Selected quotations from LDS leaders about the establishment of Zion.
LOVE FOR THE THINGS OF GOD—THE TEMPORAL NATURE OF THE KINGDOM—THE PROPER USE OF GRAIN—THE LOVE OF GOD SHOULD RULE IN EVERY HEART, ETC.
Synopsis of Instructions by President Brigham Young, during his visit to Davis, Weber, Box Elder, and Cache counties, June 22–29, 1864.
(1860s, 1864, BY Love for • JD 10:328)
I will detain the people but a very short time. The matters which have been laid before you this afternoon are inseparably connected with our spiritual wellbeing. There is no man on this earth who can receive the Kingdom of God in his heart and be governed according to the laws of that Kingdom, without being governed and controled in all temporal matters. If you are not of one heart and mind in these things, never think of Jackson County, for you will not be wanted there. No man is going to inherit a celestial glory, who trifles with the principles thereof. The man who does not labor from day to day and from hour to hour for building up this Kingdom and bringing forth the fulness of the Kingdom of God on the earth, and the establishment of Zion, will sooner or later, fall and go out of the Church.
(1860s, 1864, BY Love for ¶61–62 • JD 10:338)
VERY FEW WILL INHERIT CELESTIAL GLORY—LUST AFTER THE THINGS OF THE WORLD PRODUCES APOSTASY—NO REAL HAPPINESS OUTSIDE OF GODLINESS—THE LORD REQUIRES THE HEARTS OF THE CHILDREN OF MEN.
Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered at Logan, Cache Valley, Sunday, Aug. 15, 1876.
(1870s, 1876, BY Very Few Will • JD 18:212)
There has been much said with regard to our becoming a united people, living together in what is called the United Order. 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 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 fulness thereof.” 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 has 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.” 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. I have taught from the stand in this place, and in other places, for years, the necessity of our becoming one. I can say to the Latter-day Saints, you have never heard brother Brigham make a demand for your property. All I want is to see this people devote their means and interests to the building up of the kingdom of God, erecting Temples, and in them officiate for the living and the dead, and be instruments in the hands of God of bringing up from their graves those who have slept without having had the privilege of receiving the Gospel, that they may be crowned sons and daughters of the Almighty. We do not want your property, we want you.
When we all become one in faith and in spirit, we shall be one in our acts, having the kingdom of God at heart. And the inquiry will be from the brethren, “What can I do for my fellow creatures? Can I be the means of saving a soul? Can I do anything for my friends who have slept without a knowledge of the truth, or can I do anything for those who are living in foreign lands? Yes, I can.” These should be the sentiments of our hearts, and this is required of us.
Many of us have spent considerable of our time in preaching the Gospel at home and abroad, and in otherwise assisting to establish the kingdom of God upon the earth, and we are still engaged in this work. We have donated towards the deliverance of the poor from foreign lands, bringing them here, where they have the privilege of being taught further in the plan of salvation, and where they can assist more materially in the establishment of Zion in the earth.
Many of the poor, after having been brought here, relieved in many instances, from the depths of poverty, no sooner do they become the possessors of a little means, than they lift their heels against the Gospel. This is painful to the Latter-day Saints, who rendered them assistance; it is grieving to God who delivered them. Still, it is our duty to send the Gospel to all nations, and to continue to donate means to gather out the poor. The Lord will save a few, all that will accept salvation according to the design which the Lord has devised. He has made the plan, not us. It is not the conception of man. It was the Gods who sat in council together—they planned it and now offer it to us. Will we accept of it?
There are only two churches on the earth—only two parties. God leads the one, the devil the other. As soon as a man hears the Gospel preached and becomes convinced of its truth fulness, he is tempted of the devil, who, whenever there is an opportunity, suggests doubt for his reflection. If he entertain these doubting influences, it is not long before what he believed true becomes a matter of conjecture. Another may receive the Gospel, travel and preach it faithfully, feeling in his heart to exclaim, “Glory to God in the highest!” having no other motive than to do good to his fellow beings. By and by he perhaps is left to himself; he now begins to question himself, saying—“I wonder if I really was right?” This single doubt is perhaps the beginning of his apostasy from the Church. In the days of Joseph, people were inclined to turn away from the faith and go into apostasy, as much as they do now in proportion to our numbers, and I have sometimes thought more so. You allow the devil to suggest to you that I am not leading you right, and allow that thought to abide in your hearts, and I will promise you that it will lead you to apostasy. You allow yourselves to doubt anything that God has revealed, and it will not be a great while before you begin to neglect your prayers, refuse to pay your Tithing, and find fault with the authorities of the Church. You will be repeating what apostates all say, “The Tithing is not used aright,” etc.
(1870s, 1876, BY Very Few Will ¶9–12 • JD 18:214–JD 18:215)
POSITION OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS—PROTESTANTISM MAKES NO CLAIM TO REVELATION—PRIESTHOOD, HOW RESTORED, ITS PURPOSE—PERSECUTION THE HERITAGE OF THE CHURCH—THE PEOPLE MUST KNOW THE WILL OF GOD, AND DO IT—RESPECT THE AUTHORITIES, AND RESPECT OUR PROFESSION—AVOIDING ALL EVILS, CLEAVE TO THE GOOD.
Discourse by Elder John Taylor, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Nov. 5, 1876.
(1870s, 1876, JT Position • JD 18:278)
And I will tell you another thing, God will not be with us unless we are one. Says Jesus, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” And the oneness will not consist in each one of us seeking his own interest, his own emolument, and to extend his own ideas and influence; but in his seeking the interest and welfare of another, the establishment of Zion, that the welfare of all may be cared for and reached, both among the living and the dead in all time and eternity. This is the way I have been taught to regard these things. God is not setting up a kingdom for you, or for me, or for any individual person.
(1870s, 1876, JT Position ¶12 • JD 18:283)
I have sometimes feared in my own mind concerning ourselves, that we are not living as near to the Lord as we ought to do; we do not always comprehend the responsibilities which we are under to God our Heavenly Father. When I reflect, my brethren and sisters, that the Lord has ordained the establishment of Zion, upon the responsibility that rests upon us in warning the generation in which we live that they may be left without excuse in fulfilment of the revelations contained in this volume (the Book of Mormon)—when I reflect that we are called as the servants of the Lord to perform this work, I feel within my own mind as the Lord has said now nearly fifty years ago, that if we believe the words of the Lord we will labor while it is called to-day. The Lord looks to nobody else, he expects nothing from anybody else, as far as the fulfilling of the revelations in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants are concerned; he looks to no other nation, kindred, tongue, or people henceforth to go and perform this work, but the Saints of the living God. If the Lord has any friends on the earth they are the Saints of God, and if the Saints of God have any friends anywhere, they consist of the God of Israel and the heavenly hosts, and the spirits of just men made perfect.
(1880s, 1880, April, First Prior Morning Meeting, Elder Wilford Woodruff, ¶2 • CR)
We have been looked upon as interlopers, as fanatics. as believers in a false religion; we have been regarded with contempt, and treated despicably; we have been driven from our homes, maligned and spoken evil of everywhere, until the people of the world have come to believe that we are the offscourings of the earth and scarcely fit to live. There are thousands and thousands of innocent people in the world whose minds have become so darkened by the slanderous reports that have gone forth concerning us that they would feel they were doing God’s service to deprive a member of this Church of life, or of liberty, or the pursuit of happiness, if they could do it.
The Lord designs to change this condition of things, and to make us known to the world in our true light—as true worshipers of God, as those who have become the children of God by repentance, and by the law of adoption have become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; and that our mission in this world is to do good, to put down iniquity under our feet, to exalt righteousness, purity and holiness in the hearts of the people, and to establish in the minds of our children, above all other things, a love for God and His word, that shall be in them as a fountain of light, strength, faith and power, leading them on from childhood to old age, and making them firm believers in the word of the Lord, in the restored Gospel and Priesthood, and in the establishment of Zion, no more to be thrown down nor given to another people. If there is anything that I desire above another in this world, it is that my children shall become established in this knowledge and faith, so that they can never be turned aside from it.
(1900s, 1901, November, 1st Session, President Joseph F. Smith, ¶3–4 • CR)
ESTABLISHMENT OF ZION
In the early days of the Church the brethren came to the Prophet Joseph Smith asking what the Lord would have them do. The answer given to them was “to bring forth the cause of Zion.” That is our work, to establish Zion, to build up the kingdom of God, to preach the gospel to every creature in the world, that not one soul may be overlooked where there is the possibility for us to present unto him the truth.
As we have heard during this conference, we are all going to be judged according to our works, every soul. I have often thought of my place and responsibility in this Church. What a dreadful thing it would be to be going forth to teach, to lead men, to guide them into something that wasn’t true. I think the greatest crime in all this world is to lead men and women, the children of God, away from the true principles. We see in the world today philosophies of various kinds, tending to destroy faith, faith in God, faith in the principles of the gospel. What a dreadful thing that is.
(1950s, 1951, April, 6th Session, Joseph Fielding Smith, ¶8–10 • CR)
The three phases of this great latter-day work are as follows:
Phase I—From the First Vision, the setting up of the kingdom on April 6, 1830, and the coming of Moses on April 3, 1836, to the secure establishment of the Church in the United States and Canada, a period of about 125 years.
Phase II—From the creation of stakes of Zion in overseas areas, beginning in the 1950s, to the second coming of the Son of Man, a period of unknown duration.
Phase III—From our Lord’s second coming until the kingdom is perfected and the knowledge of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea, and from then until the end of the Millennium, a period of 1,000 years.
We live in the age of restoration. Peter calls it “the times of restitution,” meaning the period or time in the earth’s history when that which once was shall be restored in all its original glory and perfection. He says the things to be restored include “all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21.) And there are few things of which Israel’s prophets have spoken with more fervor and zeal than the latter-day gathering of the house of Jacob and the part that favored people will play in the building of Zion again on earth.
(1970s, 1977, April, McConkie, Come: Let Israel Build Zion, ¶11–16 • CR)
In the scriptures we read, “Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart.”
The establishment of Zion should be the aim of every member of this Church. It can be safely said: As we seek with all our hearts to bring forth and establish Zion, the vexations of too little time will disappear. There are joys and blessings by enlisting in this noble cause. One’s personal life is transformed. The home is no longer a hotel but a place of peace, security, and love. Society itself changes. In Zion, contentions and disputations cease, class distinctions and hatreds disappear, no one is poor—spiritually or temporally, and all manner of wickedness is no more. As many have attested, “Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people … created by the hand of God.”
The ancient prophet Enoch labored many years to bring his people to this state of righteousness. Like our day, they also lived in a time of wickedness, wars, and bloodshed. But the righteous people responded. “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”
Take special note of the word because in this scripture. Zion is established and flourishes because of the God-inspired lives and labors of its citizens. Zion comes not as a gift but because virtuous covenant people are drawn together and build it. President Spencer W. Kimball observed, “As we sing together ‘Come to Zion,’ we mean … come to the ward, the branch, the mission, the stake, and give assistance to build up Zion.” Thus gathered in the Lord’s appointed way, Latter-day Saints conscientiously strive to bring forth Zion as the “kingdom of our God and his Christ,” preparatory to the Lord’s Second Coming.
President Hinckley has reminded us that “this cause in which we are engaged is not an ordinary cause. It is the cause of Christ. It is the kingdom of God our Eternal Father. It is the building of Zion on the earth.”
“If we are to build that Zion of which the prophets have spoken and of which the Lord has given mighty promise, we must set aside our consuming selfishness. We must rise above our love for comfort and ease, and in the very process of effort and struggle, even in our extremity, we shall become better acquainted with our God.”
(2000s, 2002, October, McMullin, Come to Zion! Come to Zion!, ¶17–22 • CR)
The choice to come unto Christ is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord” without leaving their homelands. True, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration as well. But now the gathering takes place in each nation. The Lord has decreed the establishment of Zion in each realm where He has given His Saints their birth and nationality. Scripture foretells that the people “shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.” “Every nation is the gathering place for its own people.” The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is “the pure in heart.” Zion is wherever righteous Saints are. Publications, communications, and congregations are now such that nearly all members have access to the doctrines, keys, ordinances, and blessings of the gospel, regardless of their location.
Spiritual security will always depend upon how one lives, not where one lives. Saints in every land have equal claim upon the blessings of the Lord.
(2000s, 2006, October, Nelson, The Gathering of Scattered…, ¶38–39 • CR)
We serve as teachers in quorums and auxiliary organizations; we serve as missionaries at home and abroad; we serve as researchers in family history and as temple workers—hopefully each with diligence in our little corner—and from all of this there emerges a remarkable and wonderful pattern, a phenomenon grand in its comprehensiveness, as broad as the earth and encompassing all of the generations of men.
If each of us does not do well that which is his or hers to do, then there is a flaw in the entire pattern. The whole tapestry is injured. But if each of us does well his or her part, then there is strength and beauty.
I need not remind you that this cause in which we are engaged is not an ordinary cause. It is the cause of Christ. It is the kingdom of God our Eternal Father. It is the building of Zion on the earth, the fulfillment of prophecy given of old and of a vision revealed in this dispensation.
Under its present organization it has been moving forward for only a little more than a century and a half. It will continue, ever growing and spreading over the earth, as part of a great millennial pattern until the time comes when He whose right it is to reign will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.
(1980s, 1989, October, Hinckley, An Ensign to the Nations, ¶28–31 • CR)
We are sometimes looked upon as provincial. Is there any group in all the world with a vision so broad and a work so comprehensive? I know of no other people so concerned with the eternal well-being of the sons and daughters of God of all generations. Surely the work that goes on in these sacred houses is the most unselfish of all work. Those who labor here do so, for the most part, in behalf of those beyond the veil of death. They do it because of a knowledge of the importance of eternal ordinances and covenants. They do it so that even the dead may exercise agency concerning the acceptance or rejection of sacred ordinances.
It is all part of the great pattern of the God of Heaven, who is our Eternal Father, and of His Son, who is our Savior and our Redeemer, the author of our salvation, through whose sacrifice came universal resurrection from the dead and opportunity for exaltation for those who, whether in life or in death, will walk in obedience to His commandments.
My brethren and sisters, the priesthood is upon the earth, the power of God given to men to act in His name and for His purposes. It carries with it “the keys of the kingdom, for an ensign, and for the gathering” of the people of the Lord in the last days. (D&C 113:6.)
My co-workers in this great cause and kingdom, you and I are weaving the grand design of that standard to the nations. It waves to all the world. It says to men and women everywhere: “Come, walk with us and learn of the ways of the Lord. Here is the priesthood given to men in these last days. Here are the great keys for the redemption of the dead. Here is the authority to carry the gospel to the nations of the earth.”
We do not say it selfishly. We do not say it with egotism. We do not say it boastfully. We say it as those charged with a great and compelling responsibility. We say it with love in our hearts for the God of heaven and the risen Lord, and with love for the children of men everywhere.
To those of the Church, all within the sound of my voice, I give the challenge that while you are performing the part to which you have been called, never lose sight of the whole majestic and wonderful picture of the purpose of this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. Weave beautifully your small thread in the grand tapestry, the pattern for which was laid out for us by the God of heaven. Hold high the standard under which we walk. Be diligent, be true, be virtuous, be faithful, that there may be no flaw in that banner.
The vision of this kingdom is not a superficial dream in the night that fades with the sunrise. It is veritably the plan and work of God our Eternal Father. It has to do with all of His children.
(1980s, 1989, October, Hinckley, An Ensign to the Nations, ¶49–55 • CR)
While we strive to be diligent in building up Zion, including our part in the gathering of the Lord’s elect and the redemption of the dead, we should pause to remember that it is the Lord’s work and He is doing it. He is the Lord of the vineyard, and we are His servants. He bids us labor in the vineyard with our might this “last time,” and He labors with us. It would probably be more accurate to say He permits us to labor with Him. As Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” It is He who is hastening His work in its time. Employing our admittedly imperfect efforts—our “small means”—the Lord brings about great things.
This great and last dispensation is building steadily to its climax—Zion on earth being joined with Zion from above at the Savior’s glorious return. The Church of Jesus Christ is commissioned to prepare—and is preparing—the world for that day. And so, this Easter, let us truly celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and all that it portends: His return to reign for a thousand years of peace, a righteous judgment and perfect justice for all, the immortality of all who ever lived upon this earth, and the promise of eternal life. Christ’s Resurrection is the ultimate assurance that all will be put right. Let us be about building up Zion to hasten that day. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
(2010s, 2019, April, D. Todd…, Preparing for…, ¶30–31 • CR)
When Daniel interpreted the dream of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, making known to the king “what shall be in the latter days,” he declared that “the God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all [other] kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” The Church is that prophesied latter-day kingdom, not created by man but set up by the God of heaven and rolling forth as a stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” to fill the earth.
Its destiny is to establish Zion in preparation for the return and millennial rule of Jesus Christ. Before that day, it will not be a kingdom in any political sense—as the Savior said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Rather, it is the repository of His authority in the earth, the administrator of His holy covenants, the custodian of His temples, the protector and proclaimer of His truth, the gathering place for scattered Israel, and “a defense, and … a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.”
(2010s, 2015, October, Christofferson, Why the Church, ¶27–28 • CR)