Saturday, November 21, 2009

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
The gifts of healing
The working of miracles
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.

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