Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Priesthood Keys

I've been interested lately to learn more about the Priesthood "keys". The Priesthood, according to the Index on the church website, is "the eternal power and authority of God. Through the priesthood God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power He redeems and exalts His children, bringing to pass "the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). God gives priesthood authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can act in His name for the salvation of His children. Priesthood holders can be authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, and govern the kingdom of God on the earth." The church website gave this definition of Priesthood keys:

"The exercise of priesthood authority in the Church is governed by those who hold priesthood keys (see D&C 65:2; 124:123). Those who hold priesthood keys have the right to preside over and direct the Church within a jurisdiction. For example, a bishop holds priesthood keys that enable him to preside in his ward. Therefore, when a child in that ward is prepared to be baptized, the person baptizing the child must receive authorization from the bishop.

Jesus Christ holds all the keys of the priesthood. He has given His Apostles the keys that are necessary for governing His Church. Only the senior Apostle, the President of the Church, may use (or authorize another person to use) these keys for governing the entire Church (see D&C 43:1–4; 81:2; 132:7).

The President of the Church delegates priesthood keys to other priesthood leaders so they can preside in their areas of responsibility. Priesthood keys are bestowed on presidents of temples, missions, stakes, and districts; bishops; branch presidents; and quorum presidents. A person who serves in one of these positions holds the keys only until he is released. Counselors do not receive keys, but they do receive authority and responsibility by calling and assignment."

From the scriptures we can learn more about which keys are held by certain prophets throughout time. Here are some of the ones that I have learned about through reading the scriptures:

Moses held the keys of the gathering of Israel. In simple terms, those are the keys to oversee missionary work that gathers scattered Israel back in to the fold. Moses bestowed those keys upon Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple on April 3, 1836.

Moroni held the keys of the Book of Mormon. It is through him that Joseph Smith received the gold plates and was given permission to translate them.

Elias held the keys "of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days;" (Doctrine and Covenants 27:6 Elias also appeared to Joseph Smith in 1836 and committed the keys to him. This is an event that the Jews still await.

Elijah held the keys of the "sealing power" that whatever he bound on Earth would be bound in Heaven. He also visited Joseph Smith and committed those keys to him as part of the restoration of the Gospel in these latter days.

John held the keys of the Aaronic, or lesser Priesthood. He conferred those keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and commanded them to baptize each other. They then had the authority to baptize in the church, to administer the sacramaent, and to pass that authority on to others.

These apostles held the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which they also conferred upon Joseph Smith. He then had the authority to confer that Priesthood on others, as well as perform the duties of that Priesthood.

We are blessed to live in a time when the "restitution of all things" has happened, and all of the Priesthood keys are once again available to men. As members in the church, we have many blessings of the Priesthood available to us, including the following:
--Blessings from the Priesthood if we are ill
--The administration of the sacrament
--The conferring of the gift of the Holy Ghost
--Temple ordinances including baptism for the dead, and eternal marriage.
--Patriarchal blessings

These are but a few of the blessings we receive from the Priesthood. I'm thankful to live in a day when all of the Priesthood keys have been available once again to man. I'm thankful that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored to Earth in it's fulness.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meet a Mormon

Our church website, now has member profiles available. You can read about members of the church, and read their discussion of why they are members. You can even input certain search details to find someone with a similar life to your own. If you want to browse all of the profiles, click on "Meet Mormons and read their stories". If you want to read about a Mormon who is similar in age, ethnicity, or gender, you can narrow your search by using the toolbar on the right. It is interesting to read the testimonies of other people who have joined our church. It is evident that we come from all stations in life, and have many different backgrounds. I hope you enjoy this new feature! Just click the link above.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Profile of a Prophet

The Bible speaks of prophets, both true, and false. In Amos 3:7 we are taught "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." But in Matt. 24:11 we are taught, "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." In these last days, the chance of having false prophets increases. We go on to learn in Matthew 24:24 "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." If God will do nothing in our day without revealing his secret unto his servants the prophets, then how are we to know which prophets are real, and which prophets are false?

I have posted a talk by Elder Hugh B. Brown in the past, but I would like to just outline here some points he gave on how to determine whether or not a person is a true prophet.

A. He will boldly claim that God [has] spoken to him.

B. Any man so claiming would be a dignified man with a dignified message; no table-jumping, no whisperings from the dead, no clairvoyance, but an intelligent statement of truth.

C. Any man claiming to be a prophet of God would declare his message without any fear and without making any weak concessions to public opinion.

D. If he were speaking for God, he could not make concessions although what he taught would be new and contrary to the accepted teachings of the day. A prophet bears witness to what he has seen and heard and seldom tries to make a case by argument. His message and not himself is important.

E. Such a man would speak in the name of the Lord, saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” as did Moses, Joshua, and others.

F. Such a man would predict future events in the name of the Lord, and they would come to pass, as did Isaiah and Ezekiel.

G. He would have not only an important message for his time but often a message for all future time, such as Daniel, Jeremiah, and others had.

H. He would have courage and faith enough to endure persecution and to give his life, if need be, for the cause he espoused, such as Peter, Paul, and others did.

I. Such a man would denounce wickedness fearlessly. He would generally be rejected or persecuted by the people of his time, but later generations, the descendants of his persecutors, would build monuments in his honor.

J. He would be able to do superhuman things, things that no man could do without God’s help. The consequence or result of his message and work would be convincing evidence of his prophetic calling. “By their fruits ye shall know them” [Matt. 7:20].

K. His teachings would be in strict conformity with scripture, and his words and his writings would become scripture. “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 Pet. 1:21).

As many religions of the world crumble around us, we would do well to seek out the true prophets of God and listen to their counsel. Those church leaders that allow depravity and sins that are contrary to the commandments of God are clearly not true prophets. In order for them to qualify as true prophets, they must, as listed in item K above, make their teachings conform to scripture. Prophets teach the doctrine of God, not the teachings of men.

We have a true living prophet guiding the church today. His actions, words, and guidance are in alignment with the scriptures, and the doctrine of God. He gives prophetic guidance for our day. A recent example is the guidance we received from our prophet, Thomas S. Monson about same sex marriage. He counseled us to uphold marriage between a man and a woman. While this may go against the popular ideas of the world, Pres. Monson boldly stood against these things that go against the teachings in the scriptures. Another prophetic act was the issue of the "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". This statement was issued without apology or fear. It was issued in 1998 before the marriage issue began to heat up. It contains such doctrine as "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." and "We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan." Who can doubt but that this guidance was both timely and inspired? But those who do doubt can study Pres. Monson's teachings, then pray to God to know if he is a true prophet. I have done this, and I know he is God's mouthpiece today.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why We Forgive

This is an excerpt from a talk by C. Terry Warner, who is a professor of Philosophy at Brigham Young University.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Our Inspired Constitution

There is one thing that I have great trouble doing without getting emotional, and that is saying the pledge of allegiance. I never had that problem until I lived outside the country. But having seen the way people live in other countries, and the privileges and human rights that are denied them, I appreciate even more the freedoms that we enjoy here. I do pledge my allegiance to this Republic and it's flag, and to the ideals that were set in place by our founding fathers. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to study in college about the founding of this country, and the purposes intended in the Constitution. It gave me a greater appreciation for that great inspired document. In modern day scripture we get this further insight from the Lord about the writing of the Constitution:

"I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80)

I do believe that our Constitution was inspired of God. Elder L. Tom Perry gave some other witnesses of this fact:

"I look around me and find some very definite signs of the decay that is beginning to occur. Corruption, crime, dishonesty, immorality, pollution, laziness, devotion only to special interests—these are signs that precede the fall of great civilizations. We see so much evidence of these signs before our eyes. Yet I realize the promise that has been given to us in this great land of America. I also remember the prophecies concerning our great responsibilities to preserve that which we have been blessed with by God. The Lord has promised to sustain the truth in this land.

Our commitment to America has been testified to by many, but I will point out to you special witnesses who have indicated our responsibilities to this land.

First from Brigham Young, second president of the Church: “Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, ‘The time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.’ It will be so.” (Journal of Discourses, 7:15.)

Now another witness, John Taylor, third president of the Church: “When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States, the elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth, and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men, and extending the hand of fellowship to the oppressed of all nations.” (The Gospel Kingdom, Deseret Book Co., 1943, p. 219.) This is part of the program.

A final witness is from George Q. Cannon, former member of the First Presidency, who said that “the day will come when the Constitution and free government under it will be sustained and preserved by this people.” (JD, 23:104.)

Now, I declare to you that if we are not in the beginning stages of the fulfillment of this prophecy, we are at least in the stages where we are preparing for its fulfillment."
..."No constitution on earth has endured longer than ours. We seek and usually find the answers to today’s hardest legal questions within this document of yesterday. The Constitution was and is a miracle. Both Washington and Madison referred to it as such. It was an inspired document, written under the divine guidance of the Lord. James Madison, commonly called the Father of the Constitution, recognized this inspiration and gave the credit to “the guardianship and guidance of the Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations whose blessings have been so conspicuously displayed to the rising of this republic.” (Prologue, p. 95.) We believe that the Constitution was brought about by God to insure a nation where liberty could abound, where his gospel could flourish. Joseph Smith said, “The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 147.) Again from Brigham Young, “[The Constitution] was dictated by the invisible operations of the Almighty.” (John A. Widtsoe, ed., Discourses of Brigham Young, Deseret Book Co., 1966, p. 359.) From our current living prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, “One of the reasons America is great today is because those men who formulated the Constitution had vision. They looked ahead to today, and all of us here are recipients of their wisdom and foresight.” Among other things, the Constitution guarantees the religious freedom that allowed the Reformation to continue and flourish. The great religious reformers began to throw off the rituals and dogmas that had been attached to Christianity during the dark ages and sought to return to the pure and simple truths of the New Testament."

L. Tom Perry, “God’s Hand in the Founding of America,” New Era, Jul 1976, 45 Adapted from an address delivered on February 24, 1976, at BYU

On this "birthday" of our Nation, I am thankful for those who established this nation, and to those who have defended it. I am thankful to have been born in one of the greatest countries the World has ever known.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mormon: The People, the Church, the Prophet

This is what the church website has to say about the term "Mormon".

"Mormon" is a term commonly applied to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church is sometimes inaccurately called the "Mormon Church" because its members believe that the Book of Mormon is an additional volume of scripture to the Bible. The Book of Mormon is named after Mormon, a fourth-century prophet-historian who compiled and abridged many records of his ancestors into the Book of Mormon.

Mormon: The People

Mormons live and work in every state of the United States and throughout the world. They value their family, their communities and the countries where they reside. They actively participate in business and agriculture, education and the sciences, government, the entertainment industry and news media. They work in public service and professional fields and serve as ambassadors, legislators, judges, and CEOs. There are currently five U.S. senators, including the senate majority leader, who are Mormon.

Mormon: The Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the fourth-largest religious institution in America, with over 6 million members in the United States and a total of nearly 14 million worldwide. While the term "Mormon Church" has long been publicly applied to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a nickname, it is not an official title, and the Church encourages the use of the full authorized title. There are nearly 28,000 Mormon congregations worldwide, with meetings held in more than 180 languages, and Sunday services are open for anyone to attend. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is well known for its humanitarian work and has teamed up with Catholic Relief Services, the Red Cross, UNICEF, and many other agencies to help relieve suffering throughout the world. The Church also operates the world's largest genealogical library, located in Salt Lake City, and has one of the world's largest databases of online genealogical records. This database can be accessed for free by anyone at FamilySearch.

Mormon: The Prophet

Mormon was an actual historial figure in the Book of Mormon. He was a prophet, military general, and record keeper who lived about A.D. 311-385 on the American Continent. He was a military leader for most of his life, beginning at age fifteen. He also kept extensive historical and spiritual records of his people, who lived in the Americas. After recording the history of his own lifetime, he compiled and abridged the records, engraved on plates of gold, of previous prophets. These plates were part of the record from which the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon in the early 19th century.