Working on D&C 42: Day 5 – D&C 46 and D&C 50


Okay, I swear I did a post on this a while back, but I can’t find it! And I’m wanting to get back into my D&C 42 research so it’s time to get this connection sorted out.

D&C 46 has a strong connection to Moroni 10’s list of the gifts of the Spirit. This is interesting since D&C 20 alludes and quotes so heavily from Moroni’s writings. What a book the Book of Mormon is! What a place it has in this latter-day church!

I want to show that D&C 46 builds on D&C 42 and that D&C 50 is a continuation of what is being talked about.

So first, some quotation from D&C 46:

7But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.

8Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

9For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.

Note that like D&C 46, Moroni says that the “gifts of God … are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them” (verse 8).

But what has this to do with D&C 42 and D&C 50? As I read it, the situation in Kirtland called for much clarification on what exactly was the Spirit and how it manifested itself through spiritual gifts. In D&C 42, the direction is to simply ask for the Spirit, with the prayer of faith, and then teach as it directs. It adds the possibility that the Spirit might not be received, and in that case, don’t teach. D&C 46 addresses the problem of being deceived. You might be deceived by an evil spirit, or one teaching by an evil spirit, or professing a spiritual gift, or all of this might be done not through an evil spirit, but by man’s own construction or misunderstanding. D&C 46 answers this concern by not turning the saints away from manifestations, but towards them. If the saints can seek after these gifts and receive them in the right way, they will soon be able to tell the difference between a true spiritual manifestation and one “not of God” (see verse 27).

In addition to all saints being encouraged to seek these gifts, it will be appointed for one man to be at the head to judge all the other manifestations of the spirit:

26And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.

27And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.

28And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit;

29That unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby.

(Again note the similarities between this and Moroni 10!)

So there will be one appointed as the “head.” See D&C 50, now, which uses some of the same language and ideas that are present in D&C 46.

2Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world.

3And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you.

13Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained?

14To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.

15And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified?

30But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; and as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject unto you.

31Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God.

D&C 50 wraps together D&C 42 and D&C 46. In D&C 46, the question seems to be about spiritual manifestations themselves and how to know a spirit is from God, and what kinds of spiritual gifts the church has been given, etc.  But D&C 50 addresses those who should know better, and who are called to go forth and teach, and that even these have been deceived! This responds to D&C 42’s call that those who teach do so by the Spirit. D&C 50 asks if they are preaching “by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God.” D&C 42 had instructed them that if they “receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach.”

Apparently, however, there were those who thought they were indeed teaching by the Spirit of truth, but in fact had been deceived. D&C 46 and D&C 50 are set out to clarify what the Spirit is and how it is manifest, and how one can know if what they are seeing or feeling is of God.

D&C 50 gives this direction, which seems to especially link up with D&C 42:

31 Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God.

32 And it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit;

So here it seems, at least to me, that if you want to teach by the Spirit, or if you see some spiritual power manifested in others, and you desire that Spirit that “all may be profited thereby,” including teaching to them, then you pray and ask in faith for that Spirit to come. If it does not, and you have prayed for it, then you may know that it is not of God. And thus you will not be deceived.

But, does this apply to everyone or just to someone “appointed to be the head,” which I assume here is talking about and to Joseph Smith?

D&C 50 leads up to the verses quoted above with this:

26 He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.

27 Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.

28 But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin.

29 And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.

30 But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; and as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject unto you…

Here it sounds like more than Joseph Smith can qualify for this ability to pray for the spirits and know that all good spirits will be given. It sounds like all who are ordained to go forth (go forth and preach, etc.?) AND are purified, are “possessors of all things,” including this ability to have the spirits subject to them. This makes it sound like there are those – a group, not one – who are appointed to be a head. This special place, however, is only given to those who are cleansed and purified, who would not ask a gift “to consume it upon their lusts.” See D&C 46:9

9For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.

(The language of “consume” upon “lusts” comes from Moroni 9:28!)

D&C 46 has the same idea of being pure: “those who love me and keep all my commandments” – that “all may be benefited.”

So, it seems, that if we want to fully take up the commandment in D&C 42 to teach by the Spirit, and have the privilege of knowing when we have the Spirit and when we do not, then we need to be seeking only His glory – no desire to show off our teaching and “consume” these gifts “upon our lusts.” It follows the same direction we usually hear that we should be worthy of the Spirit in order to teach by it, but it does throw some extra weight and some extra promise into it. If we are worthy, we can receive the Spirit but also, we can know when we do not have the Spirit. We won’t be deceived. And we will know when the Spirit is not with us and will actually know when not to teach. I assume this is a privilege given to few currently. I assume that many actually do teach with the Spirit now and then, even without all of this full promise given to them of all the spirits being subject to them. I don’t think that I have ever had this full privilege, for example. It could be that this talk of a “head” is actually only talking about Bishops or specific leaders afterall, and would not apply to members in general anyway. But I think D&C 50 may suggest (perhaps) that this privilege is something intended for anyone who is called to teach and who is pure before God. But who knows? – much more to think and read.

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One response to “Working on D&C 42: Day 5 – D&C 46 and D&C 50

  • Karen

    Whoa I just realized that D& C46:7-9 has TWO references to James! Note that D&C 46:7 says “But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally,” and James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally.” It sounds like this is referring directly to James. What does all this mean?? Much to think about!

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