In August of 1830, Newel Knight and his wife Sally visited Joseph and Emma in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Since neither woman had yet been confirmed, they agreed to perform the ordinance and have the sacrament together. Joseph set out to buy some wine for the occasion, when after he had traveled only a short distance, he was met by a heavenly messenger with a new instruction. The Church was rolling forth with understanding coming line upon line.


In August of 1830, Newel Knight and his wife Sally visited Joseph and Emma in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Since neither woman had yet been confirmed, they agreed to perform the ordinance and have the sacrament together. Joseph set out to buy some wine for the occasion, when after he had traveled only a short distance, he was met by a heavenly messenger with a new instruction. The Church was rolling forth with understanding coming line upon line.


Hello, we are Scot and Maurine Proctor and we’d like to welcome you to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. This week it will be on Doctrine and Covenants 27,28 “All Things Must be Done in Order.” Transcripts for the podcast are on Meridian Magazine, along with articles and insights from some of the best writers in the Church. We hope you will come and check it out every day at You can find the podcasts and transcripts specifically at


The angel told Joseph, “For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat  or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins.

“Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine neither strong drink of your enemies” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:2).

Remember Joseph was persecuted from his earliest days and he did have enemies.

Brigham Young said, “Consequently we use water as though it were wine; for we are commanded to drink not of wine for this sacred purpose except it be made by our own hands”. (JD, August 19, 1877, 19:92.)


Yet, in this section, the Lord also says of the sacrament: “Marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 27:5).

This ties in with what he told the apostles at the last supper as recorded in JST Mark 14:25. “Of this ye shall bear record; for I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine with you, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

What this is referring to is the meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman that will be part of the Lord’s Second Coming. Bruce R. McConkie called this meeting “the best-kept secret set forth in revealed word. It is something about which the world knows nothing; it is a doctrine that has scarcely dawned on most of the Latter-day Saints.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah, 578-79). We will be talking about this in a future podcast.


The purpose of the sacrament is that we always remember Him and are cleansed again by His atonement. President Dallin H. Oaks explained what it means to always remember Him. It is to remember the magnificent and generous gift He has given us, as well as the covenants we have made.

President Oaks said, ”In the scriptures, it often means to keep a person in memory, together with associated emotions like love, loyalty, or gratitude. The stronger the emotion, the more vivid and influential the memory.”

He told this story. “Shortly before my wife was to give birth to our first child, we learned that the baby must be born by cesarean section. I was then a student at Brigham Young University, going to school full time and working almost full time. From my meager earnings, a little over $1.00 an hour, we had saved enough money for the hospital and doctor bills, but nothing in our plans or emotions had prepared us for this shocking announcement. We scarcely knew what a cesarean birth was, and we feared the worst.


“A few days later,” he said, “we faced our ordeal. After what seemed an eternity, I stood at a window in the hospital hallway, looking into a basket containing our firstborn. The joy of seeing her and knowing that my beloved companion had survived the operation was inexpressible. As I experienced that moment, I became aware of a stranger standing beside me. He introduced himself as Dr. N. Frederick Hicken, the surgeon who had come from Salt Lake City to perform the operation. His presence reminded me that a surgeon’s fee had not been in our plans, and I began to ask him if I could pay his fee over a period of time. “Don’t worry about that, young man,” he said in a kindly way. ‘This is one from the Hickens to the Oakses.’ Before I could stammer a thank-you, he was gone.

“I was filled with wonder at this unexpected gift. Our benefactor must have known my father, a young medical doctor who died when I was a boy. He must have given us this gift because of something my father had done. I marveled at the goodness of this man who had come to us in our crisis and had, without recompense, used his powers to preserve the lives of those I loved. The emotion of that moment made the memory indelible. The name of that doctor is precious to me. I will always remember him.”


Of course, you would always remember with gratitude someone who did something so remarkable for you—something that was beyond what you could do for yourself, especially when you are in trouble. That is where our hearts should be remembering the Savior as we partake of the sacrament.

We also see a remarkable testimony in Section 27:5 that states that, “the Book of Mormon, [contains] the fulness of my everlasting gospel.” The fulness. President Ezra Taft Benson, said, “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants testify of each other. You cannot believe one and not the other.

The Book of Mormon testifies of modern books of scripture. It refers to them as ‘other books’ and ‘last records’ which ‘establish the truth’ of the Bible and make known the ‘plain and precious things which have been taken away’ from the Bible (1 Ne. 13:39–40).


President Benson continued, “Excluding the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants is by far the greatest external witness and evidence which we have from the Lord that the Book of Mormon is true. At least thirteen sections in the Doctrine and Covenants give us confirming knowledge and divine witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God (see D&C 1D&C 3D&C 5D&C 8D&C 10–11D&C 17–18D&C 20D&C 27D&C 42D&C 84D&C 135).

“The Doctrine and Covenants is the binding link between the Book of Mormon and the continuing work of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors.”


President Benson said, “In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn of temple work, eternal families, the degrees of glory, Church organization, and many other great truths of the Restoration.

“The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ. The Doctrine and Covenants brings men to Christ’s kingdom.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants”

These books witness of each other in a way that is self-reinforcing, working together.


Now Section 28, is about some confusion that had arisen around a new member named Hiram Page and is a deep lesson on Church government. It is September of 1830, and since the Church was only organized 5 months earlier, the members are new and green. They don’t have, as we do, two centuries of understanding how the Lord’s kingdom on the earth should work.

They don’t understand even a thimble full yet of how the Lord will govern the church. The Book of Mormon has been published, but not Joseph Smith’s revelations that will later become the Doctrine and Covenants.


They are certainly thrilled that the Lord will give them personal revelation, but they don’t yet fully comprehend that the Lord’s word for the entire church will only come through Joseph Smith, that the prophet will be the Lord’s spokesman on earth and not just anyone who claims special revelation.

It can be tempting to deride them for their ignorance in giving any creedance to the revelations that Hiram Page apparently received through his stone, but they are still learning. This ignorance is a deft opportunity for Satan to deceive them—and he does. 

Even Oliver Cowdery was confused on this count. Oliver wrote to Joseph in the summer of 1830 a surprising letter from the Whitmer home. Oliver said, “I command you in the name of God to erase those words, that no priestcraft be amongst us.”


What had moved Oliver to such a forceful and demanding note to the prophet? According to Revelations in Context,“ Under divine commission, Oliver had written a document called the Articles of the Church of Christ’ that was later superseded by a second document written by Joseph, titled “Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ.” Joseph’s document used much of the same language but added significant passages clarifying and expanding on Oliver’s original. Joseph’s later document was accepted by the Church at its June 1830 conference as binding. Notwithstanding the Church’s acceptance, Oliver disapproved of a phrase in the list of requirements for baptism: ‘And truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins.’”

Joseph wrote back asked “by what authority he [Oliver had taken] upon him to command me to alter, or erase, to add or diminish to or from a revelation or commandment from Almighty God.”


Here’s some background on Hiram Page. He had studied folk medicine, was married to Catherine Whitmer, the oldest of the Whitmer family and was one of the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Because he was a member of the family, of course, the Whitmers put much stock in what he said. Oliver Cowdery would also later marry one of the Whitmer daughters and so he was close to the family, already like a brother.

Before the conference of 1830, Hiram found a stone that was five-by-three inches in length and one-half inch thick with two holes. He believed this stone had special qualities that enabled him to be a “revelator” and he wore it on a chain around his neck. Through this stone, he claimed to receive revelations identifying where the “American New Jerusalem” would be and the proper governing process of the Church.


He created quite a stir and some believed him. Remember, the people are not deeply schooled in church government yet, and they do understand that the Lord will give them revelation. What those who believed Page lacked was the understanding that revelation for the Church would come through the prophet. It was in this context, then that the words from Section 28 become clear and are directed toward Oliver Cowdery.

“But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.”


Oliver’s job is “to declare faithfully the commandments and the revelations, with power and authority unto the church”that are given to Joseph. He may write and teach when moved upon by the Spirit, but what he says should be taken as wisdom, not commandment.  

Not only is Oliver to take Hiram aside and advise him to stop, but also is told in verse 6.

And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church.”


Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk in 1980, called Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet. We will talk about what this means and what it doesn’t mean in a moment. I was in the audience when he gave this talk and took exacting notes, it was so important to me. I came home and put my notes on a 3×5 card so I could remember what he said.

He said, “First, the prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.” He quoted Doctrine and Covenants 21:  “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”

Next, he said, “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.”


This may sound, at first, like dismissing the standard works. Far from it. The prophets speak in a way that is consistent with the standard works, but they are also addressing our times, our needs and our challenges—the revelation that God has for us right now.

President Benson said, “Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

“The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean “Today’s News Today.” God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us.”


President Benson said, “Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

“President Wilford Woodruff stated: “I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)

“Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

“Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects.”


“Sixth: The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.

“Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet Joseph, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you” (D&C 21:4; italics added).

Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

Said President Harold B. Lee:

You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153]


President Benson said, “But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. “Even in the Church,” said President Kimball, “many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday’s prophets and mentally stone the living ones” (Instructor, 95:257).

He noted that President Marion G. Romney said, ““It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets.” And then he gives this illustration:

One day when President Grant was living, I sat in my office across the street following a general conference. A man came over to see me, an elderly man. He was very upset about what had been said in this conference by some of the Brethren, including myself. I could tell from his speech that he came from a foreign land. After I had quieted him enough so he would listen, I said, “Why did you come to America?” “I am here because a prophet of God told me to come.” “Who was the prophet;” I continued. “Wilford Woodruff.” “Do you believe Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God?” “Yes, I do.” “Do you believe that President Joseph F. Smith was a prophet of God?” “Yes, sir.”

Then came the sixty-four dollar question. “Do you believe that Heber J. Grant is a prophet of God?” His answer, “I think he ought to keep his mouth shut about old age assistance.” [In Conference Report, April 1953, p. 125]


President Benson said, “Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.

“There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and the reasoning of men—between the prophet and the politician or professor. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire” (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173).

“Would it seem reasonable to an eye doctor to be told to heal a blind man by spitting in the dirt, making clay, and applying it to the man’s eyes and then telling him to wash in a contaminated pool? Yet this is precisely the course that Jesus took with one man, and he was healed. (See John 9:6-7.) Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river? Yet this is precisely what the prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5.)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.[Isaiah 55:8, 9]


President Benson continued: “Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual…”

“Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.

“When a people are righteous they want the best to lead them in government. Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo, and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters and of his words the Lord Himself said, “Great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government.”


President Benson continued, “Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

“The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them; otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet…

“Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

“As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out. As we come closer to the Lord’s second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them.”


Next, President Benson said, “Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church.”

“Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the first presidency—follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer…

In a general conference of the Church President N. Eldon Tanner stated:

The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday morning, telling us what our responsibilities are. . . .


“A man said to me after that, ‘You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn’t right, and it doesn’t appeal to them, then that’s different.” He said, “Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn’t want.’

“I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow. When we decide that there are some of them that we will not keep or follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep. [In Conference Report, October 1966, p. 98; emphasis added]


President Benson asked these questions, “I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true. If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord, then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain. How closely do our lives harmonize with the words of the Lord’s anointed—the living prophet, the President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency?”. (Ezra Taft Benson, Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,

As we consider this talk, it is important to understand what it doesn’t mean. Having a living prophet does not infringe on our agency or our capacity for thought and considering issues deeply. It does not mean that we are instructed in all things. It does not mean that we should be blind followers. What instead, the Lord asks us to do is with the gift of the Holy Ghost which we have been given seek a confirming witness. Rather than being blind followers we are confirmed followers.


Duane Boyce and Kim White wrote, “The presiding Brethren are the only ones with the keys and authority to counsel together and follow the Spirit to convey the word of God to the Church and the world. But they do not need to be the only witnesses of what the Lord has revealed to them. Any of us can seek and receive a confirmation of their words, policies, and decisions. Joseph Smith said: “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast he is able to bear them.”

They suggest that especially before actions that could be controversial in some circles, that you don’t pray to know if the decision was right. You assume it is. Instead, you pray to know that the decision was right so that you can have your own testimony in the matter.

“Boyd K. Packer stressed the importance of becoming independent witnesses of gospel matters. Regarding the teachings of Church leaders, he encouraged us to tap “the same source of intelligence” that they are tapping. Then, he said, “our agency is protected, and we are on the right course. Then we will do things because we know they are right and are the truth. We will know this from our own inquiry, not simply because someone else knows it.”


President Russell M. Nelson said, “When you know a prophet is a prophet, you can approach the Lord in humility and faith and ask for your own witness about whatever His prophet has proclaimed.” (From unpublished manuscript, Duane Boyce, Kim White, The Last Safe Place).

The idea that we are to be filled with the Spirit and our own witness about the prophet’s teachings could not be more important. A few years ago, we were in the old city of Jerusalem leading a tour, and through the crowds, we looked down a street and saw a man dressed in every way like Jesus. He had the typical ancient robes of Israel, shoulder-length dark hair, a beard. He was barefoot, and it was clear he was trying the best he could to portray the Savior. He made a stir wherever he went, of course.

One night, Maurine and I were walking through the streets of the old city quite late at night, when all the shops were shuttered. The streets were dark except for an occasional lone bulb. We were quite alone, and heading for the gate, when up ahead we saw one other figure. It was the man dressed like Jesus and we caught up with him to ask him about himself and why he was here. Because he was hungry, we took him to dinner, so talked with him for about an hour.


Now here was a man who looked like Jesus in garb and hair, but do you think that for one minute we thought he was Jesus? Of course not. We suppose that it will be as easy for us to discern true prophets and true prophecy, as it was for Scot and me to know absolutely for certain that we weren’t walking and dining with the Lord.

That isn’t always the case. Even in the Church when we know who the prophet is, we must rely on the spiritual witnesses we have received for many years and in many ways, so that we are never fooled by a professor, popular trend or anything that claims to have an edge on the prophets. Don’t the prophets know what it is going to take to move the Church forward, which means to comply with popular voices? Like the character we met in Jerusalem, we’ve seen that you can dress up in the garb, even sound like you have some authority at least in learning or persuasion, and only be false prophet with ideas that only mimic the world. 


Now in Section 28, Oliver is also told that he will be called on a mission to the Lamanites, and  in Section 32 we learn that Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson and Peter Whitmer Jr. are also called. This mission would change the entire future of the Church.

Parley P. Pratt was a new, fired up Church member, and as the four made their way west, they stopped in Parley’s old neighborhood in Kirtland, Ohio and in nearby Mentor where Parley visited his old friend Sidney Rigdon, a powerful Reformed Baptist preacher. Known for his polished skill as an orator, Sidney was much respected by the people in the area and he, like Alexander Campbell committed to restoring primitive Christianity.


Parley presented Sidney with a Book of Mormon. Sidney was not enthusiastic and was engaged with his own congregation and studies, but committed to read it because of his friendship with Parley.

“He said he would ‘endeavor to ascertain whether it be a revelation from God or not.’ Sidney’s son, John W. Rigdon, said that when he was informed that Joseph Smith was a young man with ‘hardly a common school education, Sidney replied, “If that is all the education he has got, he never wrote this book.” 

Author Karl Ricks Anderson wrote, “President A. W. Cowles of Elmira College interviewed Sidney Rigdon in 1868 and recorded that Sidney’s beliefs on this point had not changed: ‘Rigdon expressed the utmost amazement that such a man should write a book which seemed to shed a flood of light on all the old scriptures, open all their profoundest mysteries, and give them perfect consistency and complete system. In his fresh enthusiasm he exclaimed that if God ever gave a revelation, surely this must be divine.’”


Anderson continues, “After prayer and much meditation, Sidney decided to be baptized. This decision imposed a dilemma upon him, a dilemma that was described by Joseph Smith in the Prophet’s history:

The honors and applause of the world were showered down upon him, his wants were abundantly supplied, and were anticipated. He was respected by the entire community, and his name was a tower of strength. His [counsel] was sought for, respected and esteemed.—But if he should unite with the Church of Christ, his prospects of wealth and affluence would vanish; his family dependent upon him for support, must necessarily share his humiliation and poverty. He was aware that his character and his reputation must suffer in the estimation of the community. 


That was quite a sacrifice and for his wife Phebe, too.

Anderson said, “Realizing that baptism, with the subsequent loss of employment and of the home and property provided by his congregation, would greatly affect his family, Sidney asked his wife, Phebe, “My dear, you have once followed me into poverty, are you again willing to do the same?” Phebe’s devotion to the Lord and to her husband were clear in her answer: “I have weighed the matter, I have contemplated on the circumstances in which we may be placed; I have counted the cost, and I am perfectly satisfied to follow you; it is my desire to do the will of God, come life or come death.” (Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland, Deseret Book, 1989)


The four missionaries asked Sidney permission to speak to his Mentor congregation. The History of the Church reports:

“The appointment was accordingly published, and a large and respectable congregation assembled. Oliver Cowdery and Parley P. Pratt severally addressed the meeting. At the conclusion, elder Rigdon arose and stated to the congregation that the information they had that evening received, was of an extraordinary character, and certainly demanded their most serious consideration: and as the apostle advised his brethren ‘to prove all things and hold fast that which is good,’ so he would exhort his brethren to do likewise, and give the matter a careful investigation; and not turn against it, without being fully convinced of its being an imposition, lest they should, possibly, resist the truth.”


Parley wrote: “We tarried in this region for some time, and devoted our time to the ministry, and visiting from house to house. At length Mr. Rigdon and many others became convinced that they had no authority to minister in the ordinances of God; and that they had not been legally baptized and ordained. They, therefore, came forward and were baptized by us, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. . . .

“In two or three weeks from our arrival in the neighborhood with the news, we had baptized one hundred and twenty-seven souls, and this number soon increased to one thousand.”


Now remember, this was just a stop for the four missionaries on their way to their mission to the Lamanites, but the Lord knows who is ready for the gospel and where that spiritual fire will burn.


We have so much more to say about this mission to Kirtland, but that will have to wait for future podcasts. Thank you for being with us today. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. The transcript can be found at And we hope you are reading Meridian Magazine online every day where we feature hundreds of top-notch Latter-day Saint writers.

Next week we’ll study Doctrine and Covenants 29 “Jesus Christ Will Gather His People.” Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music and to Mariah Proctor Scoresby who produced this show. See you then.