which one is summoned by the visiting priest might be taken as a guide to thinking the question this verse raises: to "remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer" might just be to "pray...in secret," and "bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you" might just be to "pray vocally." In other words, bearing testimony before all the world might well be a question of praise, of going before the world quite simply to praise God in His glory. Remaining in the meanwhile steadfast in solemn prayer might well be, then, the continual work of counseling with and complaining to the Lord. Before men, one praises God; in one's closet, one chides Him.
- These two attitudes--which are here drawn together in the same task--might offer an interpretive framework for reading, say, the collective Psalms: there are psalms of complaint (all of which are written in a very personal I-Thou idiom), and there are psalms of praise (all of which involve others in the prayer, as with the constant refrain "Hallelujah," "praise ye the Lord"). What is so peculiar about all of this is that the two tasks are, for all intents and purposes, here drawn together into one task: one is to praise God before the world while counseling with the Lord in secret. The combination calls to mind, perhaps, the double task Paul gives to the Corinthian saints: "Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret" (1 Cor 14:13). Paul, later in the same chapter, states this task negatively, and perhaps for that reason, more explicitly, more powerfully: "But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God" (1 Cor 14:28). Two tasks are, according to Paul, to be performed together: prayer directed precisely to God, and words of exhortation directed precisely to the church. In short, faith (private prayer) without works (the communicating word) is dead, and works (the communicating word) without faith (private prayer) is dead.
- But perhaps this tie to Paul's discourse on the gift of tongues opens up another way of understanding the double task and the distinction drawn in D&C 20:57: secret prayer might be a question of "the tongue of angels" (2 Ne 31:13) and vocal prayer of "the tongues of men" (1 Cor 13:1). The question might be tied, that is, to themes that pervade Isa 6 and 28: a missionary--one sent specifically by God as Isaiah had been--is one who inhabits two realms, one who has been in the Holy of Holies and yet dwells on earth, one who thus speaks two entirely different tongues (the angelic tongue registering as sheer noise in the earth, and the tongues of men registering as inarticulate cries in the heavens). To do missionary work--and, according to D&C 20:57, patriarchal work--in God's way is, in the end, to be the link between two realms, to be after the order of the Son of God, to be like the Christ who in His very incarnation is the veil that faces both the heavenly and the earthly realms (see Heb 10:20). Perhaps it is for this very reason that missionary work--and fatherhood, for that matter--are questions of priesthood.
- D&C 84:63: Friends. See related lexical note on D&C 88:3. See also usage later in this same chapter in verse 77.
- D&C 84:85. One way to interpret the phrase, "take no thought before hand what ye shall say", which is parallel to vs 81, "take ye no thought for the morrow" is to think about temperance. We have been counseled to "prepare every needful thing." (D&C 88:119) There is a good and appropriate amount of time to spend preparing. Once we have spent that amount of time, it becomes worrying about "what ye shall say." Worrying about what you shall say, shows a lack of trust. Prepare for the morrow, don't worry about the morrow. Prepare for what you shall say, don't go overboard and worry about what ye shall say. Once you are prepared (in whatever form that will take), "treasure up in your minds continually the words of life" and spend your energy and resources living in the present.
- If you link the ideas from D&C 88:118-126 (preparing with temperance and above all charity which bonds perfectness and peace (godliness?) and I will receive you.) with these verses 81-85, there are some common themes that possibly connect with ideas in the commentary on 88:51-65 (vanity, turning away from the world in hope for "a better world", breaking improper dichotomies by combining hope with faith that leads to charity and action, drawing together the word (communication) and the Word (worship or praise) to reach the world where and how they can best be reached (which may begin with or without faith), and preparing the world to receive God). D&C 88:118 says that "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith." This seems to reference the same ideas in the commentary on verse 57 of radically distancing the two poles of studying the words of wisdom out of the best books, the best minds of man, the "words of life", experiences of man maybe. I'm hesitant to use the term "philosophies of man" because it can have a negative connotation, but is there a positive side to "the philosophies of man" that we are excluding in our study and use in preaching the gospel, because we see it as opposed to faith? Could these also be included in the "words of life" that we should be treasuring?
- Verse 118 tells us that not all have faith. Not having faith does not exclude those people from truth. Truth stands alone, with or without faith because it is eternally truth. For people without faith, we are counseled here to use the "words of wisdom from the best books" available and compliment that with faith. Can we say, "These two attitudes--which are here drawn together in the same task", revealing the truth of God through the "words of life"? Is the Lord asking us to "destroy the dichotomy" and "return to the rigor of the protestant student of the word" combined, not mingled with scripture. (revised from commentary in 88:57)
- D&C Sunday School Lesson 13 is entitled, "This Generation Shall Have My Word Through You." The lesson focuses on all the incredible knowledge we have received through Joseph Smith. In likening the scriptures unto us, could D&C 84 be teaching us what we need to do to be an effective instrument in fulfilling our part of the covenant to share God's words to this generation through us? Can we be the angels that are bringing God's word to help bring them to Christ? Can we be the servant that brings forth fruit one hundred fold?
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- D&C 84:85. Are we really all expected to teach this way? If not, then how are we to interpret this verse? In President Ezra Taft Benson's Talk, "The Book of Mormon-Keystone of Our Religion", he references this verse and says that, "The scriptures are called "the words of life". What else could "the words of life" include? How do we "treasure up in your minds continually the words of life"? Are the "words of life" different from the "words of eternal life"? Does this relate to the polarity/dichotomy of sola scritura (the word) (see vs 57 commentary) juxtaposed with life (in the present worldly state) since we have just been counseled in verses 81-84 to take no thought for the morrow, live life in the now.
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