In priesthood class, we were having a discussion about the prophet Joseph Smith and his involvement (at least in part) in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. During the course of group conversation, it became further obvious and clear that Joseph was young and less bound by the philosophies and traditions of men of the time. Therefore, Joseph was certainly more open and willing to embrace new ideas, revelations, truths, understanding, and further light and knowledge from angels, powers in heaven, and God Himself than the average man of the day.
Some questions were brought before the class: What can we do to help children gain a testimony of the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith? How has the ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith influenced your testimony of the Savior and His gospel?
The answers offered by those present included: Learn the doctrine of Jesus Christ that was taught through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask God to manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost. Clearly understand the word of God, having a witness of its source, accuracy, and reliability. Then exercise faith in the word of God by embracing it, applying it, and practicing it. Fruits shall surely come. Through his/her own experience each individual may obtain, nourish, and increase personal testimony of the Savior and His gospel by living it.
I shared some of the following ideas with those in class: Joseph is the head of our dispensation. He is like unto Moses and other dispensation heads, whose words are reckoned from above. The heavens were opened unto him and he communed with Jehovah. Joseph is one of the few for whom God vouches. Joseph is one of God’s servants and speaks His word with power and authority. God’s declaration, “…whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” applies to Joseph and therefore, we are accountable to his words. God, through the prophet Joseph Smith, restored ancient truth from the beginning, dispensed light and power, and offered the fullness of the gospel to anyone who is willing to receive it. It is of great importance that we remember and apply what God gave us through Joseph. If we discard or ignore the words spoken by Joseph Smith, we do so at our own peril. It’s really unfortunate that members of the church as a whole have discarded and lost much of what Joseph restored.
The question was asked, “What do you mean? What have we lost?” Well, one key doctrine Joseph taught that is rarely repeated in church today is that every least saint, including you and me, has the right and commandment to converse with the Lord through the veil, see God here and now, know Him in this mortal state, secure hope, and obtain the promise of eternal life from God Himself. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
This is the same truth Moses taught and encouraged his people to embrace.
“Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; D&C 84:23-25
Basically, the people feared facing God first hand to personally hear His voice declare truth and instruction. Instead, the children of Israel preferred a man to stand between God and themselves to act as an intermediary for them with God.
Here's the event described in Exodus 20:18 "And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was."
Interestingly, the same pattern followed with Joseph and the latter day saints. Joseph plainly taught the saints, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God. But, they too, rejected the opportunity to converse with the Lord through the veil, embrace Him, and claim what He had to offer them. They failed to receive the testimony of Jesus declaring to them their state and standing before God.
Contrary to the traditional narrative of the present LDS church and current views taught by church leaders, God took Joseph out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also. In class I read D&C 124:28 “For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.”
Having heard me read this verse of scripture in class, someone inquired, “Are you really saying that we do not have the Melchizedek Priesthood?” I replied, “These are not my words, but if we take the Lord’s words at face value, what do they mean to you? What do they imply? It certainly appears that at the time of this revelation to Joseph Smith in 1841, the saints had lost the fulness of the priesthood, and it had been taken away from the church.
If this is true, was the fulness ever restored? If it was reinstated to the saints, where did it occur? To whom? When did it take place? What was restored? From what source did it come? How was it brought back? Does any record, scripture, or journal exist that reveals any information about the fulness of the holy priesthood being restored to the LDS church after the obvious absence of the fulness in 1841? If so, I would like to know because I am not aware of it?
During the course of discussion on Sunday some important inquiries were made. I believe the issues introduced are valid; the concerns raised deserve being resolved; and the questions asked ought to be answered. Here are a few of the issues that were brought up:
Since you assert that we do not possess the fulness of the priesthood today, are you saying that we don’t have the power to give the Holy Ghost to others?
Do not blindly believe in my words. I do not claim authority or power. God does not uphold my words like He supports the words from His servants. My words will waste away and fall to the ground, but His word “shall not pass away but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” D&C1:38
Here are His words found in 3 Nephi 18:36-39, in which we should trust, “And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of these sayings, he touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them. And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost. And I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true. And it came to pass that when Jesus had touched them all, there came a cloud and overshadowed the multitude that they could not see Jesus. And while they were overshadowed he departed from them, and ascended into heaven. And the disciples saw and did bear record that he ascended again into heaven.”
What does it require to have the authority to give the Holy Ghost? Do you know anyone who has been chosen by Jesus to be His disciple? Are you aware of anyone who has been individually touched by His hand (one by one), speaks with Jesus face to face, and been given the power to give the Holy Ghost from Jesus Christ? It seems apparent that without coming and receiving it from God, one has no power.
Since you claim that we do not possess the fulness of the Priesthood as a church, are the ordinances and the work for the dead that we perform in the temples today done in vain? Is that what you are saying?
Do you think you have actually received the eternal blessing portrayed in the temple? Or is the temple only a teaching symbol? If we believe we have received anything other than instruction by attending the temple, have we missed the mark? Could we be compared to the Jews who thought they received a remission of sins through their animal sacrifices and missed Christ? The animal sacrifices were only a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. They weren’t the real thing.
There is a tabernacle which the Lord pitched, Jesus is the high priest who is the mediator of the covenant The temples and tabernacles built by men are to be an example of heavenly things. When we see the example, we should be encouraged to seek after the real thing. I want to participate in the ordinances and covenants of the tabernacle, which the Lord pitched.
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” Hebrews 8:1-6
Do we even have the priesthood of God among us? We have a form of godliness, but do we deny the power thereof. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” 1 Corinthians 4:20 Participating in temple work has instructional value and may serve as a learning experience. Many eternal truths and keys to salvation have been preserved through temple ordinances. After they were revealed through the prophet Joseph Smith, some of the temple ceremonies were altered. Even during my own lifetime, I have witnessed these LDS prophets make changes to the ordinances of God. “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. Isaiah 24:5-6
What are the consequences of a prophet taking the name of the Lord in vain by deceitfully claiming possession of God’s word, authority and power? What is the penalty and cost to society when mere men of the world “in the name of the Lord” transgress the laws, change the ordinance, and break the everlasting covenant without talking to God, without asking Him questions, and without receiving His instruction or guidance? What if men run to and fro and change the things of God without obtaining God’s approval to adjust, modify amend, alter, transform, change, renovate, update, modernize, improve, or vary in the very least from what He has set up? Does it matter? Why or why not?
Even though changes have evolved, the temple ceremonies today still capture light, portray a walk back into the presence of God, and preserve eternal truths. The ceremonies are presented in symbols and testify of the actual return to Him. However, they are not the real thing, just a blueprint, pattern, and model of the process. It’s really just a “dry run”. The temple ordinances are designed to invite the participants to come unto God. The ordinances that many are familiar with today are performed by men and not performed by God. We are invited to experience the real thing. This happens when the veil of unbelief is parted, the heavens open, and we actually converse with the Lord through the veil and enter into His presence.
If the LDS church, including the 15 men who are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, don't possess the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, then who does?
That is a very appropriate question and is applicable to our salvation. I think it is worth finding the answer. We know of John the Beloved, who shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. “Yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth.” D&C 7:6 Are there others that we know not of? Could there be angels amongst us that some few may recognize and identify them as messengers from heaven while many are blind to their mission and deaf to their message? What are the characteristics of true messengers from heaven? What are the qualifications of a prophet of God? What does one look like? Could a man, who wears a suit and tie, is chauffeured in a limousine, and finds popularity among millions, be a prophet of God? A true messenger from heaven? Could a man, who is “clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;” and is persecuted and shunned by men, be a prophet? A true messenger? Could both be prophets and true messengers of God? I personally find it important, even critical, to be able to identify true messengers and hear the voice of God calling me.
Just what makes you think that the LDS church doesn’t possess the keys and fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, anyway?
I really do not expect you to believe me. I am a damned man myself. My words alone should not be trusted and I am not someone upon whom you should pin your salvation. Let’s take a look at what the Lord has to say and consider His perspective. He has revealed what we may expect to be manifested in one who possesses the fulness of the Priesthood.
“And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.” D&C 84:19
“The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.” D&C107:18-19
Paul, being a prophet himself, shares more insight about prophets of God, which may be worth considering, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Hebrews 11:32-38
Who among us has the heavens opened unto them? Who communes with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn? Who do you know that, actually and in fact, enjoys the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant? Who among us knows God, receives the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and speaks the word of God with power and authority? Who through faith has subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and obtained promises from God? Who has raised the dead to life again? Who is it that seeks no personal fanfare and praise of men, points us to Christ as our Redeemer, and seeks the welfare of Zion? Who is it that lacks priesthood and practices priestcraft by preaching and setting themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion, which the Lord hath forbidden? 2 Nephi 26:29-30
I do not trust men. I do not have confidence in the leaders of the LDS church, who mislead and abuse the people. I have heard and still hear the leaders and members of the church repeat such things as: All is well in Zion 2 Nephi 28:24-25. We are a chosen generation 2 Nephi 28:32. We have the fullness D&C 124:28, 3 Nephi 16:10. We have a great reservoir of revelation, and therefore, we don’t need any more 2 Nephi 29:9. When leaders speak, the thinking has been done, or when the Prophet speaks the debate is over 2 Nephi 28:5-6. Follow the Prophet Ezekiel 14:6-10 What a blessing and privilege it is for us to be (worship) at the feet of the brethren! Just do the ordinary things 1 Nephi 17:22 and we will let you know what the Lord wants next. Odds are you’ll be exalted 2 Nephi 28:7-8, D&C 132:22-25. etc. The leaders claim to be prophets, seers, and revelators, attempt to stand as an agent between God and me, and insist that I cannot be saved without their approval. They claim to hold all the keys of the kingdom and if I fail to follow them, my salvation is forfeited and I am damned forever. It just doesn’t work that way. Christ is the One to please, not men.
Here’s what God has to say about all this endorsed nonsense. Jesus Christ is the keeper of the gate and He employeth no servant there. 2 Nephi 9:41 “The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.” Jeremiah 23:20-27 (Words bold for emphasis)
Didn’t Joseph Smith confer the priesthood upon the next generation by ordaining the 12 apostles, who including Brigham Young? Didn’t each prophet get ordained in succession down through the years even to our present time with Thomas S. Monson possessing the fulness of the priesthood and the keys of the kingdom?
You have brought up a key point. I believe there is a vast difference between being ordained by man and being called and ordained of God after his own order and walk with Him.
Here are a few examples:
“Enoch was twenty-five years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam; and he was sixty-five and Adam blessed him. And he saw the Lord, and he walked with him, and was before his face continually; and he walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years, making him four hundred and thirty years old when he was translated.” D&C107:48-49
“And it came to pass that I turned and went up on the mount; and as I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory; And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face; and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations.” Moses 7:3-4
“Noah was ten years old when he was ordained under the hand of Methuselah.” D&C 107:52
“And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order, and commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men, even as it was given unto Enoch.” Moses 8:19
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people.” 2Nephi 5:26
“Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errand from the Lord.” Jacob 1:17
“Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; D&C 84:14
“Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made; And he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.” Abraham3:11-12
“Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; D&C 84:14
“And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch, It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.” JST Genesis 14:27-29
“For this Melchizedek was ordained a priest after the order of the Son of God, which order was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life. And all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually.” JST Hebrews 7:3
For a prophet possessing the fulness of the priesthood and the keys of the kingdom:
Is it necessary to see God, walk with God, and talk with God face to face, even as a man talketh one with another?
Would it be required to have the heavens open and be clothed upon with glory?
With the heavens opened, would one be told of the works, which His hands had made?
Would one be shown all these “And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof?”
Would it be important to first obtain an errand from the Lord before teaching the people in the temple?
Would it be key to be approved of God and be ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch?
Would it be fundamental to receive this holy order from God Himself delivered by His own voice? Or would it suffice to come from men or the will of men?
Would a prophet, possessing the fulness of the priesthood, be made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually?
Joseph Smith's ministry offered mankind an opportunity to have the ancient order restored. The LDS Church does not possess the Holy Order or any of the other descriptors, including the Holy Order after the Son of God; or Holy Order after the Order of Enoch; or Holy Order after the Order of Melchizedek. We sometimes think and strongly believe, “Even without a shadow of a doubt”, that this is what we get when we are first ordained to be Elders, but you and I cannot confer it. Even Joseph Smith could not confer that upon another person. It requires God Himself. Through Joseph we were offered an opportunity to receive it, but we must pierce the veil of unbelief, exercise great faith, connect with heaven, and converse with the Lord through the veil. One of the greatest problems is failing to connect back to angels, then to the Lord. When I come unto Christ, He will take me further. Talking with the Lord face to face is the key to obtain His ministry to me. I cannot be brought before the Father unless the Son vouches for me. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 It is the Father who confers and ordains a man to the highest priesthood. We can receive the original Holy Order only from the Father.
Whether or not you think the institutional church lost the fulness of the priesthood is for you to decide. Either way, it’s not going to hold you back. The fulness is still available to all. It cannot and does not come from men. It comes directly from God to an individual.
I value the discussion that took place on Sunday and the inquiries made. I pray that more people will formulate further gospel questions and seek God for the answers, not man. Those, who seek answers in faith and ask God with real intent, will hear His voice, and obtain His Word. It takes courage to abandon false traditions, errors, and the philosophies of men to obey the Word of God.