The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. They may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. And Behold, if he repents not, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, and to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. Joseph Smith, Jr.
THIS BOOK OF THE LAW OF THE LORD is written so that EACH LATTER DAY SAINT who believes in the fullness of the gospel of the Kingdom, as proclaimed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which gospel was restored through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., may be able to understand and follow the laws of God.
All civilized peoples have adopted and accepted rules of law in order that they might enjoy the days of their probation upon the face of the earth in relative peace and security.
The Church and Kingdom of God are governed by laws which are contained in the Word of God and in His Commandments. Of necessity there must be resolutions, policies and procedures concerning the application of these laws, to provide for an orderly and just administration by church leadership.
When administrative authorities, down through the history of the church, have neglected their duty to guarantee the rights of individual members, the membership lost control of the Church. This allowed further abuses and misuse of members’ contributions of time, talents, and resources. Often when members sought redress for these wrongs, they were cast out, or politically pressured to leave the Church, and their rights to redress denied by the leadership.
Failure of church leadership in the past to develop scripture based rules, resolutions, and church policy in a clear understandable written form for acceptance by the body, has encouraged this abuse of power. This misuse of power has driven many of God’s Saints away from the Church they loved.
All previous attempts of administrations by Latter Day Saint organizations in righteousness, throughout history have ended in failure. This cannot be attributed to any flaw in the word of God, his laws or commandments, but was due in a major part to administrative errors and abuses.
It is our hope that this compilation and presentation of laws that were given to govern God’s people, will assist them in understanding more fully God’s plan to redeem his people and to bring to pass the cause of Zion.
All general church officers, all priesthood, and all members of the Church of Jesus Christ must be accountable to each other for their individual stewardships.
Most civilized governments are organized with an Executive Head, a Legislature and a Judiciary Body. When we observe the government of the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, The United States of America, we see those bodies interacting to represent the people, to formulate legislation or laws, to scrutinize their laws for conformity to the Constitution, and for workability. Those parts of government, framed by the founding fathers, were set up to protect the rights of the people from despotism and other abuses that are common to governments that do not govern by common consent. They form checks and balances for each other. It was our God that inspired the framers of this Constitution and to provide for the separation of powers. Checks and balances were necessary to ward off abuse of power and provide a representative government for the citizens. See D&C 98: 10 e-g
We of the Church of Jesus Christ do not think that God would grant his beloved church any less protection than he has provided in the above mentioned constitution. The church, has at times, been called a “Theocratic Democracy” (governed by God, but providing for the consent of those who are governed). Our God, in respect for the agency of mankind, has made provision to allow his Saints the privilege to vote for or against even the very commandments he gives through his Prophet.
In compiling this work, we have not attempted to cover all of the laws of the church. We have rather attempted to shed light on some of the tenets of law we think have been unknowingly or purposely ignored in the past. One only has to look at the many different Latter Day Saint movements that have sprung up over the years, to realize that there is a great amount of confusion concerning the way the church is to be governed.
We of the First Quorum of the Restoration Seventy, have been led to take a new approach in an effort to bring some understanding to this confusion:
FIRST: we have broken down the role of church officers into Priesthood, Legislative, Administrative, and Judicial functions. We believe that failure to separate these functions in the past has caused confusion by applying the wrong or improper law to a particular function. We hold fast to the truth that God does not change nor do His words fail. What comes to us in prophecy now, must agree with that which has been given before. Scriptural references have been furnished in those areas that might seem controversial. The Lord himself said, “The scripture cannot be broken”
John 10: 35.
We also submit that when church history, tradition, rules, resolutions , policies, or procedures, are in conflict with the canonized (accepted and approved scripture), it is imperative that we accept the scripture, the word of God, over the minds of men.
SECONDLY: we have proposed resolutions at the end of this work that are in harmony with scriptures and with history, but have for the most part not been enacted by previous church leadership for one reason or another. These resolutions will be brought before the Joint Council, the General Assembly and the Conferences of the church of Jesus Christ for approval before becoming binding upon the body.
Although this work has come forth by many hours of study, fasting and prayer, it is not infallible. We humbly request the reader bring to our attention anything they feel may be in error. We will give it our consideration and if needed, make appropriate corrections prior to any additional printing.
We would also ask you to give this work your prayerful consideration and challenge you to seek the truth that it contains with that same challenge that was given to confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:4,5
“In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains. . .nations shall flow unto it” See Isaiah 2:2
“Joseph Smith, Jr. was given to preside in the midst of my people, and ORGANIZE MY KINGDOM upon the consecrated land; and establish the children of Zion, upon the laws and commandments which have been, and which shall be given, unto you.” D&C 100:6g
The keys of the Kingdom were given to Joseph Smith, Jr. and his assistant presidents to set the whole Church and Kingdom of God on earth in order.
They accomplished this task and magnified their callings by bringing into being the Latter Day Restoration.
The ORACLES OF GOD were the product of this labor. These oracles are contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, The Book of Mormon, and the Inspired version of the Bible. The task given to Joseph Smith of bringing forth the oracles was completed and they were given to the Church.
“And all they who receive the ORACLES OF GOD, let them beware how they hold them, lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby; and stumble and fall, when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.” D&C 87:2b
The Keys of the Kingdom were never to be taken from Joseph in this world and will not be taken from him in the world to come. He was faithful in accomplishing all the work that was required of him by the Lord. See D&C 87: 2 a
The Restored Church was set in order in its fullness by Joseph Smith as he followed the pattern that was received. This resulted in the restoration of the ordinances and priesthood, both the Aaronic and Melchisedec orders. From these two orders, men were chosen or set apart to preside, (as presidents), over the various quorums and functions of the Church. These men were appointed from the two priesthoods, according to the commandments, discernment of Spirit, wisdom, and according to the gifts and talents of God given to men. After this initial “Setting in Order”, the commandment came directing that those officers are to be given full authority and the responsibility to function in their offices and callings.
Full order for the Church and Kingdom is achieved when all the quorums are formed with presiding officers installed for the General Church Administration and for the Stake Administrations.
“And when those officers are ordained and set in their order, in the church, they should be left to administer in the things unto which they were ordained, having charge of the affairs over which they are called and set apart to preside;” D&C 122:8 b
Until full order is achieved, it is the duty and responsibility of the First Presidency, the Twelve, the Seventy, or in case of emergency, a council of High Priests, to set the Church in order. See D&C 122:10a
The following work was first published in America, in 1837. By Apostle Parley P. Pratt, taken from a pamphlet entitled, “A Voice of Warning”
Before we proceed any further in our research, let us agree upon the meaning of the term, the Kingdom of God, or the sense in which we will use it; for some apply this term to the kingdom of glory above, and some to the individual enjoyments of their own souls, while others apply it to his organized government on the earth. Now, when we speak of the kingdom of God, we wish it to be understood that we mean his organized government on the earth.