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- Doctrine and Covenants 14:2 — 𝚃𝚑𝚎 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚍 𝚘𝚏 𝙶𝚘𝚍 𝚒𝚜 “𝚚𝚞𝚒𝚌𝚔 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚙𝚘𝚠𝚎𝚛𝚏𝚞𝚕.”
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Come Follow Me with Casey Paul Griffiths (Doctrine and Covenants 18-19, Feb 22-28) – powered by Happy Scribe
If the Savior came walking into the room you were in, would you be excited or scared or upset? Would you want to leave? Would you want to stay? And what questions would you ask him? Well, that’s the dilemma faced by the three witnesses of The Book of Mormon in Sections 18 and 19 that the doctrine and covenants, all three of these men had stood in the presence of an angel and had heard the voice of God and had seen the place and other artifacts and testified to the world that the record was true.
But each one of them wondered, now what and what else am I supposed to do? And what does the Lord have in store for me? So first, in Section 18 of the Doctrine and Covenants, Oliver Cowdrey and David Whitmer had the opportunity to ask the Lord for revelation through Joseph Smith about what they should do. Joseph Smith later labeled this revelation having to do with the calling of 12 apostles in these last days and also instructions as to the building up of the Church of Christ according to the fullness of the Gospel.
Interestingly, in this revelation, the Lord uses the word apostle for the first time to describe both David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdrey. And we don’t know if David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdrey were apostles in the same sense, we use the word today. In a general sense, the word apostle just means one sent forth as in one sent forth to preach the gospel. Both David and Oliver were genuinely sent forth to preach the gospel. But there’s also a part of this revelation that is addressed directly to the Twelve Apostles that the Lord intended to call the lead the church.
These apostles, which lead the church today as members of the Quorum of the Twelve on the first presidency, are the most important leaders we have. And David and Oliver were given the chance to seek out and find them. They were also given the description of what an apostle was and the knowledge an apostle needs to know to carry out his duties. The very first thing the Lord shared with them after he called them apostles was this simple truth that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.
And while Oliver and David may have never been called into the Quorum of the Twelve, they did perform a very, very important duty, which was six years after this revelation was given. And they’re given in this revelation a special calling, which is to search out and find the quorum of the twelve. According to the history of the church, President Joseph Smith Jr. said that the first business of the meeting was for the three witnesses The Book of Mormon to pray each one and then proceed to choose twelve men from the church as apostles, to go to all nations, kindred’s tongues and people.
The three witnesses Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, United in prayer. The witnesses were then blessed by laying on the hands of the presidency. The witnesses then, according to the former commandment, proceeded to make the choice of the twelve and the men that they chose became amazing, wonderful leaders in the church. Brigham Young was among this group, Heber Kimball, Parley Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Patten, the first apostolic martyr in this dispensation, and others served in this form of the twelve and were chosen by the three witnesses.
Now, a later revelation given to Joseph Smith designated that the apostles as special witnesses in the name of Christ and all the world. And in that sense, David and Oliver were also apostles. They became special witnesses of Christ the shared what they had seen directly from the angel, and that they had heard the voice of God testifying to them and teaching them as to what they were and what they were supposed to do. So they might not have been apostles in the way that we use the word, but they were apostles as one sent forth and apostles as people who became special.
Witnesses of Christ Section nineteen contains another special witness of Christ, but this time given to Martin Harris. S. 19, was received during the time that The Book of Mormon was at the printer being printed, and it may have come in the summer of eighteen twenty nine or early in the winter of eighteen thirty. The point was Martin Harris was nervous about the book being printed. The person that they had contracted to print the book, EB Grandon, was very, very sticky about the requirements immigrant and refused to print any copies until he was paid up front in advance informed.
And this involved a considerable amount of money. Martin was going to have to sell his farm in order to pay for this. But it also seems like after these financial concerns on the surface, there were deeper concerns lingered in Martin’s mind about his eternal welfare, especially after the loss of the manuscript, because the first thing that the Lord addresses in Martin’s revelation isn’t money, it’s hell. It seems like Martin was really, really nervous that because of the things that he’d done in the past and the role that he may have played in losing the original manuscript of the book Mormon, he was going to end up in endless torment.
Now, endless torment doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. That’s a phrase that doesn’t appear in the Bible, but it appears seven times in the Book of Mormon and just the words endless and are enough to send a chill down your spine. So Martin wanted to know exactly what endless torment meant, and the savior was willing to provide him with an answer. What the savior taught, Martin, was that endless torment is not endless. The Lord said, I am endless and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless.
Punishment for endless is my name. Wherefore eternal punishment is God’s punishment and endless punishment is God’s punishment. In other words, God is in the sort of person that’s interested in punishing people eternally or endlessly. It’s called endless punishment because that’s his name. But there is an end to it the way James.
How much explain this was, he said to hell. There is an exit as well as an entrance, no man will be kept in how longer than is necessary to bring him to a fitness for something better. When he reaches that stage, the prison doors will open and there will be rejoicing among the hosts of heaven to welcome him into a better state. The once the savior had cleared up, the burden wasn’t going to go into endless torment regardless of what he did.
The Savior then tried to convince Martin to repent by sharing a little bit about his history. A lot of us are familiar with this picture. It’s in just about every chapel owned by the church. It shows Jesus, Christ and Gethsemani and it shows a man in a white robe kneeling down and sharing a dignified prayer. Now, this image is strictly conjecture because in the Bible there is no firsthand account of what happens against somebody other than Jesus Christ and an angel that appeared to him.
There were no witnesses of what happened in testimony. The three witnesses the Christ chose, Peter James and John Paul, came into Gethsemani and then fell asleep and didn’t actually witness the savior suffering in the garden. In fact, the only firsthand account of the savior suffering in the Garden of Gethsemani that we have isn’t found in the Bible. It’s found in the doctrine covenants. And it was shared by the savior to help convince Martin Harris of the need for him to repent.
The savior earnestly pleaded with him, saying for behold, I, God have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent, but if they would not repent, they must suffer. Even as I was suffering, cause myself, even God the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit. And would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink.
Nevertheless, glory be to the father. And I took and finished my preparations under the children of men. Now Martin was convinced to repent and he did mortgage his farm.
And we all Martin a huge debt for financing the printing of the Book of Mormon. Five thousand copies were printed and Martin became one of the most successful and ardent missionaries of the Book of Mormon.
He not only shared The Book of Mormon with people he believed deeply and with the Book of Mormon dtente, one outside observer of the church said Harris was a proverbially peaceful man as well as an honest man. He was slow to retaliate in offense when urging the sale of the book with a certain anxious confidence in the genuineness of the Smith revelation, he fell into a debate about its character with a neighbor of an irascible temperament. His opponent became angry and struck him, Martin Harris, with a severe blow upon the right of his face, instantly turning towards the assailant.
The other cheek, Martin quoted the Christian maxim read from the Book of Mormon. It’s also found in the Gospel of Matthew that whosoever shall be on the right cheek turn to him the other also. So all three.
David, Oliver and Martin sought the Lord. Some of them received a commission to go forth. Some of them received a commission to sacrifice financially. But all of them gave and all of them became special witnesses of Christ and a unique sense apostle’s in every sense of the word.