Sunday, February 23, 2014

Priesthood Keys & Ordinations

Today I had the privilege of participating in two Priesthood functions. I am serving in a married student stake here in Logan Utah and the current Stake Presidency was released and a new Stake Presidency called. Later today I had the privilege of ordaining my son a High Priest.  Both of these opportunities have strengthened my testimony that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on the earth today.

For our stake conference this weekend we had two visiting general authorities here to sustain a new Stake Presidency. The process of transferring priesthood keys is one of the miracles of the restored gospel. As the stake clerk I was able to witness the process. Yesterday Elder Michael John U. Teh, a member of the 1st Quorum of 70 and Elder Steven O. Lain, a member of the 5th Quorum of 70 spent the morning interviewing all of the bishops in the stake as well as the members of the high council and a few others. After the interviews they prayed to know whom the Lord would have lead the stake for the next few years and the Lord answered their prayers with the name of the person. He was called and then he was instructed to pray to know who should serve as his counselors and a short time later those names were given to the general authorities and they were also called. Today the current Stake Presidency was released and the new ones sustained. After the meeting Elder Teh, the presiding general authority set apart the new Stake President and gave him the keys of the priesthood that he needs to preside over the married student stake that we serve in.

Those keys of the priesthood are the same keys that the Lord Jesus Christ promised to give the Apostle Peter:

 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)

Very few individuals hold priesthood keys. They come from Jesus Christ to the presiding Apostle on the earth, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are also given to the 12 Apostles and they in turn give other general authorities assignments to go into the world and give the keys to preside over stakes and wards to the Stake Presidents and Bishops and Elder’s Quorum Presidents. When a new Stake President, Bishop or Elder’s Quorum President is called the person who held those priesthood keys for that calling no longer has them once released and the newly sustained person is given the keys to administer the gospel within the boundaries of their stake, ward or quorum. These individuals are called for a period of time to preside over a group of members and when they have served the time that the Lord directs they are then released and another is called. There is no campaigning for the position, no politics are involved they serve because they are called by the Lord. They serve because they are following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and are the Shepherds that watch over the Savior’s flock.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have paid ministers that are over the local wards, stakes, missions or other units we willingly give of our time to do the Lord’s work. We serve wherever we are called for as long as we are called. We consider it a blessing to serve each other and all members are blessed through selfless serve to Heavenly Father’s children.

Elder Steven O. Laing, one of the visiting General Authorities at our stake conference this weekend, taught us an important lesson on priesthood keys. He said that while only a few individuals hold priesthood keys all others officiate in their callings under the direction of those priesthood keys. It does not matter if it is a man serving in a priesthood calling, as a teacher or some other calling or a women serving in a Relief Society Presidency, a Young Women’s Presidency or Primary Presidency they all have the power to teach and minister to those who they are called to serve. They do so under the authority of the priesthood keys. Heavenly Father does not distinguish between a man or a women that is faithfully serving in their calling, revelation can come to both if they desire and seek it properly.

Witnessing the changing of our Stake Presidency has strengthened my testimony that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly the head of this church and he is directing it through his Prophets and Apostles and others that hold Priesthood Keys.

The second event that I participated in today was setting apart my oldest son as a High Priest. This was another great experience that I will never forget and it was a privilege to be with my family as I laid my hand on his head and ordained him to this office in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Even this event ties back into the previous discussion of priesthood keys. I did not have the authority on my own to ordain my own son. I did so by permission of the Stake President of my son’s stake, the person who holds the keys of the priesthood for that stake. I had to present to him my temple recommend and he made sure that it was current. If I did not have my temple recommend, then I would have to provide a signed form from my Bishop to perform a priesthood ordinance, which I would then give to the Stake President as proof of my worthiness to perform the ordinance.

The Church of Jesus Christ is a church of order and I had to have some way of proving that I had the authority and was worthy to perform the ordination. This proof had to come from the person holding those priesthood keys that I referred to above that presides over my local unit and I had to present that proof to the presiding authority over my son’s unit before I could ordain him a High Priest. If anyone could ordain anyone to any office of the priesthood, then chaos would ensue and the members would not know whom to follow and the Lord’s flock would be scattered. The Lord told the saints through the Prophet Joseph Smith the importance of authority and order in the church:

“7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

“8 Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

“9 Will I accept of an offering, saith the Lord, that is not made in my name?

 Or will I receive at your hands that which I have not appointed?” (Doctrine & Covenants 132:7-19)

After my son’s Stake President gave his approval, I was able to ordain my son to the office of High Priest, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then gave him a father’s blessing. It was a privilege and blessing for me to participate in this event with our family. One of my other son and his family was there as was my daughter and her family. The family of my son’s wife was also present and his father-in-law stood with us as I ordained my son. Words cannot express the spirit that we felt and the joy that filled our hearts as we participated in this priesthood experience.

The office of High Priest is the same priesthood that Adam gave to his son Seth, to his other descendants down through the ages to Enoch and Methuselah. It is the same priesthood that Methuselah gave to Noah. Then from Noah to Melchizedek the great High Priest who ordained Abraham to this same priesthood. It is the same priesthood that Christ gave to Peter, James and John on the Mount when he promised to give to Peter the keys of the sealing powers. Joseph Smith was ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood by Peter, James and John and it has been passed down from them to others and finally to me and now from me to my son.

I did not give my son priesthood keys, but the priesthood that he has is the same priesthood and one day he may be called to a calling that requires priesthood keys and one holding those keys will give him the keys he will need to preside. Until then he serves under someone that has keys and he will minister under his authority and be responsible for magnifying that priesthood that he now holds. He will also one day answer to the Lord for the manner in which he used that priesthood to bless the lives of those he serves.
What a wonderful thing to know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is here on the earth and that Heavenly Father has given us his priesthood and the keys to administer the saving ordinances of his Gospel.

I know that Thomas S. Monson holds all of the Keys of the Priesthood and the sealing powers that were given to Peter, James and John anciently. I know that Peter, James and John passed those priesthood keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith and from him to every prophet since that time so that in this day and time there is one man on the earth that holds them at a time and that person is Thomas S. Monson, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then shares those keys with others such as our Bishops, Stake Presidents and Elders Quorum Presidents. The rest of us who have been ordained to the various priesthood offices serve under those who hold these keys.

Your questions and comments are welcome.

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