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Relief Society Lesson Prep: #8 The Church and Kingdom of God

This lesson has just a few main points. Getting people to see and comprehend the significance of those points will be the difficult task of this lesson. Joseph Fielding Smith had a unique upbringing, in that he was one of the first people in thousands of years to be born and raised in the company of prophets, as family members. Think about that. How long has it been since anyone else could make such a claim? Joseph Fielding Smith’s father, Joseph F. Smith, was a prophet. His grandfather, Hyrum Smith, was a prophet (refer back to lesson seven). And Joseph Fielding Smith’s grandfather’s brother was the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. His first encounter with a prophet outside of his own family was with Brigham Young at the age of nine months. Even by today’s standards, that is an extraordinarily rich heritage. Joseph Fielding Smith was steeped in the history and doctrines of this dispensation like none who had come before him. He spent almost half a century as a Church historian, and had a special calling to write articles to defend the faith of the Church, earning him the title The Defender of the Faith.
 “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in literal reality the kingdom of God on earth”. “Use the Programs of the Church,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1970, 3.
Go back and read that quote a couple more times to see if it sinks in. The Church today is the kingdom of God on earth. When the Savior comes to open the Millennium he will not need to set up His kingdom; it is already here. His authorized representatives, the prophets and apostles are running the kingdom of God on earth at this very moment. He has priesthood representatives, and judges in Zion all over the earth. His kingdom is growing and expanding, changing with the times as new needs arise. He is preparing his people for his coming even now.
 “I desire to say that no man of himself can lead this church. It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ; he is at the head. The church bears his name, has his priesthood, administers his gospel, preaches his doctrine, and does his work.” In Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 113.
Let’s recap this quote starting from the end of the quote and working our way backward. This Church does God’s work on earth. We preach his doctrine, administer his gospel (message), we bear his name, and we hold his authority (priesthood) to do the things we do. Christ, himself stands at the head of this church. No man could do what is necessary to lead this church by himself. We need the Lord directing the work. That is why the Lord has called a prophet to stand at the head of the earthly organization. A prophet is needed because a prophet is righteous enough and worthy enough to receive the revelation from God to follow the guidance he receives from God to run his kingdom until the day comes he can return and run it himself. The prophet is the head servant in the kingdom to the master of the kingdom. He oversees all the work of the master in the master’s absence.
“If this were the work of man, it would fail, but it is the work of the Lord, and he does not fail.” In Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 113.
No man can run God’s kingdom successfully without being directed by God in what he is to do. Men eventually fail. Businesses fail, plans fall through, things get frustrated and programs change course. But this is God’s work, and when God designs that something is to happen and declares it to be so, then it happens exactly as God declared it to be. “He does not fail.” President Lorenzo Snow taught the same doctrine in last year’s lessons when he taught that we never have a need to fear that we will fail when we are on the Lord’s errand. When we are fulfilling the will of God we are always guaranteed success. For this reason we have every reason to exercise complete faith in our own success, because we are on the Lord’s errand, and sooner or later we will succeed, guaranteed. With this preparation in hand you are ready to read and study the lesson. Remembering that this is the Lord’s kingdom, that he is in charge of his kingdom, and that because he is a God, we cannot fail, should give you a good mindset with which to study this lesson.

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