In the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in the form of the Lord’s Prayer. One line in that prayer deals specifically with relationships that we are to foster with our fellow brothers and sisters in the gospel.
Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
In modern vernacular that verse may be stated simply, forgive us in the same manner we forgive others. This is the spring board for the discussion that ensued in my Institute class regarding the counsel given in Section 46 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Historically speaking the early saints were curious about who should be allowed to attend their sacred services of Sacrament meetings and Confirmation meetings. On a side note, Confirmation meetings were gatherings when those who had recently been baptized received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, or were confirmed members of the Church. At that time people were baptized and then allowed a “proving” time to see if they could live up to the covenants they had just made before they actually received the gift of the Holy Ghost. In any event these two types of meetings were considered sacred enough for Joseph to inquire of the Lord who should be allowed to attend. The Lord’s response is contained in the first seven verses of Section 46.
1 Hearken, O ye people of my church; for verily I say unto you that these things were spoken unto you for your profit and learning.
2 But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit.
3 Nevertheless ye are commanded never to cast any one out from your public meetings, which are held before the world.
4 Ye are also commanded not to cast any one who belongeth to the church out of your sacrament meetings; nevertheless, if any have trespassed, let him not partake until he makes reconciliation.
5 And again I say unto you, ye shall not cast any out of your sacrament meetings who are earnestly seeking the kingdom—I speak this concerning those who are not of the church.
6 And again I say unto you, concerning your confirmation meetings, that if there be any that are not of the church, that are earnestly seeking after the kingdom, ye shall not cast them out.
7 But 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.
This instruction for Church attendance, placed in the very first part of the Section that is known for the beautiful instruction about the consecration of our Spiritual Gifts, might at first seem out of place. The beauty of this placement is seen as one comes to understand that the Lord chooses his teaching methods perfectly, to instruct us more fully in all aspects of His gospel.
Even though the Lord makes it very clear that the meetings of the Church are open for any who desires to attend, He also is very specific about who should be allowed to partake of the ordinance of the Sacrament itself, which is administered during the meetings. In verse four He states, “if any have trespassed, let him not partake until he makes reconciliation”
The footnote reference in Section 46, for verse four, adds some clarity about what is meant by the words “trespass” and “reconciliation”.
3 Nephi 12: 23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—
24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.
Is the Lord actually instructing us that if we have any unkind feelings towards those in our congregation we truly cannot partake of the Sacrament worthily?
For me, this question was a very big eye opener when pondering how important the ordinance of the Sacrament really is. The Sacrament is the ordinance that we participate in which allows Jesus Christ to grant us the gift of His Spirit. It is a foreshadow of another event where we are gathered together as one, in fellowship with other Saints requiring this purity of feelings towards one another, where we are participating in an ordinance in which we desire to gain something from Jesus Christ as well. Both of these situations are of great importance to our individual growth and to the blessings of
But in reality, what does this have to do with our Spiritual Gifts?
The Lord, before teaching us the potential we have of becoming a
This clarity of teaching was something I did not consider fully enough before. I am grateful for the Gift of the Spirit of learning; for there is so much more I need to know before I really understand!
Our challenge for today is to repair damaged relationships and allow the Spirit to work miracles in our lives.