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Gospel Teachings in Nauvoo Review
March 7, 2017
What was unique about the gospel teachings in Nauvoo?
How do these teachings strengthen our testimony of Joseph Smith?
Joseph Smith, “I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.”
“Before the Nauvoo period, the doctrinal emphasis in the Church had been on faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost and missionary work….also, practices and beliefs clearly explained in Joseph’s early revelations and the Book of Mormon.
What made the Nauvoo era doctrinally unique was the further explanation by Joseph that certain beliefs, rituals, practices, and doctrines were absolutely necessary if his followers were to receive the highest reward God had in store for his people in this life and in the next.” ( James McConkie II, Looking At the Doctrine and Covenants)
Joseph Smith expanded on these following teachings from the Nauvoo period:
- God is an exalted man with a body of flesh and bones
- Spirits are made of a material substance which is more refined than that comprising mortal bodies.
- God is married. Therefore, there is a Heavenly mother as well as a Heavenly Father. From this union, spiritual offspring were sired and lived with their Heavenly Parents in a premortal life.
- *The purpose of this existence is to help men and women advance and become more like their Heavenly Father and Mother – gods and goddesses.
- *In order to be saved, men and women must enter into covenants with God, signified by ordinances that are part of the Mormon “temple endowment.”
- All saving ordinances or sacraments, beginning with baptism and extending through the temple endowment and marriage sealing may be performed vicariously for those who are dead so that they may also be saved and exalted.
Focus on three doctrinal truths during the Nauvoo period:
• The Articles of Faith
• Temple ordinances and covenants
• Our divine potential
The Articles of Faith
- Joseph Smith’s Wentworth letter: July 2002 Ensign
- “I encourage each of you to study the Articles of Faith and the doctrines they teach… IF you will use them as a guide to direct your studies of the Savior’s doctrine, you will find yourselves prepared to declare your witness of the restored, true church of the Lord. You will be able to declare with conviction: “We believe these things.” Elder L. Tom Perry
- Temple ordinances and covenants
- D&C 124:25-28, 37, 39
- The ordinance of the sacrament: Samuel Brown, author of First Principles and Ordinances wrote, “I am forever grateful that God has invited me to break bread with him each week. And there are precious moments when I feel in the tiny morsel of white bread and the swallow of tap water the overwhelming ache of the Last Supper and the hope in face of tragedy that such a worshipful meal represents.”Explore the word “receive” in ordinances:
- D&C 84:33-38
- D&C 88:32-33
- How do we increase our willingness to “receive?”
- Mosiah 5:13
- Our Divine Potential
• April 7, 1844 The King Follett Sermon
“If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” Joseph Smith
• “Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him and how to ask to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God and know how to come to Him, He begins to unfold the heavens to us and to tell us all about it.” Joseph Smith• “God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret!
“Here, then, is eternal life – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves…. By going from one small degree to another, …. from grace to grace…. As do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 221)
- Gospel Topic Essay – “Becoming Like God”
- “The desire to nurture the divinity in His Children is one of God’s attributes that most inspires, motivates, and humbles members of the Church.”
- In early Christianity, after Christ’s death, there was a belief in divine potential.
- Irenaeus, who died about 202 AD, “Jesus Christ through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be what He is Himself.”
- Why did these beliefs fade?
- The earliest Jewish and Christian commentaries on the Creation assumed that God had organized the world out of pre-existing materials.
- But new philosophical ideas in the second century led to the development of a doctrine that God created the universe out of nothing – to emphasize God’s power.
- Gradually, the distance between the Creator and the creature was emphasized, the concept of deification or “Becoming like God” faded from Western Christianity.
- Joseph Smith taught the word “create” comes from the Hebrew word baurau, which means to organize.
- Joseph taught not only that humans are created in the image of God and that God cares intimately for His children, but that God desires that His children receive the same kind of exalted existence of which He partakes…. “This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”Joseph taught in King Folletts sermon “The process (of becoming like God) would be ongoing and would require patience, faith, continuing repentance, obedience.. and reliance on Christ. Like ascending a ladder, individuals need to learn the ‘first principles of the God’ and continue beyond the limits of mortal knowledge….” And “it would not all be comprehended in this world.”And then Joseph said, “This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you…. You say honey is sweet and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life.”Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually to godhood.””Hinckley: “Our enemies have criticized us for believing in this. Our reply is that this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father. He is the Almighty. He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. He is the greatest of all and will always be so. But just as any earthly father wishes for his sons and daughters every success in life, so I believe our Father in Heaven wishes for his children that they might approach him in stature and stand beside him resplendent in godly strength and wisdom” (“Don’t Drop the Ball,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 48)D&C 6:18 “..therefore be diligent, stand by my servant Joseph, faithfully, in whatsoever difficult circumstances he may be for the word’s sake.” Elder Cecil B. Samuelson, “Our testimonies are vital, but not sufficient by themselves….Our love and respect for Joseph Smith is important, but if it is not incorporated into our lives internally and consistently, we cannot stand by Joseph. …. Such conviction comes to us by study and by faith….”
The Holy Ghost is anxious to confer this sustaining knowledge to us because the testimony of Joseph’s work and mission is key and central to our testimony of that which is most important of all; that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, and the literal living Son of our living Heavenly Father.”