Chapter 14: Preparing to Live a Consecrated Life

The Lord has declared it to be His will that His people enter into covenant, even as Enoch and his people did, which of necessity must be before we shall have the privilege of building the Center Stake of Zion.1

In the early days of the Church, the Prophet Joseph had great difficulties in getting the Saints to live the law of consecration. In order for the law of consecration to be successful, the Saints must learn to live a consecrated life, and to understand that they are consecrating their property to the Lord, and not to the bishop.2 Everything that mankind “owns” on the earth is actually the Lord’s. We can take nothing with us when we die. We are merely temporary stewards.3

President Brigham Young said that this was one of the crucial reasons why the early Saints were unable to keep the law of consecration---they could not give up all that they owned to the Lord. He aptly described the attitude of the Saints in the early days of the Church:

“In their weekly meetings they had told how the Lord had blessed them and forgiven their sins, what glorious visions they have had, and had declared that the Lord was present, and that they had angels to visit them, and they felt so good that they would give all for Christ. Said the Lord to Joseph, ‘See if they will give their farms to me.’ What was the result? They would not do it, though it was one of the plainest things in the world.”4

In this same discourse, President Young warned the Saints they must reach the point in their lives when they are willing to give all that they have to the Lord---to whom it rightly belongs:

“When the Lord gave the revelation instructing us in our duty as to consecrating what we have, if the people then could have understood things precisely as they are, and had obeyed that revelation, it would have been neither more nor less than yielding up that which is not their own, to Him to whom it belongs. . . .

“It is plain that what I seem to have, I do not in reality own, and I will hand it back to the Lord when He calls for it; it belongs to Him, and it is His all the time. I do not own it, I never did. He has called upon the people to consecrate their property, to see whether they could understand so simple a thing as this.”5

When President Young attempted to establish the business cooperative known as the United Order among the Saints in Utah in April 1874,6 he was saddened at the response of some of the Saints. Two years later he said:

“One man rises up here, and another there, saying ‘The Lord does not want my property; it is Brother Brigham, or it is the bishop, and I don’t feel disposed to enter into this organization.’ This, I admit, is partly true; the Lord does not care anything about his property.

“Who made the earth, and the riches thereof? To whom does the earth belong? ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof’ [Psalms 24:1]. Do you suppose that the Lord cares anything about a man’s farm? Nothing at all, for the whole earth is His. At His command it is gone, and the man who claimed possession of any part of it knoweth not whither it had gone.

“But what does the Lord want of His people? It is written in this Bible, and is said to be the words of the Lord, ‘Son, give me thine heart’ [Proverbs 23:26]. Without it, you are not worth anything; with it, He has your gold and silver, your houses and lands, your wives and children, your all.”7

There is no doubt that it will require a spirit of deep humility and gratitude in the hearts of each of the Saints to fully implement the law of consecration. Every person will need to overcome the “natural man,”8 who does not want to consecrate his property to the Lord. President Young noted with sorrow that many members of the Church had great difficulty in humbling themselves to obey this law:

“It [the law of consecration] was one of the first commandments or revelations given to this people after they had the privilege of organizing themselves as a Church, as a body, as the kingdom of God on the earth. I observed then, and I now think, that it will be one of the last revelations which the people will receive into their hearts and understand, of their own free will and choice, and esteem it as a pleasure, a privilege, and a blessing unto them to observe and keep most holy.”9

Even though it might seem like a sacrifice to consecrate all that we have to the Lord, in reality it is “a pleasure, a privilege and a blessing” as President Young has pointed out. The Lord reminded those who enter into the law of consecration that “inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these [your brethren], ye do it unto me.”10 This is the primary objective of the law of consecration, to help each other and “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.”11

A Step Toward Building the City of New Jerusalem

The prophets have told us that the law of consecration and stewardship must be implemented and functioning before the Saints are allowed to return and build the holy city of New Jerusalem. President Young told the Saints:

“The Lord has declared it to be His will that His people enter into covenant, even as Enoch and his people did, which of necessity must be before we shall have the privilege of building the Center Stake of Zion, for the power and glory of God will be there, and none but the pure in heart will be able to live and enjoy it.”12

“If the people called Latter-day Saints do not become one in temporal things as they are in spiritual things, they will not redeem and build up the Zion of God upon the earth.”13

Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow also touched on this same subject, telling the Saints:

“Enoch had to practice this law, and we shall have to do the same if we are ever accepted of God as he was. It has been promised that the New Jerusalem will be built up in our day and generation, and it will have to be done by the United Order of Zion [i.e. the law of consecration] and according to celestial law.”14

“In regard to the principles of the United Order: its principles too are sacred, and I assure you we will never go back to Jackson County, Missouri, there to build up the New Jerusalem of the latter days, until there is a perfect willingness on our part to conform to its rules and principles.”15

Only those who are purified, refined and willing to submit to the will of the Lord will be worthy enough to inhabit the sacred lands of the city of New Jerusalem. Brigham Young had seen firsthand why the Lord had allowed the mobs to drive the Saints from Jackson County in 1833, and he warned:

“This is the land of Zion; but we are not yet prepared to go and establish the Center Stake of Zion. The Lord tried this in the first place. He called the people together to the place where the New Jerusalem and the great temple will be built, and where He will prepare for the City of Enoch. And He gave revelation after revelation; but the people could not abide them, and the Church was scattered and peeled, and the people hunted from place to place till, finally, they were driven into the mountains, and here we are.

“Now, it is for you and me to prepare to return back again . . . to build up the Center Stake of Zion. We are not prepared to do this now, but we are here to learn until we are of one heart and of one mind in the things of this life.”16

President Ezra Taft Benson also reminded the Saints in our day that the poison of pride needs to be removed from our hearts so that we are prepared to live the law of consecration:

“My dear brethren and sisters, we must prepare to redeem Zion. It was essentially the sin of pride that kept us from establishing Zion in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was the same sin of pride that brought consecration to an end among the Nephites. Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion.”17

As pride is eliminated from the hearts of the people, the law of consecration will go forward and Zion will grow and flourish.

Becoming Like the City of Enoch

The law of consecration was first established upon the earth when it was revealed by the Lord to the prophet Enoch. Over a period of 365 years, Enoch taught his people these principles until the entire city had become a place of righteousness, and the city of Enoch was translated and removed from the earth.18 Brigham Young warned us that in the latter days we will have much less time than Enoch did:

“Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years in getting a people ready to receive the blessings the Lord had to bestow upon them, but in the latter days His work will be cut short in righteousness.”19

The Saints today have been blessed with the teachings of the Savior and the revelations through ancient and modern prophets. This knowledge was initially lacking for the people of Enoch. These teachings can help the Saints to more quickly approach the unity of Zion, to become of one heart and one mind. It is by following the Savior’s teaching to “love the Lord God with all thy heart, and . . . love thy neighbor as thyself,”20 that the law of consecration will be successful. Speaking of the Saints, Lorenzo Snow said:

“They should act in the spirit of our Master, a servant of all, that they learn to consider and esteem in the same affectionate interest, the welfare of all, as they do that of themselves, and be in very deed fathers to the people. Then will they enter into the spirit of the two great commands upon which, said the Savior, ‘hang the law and the Prophets,’ namely, loving the Lord with all our might, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves [see Matthew 22:37-40].

“This, in my opinion, is the foundation of our future success, temporally and spiritually, in this United Order. Until we come down to the bedrock of honesty and sincerity in this matter, dealing with temporal as with spiritual things, whole-heartedly, holding all and ourselves sacred to the service of God, we may expect more or less failure.”21

The law of consecration has been temporally halted since the days of the Prophet Joseph because the Saints were not spiritually mature enough to live it. Someday, when we are prepared for it, it will be restored, and our lives will be greatly blessed because of it. President Joseph F. Smith told the Saints:

“Even the principles that were taught to Enoch have been revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith; but the people are not prepared for them and so they are postponed, delayed, or shelved for the time being, and we are trying to work ourselves up to the standard before God, or to the point in which we will be worthy to engage in the order of Enoch, in which we may become more perfect than we can possibly be under the present system that we are governed by.”22

The trials of the Saints in the last days will help prepare their hearts and minds to fully accept the law of consecration. It is not easy to consecrate everything to the Lord. It requires a deep and abiding belief in the principle of charity to correctly live the law of consecration. Charity and love must be felt from the depth of one’s soul so that jealousy and greed do not rise up and destroy the law of consecration.

Necessity is often the mother of invention, and when the Saints are cut off from the commerce of the wicked world, they will learn to rely upon each other. This will cause a spirit of charity to increase among the Saints, and, as they are immersed in this feeling of brotherly love, it will prepare them to accept and live the principles of the law of consecration and stewardship.

The Law of Consecration Will Bring Many Blessings

The Savior and the prophets have told us that those who will faithfully obey the principles of the law of consecration will be richly blessed. Lorenzo Snow prophesied that the cooperation and unity that will occur because of the law of consecration will bring protection and salvation to the Saints in the last days:

“I believe if the Latter-day Saints would go forward and establish the United Order [i.e. the law of consecration] in their midst more than they do, the Lord would more abundantly sustain and bless us, and provide remedies against the evils to which we are exposed---persecution and difficulties from outside.”23

Lorenzo Snow further expanded on this idea in a later discourse, promising the Saints that the law of consecration would be a means of their temporal salvation in the latter days:

“We should understand that the Lord has provided, when the days of trouble come upon the nations, a place for you and me, and we will be preserved as Noah was preserved, not in an ark, but we will be preserved by going into these principles of union by which we can accomplish the work of the Lord and surround ourselves with those things that will preserve us from the difficulties that are now coming upon the world, the judgments of the Lord.”24

It is remarkable that the Lord, in His providence, has provided the means whereby the Saints can join together and assist each other in the difficult times of the latter days. This unity will bring strength and power, and it will be a means of protecting the righteous who will humbly follow the Lord with a heart full of charity.

An Organization to Bless the Human Race

President Brigham Young was shown a vision of the beauty of the organization of the Saints under the principles of the law of consecration and stewardship. He said it was a splendid organization, and thrilled him to the depths of his soul:

“I have looked upon the community of the Latter-day Saints in vision and beheld them organized as one great family of heaven, each person performing his several duties in his line of industry, working for the good of the whole more than for individual aggrandizement; and in this I have beheld the most beautiful order that the mind of man can contemplate, and the grandest results for the building up of the kingdom of God and the spread of righteousness upon the earth.”25

The law of consecration will be the means of bringing order and hope to the Saints during the chaotic events of the latter days. It will require deep conviction and sincere faith to change our present-day Babylonian attitudes to the correct mind set that the Lord requires. But once this transition occurs, it will rapidly become a source of hope that cannot be found in the world today.

When the law of consecration is fully implemented by the Prophet Joseph and is functioning to its fullest capacity, it will disperse goodness throughout the world. It will fill the earth with hope and equity as the poor are helped and raised up. All of society will benefit, and the standard of living in every community will be elevated.

During this time the Saints will also be greatly enriched with heavenly knowledge, for the Prophet Joseph will be able to complete some of the spiritual tasks that he did not finish while he was here in mortality. The minds of the Saints will soon be filled to overflowing with the principles of eternity as they prepare themselves for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Chapter Footnotes

1 . Brigham Young, October 8, 1876, Journal of Discourses 18:263.
2 . D&C 42:31.
3 . Psalms 24:1; 1 Corinthians 10:26.
4 . Brigham Young, June 3, 1855, Journal of Discourses 2:305.
5 . Brigham Young, June 3, 1855, Journal of Discourses 2:303-305.
6 . Brigham Young, April 18, 1874, Journal of Discourses 17:44.
7 . Brigham Young, August 15, 1876, Journal of Discourses 18:214.
8 . Mosiah 3:19.
9 . Brigham Young, June 3, 1855, Journal of Discourses 2:299; emphasis added.
10 . D&C 42:38; Matthew 25:40.
11 . Mosiah 18:8.
12 . Brigham Young, October 8, 1876, Journal of Discourses 18:263.
13 . Brigham Young, April 7, 1869, Journal of Discourses 13:3.
14 . Wilford Woodruff, October 9, 1874, Journal of Discourses 17:250.
15 . Lorenzo Snow, April 5, 1877, Journal of Discourses 18:375.
16 . Brigham Young, February 10, 1867, Journal of Discourses 11:324.
17 . Ezra Taft Benson, "Beware of Pride," Ensign, May 1989, p. 7.
18 . Moses 7:17-21, 68-69; History of the Church 1:365 note.
19 . Brigham Young, April 6, 1862, Journal of Discourses 9:272.
20 . Matthew 22:37-39.
21 . Lorenzo Snow, April 5, 1877, Journal of Discourses 18:376.
22 . Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, April 1913, p. 7.
23 . Lorenzo Snow, April 21, 1878, Journal of Discourses 19:350.
24 . Lorenzo Snow, Conference Report, October 1900, pp. 4-5.
25 . Brigham Young, January 12, 1868, Journal of Discourses 12:153.