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This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
- D&C 98:11-15. After setting clear and unambigous standards for civil laws and the selection of leaders, the Lord sets forth the standards of behavior expected of those who seek to be "worth of [the Lord]" (verse 15). These standards require not only a willingness to lay down one's life to follow the word of the Lord, but to live "by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God" (verse 11).
- D&C 98:11. This verse sets forth the standard of living for all Saints. First, we are expected to "forsake all evil." Some of the things that come of evil, such as bad laws and wicked rulers, were outlined in previous verses. Here we are told to forsake all evil. And more than that, we are told to "cleave unto all good." It isn't enough to avoid evil, we have to actively embrace that which is good.
- Beyond forsaking evil and cleaving unto the good, the ultimate standard of behavior for Latter-day Saints is living by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God." This implies following the words of living prophets, as well as trying to best apply scriptural counsel given to Saints in past dispensations.
- D&C 98:12. After proving his standard for our behavior, the Lord explains his purpose in setting this standard--to try us and prove us. While the Lord expects us to do everything he commands, he here reminds us that he doesn't expect us to do everything at once, but that if we are faithful, we will be given hiw word "line upon line." As we are faithful in living by his word, he gives us more of his word, to "prove us" or test how much we are willing to accept.
- D&C 98:13. Here the Lord shows us how far this testing may go--all the way to our potentially being called to lay down our lives. While many Saints may be willing to lay down their life, it appears here that this is only expected in extreme cases as an ultimate test. What seems to be more important here is to make the sacrifices needed to "live by every word" as we are given it "line upon line." We can't short cut the process of gradual and increasing obedience by a one-time sacrifice or martyrdom. What is important are the day to day trials and tests.
- Those that are called to lay down their lives, or lose their lives while following the Lord, are promised eternal life. Not as a call to self-sacrifice oneself, but as a comfort, a reminder, to ease the hearts of those who might be suffering.
- D&C 98:14. Here the Lord seems to shift the focus of the revelation. While the prior verses are explaining the importance of obedience, here he takes that promise of eternal life for those who lose their lives while following him, and uses it to give peace of heart to those worried about their enemies. Here he says, don't worry about your enemies. If we are killed while "abiding" in his covenant, then we will have proven ourselves worthy. So, true Saints aren't to be afraid if they follow the Lord. The worst that enemies can do to them is to kill them and send them to their eternal reward.
- D&C 98:15. While the Saints shouldn't fear death or their enemies, here the Lord outlines the true nature of the test, and perhaps something to be more afraid of: if we don't abide in the covenent, if we don't live by every word, then we will not be found worthy of him. This is the true test. Will we do whatever he says, even if it means laying down our life, or will we fail to do that and be found unworthy.
- D&C 98:16-22. After explaining the true nature of our test as Latter-day Saints--will we live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, even to the laying down of our lives, or will we set other lower standards and be found not worthy--the Lord here sets out the political application of this principle. This political standard would seem to offer a challenge to Latter-day Saints, since it differs in many ways from that of modern governments.
- D&C 98:16. After being told not to fear our enemies, and that we should be more willing to die than to disobey the word of the Lord, the Lord here outlines the political mission of Latter-day Saints. We are told to renounce war and proclaim peace. Rather than fear our enemies and attack them, we are to forsake this evil and cleave unto the good, which in the Lord here states to be diligently turning the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children. Modern Saints do not have time for warfare, because they need to be spending their time saving the world by performing holy priesthood ordinances.
- D&C 98:17. In addition to the saving ordinances of baptism for the living and the dead, Saints are to spend their time as missionaries. This involves not just the Gentile nations, but specifically working to turn the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets. Rather than fear our enemies, and supporting warfare, the Latter-day Saint mission to the Jews is to help them more fully embrace the words of the prophets.
- The Lord states that if we don't do this, if we do not forsake and renounce war to perform the holy ordinances needed by the world, the whole earth will be cursed. As Latter-day Saints, the political and moral outcomes of our failure to follow every word of the Lord, appears to be global pain and suffering.
- D&C 98:18. However, the Lord doesn't want us to dwell on this negative vision. He doesn't want our hearts to be troubled. He wants us to be anxiously engaged in the work that he has outlined for us, and for us to have faith in him and the eternal kingdom that he will establish, where there is a place for all of us.
- D&C 98:20. While we are to take comfort in our relationship to the Lord and his promises, we shouldn't take comfort in our status as members of the Church. Here the Lord expreses his displeasure with Church members who have not forsaken their sins as required in the above verses. The Lord is displeases with their pride and covetousness. He had given the Saints "words of wisdom and eternal life" in Kirtland, including initial temple ordinances, and many had refused to follow these additional words as they proceeded from his mouth.
- v 21-25: After outlining standards of personal righteousness and a political vision for the Saints, the Lord gives more explicit counsel on how to defend our families. The standards of personal defense outlined here would appear to differ from the legal standards of many modern societies, and offers perhaps a higher way of dealing with personal enemies and attacks.
- D&C 98:21. After telling the Saints that he is displeased with many who did not follow his "words of wisdom and eternal life" offered in Kirtland (verses 19-20), the Lord seems to imply that some of the suffering experienced by the Saints in Missouri is a result of this disobedience. Here the Lord reminds them that if they will not obey his counsels, he will "chasten" them in an attempt to get them to repent. In this case, it would appear that by not following his counsel, he was unable to protect the Saints in Missouri, so the Saints may have brought some of the "chastening" upon themselves by denying the Lord the opportunity to protect them.
- D&C 98:22. While the Saints were buffeted by their enemies in Missouri because they wouldn't follow the revelations given to them in Kirtland, here the Lord reminds them that if they will follow him, he will protect them by turning "away all wrath and indignation from you" to such a degree that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against you." The Lord will protect the Saints if they follow his words. If they do not follow his words, they are left to depend upon their own strength, and will suffer the consequences.
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Prompts for further study
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- D&C 98:11. What challenges face Latter-day Saints seeking to obey the commandment to "forsake all evil and cleave unto all good" in our modern world?
- D&C 98:11, 14. Does the Lord really expect us to do whatever it takes to obey his word, even to the laying down of our lives, if we are to be found worthy?
- D&C 98:13-14. In what ways might we be willing to lay down our lives, but not willing to otherwise "live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God"?
- D&C 98:14. Why shouldn't Latter-day Saints be afraid of our enemies? What application might this have for Saints living in a world filled with wars and terrorism?
- D&C 98:16. How can Latter-day Saints renounce war and proclaim peace?
- D&C 98:16. How does this commandment to renounce war and proclaim peace relate to our expectation to support "honest and wise" rulers (verse 10) or to being subject to our political leaders?
- D&C 98:16. Could one of the evils that comes from not choosing and upholding "honest and wise" rulers be that dishonest or unwise rulers may lead us to war without justification from the Lord?
- D&C 98:17. How might the whole earth be cursed if Latter-day Saints do not renounce war and proclaim peace?
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