Doctrine and Covenants 85: Doing Things Your Way or the Lord's Way

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 97–98


When we are given an assignment in the Church, we are often given the responsibility to also determine how to accomplish that assignment (D&C 58:26–29). Sometimes, however, we are asked to fulfill an assignment with specific instructions regarding how to do it. How important is it to follow those instructions?The Prophet Joseph Smith had learned that Bishop Edward Partridge was not giving the Saints in Missouri their inheritances (property and other resources needed to live) in the way the Lord had asked it to be done. He was doing it his own way. Bishop Partridge was not the only one in error. Some Saints were gathering to Missouri but did not want to live the law of consecration—which the Lord said was a requirement of those who gathered to Zion at that time.Doctrine and Covenants 85is part of a letter the Prophet Joseph wrote to William W. Phelps, in Missouri, to set things right. As you read, consider not only what is said but the tone of how it is said. The tone tells us much about how the Lord feels concerning those who want to do things their own way when He has already given clear and specific counsel about what He wants done.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 85

Extract(section heading)Small part taken out 
Inheritances(section heading,vv. 1–3, 7, 11)Property deeded to an individual under the law of consecration 
Transpire(v. 1)Happen, occur 
Apostates(v. 2)Those who leave the Church, deny their testimony of the gospel, and fight against the Brethren 
Is contrary to(v. 3)Goes against, opposite 
Enrolled(vv. 3, 7)Listed, recorded 
Pierceth(v. 6)Penetrates, affects deeply 
Scepter(v. 7)Rod or staff of authority (in this case it is symbolic) 
Asunder(v. 9)Into pieces 

Doctrine and Covenants 85:5, 7, 11—“One Mighty and Strong”

Doctrine and Covenants 85:7notes that if Bishop Partridge did not repent and do things the Lord’s way, the Lord would send “one mighty and strong” to do the duties he should have done. Bishop Partridge did repent, and thus there was no need for “one mighty and strong” to be called to replace him.

Doctrine and Covenants 85:7—“The Book of the Law of God”

President Joseph F. Smith said that the book of the law of God “refers directly to the law of tithing. …

“Some people may not care very much whether their names are recorded or not, but this comes from ignorance of the consequences. If their names are not recorded … they will be cut off from the ordinances of the house of God” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1899, 42). Attending tithing settlement is one way to have your name recorded on the tithing records.

Doctrine and Covenants 85:8—What Does It Mean to “Steady the Ark”?

The ark referred to in the phrase “steady the ark” was the ark of the covenant, which rested in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, or temple, of Israel. The ark had a seat on it, and it represented the place where God dwelt among the Israelites. In2 Samuel 6:6–7(also1 Chronicles 13:9–12) is the account of a man named Uzzah walking beside the cart carrying the ark of the covenant. The cart went over a bump and the ark started to tip. Uzzah reached out to steady the ark and was struck dead. The phrase “steady the ark” has come to refer to those who lack faith in the Lord and His servants and instead do things based on their own wisdom.

Doctrine and Covenants 85:9—What is the Book of Remembrance?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained:

“Adam kept a written account of his faithful descendants in which he recorded their faith and works, their righteousness and devotion, their revelations and visions, and their adherence to the revealed plan of salvation. To signify the importance of honoring our worthy ancestors and of hearkening to the great truths revealed to them, Adam called his record abook of remembrance.It was prepared ‘according to the pattern given by the finger of God.’ (Moses 6:4–6, 46.)

“Similar records have been kept by the saints in all ages. (Mal. 3:16–17;3 Ne. 24:15–16.) Many of our present scriptures have come down to us because they were first written by prophets who were following Adam’s pattern of keeping a book of remembrance. The Church keeps similar records today (D. & C. 85) and urges its members to keep their own personal and family books of remembrance” (Mormon Doctrine,100).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or B as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 85.

Activity A iconWhat Difference Does It Make?

  1. 1.

    What do you learn inDoctrine and Covenants 85about the importance of Church records? ( also the “Understanding the Scriptures” section forD&C 85:7and the scripture reference the Lord gave inv. 12).

  2. 2.

    How might what you learn from this revelation affect the way you fulfilled a calling as a secretary or clerk in the Church?

Activity B iconGive an Example

  1. 1.

    After readingDoctrine and Covenants 85and the “Understanding the Scriptures” section forDoctrine and Covenants 85:8, write a short example of how a person your age might be tempted to “steady the ark” in our day.

  2. 2.

    Based on what you have learned by reading inDoctrine and Covenants 85and in the Old Testament regarding the idea of steadying the ark, what counsel would you give to someone who ms to be an “ark steadier”?