My last post on Defining the Heavenly Gift went OK – not great – but OK, so I’d like to continue with the next phrase, only this time limit it to one. I think I tried to come to an understanding of too many key phrases in the previous post. I asked the Lord what the next phrase should be. He was very immediate, direct and emphatic. There was no hesitation He wanted me to understand this.
Even Apostles Interchange Power and Authority
I just re-read Elder Andersen’s wonderful October 2013 General Conference talk entitled, “Power in the Priesthood.” In fact, I watched or rather listened to the video as I read along. In his concluding testimony, he said, “The power of God’s holy priesthood is found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Did he really mean power, or did he intend to say authority?
Church as an Institution or a Group of Saints
I guess it all depends on how you define “Church,” but I’m not going to make the same mistake I made on my post in which we discussed “The Heavenly Gift.” We’ll leave a discussion of that subject for some other time. Elder Andersen taught in that talk that power in the priesthood is not owned by the men of the Church, but that it belongs to God for the blessing of all His children.
Man Does Not Control Power of God
I love this example he used to explain the difference between authority and power: “A man may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings.” So, a man may be ordained, or have the authority of priesthood conferred upon him, but having power in the priesthood is a whole different story. Good so far?
Authority of the Church is Everywhere
In case there is still any question about the difference between the two, we can refer to President Packer’s General Conference talk on the subject of the Power of the Priesthood from April 2010: “We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide.”
Power is Not the Same as Authority
He continued with this contrasting statement, “But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.” I hope this distinction of the two is not new to anybody.
Keys and Authority Can be Delegated
I refer now to the April 2014 General Conference address from Elder Oaks entitled “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood.” I hope this talk is chosen by our stake leaders as one to study in our quorums and relief societies over the next six months. It’s interesting this talk was given in a priesthood session in which some women asked to be admitted to attend so they could be taught.
Women Have Power in the Priesthood
Elder Oaks quoted Elder Ballard thus, “When men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which is priesthood power. … Access to the power and the blessings of the priesthood is available to all of God’s children.” Clearly, endowed women can receive priesthood power from God. Plainly, they must also have authority in the priesthood.
Women Have Authority of the Priesthood
In fact, Elder Oaks confirmed that with these words: “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?” Sheri Dew wrote a marvelous book in 2013 entitled, “Women and the Priesthood,” which is sitting on my shelf of books to be read. Women preside with authority in this Church.
How to Retain Power in the Priesthood
I referred to it in passing at the conclusion of my post on “Defining the Heavenly Gift,” but I’d like to consider four key words found in section 121 that we all need to understand a little better. This especially applies to priesthood leaders as they use priesthood power to act in their offices in the Church. These four words are 1) Control, 2) Compulsion, 3) Dominion and 4) Amen.
Priesthood Leaders Can Lose Authority
I have friends who have been disciplined for their blogs. If priesthood leaders try to control what members of their wards or stakes do with their blogs, or compel them to change what they write or the way they write, or use their dominion over their own members to enforce their own ideas of what is appropriate to read or write, then Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
Wow. So even if an LDS blogger is excommunicated for what he or she writes in their blog, as long as they are worthy, have not lied or cheated, committed adultery or broken their covenants with the Lord, then the priesthood being forfeited is not that of the excommunicant but of those who participated in the disciplinary council. Priesthood can only be removed by God, not man.
Exercising Priesthood Power in the Home
Power in the Priesthood does not require membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a profound concept we need to understand. A man can be excommunicated and asked to not exercise his priesthood in the church, but the church has no power or authority over what a man does in his own home, including administering the sacrament to his family.
Administering the Sacrament in the Home
Yes, I know what the handbook says about the Bishop holding the keys over the Sacrament. But if the Church has cast the man out, and he retains his priesthood because he is worthy, since we know priesthood power comes from God and not man, then he is justified in keeping the Lord’s commandment to administer the sacrament to his family, in spite of the excommunication status.
The Fullness of the Priesthood
Power in the Priesthood is not and cannot be passed from man to man. Authority to act in the church is what is being delegated when we confer priesthood or ordain a man in the priesthood. The fullness of the priesthood means to have power in the priesthood from God himself. It is only received from God. The heavenly gift of priesthood power is controlled only by God.
The True Order of Prayer
A man is authorized to lead his family in prayer in whatever way he feels the Lord approves, or in whatever way he feels directed by the Lord. If he has been taught or endowed in the temple, he understands and can practice the true order of prayer to converse with the Lord through the veil. I don’t know how much clearer it can be, even if these things are not taught openly in church.
Your Comments are Welcome
I know. I did not stick to what I wrote at the beginning of this post. I said I would only write about one thing. Well, I tried, but this is what the Lord wanted me to write so there you go. I thank you for reading through my thought process on this subject. You are welcome to share your thoughts and ideas if you care to point out where I may have gone astray in my logic. God Bless.