67: Calling and Election, Part 1

Today, Denver answers the following: Regarding Calling & Election, in various blog posts, talks, Beloved Enos and so forth, you explain that if we can receive the Second Comforter then our Calling & Election will take care of itself. In an email this week, you stated:

“…in the beginning there was one, unified priesthood. It was called ‘The Holy Order after the Order of the Son of God.’ The division of that single unity into other divisions occurred later, and was the result of limitations on those involved. I’d recommend looking at the Holy Order paper, and using some of the information there.”

How is that Unified Priesthood related to having your calling & election made sure?


So,“Elijah​ shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. The anointing and sealing is to be called, elected and made sure. ‘Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.’ The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” (Emphasis added.)

That is not to say, that because one receives that priesthood that they cannot fall from that. Because while you are in this world, as Paul put it, you stand in jeopardy every hour. (1 Cor. 15: 30.) Here is the place in which the trial, the test, the temptation, the burden of mortality exists; and it exists for so long as you have the flesh. Even if you possess the authority you do not have that abide with you continually on into eternity until you have finished the course, until you have resisted the temptation, until you have completed the race and finished the work. (2 Tim. 4: 7-8.) Only when you lay down the burden here successfully having completed it, are you permitted them to take it up there, as a matter of right. But here although the priesthood is endless, although the covenant of God is eternal, a man may fall from it, and therefore you proceed, recognizing that you proceed with eternal peril.

And then this is the place where Joseph says – he’s talking about Elijah. He’s talking about the seals being on the earth, and he’s talking about preparing for Zion. And in this context, in January of 1844, this is where Joseph says:

“Their has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation it has been like splitting hemlock knots with a Corn doger for a wedge & a pumpkin for a beetle, Even the Saints are slow to understand I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God, but we frequently see some of them after suffering all they have for the work of God will fly to pieces like glass as soon as any thing Comes that is Contrary to their traditions, they Cannot stand the fire at all, How many will be able to abide a Celestial law & go through to receive their exhaltation I am unable to say but many are Called & few are Chosen.”

Then in March of 1844 he picks up the subject again; the 10th of March, 1844. And this time, when he’s talking about Elijah, he says, “The spirit & calling of Elijah is to have the power to hold the keys of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers & endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood & of the Kingdom of God on the Earth & to receive, obtain and perform all the ordinances belonging to the Kingdom of God even unto the sealing of the hearts of the fathers unto the children & the hearts of the ​children unto the fathers even those who are in heaven​.”
The hearts of the fathers who are in heaven; that’s the mission of Elijah. If you will receive it, this is the spirit of Elijah – that we redeem our dead and connect ourselves with our “fathers which are in heaven.” Our dead through us, us to our “fathers in heaven.” Who are our “fathers in heaven”? Who are our “fathers in heaven” to whom we are to be connected? We want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those which dwell in heaven. Those who are in the spirit world, our dead, the ones that need redemption from us, are not redeemed. They cannot be in heaven because they need us to be redeemed. We need to be redeemed by our connecting to the “fathers who are in heaven”. The dead have to be redeemed. The fathers are in heaven. Joseph understood this doctrine.

Joseph spoke of three divisions of priesthood. He entitled these the Aaronic, the Melchizedek and the Patriarchal. And Joseph defined the greatest of these as Melchizedek priesthood because it comprehended all others. I’m not using, and have not used, and have explained before, since Melchizedek has acquired a definition in the heads of Latter-day Saints, I’m not going to try and extract for the bull the line of thought that reckons from that. I’m just leaving that alone and saying, Okay, let me re-define the terms. And so, in my re-definition of the terms, Aaronic refers to the least of these, Melchizedek refers to the next level of these, and Patriarchal refers to the greatest of these, in my nomenclature, not Joseph’s.

I do this, as I have explained, because in the beginning, there was a unitary priesthood. It was the Holy Order After the Order of the Son of God. But in order to prevent the too frequent repetition of the name of the Son of God it got renamed, first after Enoch and then later after Melchizedek. But it is referring to one original, unitary priesthood which is the Holy Order After the Order of the Son of God. Yet Joseph spoke about three great divisions. In the beginning, because the first patriarchs had that original unitary fullness of the priesthood after the Order of the Son of God, and because Abraham acquired the rights of the fathers or the first father, Adam, and therefore like Adam held the Holy Order After the Order of the Son of God, I use the term “Patriarchal” priesthood to refer to that original fullness, and to nothing else. And I divide them up into three categories and three nomenclatures using those terms.

There is the Spirit of Elias, there is the Spirit of Elijah and there is the Spirit of Messiah. These three great spirits unfolded in the work of God in the generations of man in a steady descent. And they will be likewise inverted like a chiasm and return in an ascent so that at the end it will be as it was in the beginning. That “same Priesthood, which was in the beginning,” shall [be] at the end of the earth [world] be also,” was the prophecy that Father Adam gave, Enoch quoting Adam, Moses quoting Enoch, the prophecy being contained in the ​Book of Moses​ or soon, in the ​Book of Genesis​.

So if we turn to the oath and covenant of the priesthood that’s contained in Doctrine and Covenants 84, and that’s something about which we all think we know, because as parents, we’ve heard our kids go through this, as adults we’ve had it parsed through. But if you look at it with the idea that all priesthood is singular, and that there are merely different portion or degrees of it, starting at verse 33 of section 84: “For whosoever is faithful unto the obtaining of these two priesthoods…” [Now I want to pause there for a moment, because here in revelation given through Joseph Smith, is a statement by the Lord in revelation to Joseph, in which he calls it two priesthoods. And yet Joseph explains there’s only one. There’s only one and the one is Melchizedek, but there’s different portions of it. Here in the revelation, it’s dividing it into two. Therefore, there are two portions of it, or two distinctions. And the possibility that those two distinctions are significant enough that they warrant treatment in the plural instead of the singular shows up right here in the revelation. I think Joseph knew what he was talking about. I think the Lord knows what he’s talking about. Because they’re trying to get ideas across into our minds that we tend to resist. Now I should mention as a footnote, that there were discussions in the leadership of the Church about what was required in order to pass along priesthood and during the administration of Heber J. Grant for a period of over two decades, he ceased the practice of conferring priesthood upon people. But he had them only ordained to an office in the Church. Therefore, whenever someone was ordained to priesthood during that two decades plus time period, they were ordained to an office. After the death of Heber J. Grant the practice was reverted again and they began to confer priesthood in addition to ordaining into an office. But that is something that Heber J. Grant at least did not think occupied any significance. So when I tell you there is a difference in the office in the Church and the priesthood, Heber J. Grant at least would say, that I’m dead wrong on that point, and I don’t know what I’m talking about. But entertain the idea and see where it takes you.] “Whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling…” [See, priesthood is not simply, yadda yadda yadda ipso-facto, canorus mundorum, there you are. See, you get it, but then faithful to obtain, and then faithful to magnify, and faithful to magnify it as “a calling.” “Calling” being an operative word there and means service.] “…are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.” [Sanctified by the Spirit. Renewing their bodies. These things have meaning. Perhaps we’ll get to that at some point.]

“They ​become the sons ​of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.” [So they ​become​. But they become as a consequence of having been sanctified. They become sanctified because they magnify their calling. They had to first obtain the priesthood, and the obtaining of the priesthood requires something that is “faithful.” And you ought to ask yourself, faithful to what? And always it is faithful to Him​, to our Lord, the One who redeems. All of these things flow together as one continuum. It’s not just: I got ordained. It doesn’t matter that you got ordained. There’s a process that’s involved after ordination in which you follow these steps. We read it as one sentence and say, there it is, he was faithful, I mean he passed the Bishops interview, he obtained it. That is he sat down there and got a certificate; I mean when I was on the High Council I was the one responsible for fetching the Melchizedek priesthood certificates and delivering it to him. And that was a definite point in time at which we can point and say, on this day this person, gave this authority, to this guy, on this occasion, and when that happened he also got a line of authority.]

I’d like to suggest that the Holy Order after the Order of the Son of God includes the fact that those who inherit the Holy Order ​are sons of God. Therefore, in a way, calling it the Holy Order after the Order of the Son of God, is a way of identifying the recipient as someone who has become one of God’s sons. Now, I think it’s appropriate to regard the primary identifier–that is the subject of who the Son of God is–to be Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. Because quite frankly, He’s the only one that attained to the resurrection, and it is through the power of the resurrection that we’re gonna come forth. We do not have the power in ourselves to rise from the dead. The wages of sin are death, we’ve earned those wages; we will die; we all will die. The Savior did not earn those wages, He died, and therefore His death was unjust and the law of justice got broken when He died. And therefore, whenever justice makes a claim on any of us He can point to the fact that justice extracted from Him eternal life, and that is an infinite price for Him to have paid. Therefore He has compensated for all of mankind’s shortcomings, failures, and Christ is the means by which we lay hold upon the promises but it is His intention to make of us all sons of God.

Therefore, the Holy Order after the Son of God is when the name is announced, self-identifying the person holding such a Holy Order as one of God’s sons, even though they may be mortal, even though they may be in the flesh. The Holy Order is for that very purpose and is after the Order of the Son of God. “…And all other priesthoods are only parts, ramifications, powers and blessings belonging to the same, and are held, controlled and directed by it. It is the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing His glory at the beginning of the creation of this earth, and through which He has continued to reveal Himself to the children of men to the present time, and through which He will make known His purposes to the end of time.”

Therefore, among other things, the purpose of the Holy Order is to put in place a mechanism by which God can reveal from heaven what is necessary for the salvation of man on earth, in every generation, in order to fix what is broken, in order to restore what has been lost, in order to repair, heal, forgive, and reconnect those who are willing to give heed to the message sent from heaven, so that they can rise up to become sons of God.

Abraham 3:12, we encounter God saying, “And he said unto me [Abraham],” saying: “My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and [he] saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.” Once again, you have at the same instance, that he is being acknowledged as a son, the outpouring of the intelligence of God, the glory of God. Light and truth knowledge of things as they are and as they were and as they are to come.
Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 121:7, “My son, peace be unto thy soul.” Okay, if you view priesthood as a brotherhood or an association, then I want to suggest, that the way in which you should parse the three orders of priesthood, is to parse them this way: As among men, it’s merely a brotherhood of men. As between mankind and the heavens, the first order, is an order in which there is an association between men and angels. The second order, is an order in which there is an association between mankind and the Son of God. And the third order, the highest order, the patriarchal order, brings one into contact with the Patriarch, who of all the names that He could choose to be called by, chooses to have us call Him, our Father who art in heaven. The third grand order being sonship to the Father and association with Him who sits in the bosom of eternity, and sustains all the creation.

The highest priesthood is an association with the Father, brought about as a consequence of the Father calling, “My son.” It is the Holy Order after the Son of God, because those who inherit that become, by definition, His Sons. They are the Church of the Firstborn, because they are in association with and made by the Father equal to all those who rise up to be Firstborn.
Go to Moses chapter 5. This is a prophecy given by Adam which constituted one of the covenants which I referred to in the talk given at Centerville. It’s chapter 6:7; “Now this same Priesthood,” [this is Adam speaking] “which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also. Now this prophecy Adam spake, as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” [Therefore, it was the power of the priesthood animated by the Holy Ghost, which established as a matter of right and therefore of covenant, the promise that this thing, this authority, this power and this relationship, which once existed in the beginning of the world, is to exist again at the end of the world. And that that too, arises as a consequence of the covenant given in the beginning.]

Well if you go to Doctrine and Covenants section 68 first: verses three and four. “this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” Then go over to 12. “And as many as the Father shall bear record, to you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life. Amen.” So this is talking in the context of someone having authority to seal when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And that is authority which anyone of you, and the prophetess Anna in the temple at Jerusalem when Christ came into the temple. A woman can use when moved upon by the power of the Holy Ghost; and it is the word of God, and it is the ​power to seal if it originates from God. That doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as a dispensation head. It doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as an ordinance. And it doesn’t mean that it’s the same thing as the control of the elements given in those rare cases. But what it does mean is that the word of God will always be respected both in time and in eternity, if it is given by God. If it is the power of the Holy Spirit.

There are those who have heard that their ​calling an election is made sure​. They have heard that as a witness from God. Don’t doubt the word of God given to you. However, don’t think for one moment that’s the end of the matter. Remember that in the cases that we looked at before, that one of the purposes of ascending up into the presence of the Father is to be endowed with knowledge, with light and truth and with intelligence, to possess a God-like mind, and a God-like understanding. Therefore, no matter what you receive, you ought to always search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God. Indeed we are commanded to do so, as I reminded you in Boise, and won’t repeat again here. I’ve also read you previously, and won’t repeat it again here, Doctrine and Covenants section 1 verse 8 through 10. The sealing power manifested in an Aaronic setting, in which it is sealed up unto condemnation.

I want to mention that beyond there being a fellowship of man or males, and a brotherhood, there is also a fellowship that is extended as well to women. If you find a woman in scripture who has had the ministry of angels, you have a sister who has joined in that association. I won’t take time to do so, but if you look in Judges chapter 13 verses 2 to 5, you have Samson’s mother being ministered to by an angel, promising the coming of the one who would be a judge in Israel. You have in Genesis chapter 18 verses 9 to 15, Abraham’s wife with angelic ministrants. And the most obvious case being Mary in the book of Luke chapter 1 verses 26 to 31 in which Mary is ministered to by Gabriel, one of the Eloheim, who came to announce that she would conceive and bear a child though she knew no man.

I do want to talk about sealing authority, because there have been questions asked about sealing, I intended to address that in any event. And I want to suggest to you that there are three kinds of sealing authority which are given. There is a first form of sealing power, and I’m talking about the kind of power not that can seal you up unto condemnation, or judgment. I’m talking instead about Melchizedek sealing power, the kind that was designed to bless and to preserve. The first kind of sealing power is that kind which is given to someone when there is a dispensation of the gospel being founded. An example of that, you can find in Exodus chapter 34 involving Moses as a dispensation head, where in verses 27 and 28 the Lord says: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights,” and so on. And so as a dispensation head, a form of sealing power is given to that person, which establishes a covenant that was intended to go beyond that individual alone.

Take a look in 2 Nephi chapter 1, we find Lehi speaking, “Notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.” This is a covenant made by God with Lehi as a dispensational head, the beneficiaries of whom are beyond merely that dispensation head. It includes all those who come thereafter. They are beneficiaries of that. The covenant gets established through one, it is intended for others.
Joseph, in Doctrine and Covenants section 22. “BEHOLD, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and everlasting covenant, that which was from the beginning.” So through Joseph, there was a covenant formed, which would be binding beyond the person with whom God covenanted directly.

Dispensation heads are given the power, the sealing power, the authority, the ability to use the power to seal up by embodying the covenant that is given to them by God, into an ordinance. And that ordinance remains in effect after the death of Moses, after the death of Lehi, after the death of Joseph Smith, so long as it remains embodied within the ordinance. This kind of ordinance or this kind of sealing authority, then requires and gives rise to, the second kind.

And the second kind is a sealing power that is embodied within authoritative ordinances. All dispensations of the gospel follow the covenant giver’s ordinances. For so long as the ordinances that were handed to you through the dispensation head are kept intact, the covenant is kept intact. And the second form of sealing power is a sealing power which is not dependent upon the persistent presence of a dispensation head. It is only dependent upon keeping faithfully the ordinance that has been established and handed down by God through covenant.

This second form of sealing power is the sealing authority which the Church claims to possess. It is the sealing authority that was referred to by Henry B. Eyring in the General Conference talk he gave in April 2012, ​Families under Covenant​. In which he proclaimed that the Church has the authority to seal families together by using the ordinances that have been handed down. I’m quoting from this talk. “The Holy Spirit of Promise through our obedience and sacrifice, must seal our temple covenants in order to be realized in the world to come. The Holy Ghost is one who reads the thoughts and hearts of men and gives his sealing approval to the blessing pronounced upon their heads. Then it is binding, efficacious and of full force.” I agree with what he has said. I believe that is a correct way to explain the limited authority to seal enjoyed by the Church. And the condition that remains, even in the ordinance, requiring the faithfulness and the subsequent sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise in order for those ordinances to endure. Nevertheless, the Church possess that second kind of sealing authority and it uses it in the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The second form of sealing authority, however, has conditions upon it; because God is not bound by anything that differs one iota from His word. And that doesn’t matter who it is. God is bound by His word, not by man’s. Therefore, when you handle such ordinances, you need to keep in mind the admonition that was given in the prophecy of Isaiah; “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” It’s talking about a future time at “His” coming. But it’s lamenting a condition that you have to decide about it’s current. That’s Isaiah chapter 24 verses 5 and 6.

So when you have possession of that second form of sealing authority you have to recognize that the covenant handed down from the dispensation head, can be broken. It was broken rather abruptly in the case of the covenant given to Lehi, when at the death of Lehi, his family fragmented into two groups. One of whom desired to preserve the covenant, and one of whom rejected it and walked away from it. Therefore, it was not to the ones that had rejected the covenant that the Lord would subsequently come to appear. But they, by and large, would have been destroyed. So handling the second form of the covenant, after the dispensation head has established it, is a matter of fidelity to the word of God; and faithfulness to the word of God, and faithfulness in preserving and practicing the ordinance that has been established.

There is a third kind of sealing power. And this third kind of sealing power goes beyond either of the first two. And it has absolutely unique application, and is given only in rare circumstances, and for highly specific purposes. That third form involves giving the authority to control the elements. This was authority that was possessed by Enoch. This was authority that was possessed by Melchizedek. This was authority that was possessed by Christ. This was the authority that Christ had to suspend or not employ, in order to permit those who would kill Him, to kill Him. This is the kind of authority which, in the case of every such individual, they give their lives up willingly. Their lives cannot be taken.

An example, and it’s a good example, because it gives you insight into why such authority would ever be given to a man, is found in Helaman chapter 10 beginning at verse five. This is the Lord speaking to Nephi, son of Helaman, son of Helaman. To Nephi, He says: “Because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness…” [And the “unwearyingness” has been described in verse four. That is, Nephi has gone and he’s declared what the Lord has asked him to declare. And he hasn’t feared them, nor has he sought to protect his own life. But he’s instead sought to keep the commandments of God. Therefore because he has done this with such unwearyingness,] “behold, I [this is God speaking to Nephi] will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for ​thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will​.”

[That’s not a commandment. That’s a description of the character and the nature of Nephi. That’s not saying, “I’m giving this to you, but be careful how you use it. Please don’t do anything that isn’t according to my will.” That’s the Lord saying, “I, God, have faith in you, Nephi. That you, Nephi, will not do anything other than my will.” You see, the whole thing turns on its head at this point. You see, This is God having faith in a man. What manner of man then does God have faith in?]

“Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels…” [Because this decree in this circumstance, may require those who are watching to obey the word of the man. Therefore the angels, the Powers of Heaven, must give heed. Because God is declaring it in the presence of the hosts who are standing before Him.] “I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.” [That is a rather Aaronic behavior.]

“Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye seal on the earth shall be sealed in heaven; whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.” [This is rather Melchizedek, because you can seal up unto eternal life. This is the positive side. This is the thing which those who are given this authority seek earnestly to do.]

“Thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.” [Because the temple is subordinate to the word of God. The temple is not the place that controls the word of God, the temple is the place which most of all ought be subject to the word of God. It’s not a place to innovate in ordinances. It’s a place to obey, to follow, to give strict heed unto and to not vary.]

“And if ye say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done. And behold, if thou shalt say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.” [And then because he knows the nature and the character of the man involved in giving this authority, God commands him. He has to go out and deliver the message,] “Except ye repent ye shall be smitten, even unto destruction.” [He didn’t want to do that. Because that’s not in the character of the person who with unwearyingness, would go out and declare the word of God. Because such people have in their heart one and only one objective, and that is the salvation of the souls of men. But now this troubling message has to be given. And when he goes, and he delivers it, he doesn’t even use the authority that he’s been given. He simply asks the Lord if the Lord will smite.]

Look at Enoch in the book of Moses chapter 6, because once again, we’re looking at someone to whom this authority was given. Moses chapter 6 verse 34, God speaking to Enoch. “Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.” [Because it was Enoch’s purpose to abide in God.

Therefore when he speaks and the elements obey, they obey precisely because it is the word of God which Enoch is speaking. It is not Enoch out there innovating. Enoch would have forfeited his life before he would have said or done anything that was not in accordance with the will of God, as would have Nephi. Therefore, they are trustworthy.] And then we looked at Joseph Smith; the translation of Genesis chapter 14.

As to these three kinds of authority, the first authority given unto a dispensation head, only God can pass that to man. Man cannot pass that to man.

The second kind of sealing authority that we talked about can be passed from man-to-man, from generation to generation, remains in full force and effect for so long as the covenant is not broken.

The third kind not only cannot be given by man-to-man, but is given as a consequence of that extraordinary combination of mortality and immortality, in which you find a person on the earth that God has faith and confidence in. You be that kind of person.

The foregoing are excerpts taken from:

  • Denver’s 40 Years in Mormonism Series, Talk #5 entitled “Priesthood” given in Orem, UT on November 2nd, 2013
  • Denver’s talk entitled “The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered”, given in Spanish Fork, UT on October 14th, 2011
  • Denver’s conference talk entitled “Things to Keep Us Awake at Night” given in St. George, UT on March 19th, 2017

In addition, Denver has written extensively about this topic. If you are interested in learning more, please review the following blog posts:

Follow-up Question​, published January 3, 2012

Last Week’s Comments​, published May 19, 2012

You may also find value in reviewing the following Glossary Entries: