Monday, June 13, 2011

Covenants, Priesthood, and the Church Today

The very understanding of pre-existence and the spiritual creation of all things prior to their physical creation is one of the great gifts of the Restoration and was taught by both Prophets and Presidents of the Kingdom of God. Elder Samuel West wrote:

"The first chapter of Genesis tells of the spiritual creation. All living creatures must first be created spiritually. The second chapter tells of the physical creation. The fall of Adam and Eve brought mortality for all mankind. In mortality our spirit is joined to a physical body. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [his spirit]; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) After death our spirit is taken back to Jesus, judged, and then resides either with Abraham or with the spirits in prison (hell) until the resurrection. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecc. 12:7)"

As Joseph found in the Inspired Version of the Bible, Adam and Eve immediately began to call upon the name of the Lord and ushered in the series of dispensations and covenants that culminated in the promises renewed to us through the Prophet James and found real and close enough to merit the sacrifice of his life as did many others. The central covenant and event upon which all others turn is the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ that makes all things new, and the priesthood keys he restored to the earth as a Prophet and Lawgiver, gave to his Apostles, and sent by angels to the two Prophets and Lawgivers of the last days and carry the power to give the gifts and ordinances that open the Celestial Kingdom. As Peter, one of the souls who brought this Priesthood power back to earth in the last dispensation, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2PE 1:3-4)



The current scattered and broken condition of the remnant church on Earth seems to belie even the smallest glimmer of the "very great and precious promises". There are millions of people in the world who profess belief in the restoration of the gospel, the last days, and the sacrifice of Christ, but the gathering darkness of this time obscures the truth to many people. Indeed, God promised through Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 that many would fall away and, in fact that the wickedness of mankind would be so great that God would begin to give people the useless messages carried by false teachers and leaders that is the only thing they really want to hear.



"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; "



and



"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. "


Despite this and other aspects of the disheartening condition of the Church and this creation in general, James reminded us that the Church is here, and will always be here as long as we keep our Priesthood, our organization as a communicating body of believers, and our truths on our lips and minds, and in our hearts. There is no reason to believe that the Church is going to look the way it did, act the way it did, and assume the form it assumed in the past. The fact is the Church is what we make it as believers who have been blessed with the ultimate truth of what Jesus did for us as God's son and the ability to open the door and show the way through it for us and those whom God has seen fit to reveal it. Receiving this revelation and the gifts and benefits of it is dependent upon how we kept our first estate with Him and what we do with our short time here. As James wrote:



"I state this last fact, however, only as one among other reasons for claiming the identity of the original Mormon church in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The true identity of a church consists in identity of doctrine, discipline and organization, and a regular (meaning lawful...TD) succession in the Priesthood and Superior Authorities" (Gospel Herald 28 October 1847)



And...



"But we cannot but see that the entire body of Saints on earth, with the true priesthood and authority of God are the church of God, however scattered and broken; and that it is the perogative of that priesthood to set in order and govern them" (Gospel Herald 30 October 1848)



These quotes have been used by some of our detractors to accuse us of departing from "The Church" but we should be comforted to know that wherever we are, there is the Church and there is no reason to assume that it will be like other churches or even our own church in the past. What it shall be will be revealed in God's time and eventually, as John the Revelator and Moroni stated,



'"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all
the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which
he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son,
Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he
shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is;
that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is
pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48 Utah)

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