Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Office of High Priest

We recently had a training with newly ordained high priests in our stake. The following is some of the material and statements that we used. I hope they are helpful to anyone wanting to learn about this sacred office in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Victor C. Anderson taught:

“What does it mean to you to be ordained a high priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Is it merely an ordination commonly conferred upon the elderly man of the Church or is it an ordinance having a deeper significance?

“When ordained a High Priest the individual receives recognition by the Church that certain fundamental standards have been attained which are requisite for ‘life eternal.’ In order to enjoy celestial living it is necessary that one has ability to live the standards that yield ‘abundant life.’ This plan of living was given to the world by Jesus nearly 2,000 years ago and again reiterated to the world by Joseph Smith in our dispensation. As a man is advanced in the priesthood he should feel that he has greater strength in his ability to live the gospel plan. Ultimately when he is honored by the church with the degree of high priesthood, or High Priest, it is an announcement to the world that he has mastered certain standards of attainment required for leadership in Christ’s Church.

“When a medical school confers an M.D. degree upon a student the university announces to the world that it may expect the man or woman receiving the degree to possess certain skills and information necessary to care for the health of the people. Anyone who desires may acquaint himself with the standards for such a degree. It is because of our confidence that these attainments have been met, that we trust the life of our dear ones when sickness and accident comes to them. Likewise when conferring the degree of High Priest, the Church of Jesus Christ announces to the world that this man who becomes a High Priest in the Kingdom of God has acquired certain fundamental skills that make for ‘life abundant.’” (Melchizedek Priesthood, Improvement Era, 1932, Vol. Xxxv. August, 1932. No. 10.)

This new office in the priesthood has not come because you are better than others. This is not a move to retirement in the priesthood. Indeed, the very fact that you were made a high priest is most likely because your leaders and the Lord have entrusted you with greater responsibilities. It is now you duty to work harder than before. The office of high priest is not the soft cushy job. It is the hard, spiritual labor one undertakes to further discipleship.

Context and Historical Vocabulary

The Prophet explained: “The duty of a High Priest is to administer in spiritual and holy things, and to hold communion with God; but not to exercise monarchial government…it is the High Priests’ duty to be better qualified to teach principles and doctrines…” (History of the Church, 1:338).

To give you an idea of what marvelous blessings are in store, let’s read JST Genesis 14 and learn about the man Melchizedek, who was a high priest.

26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.

27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,

28 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;

29 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.

30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;

31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.

32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.

When we are made High Priests we are expected to live a higher more noble law. In JST Hebrews 7:3 we read: “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.”

The Office in the Church

· Restoration of the office of High Priest: Spring 1831

· High Councils: February 17, 1834

· Apostleship: February 14, 1835

· High Priest Quorum: January 15, 1836

· Stake president and high priest quorum president merged in 1956

The highest quorum of the Church is the Quorum of the First Presidency or Presidency of the High Priesthood. The presidency consists of three high priests who are ordained to the office (D&C 107:22). Within this quorum is one who is called as President of the High Priesthood (D&C 107:65). His duty is to preside over the whole Church and he holds and exercises all the keys of the kingdom in their fulness (D&C 132:7).

The authority of the office of Apostle encompasses the office of high priest and all other offices of the priesthood. This means that a man may labor as an ordained Apostle with ever having been specifically ordained a high priest (as in the case of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, Discourses of Brigham Young, 141).

· A ward bishop must also be a high priest.

· He does not preside over the ward by virtue of the office he holds as bishop.

· A bishop presides because he holds the office of high priest and has been given specific keys as the presiding high priest of the ward.

· These keys cannot be given to an elder or to a bishop who has not yet been ordained a high priest.

Ordination Process

· Recommended by the bishop

· Approved by the stake presidency and high council

· Sustained by members in stake conference or general priesthood meeting

· Interviewed by bishop and stake president or an assigned counselor; ordained under the direction of the stake president

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Office of Bishop

The office of Bishop was restored in our dispensation in a brief revelation give to the Prophet Joseph Smith on February 4, 1831. This revelation, known today as D&C 41 has the portion dealing with the call of Edward Partridge in verse 9.

In the beginning of the dispensation, there was only one kind of bishop, today we would call that bishop the Presiding Bishop. The local bishop was not given a ward over which to preside until August 20, 1842 at Nauvoo.

The Handbook of Instructions outlines five areas in which the local bishop has primary responsibilities.

1. President of the Aaronic Priesthood (D&C 107:15 (13-15), 87-88).
2. Presiding High Priest (D&C 68:19; 107:69; 84:29).
  • He is to oversee the teaching of the gospel in the ward
  • Oversee the three missions of the Church in the ward
  • Preside over the ordinances that occur at the ward level
  • Conduct all ward business
3. Common Judge (D&C 107:72-72)
4. Looks after the poor and needy ((D&C 84:112; 107:68)
5. Oversees finances, records, and the use and security of the meetinghouse (Moroni 6:4)