My Come, Follow Me lesson this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 106-108. These sections include information about the calling of leaders. The revelation recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 107 contains instructions for the organizing of priesthood offices into a leadership structure for the Lord’s Church.
The Prophet Joseph Smith received this revelation as the newly called members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were preparing to serve missions in the eastern United States. This revelation was recorded in 1835, but portions of it were received in 1831.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was growing so rapidly at the time of this revelation that Church membership was greater than the capacity of its few leaders. There was urgency in the need to outline the roles and responsibilities of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Seventy, bishops, and quorum presidencies. However, the Lord included much more in his revelation.
Doctrine and Covenants 107 includes more information than how to organize priesthood offices and quorums. After His instructions about organizing quorums, the Lord shared information about an ancient priesthood order that was “instituted in the days of Adam” (verse 41). He explained that the purpose of this priesthood order from the beginning was to make it possible for all God’s children to receive the saving ordinances of the gospel and to enjoy “all the spiritual blessings of the church – to have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, [and] to have the heavens opened unto them” (verses 18-19).
The topic of discussion for tonight is this principle: “The Lord leads His Church through priesthood authority.” As I have studied the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I noticed that the Lord does not explain a doctrine in full in one revelatory session. Instead, He reveals information “line upon line” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12) when circumstances require it. In other words, the Lord does not dump lots of information on His servants at any one time, but He gives the instructions needed at the point in time.
The Lord gave information on the priesthood in earlier revelations (see Doctrine and Covenants 20 and 84). However, in 1835 He gave additional instruction to the Saints about specific priesthood offices needed at the time to govern and guide the growing Church. President Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the priesthood:
Priesthood is the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He [Jesus Christ] would do if He were present (“The Power of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2010, 7).
Doctrine and Covenants 107:5 says, “All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood.” An appendage is something that is attached to or part of a greater whole. The words “this priesthood” in this verse refer to the Melchizedek Priesthood. This means that “all other authorities or offices in the church” are appendages to the Melchizedek Priesthood. President M. Russell Ballard taught the following:
Our Father in Heaven is generous with His power. All men and all women have access to this power for help in their lives. 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 in the Work of the Lord,” New Era, April 2014, 4-5).
President Dallin H. Oaks also taught that women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serve under the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings.
We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman – young or old – is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties (“The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2014, 51).
Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold positions from serving as president of the Relief Society on a branch, ward, stake, district, or general level to serving as nursery leader in the Primary. Women are set apart to their callings by the priesthood leader responsible for the position. In the ward or stake, it is the bishop or stake president who calls them. On the general level, it is the First Presidency who issues the call.
Whatever the office or position in the Church of Jesus Christ held by either men or women, the person called to it perform their duties under the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.