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Gospel Doctrine Lesson 7: How We Taught This Topic in the Past

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 08, 2009

Lesson 7: “The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel”

I have been unable to find any previous manual teaching these first principles and ordinances as a group and drawing significantly from the Doctrine and Covenants or Church history (although there are plenty of such lessons in general “gospel principles” manuals). Instead, the D&C manuals have tended to emphasize the single “first principle” of repentance (or at least warning of the consequences of unrepented sin), leaning heavily on Section 19.

As usual, if you find this post at all helpful, check back again just before you teach it — I may have found and added other lessons in the meantime.

1900: Deseret Sunday School Union Leaflets

Lesson 204. – Punishment for Sin

Texts.

The wicked are to be punished:

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins. (from No. 2 of the Articles of Faith.)

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezek. 18:4. See also verse 20.)

For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble. And the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (Malachi 4:1.)

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28. See also Luke 12:4, 5.)

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 13:41. 42.)

Judgment to be rendered according to works:

By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matt. 12:37.)

He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done; and there is no respect of persons. (Col. 3:25.)

Every man shall bear his own burden. (Gala. 6:5.)

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Rev. 20;12. See also Gen. 4:7; Job 34:11; Isa. 59:18; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; I Cor. 3:8; II Nephi I:13; 9:27; 28:23. Doc. & Cov. 104:9; 63:17.)

Great punishment for those who sin wilfully:

If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Heb. 10:26.)

For, if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (II Peter 2:20.)

The extreme punishment is reserved for the sons of perdition:

And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God, who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son, whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father – was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him – he was Lucifer – a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen! even a son of the morning. … thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves, through the power of the devil, to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power – they are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born, For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity; Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come, Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father – having crucified him unto themselves, and put him to an open shame. These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels. And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath; For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made. (Doc. & Cov. 76:25-27; 31-39.)

Wherefore, he saves all except them; they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment; and the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows, Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof: nevertheless I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again; Wherefore the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof they understand not, neither any man except them who are ordained unto this condemnation. (Doc. & Cov. 76:44-48.)

God’s punishment is called endless punishment:

And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless; Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand. Nevertheless it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment. Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory; wherefore I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is mete unto you to know, even as mine apostles. I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that ye may enter into my rest; For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it? for, behold, 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, Endless punishment is God’s punishment. (Doc. & Cov. 19:4-12.)

Notes.

Malachi. – The last of the prophets whose writings are recorded in the Old Testament. The book bearing his name is chiefly devoted to reproofs of the people for their wickedness, to prophecies of the coming of Christ, and to prophecies concerning the last dispensation.

Colossians. – The people who lived at or near Colossus or Colossae, a city of Phrygia, on the river Lycus, near Laodicea, in what is now Asia Minor (see map). The New Testament book bearing this name is an epistle from the Apostle Paul to the saints living in the region named. the epistle is supposed to have been written from Ephesus.

Galatians. – The people of Galatia – a central province of Asia Minor (see map.) The book bearing this name is an epistle of the apostle Paul to the saints residing in that province. It was probably written from Ephesus or from Corinth.

Hebrews: – A name now generally applied to the Jews. the New Testament book of this name is an epistle from Paul to the saints then living in Palestine.

Lucifer: – The former name and title of that “Son of the Morning” now known as Satan. Because of his opposition to Jesus Christ and the Father he was cast out from heaven (see Pearl of Great Price, p. 14, 1888 ed.) He then came to be called perdition, and those who commit the great offense of sinning wilfully – after they have received the knowledge of the truth – are called Sons of Perdition.

Lesson Statement.

The scriptures, both ancient and modern, speak of the reward that awaits the righteous, and of the punishment prepared for the wicked. It is plain that in the judgment day every person will have to meet the results of his deeds, be they good or evil. Very severe punishment is predicted for those who sin wilfully, that is, who sin when they know they are sinning – those who have received the knowledge of the truth. Persons who sin in ignorance, e.g., those who lived when the Gospel was not upon the earth – those who had no opportunity of learning the law of God – are to be judged in mercy; but for those who sin in the light of knowledge, dire penalties are predicted. Peter says that it were better for them never to have known the way of righteousness, than to know it and then turn from it. The greatest punishment of all is reserved for the sons of perdition. These are they who have received the Holy Ghost and the testimony of Christ, and who then deny the truth. Of them it is said that it were better had they never been born. They are to share the punishment of Satan and his angels, who were cast out from heaven because of their rebellion against God. Satan was once an angel of light – a “Son of the Morning;” he was known as Lucifer; but he sinned against God and fell. The sons of perdition only will fail of redemption; all others will receive some degree of glory after they have suffered sufficiently for their sins, be it only that of the telestial kingdom (see last Leaflet), but they are doomed to the second death. Their punishment is so terrible that no man knows its extent.

God’s punishment is called endless and eternal punishment, for God is eternal. it will always exist for disobedient spirits. This does not mean that every sinful soul shall be in torment forever. As soon as a soul has paid the prescribed penalty for his sin he will be released, but the place or state of punishment remains for others, and will exist forever. The belief that all who sin will suffer eternally and never be released is unscriptural. All mankind will be redeemed in time, save it be the sons of perdition. Yet every soul will suffer for his sins, and be rewarded for his righteousness.

What We May Learn from This Lesson.

I. The righteous will be rewarded and the wicked be punished for their deeds. 2. Those who sin in ignorance will be judged in mercy. 3. Those who sin wilfully, after having learned the laws of righteousness will be punished severely. 4. The Apostle Peter says of such that it were better had they never been born. 5. The greatest punishment is that of the sons of perdition. 6. These are they who deny the Holy Ghost afer having received it. 7. They are to suffer with Satan and his angels. 8. Satan was once known as Lucifer, a Son of the Morning. 9. He fell because of his rebellion against God. 10. The sons of perdition will suffer the second death. 11. All others will be redeemed, though not until they have paid the penalty for their sins. 12. The punishment of the sons of perdition is so terrible that no man knows it. 13. God’s punishment is spoken of as endless and eternal. 14. This means that it will always exist for disobedient spirits. 15. It does not mean that every one who sins will suffer eternally.

Questions on the Lesson.

1. Show from scripture that the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked punished. 2. Show that every person will answer for his own sins. 3. How are those who sin in ignorance to be judged? 4. What is to be the fate of those who sin wilfully? 5. What does the apostle Peter say of them? 6. For whom is the greatest punishment decreed? 7. Who are the sons of perdition? 8. Who is Perdition? 9. State what you know of Satan before his fall. 10. What is meant by endless punishment as prepared for the wicked? 11. Show that this does not mean that every sinful soul will suffer eternally.

1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley

Chapter 7
ETERNAL PUNISHMENT (Section 19, verses 1 to 19)

This lesson is devoted to a study of the first nineteen verses in section 19. This revelation was given to Martin Harris, who, through his carelessness, lost the manuscript of the Book of Mormon during the summer of 1828. From that time until the witnesses were permitted to see the plates, he seemed to have been under probation. He is strongly admonished to repent. The dire consequences are pointed out to him if he does not do so.

“No words of the Prophet introduce this revelation in his History. Nothing is known of the circumstances which called it forth. And yet there are few revelations that have been given in the present dispensation of the gospel more important than this one. The doctrine of the atonement of the Lord Jesus as directly applying to the individual, and God’s exposition of ‘Eternal Punishment,’ as here set forth, give it a place of first importance in the doctrine development of the Church.” (CHMR, Vol. I, p. 81.)

These verses are so compact with meaning, they contain so much doctrine that it would be quite impossible in one lesson to consider them all. Accordingly, we will discuss the following topics: Eternal Punishment, Repentance, and the Remission of Sins, which are closely related.

This revelation has changed the thinking on endless punishment. Joseph Fielding Smith has said some illuminating things about this. “The explanation given in this revelation of eternal punishment, endless punishment, and eternal damnation throws a flood of light on many passages of ancient scripture. The Lord permitted the prophets of old to speak of endless punishment, and the fire that is not quenched – even Christ did this himself – that the sinners might be impressed and brought to repentance. It was done, so the Lord reveals, in a manner more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.”

Here the Lord explains a mystery. “Eternal punishment” is God’s punishment, since he is eternal. All the laws of God are eternal, but in meting out punishment to man in mortality, he has not declared that there is no opportunity for forgiveness even in the life to come. The Savior said, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (Matt. 12:31, 32.) This shows that the Savior taught that sins, all sins, in fact, which were not unto death, could be forgiven in the world to come.

“The same punishment follows the same offense or transgression of the law. The prison remains, it has been explained, even when the prisoner goes free; also the same punishment awaits each transgressor of each particular offense, but when the law is satisfied the prisoner goes free. The general teaching of eternal damnation at the time of the restoration of the gospel was that there was a deciding line separating heaven and hell. A man was either in heaven or in hell. If in the latter place he was subject to the torments thereof forever without any relief.” (CHMR, Vol. I, p. 82.) B.H. Roberts, referring to this subject, has this to say, “He [Joseph Smith] made known the fact that ‘Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.’ ‘Endless punishment is God’s punishment.’ That is to say, the punishment for sin – which is only another way of saying the ‘penalty’ for wrong-doing – takes the title of Him in whose name it is administered, that is, it is ‘God’s’ punishment, or ‘Eternal’s’ punishment – ‘Endless’ punishment’ … Moreover, penalty will always follow violation of the law, in eternity as in what we call time. So long as law exists, penalties must also exist. They are the necessary concomitants of law, without which laws are mere nullities … it does not follow that each transgressor of the law will suffer his penalties eternally. Such a conception is revolting to reason and derogatory to the justice and mercy of God. While one must needs believe that penalty follows violation of law, the violator only partakes of that penalty to the extent that it is necessary to vindicate the law and correct the transgressor’s own position! Whereupon mercy has her claims, that may not be denied: and the one-time violator of law, instructed by his experience in suffering goes forth to walk, let us hope, in harmony with law, and hence in peace.” (Joseph Smith, Prophet-Teacher, pp. 27 and 28.) Eternal punishment means that the same punishment will follow the same offense eternally.

Repentance

Direct reference is made in this revelation to repentance: “Wherefore, I command you to repent.” (D & C 19:13.) “Thereupon I command you to repent – repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore – how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.” (D & c 19:15.) These words have on their face a severity that seems not in keeping with the beneficence of God. But an understanding of what is back of them reveals His justice and mercy. Though this revelation is directed to Martin Harris, these strong words apply to all men. “The wages of sin is death,” and the reason for this strong warning is to protect and save men from the clutches of sin. Christ is the enemy of sin and the suffering which it brings. “The way of a transgressor is hard.” The bonds of iniquity are difficult to bear. Alma speaks of his soul being redeemed from the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity, “… I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.” (Mosiah 27:29.)

Speaking of repentance, President Joseph F. Smith has this to say, “How shall we repent of these sins? Does repentance consist of sorrow for wrong doing? Yes, but is this all? By no means. True repentance only is acceptable to God. Nothing short of it will answer the purpose. Then what is true repentance? True repentance is not only sorrow for sins, and humble penitence and contrition before God, but it involves the necessity of turning away from them, a discontinuance of all evil practices and deeds, a thorough reformation of life, a vital change from evil to good, from vice to virtue, from darkness to light. Not only so, but to make restitution, so far as it is possible for all the wrongs we have done, to pay our debts, and restore to God and man their rights – that which is due to them from us. This is true repentance, and exercise of the will and all the powers of body and mind is demanded, to complete this glorious work of repentance; then God will accept it. (GD, p. 123.)

The atoning blood of Christ makes repentance one of the most glorious doctrines ever preached, the remission of sins one of the most wonderful principles ever revealed from heaven. The great teachings contained in this revelation make clear the divine character of the Master, the nature of his victory, and the obligations we are under to him.

We gather from the foregoing that through sincere repentance and the baptism of water and of the Spirit, men can escape the evil consequences of their sins. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be s wool.” (Isaiah 1:18.) On the other hand, if one persists in sin, he loses the power of repentance, and will be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan. The power of forgiveness of sins rests with the Redeemer of the world. he paid the penalty by suffering all that flesh is heir to. He in some way carried the weight of the sins of the world, and his atoning blood paid the debt. He grants forgiveness of sin to all men on condition of repentance, the most precious and glorious service to mankind, deserving their gratitude and praise and devotion. there is no averting the suffering which follows transgression of laws except by repentance, through which one may avail himself of the redeeming grace of God. The forgiveness of sin follows repentance and baptism by immersion by immersion by one having authority.

1978: Gospel Doctrine, Doctrine and Covenants

Lesson 9
D&C 19

Objective: The class members will understand the setting in which Martin Harris was called to repentance and will gain greater insights into the relationship between the principle of repentance and the Atonement.

Items for Preparation:

1. The following materials are needed:

a. Picture, “Christ in Gethsemane” (OQ175 or IP200 or IS200)
b. Picture, “Martin Harris” (OQ512)

2. Confirm the readiness of class members previously assigned to report on “Arrangements with the Book of Mormon Printer,” “Eternal Punishment,” and “The Nature of Christ’s Suffering” (Resource Material).

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

“This revelation was given some time in March 1830. It would seem that Martin Harris had come to Joseph Smith seeking further assurance in relation to his standing before the Lord, being sorely troubled in his spirit because of his transgression. He had already been granted the privilege on his earnest solicitation of being one of the Three Witnesses, and that wonderful vision had been given. Perhaps out of this came much serious reflection and he sought further light. However, there is no indication in the History of the Church as to the reason why the revelation was given and the exact day is unknown when it was given. It was without question a revelation of great comfort to Martin, and it is one of the great revelations given in this dispensation; there are few of greater import than this. The doctrine of the atonement of the Lord, as directly applying to the individual, and His exposition of ‘Eternal Punishment,’ as here set forth, give to the members of the Church light which was not previously known.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, first series, p. 80-81.

Martin Harris and the Book of Mormon Debt

Class member report: Have the previously assigned class member review “Arrangements with the Book of Mormon Printer” (Resource Material) to help the class understand some of the circumstances existing near the time this revelation was given.

Instructions to Martin Harris About Printing the Book of Mormon

Scripture analysis: Have a class member read the Lord’s first specific direction to Martin in Doctrine and Covenants 19:13. Note how the Savior spoke in general terms at this point. He repeated this command in verse 15 and added a warning that failure to repent would bring divine punishment.

* When had the Lord withdrawn his spirit from Martin Harris as mentioned here? (When Martin had lost the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript as discussed in lesson 5.)

A later verse made the command even more specific. Have a class member read verse 26. Finally, the Lord told Martin Harris exactly what he needed to do. Read verses 34 through 35.

* Why was the giving of his property part of the repentance process for Martin Harris and not simply a commandment? (Verse 26 suggests that covetousness may have been a sin that Martin needed to overcome.)

In response to this direction from God, Martin Harris on April 1, 1830, sold 151 acres of his farm to raise the money that he had contracted to pay the printer. (See Wayne C. Gunnell, “Martin Harris – Witness and Benefactor to the Book of Mormon,” unpublished master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1955, p. 38.)

These events help us to appreciate Martin Harris’ devotion to Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel through the Book of Mormon.

* How were his actions the fruit of repentance? (He was overcoming the weakness of coveting his property.)

Eternal Law

Gospel truths revealed in the Doctrine and Covenants often transcend the immediate historical setting. Section 19 is an excellent example of this. In Doctrine and Covenants 19 the Lord unfolded some fundamental gospel principles that clearly explain the need for Martin Harris and all of us to repent. Verse 4 sets the theme for the entire revelation and for our discussion. (Write the entire verse at the top of the chalkboard.)

To understand why this is true, we must consider the eternal law that obedience brings blessings and that disobedience inevitably results in punishments. (See D&C 130:20-21.)

“Eternal Punishment”

Discussion and class member report: Discuss the explanation of “eternal” and “endless” punishment as given in Doctrine and Covenants 19:5-12. Have the previously assigned class member report on “Eternal Punishment” (Resource Material).

Repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Scripture analysis: After the Redeemer had explained the matter of “endless” or “eternal punishment,” he commanded Martin Harris, as well as all of us, “to repent, and keep the commandments.” (D&C 19:13.)

* Why should we want to repent? (Repentance is the process by which we change from disobedience to obedience, qualifying for blessings rather than punishments and thereby receiving joy rather than sorrow.)

Repentance qualifies us to receive the individual as well as the general benefits of the atonement. (Have class members follow along as you read Doctrine and Covenants 18:11 and 12.) The Redeemer himself explained that he “suffered the pain [meaning the penalties for sin] of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.”

Ask a class member to read verse 16 aloud.

* What are “these things” mentioned in verse 16 for which Christ suffered? (They are the punishments for our sins, mentioned in the previous verse.)

* If the Savior has already paid the penalties of our sins through his suffering, why must we repent rather than just receive the benefit of his payment with no strings attached? (If no effort on our part were required, this would be an instance of mercy robbing justice, a situation contrary to the basic principles of responsibility and accountability. (See Alma 42:13-25; 34:13-16.)

Because of Christ’s atonement, when we truly repent, our sins will be forgiven and we will be spared the suffering that would otherwise result.

The Alternative to Repentance

* In light of the foregoing principles, what is the alternative to repentance? Invite a class member to read aloud Doctrine and Covenants 19:17 and 18.

Verse 17 states that if we do not repent we will have to suffer even as did the Savior. Let us consider the event of his suffering.

Verse 18 corroborates the declarations in the New Testament (Luke 22:44) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 3:7) that Jesus bled from every pore. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained the nature and depth of the Lord’s suffering.

Class member report: Have the previously assigned class member read his statement in “The Nature of Christ’s Suffering” (Resource Material). Also, display the picture of Christ in Gethsemane.

Because our sins contributed to the burden the Savior had to bear, we owe a very personal debt of gratitude to him. Surely we should respond eagerly to the opportunity of repentance, the great gift made available through the Atonement.

Conclusion

Scripture analysis: Ask the class members to follow in their scriptures as you comment on Doctrine and Covenants 19:29 through 31. Following his explanation of repentance and the atonement, the Lord commanded Martin Harris to preach the “glad tidings” of the gospel.

* Why are these tidings “glad”? (Because they assure us that we can overcome our sins and qualify for the rich blessings promised to the faithful.)

Notice that Martin was not to fight back against those who attacked or reviled him, nor was he to argue over tenets or fine points of theological dogma.

* According to verse 31, what exactly was he to teach? (The first principles of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.)

Suggest that these instructions were especially appropriate for Martin Harris, who on several occasions had been more concerned with outward proofs than with the gospel message.

Encourage the class members to reassess their relationship to Jesus Christ and his atonement and particularly to consider the extent of their repentance. A periodic recommitment to the Savior is important to all of us. Such a reassessment and recommitment is especially appropriate when we partake of the sacrament.

RESOURCE MATERIAL

Arrangements with the Book of Mormon Printer

“When the translation was nearly finished, the Prophet, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris solicited Egbert B. Grandin, manager and principal owner of the Wayne Sentinel, a newspaper printed in Palmyra, to print the Book of Mormon. Grandin declined, thinking it a poor proposition. Joseph and his friends next appealed to Thurlow Weed, the printer of the Rochester Telegraph, who examined the manuscript and refused to publish it. Joseph and Martin requested Grandin a second time and he agreed to print five thousand copies of the book for three thousand dollars. Martin Harris mortgaged his farm to Grandin; and on August 25, 1829, the contract was drawn up. Martin agreed to pay Grandin three thousand dollars within eighteen months after the printing began. Were he to default, Grandin was authorized to have the Harris farm sold at public auction and allow matin the excess of the amount stipulated in the contract.” (Ivan J. Barrett, Joseph Smith and the Restoration, p. 114.)

“The people in the vicinity of Palmyra had held meetings and passed resolutions not to purchase the Book of Mormon if it ever issued from the press. They appointed a committee to wait upon Mr. Grandin and explain to him the evil consequences which would result to him because of the resolutions they had passed not to buy the books when published, which would render it impossible for “the Smiths” to meet their obligations to him. They persuaded him to stop printing and Joseph was again sent for. On the Prophet’s arrival he called upon Mr. Grandin in company with Martin Harris, and together they gave the publisher such assurance of their ability to meet their obligation to him that printing was resumed.” (B.H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:162.)

Eternal Punishment

“As to the duration of punishment, we may take assurance that it will be graded according to the sin; and that the conception of every sentence for misdeeds being interminable is false. Great as is the effect of this life upon the hereafter, and certain as is the responsibility of opportunities lost for repentance, God holds the power to pardon beyond the grave. Yet the scriptures speak of eternal and endless punishment. Any punishment ordained of God is eternal, for He is eternal. his is a system of endless punishment, for it will always exist as a place or condition prepared for disobedient spirits; yet the infliction of the penalty will have an end in every case of acceptable repentance and reparation. And repentance is not impossible in the spirit world. However, as seen, there are some sins so great that their consequent punishments are not made known to man; these extreme penalties are reserved for the sons of Perdition.” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 60-61.)

The Nature of Christ’s Suffering

“We cannot comprehend the great suffering that the Lord had to take upon himself to bring to pass this redemption from death and from sin. He spent a few years upon the earth, and during that short sojourn he suffered the abuse of men. They stoned him; they spat upon him; they cursed him; they ridiculed him; they accused him of almost every crime they could think of, and finally they took him and crucified him upon a cross.

“We get into the habit of thinking, I suppose, that his great suffering was when he was nailed to the cross by his hands and his feet and was left there to suffer until he died. As excruciating as that pain was, that was not the greatest suffering that he had to undergo, for in some way which I cannot understand, but which I accept on faith, and which you must accept on faith, he carried on his back the burden of the sins of the whole world. It is hard enough for me to carry my own sins. How is it with you? and yet he had to carry the sins of the whole world, as our Savior and the Redeemer of a fallen world, and so great was his suffering before he ever went to the cross, we are informed, that blood oozed from the pores of his body, and he prayed to his Father that the cup might pass if it were possible, but not being possible he was willing to drink.

“And here is what he has said to the Church: [Sec. 19:17-19 quoted.]

“Now, when he said that if we do not repent we will have to suffer even as he did, he had no reference to being nailed to a cross, but it was the torment of mind, of spirit, that he had reference to, before he ever got to the cross, and if men will not repent, they will have to suffer even as he suffered.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, Oct. 1947, pp. 147-48.)



3 Comments »

  1. This may not be the place for the following kind of comment, but I thought it was interesting that the 1949 Church manual covering Section 19 of the Doctrine & Covenants doesn’t seem to mention the 1947 quotes from J. Fielding Smith quotes about the nature of Christ’s sacrifice, while the 1978 manual does. To me, this little fact seems totally congruous with the apparent mid- to late-20th century flowering of the doctrine downplaying the cross in favor of Gethsemane.

    Comment by Hunter — February 9, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

  2. Perfectly suitable place for that comment, Hunter. It’s the kind of thing a teacher might want to think about, depending upon which aspects of the current lesson s/he planned to emphasize.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 9, 2009 @ 5:03 pm

  3. Thanks again, Ardis, for this information. I think the whole “endelss punishment” discussion is pretty interesting. IMO, the prison analogy explains this idea better than any other treatment I have seen.

    Comment by The Teacher — February 9, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

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