Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chapter Sixteen: The Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood

Section Five

The Patriarchal Order

Chapter Sixteen: 

The Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood

When couples kneel across the altars of the temples from each other, they are initially and conditionally admitted to the patriarchal order of the priesthood known as the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. The name of this priesthood order should be obvious because patriarch means father. There are no fathers without mothers. In this way couples receive their formative lessons in Godhood and take the first step toward returning to full fellowship with God. If they continue in faithfulness they receive all the promises of righteous marriage sealed by the priesthood keys of authority:

In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (D&C 131:1-4).

In other words, he has no kingdom that can grow and increase by the power of the seeds worlds without end. The power of the fullness and continuation of the procreative seeds forever is at the very core of Godhood. Elder John A. Widstoe said, “The government of heaven is by families. It is patriarchal.” (Gospel Interpretations: Aids to Faith in a Modern Day [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1947], 100). Regarding people who do not enter into the order of eternal marriage the scriptures say:

Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever. (D&C 132:16-17).

It is written of those who do enter into the patriarchal order and faithfully keep all the laws, rites and ordinances pertaining thereto:

. . .they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
Then shall they be gods, because they have no end.
. . .strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it.
. . .This is eternal lives. . . (D&C 132:19-24).

Exaltation is nothing less than the fullness and continuation of the seeds of procreation forever and ever. The continuation of lives has no end, even eternal lives. Exaltation requires eternal parenthood, eternal parenthood requires eternal marriage.

President Joseph F. Smith said:

The house of the Lord is a house of order and not a house of confusion; and that means, that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord; and that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God, without the woman, and no woman can reach the perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God, alone. That is what it means. God instituted marriage in the beginning, he made man in his own image and likeness, male and female, and in their creation it was designed that they should be united together in sacred bonds of marriage, and one is not perfect without the other.
Furthermore, it means that there is no union for time and eternity that can be consummated outside of the law of God, and the order of his house. Men may desire it, they may go through the form of it in this life, but it will be of non effect except it be done and sanctioned by divine authority, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. (CR, April 1913, 118-19).

It is important to understand that those who enter the new and everlasting covenant of marriage are not covenanting to keep the commandments in general. They have already made those covenants in the waters of baptism. When entering the order of marriage, the bride’s and groom’s promises are much more specific; they promise to keep laws, rites and ordinances that pertain to marriage, the patriarchal order of the priesthood.

President Joseph Fielding Smith emphasized:

There is nothing that will ever come into your family life that is as important as the sealing blessings of the temple and then keeping the covenants made in connection with this order of celestial marriage. (Ensign, July 1972, 27).

Obviously, we must take such sacred promises seriously and think deeply and honestly about their meaning and import. What are the laws, rites and ordinances of marriage?

The first marriage was performed by God when he joined Adam and Eve together. (See Genesis 2:20-24). Note that Eve is called Adam’s “wife.” This was an eternal marriage, as they were both infinite and eternal beings at the time.

The Law of Marriage

What was the great commandment or law given to Adam and Eve? (See Genesis 1:26-27). It was to “multiply and replenish.” The word “replenish” should be translated “fill.” (See Genesis 1:28, footnote “c;” note also verse 22 where the same Hebrew verb is used interchangeably).

God commanded them to multiply. This law applies to all who enter the order of marriage. This is the first and great law of marriage -- we are commanded to multiply and fill the earth, that the man and the woman might have joy in their posterity.

President Ezra Taft Benson testified:

I can assure that the greatest responsibility and the greatest joys in life are centered in the family, honorable marriage, and rearing a righteous posterity. (Ensign, May 1988, 52).

The Rite of Marriage

What is the rite or ritual that applies to marriage? How do we fulfill the law to multiply? By what ritual do we multiply? What rite must we perform to keep this law? It is the rite or ritual of “sexual union,” or “the passing of the seed.” While sexual union between a man and a woman can be accomplished outside the bounds of marriage, sexual relations between unmarried people are forbidden. Furthermore, we understand God eternally accepts and ratifies only an eternal marriage when men, women and children are sealed by his authority, and only they will continue to retain the priesthood power of the seeds forever if they remain faithful. (See D&C 132:15-24).

The only way, then, to keep the law of marriage is to perform the rite (or the ritual) pertaining to this law. It is a “rite of passage,” the passing of the seed from the male priest to the female priestess by means of a holy sexual union. These are very sacred principles, authorized and ordained of God for the exaltation of his children.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

We do not raise children just to please our vanity. We bring children into the world to become kings and queens, and priests and priestesses for our Lord. (In General Conference Report, Buenos Aires Area Conference 1975, 26).

That mankind has desecrated and changed these principles does not diminish their sacred nature in the eyes of God. This is the reason sexual sins are so serious. People who disregard these spiritual truths associated with the sexuality of God’s children are tampering with holy and sacred priesthood powers designed for authorized priests and priestesses within the patriarchal order of the priesthood. Outside the bonds of holy matrimony sexual relations are an abomination in the sight of God. Along with the sin of murder sexual sins comprise the most egregious sins of all. The giving and the taking of life must be accomplished in the ways God ordains. Life and light are his domain. To tamper with the very powers of life is to trifle with God’s powers. (See Alma 39:5). Furthermore, only within the new and everlasting covenant of marriage will the familial relationships formed by marriage and sexual union here on earth stand in the eternities. God recognizes no other. (See D&C 132).

The Ordinance of Marriage

Now a word about the ordinance we covenant to observe and obey in this order of marriage. The law is to multiply by the rite of holy sexual union to form a living soul, so the ordinance associated with marriage should be obvious.

Birth is the first great ordinance of this life, or the first “living endowment” of this life. Truly, this is a most wondrous and miraculous ordinance. In this holy ordinance a spirit child of God is endowed with a physical body. This physical body must be obtained in order to have all “power over those who have not.” (See TPJS, 181). This physical body is necessary to receive a fullness of joy. (See D&C 93:33-34). This physical body is a prerequisite to becoming a God. (See D&C 130: 22). This physical body is the main object of our coming here. (See TPJS, 181). We will each take this physical body with us into the eternities by observing and keeping the priesthood ordinance of resurrection. (See JD 15:137; D&C 88:15-16, 27-29). It is hard to imagine a holier priesthood ordinance in this world than the first priesthood ordinance we call birth.

Earlier we referred to an incident in which a promise was given by the spirit to a sister during a priesthood blessing that she would fulfill the mission of bringing her child into the world. Bearing children is the priesthood mission of every priestess in the patriarchal order of the priesthood. This is a power men do not have and a mission they cannot undertake. What an incredible privilege to possess the power to organize and bestow a living temple upon a child of God.

President Kimball glories in the possibilities of motherhood:

Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children, and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments. Could there be a more sacred trust than to be a trustee for honorable, well-born, well-developed children? (TSWK, 326).

The daughters of Zion who intentionally avoid this mission or perform it half-way, arbitrarily limiting their posterity for the sake of convenience and/or half-heartedly performing their monumental roles as mothers, are no different than the sons of God in the Church who choose to be disobedient or slothful in their duties as priesthood holders.

President George Albert Smith:

How will those feel who fail to obey that first great command when they stand in the presence of the creator, who says to them, as He said to those of olden times, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” How can they comply with that invitation if they have no children to take to the Father? They must remain childless throughout eternity. They have been blind to their rights and privileges. It is only by a proper understanding of the laws of God, and by compliance with the gospel of Jesus Christ, only by doing what the Lord has said we should do, that we will enjoy the fulness of happiness that our Father in Heaven has promised those who are faithful I do not feel to censure, but with all my heart I pity the man and woman who grace their home with the lesser animals of God’s creation, and keep away from firesides those angels from His presence who might be theirs through time and through all eternity. I realize there are some men and women who are grieved because they are not fathers and mothers, they are not blessed of the Lord in that particular, they have no children of their own, and by no fault of their own. I believe the Lord will provide in such cases. If they will do their duty in keeping the other commandments, their reproach will be taken away. I raise my voice among the sons and daughters of Zion, and warn you that if you dry up the springs of life and abuse the power that God has blessed you with, there will come a time of chastening to you, that all the tears you may shed will never remove. Remember the first great commandment; fulfill that obligation. (CR, October 1907, 38).

President Joseph Fielding Smith:

If the responsibilities of parenthood are willfully avoided here, then how can the Lord bestow upon the guilty the blessings of eternal increase? It cannot be, and they shall be denied such blessings. (The Way to Perfection, 239).

President Brigham Young:

There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? -- To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and women to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can. (Discourses of Brigham Young, John A. Widstoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941], 197).

The daughters of God are under covenant just as much as the sons of God to keep his commandments, and to diligently perform their assigned duties on earth. The Doctrine and Covenants says the daughters of God are given in marriage to the sons of God

. . . to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified. (D&C 132:63).

God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (See Moses 1:39). He cannot bring to pass the immortality of man if his mortal daughters thwart the work of bringing to pass the mortality of man. This is not an idle cliché we hear frequently in the Church, nor has the doctrine been outdated by the current conditions of a godless society. The prophets have consistently laid stress on our part of the work and glory of God.

Elder Melvin J. Ballard said:

There is a passage in our Scriptures which the Latter-day Saints accept as divine: “This is the glory of God -- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Likewise we could say that this is the glory of men and women -- to bring to pass the mortality of sons and daughters of God, to give earth-life to the waiting children of our Father. . . The greatest mission of woman is to give life, earth-life, through honorable marriage, to the waiting spirits, our Father’s spirit children who anxiously desire to come to dwell here in this mortal state. All the honor and glory that can come to men or women by the development of their talents, the homage and the praise they may receive from an applauding world, worshipping at their shrine of genius, is but a dim thing whose luster shall fade in comparison to the high honor, the eternal glory, the ever-enduring happiness that shall come to the woman who fulfills the first great duty and mission that devolves upon her to become the mother of the sons and daughters of God. The jewels in her crown, the stars that still glisten in her diadem, in time and in eternity, shall be the sons and the daughters to whom, through the blessing of the Lord, she has been instrumental in not only giving earth-life, but in bringing them, through care and devotion and faithfulness, into the paths that God has appointed for his children to follow. . .
I grant you that there are many who approach the great responsibility of motherhood with fear and timidity, because of its dangers to the physical life of the mother, because of its pain its sorrow and its distress; but in the very nature of things, if God should lighten the burdens, the sorrow, and the pain of child-bearing, he would endanger the enduring love of the mother for her children. There is nothing worthwhile we obtain unless we pay the price for it. That which is given to us freely, we consider of little value, and so, because a mother goes into the valley of death, lays her life upon the altar to bring life into the world, and because through the rearing of the children who come to her, she spends many sleepless nights, denies herself the personal pleasures of life, devotes herself with patience and care and strength almost more than she has, to the welfare of her children -- this is what makes her love them. For where her treasure is, there her heart is, and the greatest treasure a woman has she gives in her service, her life itself. (Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard, 203-4).

The prophets have been consistently clear on this important issue throughout the entire dispensation. They have taught, counseled and warned the saints these truths have eternal ramifications, and that the saints will regret the day if they are slothful in these supernal duties to God. Joseph Smith prophesied “the day would come when none but the women of the Latter-day Saints would be willing to bear children,” and his words are sadly coming to pass. (See Joseph Smith The Prophet, Truman G. Madsen, 39).

No matter how unpopular or inconvenient it may become, the priest and priestess must be diligent in their several duties, if the couple is to obtain the exaltation the Lord has promised those who keep the laws, rites and ordinances of marriage. These solemn promises and covenants are most sacred.

Equality Between the Roles of Mothers and Fathers

This observation on the patriarchal laws, rites and ordinances may be useful in illustrating the perfect equality in our separate roles as mothers and fathers. Who keeps the law of this order of the priesthood, the priest or the priestess? Both of them multiply and replenish. Who keeps or performs the rite of this order of the priesthood, the priest or the priestess? Both of them perform the rite. Who keeps or performs the ordinance of this order of the priesthood, the priest or the priestess? The first time this ordinance of birth is performed it is accomplished only by the priestess. The second time this ordinance of “re”birth is performed it is accomplished only by the priest.

Remember, all mankind (all men, women, and children) must be born twice -- or “born again” -- to enter into eternal life. The first birth is physical and is performed only by the priestess. The second birth is spiritual (born of the spirit) and is performed only by the priest (baptism of water and of fire or spirit). Both are ultimately essential.

Thus, the ordinance of birth is really performed in two steps -- first by the priestess, then by the priest. Please note, when the mother performs the first birth the man sits helplessly by as an interested observer. While he participated in the passing of the seeds, he does not participate in the first birth except to exercise his faith and prayers (and maybe some "coaching" if he has trained himself as a "doula.") Similarly, as he performs the baptism and confirmation of the second birth the roles reverse and she becomes the silent observer exercising her faith and prayers.

In both births the three fundamental elements of birth are present: The water, the blood and the spirit:

That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified. (Moses 6:59-60).

This truth is self-evident -- the mother and father are equals -- peers, as priest and priestess. Both are honored with important and companion roles in these priestly duties. We are each equal and unique parts of one wonderful synergistic whole with different assigned tasks and capacities to balance our work in the glorious process of developing an eternal union and an eternal family kingdom to make us “God” in the eternities.

President Harold B. Lee emphasized the teaching of a former prophet in these words:

In defining the relationship of a wife to her husband, the late President George Albert Smith put it this way: “In showing this relationship, by a symbolic representation, God didn’t say that woman was to be taken from a bone in the man’s head that she should rule over him, nor from a bone in his foot that she should be trampled under his feet, but from a bone in his side to symbolize that she was to stand by his side, to be his companion, his equal, and his helpmeet in all their lives together.” (“Maintain Your Place as a Woman,” Ensign, February 1972, 50).

The patriarchal order is the order of “fathers” and “mothers.” Only in this order can we multiply and fill other worlds with our posterity. Other beings do not reside as couples and families in eternity, and do not have the power of the seeds (the power to increase) with the attendant parental responsibilities, worlds without end. (See D&C 132:17-17).

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught the following about inheriting telestial and terrestrial kingdoms:

. . . there will be changes in the bodies and limitations. They will not have the power of increase, neither the power or nature to live as husbands and wives, for this will be denied them and they cannot increase. . . Some of the functions in the celestial body will not appear in the Terrestrial body, neither in the Telestial body, and the power of procreation will be removed. (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:287).

President Smith says not only the power will be taken, but the nature also. This makes perfect sense because puberty is a package. The nature and power come hand in hand and are inextricably linked together. Little children’s bodies do not have the power to reproduce. They do not have the sexual desire (or nature) to perform sexual acts. When they grow older they not only get the nature (desire) but also the power. When we get the power we get the nature. When we lose the power we lose the nature.

Only in honoring our marital covenants by faithfully keeping these sacred laws, rites and ordinances in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage will the powers and blessings of the fullness of the priesthood become ours.

We must understand that only in keeping these sacred laws, rites and ordinances explicitly linked to the order of marriage do we honor our sealing covenants. To arbitrarily abstain from, defer or limit our procreative and parental privileges and responsibilities is to reject in our hearts and by our works what we have solemnly promised with our lips. We must recognize that if we were to do this we would be “making a mock of that which [is] sacred,” and thereby risk losing these priceless powers forever. (See Helaman 4:12).

President Harold B. Lee:

We declare it is a grievous sin before God to adopt restrictive measures in disobedience to God’s divine command from the beginning of time to “multiply and replenish the earth.” Surely those who project such measures to prevent life or to destroy life before or after birth will reap the whirlwind of God’s retribution, for God will not be mocked. (CR, Oct. 1972, 63; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, 62).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chapter Fifteen: The Priesthood Keys and True Prayer

Chapter Fifteen



The Priesthood Keys and True Prayer


The priesthood keys work in concert with prayer, the mechanism by which we communicate with God. Joseph said, “The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.” (TPJS, 191). The proper use of priesthood keys relates directly to prayer. Remember, these are the keys of the oracles of God.

Mortal man’s relationship with God is spiritual. We cannot see him with our eyes, hear him with our ears, touch him with our hands, smell him with our noses, or taste him with our tongues right now. Mortal man cannot comprehend God by the five senses. As Paul said:

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. . . the things of the Spirit. . . are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:9-14).

Since we are out of God’s presence, our relationship or “fellowship” with God is strictly spiritual for now. One said it well: “We are not temporal beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a temporal experience.” Our only means of fellowship with him is prayer and revelation by the power of the spirit. As we seek to come into greater fellowship with God through prayer and revelation we come into greater fellowship with him gradually, line upon line, precept upon precept, growing from grace to grace in light and truth.

There is an order to prayer just as there is order throughout his house. True prayer is different than mechanical prayer. True prayer receives answers. D&C 124:95, 97 contains some interesting insight. Joseph is commanded to show Hyrum and William keys whereby they could ask and receive:

That [Hyrum] may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him
Let my servant William Law also receive the keys by which he may ask and receive blessings. . .

What are the keys whereby we may ask and receive?

[Joseph] spoke of delivering the keys of the Priesthood to the Church, and said that the faithful members of the Relief Society should receive them with their husbands, that the Saints whose integrity has been tried and proved faithful, might know how to ask the Lord and receive an answer. . . (TPJS, 226).

The four priesthood keys of spiritual power are the keys to asking and receiving an answer. They are the four keys of true prayer. They are given to us in a very specific order.

The first key to true prayer is to ask in faith. (James 1:5-6).

There are a hundred scriptures to this effect. This is the first key of prayer. Investigators don’t need to turn any of the other keys to get an answer to prayer. They don’t need to repent, stop smoking and drinking, let alone get baptized or confirmed. All they have to do to get an answer is to turn the first key of the priesthood by asking in faith. If they will sincerely ask with real intent having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of the gospel unto them. (Moroni 10:4-5). That is all they need to do to obtain an answer.

When the Lord answers, he reveals to the investigators that the missionaries are “true messengers.” The Holy Spirit carries the testimony of the missionaries to the heart of the investigators with power and they will know the truth. As simple as it seems this miraculous answer to prayer comes only if they turn this first key and ask in faith. If they do they will have taken the first step of spiritual fellowship with God.

The second key to true prayer is the preparatory gospel (D&C 13).

Once they have the witness of the spirit they have two choices: 1) They can reject it, either immediately or later; or 2) they can receive it, then take the next step of fellowship by turning the next key -- exercising their faith unto repentance, starting to live more righteously, then entering the waters of baptism and making a covenant with God to keep his commandments.

Through this preparatory gospel they turn from sin to righteousness by seeking to keep the commandments. They have greater fellowship with God, more favor with him and greater power in their prayers.

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (1 John 3:21-22).

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (1 Peter 3:12).

Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. (1 Nephi 17:35).

. . . Nephi was more faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord -- therefore he was favored of the Lord, for the Lord heard his prayers and answered them, and he took the lead of their journey in the wilderness. (Mosiah 10:13).

This is the second key of true prayer, the key to asking and receiving an answer -- the Lord favors the righteous, for he hears their prayers and answers them. These are his children who obey his commandments and enter into the waters of baptism with full purpose of heart to take upon themselves the name of Christ.

The third key to true prayer is the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Once investigators are growing in faith and righteousness and in fellowship with God, we see the Holy Ghost, the third key, beginning to bless their lives:

And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit. . .
He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh. (D&C 46:28, 30).

The third key of the priesthood is the Holy Spirit, and the third key of prayer is to ask in spirit. As we grow in faith we will live more righteously because true faith always produces fruit, works and righteousness. As we grow in righteousness we are worthy to receive more of the spirit, meaning more light. Just as the spirit will not dwell in an unholy temple (see Helaman 4:24; Alma 34:36), so the spirit will grow and increase in a temple becoming more and more righteous and worthy. (See D&C 50:24). Remember, however, this is a gradual process. (See D&C 50:40).

Amulek gave an interesting warning to the saints, admonishing them to avoid being sealed in their wickedness by Satan. A profitable insight can be gleaned by restating his negative warning as a positive injunction without changing the meaning. Notice the notion of a long process at work here, either for good or evil:

For behold, if ye have not procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold ye have become subjected to the spirit of the Lord, and he doth seal you his; therefore the Spirit of the Lord hath filled you, and hath found a place in you, and the Lord hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the righteous. (See Alma 34:35).

As we grow in spirit, our prayers are influenced more and more by the light expanding within us. We grow in the knowledge of God, the knowledge of that which is just and true (see Mosiah 4:12), and our thoughts and requests to God become more and more in harmony with his holy mind and will. Asking in the spirit is the third key as we grow in our fellowship with God.

The fourth key of true prayer is the sealing power through the Second Comforter.

As we persevere, growing spiritually in light and truth, we will eventually reach the point where we obtain the fourth key. As part of obtaining the fourth key we can reach a point where we receive a very specific promise of the Lord:

. . .and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. (Helaman 10:5).

This is the fourth and grand key of prayer, the sealing power, wherein the Lord promises us that whatever is asked will be granted because he knows we will never ask for anything contrary to his will. That which we bind or seal on earth will be bound and sealed in heaven, and that which we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Whoever we bless God will bless and whoever we curse God will curse. All things shall be done according to our word.

The sisters have the right through the fullness of the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood and personal worthiness to receive the Second Comforter and this ultimate promise of the Lord.

Joseph Smith told the sisters of the Church:

If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates. Females, if they are pure and innocent [the same requirements apply for men], can come in the presence of God. . . (TPJS, 226-7).

This second Melchizedek Priesthood key is reserved only for those children of God who receive all four parts of the temple ordinance, including the preliminary entry into the patriarchal order of the priesthood known as the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. Then proving themselves to be true and faithful in all things, they eventually have this fourth key sealed upon them by revelation and the spirit of prophecy through the power of the Holy Priesthood and the Holy Spirit of promise, which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. (See D&C 131:5; 132:19).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

THANKSGIVING DAY, by Les Goates

THANKSGIVING DAY


It is a characteristic of our American way of life that the more our country changes, the more Thanksgiving Day remains the same.

It has become more than just another holiday; it is a time of gratitude for the harvest; the changing seasons of the year; the opportunity of laboring in hopes of a generous reward; and the choice privilege of worshiping God as our free will and choice dictate.

It is a day for recalling and enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast — New England flavor blended from golden-skinned turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and more impressively the echo of the Pilgrims' devout thanks for abundant blessings.

Most of us still retain in the preciousness of memory the picture of stove-piped-hatted Pilgrims, with a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other, going to church, accompanied by tall, staunch women in long, white-aproned gowns; Indians sitting as guests at the harvest feast; and all the traditional Thanksgiving Day scenes that have decorated the art galleries and the American Textbooks for more than three centuries.

And in our time, we still savor the old home kitchen with the biggest turkey on the farm browning in the oven, spice pies all over the place, bright shimmering jellies, cranberry jam, heaps of mashed potatoes in huge bowls that have been in the family for generations.

We are grateful for the rich harvest gathered opportunely on the eve of winter; for the lingering warmth of autumn; for the gorgeous snow-covered peaks; for the picturesque canyons and mountain streams; the moon and stars to brighten the night; the sunset over the lake; our beautiful homes in these choice valleys; the many family gatherings so fittingly observed on this memorable day and for the kindness of precious friends and neighbors.

Among all the good things of life we enjoy, we reserve our deepest gratitude for living in a country that unites to observe, with whole-hearted enthusiasm, such a warm and rewarding holiday as Thanksgiving Day. This is a day of giving thanks that our America is strong and free and thriving!

This is a family day also. Some chairs will be empty on this day for the loved ones of those who have gone away. This will be hard to bear for it will be a day of painful and sorrowful memories, rather than a day for rejoicing. In other homes however, there will be new chairs and new faces that were not there last year.

With all our wealth of blessings, how poor we are if we are more grateful for our material possessions than for the spiritual verities!

We are free men! How insignificant are all things else for which we give thanks on Thanksgiving Day! Yet, we cannot overlook the blessings of the bounteous harvest or the productivity of our mills and factories, or the profound knowledge of our scientists and the skills of our artisans — all of which we must use for the general benefit of mankind and the strengthening of the cause of liberty.

But not even on Thanksgiving Day can we turn our backs on the troubles of the world. We cannot be thankful for all the things we have to contend with these days. But our anxieties, our determination to stand firmly for what we believe to be right and to resist what is wrong; our willingness to sacrifice comforts and luxuries and spend our means to defend our convictions — these are ample reasons for giving thanks.

Truly, we honor not only the Pilgrims, but our founding fathers and our pioneer forebears as well, when we give this kind of observance to Thanksgiving Day.

— Les Goates

(Republished — Goates, Les. The Six Faces of Les Go. Deseret Book, 1965)


Chapter Fourteen: Coming Into The Presence of God

Chapter Fourteen



Coming Into The Presence of God

There is only one grand purpose for the restoration of the fullness of the gospel -- to bring the children of God, lost through their transgressions resulting in their spiritual and physical death, back into the presence of God. Full fellowship with God is the goal. He wants each of the children to return from their prodigal paths. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said it well: “Through the restitution of all things, God is actually giving away the secrets of the universe!” (That Ye May Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1992] 164).

Like the patient master of the vineyard in the Zenos allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, God’s hand is always stretched out to wayward Israel bidding them to return. (See Jacob 5). He is the “certain king” who made a marriage for his son, and sent his servants throughout the land to extend the wedding feast invitation to all who would come. Sadly, as in the parable when we receive the invitation to come we too often “make light of it.” (See Matthew 22:1-14).

Once fallen mortals have obtained the knowledge of good and evil (the knowledge of the gods) for themselves by experiencing the vicissitudes of mortality, they desire full fellowship with the gods. They would literally want to become one with the Eloheim (the Gods) who rule and reign in eternity. How does fallen man do this? Through use of the priesthood keys.

What does it mean to dwell in God’s presence? Many imagine in elementary school fashion what it will be like going back into the presence of God or dwelling with God. Some may suppose we are all going back to live in his house or his neighborhood, his community or his planet. Such an idea does not seem very practical. He would have to have a very large house, or neighborhood or planet to house billions of children from worlds without end. Besides, we have a clue that our celestial kingdom will be right here on planet earth when it is glorified. (See D&C 88:17-26; 130:9). We are going to stay right here, but “this earth is going to be rolled back into the presence of God and crowned with celestial glory.” (TPJS, 181).

What does it mean, then, to regain God’s presence? If not all will be living in God’s living room how will we be in his presence? To be “in God’s presence” means to be “in the spirit” -- his spirit. Remember light? This is the glory of God. He is filled with it. He is not just another resurrected being. He is a God. He is a glorified resurrected being filled with a fulness of light. This among other things is what makes him God. Many other resurrected beings are only filled with portions of glory, and are telestial or terrestrial instead of being exalted to the “highest degree of glory,” or light.

God is a resurrected being of flesh and bone. His body can only be in one place at one time. Like a magnet, however, that can also be in only one place at one time, God has a “magnetic field” filled with and influenced by the presence of its electro-magnetic force. This force fills his kingdom with the power of his light. (See D&C 88:12). This glory that proceeds forth from his presence is as much a part of him as his hand or foot is. When his light is with us, he is with us.

The words “presence of God” and “glory of God,” then, are used interchangeably. (See D&C 88:19). One way to explain God’s presence is found in D&C 109:12. Section 109 is the dedicatory prayer given in the Kirtland Temple. Joseph said it was given by revelation. In verse 12 Joseph prays, “That thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house.”

Obviously, Joseph was not asking that God’s resurrected body come down and sit continually in the temple. God cannot be confined to one little building on one little planet. Clearly, it is the presence of his glory Joseph is requesting. We see, then, the presence of God is the glory of God.

Degrees of Glory

Most Latter-day Saints have heard and used the phrase “degrees of glory.” Few, however, have really begun to understand the scope and magnitude of the ramifications connected with this phrase. Degrees of glory are degrees of God’s presence. The greater degree of glory we obtain, the greater the portion of God’s presence we receive. What degree of God’s presence do you wish to obtain? A telestial portion? A terrestrial portion? A celestial portion? A full portion (also called eternal life) or exaltation?

Here in our mortal fallen condition we have lost the presence or the spirit of God. We have virtually no fellowship with God. We are spiritually dead, having spiritually fallen because of personal sin. The scriptures attest throughout we must be born of the spirit again.

Telestial beings enjoy the first portion of God’s presence, having access to the light of the Holy Ghost, the First Comforter, and least of the members of the Godhead. (See D&C 76:81-86). Imagine a fulness of the presence of the Holy Ghost. What a marvelous gift!

Terrestrial beings enjoy a greater degree of God’s presence, having access to the blessings of the fulness of the presence of the Second Comforter, even Jesus Christ, the second member of the Godhead. (D&C 76:71-77). Imagine the blessing of being the presence of Christ continually.

Celestial beings enjoy an even greater degree of God’s presence. They enjoy the glory of the Father, the head God. (See D&C 76:54-62; also TPJS, 371). Those who have obtained the highest degree of this kingdom (D&C 131:1-4) enjoy a fullness of Godhood. They have full fellowship with the Gods, being like them and one with them in all things.

A Degree at a Time

Fallen man cannot come into the full presence of God all at once. We would be consumed by God’s glory. Remember, “Our God is a consuming fire.” (TPJS, 367; Hebrews 12:29). He lives in everlasting burnings in a perfect society and state, where no imperfect and corruptible thing can come or dwell. Joseph said, “This is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment.” (TPJS, 51).

Man must come into the glorious presence of God by degrees, beginning at the first and so on to the fullness. Joseph reminds us we must learn line upon line, and grow precept upon precept:

The Lord deals with this people as a tender parent with a child, communicating light and intelligence and the knowledge of his ways as they can bear it. (TPJS, 305).

It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. (TPJS, 297).

We cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. (TPJS, 256).

Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. (D&C 50:40).

We sometimes equate the word “grace” only with the word “love,” but love is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22), a property of light. To fully understand what it means to grow in grace, we must understand that “grace” is yet another term used synonymously with light. A careful reading of D&C 93:11-40 reveals that grace clearly equates to truth, light, spirit, intelligence and glory. To grow in grace by degrees is to grow in glory by degrees, as beautifully illustrated in D&C 93. To grow in glory by degrees is to grow in godliness, to come unto God by becoming one with him and to be filled with his presence, glory and light.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Launch Sales and Marketing and the Employment Resource Center

I am grateful for Launch Sales and Marketing, and particularly my association with Brandt Page and the great team he is assembling.

It was reported publicly by Utah Pulse yesterday that I have joined Launch and we're determined to begin rebuilding and helping other companies succeed in the aftermath of the recession.

I read today that Scott Anderson, President of Zions Bank, reported that Americans have lost over $8.8 Trillion in the last eighteen months.  No time to fret about all that.  It's time to be up and at 'em and growing our businesses and putting the pieces back together again.

It's also time to announce that Patsy and I will be assuming the volunteer position of Chair of the Professional Placement Program for the Employment Resource Center in Salt Lake.  We've been called to serve as "senior couple missionaries," which is still taking some time to get used to -- don't really think of myself or her as "seniors" quite yet, but there's no hiding the gray hair!

If you know people who are looking for work, remind them to check out LDSJobs.org and enter their profile.  The beta site is already populated with employers searching for qualified applicants.  It's a great marketplace to hook up, whether you're an employer or a potential hire.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  Take time to give thanks for your blessings too!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Death of Innocence

Dealey Plaza
Dallas, Texas

Only those over the age of fifty will qualify for this post.  The question of the day is, "Where were you when Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas?"  Today is the 46th anniversary of that event, but its effects live on.

I was attending East High School.  It was my friend Doug's birthday.  The school was still reeling from its mourning of the deaths of two classmates, having just buried two seniors who were killed by a drunk driver earlier that month.  Lin Hewlett and Flemming Christensen's lives were senselessly ended only a month before on October 21st.  They were hardly in their graves before the tragic news of President Kennedy stunned the world, another promising life snuffed out inexplicably. 

For students at East High in 1963, it was another staggering body blow.

On November 22, 1963, a small group of us were huddled in the cafeteria of the school, passing around homemade cupcakes with candles, and the news reached our table.  Despite our celebratory mood, there was instantaneous soberness, shock and disbelief.  Someone had shot and killed the President of the United States?  Unthinkable!  Not in 1963!  Those kinds of acts were reserved for some dark chapter in history, like back in the day when Lincoln was shot and killed at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.  But not now!

If no one knew Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather before that day, they certainly knew them thereafter.  I will never forget watching and re-watching Cronkite's report on black-and-white CBS TV News, choked with emotion as he removed his black horn-rimmed glasses and wiped away his tears as he made the somber pronouncement, "The President is dead."  It was unthinkable.  It was the era of the Beatles and Beach Boys when the decade began, but the Sixties would descend into a living hell of war protesting, racial upheaval and widespread psychadelic drug abuse.

The world mourned his passing for days, even years afterward.  Some spoke of it as the "end of Camelot."  There is never a year that passes but what articles are written (here's one that appeared today), specials are put together for TV, and we collectively recall that fateful day.  We never got to hear Lee Harvey Oswald testify in open court because he was himself assassinated by Jack Ruby, a nickel-and-dime hoodlum with Mafia ties who owned a nightclub in Dallas.  Ruby stood trial, was convicted, and died of lung cancer in prision while awaiting appeal.

No one who was alive in 1963 can seem to forget where they were and what they were doing on that infamous day.  We all recall it in complete detail.  It's as if time stood still.  Why?  I believe it is because for many of us it represented what I titled "the death of innocence." 

Evil was suddenly possible.  There were no barriers left.  Civility was dealt a severe blow.  Progress being made toward hope for a better tomorrow was suddenly and instantly suspended for a season.  We collectively pondered the question, "If a man can shoot and kill a President, is anything out of bounds?"

Of course, since then conspiracy theories have abounded.  Did Oswald act alone?  Was there a second or third shooter from the grassy knoll or a manhole cover?  Did the Warren Commission's finding that the single bullet theory that simultaneously maimed Kennedy and severely wounded Texas Governor John Connally in the front seat really have merit?  The debates wore on and on for years, and still persist.

Was it Cuba-backed sympathizers who killed him?  Was it a Mafia-inspired plot because of the Kennedy's pursuit of Costa Nostra crime families?  Was it Communist-inspired retaliation for the Kennedy blockade of Cuba when the U.S.S.R.'s long-range missles were discovered on Cuban soil?  There was no end to the speculation in those days.

While on business in Dallas a few years ago, I walked from my hotel down to Dealey Plaza and took my self-guided tour of the Sixth Floor Book Depository Museum.  It was a sobering reality to stand on the very spot where the unforgettable events of my youth had transpired.  I've never forgotten the feelings. 

I sifted through all the various theories about his assassination as I walked from room to room.  Then I stood at the window where Oswald fired three bullets (the casings were found in the nest after he fled), apparently one of which was the fatal shot if the Warren Commission is to be believed. 

They called it "the shooter's nest."  It was chilling to consider what thoughts must have been running through Oswald's mind that morning as I stood where he had crouched at an open window overlooking Dealey Plaza when the motorcade passed below.  Kennedy, standing and waving to an adoring crowd in an open Lincoln convertible was certainly an inviting target. 

But as I stood there that morning, as a former expert marksman myself (with a semi-automatic M-16, mind you), I considered that it would have had to be one heck of a shot, especially with having to cock, load and re-acquire my target three times within a matter of seconds at a target that was speeding in the opposite direction after the first shot rang out.  It was a bolt-action rifle with a scope that Oswald used, and a kill shot certainly could have been possible in the hands of someone skilled in its use, but I just thought over and over again as I stood there, "That was one heck of a shot (or two or three) from here." 

Like many Americans I read many, many books about the assassination in the years that followed, trying to understand and make sense of an irrational act of violence.  I even read the whole Warren Commission report.  Senator Arlen Specter (now D-PA, formerly R-PA) was the author of the single-bullet theory while he served on the Warren Commission. 

And I always thought to myself back then, "You'd have to believe pigs can fly to believe that theory."  But what do I know?  After all these years no one has ever offered a credible counter-theory that has seemingly stood up as well as Specter's, though it has certainly been attacked as uncredible by experts.  And that single bullet, the one they found on Kennedy's stretcher in the aftermath at Parkland Memorial Hospital, is not the one that accounted for the fatal head shot.  

I've forgotten most of what I read now.  I would have to say for myself that's it's still an open question as to the who, the why, the how about Kennedy's death. 

As a family, we still wonder about the premature passing of Lin and Flemming too.  In subsequent years there have been many other family members whose mortal lives have likewise ended too soon by our reckoning, and we search in vain for answers here and now.

But I do know this for sure -- for me and many others in my baby-boomer generation this day in history represents the loss of innocence.  After that, anything was possible.

When Lin and Fleming were laid to rest, President S. Dilworth Young of the First Council of the Seventy penned these lines while sitting on the stand at Flemming's funeral in the Douglas Ward:

I sit and ask myself:
These boys, these
Fair-haired
Boys,
Their hopes and
Dreams,
Once bright,
Now moving in
Eternal
Light.

We do not
See
That Light;
We know 'tis
There, but
How, or
Where, we
Cannot know
Until that
Blessed day
When
We, the veil
Worn thin
Will see
Them
Waiting patiently
Within.

Then what
Will be our
Joy?
No pain!  No
Fear!
But more!
We shall then
Know
The reason
Why.

What matter how
They
Go.  If in Thy sight
They stand before
Thee RIGHT,
Lord,
Stand there
Right.

If you're over fifty years old, your comments and memories are welcome here. . . 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Midnight Train of Obamacare


There is a pattern developing here -- the House passed their version of Obamacare in the middle of the night one Saturday night in October by a narrow margin of 220 - 215.

I have just learned that the Senate is taking up the Harry Reid version of the bill in a vote to proceed with discussion that has been called for tonight.  It's all being done, once again, at night on a weekend.  And this is the "most transparent" government in history?  Somebody had better rethink that statement.

One senator called the Reid version "an unmitigated disaster that will increase taxes, raise insurance premiums, and gut Medicare."  (Senator Bob Bennett, R-UT).

Tonight’s scheduled vote is an attempt to shut off the initial debate and move to discussion of the bill, a blatant attempt to ramrod the bill through the Senate as quickly as possible.  If it fails, that means the bill won’t even be allowed to come up.  Reports today indicate that all forty Republican senators have committed to vote “No!”  A single Democrat defection would be enough to deal a powerful blow to the Democrats’ dreams of government-run health care.  But Reid wouldn't be calling for the procedural vote tonight unless he knew he had the 60 votes he needs.

If the Democrats hold together and win tonight’s procedural vote with the required 60 votes, then what?

Even then, it's a shallow victory.  Senator Lieberman (D-CN) is vehemently opposed to it.  Even if he votes with his party on this vote, all they will have won is the authority to proceed with debate about Senator Reid’s health care bill.  They will not have won final passage of the bill itself.  In order to do that, they will have to hold another vote requiring 60 supporters. That vote will take place at a time when it will be more difficult for Democrats to avoid the consequences of voting against the will of their constituents, the majority of whom do not agree with the principles and practices in this legislation.

After the vote Saturday night, senators will leave for a Thanksgiving recess. Upon their return, assuming Democrats prevail on the vote tonight (and they will), they will launch into weeks or more of unpredictable debate on the health care bill, with numerous amendments expected from both sides of the aisle and more 60-vote hurdles along the way.


Senate leaders hope to pass their bill by the end of the year. If that happens, January would bring work to reconcile the House and Senate versions before a final package could land on President Obama's desk.  There is a looming question about abortion funding that is included in the legislation, but opposed by 6 in 10 Americans when polled recently by CNN. 

Speaking of polls. . .  President Obama promises this bill will not add a single cent to the bulging deficit.  Turns out another recent poll that will be published in tomorrow's Washington Post taken among Americans reveals that no one (less than 20%) believes him.  The only thing that is going to stop this runaway midnight express is opposition to it from ordinary American citizens -- and they've got to rise up in overwhelming numbers to threaten the very political existence of their elected representatives.  Until those people are threatened with losing their seats in 2010, nothing will change. 

This Reid version of the bill would create a huge expansion of government in our lives.  It will raise premiums for those who have private coverage.  It will raise taxes for many individuals and most small businesses.  It will reduce payments to Medicare providers. And those are the best things about it.  The real problem with it is that it’s absurd how expensive it is going to be at a time when the Treasury is already stressed.

America has added 10% to its entire national debt in under a year!!  It is little wonder why China and Japan are concerned about the devaluing of our currency and they are moving to gold to hedge their reserve currencies holdings.  The insanity must be stopped!!  This bill crafted by the majority Democrats would add an additional $2.5 trillion dollars in new spending over the next ten years. 

How in the world can President Obama look other world leaders in the face and assure them everything's under control and that our economic house is in order as a nation? 

You don't get the full impact of that number unless it's written out:

$2,500,000,000,000.00 

They insist that number is wrong, but the bill’s accounting is dishonest. In order to give it a smaller price tag, the Administration starts collecting money four years before they provide any services. That way, they maintain the illusion of lower costs by taking money without paying for anything.  It's a fraud, pure and simple, yet the drum beat continues because the majority party has the votes.  It's as corrupt and fraudulent as anything we have ever witnessed in our lives, yet it continues to move forward through the halls of Congress.

This has now gone way beyond politics, folks.  This is nothing more than mental illness versus sanity.  If you're not already engaged in opposition to this horrible piece of legislation, then get engaged tonight!

Look at how your elected representatives plan to pay for this.  The Senate bill includes a tax on high-value insurance policies that's not part of the House bill, while the House would levy a new income tax on upper-income Americans that's not in the Senate measure. The Senate measure also raises the Medicare payroll tax on income above $200,000 annually for individuals and $250,000 for couples. Both bills rely on more than $400 billion in cuts to Medicare. 

Two key words:  NEW TAXES AND CUTS TO MEDICARE. 

Chapter Thirteen: How the Priesthood Administers the Spiritual Keys of Power

Chapter Thirteen


How the Priesthood Administers the Spiritual Keys of Power

We come closer now to the heart of the matter -- how these precious priesthood keys are administered by the priesthood to all members of the Church for their individual blessing.

Administering the Aaronic Priesthood’s First Key

This first key is usually overlooked because we don’t think about it in these terms -- we simply accept missionary work as one of the most visible functions of the Church. It is so obvious we do not give it a second thought. When the scriptures speak of the key of faith they invariably speak of faith unto salvation. The only faith to save man is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and him crucified. How does the Aaronic Priesthood administer faith?

Paul answers in Chapter 10 of Romans:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias [Greek for Isaiah] saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:13-17).

Joseph Smith commented on this subject using this very text:

To say that the heathens would be damned because they did not believe the Gospel would be preposterous, and to say that the Jews would all be damned that do not believe in Jesus would be equally absurd; for “how can they believe on him of whom they have not heard, and how can they hear without a preacher, and how can he preach except he be sent;” consequently neither Jew nor heathen can be culpable for rejecting the conflicting opinions of sectarianism, nor for rejecting any testimony but that which is sent of God, for as the preacher cannot preach except he be sent, so the hearer cannot believe without he hear a “sent” preacher, and cannot be condemned for what he has not heard, and being without law, will have to be judged without law. (TPJS, 221).

These teachings establish two key points regarding faith: 1) Faith comes only by hearing “the word of God;” and 2) the word of God is not just some words about God. The word of God is God’s word, which he sends to his children by his Holy Spirit through true messengers he authorizes and sends by the authority of the priesthood.

No one can have faith in Christ unto salvation unless he has heard the word of God. The word of God can only be taught and heard in one tongue. This tongue is not Spanish, English, Hebrew, Greek, French or any other language of man. This tongue is the “tongue of angels” and it can be spoken only by the power of the Holy Ghost by those sent and authorized of God. It can be received only by those with “broken hearts and contrite spirits.” (See 3 Nephi 9:20).

The 5th Article of Faith states:

We believe that a man must [not optional] be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority [the priesthood], to preach the Gospel. . .

Joseph said:

Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation. (TPJS, 148).

Nephi gives us this insight on the tongue of angels:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism -- yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels. . . (2 Nephi 31:13).

Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ; for behold the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. (2 Nephi 32:2-3).

. . .the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (John 14:24).

When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them. . . (2 Nephi 33:1-2).

. . .the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit; and they are life. (John 6:63).

The word of God spoken in the spiritual tongue of angels, heard and felt only by the spirit (in our “heart”), is the only way men and women can have faith in Jesus Christ. Without that witness of the spirit there can be no faith in the hearts of the children of God.

. . . No man can know that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (1 Corinthians 12:3, see also TPJS, 223).

A key word, as set forth in the scriptures is “sent.” Only “sent” messengers can declare the word of God with power and authority by the medium of the Holy Spirit. All this is accomplished through the priesthood. The priesthood performs the ordinance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. The priesthood authorizes and sends forth the messengers of salvation into the vineyard.

The Church routinely calls missionaries. They are sent by the priesthood into all the world in these last days and empowered by the gift of the Holy Ghost. Each can speak as “an angel. . . and go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!” (Alma 29:1). The scriptures ratify this imagery of speaking with the trump of God in numerous places. (See also D&C 24:12; 29:4; 30:9; 34:6; 36:1; 75:4; 124:106; 43:18, 25; 88:92-110).

Those with broken hearts will hear (feel) the witness of the Holy Spirit, believe, and exercise faith in the testimonies of God’s true messengers. Those with hard hearts will not receive this witness, this testimony, this key called faith.

True Messengers

Faith, then, is literally administered by the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood and is the Aaronic Priesthood’s first key to spiritual power. Only by this first key of revealed religion can we discern the true messengers sent to us from God. These true messengers quite literally give us this key of faith on the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation. Any other messengers are not true sent messengers from God.

These true messengers speak by the tongue of angels with the authoritative power of the Holy Ghost. As their testimony is carried by the power of the spirit to the broken hearts and contrite spirits of men and women, each soul may know these are true messengers from the Father. In this way new converts begin to exercise the new key of faith, faith to know and say by the power of their own budding testimony of the spirit that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. One new convert described the power of this witness in these words: “When I first heard the message of the gospel it was instantly welded to my soul. Even in subsequent years when my faith waned the weld never weakened.”

As with each new convert to the Church who hears the restored gospel for the first time, these true messengers can seem like ministering angels. Indeed, many regard their first set of missionaries as their saviors on Mount Zion, angels indeed. The ministering angels can be from either side of the veil. If mortals they can be missionaries, fathers, mothers, teachers and leaders. If immortal they can literally be resurrected angels, translated beings or spirits without bodies.

Frequently, these angels in mortality are more often than not females -- our inspired sister missionaries sent by the priesthood or mothers and wives directed by the priesthood who teach and bless lives daily by the power of the Holy Ghost.

The heaven-sent witness of these true messengers can be in either spoken form or written form. The scriptures are a good example of the written form:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20-21).

From the title page of our modern edition of The Book of Mormon, taken from the last leaf of the gold plates, we learn the book was “. . .written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation.” Obviously, the Holy Ghost can bear witness with power to either the spoken or written form of the word sent forth by servants of God to the children of men.

In summary, we see faith for what it really is -- the key of the ministering of angels.

Behold I say unto you. . . it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. (Moroni 7:37).

This faith always comes by hearing the word of God from the true messengers sent from his presence who cry repentance to the world.

Administering the Aaronic Priesthood’s Second Key

The “preparatory gospel” is the second key of the Aaronic Priesthood. Regarding it, Joseph Smith taught:


There are certain key words and signs belonging to the priesthood which must be observed in order to obtain the blessing. The sign of Peter was to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost; and in no other way is the gift of the Holy Ghost obtained. (TPJS, 199).

This “sign of Peter,” “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,” is the outward ordinance or sign of the preparatory gospel. It is also referred to as “the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins.” (D&C 13; 84:26-27; 107:20).

No outward act or ordinance of the gospel ever guarantees the inward spiritual reality it is meant to symbolize. Baptism does not constitute the whole of the preparatory gospel either. Baptism is merely the outward sign, the visible way we witness our compliance with the requirement to accept Christ as our Savior and repent of our sins. The preparatory gospel is more than the mere outward performance of an ordinance. It is truly exercising the first key of the Aaronic Priesthood -- faith unto repentance. (Alma 34:15-17).

Baptism is awakening and arising from the dark grave of sin to the sunlight of righteousness through the principle of repentance. It is choosing to cease following Satan in his domination of a sinful world and to begin exercising faith and following a new master -- Christ the Lord. It is walking the strait and narrow path of righteousness, keeping the commandments and walking in the newness of life promised to the faithful saints.

The “key” is the gospel of repentance accompanied by the “sign” of the baptism of repentance.

This key is administered by the Aaronic Priesthood. The presiding officers in the Church call, set apart and send missionaries into the world to prepare God’s children for their spiritual rebirth, just as John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the Savior.

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
. . . Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan,
And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
. . . I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. (Matthew 3:1-3, 5-6, 11).

By authority of the Aaronic Priesthood the Lord’s servants are authorized to preach the gospel of repentance and perform the important “sign of Peter,” the ordinance of baptism, under proper supervision of their presiding ecclesiastical leaders. While only the priesthood has the authority to administer this key, these blessings are freely given and extended to all interested worthy individuals, male and female, who have reached the age of eight (the age of accountability). None of these has yet been given any priesthood whatever. People do not need to hold the priesthood to receive this priesthood key. In fact, none holds the priesthood when the priesthood administers this Aaronic Priesthood key to them. All may enjoy the benefits of the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins as soon as they have reached the age of accountability.

The preparatory gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, can appropriately be summed up in a single word -- righteousness. Repentance and baptism are about sin. When we repent we repent of sin. We stop sinning.

Ezekiel said:

But if the wicked man will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all [God’s] statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live. . . All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him; in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. (Ezekiel 18:21-22; see also verses 30-32).

The truly penitent, those whose repentance is sincere, begin walking in the paths of righteousness. While they may continue as we all do to make mistakes, forget our covenants and fail to remember Christ’s atonement as often as we should, they have placed themselves on the path of a newness of life in righteous endeavor.

Alma’s invitation rings in the ears of all the truly converted:

Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. . . and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it [signify it] unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism. (Alma 7:14-15; see also Mosiah 18:10).

The preparatory gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, is about turning away from sin toward the sunlight of righteousness. Is there any other state heaven will sanction? None. No unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of God, meaning the presence of God. Nothing short of people turning to righteousness prepares them for the companionship, visitation and ministration of holy beings.

Indeed, we may now refer to this second Aaronic Priesthood key as righteousness. We may say the second key of the Aaronic Priesthood is synonymous with: 1) The gospel of repentance and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins (see D&C 13); 2) the preparatory gospel (see D&C 84:26-27); 3) the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (see D&C 107:20); or 4) righteousness (see Ezekiel 18:21-22).

This key comes only through the administrations of the Aaronic Priesthood as God’s true sent messengers call the world to repentance by the preaching of the word of God and baptizing them by immersion for the remission of sins.

Administering the Melchizedek Priesthood’s First Key

Joseph Smith taught:

There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius [Acts 10] received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. Until he obeyed these ordinances and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on hands, according to the order of God, he could not have healed the sick or commanded an evil spirit to come out of a man, and it obey him. . . (TPJS, 199).

All who have reached the age of accountability of eight years, whether male or female, may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood’s first key. We obtain the first Melchizedek Priesthood key, the gift of the Holy Ghost or First Comforter, at the hands of authorized Melchizedek Priesthood brethren. The sign or ordinance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost is the mechanism whereby this ordinance is administered.

This key of power comes only through this priesthood, but we do not have to have the priesthood to receive it. In fact, no one ever holds the priesthood at the time they receive the sign or ordinance of this key. After we have received this key, whether we subsequently receive priesthood authority or not we may enjoy the benefits of the gift of the Holy Ghost in our personal lives. We do not need to hold the priesthood to enjoy the powers of this wonderful key of the priesthood. We only need to receive its authorized sign from the Melchizedek Priesthood by receiving the ordinance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is up to us as to whether we ever use the key to enjoy the powers of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives.

Joseph described this first Melchizedek Priesthood key of spiritual power in these words:

We believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost being enjoyed now, as much as it was in the Apostles’ days; we believe that it [the gift of the Holy Ghost] is necessary to make and to organize the Priesthood, that no man can be called to fill any office in the ministry without it; we also believe in prophecy, in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in healings; and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost. We believe that the holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and that holy men in these days speak by the same principle; we believe in its being a comforter and a witness bearer, that it brings things past to our remembrance, leads us into all truth, and shows us of things to come; we believe that “no man can know that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost.” We believe in it [this gift of the Holy Ghost] in all its fullness, and power, and greatness, and glory; but whilst we do this, we believe in it rationally, consistently, and scripturally, and not according to the wild vagaries, foolish notions and traditions of men. (TPJS, 243).

What are the benefits of the gift of the Holy Ghost? The benefits fall into two general categories: The fruits of the spirit, and the gifts of the spirit. We will examine each.

The Fruits (Goodness) of the Spirit

Numerous are the fruits of the spirit listed in several places throughout the scriptures. The fruits of the spirit are the attributes of God’s goodness. For instance, in Galatians 5:22, we find the fruits of the spirit are: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

Similar lists are found in many other places, like D&C 107:30-31. The Holy Ghost bestows the properties of increased spirit (light) to mankind. This light causes, inspires, instills or further magnifies and influences these feelings or attributes of goodness. Our thoughts, words and actions are thus affected by the Holy Spirit.

This comprehensive list of godly attributes is referred to by Peter as the divine nature. (See 2 Peter 1:1-10). These are the attributes of our Heavenly Father’s nature because he is filled with this power we call Holy Spirit (light), and it empowers him to feel, think, speak and act in these divine ways. These are the properties light instills in living organisms, whether pre-mortal, mortal or post-mortal.

The scriptures teach we can be blessed by the light of Christ before baptism with the lesser degrees of these sanctifying virtues, but only by the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands can we have access to the greater portions or degrees of these divine virtues. What gives us access to the greater portions of the divine spirit is the key called the gift of the Holy Ghost, the First Comforter, the first key of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

This key opens the door to greater gifts or endowments of this glorious light to those who exercise greater faith and receive the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, thereby cleansing their temples through the blood of Christ. By this cleansing and sanctifying process God’s children come to him and become like him by becoming one with him in the light.

Sometimes members of the Church wonder how there can be good and loving people in the world who do not enjoy the fullness of the gospel or the gift of the Holy Ghost. These, too, can enjoy the gospel and the spirit in lesser degrees without the administrations of the priesthood. All good comes only from God. (See Moroni 7:12; Alma 5:40). The people of the world do have a portion of the gospel, just not the fullness of the gospel. Good people in the world without the fullness of the gospel are growing in these fruits by exercising faith in the spirit or light of Christ that is given to every person who comes into the world. (See D&C 84:45-46; Moroni 7:15-16). They exercise their faith in the promptings of their conscience unto repentance and righteousness and grow in the spirit of Christ’s light.

This has been happening consistently to people in every age and place since the world began whether they knew about Christ or not. With or without the fullness of the gospel the elemental gifts of the gospel have been active in the lives of God’s children. The fullness of the gospel, however, is a greater revelation and a greater endowment of God’s spirit calculated to prepare men to come back into God’s presence. Man must grow in spirit by degrees, and the more light one is given the more is expected and required of him. He who sins against the greater light receives the greater condemnation. (See D&C 82:3).

As we preach the gospel we are taking the greater revelation and endowment of light restored from heaven to the world. Whether they ever have the opportunity to hear the fullness of the gospel in this life or not, the gospel in some degree is happening in their lives -- always. The spirit, or light of Christ, is calling them to righteousness. If they exercise faith in the word of God, even the small portion of the light we call conscience, they will repent and walk in righteousness according to the light they have received. Because they continually turn to greater righteousness, they grow in light or spirit. Their views become clearer and clearer as to what brings true happiness and peace, and what does not. They grow in light and truth, they grow in the fruits of the spirit and God loves them as he does all his children.

Most of the billions of mortals who have ever, are now, or yet will inhabit this planet never had the fulness of the gospel revealed to them in mortality, but will receive it hereafter in the world of spirits. They never even get the middle portions of Christianity in general while living in mortality. Nevertheless, they experience the mission of mortality just the same and will be judged according to their faith and righteousness as they respond to the voice of their Savior within their hearts. The fruits of the gospel are blessing their lives every day whether they realize it or not. They lack only the fullness, which will in due course be offered to all God's children without exception.

Only the fulness of the gospel can prepare the sons and daughters of God and the earth so they will not be consumed by the coming glory. The lesser portions or revelations of the gospel are insufficient to bring people and the planet to the sanctified state necessary to withstand the glory about to be revealed, when the earth is transfigured to its prophesied millennial glory.

The Gifts (Power) of the Spirit

Many and varied are the magnificent gifts of the spirit, the very powers of God, not to be confused with God’s goodness. These unique gifts are vouchedsafe to man through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Some in the Church have mistakenly believed there were two powers in the Church -- the power of the priesthood and the power of the spirit. However, there has never been but one. Just as the scriptures teach there is only one faith, one Lord and one baptism, it should become apparent to those who search the scriptures there is but one power. The only power in the Church is the power of the spirit. There is no other power.

As we have stated, although the English language sometimes uses the two words “power” and “authority” synonymously they are not true synonyms. Once again, the priesthood keys operate in two dimensions of power and authority.

Because the power of the spirit is sometimes called “the power of the priesthood,” some in the Church have mistakenly understood that only those holding the priesthood have access to the gifts of the spirit. This, of course, is not true. There are incidents all through the scriptures and in our dispensation where non-priesthood holders have enjoyed the gifts and powers of the spirit.

Many who hold no presiding keys of authority do enjoy the keys of power. They enjoy this power in the priesthood, meaning the powers of the spirit, through the keys of power (faith, righteousness and the gift of the Holy Ghost) the priesthood gave them.

The gifts of the spirit are listed in three major passages of scripture: Moroni 10; D&C 46; and 1 Corinthians 12-14. This is how these gifts are described in each account:

Moroni 10:

Teach the word of wisdom
Teach the word of knowledge 
Exceedingly great faith
The gifts of healing
Work mighty miracles
Prophesy concerning all things
Beholding of angels and ministering spirits
All kinds of tongues
Interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues

D&C 46:

Given the word of wisdom
Given the word of knowledge that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge
Given to have faith to be healed
Given to have faith to heal
Given the working of miracles
Given to prophesy
Given to some to speak with tongues
Given the interpretation of tongues

1 Corinthians 12:

The word of wisdom
The word of knowledge
Faith
The gifts of healing
The working of miracles
Prophecy
Discerning of spirits
Divers kinds of tongues
The interpretation of tongues

Note:  Priesthood authority is never mentioned as a requirement to receive any of these gifts of the spirit. In fact, the word “priesthood” isn’t even found in any of the above chapters. Why is this? Gifts of the spirit are given to all members of the Church and are not the exclusive domain of priesthood holders. However, so there may be order in the Church, D&C 46:27 explains the bishop is given an additional gift “to discern all those gifts, lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God,” but even in this case the bishop must submit himself to the influences of the Holy Ghost to receive this gift as with all other spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts do not automatically accrue to presiding authorities in the Church merely because of their position in the Church. Always the spiritual keys of power must be exercised even for those in positions of authority. This is true of Apostles and the presidents of deacons’ quorums.

A very insightful lesson pertaining to these principles is found in The Book of Mormon. The spiritual keys of power (faith, righteousness and spirit/Holy Ghost) are mentioned hundreds of times. Faith occurs 263 times, righteousness appears 243 times, and spirit/Holy Ghost emerges in 371 passages. Surprisingly, the entire Book of Mormon uses the word “priesthood” only eight times, and seven of those references occur in the same chapter! (See Alma 13). The record of the Nephites and Lamanites does not focus on the authority of titles and positions, but rather on the spiritual power manifested in the individual lives we read about. In our dispensation it is possible some may have lost sight of these eternal principles of priesthood power, placing inappropriate emphasis on high sounding titles, positions and offices. Even in this one chapter, which uses the word “priesthood” seven times, the emphasis still remains on the spiritual keys of power:

Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;
Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.
Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God. (Alma 13:10-12).

All members of the Church subject only to their personal faith and righteousness have a right to the gifts of the spirit in their personal lives, male or female, young or old through the gift of the Holy Ghost given to them by Melchizedek Priesthood holders.

For example, in an exegesis on Mark 16, Joseph Smith taught:

No matter who believeth, these signs, such as healing the sick, casting out devils, etc., should follow all that believe, whether male or female. . .
Respecting females administering for the healing of the sick, he further remarked, there could be no evil in it, if God gave his sanction by healing; that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on and praying for the sick [note the same language as for elders in James 5], than in wetting the face with water; it is no sin for anybody to administer that has faith [the first Aaronic key], or if the sick have faith to be healed by their administration. (TPJS, 224-5).

President Smith then gave instruction respecting the propriety of females administering to the sick by the prayer of faith, the laying on of hands, or the anointing with oil; and said it was according to revelation that the sick should be nursed with herbs and mild food, and not by the hand of an enemy. Who are better qualified to administer than our faithful and zealous sisters, whose hearts are full of faith, tenderness, sympathy and compassion. No one. (TPJS, 229).

Some have taken license in these apparent historical precedents, suggesting perhaps the Church has done wrong in withholding from women the priesthood ordinations of authority to administer to the sick. However, Joseph also stated in these same remarks to the Relief Society (so easily ignored by those who would advocate he had set a precedent) “that he calculate[d] to organize the Church in its proper order as soon as the Temple is completed.” Remember, the restoration of all things was still unfolding when he spoke. However, it is interesting to note that he put no restrictions whatsoever upon the spiritual power of women.

President George Q. Cannon, counselor in the First Presidency, lamented even then the seeming lack of interest in these gifts of spiritual power, and admonished the saints, men and women to seek them earnestly:

. . . we find, even among those who have embraced the gospel, hearts of unbelief. How many of you, my brethren and sisters, are seeking for these gifts that God has promised to bestow? How many of you, when you bow before your Heavenly Father in your family circle or in your secret places, contend for these gifts to be bestowed upon you? How many of you ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to manifest Himself to you through these powers and these gifts? Or do you go along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling upon the subject, without exercising any faith whatever; content to be baptized and to be members of the Church, and to rest there, thinking that your salvation is secure because you have done this? I say to you, in the name of the Lord, as one of His servants, that you have need to repent of this. You have need to repent of your hardness of heart, of your indifference, and of your carelessness. There is not that diligence, there is not that faith, there is not that seeking for the power of God that there should be among a people who have receive the precious promises we have. . .  Let us seek for these gifts. Let us be exhorted this day in this Tabernacle, and bear in mind that these gifts are for us; and let us seek for them with all our might, mind and strength. I pray God that this may be the feeling in every heart. If there be those that have not obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to them I would say, go to God in secret and ask Him in the name of Jesus concerning these things; and I tell you, as a servant of God, He will give you a testimony, and you will know that this is the truth. (“Spiritual Gifts,” delivered Sunday, Nov. 26, 1893, in the Tabernacle, as reported in Millennial Star, No. 16, Vol. LVI, Monday, April 16, 1894, 241, and No. 17, Vol. LVI, Monday, April 23, 1894, 257).

As we learned in D&C 46:27, when it comes to authoritatively discerning those gifts among the body of saints in the Church and how the saints interact with each other as they enjoy their spiritual gifts within the Church, there must be a head to provide order. The presiding high priest in each ward holds the keys of authority to direct the order of the Church. Just because we all have a right to the gifts of the spirit we do not have the authority to run around prophesying, teaching and healing with no order, rhyme or reason. That is not the way of God’s kingdom. Therefore, outside the use of these gifts of the spirit for our own personal blessing and benefit we generally look to the order of the Church when these gifts are utilized in any other capacity.

One major dichotomy of duty made clear by the prophets over the years pertains to the roles of fathers and mothers within the kingdom of God and the order of the priesthood. The home is the most important priority of the saints. There are no qualifiers, no strings, no equivocations. It is almost axiomatic in the Church today. No success, said President David O. McKay, will ever compensate for failure in the homes of the Latter-day Saints. The most important of the Lord’s work we will ever do, said President Harold B. Lee, will be the work we do within the four walls of our own homes.

The prophets have repeatedly reaffirmed the traditional roles set in place by God in the Garden of Eden in the days of Adam and Eve. Men are to look to the duties and necessities outside the home in a way that allows mothers to stay in the home and nurture their family. Generally speaking, it would not be wise for both mother and father to frequently run off serving missions, administering the affairs of the Church, healing the sick and saving the world while their families suffer. Since the introduction of the three-hour block scheduling of Sunday meetings, the leaders of the Church have repeatedly admonished the saints to focus their Sabbath at home, knowing that if the basic unit fails, the Church’s auxiliary programs (wonderful as they are) could not reclaim all that might be lost.

As we examine the keys of spiritual power, we can begin to understand in part why the prophets have been so consistent in their call for mothers in modern Israel to return home and nurture their families in the gifts of the spirit. Spiritual gifts naturally flow to mothers because of their inherent divine nature. The grand priority of the saints must never be mistaken as simply one of many equal options, or seen as a part-time assignment.

Women of God are not only free to enjoy and utilize, but must exercise the fruits and gifts of God in their personal lives. The salvation of their homes depends upon it. Their children need the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit to be active and alive in their mothers so the children may be brought up in the admonition of the Lord in the home. In the Church, however, God set up an order that children, mothers, fathers, quorum presidents, bishops, stake presidents, area presidencies and General Authorities must respect and never overstep.

Spiritual power does not give us authority any more than authority gives us spiritual power. These are separate and distinct functions of priesthood keys. We must learn the priesthood.

We must always act within the bounds the Lord sets. Enjoying certain spiritual gifts in no way gives us the right to step outside the bounds of our authorized role and calling within the kingdom. To do so would only create confusion and contention. The scriptures are clear that confusion and contention are not of God, but of the adversary. (See 3 Nephi 11:29; D&C 132:8).

Each must learn his or her duty and act within the offices and roles to which we are called. Within those positions the Lord expects us to humbly use the gifts and fruits of his Holy Spirit to righteously fulfill our stewardships, and to bring about great things upon the earth. He pleads with us to exercise great faith and humility, to walk by his spirit through personal revelation and to humbly sustain and follow his anointed servants at all levels of the kingdom as they do the same within the scopes of their positions or stewardships. Those who love the truth will see there is no contradiction between the two.

As members of the Church we need not feel belittled or intimidated when we are asked to sustain and follow other imperfect mortals who are called and set apart to lead us in various positions. As priesthood leaders we need not feel concerned or threatened by the saints at large who are enjoying magnificent manifestations of the spiritual keys of power in the priesthood in their personal lives and individual callings. All of this harmonizes with the revealed order of heaven.

We know a story about a bishop who was so convinced he, and only he, could receive spiritual guidance within the bounds of his ward organization that he insisted knowing about every detail of every ward organization. There was never a home teaching assignment made without his authorization. No visiting teacher was assigned without his approval as to the worthiness of each visiting teacher sister. Each time a stake report was due his statistical clerk spent two or three hours with the bishop as the bishop documented every number in the report to make certain the clerk had done it properly.  That clerk eventually left the Church, feeling inadequate and unworthy.

His administration reached a point where only a handful of ward members were able to fill positions, some having as many as three and four positions, because so many were not worthy in his view. Only a select few were worthy of temple recommends in his judgment, so exacting were his standards. It reached the heights of silliness when he specified the exact recipes the sisters were to use for one of their Relief Society dinners! That good Relief Society president was released never having learned the lessons she might have learned had the bishop let her have some autonomy in her stewardship.

We may all enjoy the first Melchizedek Priesthood key, the First Comforter, with its wonderful spiritual endowments of goodness and power within the scope of our individual callings in the Church. Wise bishops and other priesthood leaders will actually “. . .let every man [woman] learn his [her] duty” in their various roles and positions in the Church. (See D&C 107:99). This is how we learn how to control and handle the powers of heaven with confidence. While we are learning we will make some mistakes, but if priesthood leaders will risk failure along the way as faithfully as God does while we learn to apply the spiritual lessons in our lives, all will be blessed eventually. This key is only administered to the children of God by the Melchizedek Priesthood -- always with wisdom and order within the bounds the Lord has set.

The Fruits of Goodness and The Gifts of Power

Both the fruits and the gifts are equally important in our lives. To have either without the other is not sufficient. Suppose you were given the hypothetical choice of having either a good god or a powerful god to rule over you, but not both. Which would you choose?

If you chose to have a good god you lose. He has no power. He cannot bless you, heal you, protect or save you. If you chose to have a powerful god you lose. There is not a more terrifying prospect than an all-powerful god ruling over us with no goodness in him.

We want and need our God to be both. We need our God to have the goodness and the power. So it is with us. We are God’s children, created in his image, male and female. His plan and desire, just as with any goodly parent, is for his children to grow to become like him. For us to become only good or only powerful will never make us like him. We need to develop and grow in both the fruits and the gifts of the spirit. Only then will we become like him. We must seek to grow in the goodness of God and in the power of God. Then we must allow every other child of God the same opportunity, male or female.

Administering the Melchizedek Priesthood’s Second Key

The temple ordinances, taken collectively as one, are the ordinances that pertain to the Second Comforter. Like the ordinance of the laying on of hands, which enables us to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost or First Comforter, the temple ordinances empower men and women to receive the Second Comforter, to see the face of God, even “the very Eternal Father of heaven and earth,” that in patience we may have eternal life. (See Alma 11:38-41; D&C 101:38).

And this greater [Melchizedek] priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of [1] the mysteries of the kingdom [by the power of the First Comforter], [2] even the key of the knowledge of God [by the power of the Second Comforter].
Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God. (D&C 84:19-23).

The personal appearance and ongoing companionship of the Second Comforter, even Jesus Christ or Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, is the fruition of the Melchizedek Priesthood’s second key. Only the fullness of these temple ordinances gives God’s children the fullness of the priesthood, wherein they are made kings and queens and priests and priestesses, joint-heirs with Christ, and through their faithfulness the power to see the face of Jesus Christ according to the promises of the Second Comforter. (See TPJS, 149-151).

Joseph Smith said, speaking of the men who receive the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood:

Those holding the FULNESS of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. (TPJS, 322).

If a man gets a FULLNESS of the priesthood of God he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping ALL the ordinances of the house of the Lord. (TPJS, 308).

All men who become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ will have to receive the FULNESS of the ordinances of his kingdom; and those who will not receive all the ordinances will come short of the fullness of that glory, if they do not lose the whole. (TPJS, 309, spelling consistent with original).

There are no "half measures" in the Restoration.  The Lord revealed a FULLNESS of the priesthood to Joseph Smith, nothing less.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote of the women in such a marriage relationship:

If righteous men have power through the gospel and its crowning ordinance of celestial marriage to become kings and priests to rule in exaltation forever, it follows that women by their side (without whom they cannot obtain exaltation) will be queens and priestesses. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10.) Exaltation grows out of the eternal union of a man and his wife. Of those whose marriage endures in eternity, the Lord says, “Then shall they be gods: (D&C 132:20); that is, each of them, the man and the woman, will be a god. As such they will rule over their dominions forever. (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1979], 613, italics in original).

Further, President Spencer W. Kimball speaks specifically of women becoming queens over their own posterity:

You could be the queen of Holland, the czar of Russia, or the emperor of Japan. You could be any great person in this world, but you would be a pygmy compared to what you can be in this Church. Every one of you can be a queen who will not lose her crown when she dies, a king who will not lose his sceptre when he dies. Every one of you! Not just the smartest of you, but every one of you can become a queen or a king and have princes and princesses of your own. It all depends on what you do. (TSWK, 52, italics in original).

For reasons of propriety we have chosen to divide the temple ordinances here into three major parts. The initial part of the temple ordinance is initiatory in nature and pertains to preparatory symbolic washings and anointings. These preliminary ordinances are a type and shadow of events yet to come when we have fulfilled our covenant duties to preach the gospel and administer its blessings to our fellowmen. (See Ezekiel 3:18-21; Acts 18:5-6; Jacob 1:19; 2:2; Ether 12:38; D&C 88:81-82).

The second part endows God’s children with knowledge and power pertaining to the four priesthood keys in order to fulfill our covenant duties. Once admitted to the temple both men and women are freely given these keys of understanding, knowledge and wisdom we will need to regain our full fellowship with God.

In the third part God’s children enter into sealing ordinances, the first being the conditional sealing ordinance of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (see D&C 131:2), that we might someday become kings and queens over our own family kingdoms in eternity.

President Boyd K. Packer makes it clear that both the man and the woman are involved together in all these sacred ordinances:

Those who tell you that in the kingdom of God a woman’s lot is less than that of the man know nothing of the love, akin to worship, that the worthy man has for his wife. He cannot have his priesthood, not the fulness of it, without her. “For no man,” the Prophet said, “can get the fulness of the priesthood outside the temple of the Lord” (see D&C 131:1-3). And she is there beside him in that sacred place. She is there and shares in all that he receives. Each, individually, receives the washings and anointings, each may be endowed. But he cannot ascend to the highest ordinances -- the sealing ordinances -- without her at his side. (“The Circle of Sisters,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 111).

Again, the fullness of the temple ordinance pertains to the second Melchizedek Priesthood key. These things are administered freely to worthy men and women and pertain to the spirit of Elijah and Messiah:

The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the FULNESS of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth. . . (TPJS, 337).

The spirit of Elias is first, Elijah second, and Messiah last. Elias is a forerunner to prepare the way, and the spirit and power of Elijah is to come after, holding the keys of power, building the Temple to the capstone, placing the seals of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon the house of Israel, and making all things ready; then Messiah comes to His Temple, which is last of all. (TPJS, 340).

In summary, each of the four priesthood keys is administered to men and women through the priesthood. Faith is administered through the priesthood, the preparatory gospel is administered through the priesthood, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the First Comforter, is administered through the priesthood, and the temple ordinances pertaining to the Second Comforter are administered through the priesthood.