“Priesthood: The Power of Godliness”
Lesson 25 – D&C 84:33-44; 121:34-46; D&C 107; Our Heritage, pgs. 26-27
This lesson will help us gain a greater understanding of the priesthood, its covenants and blessings.
Both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods were restored in 1829 before the organization of the Church. After the Church was organized, the Lord began to reveal the complete organization of the priesthoods’ offices, quorums, and councils. Today, the Lord continues to give revelations about the priesthood to guide the growth of the Church. One example is the calling of the Area Authority Seventies and the organization of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of the Seventy in 1997. The following is the historical timeline of the Priesthood:
The oath and covenant of the priesthood reveals the covenants made by men to God and by God to men concerning the Melchizedek priesthood.
· Elder Carlos E. Asay said: “Of all the holy agreements pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ, few, if any, would transcend in importance the oath and covenant of the priesthood. It is certainly one of the most sacred agreements, for it involves sharing of heavenly powers and man’s upward reaching toward eternal goals” (Ensign, Nov. 1985, 43).
· Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “…the blessings of the priesthood are not confined to men alone. These blessings are also poured out…upon all the faithful women of the Church…The Lord offers to his daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by his sons, for neither is the man without the woman, not the woman without the man in the Lord” (Improvement Era, June 1970, 66).
Priesthood holders’ covenants are found in D&C 84: 33, 36, and 39-44:
· Be faithful in obtaining the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood (33)
· Magnify their callings (33).
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “We magnify our priesthood and enlarge our calling when we serve with diligence and enthusiasm in those responsibilities to which we are called by proper authority…We magnify our calling, we enlarge the potential of our priesthood when we reach out to those in distress and give strength to those who falter…We magnify our calling when we walk with honesty and integrity” (Ensign, May 1989, 48-49)
Giving counsel about achieving the correct balance between priesthood service and support of our families, Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “Sometimes, unintentionally, even certain extracurricular church activities, insensitively administered, can hamper family life. Instructively, after the resurrected Jesus taught the Nephites, He said ‘Go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said,’ and pray and prepare ‘for the morrow’ (3 Nephi 17:3). Jesus did not say go to your civic clubs, town meetings, or even stake centers!” (Ensign, May 1994, 89)
· Receive the Lord’s servants (36). When we accept the messages and ordinances of the gospel from the Lord’s servants, we also receive the Lord.
· Give diligent heed to the words of eternal life (43-44)
The Lord covenants to:
· Sanctify us by the Spirit (33), meaning that we become pure and holy. This baptism, which truly makes us Saints as the Holy Ghost removes impurities from us, is also called “the baptism of fire”.
· Renew our bodies (33). This promise may have reference to our resurrection, when those who have lived a celestial law will be resurrected with a perfected, celestial body. In addition, President Hugh B. Brown bore testimony that this promise was realized in the long life and health of President David O. McKay as well as many of the Church leaders as they are sanctified because of their priesthood service.
· Give us the blessings promised to Abraham and his posterity (34). These include blessings mentioned in Abraham 2:9-11…the blessings of the gospel, salvation, and eternal life.
· Make us His elect, or chosen (34)— the “elect” belong to the “church” and “kingdom” of God and will be exalted in the celestial kingdom and have membership in “the church of the Firstborn”.
· Give us all that the Father has (38)—including eternal life, which is “the greatest of all the gifts of God,”
· Give His angels charge over us (42)—we will have heavenly beings protecting and prompting us to do those things which will further the work of the Lord and develop celestial attributes within us.
· D&C 121:34-40 reveals that some priesthood holders are not able to exercise the priesthood with power because they are too worldly, aspire to vanity and worldly honors, attempt to cover sins, gratify their pride or vain ambition, or exercise unrighteous dominion. The priesthood may be used only in righteousness and a spirit of love in the service of others. Elder M. Russell Ballard said: “Those who hold the priesthood must never forget that they have no right to wield priesthood authority like a club over the heads of others in the family or in Church callings…Any man who…seeks to use the priesthood in any degree of unrighteousness in the Church or in the home simply does not understand the nature of his authority. Priesthood is for service, not servitude; compassion, not compulsion; caring, not control” (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 78)
· D&C 121:41-42 reveals principles for exercising the priesthood—persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness and meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, pure knowledge, humility and guilelessness.
· D&C 121:43-44 teach principles for giving correction or discipline. (Note: Betimes means “promptly” or “soon”. Sharpness means “clearly” or “precisely”.)
· D&C 121:45 counsels us to “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly”, and D&C 27:15-18 explains that we can do that by taking upon us the whole armor of God and the shield of faith.
· In D&C 121:45-46, the Lord promises, if we are “full of charity” and “let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly”, that our confidence will wax strong in the presence of God and the Holy Ghost shall be a constant companion. Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said: “It has been my privilege on various occasions to converse with Presidents of the United States and important men in other governments. At the close of each such occasion I have reflected on the rewarding experience of standing with confidence in the presence of an acknowledged leader. And then I have thought, what a wonderful thing, what a marvelous thing it would be to stand with confidence—unafraid and unashamed and unembarrassed—in the presence of God. This is the promise held out to every virtuous man and woman” (Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 73).
Responsibilities of the presiding quorums in the Church:
The First Presidency: D&C 107:9, 22, 65-66, 78-81, 91-92; 112:30-32. “…officiate in all offices”, “…form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church”, “…one be appointed…to preside over the Priesthood…”, accept appealed cases of church courts and make the “final decision upon controversies in spiritual matters”, “…preside over the whole church… be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet…”, “be…counselors”, and hold the keys of the dispensation.
The Quorum of the Twelve: D&C 107:23, 33, 35, 39, 58; 112:30-32. “…special witnesses…of Christ in all the world”, …”officiate in the name of the Lord”…”…build up the church, and regulate all of the affairs…in all nations”, proclaim the gospel and preside over the missionary work, “…ordain evangelical ministers”, “…ordain and set in order all the other officers of the church..”, and hold the keys of the dispensation.
The Quorums of the Seventy: D&C 107:25-26, 34, 38, 97. “…preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses..”, be equal in authority to the Quorum of the Twelve, ”…build up the church, and regulate all of the affairs…in all nations”, preach and administer the gospel, and be “traveling ministers”.
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