Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Importance of the Priesthood in Our Homes

The prophet Alma taught that this life is the “time to prepare to meet God”. (Book of Mormon | Alma 12:24) The Lord taught Moses: “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 1:39).

What does eternal life mean and why do we need to prepare to meet God? In Moses 7:35, the Lord taught Enoch that “Eternal is my name”. (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 7:35) Eternal thereby being a noun, not a verb changes how we might understand Moses 1:39, which again reads: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

There is much more to eternal life than living forever. Eternal life is literally God’s life. God wants us to live as he does because it is his work and his glory, or in other words, God’s very purpose is for us to live as he does.

Since God’s purpose is for us to live as he does, he has prepared a way for us to learn the things that will prepare us for that life. This is why we are all here upon this Earth. More specifically, this is why God has given us the family unit where as described in The Family: A Proclamation to the World: “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and . . . the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

Though not always possible, our families are designed to be organized in the same way that God’s family is organized, a father, a mother, and children. The way God serves and cares for his children is through his power. God gives a portion his power to men to act in his behalf, to serve and care for our families on this Earth just as he does with his eternal family. This power is the Priesthood.

The Priesthood is not restricted to those who lead congregations, only to be enjoyed by parishioners once per week. It is not granted as a certificate evidence of knowledge or a degree by man. Rather, God shares a portion of his power with all worthy males so that God’s work will be carried out unto all his children who will receive it so that potentially every member of every family, or all people, have the opportunity to have the literal power of God in their home.

Joseph F. Smith said: “[The priesthood] is nothing more nor less than the power of God delegated to man by which man can act in the Earth for the salvation of the human family, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and act legitimately; not assuming that authority, nor borrowing it from generations that are dead and gone, but authority that has been given in this day in which we live by ministering angels and spirits from above, direct from the presence of Almighty God. . . . It is the same power and Priesthood that was committed to the disciples of Christ while he was upon the Earth, that whatsoever they should bind on earth should be bound in heaven, and that whatsoever they should loose on Earth should be loosed in heaven” (Gospel doctrine, 139-40)

Put more briefly, in “Preach My Gospel” it is written: “The priesthood is the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. Through the priesthood we receive the ordinances of salvation, as well as blessings of healing, comfort, and counsel.”

God literally has given us the opportunity to work as him, in his name, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of everyone.

Bruce R. McConkie taught: “Priesthood is power like none other on earth or in heaven. It is the very power of God himself, the power by which the worlds were made, the power by which all things are regulated, upheld, and preserved.

It is the power of faith, the faith by which the Father creates and governs. God is God because he is the embodiment of all faith and all power and all priesthood. The life he lives is named eternal life.

And the extent to which we become like him is the extent to which we gain his faith, acquire his power, and exercise his priesthood. And when we have become like him in the full and true sense, then we also shall have eternal life.

Faith and priesthood go hand in hand. Faith is power and power is priesthood. After we gain faith, we receive the priesthood. Then, through the priesthood, we grow in faith until, having all power, we become like our Lord.

Our time here in mortality is set apart as a time of probation and of testing. It is our privilege while here to perfect our faith and to grow in priesthood power.”

“All of us who have calls to minister in the holy priesthood were foreordained to be ministers of Christ, and to come here in our appointed days, and to labor on his errand.” (“The Doctrine of the Priesthood”, Ensign May 1982).

Working backwards though some of these statements, fathers are ministers of Christ to their families. We are here on this Earth at this time in the world’s history because it was appointed for us to be here but also because it was appointed for our children to be here and in Elder McConkie’s words we have “come here in our appointed days to labor on [Christ’s] errand”. So we are Christ’s ministers to our children in our homes. Put in those terms, I feel the magnitude of responsibility placed on myself a priesthood holder in my home.

The priesthood in our homes allows each of us to gain more faith. The first principle of the Church is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The more faith we have, the more our testimonies will grow. Then the more likely we and our children are to choose righteous paths. As we increase in faith as families, the power of the priesthood is able to be more readily manifested and exercised in our homes until, one day, Heavenly Father grants all of his power unto us, so that we may live as God lives, having eternal life, in our family units as they are constituted here upon this Earth.

The priesthood is the power of government, or organization. There are specific activities that must occur on this Earth for people to reach their full potential—that of salvation in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.

These activities are the saving ordinances. They are administered on the Earth by those holding the power and authority of the Priesthood. Going back to the statement from Preach My Gospel, it says: “through the priesthood we receive the ordinances of salvation”.

With worthy priesthood holders in our homes, we will draw our families closer together as fathers perform the saving ordinances of baptism and confirmation on all of their children and by performing the saving ordinance of the ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood upon their sons. I feel these bonds will last through eternity. I feel like the bonds created by these ordinances, especially as I’ve learned more and more the value and importance of them, have drawn me closer to my parents, as they taught me to the best of their knowledge in the right ways and when the time for each ordinance was right, my father baptized me, confirmed me, an ordained me to the office of Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Stronger bonds to each other and in the gospel will only make for a stronger family, with a foundation in Jesus Christ as Helaman, a priesthood holder himself, taught his sons Nephi and Lehi: ” Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall“ (Book of Mormon | Helaman 5:12)

Elder D. Lee Tobler of the Seventy said it another way: “Where the priesthood foundations to cope with [life’s] challenges are in place in the family . . . then we will not fear the eventual outcomes in future years. . . . Families, where the priesthood is honored and exercised, will be able to endure the present pressures and become eternal families. And in the process, individual members of families will have been perfected and prepared for the rewards of the faithful.” (Elder D. Lee Tobler of the Seventy. “Priesthood and the Home,” Ensign May 1999, 43).

The power of the priesthood will surely bring us nearer to Jesus Christ, fortifying our families against the exponentially increasing wickedness of the world we live in.

Finally, I have a couple of points of perspective from Elder McConkie that I have take the liberty to add to, so they might apply to the family.

“Truly, there is power in the priesthood—power to do all things!”

“If the world itself was created by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can move mountains and control the elements” and keeps us from fighting in our homes.

“If one-third of the hosts of heaven were cast down to earth by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can put at defiance the armies of nations or stay the fall of atomic bombs” or stop harsh or demeaning words towards each other from being spoken in our homes.

“If all men shall be raised from mortality to immortality by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can cure the diseased and the dying and raise the dead” and helps us forgive and remove barriers to love with in walls of our very own homes.

“Truly there is power in the priesthood—a power which we seek to acquire to use, a power which we devoutly pray may rest upon us and upon our posterity forever” (“The Doctrine of the Priesthood”, Ensign May 1982).

In Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 we learn how the Priesthood should be used in our home in a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith from Jesus Christ:

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy” (Section 121:41 - 43).

I have relied heavily on the words of others today. I do not have a miraculous story to tell about the priesthood in my home, though I do believe with complete certainty that miracles do happen in individual homes each and every day. What I can tell you is that growing up the priesthood was always in my home. I know that my parents had a much better understanding of what I was going through when I was a teenager with teenager issues than I thought they did at the time. I know that from the time I was a small child I was given blessings that comforted me and assisted me in life’s challenges. I know that through the faith of my parents I was taught in the gospel, which gave me a sure foundation, so sure than when I tried to make myself fall, I could not.

I know that learning from how my father exercised his priesthood while I was growing up; I am an effective priesthood holder in my family. It is certainly difficult to do every good thing in our homes. However, I have been very blessed to be inspired at times with the knowledge of when and how we should modify or add to the things we do in our home. Following these inspirations has had a distinct and absolute difference on our family, including increased faith, knowledge, and love. I know as I continually study out new and changing issues in our family, hold council with my wife, and with the children, when it is time to hold council with my Father in Heaven he will give our family the guidance we need.

I am thankful for the legacy of faith I am privy to. I know the power and influence of the priesthood has allowed me to grow in great strides as a person, a husband, and a father. I know that the Priesthood blesses lives and I know that God wants to share his power and all that he has with his children on this Earth. I am very thankful that I am able to serve my family with the power of God. I know it is real. I have felt it flowing through me. I feel it in my heart and soul each and every day. I share this with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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