Sunday, April 28, 2013

"What Have You Done With My Name?"

There is a wonderful story from the life of President George Albert Smith. His grandfather, President George A. Smith, appeared to him a dream with a compelling question, "I would like to know what you have done with my name." The story is highlighted in this short video. It is a question each of us would do well to ask of ourselves.

From the pages of USS Parenting:

Real-Life Story Number One

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Al Capone
Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.
To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also, Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago city block.
Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocities that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify the wrongs that he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell them the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.

Easy Eddie with Capone
So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:
The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.

Real Life Story Number Two

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tanks. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.
As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold: a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger.

Butch O'Hare
There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now
broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.
This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Congressional Medal of Honor
A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.
So what do these two stories have to do with each other?
Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Scouting, the LDS Church and the LGBT agenda

This week produced an interesting statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with regard to the proposed membership policy change from the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA will now admit members to its ranks without regard to their sexual orientation, but will continue to exclude openly gay leaders. After a long preamble of WHEREAS statements, this is what they are now proposing, and one assumes from the Church's statement it will not be opposed. If you read the entire proposed policy change by clicking the link above, you will get the sense a lot of lawyers cobbled it together:

WHEREAS, the current adult leadership standard of the Boy Scouts of America states: The applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and abide by the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA. . .

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT: The following membership standard for youth members of the Boy Scouts of America is hereby adopted and approved, effective Jan. 1, 2014: Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

* * *
I was chided as recently as this morning for my "verbosity" in a previous post I made some years ago, so I will be brief and come directly to the point. In 2003, ten years ago, I wrote:

"I realize it is our Church almost single-handedly that supports and sustains the Boy Scouts of America. Could we really give it up as the globalization of the Church continues? What if the moral issues attacking Scouting (like gay issues and “Duty to God”) become an impasse in the years ahead? They seem to be settled for the moment, but the moral onslaught will continue.

"Elder William R. Bradford explained to me that when the Church finally has the missionary manpower to enter mainland China, we will do so armed only with the basic elements of the gospel, not the full-blown Church menu of programs. What he said in essence was that Lord Baden Powell simply wouldn’t fit into the overseas suitcase in the years ahead. Aren’t we already moving in the direction of eliminating Scouting in parts of the world where its introduction is impractical?

"Perhaps in future years Scouting will join Church basketball as more jetsam and flotsam from the ship of ZION is tossed overboard as it sails on into the darker nights and stormy seas ahead. The key, I believe is to develop an approach inspiring young men to catch the vision of what the scriptures offer BEFORE they reach the MTC, modeled more closely after what the young women are doing. Cooking, camping and hiking merit badges are often touted as ample justification for mission preparation, so I guess Scouting is tantamount to the only true gospel among its adherents. But after all isn’t it just 'another gospel' like Sigma Chi or Pi Kappa Alpha? (Too harsh? Paul didn’t think so – see Galatians 1:6-12). I realize this is something of a paradigm shift, and I suspect it will not occur overnight, but we might someday view it as eliminating a desirable but unnecessary option. Until then, I will pray for more enlightenment on its relevance with the gold standard goal of paving the way toward eternal life."

It is my considered belief the Church will not be able much longer to thread the needle of political correctness when it comes to the LGBT agenda. Now that I've said it again in 2013, one wonders what the NEXT ten years will look like. . .

I believe the un-nuanced "entire separation of the righteous and the wicked" will be fulfilled in its time:

“As this work progresses in its onward course, and becomes more and more an object of political and religious interest and excitement, no king, ruler, or subject, no community or individual, will stand neutral. All will at length be influenced by one spirit or the other; and will take sides either for or against the kingdom of God, and the fulfillment of the prophets, in the great restoration and return of his long dispersed covenant people. . .

”You cannot therefore stand as idle and disinterested spectators of the scenes and events which are calculated in their very nature to reduce all nations and creeds to one political and religious standard, and thus put an end to Babel forms and names, and strife and war. You will, therefore, either be led by the good Spirit to cast in your lot, and to take a lively interest with the Saints of the Most High, and the covenant people of the Lord, or on the other hand, you will become their inveterate enemy, and oppose them by very means in your power.” - (James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.1, p.256-257 ).

"These things are the things that ye must look for; and, speaking after the manner of the Lord, they are now nigh at hand, and in a time to come, even in the day of the coming of the Son of Man.

"And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire." (D&C 63:53-54).

There can be little doubt what we are witnessing in the rapid penetration of the LGBT agenda amounts to equalizing homosexuality with normalcy. It is all part of a subversive plot to weaken America from within, and it is succeeding almost without a whimper of opposition.

Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. (Moroni 7:12-17).

We live in the very day Elder Bruce R. Mcconkie prophesied about in 1980:

"But the vision of the future is not all sweetness and light and peace. All that is yet to be shall go forward in the midst of greater evils and perils and desolations than have been known on earth at any time.

"As the Saints prepare to meet their God, so those who are carnal and sensual and devilish prepare to face their doom.

"As the meek among men make their calling and election sure, so those who worship the God of this world sink ever lower and lower into the depths of depravity and despair.

"Amid tears of sorrow — our hearts heavy with forebodings — we see evil and crime and carnality covering the earth. Liars and thieves and adulterers and homosexuals and murderers scarcely seek to hide their abominations from our view. Iniquity abounds. There is no peace on earth.

"We see evil forces everywhere uniting to destroy the family, to ridicule morality and decency, to glorify all that is lewd and base. We see wars and plagues and pestilence. Nations rise and fall. Blood and carnage and death are everywhere. Gadianton robbers fill the judgment seats in many nations. An evil power seeks to overthrow the freedom of all nations and countries. Satan reigns in the hearts of men; it is the great day of his power."

Friday, April 26, 2013

Want a Free House?

I am loathe to pass along most everything I see from an anonymous source on the Internet. However, this morning I make an exception to my longstanding rule. I know a good piece of writing when I see it, and this qualifies. See if you don't agree:

I was in my neighborhood restaurant this morning and was seated behind a group of jubilant individuals celebrating the coming implementation of the health care bill. I could not finish my breakfast. This is what ensued: They were a diverse group of several races and both sexes. I heard a young man exclaim, "Isn't Obama like Jesus Christ? I mean, after all, he is healing the sick."

A young woman enthusiastically proclaimed, "Yeah, and he does it for free. I cannot believe anyone would think that a free market wouldn't work for health care."

Another said, "The stupid Republicans want us all to starve to death so they can inherit all of the power. Obama should be made a Saint for what he did for those of us less fortunate."

At this, I had more than enough. I arose from my seat, mustering all the restraint I could find, and approached their table. "Please excuse me; may I impose upon you for one moment?"

They smiled and welcomed me to the conversation. I stood at the end of their table, smiled as best I could and began an experiment.

"I would like to give one of you my house. It will cost you no money and I will pay all of the expenses and taxes for as long as you live there. Anyone interested?"

They looked at each other in astonishment. "Why would you do something like that?" asked a young man, "There isn't anything for free in this world." They began to laugh at me, as they did not realize this man had just made my point.

"I am serious, I will give you my house for free, no money whatsoever. Anyone interested?"

In unison, a resounding "Yeah" fills the room.

"Since there are too many of you, I will have to make a choice as to who receives this money-free bargain."

I noticed an elderly couple was paying attention to the spectacle unfolding before their eyes, the old man shaking his head in apparent disgust.

"I tell you what; I will give it to the one of you most willing to obey my rules."

Again, they looked at one another, an expression of bewilderment on their faces.

The perky young woman asked, "What are the rules?"

I smiled and said, "I don't know. I have not yet defined them. However, it is a free home that I offer you."

They giggled among themselves, the youngest of  which said, "What an old coot. He must be crazy to give away his home. Go take your meds, old man."

I smiled and leaned into the table a bit further. "I am serious, this is a legitimate offer."

They gaped at me for a moment.

"I'll take it you old fool. Where are the keys?" boasted the youngest among them.

"Then I presume you accept ALL of my terms then?" I asked.

The elderly couple seemed amused and entertained as they watched from the privacy of their table. "Oh yeah! Where do I sign up?"

I took a napkin and wrote, "I give this man my home, without the burden of financial obligation, so long as he accepts and abides by the terms that I shall set forth upon consummation of this transaction."

I signed it and handed it to the young man who eagerly scratched out his signature.

"Where are the keys to my new house?" he asked in a mocking tone of voice.

All eyes were upon us as I stepped back from the table, pulling the keys from pocket and dangling them before the excited new homeowner.

"Now that we have entered into this binding contract, witnessed by all of your friends, I have decided upon the conditions you are obligated to adhere to from this point forward. You may only live in the house for one hour a day. You will not use anything inside the home. You will obey me without question or resistance. I expect complete loyalty and admiration for this gift I bestow upon you. You will accept my commands and wishes with enthusiasm, no matter the nature. Your morals and principles shall be as mine. You will vote as I do, think as I do and do it with blind faith. These are my terms. Here are your keys." I reached the keys forward and the young man looked at me dumbfounded.

"Are you out of your mind? Who would ever agree to those ridiculous terms?" the young man appeared irritated.

"You did when you signed this contract before reading it, understanding it and with the full knowledge that I would provide my conditions only after you committed to the agreement."

The elderly man chuckled as his wife tried to restrain him. I was looking at a now silenced and bewildered group of people.

"You can shove that stupid deal up your a** old man. I want no part of it!" exclaimed the now infuriated young man.

'You have committed to the contract, as witnessed by all of your friends. You cannot get out of the deal unless I agree to it. I do not intend to let you free now that I have you ensnared. I am the  power you agreed to. I am the one you blindly and without thought chose to enslave yourself to. In short, I am your Master."

At this, the table of celebrating individuals became a unified group against the unfairness of the deal.

After a few moments of unrepeatable comments and slurs, I revealed my true intent.

"What I did to you is what this administration and congress did to you with the health care legislation. I easily suckered you in and then revealed the real cost of the bargain. Your folly was in the belief that you can have something you did not earn, and you willingly allowed someone else to think for you. Your failure to research, study and inform yourself permitted reason to escape you. You have entered into a trap from which you cannot flee. Your only chance of freedom is if  your new Master gives it to you. A freedom that is given can also be taken away. Therefore, it is not freedom at all."

With that, I tore up the napkin and placed it before the astonished young man. "This is the nature of your new health care legislation."

I turned away to leave these few in thought and contemplation -- and was surprised by applause.

The elderly gentleman, who was clearly entertained, shook my hand enthusiastically and said, "Thank you, Sir. These kids don't understand Liberty ."

He refused to allow me to pay my bill as he said, "You earned this one. It is an honor to pick up the tab."

I shook his hand in thanks, leaving the restaurant somewhat humbled and sensing a glimmer of hope for my beloved country.

Remember... Four boxes keep us free: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box,  and the cartridge box.
* * *

"Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the American Government take care of him; better take a closer look at the American Indian." Henry Ford

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How Men and Women Share Priesthood Power

Yesterday's release of the annual statistical report of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prompted me to update the numbers in my Priesthood Keys illustration (see above). It's already out of date. Since the end of last year, the Church now has 65,000 missionaries in 58 new missions scattered around the globe.

Much has already been said in this 183th Annual General Conference about the priesthood, the keys and how priesthood blesses both men and women. While it is true the priesthood keys of authority operate in a very hierarchical linear fashion emanating from the Godhood down through the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles to the newest Deacons Quorum President, and is very male-dominated, there is a rarely discussed dimension in which this grand set of priesthood keys operates. It the spiritual realm of personal power

We will call these “the spiritual keys of power,” because they are the keys to all the spiritual blessings of the Church. (D&C 107:18-19). These keys give all the children of God access to the things of the spirit. Our Father in Heaven is not pleased when women who foment for priesthood keys of authority are confused about their supposed need to preside, when that dimension of the use of priesthood is completely unnecessary and inappropriate. They participate with their husbands in this more important dimension of the use of the priesthood keys. 

There is no competition involved for priesthood power between men and women. Understanding the appropriate use of the priesthood keys is the purpose of the book Scott Strong and I wrote, way back in 1996, entitled Power and Covenants: Men, Women and Priesthood. We've been giving it away to anyone who asks for it ever since. The complete unpublished manuscript is available here, and has risen to the number two slot in all-time popularity on this blog page. I suspect that is because confusion over gender roles in our society and among members of the Church has never been more pronounced than it is now.

The English language sometimes uses the two terms “power” and “authority” interchangeably or synonymously, but the two terms are not true synonyms in the gospel context. Though the keys of the priesthood are the same, their use in Church administration (authority) and personal revelation (power) are very different in the scope of their influence. On the general administrative level they provide inspiration and revelation to direct, organize, call, ordain, set apart and administer. On a personal level, however, they operate only within the purview of an individual’s personal life and family stewardships. While revelation is (or should be) the common denominator in the use of priesthood keys, the scope of personal revelation does not extend into another’s stewardship, one who is called to a position of authority in the Church we do not hold.

We are rather loose in our usage of the names of these priesthood keys, because we have never thought how the simple principles and ordinances of the gospel might be considered priesthood keys. What follows lies at the heart of the matter with respect to women and the professed need by some to ordain them to the various offices in the priesthood men hold. These keys of spiritual power are administered only by the authority of the priesthood to the sons and daughters of God. Men and women receive these keys only from the priesthood, and nowhere else.

These spiritual keys of power are used to obtain access to the mysteries of the kingdom of God in heaven. One will profit from a thorough review of these principles by studying the manuscript cited above. The keys of the oracles of God also redound to the benefit of each individual son and daughter of God. Personal revelation is a hallmark of Mormonism. We believe we are guided by the Holy Spirit and we champion the quest for personal revelation in our Church callings and our personal lives. “Oracles” are simply personal conversations with God. No one, male or female, can commune with God, receive knowledge of the mysteries of Godliness and know God except through these sacred spiritual keys.

Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood Keys

Because there are “two divisions or grand heads,” Melchizedek and Aaronic (see D&C 107:6), it will not be surprising to learn each priesthood has two specific priesthood keys associated with it. The scriptures reveal four spiritual keys of power in the priesthood: The first and second Aaronic Priesthood keys (so-called because they are administered by the Aaronic Priesthood), and the first and second Melchizedek Priesthood keys (so-called because they are administered by the Melchizedek Priesthood). These spiritual keys of power are administered to all worthy persons, male and female, in the Church regardless of position just as Joseph promised they would be. To this day we witness the keys being routinely given to even the “weakest” of saints.

The Aaronic Priesthood’s First Key

Section 13 of The Doctrine and Covenants consists of the words John the Baptist spoke, as he conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery: “Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels. . .” 

Those who have the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon them, we are frequently taught in the Church, thereby have right to the ministering of angels. The implication is those who do not hold this priesthood have no right to the ministering of angels. We have misunderstood, and obtaining a proper knowledge of these things is absolutely fundamental to the establishment of the latter-day Zion if we will ever be enabled to come into the presence of an “innumerable company of angels.” (See TPJS, 325). 

John said the Aaronic Priesthood holds the key of the ministering of angels. However, John did not say what that key was. What is the key of the ministering of angels?

The Prophet Mormon revealed this first Aaronic Priesthood key:

. . . it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men. . . (Moroni 7:37).

The key is faith, specifically faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the key by which angels appear and minister unto men and women. It is the first spiritual key of power. Like “the Hebrew Church [we must come] to an innumerable company of angels, unto God the Father of all, and to Jesus Christ the Mediator of the new covenant.” (TPJS, 325). 

Upon reflection, this makes perfect sense. Acting in his editorial role in the compilation of the records comprising The Book of Mormon, Moroni reflected on the faith of his forefathers:

I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers. . .
Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith. . .
It was by faith that they of old were called after the holy order of God. . .
By faith was the law of Moses given. But in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way; and it is by faith that it hath been fulfilled.
For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.
Behold, it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.
Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.
Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after.
And it was by faith that the three disciples obtained a promise that they should not taste of death; and they obtained not the promise until after their faith.
And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.
And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad. . . (Ether 12:6-22).

All the mighty works recorded in holy writ have come by faith without exception. Without faith nothing happens. Of course it is the first key of power! No other possibility qualifies. From the “Lectures on Faith” in Joseph’s School of the Prophets, we learn:

Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation, nor existence! (Lectures On Faith, 1:24).
[Faith] is the principle of power in the Deity as well as in man. . . and without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence! (Lectures on Faith, Questions & Answers, Lecture First; also see Hebrews 11:3).

We may be given authority to act in positions in the Church, but without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we really have no power in the priesthood because without faith we can do nothing. (D&C 8:10). 

The Aaronic Priesthood’s Second Key

Returning to the reference of John the Baptist’s ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, we see that he spoke of two Aaronic keys:

Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of [1] the ministering of angels, and [2] of the [preparatory] gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. . . (D&C 13).

The Aaronic Priesthood’s second key is the preparatory gospel:

And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins. . . (D&C 84:26).

The preparatory gospel of repentance and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins is the second Aaronic Priesthood key. Our tendency, after dutifully memorizing the 4th Article of Faith in our Primary days, is to separate repentance and baptism in our minds. A thoughtful reading of all the scriptures on this subject, however, indicates the second principle of the gospel, repentance, is linked inseparably to the first ordinance of the gospel, baptism by immersion. Only repentance and baptism produce the remission of sins. It takes both to prepare a person to be born of the spirit. Hence, the reason both together comprise “the preparatory gospel.” 

Baptism, the next natural step following sincere repentance, is an Aaronic Priesthood ordinance, confirmed by D&C 107:20:

The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

Whether we say “the baptism of repentance” (D&C 107:20), or “baptized unto repentance” (Alma 7:14), it is the same. The scriptures confirm that only the effectual combination of both repentance and baptism by immersion comprises the Aaronic Priesthood’s second key known as the preparatory gospel.

The Melchizedek Priesthood’s First Key 

What is the Melchizedek Priesthood’s first key of spiritual power? D&C 84:19 provides our answer:

And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

How do we learn our first lessons in knowing God? What is the first key that gives a person access to the mysteries of godliness? Nephi answers:

For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round. (1 Nephi. 10:19).

The Melchizedek Priesthood’s first key is the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is perfectly consistent with the two Aaronic Priesthood keys we have already examined. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the next ordinance of the gospel following baptism. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the first ordinance of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and the scriptures offer numerous examples to support the spirit as the medium whereby men and women begin to know the mysteries our physical eyes cannot see, nor ears hear. As Paul said:

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it 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: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things [mysteries] of God.
For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, except he has the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (JST 1 Corinthians 2:9-14).

Joseph Smith said:

No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator. (TPJS, 328). We never can comprehend the things of God and of heaven, but by revelation. (TPJS, 292).

The scriptural definition of a “mystery” is something that can only be known by the spirit through revelation:

Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God. (Jacob 4:8).

Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation. . .
Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not.
Ask that you may know the mysteries of God. . . (D&C 8:2-3, 10-11).

If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things -- that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal. (D&C 42:61).

But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion;
Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter;
Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him;
To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves. (D&C 76:116).

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26).

Not surprisingly, then, the scriptures clearly confirm the Holy Ghost, the first Comforter from whom we begin to learn the mysteries of godliness in mortality, is the Melchizedek Priesthood’s first key of spiritual power.

The Melchizedek Priesthood’s Second Key

Just as John the Baptist provided us with both Aaronic Priesthood keys, Joseph Smith gives us both keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood:

And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth [1] the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even [2] the key of the knowledge of God. (D&C 84:19).

One is tempted to interpret the words “even the key of the knowledge of God” as merely referring to the first key of the mysteries of the kingdom, but a careful reading of these words in context reveals this is a separate second key.

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).

This second Melchizedek Priesthood key of spiritual power goes far beyond merely beginning to know the mysteries of the kingdom by the power of the Holy Ghost. Joseph learns in this revelation there is a key by which we may see the face of God by being sanctified and entering his rest, “which rest is the fulness of his glory.” This second key has reference to Jesus Christ, who is the Second Comforter. “The rest of God” is a scriptural allusion to those saints who are received into the church of the Firstborn as heirs to the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. (D&C 76:54, 58). If in mortality these have their “calling and election made sure,” have received “the more sure word of prophecy,” and been “sealed up to eternal life through the oath and covenant of the priesthood,” they receive this priesthood key.

The second Melchizedek Priesthood key is the “Second Comforter,” the final and grand spiritual key of power in the priesthood on the earth.

In his inspired doctrinal commentary on John 14, Joseph Smith said:

There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost. . .
After a person has faith in Christ, [the first Aaronic key], repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins [the second Aaronic key] and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, [the first Melchizedek key], then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter [the second Melchizedek key], which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John in the 14th chapter.
. . . Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man [or woman] obtains this last Comforter, he [she] will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him [her], or appear unto him [her] from time to time, and even He will reveal the Father unto him [her], and they will take up their abode with him [her], and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him [her] face to face. . . (TPJS, 149-151).

All of us have been called and elected. We are all called to God’s kingdom and the invitation excludes none of God’s children. We are all elected to become the children of Abraham through the covenant he made with God. President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of the calling and election of women in these words:

Before the world was created, in heavenly councils the pattern and role of women were prescribed. You were elected by God to be wives and mothers in Zion. Exaltation in the celestial kingdom is predicated upon faithfulness to that calling. (Ensign, November 1981, 105).

By priesthood ordinance a man and woman may have their calling and election made sure. This is the “more sure word of prophecy” referred to in D&C 131:5:

The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s [woman’s] knowing that he [she] is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood. It is impossible for man [woman] to be saved in ignorance.

In his equally inspired commentary on 2 Peter 1 Joseph said:

The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be damned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. (TPJS, 297).

The knowledge spoken of in these passages is not merely knowing Christ because we have obtained his presence and his company. It means knowing what Christ knows -- that we are sealed up to eternal life because Christ communicates that knowledge to us personally, face to face.

Joseph Smith also said:

There are three grand secrets lying in this chapter, [II Peter i.] which no man can dig out, unless by the light of revelation, and which unlocks the whole chapter as the things that are written are only hints of things which existed in the prophet's mind, which are not written concerning eternal glory. I am going to take up this subject by virtue of the knowledge of God in me, which I have received from heaven. (TPJS, 304).

Notwithstanding the apostle [Peter] exhorts them to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, etc., yet he exhorts them to make their calling and election sure. And though they had heard an audible voice from heaven bearing testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, yet he says we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place. Now, wherein could they have a more sure word of prophecy than to hear the voice of God saying, This is my beloved Son.
Now for the secret and grand key. Though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God, this would be no evidence that their election and calling was made sure, that they had part with Christ, and were joint heirs with Him. They then would want that more sure word of prophecy, that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge [through this Second Comforter] would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then [this] knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [the Second Comforter telling us we are sealed] is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. (TPJS, 298).

Many who discover this doctrine for the first time are troubled by it because it is seldom taught publicly in the Church. However, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, spoke of it constantly and wrote of it repeatedly. (For example, see fourth verses of Hymns, nos. 21; 134). He gives this added insight:

To have one’s calling and election made sure is to be sealed up unto eternal life; it is to have the unconditional guarantee of exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world; it is to receive the assurance of Godhood; it is, in effect, to have the day of judgment advanced, so that an inheritance of all the glory and honor of the Father’s kingdom is assured prior to the day when the faithful actually enter into the divine presence to sit with Christ in his throne, even as he is “set down” with his “Father in his throne.” (Revelation 3:21). (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:330-31).

When we take upon ourselves all the ordinances of salvation including the blessings of the temple endowment and eternal marriage covenants then live our lives in harmony with the gospel, we may press forward with faith and mature patience waiting upon the Lord for the day when our lives will be crowned with celestial glory. In terms of our eternal opportunities it does not really matter if our calling and election is made sure here or hereafter. “But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life.” (D&C 50:5). Once again, Elder McConkie:

If we die in the faith, that is the same thing as saying that our calling and election has been made sure and that we will go on to eternal reward hereafter. As far as faithful members of the Church are concerned, they have charted a course leading to eternal life. This life is the time that is appointed as a probationary estate for men to prepare to meet God, and as far as faithful people are concerned, if they are in the line of their duty, if they are doing what they ought to do, although they may not have been perfect in this sphere, their probation is ended. Now there will be some probation for some other people hereafter. But for the faithful saints of God, now is the time and the day, and their probation is ended with their death. (Funeral Service for Elder S. Dilworth Young, July 13, 1981, typescript, 5).

Summarizing, then, the four keys of the priesthood, “the spiritual keys of power,” are: Faith (in the Lord Jesus Christ); the preparatory gospel (repentance and baptism); the First Comforter (the Holy Ghost, key to the mysteries of godliness); and the Second Comforter (Jesus Christ, key to the knowledge of God). Notice how specifically the scriptures describe these keys that have been exercised by the inhabitants of the highest celestial realm:

And again we bear record -- for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just --
They are they who received the testimony of Jesus and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given.
That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
They are they who are the church of the Firstborn. (D&C 76:50-54).

When used in the administrative domains of authority in the kingdom, the keys of the priesthood are for the exclusive use of the presiding priesthood as they govern in their various positions. However, each person in the Church (male and female) accesses these priesthood keys of spiritual power in their individual lives for the purpose of growing in the gifts and powers of the spirit. In this sense the keys are inclusive regardless of position.

One common element that pertains to these keys, either administratively or individually, is they are all administered to the members of the Church by the priesthood. To preserve the order in his kingdom God does not authorize the dissemination of these keys except through the priesthood. 

The priesthood holds the exclusive right to administer these keys to mankind. All four keys are obtained only from the priesthood. Every worthy man and woman of record in the Church may enjoy the blessings of these priesthood keys. 

Studying the talks of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, including President Boyd K. Packer, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder M. Russell Ballard, and Sister Elaine S. Dalton's talk, who was just released as the General Young Women's President yesterday, will reveal how consistent all these principles are. Undoubtedly, we'll hear more in today's sessions.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks summarizes this topic in this presentation in one of the videos of the recent Worldwide Leadership Training program. Says he, "Priesthood authority in the Church is a matter of calling, but priesthood power is a matter of choice in the home."