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Saturday, July 31, 2021

How Can I Gain More Understanding of the Priesthood of God?

             My Come, Follow Me studies this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 84. This section contains a revelation that was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, at Kirtland, Ohio, on September 22 and 23, 1832. This communication was received during a season of joy when missionaries were returning from their missions in the eastern states and reporting on their labors. It was during this reunion that the Prophet inquired of the Lord and received this revelation. The Prophet Joseph Smith designated it as a revelation on priesthood.

            The priesthood was restored in May 1829, and Latter-day Saints had been blessed by its sacred power for more than three years at the time Section 84 was received. Latter-day Saints had been baptized, confirmed, and called to serve by priesthood authority – much the same as is done today. Having access to priesthood power and enjoying its blessings is not the same thing as completely understanding it. This revelation was the Lord’s means of giving more understanding to His Saints. This revelation on the priesthood expanded the Saints’ vision of what the priesthood really is, and a study of Section 84 can expand our vision today.

            The Lord used this revelation to explain how the priesthood prepares the Saints to enter God’s presence and receive all that He has. The Lord taught of the importance of hearkening to His words and reproved the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, for treating the Book of Mormon and His commandments lightly. The Lord also commanded the Saints to preach the gospel to the world, and He provided instructions for doing so.

            The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual – Religion 324 and 325 [2018] gave further information about Section 84.

During a conference of priesthood holders held in Amherst, Ohio, on January 25, 1832, a number of elders were called to preach the gospel in various locations in the United States (see Doctrine and Covenants 75). In September 1832, some of these elders returned from their missions in the eastern states. Joseph and Emma Smith had just moved from the John and Alice (Elsa) Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio, to the living quarters in the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio. When the missionaries returned to Kirtland, they reported their experiences, and the Prophet Joseph Smith rejoiced in their success. While the Prophet was with these elders on September 22, he inquired of the Lord and received revelation about the priesthood. The Prophet continued to receive instruction from the Lord the following day, September 23. This revelation, received over two days, is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84. Several individuals witnessed the Prophet Joseph Smith dictate the revelation. Doctrine and Covenants 84:1 suggests that six elders were present as the dictation began, but a note in an original handwritten copy of the revelation indicates that 10 high priests were present during the latter part of the revelation. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831 – January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2013], 289-90.)

            One of the principles taught about priesthood in Doctrine and Covenants 84 is: “We all have access to God’s priesthood power and blessings (verses 1-5, 17-28, 31-42). The Lord begins this revelation on the priesthood by teaching that a temple will be built in Zion (verses 1-5). Temples would have little purpose without priesthood power and authority. It is within the walls of the holy temple that men and women receive some of the greatest blessings that can be received on earth. The gospel of Jesus Christ is taught in the temples, and families are sealed together for eternity in the temples.

            The oath and covenants of the priesthood are taught in this revelation (verses 31-42), and this information has special application for those who are ordained to a priesthood office. However, many of the promised blessings in these verses are available to all as we receive the Lord’s servants and the Lord. President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following.

All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord and who honor those covenants are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, to commune with God, to receive the fulness of the gospel, and, ultimately, to become heirs alongside Jesus Christ of all our Father has (“Men and Women and Priesthood Power,” Ensign, Sept. 2014, 32).

            Men and women are called to labor together in building up the kingdom of God upon the earth. This includes the building of temples and doing sacred temple work. It is through performing the work of the Lord that can receive blessings both for time and for eternity. Men and women stand together in performing the work for the living and the dead.

            Another important principle found in Doctrine and Covenants 84:61-88 is: “The Lord will sustain those who serve Him.” These verses are directed to those who “shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom” (verse 80), but many of the principles they contain can apply to anyone who is serving God.

            The Lord charged His ancient Apostles (see Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18) to preach the gospel to all the world. He, likewise, instructed His Saints in the latter-days to preach the gospel to all the world. He commanded them to send their testimony in some other way if there was any place that they could not personally go to ensure that the restored gospel was proclaimed “unto every creature” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:62). Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited members of the Church of Jesus Christ today to use innovative and inspired communications and technology to send the gospel message to people throughout the world:

The Lord is hastening His work, and it is no coincidence that these powerful communication innovations and inventions are occurring in the dispensation of the fulness of times. Social media channels are global tools that can personally and positively impact large numbers of individuals and families. And I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father, His plan of happiness for His children, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the world; to proclaim the reality of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days; and to accomplish the Lord’s work….

What has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning – but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood…. I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth – messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy – and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood (see Moses 7:59-62) (“Flood the Earth through Social Media,” New Era, Aug. 2015, 32, 35).

            The priesthood is the power of God bestowed upon mortals for the purpose of blessing all the children of Heavenly Father. Doctrine and Covenants 84 teaches about the priesthood and how to use it more effectively in doing God’s work here on earth.

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