Duty to God, Deacon: Understand Doctrine

In connection with my calling at church to work with our ward’s young men, I’ve been working through their Duty to God program.  For the sharing aspect of the “Understand Doctrine” section in the unit for deacons, I put together this outline of notes, which I’ll share by posting here:

1. definition

2. a. teachings of prophets

b. scriptures

3. a personal example

b. personal feelings

Restoration of the Priesthood

1. From True to the Faith:  May 15, 1829. Having read about baptism for the remission of sins as they worked on the translation of the gold plates, Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery went to a secluded area to inquire of the Lord concerning the matter. There, on the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania, they received the answer to their prayer. John the Baptist, a resurrected being, came to them as “a messenger from heaven … in a cloud of light.” He conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood. Then, in obedience to his instructions, Joseph and Oliver baptized each other and ordained each other to the Aaronic Priesthood. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72; see also D&C 13.)

May 1829. The ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. (See D&C 128:20.)

2. a. From Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith:  Prophets who held priesthood keys in ancient times have joined in bringing about the work of the last dispensation.

“I saw Adam in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman. He called together his children and blessed them with a patriarchal blessing. The Lord appeared in their midst, and he (Adam) blessed them all, and foretold what should befall them to the latest generation.

“This is why Adam blessed his posterity; he wanted to bring them into the presence of God. They looked for a city, etc., [’whose builder and maker is God’—Heb. 11:10]. Moses sought to bring the children of Israel into the presence of God, through the power of the Priesthood, but he could not. In the first ages of the world they tried to establish the same thing; and there were Eliases raised up who tried to restore these very glories, but did not obtain them; but they prophesied of a day when this glory would be revealed. Paul spoke of the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God would gather together all things in one, etc. [see Ephesians 1:10]; and those men to whom these keys have been given, will have to be there; and they without us cannot be made perfect.

“These men are in heaven, but their children are on the earth. Their bowels yearn over us. God sends down men for this reason. ‘And the Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that give offense and them that do iniquity.’ [Matthew 13:41.] All these authoritative characters will come down and join hand in hand in bringing about this work.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed. The mustard seed is small, but brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches. [See Mark 4:30–32.] The fowls are the angels. Thus angels come down, combine together to gather their children, and gather them. We cannot be made perfect without them, nor they without us; when these things are done, the Son of Man will descend, the Ancient of Days sit; we may come to an innumerable company of angels, have communion with and receive instructions from them.” 5

b. D&C 27:12-14:  12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;

 13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;

 14 And also with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world.

3. a. An example of the restoration of the priesthood could be a priesthood line of authority.  I have a card in my wallet that traces back the Melchizedek priesthood. As it was conferred on me by the laying on of hands, back through Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, to Peter, James, and John, and starting with Jesus Christ Himself. 

b. The restoration of priesthood authority matters to me because it instills confidence in what I do, and helps me be humble in knowing that I’m an instrument in moving forward God’s work among other of his children. 

Priesthood and Priesthood Keys

1. From True to the Faith:

Priesthood Authority Given to Men on Earth

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.

Male members of the Church may begin their priesthood service when they reach the age of 12. They begin by holding the Aaronic Priesthood, and they later may qualify to have the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred on them. At different stages in their lives and as they prepare themselves to receive different responsibilities, they hold different offices in the priesthood, such as deacon, teacher, or priest in the Aaronic Priesthood and elder or high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood. (For specific information about the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, see pages 3–4 and 101–2.)

For a male member of the Church to hold the priesthood, an authorized priesthood holder must confer it on him and ordain him to an office in that priesthood (see Hebrews 5:4; D&C 42:11; Articles of Faith 1:5).

Although the authority of the priesthood is bestowed only on worthy male members of the Church, the blessings of the priesthood are available to all—men, women, and children. We all benefit from the influence of righteous priesthood leadership, and we all have the privilege of receiving the saving ordinances of the priesthood.

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.

2. a. The rest of chapter 8 in Teaching of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith covers this. 

b. D&C 84:26-27:  26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;

 27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.

3. a. An example of exercising the priesthood would be each time I give a blessing to others, such as for comfort or healing. 

b. When I use the priesthood to bless my wife and children, I feel grateful and excited about being blessed myself to be a part of this work. 

Covenants and Ordinances

1. From True to the Faith: A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and a person or group of people. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions. When we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in some instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience.

All the saving ordinances of the priesthood are accompanied by covenants. For example, you made a covenant when you were baptized, and you renew that covenant each time you partake of the sacrament (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37, 77, 79). If you have received the Melchizedek Priesthood, you have entered into the oath and covenant of the priesthood (see D&C 84:33–44). The temple endowment and the sealing ordinance also include sacred covenants.

Always remember and honor the covenants you make with the Lord. Then you will not need to be commanded in everything you do (see D&C 58:26–28). You will be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and Christlike conduct will be part of your nature. As the Lord has promised, you will “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). Your greatest hope should be to enjoy the sanctification that comes from this divine guidance; your greatest fear should be to forfeit these blessings.

2. a. From Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff: There need be no fears if the Latter-day Saints will only be true to the covenants they have made with their God and strictly carry out the principles which He has told us must govern us in the building up of His Zion.

If, however, we forget our covenants, and depart from and disregard the teachings which He has given us, then be assured, Latter-day Saints, our position is full of peril to us. God’s purposes will not be thwarted; but we shall be scourged, and those who persist in this course will be rejected and be deprived of all share in the blessings promised to Zion.

b. 2 Nephi 11:5:  5 And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.

3. a. I’ve made covenants when was baptized, ordained to the priesthood (the oath and covenant), when I was endowed, and when I was sealed to my wife. 

b. Making and renewing covenants helps me feel closer to the Lord by being continually reminded of the importance of living the gospel, and the blessings that come from living it. 

Gift of the Holy Ghost

1. From True to the Faith: All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel. However, the fulness of the blessings given through the Holy Ghost are available only to those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and remain worthy.

After you were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders laid their hands on your head and, in a sacred priesthood ordinance, confirmed you a member of the Church. As part of this ordinance, called confirmation, you were given the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is different from the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before your baptism, you could feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time, and through that influence you could receive a testimony of the truth. Now that you have the gift of the Holy Ghost, you have the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead if you keep the commandments.

Full enjoyment of the gift of the Holy Ghost includes receiving revelation and comfort, serving and blessing others through spiritual gifts, and being sanctified from sin and made fit for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. These blessings depend on your worthiness; they come a little at a time as you are ready for them. As you bring your life in harmony with God’s will, you gradually receive the Holy Ghost in great measure. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that the mysteries of God’s kingdom “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” (see D&C 76:114–116).

Remember that “the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples” (Helaman 4:24). Even though you have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit will dwell with you only when you keep the commandments. He will withdraw if you offend Him by profanity, uncleanliness, disobedience, rebellion, or other sins. Keep yourself clean. Fill your life with goodness so you can be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

2. a. From Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith: “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.’ [See 1 Corinthians 12:3.] We believe in it [this gift of the Holy Ghost] in all its fullness, and power, and greatness, and glory.”

b. D&C 33:15: And whoso having faith you shall confirm in my church, by the laying on of the hands, and I will bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost upon them.

3. a. The gift of the holy ghost has been manifested in my life by the ability to know and understand things, being comforted, and being able to help serve and teach others.

b. Feeling the gifts of the holy ghost, like other blessings, makes me feel humble and grateful.

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