“You Have Heard My Voice”


In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord speaks to us metaphorically: “You can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.”

“You Have Heard My Voice”

The “voice” of Jesus Christ permeates the Doctrine and Covenants. In the first two verses, for example, the Lord invokes his power and authority, calling all to attention:

“Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together.

“For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated.”

In the Doctrine and Covenants, Jesus Christ—“I the Lord”—addresses his people today personally. Through this modern-day book of revelations, he gives us a firsthand testimony of himself. The Doctrine and Covenants is our book, a record of revelations that gives us immediate, firsthand experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. We can testify as well as the ancient Nephites could testify (see Mosiah 24:13; Alma 9:20–21; 3 Ne. 10:3–7) that the Lord has spoken to our generation:

“These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man;

“For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; …

“Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.” (D&C 18:34–36.)

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Savior is clearly the center. He reveals himself to us in his own words, telling us who he is. What, then, does he have to say about himself?

The titles of Jesus Christ. In referring to himself or his work, the Lord identifies himself in the Doctrine and Covenants by at least 18 descriptive titles. He uses the phrase “I am …” at least 140 times, and three times he also calls himself “I AM”—the name by which Israel should know their God.

Some of the titles describe his relationship to us. The title Redeemer appears in the Doctrine and Covenants 24 times; Savior, 19 times. Jesus, a Greek name meaning God is help, is used 19 times by itself and 81 times with Christ. He is our lawgiver (3 times) but also our advocate (5 times). More than anything else, though, he is our Lord—the word is used over 300 times, more than any other descriptive title, including God.

Alpha and Omega is used 13 times; Beginning and the End, 12 times. Only Begotten appears 13 times. The Lord refers to himself as endless and eternal 5 and 11 times, respectively. Jehovah appears 6 times, while Bridegroom appears 5 times. These titles both teach us about the Lord and invoke respect for his name:

“I am from above, and my power lieth beneath. I am over all, and in all, and through all, and search all things, and the day cometh that all things shall be subject unto me.

“Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ.

“Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips.” (D&C 63:59–61.)

The Creator. Not only does the Doctrine and Covenants affirm Jesus’ role in the creation—“all things were made by him, and through him, and of him” (D&C 93:10)—but it also gives us an intimate glimpse of that role in that creation:

“Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, … the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; …

“I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.” (D&C 38:1, 3.)

The Redeemer. Jesus himself described the price he paid to save man, a description found nowhere else in scripture: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.” (D&C 19:18.)

Because of this sacrifice, he could intercede with the Father on our behalf: “I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.” (D&C 38:4.)

The Bridegroom. Sometimes Christ referred to himself as the Bridegroom when he prophesied of his second coming. The Church is the bride, and Jesus, the Bridegroom, will come to his disciples: “Be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom.” (D&C 33:17.)

All references to the Bridegroom refer to the second coming of the Lord. He charges us that we should prepare ourselves for that event—“Prepare ye the supper of the Lamb, make ready for the Bridegroom” (D&C 65:3)—watching for “a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together” (D&C 88:93).

The Father’s authority given to his Son. At times, the Son speaks with the authority of the Father, in the voice of the Father. During the administration of President Joseph F. Smith, the First Presidency and the Twelve explained, “The Father placed His name upon the Son; and Jesus Christ spoke and ministered in and through the Father’s name; and so far as power, authority, and Godship are concerned His words and acts were and are those of the Father.” (Improvement Era, August 1916, p. 940.)

Thus, the Son of God exercises his divine authority as he directs the plan of salvation. For example, in the beginning of section 29, Jesus Christ identifies himself: “Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I AM, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins.” [D&C 29:1]

Later, though, in the forty-second verse, he speaks in the Father’s name: “I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son.”

The Lord reminds us that he and the Father are one (see D&C 20:28), so it is not surprising that he speaks at times as the Father. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, “In giving revelations, our Savior speaks at times for himself; at other times for the Father and in the Father’s name, as though he were the Father.” (Bruce R. McConkie, comp., Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954, 1:27.)

The glory given to the Father. Throughout the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord always gave the glory to the Father, even for the Atonement: “Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” (D&C 19:19.)

When the Lord gave directions establishing a storehouse for the poor in Zion, he said the storehouse was “for a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto [his] church, to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of [our] Father who is in heaven.” (D&C 78:4.)

The head of his church. Jesus Christ tells us that he personally established his church and directs it. He chose his servants, gave them commandments directing them how to build the Church, and endowed them with the power to do so. (See D&C 1:30; D&C 20:1–3.) He sent heavenly messengers to give his servants the keys to his work. (See D&C 27:5, 8, 12–13; D&C 128:20–21.) He named his church. (See D&C 115:4.)

To numerous individuals, he said, “Thou art called to labor in my vineyard, and to build up my church, and to bring forth Zion.” (D&C 39:13.) Today, through his appointed servants, he still calls individuals to his work. He tells us that his work shall succeed because he will sustain it:

“Whosoever I will shall go forth among all nations, and it shall be told them what they shall do; for I have a great work laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved, and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power shall stay my hand.” (D&C 38:33.)

The Lord also tells us that he directs his church through his prophet. (D&C 21:4–7; D&C 28:2, 5–7.) When we receive the words of the prophet, we receive the words of Christ, for they are the same. (See D&C 1:38.)

The lawgiver. On many occasions, the Lord called his disciples together to receive his law. (See D&C 20:37–84; D&C 42.) As he explained, “Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church.” (D&C 42:59.)

He not only gave commandments concerning individual conduct (see D&C 42:18–28), but also defined church offices and their duties (see D&C 107:6–39, 60–99). If we keep the law he has given us, we have his promise of eternal life. (See D&C 42:61.) We also have his promise that the covenants will be enough to establish us as his people and that eventually we can receive “all that [the] Father hath.” (See D&C 42:67; D&C 84:38.)

The source of strength. In one revelation, the Lord told his followers, “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.” (D&C 68:6.) The Lord wants us to understand that he is our protector. Jesus explained to Joseph Smith the limitations of the Prophet’s enemies, “Their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do.” (D&C 122:9.) To each of us, the Savior has instructed, “There is a time appointed for every man, according as his works shall be.” (D&C 121:25.)

The Lord also described to the Prophet the folly of relying on man instead of God: “Remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;

“For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.” (D&C 3:3–4.)

The giver of scripture. In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, and again many times later, the Lord testified that he gave us the Book of Mormon, commanding us to study it. (See D&C 1:29; D&C 3:16–20; D&C 11:22; D&C 20:8–9; D&C 84:57.) He also restored fragments of other scriptures for our use. (See D&C 7; D&C 45; D&C 93:7–17.) In his concern for us, he continues to give modern scripture, which we are also to study:

“Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.” (D&C 1:37; see also D&C 11:22.)

Indeed, in latter-day revelations, the Lord explains several difficult-to-understand scriptural passages and concepts. For example, in a number of sections, the Lord allows a question-and-answer format, explaining specific verses in Isaiah (D&C 113), John (D&C 130:3–11), 1 Corinthians (D&C 74), and Revelation (D&C 77). In other sections, he explains scriptural concepts such as priesthood and the patriarchal lineage associated with it. (See D&C 107:1–14, 40–57.)

Finally, the Lord tells us why he gives scripture: “I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.” (D&C 93:19.)

The Doctrine and Covenants is a modern-day key to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He has revealed many more things about himself in that book than can possibly be covered in a short article. No wonder he has commanded us many times to study the words that he has revealed. Then, as we do so, the Holy Ghost will testify that the voice in the Doctrine and Covenants is truly the voice of Jesus Christ, and we can keep this commandment from our Savior:

“Be still and know that I am God.” (D&C 101:16.)

[photos] Photography by Craig Dimond

Clark V. Johnson is an associate professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University. He serves as high priests group leader in the Provo Seventh Ward, Provo Utah Grandview Stake.