Tuesday, November 8, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Eight

Lyman Sherman is one of the seven presidents of the Quorum of Seventy and he has come to Joseph Smith in hopes of receiving a revelation through the prophet that will tell him if he is in good standing with the Lord.  I think we all would like to receive our own personal revelation through the prophet from the Lord telling us that things are fine, that the Lord is pleased with us and to just continue on the path we are on.  Unless we had a major unconfessed sin, and we were going about things as we should, I think the Lord would tell us that he's pleased with us and we're doing just fine.  I think he is tell us that through the Spirit but we let too many things interfere with the message, especially our own needless guilt that we're not perfect.  That is what the Lord has been telling Lyman through the Holy Ghost and Lyman wasn't accepting it. The Lord says, "Therefore, let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing and resist no more my voice."  The Lord then instructs Lyman on some things he can do:  1) be more careful in observing his vows, 2) be patient. 3) continue faithful, 4) strengthen your brethren through your conversations, prayers, prayers, preaching, and in everything you do. Isn't that interesting?  It isn't go out and convert the world, or be the most spiritual person on the block, or repent because you're really falling short.  It's a simple message that says be more concerned for those around you.

It reminds me of the counsel Alma gave his son Helaman in Alma 37, "Teach them to to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly of heart; for such shall find rest to their souls... Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings and he will direct thee for good."

Monday, November 7, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Seven

Six weeks before this revelation was given, the Quorum of the 12 Apostles was organized.  They were about to leave on their first mission to the east and came to Joseph, telling him that they felt they had not been equal to their calling, that they had done many things wrong, and had been light minded and vain.  As they were preparing to leave and not knowing when they would return, they tell Joseph they have sought forgiveness from the Lord and desire a revelation.  As a result, Joseph receives this great revelation on the priesthood.  This revelation has been the foundation for the organization and function of the church.  It's inspiration can be seen in how efficiently the church works, and especially in how amongst the 1st presidency and 12, there can be no seeking of power or office.  The way the priesthood is organized guarantees that the relationship of the quorums and their own responsibilities do not impede each other and also guarantee a smooth succession of leadership.  For example, the 1st Presidency is the highest quorum of the church. The next highest is the quorum of the the 12, and the next is the 1st quorum of the seventy.  When members of these quorums are ordained, they all receive the same keys of authority making them equal to each other.  However the 1st presidency presides over them all.  The 12 preside over the seventy.  The reason they are considered equal is, when the prophet dies, the quorum of the 1st presidency is dissolved and the 12 then preside over the church.  If the 1st presidency and the 12 were killed or no longer existed for some reason, then the seventy would preside and be able to reorganize those quorums.  Each quorum has a presiding officer.  

In this revelation, the Lord indicates that the 1st presidency, the 12 and 70 are responsible for all of the spiritual matters of the church and the teaching and preaching of the gospel.  The 12 have the responsibility of bearing witness of the name of Christ throughout the world.  Bishoprics are the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood and fall under the direction of the presiding officers of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  The Aaronic Priesthood is responsible for all of the temporal affairs.  So at the general authority level of the church, the presiding bishopric is responsible for handling the tithes and offerings, the building of churches and temples, the grounds, etc.  At the local level, the stake president presides over the wards, being the local president of the Melchizedek Priesthood, while the Bishops preside over the wards and are the presidents of the Aaronic Priesthood in their ward.  

All of the decisions of these quorums must be unanimous, and can only be successful if they are are "made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity."  

Also in this revelation, the duties of elders, priests, teachers and deacons are given.  It is a remarkable revelation.  It doesn't seem likely to me that Joseph Smith would have been able to just write this out in one sitting and come up with so remarkable an organization, one that would work regardless of whether the church had a few thousand members like it did at the time, or the millions it does now.