81 continuous revelation

Prophet since Joseph Smith have received revelation continuously to guide the Church.

  • Regarding the need for new scripture, President Brigham Young even went so far as to point out that if people were always obedient to the counsel of living prophets, there would be no need for scripture at all:

A great many people are rejoiced to have revelations, and are all the time anxious for the Lord to give his word and have it written down; but let me tell you if the people had never apostatized, there never would have been a written law from the days of Adam until now, that is as we have received them, or as we have considered them.  There is no necessity for it, for the word of the Lord is with us, the Lord himself is with us, his angels are with us, he comes when he pleases and reveals himself when he pleases and how he pleases.  He sends his angles and has his prophets and mouthpiece on the earth.  A living oracle is here.  What is the use of reading the law when we have the living oracle to tell us what to do from time to time?

If you have these living oracles with you they are better to you than all that has ever been written from the days of Adam until now.  (Discourse given March 30, 1856, CHD.)

  • Wilford Woodruff related in 1880:

After the death of Joseph Smith I saw and conversed with him many times in my dreams in the night season...  I have had many interviews with Brother Joseph until the last 15 or 20 years of my life [1860---1865]; I have not seen him for that length of time.  But during my travels in the southern country last winter I had many interviews with President Young, and with Heber C. Kimball, and Geo. A. Smith, and Jedediah M. Grant, and many others who are dead...  the thought came to me that Brother Joseph had left the work of watching over this church and kingdom to others, and that he had gone ahead, and that he had left this work to men who have lived and labored with us since he left us.  This idea manifested itself to me, that such men advance in the spirit world.  (JD 21:317‑318, October 10th, 1880.)

  • President Woodruff continued to receive revelation for the Church following the issuance of the Manifesto. At the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893, it was reported:

As the great assembly finished singing the Hallelujah Chorus, on the morning of April 7th 1893, President Wilford Woodruff came before the vast multitude and said: "Last night I had a vision, I saw Presidents Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and all the heavenly hosts who have died in this dispensation shouting praises to the Lord, and as the shouting of the Hallelujah Hosannah went up from the temple, the shout was re-echoed to Christ, the Apostles and Saints to the throne of God:  That they were more interested in the dedication of the temple than we possibly could be, and that the Lord accepted this temple.  (John M Whitaker Journal, 1:278.)

  • Another account of President Woodruff's speech reads:

I feel at liberty to reveal to this assembly this morning what has been revealed to me since we were here yesterday morning.  If the veil could be taken from our eyes and we could see into the spirit world, we would see that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor had gathered together every spirit that ever dwelt in the flesh in this Church since its organization.  We would also see the faithful apostles and elders of the Nephites who dwelt in the flesh in the days of Jesus Christ.  In that assembly we would also see Isaiah and every prophet and apostle that ever prophesied of the great work of God.  In the midst of these spirits we would see the Son of God, the Savior, who presides and guides and controls the preparing of the Kingdom of God on the earth and in heaven.([1])

  • When Lorenzo Snow acceded to the presidency following President Woodruff's death in 1898, he was called by a direct revelation of the Savior.  After hearing of President Woodruff's death Lorenzo Snow went directly to his private room in the Salt Lake Temple and while kneeling at an alter, prayed to the Lord.  His son LeRoi Snow tells of the occasion:

... He reminded the Lord how he had prayed for President Woodruff's life and that his days might be lengthened beyond his own; that he might never be called upon to bear the heavy burdens and responsibilities of Church leadership.  "Nevertheless," he said, "Thy will be done.  I have not sought this responsibility but if it be Thy will, I now present myself before Thee for Thy guidance and instruction.  I ask that Thou show me what Thou wouldst have me do."

After finishing his prayer he expected a reply, some special manifestation from the Lord.  So he waited -- and waited -- and waited.  There was no reply, no voice, no visitation, no manifestation.  He left the altar and the room in great disappointment.  He passed through the Celestial room and out into the large corridor leading to his own room where a most glorious manifestation was given President Snow.  One of the most beautiful accounts of this experience is told by his granddaughter, Allie Young Pond.

"One evening when I was visiting Grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the doorkeepers had gone and the night-watchman had not yet come in, so grandpa said he would take me to the main front entrance and let me out that way.  He got his bunch of keys from his dresser.

"After we left his room and while we were still in the large corridor, leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grandpa when he stopped me saying: 'Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something.  It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff.  He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.'

Then grandpa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: 'He stood right here, about three feet above the floor.  It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.'

"Grandpa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful White Robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gave upon Him.

"Then Grandpa came another step nearer me and put his right hand on my head and said: 'Now, granddaughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grandfather, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior here in the Temple and talked with Him face to face'."  (N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High, pp. 140-141.)

  • On October 3, 1918, just six weeks before his death, President Joseph F. Smith received a marvelous vision regarding the redemption of the dead.  The following day he alluded to the vision in his opening remarks at the Eighty-Ninth Semiannual Conference of the Church:

I will not, I dare not, attempt to enter upon may things that are resting upon my mind this morning, and I shall postpone until some future time, the Lord being willing, my attempt to tell you some of the things that are in my mind, and that dwell in my heart.  I have not lived along these five months.  I have dwelt in the spirit of prayer, of supplication, of faith and of determination; and I have had my communication with the Spirit of the Lord continuously.  (Conference Reports, Oct. 4, 1918, p. 2; quoted in The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 305.)

  • The revelation itself begins:

On the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures;

And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world;

And the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world;

That through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved.

While I was thus engaged, my mind reverted to the writings of the apostle Peter, to the primitive saints scattered abroad throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and other parts of Asia, where the gospel had been preached after the crucifixion of the Lord....

As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.

And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality...  (D&C 138:1-5, 11-12.)

  • Heber J. Grant related the following events that transpired relative to this revelation calling him to the Apostleship of the Twelve:

So I went to the president's office, and there sat brother Teasdale, and all of the ten Apostles, and the Presidency of the Church, and also Seymour B. Young and the members of the seven presidents of Seventies.  And the revelation was read calling brother Teasdale and myself to the apostleship, and brother Seymour B. Young to be one of the seven presidents of Seventies.  Brother Teasdale was blessed by President John Taylor, and George Q. Cannon blessed me...

I was a very unhappy man from October to February.  For the next four months whenever I would bear my testimony of the divinity of the Savior, there seemed to be a voice that would say:  "You lie, because you have never seen him."  One of the brethren had made the remark that unless a man had seen the Lamb of God --- that was his expression --- he was not fit to be an Apostle.  This feeling that I have mentioned would follow me.  I would wake up in the night with the impression:  "You do not know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, because you have never seen him," and the same feeling would come to me when I would preach and bear testimony.  It worried me from October to the following February.

I was in Arizona, traveling with Brigham Young, Jr., and a number of other brethren, visiting the Navajo Indians and the Moki Indians...  I had this feeling that I ought not to testify any more about the Savior and that really, I was not fit to be an Apostle.  It seemed overwhelming to me that I should be one.  There was a spirit that said:  "If you have not seen the Savior, why don't you resign your position?"

As I rode along alone, I seemed to see a Council in Heaven.  The Savior was there; the Prophet Joseph was there; my father and others that I knew were there.  In this Council it seemed that they decided that a mistake had been made in not filling the vacancies in the quorum of the Twelve, and conference had adjourned.  The chances were the brethren would wait another six months, and the way to remedy the situation was to send a revelation naming the men who should fill the vacancies.  In this council the Prophet said, "I want to be represented by one of my own on that council."

I had always understood and known that my mother was sealed to the Prophet, and that Brigham Young had told my father that he would not marry my mother to him for eternity, because he had instructions from the Prophet that if anything happened to him before he was married to Rachel Ivins she must be sealed to him for eternity, that she belonged to him.

That is the reason that father spoke up in this council to which I have referred, and said: "Why not choose the boy who bears my name who  belongs to you, to be one of the Apostles?"  That is the inspiration that was given to me.

I can truthfully say that from February, 1883, until today I have never had any of that trouble, and I can bear testimony that I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, and that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the living God...  (Improvement Era, Nov. 1942, pp. 756-757.)


  • Elder Boyd K. Packer explains:

We do not talk of those sacred interviews that qualify the servants of the Lord to bear a special witness of Him, for we have been commanded not to do so.

But we are free, indeed, we are obliged, to bear that special witness."  (Conference Report, April 1980, p. 86.  See also Alma 12:9, HC 4:478-479 and JD 4:288.)

  • Nonetheless, hints of divine communication are plainly evident to those who understand and are watchful.  Elder Russell M. Nelson recently testified in General Conference:

As a special witness of Jesus Christ, I testify that He lives! I also testify that the veil of death is very thin.  I know by experiences too sacred to relate that those who have gone before are not strangers to leaders of this Church.  (Ensign, May, 1992, p. 74.)

  • One of the plainest declarations was made in General Conference in 1971 by Elder Packer:

I have heard one of my brethren declare: "I know from experiences, too sacred to relate, that Jesus is the Christ."

I have heard another testify: "I know that God lives; I know that the Lord lives. and more than that, I know the Lord."  (Ensign, June, 1971, p. 88.)

  • Reportedly at the time, more senior leaders were concerned that such sacred declarations might be shared in General Conference.  For the next 43 years, it appears that Elder Packer refrained from similar declarations. Then in General Conference, held April 2014, he stated plainly:  “I bear my witness that the Savior lives. I know the Lord.”
  • Such testimonies may be dismissed by some, but others with concerns regarding contemporary controversies like polygamy, gay marriage, and ordaining women, may find peace in the idea that the heavens remain open guiding leaders today.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ is guided by continuous revelation.  God designed it that way.  Continuous revelation allows the Lord to adapt inspired principles to the circumstances of the Saints.  The ninth Article of Faith states:

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

[1]. Archibald F. Bennett, Saviors on Mount Zion, pp. 142-143.  Quoted in Joseph Heinerman, Temple Manifestations, SLC, UT: Magazine Printing , 1974, pp. 118-119.