Sunday, June 9, 2013

What I learned from Church 6/9/13

This is what I learned in church today

Two Lines of Communication

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

We must use both the personal line and the priesthood line in proper balance to achieve the growth that is the purpose of mortal life.
Our Heavenly Father has given His children two lines of communication with Him—what we may call the personal line and the priesthood line. All should understand and be guided by both of these essential lines of communication.

I. The Personal Line

In the personal line we pray directly to our Heavenly Father, and He answers us by the channels He has established, without any mortal intermediary. We pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and He answers us through His Holy Spirit and in other ways. The mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of the Father and the Son (see John 15:262 Nephi 31:183 Nephi 28:11), to guide us into truth (see John 14:26;16:13), and to show us all things we should do (see 2 Nephi 32:5). This personal line of communication with our Heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit is the source of our testimony of truth, of our knowledge, and of our personal guidance from a loving Heavenly Father. It is an essential feature of His marvelous gospel plan, which allows each one of His children to receive a personal witness of its truth.
The direct, personal channel of communication to our Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost is based on worthiness and is so essential that we are commanded to renew our covenants by partaking of the sacramenteach Sabbath day. In this way we qualify for the promise that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, to guide us.
On this personal line of communication with the Lord, our belief and practice is similar to that of those Christians who insist that human mediators between God and man are unnecessary because all have direct access to God under the principle Martin Luther espoused that is now known as “the priesthood of all believers.” I will say more of that later.
The personal line is of paramount importance in personal decisions and in the governance of the family. Unfortunately, some members of our church underestimate the need for this direct, personal line. Responding to the undoubted importance of prophetic leadership—the priesthood line, which operates principally to govern heavenly communications on Church matters—some seek to have their priesthood leaders make personal decisions for them, decisions they should make for themselves by inspiration through their personal line. Personal decisions and family governance are principally a matter for the personal line.
I feel to add two other cautions we should remember in connection with this precious direct, personal line of communication with our Heavenly Father.
First, in its fulness the personal line does not function independent of the priesthood line. The gift of the Holy Ghost—the means of communication from God to man—is conferred by priesthood authority as authorized by those holding priesthood keys. It does not come merely by desire or belief. And the right to the continuous companionship of this Spirit needs to be affirmed each Sabbath as we worthily partake of the sacrament and renew our baptismal covenants of obedience and service.
Similarly, we cannot communicate reliably through the direct, personal line if we are disobedient to or out of harmony with the priesthood line. The Lord has declared that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness” (D&C 121:36). Unfortunately, it is common for persons who are violating God’s commandments or disobedient to the counsel of their priesthood leaders to declare that God has revealed to them that they are excused from obeying some commandment or from following some counsel. Such persons may be receiving revelation or inspiration, but it is not from the source they suppose. The devil is the father of lies, and he is ever anxious to frustrate the work of God by his clever imitations.

II. The Priesthood Line

Unlike the personal line, in which our Heavenly Father communicates with us directly through the Holy Ghost, the priesthood line of communication has the additional and necessary intermediaries of our Savior, Jesus Christ; His Church; and His appointed leaders.
Because of what He accomplished by His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power to prescribe the conditions we must fulfill to qualify for the blessings of His Atonement. That is why we have commandments and ordinances. That is why we make covenants. That is how we qualify for the promised blessings. They all come through the mercy and grace of the Holy One of Israel, “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ conferred the authority of the priesthood that bears His name and He established a church that also bears His name. In this last dispensation, His priesthood authority was restored and His Church was reestablished through heavenly ministrations to the Prophet Joseph Smith. This restored priesthood and this reestablished Church are at the heart of the priesthood line.
The priesthood line is the channel by which God has spoken to His children through the scriptures in times past. And it is this line through which He currently speaks through the teachings and counsel of living prophets and apostles and other inspired leaders. This is the way we receive the required ordinances. This is the way we receive calls to service in His Church. His Church is the way and His priesthood is the power through which we are privileged to participate in those cooperative activities that are essential to accomplishing the Lord’s work. These include preaching the gospel, building temples and chapels, and helping the poor.
In respect to this priesthood line, our belief and practice is similar to the insistence of some Christians that authoritative ordinances (sacraments) are essential and must be performed by one authorized and empowered by Jesus Christ (see John 15:16). We believe the same but of course differ with other Christians on how we trace that authority.
Some members or former members of our church fail to recognize the importance of the priesthood line. They underestimate the importance of the Church and its leaders and its programs. Relying entirely on the personal line, they go their own way, purporting to define doctrine and to direct competing organizations contrary to the teachings of prophet-leaders. In this they mirror the modern hostility to what is disparagingly called “organized religion.” Those who reject the need for organized religion reject the work of the Master, who established His Church and its officers in the meridian of time and who reestablished them in modern times.
Organized religion, established by divine authority, is essential, as the Apostle Paul taught:
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12–13).
We should all remember the Lord’s declaration in modern revelation that the voice of the Lord’s servants is the voice of the Lord (see D&C 1:38;21:568:4).
I feel to add two cautions we should remember in connection with reliance on the vital priesthood line.
First, the priesthood line does not supersede the need for the personal line. We all need a personal testimony of truth. As our faith develops, we necessarily rely on the words and faith of others, like our parents, teachers, or priesthood leaders (see D&C 46:14). But if we are solely dependent on one particular priesthood leader or teacher for our personal testimony of the truth instead of getting that testimony through the personal line, we will be forever vulnerable to disillusionment by the action of that person. When it comes to a mature knowledge or testimony of the truth, we should not be dependent on a mortal mediator between us and our Heavenly Father.
Second, like the personal line, the priesthood line cannot function fully and properly in our behalf unless we are worthy and obedient. Many scriptures teach that if we persist in serious violations of the commandments of God, we are “cut off from his presence” (Alma 38:1). When that happens, the Lord and His servants are seriously inhibited in giving us spiritual help and we cannot obtain it for ourselves.
History provides us a vivid example of the importance of the Lord’s servants being in tune with the Spirit. The young Prophet Joseph Smith could not translate when he was angry or upset.
David Whitmer recalled: “One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went up stairs, and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour—came back to the house, asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were and the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.” 1

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