Lesson 26: “Go Ye into All the World, and Preach My Gospel”
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
Chapter 31: HOW THE GOSPEL SHALL BE PREACHED (Section 84, verses 77 to 120)
“… I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power.” (Verse 77.) In verses 77 through 111 the Lord again emphasizes the responsibility resting upon his people to preach the gospel and describes how the gospel shall be preached. “Behold, I send you out to prove the world, and the laborer is worthy of his hire.” (Verse 79.)
To be worthy of their hire, the missionaries must preach the gospel in humility and with perseverance. They are told that those who fail not to be faithful in all things shall not be weary in mind or body nor shall they go hungry or thirsty. They are instructed to go forth without purse or script and to have faith that their Father in heaven will know and provide for their needs. They are told that if they bear their testimonies in strength and humility they will leave all those who hear them without excuse and their sins shall be upon their own heads.
In these verses, the Lord gives further instructions regarding how the two priesthoods shall co-operate in their work of spreading the gospel. “Therefore, take with you those who are ordained unto the lesser priesthood, and send them before you to make appointments, and to prepare the way, and to fill appointments that you yourselves are not able to fill.” (Verse 107.) “And behold, the high priests should travel, and also the elders, and also the lesser priests; but the deacons and teachers should be appointed to watch ver the church, to be standing ministers unto the church.” (Verse 111.)
In the final section of this revelation, special instructions are given to Bishop Newel K. Whitney who is told to travel around among the branches of the Church, minister to the wants of the poor, and attempt to make the rich and proud more humble. He is specifically instructed to go to the cities of New York, Albany, and Boston and to warn the people to accept the gospel or to be prepared to suffer the desolation and utter abolishment which await them.
Material for Discussion
For purposes of study and discussion, the instructions in this last segment of the 84th Section may be divided as follows:
1. Preach the Gospel in Humility and Faith. Those who preach the gospel must do so faithfully and with utmost perseverance, relying upon the Lord for his support. Those who do so, continuing faithful in all things, shall be given strength in body and mind and need not concern themselves about the morrow, “for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.” (Verse 81.) For the Lord promises to take care of his faithful servants, to watch over them, to protect them from harm and evil, and to guide them to the pure in heart.
This promise has been fulfilled in thousands of missionaries who have traveled and are still traveling in all parts of the world, putting their confidence in the Lord and allowing him to guide and direct them in their work. Every sincere and humble missionary who has ever preached the restored gospel has had many rich experiences where he has been guided and helped by the Lord, where the spirit of the Lord has been in his heart, and where his angels have been round about him to bear him up. (Verse 88.)
Faithful missionaries, who are called of God in the Church unto the ministry, are instructed in verse 86 not to take purse or scrip when they go forth to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom. In the early days of the Church, many sincere missionaries followed these instructions and tested the Lord’s word that he “knew their needs” and would fulfil them. These missionaries enjoyed marvelous blessings and learned that truly the Lord does not fail his faithful children.
The fact that the Church no longer encourages its elders to travel without purse or scrip has given rise to serious questions in the minds of some students of the gospel. The fact is that the Lord has permitted this change because of changed conditions. Money is far more essential to the present-day missionary than it was a hundred years ago. Travel, lodging, and the essentials of life are now on such a commercial basis that in most places the missionary without funds would be sorely hampered in his work.
In verse 85, missionaries are instructed not to plan what they will say in preaching the gospel, but to “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life.” This instruction should be heeded carefully by all those who preach the gospel. One heart may be touched in one way and another by a completely different presentation or argument. The wise elder must be ever prepared to preach the gospel in the manner best suited to the occasion or to the individual.
2. Reprove the world. Earlier in the revelation, the Lord emphasized the fact that the people of the world are surely in need of the gospel and in verse 87 He tells the missionaries that he sends them out “to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come.” He then promises then that whoever receives them receives Him also, “for I will go before your face,” and his angels will be ever present to guide and support them in their work. (Verse 88.) With this kind of help and guidance faithful missionaries cannot fail in their work. The pure in heart will be brought to an understanding of the gospel and will assist the missionaries in spreading the gospel. Many, however, will reject the message and will refuse to receive the missionaries. To these, the Lord says, the missionaries must bear their testimonies, make sure they have had an opportunity to accept the truth, and then, if they still reject it, they are to leave them and not return to them again. And, the Lord says, “Wo, I say again, unto that house, or that village or city that rejecteth you, or your words, or your testimony of me; for I, the Almighty, have laid my hands upon the nations, to scourge them for their wickedness.” (Verses 95 and 96.)
3. Warn the People of the Lord’s Judgments. In verses 96 to 102 and again in 114 to 119, he people of the world are warned of the Lord’s judgments which will come upon them if they reject the word of his missionaries. “And plagues shall go forth, and they shall not be taken from the earth until I have completed my work. …” (Verse 97.) Which work, the Lord explains, consists in teaching his gospel until everyone in the world shall know Him and all shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord and shall lift up their voices and sing together the new song of Zion. (Verse 98.) The song, the words of which appear in Verses 99-102, has already been put to music, but certainly no music has as yet been produced which can compare with the beauty of the song that will be sung when Zion is redeemed.
Further judgment that will come upon the wicked after they reject the testimonies of the missionaries are outlined in verses 115 to the end of the revelation. The elders are to warn them that their houses will be left desolate, their kingdoms will be rended, the earth shall shake and the heavens tremble. All of these great things shall happen before the Lord shall come again to reign among his people.
4. Work and Preach the Gospel in Unity. By helping one another and by working in brotherly unity, the work of preaching the gospel can be expedited and the day of the Lord’s redemption hastened. Specific instruction as to how the elders shall go forth are outlined inverses 103 to 111. “And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.” (Verse 106.) In this manner the inexperienced may be trained and made strong so that they in turn can teach and build others. This procedure has become the backbone of our missionary system and through it many strong and able teachers have been developed.
In these verses, the Lord also outlines the missionary responsibilities of the two priesthoods and shows how they must work and co-operate together to promote and spread his word. The lesser priesthood is to go ahead and prepare the way for the greater priesthood; making appointments and in other ways making it easier for the gospel to be preached effectively. Through co-operation and by each man standing in his own office, and laboring in his own calling, the work shall progress. “… and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand?” (Verse 109.) The Church has need of every member, “that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.” (Verse 110.) This is the way, the Lord reminds his people, that his apostles in ancient days built up his church unto him. Surely, the Lord in his infinite wisdom knows how best his gospel can be preached and his church established. If we will follow his instructions in these last days, our efforts will be crowned with success and the day when his work will be completed will be cut short in righteousness.