My Come, Follow Me lesson for this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 41-44. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was growing rapidly in 1830 and 1831, and many new converts were rushing to Kirtland, Ohio, to join with the Saints. The growth was exciting but challenging.
Many of the new converts were bringing doctrines and practices from their previous religions. Upon arriving in Kirtland in February 1831, Joseph Smith discovered that a group of new members were attempting to have their property in common as did the Saints in the New Testament (see Acts 4:32-37). Joseph inquired of the Lord and received revelations where the Lord corrected and clarified some important matters.
The Lord gave the revelation, which is now Doctrine and Covenants 41, on February 4, 1831, to help the Saints prepare to receive His law that He would reveal a few days later. The first five verses of this section are as follow:
1 Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings, ye that hear me; and ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings.
2 Hearken, O ye elders of my church whom I have called, behold I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall assemble yourselves together to agree upon my word;
3 And by the prayer of your faith ye shall receive my law, that ye may know how to govern my church and have all things right before me.
4 And I will be your ruler when I come; and behold, I come quickly, and ye shall see that my law is kept.
5 He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple, and shall be cast out from among you.
The Lord promised to reveal His law “by the prayer of [their] faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 41:3). To help the Saints to prepare to receive His law, the Lord explained that they must receive His law and do it to become true disciples (see Doctrine and Covenants 41:5). Although many people profess to be Christians or followers of Christ, not all of them are willing to do what He says. Those who are obedient in following Him and doing what He says will have the privilege of entering the kingdom of heaven (see Matthew 7:21).
A few days later on February 9, the Lord revealed His law, the revelation that is now known as Doctrine and Covenants 42. The Lord called Section 42 “my law to govern my church” (verse 59). This section gives truths that are necessary to establish the Lord’s Church in the latter days. One important truth is that there is always something new to learn: “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61).
Several latter-day Apostles of Jesus Christ have reminded us what it means to be His disciples. Then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places” (“Followers of Christ,” Ensign, May 2013, 97).
Then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency testified that being a disciple is more than speaking about Jesus Christ or proclaiming to be a disciple.
It is not enough merely to speak of Jesus Christ or proclaim that we are His disciples. It is not enough to surround ourselves with symbols of our religion. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping.
Ours is not a secondhand religion. We cannot receive the blessings of the gospel merely by observing the good that others do. We need to get off the sidelines and practice what we preach” (“The Way of the Disciple,” Ensign, May 2009, 76-77).
Jesus Christ invites all people to follow Him and become His disciple. Those people who learn His law and do it will be blessed, but those who know the law and refuse to follow it will be cursed.