Someone asked about sealing power. This is something that I’m not going to be able to answer on the blog. It would require too much, even for a multi-part posting as I have done on the Remnant and on Interpreting History. On the subject there are three chapters at the end of Beloved Enos, written from a perspective that accepts the church’s claims to this authority. All the first seven books, to the extent the issue arises, accept the church’s claim. In Passing the Heavenly Gift, the history is viewed from another perspective, but the question of whether this perspective is better than the traditional narrative is left to the reader to decide.
The closest thing to a direct discussion of how the Father seals someone His is found in the last parable in Ten Parables. Even there, however, the story is focused on the interplay between heaven and mankind, not those ordinances that exist in the unexplained events happening in the background.
Because of the importance of the subject and the many scriptures and important details which bear on the topic, it cannot be adequately explained without significant effort to marshall together the critical information. That is not appropriate for a blog. Nor are blog readers necessarily even going to understand the posts if they are unfamiliar with why the question would be asked.
I’ve pointed out that our ordinances contemplate a further ratification from heaven. In D&C 121: 36-37 the power of heaven must ratify priestly power, or it is nonexistent. This is the same principle Joseph wrote about in Liberty Jail. (D&C 121: 36.) In D&C 132: 26 the ratification through the “Holy Spirit of Promise” must confirm a sealing for it to become eternal. Then in D&C 132: 7 we learn it is possible for this to be conferred “on but one on the earth at a time” which made it possible for Joseph Smith to seal up to eternal life. In effect, Joseph became the Holy Spirit of Promise through operation of the Divine appointment to hold the right. That term “Holy Spirit of Promise” we use without adequate appreciation that it can be an office held by Divine appointment. The office is held by more than just a single mortal man at one time, and includes others who minister here as well. These, at a minimum, are the Lord, John the Beloved, the Three Nephite Disciples, Elijah, other angelic ministers, as well as potentially others about whom we know nothing (D&C 49: 8). There is also the meaning of limiting it to one man “on the earth at a time” when it comes to widely separated people without any probability of contact during their lifetimes. An example would be when the Lord in His post-resurrection ministry appointed Apostles in Palestine and Disciples in the New World. He also may have had others in other locations during His many appearances in that season, all of whom were given similar authority to seal. Were they so geographically separated they could be said to be on different earths for all practical purposes? Or is there an exception undiscussed in Section 132 because the world has become smaller and more integrated since the Meridian of Time? I take no position on that, only pose the question.
The Missing Virtue focuses on the love between the man and woman. That love is what attracts the notice of angels, the approval of the Lord and the effort by heaven to bring the couple to salvation. They become fruit worth laying up against the season. Therefore, the work assigned by the Lord to the angels was to repair what was lacking in the man so as to preserve them against the day of the harvest. The underlying reason, the driving force, the preservative justifying heavenly attention in the story is the love between the man and woman which the angels recognize fits the pattern of heaven.
John said “God is love” (1 John 4: 8). Of all the power in earth and heaven, the greatest form of power is love. It is the power of creation, and motivation of God, the reason for existence and the purpose behind all we see here. It is the harmonizing attribute between man and woman, man and fellow-man, God and man, our descendants and ancestors. Our love motivates the highest aspirations, causes our greatest anxieties, moves us to action and summons our greatest will. This is godlike.
The ordinances matter a great deal. They are the physical manifestation of our love for God. They are important and symbolize everything we hope for, and all we desire to be in God’s eyes. Our service to our ancestors through Temple work matters. It is the way we show our love for those who went before, even if we do not know a thing about them. The devotion and service we render does not go unnoticed by heaven.
God will preserve our love above everything else. It is in that attribute we find ourselves most like Him. Or, in other words, most like Them. Heaven is a community. The General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn are all elevated by their love for one another and love for their posterity, and are able to live in peace because they are given over to love.
Beyond ordinances and rites there is a power by which God governs. It is the power which creates, and which binds together as nothing else in the universe. The ordinances point to it, but you must become love for the Lord to pour power into the things you hope to have preserved.
No act of service will go unnoticed. No act of devotion is meaningless. Our ordinances matter a great deal. When done with love they have power. But the power to seal should be viewed as related to this great power, not as an administrative authorization or a corporate franchise. That view is so skewed and divorced from heaven that it almost always results in abuse, ambition, and perversion of men’s hearts. When that happens, amen to the priesthood or authority of that man. If used to favor friends or to control and exercise dominion over others, it is political power, not priesthood power. But you have the revelations before you so you should already know that.
If I were to recommend any answer to someone troubled by the issue I would suggest first, it is a matter between you and heaven, not you and another man. The Lord has ample means to seal you up to eternal life whether you live in the most remote location on earth or in downtown Salt Lake City. That is irrelevant. Second, the greatest preservative is your love of God and your love of your fellow-man. (Matt. 22: 36-40.) This matters a great deal more than your calling, your connections, your income, your social status, age, genealogy or education.