clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ancient Testaments: Church history created by doers

Consider a scene from "church history" in a previous dispensation:

The time was halfway through the three-year ministry of Jesus. It was autumn, when the weather in northern Israel is mild, the fields and hills greener after a blistering summer.

The place was a commanding mountainside above the sparkling azure inland sea called Galilee.

Assembled there was an audience of Jews, different from the unhearing, unseeing ones we sometimes read about. They hung on the Messiah's every word. He had just organized his church. Now he gave them a standard for measuring their worthiness.

From where they stood or sat upon that mountainside, most could just pick out their own villages and neighborhoods in the vistas below. But what they hungered to see was how to live this counsel when they returned to their homes.

Living it would be crucial, for the Master concluded by saying: "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man" (Matthew 7:24).

This measuring device occupies three chapters of scripture. We call it the Sermon on the Mount. It was given not only to the Jewish saints, but to the Nephites. And now to us. Harold B. Lee called it a constitution — "the constitution for a perfect life" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, p. 195). It is all about doing.

In hearing, we become the Lord's good students. But in doing, we become his good friends.

"Ye are my friends," he said in another place, "if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14-15).

Of the many scriptures that speak of being friends of God, more than half appear in the Doctrine and Covenants. Church history is all about this theme.

Come to think of it, if it weren't for the friends of God — the doers — there could be no church history. Inspiring history has a price.

One who didn't just pose, but kept on doing, was Parley P. Pratt. When he was called to be a teacher among the Missouri Saints, he got started even before having a schoolhouse. He wrote:

"This class, to the number of about 60, met for instruction once a week. The place of meeting was in the open air, under some tall trees, in a retired place in the wilderness, where we prayed, preached and prophesied. … Here great blessings were poured out, and many great and marvelous things were manifested and taught. The Lord gave me great wisdom, and enabled me to teach and edify the Elders, and comfort and encourage them in their preparations for the great work which lay before us. I was also much edified and strengthened. To attend this school I had to travel on foot, and sometimes with bare feet at that, about 6 miles. This I did once a week, besides visiting and preaching in five or six branches a week" (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 93-94).

When we read of those meetings, we sense that some price was paid for the outpourings. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised that "they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness … shall be filled with the Holy Ghost" (3 Nephi 12:6).

Parley the doer, a friend of God, hungered. He paid the price.

No wonder the Lord declared, "I, the Lord, am well pleased … with my servant Parley P. Pratt, for he abideth in me. … I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings, … to the edification of the school, and of the church in Zion" (Doctrine and Covenants 97:3,5).

Wayne E. Brickey, who lives in Gallatin, Mo., is a retired Church Educational System teacher and curriculum writer and has been a tour guide to Holy Land and Mormon history sites. His novel "Before His Manger: The Long Wait for Christ's First Coming" is serialized in weekly segments Fridays on MormonTimes.com.