Maybe you already know that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormons, believe in the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon. But what about these other books we call scripture-the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price?
Joseph Smith, these other two books of scripture.
The Doctrine and Covenants is largely comprised of revelations Joseph received throughout his ministry. Unlike much of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, which give historical background as well as commandments from God, the Doctrine and Covenants does not give much history. Almost all of it is made up of words directly from the mouth of the Lord. Headings have been added to each section of the Doctrine and Covenants that fill in some of the historical context of each revelation. It is helpful to study Church history as you study the Doctrine and Covenants to help you understand what questions and situations the Lord was addressing.
The book begins in the early years of Joseph’s ministry, just as he’s beginning the work of translating the Book of Mormon. He chronicles the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood and the Lord’s counsel to him and his early helpers. At one point early on, Joseph failed to follow the wishes of the Lord, and he was chastised for it. He even records what the Lord said to him here.
“For behold, you should not have feared man more than God … you should have been faithful, and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary … But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work … “(D&C 3:7-8, 10)
This incident, while it must have been painful for Joseph, is something that we can all learn from.
As the book continues, the Lord reveals how the Church is to be organized and what the Saints are to do from there. We also see the growth of Joseph as a prophet, and receive answers to doctrinal questions that he and other Latter-day Saints had. The prophet bears his own testimony of the Savior throughout the book, but perhaps most notably in D&C 76:
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father” (D&C 76:22-23).
One of the last sections in the Doctrine and Covenants was written by Brigham Young after Joseph’s death. As Joseph’s successor, he received and recorded the will of the Lord regarding the journey of the Saints to Utah. Another was received through Joseph F. Smith, a prophet who served in the early 1900’s, regarding the salvation of the dead. Although the Church has not added any new sections to the Doctrine and Covenants in recent years, it is not considered a “closed book” and new revelations may be added in the future. Our prophet and apostles continue to speak to us today, helping us to understand and do all those things the Lord would have us do.