Category: keys

Miraculous New Scriptures

I have copies and have begun to review the three volumes of new scriptures: Vol. 1: Old Covenants, Vol. 2: New Covenants and Vol. 3: Teachings & Commandments. They are better than any other scriptures I’ve ever possessed and mark such an historic advancement of Christ’s teachings that it is miraculous.

In the first letter from Liberty Jail (T&C 138) it is written that the voice of the Spirit confirms it will be utterly futile to “hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from Heaven upon the heads of the latter-day saints.” (Paragraph 22) Since the restoration began there has never been such a down-pouring of knowledge in a single event as in the publication of these new scriptures.

In a newly added section Joseph Smith explains what he means by “keys of the priesthood” in a way that clears away much confusion. Referring to Noah, who learned from God beforehand about the coming flood, Joseph explained: “the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah, that he talked with him in a familiar and friendly manner, that he continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power, and the glory with which he blessed Adam at the beginning, and the offering of sacrifice which also shall be continued at the last time.” (T&C 140:16, emphasis added.)

Most often the “voice of Jehovah” comes through the words of scripture. We now have more of Jehovah’s words in these new volumes of scripture than at any other time in the history of the Restoration.

More than a year before any formal corporate “church” was organized under New York law, Christ identified what He meant by using the term “church.” Christ explained: “Whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me. Therefore he is not of my church.” (T&C 1, Part I: 21.) Christ’s church consists exclusively of those who repent and return to Him. All other denominational definitions of Christ’s “church” are opposed to Him.

The Joseph Smith History has been greatly expanded. The Lectures on Faith have been added. Joseph Smith’s revelations have been returned to their original content, with edit changes by unknown hands removed. The Book of Mormon has been recovered to the form Joseph Smith authorized. The Old and New Testaments have been published in the form Joseph Smith intended as “the fullness of the scriptures”.

In these three volumes a flood of missing material has been recovered, and new words from “the voice of Jehovah” are now available to confirm our hope and urge us onward.

This project could not have been accomplished any earlier. The means, materials, and technology required have only recently become available. It is clear that the Lord is moving in His power and majesty to bring about His great design. The promises made to the fathers are moving toward fulfillment. All of this is being done in plain sight, and only those with eyes to see know what great things are now underway. While ignorance expands, confusion reigns, and darkness envelopes the minds of almost all mankind, the Great Jehovah performs a marvelous work and a wonder before the eyes of the world… and only few take note.

Christ’s words are being vindicated, and few there are who will find it.

I am grateful to all those who have labored for the last years to bring this project about. In another year there will be leather-bound, fine paper versions printed to make them more portable than the current paperback version. But for the present they are available free on-line and inexpensively in paperback. It is cause for rejoicing.

D&C 90: 2

I received an email asking about the meaning of D&C 90: 2. Here’s my response:

This verse, like most scripture, is deliberately unclear. This is why the first topic in the fireside was the Holy Ghost and its relationship to both gifts of the spirit and understanding the “mysteries” of God. (See JS-H 1: 74.) The Holy Ghost inspired the text (conveying the words of Christ directly to Joseph; see D&C 90: 1). Therefore, having the Holy Ghost is required to understand the meaning of the text. (2 Peter 1: 20-21.)

The verse says: “Therefore, thou art blessed from henceforth that bear the keys of the kingdom given unto you; which kingdom is coming forth for the last time.” (D&C 90: 2.)

Ask yourself these questions:
-Who is “thou”? Is it Joseph Smith or some collective group or successors?
-Who “bears the keys of the kingdom” in the verse? In 1833, was that Joseph Smith? Or was it some group? Was it his successors?
-Who had the “keys of the kingdom given unto [them]”? In 1833, was that Joseph Smith, or was it someone else? Did it include a group? Successors, too?
-What does “for the last time” mean? Does it mean it will never, ever happen again? Or does it mean the “latest” or “most current”?

There are a few verses after this one that will help with some of these questions. For example, verse 3 seems to identify Joseph Smith: “Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come[.]” (D&C 90: 3.) This seems to be singular. It is addressed to Joseph. But you must decide if it is him, or if it means anyone in the church leadership, then and now. The Holy Ghost should assist you in reaching the right conclusion.

It adds in verse 4: “Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church.” (D&C 90: 4.) This seems to make it clear that the “you” and the “thou” referred to earlier was Joseph Smith. But it then raises other questions:
-What are “the oracles”? Are these the revelations (i.e., sections of the D&C, parts of the Pearl of Great Price, etc.)?
-Are “the oracles” a power or gift of the Spirit?
-If some power or gift, when? To whom? Was it fulfilled in Hyrum? (See D&C 124: 123-124.)
-Was it fulfilled in the Council of Fifty when Joseph gave “the keys of the kingdom” to them, establishing the right to create a kingdom to overtake all other governments and grind all competing governments on the earth to dust in fulfillment of Daniel 2: 36-44.

On the question of “the last time,” verse 5 helps with the meaning:
“And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them least they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.” (D&C 90: 5.) If we can “stumble and fall,” it suggests we can lose what we were given. If we can lose it, then it can be returned. That would mean “last time” in verse 2 is referring to the “latest,” much like D&C 76: 22, where “last of all” means the “most current” or the “latest” testimony. It doesn’t mean that there will never be another person with a testimony of Christ.

The verse also makes it clear that everyone (including Joseph and his peers/successors) can “stumble and fall” if they treat the “oracles” lightly. To “stumble” is one thing. But to “fall” suggests departing from the way and losing what was given. This returns us to “the oracles” and the meaning of that term:
-Are they the revelations/Book of Mormon? (See D&C 84: 54-57.)
-Is it some ordination or gift?
-If a gift or power, and if it is possible to “fall” from it, then what does that imply?

You decide by the Holy Ghost what verse 2 means. I believe it means that Joseph Smith was blessed and he held keys which would never be taken from him, even if he died. That his possession of those keys allowed him to be regarded as a member of God’s kingdom. He was the latest person, or only one living in 1833 to be regarded as a full member of that kingdom. But you should prayerfully decide what it means for yourself.

Keys of Ministering of Angels

The Aaronic Priesthood has the “keys of the ministering of angels.” (D&C 84: 26.) This raises these questions:
-Do the “keys of ministering of angels” guarantee the holder he will entertain angels?
-Does the ministry of angels depend entirely on possession of these keys?
-Does the appearance of an angel necessarily mean the one to whom the angel appears holds the Aaronic Priesthood? Even in the case of a woman, such as Mary? (Luke 1: 26-27.)
-If the appearance of an angel does not equate with holding of the Aaronic Priesthood, then does it equate with holding the keys of ministering of angels?
-Can the keys of ministering of angels be separated from the Aaronic Priesthood, or are they entirely confined to this priesthood?
-If the keys can be separated from the priesthood, then what is priesthood and what are “keys?”

We tend to gloss over a great deal and have too little curiosity about important questions. In The Second Comforter, I explained part of being “childlike” is to possess relentless curiosity about things you do not understand. We should try to get every answer to every question we can obtain from God. First through the scriptures. Then through prayer and inquiry.

What if “keys to the ministering of angels” are not coequal with the Aaronic Priesthood? Who or under what circumstances could angels minister in the absence of Aaronic Priesthood? Are there “keys” conferred whenever an angel ministers to a person, any person? If an angel appears to a woman in Tibet, does that appearance give her the “keys of ministering of angels” even if she is not Mormon? If so, what is meant by “keys of ministering of angels?”

If an angel has appeared to someone outside the church, and if, because of that, the person does hold some “keys” because of an actual appearance, what of the Mormon priest who has never had an angel appear to him? If he has never had an angelic visitor, does he still hold the “keys of the ministering of angels?”

Do “keys of the ministering of angels” guarantee angels will appear? If not, then what do the “keys” entail? What do they confer? Must an angel minister to the key holder if he demands it? Are angels subject to the keys or not? If not, then how should these “keys” be understood:
-As a right?
-As a privilege?
-As an invitation?
-As a matter to inquire into until you have understanding?

What is Meant by Keys

There are many different ways in which the words “key” or “keys” are used in scripture. It is an interesting topic to research. President John Taylor was so interested in the word that he did a study he titled, “The Book of Keys” wherein he attempted to reconstruct the topic in whole. So far as I have been able to learn, that book no longer exists.

In Temple Recommend interviews you are asked to acknowledge the current church president “holds all the keys” and “is the only person authorized to exercise them” on the earth today. This is a question we all answer. But in discussions with bishops, stake presidents, religion professors, friends and mission presidents, I’ve never been able to determine, nor has anyone been able to explain what is included. Below is the answer given in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, (entry written by Alan Perish):

The keys of the priesthood refer to the right to exercise power in the name of Jesus Christ or to preside over a priesthood function, quorum, or organizational division of the Church. Keys are necessary to maintain order and to see that the functions of the Church are performed in the proper time, place, and manner. They are given by the laying on of hands in an ordination or setting apart by a person who presides and who holds the appropriate keys at a higher level. Many keys were restored to men on earth by heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
The keys of the kingdom of God on earth are held by the apostles. The president of the church, who is the senior apostle, holds all the keys presently on earth and presides over all the organizational and ordinance work of the Church (D&C 107:8-9, 91-92). He delegates authority by giving the keys of specific offices to others (D&C 124:123). Only presiding priesthood officers (including General Authorities, stake presidents, mission presidents, temple presidents, bishops, branch presidents, and quorum presidents) hold keys pertaining to their respective offices. Latter-day Saints distinguish between holding the priesthood and holding keys to direct the work of the priesthood: one does not receive additional priesthood when one is given keys (Joseph F. Smith, IE 4 [Jan. 1901]:230).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom” (TPJS, p. 21). “The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent”; they are revealed to man under the authority of Adam, for he was the first to be given them when he was given dominion over all things. They have come down through the dispensations of the gospel to prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah; to Peter, James, and John; and to Joseph Smith and the designated prophets of the latter days (HC 3:385-87). Keys to perform or preside over various priesthood functions were bestowed upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery by John the Baptist (see Aaronic Priesthood: Restoration), by Peter, James, and John (see Melchizedek Priesthood: Restoration of Melchizedek Priesthood), and by Moses, Elias, and Elijah in the Kirtland Temple (see Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 109-110).
Many types of keys are mentioned in the scriptures of the Church (see MD, pp. 409-13). Jesus Christ holds all the keys. Joseph Smith received the keys pertaining to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 6:25-28;28:7;35:18), and through him the First Presidency holds the “keys of the kingdom,” including the sealing ordinances (D&C 81:1-2;90:1-6;110:16;128:20;132:19). Specific mention of certain keys and those who hold them include the following: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles exercises the keys “to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ” in all the world (D&C 107:35;112:16;124:128). Adam holds “the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One,” and “the keys of the universe” (D&C 78:16; TPJS, p. 157); Moses, “the keys of the gathering of Israel” (D&C 110:11); Elias, the keys to bring to pass “the restoration of all things” (D&C 27:6); and Elijah, “the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers” (D&C 27:9). Holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood are said to have “the keys of the Church,” “the key of knowledge,” and “the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church” (D&C 42:69;84:19;107:18), while belonging to the Aaronic Priesthood are “the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (D&C 13:1;84:26). All these stewardships will eventually be delivered back into the hands of Jesus Christ (TPJS, p. 157).

As far as it goes, I think this is a good attempt. But when church members are asked if the church president holds “all the keys” I cannot be certain the above definition is what is meant. Here is the clearest way I think it is illustrated:

From the smallest branch to the largest ward, through all the areas, missions, stakes, wards and branches of the church, there is not a single place in the church where President Thomas Monson would not be recognized as the presiding authority in any meeting he attended. He could go anywhere, in any location, in any meeting, and he alone would be the final authority. While a bishop presides and has the keys over his ward, and in that ward can call or release anyone to any position, President Monson would preside over that bishop if he were to attend the ward. No one would doubt or question whether President Monson could release and call a replacement bishop in that, or any, ward. The same is true of any stake president, or any mission president or any area authority, or any general authority. There is simply no one other than President Monson alone who holds the keys to put the church in order. Period.

I think this is the best definition of “all the keys.” 

A bit of a detour

I received the following question:
 
“You refer to D&C 84:26 which tells us that the “lesser priesthood …holdeth the key of the ministering of angels..” and imply that every deacon in the church holds the key to the ministration of angels. That does not sound right to me. I believe the “key to the ministration of angels” in Section 84 and the “three grand keys whereby (one) may know whether any ministration is from God” D&C 129:9 are one and the same. If so, there is no Aaronic priesthood holder in the church today who has the key the the ministration of angels as those grand Aaronic keys are only given to Melchezidek priesthood holders in Holy Places.”
 
My response:
 
The Endowment has two portions:  An Aaronic portion and a Melchizedek portion.  Brigham Young commented that the Aaronic portion should be given first, and separate from the rest. Then after proving oneself faithful and trustworthy, the Melchizedek portion would be received. We’ve never done it that way. However, if it were to be done that way, then those holding the Aaronic Priesthood, possessing the associated keys, would have the key to the ministering of angels.

Now, apart from that, before Joseph received any priesthood he entertained angels.  Aaronic Priesthood keys may give one a right to seek such a visit, may give a basis for such a search, but possession of such a key alone will not force it to happen. Nor does the absence of such a key prevent it from happening.

In effect, what we sometimes view as hard and fast rules are more like rules for polite conduct. It is the way which things “ought” to occur. But the Lord is not powerless to work around it anyway.

There is almost no hard and fast rule. Just as soon as we think we’ve figured out what the Lord MUST always do, we find out that He has a work-around plan that opens up any number of other possibilities as well.

D&C 84 is correct. And such a key does belong to the Aaronic order. However, the “key” referred to is to be found in the Aaronic portion of the endowment, which permits you to recognize a true messenger should one visit with you. However, as D&C 129 also reports, if the messenger does not have a body, he will nonetheless deliver his message.

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As to questions about the church and its current “failings” I am not inclined to make a list.  Salvation is not “corporate” anyway. Whatever the church does or doesn’t do, salvation is an individual process to work out person by person. If you say: “The church is perfect!”  Then I wonder how that saves me. Am I not imperfect? Does the church’s perfection aid me in any respect unless I will repent and return? Also, if you say: “The church is a corrupt mess!” Then I wonder how that damns me. Am I not still required to follow the Master? Was Peter perfect? Was Paul? Did their quirks and imperfections damn those who came forward and accepted baptism, received the Holy Ghost, and lived the Lord’s commandments?

There is a great disconnect between the church and Zion. But there is an even greater disconnection between the church and an individual’s salvation. We rise or fall based upon what light and truth we are willing to receive. Those who have the most should have the greatest capacity to help, encourage, and raise others. Sometimes the church puts on display the meanest of conduct. The most petty and self-serving of behavior. That does not relieve us from living as we should.

If a person trusts the church to save them, they must be shaken and brought to see the foolishness of their false belief.

If a person despises the church, they should be taught to show patience and charity toward their fellow Saint.

Sometimes you and I need to speak of the church’s perilous and foolish conduct.  Sometimes we need to think of the church’s vital and continuing role.

As reasonable people we should no more entertain the myth of church perfection than we should view the church as an abhorrent enemy to our salvation. It is neither. It is a tool. It serves an important role. Ultimately, however, the church should not (and indeed cannot) come between you and the Lord. No-one belongs there.

When the church tries to insert itself between you and the Lord it deserves criticism; even censure. When the church makes a well-intentioned mistake, the mistake should be noted and avoided. But frank discussions about those things do not weaken the church or the faith of those who engage in the discussion. It means, instead, that people care and take seriously the subject of their salvation.

I have no interest in leaving the church. Nor do I have any interest in leading it. Each of us has a duty to proclaim the Gospel, and having been warned, to warn others. (D&C 88: 81.)  Elder Ballard told us to use the internet to share the Gospel. The article is in the July 2008 Ensign. Basically, this blog is Elder Ballard’s idea.

My view of sharing the Gospel is not, however, to defend the indefensible, or to dress up swine and decorate them with jewelry and pretend we aren’t debasing either the pig, the clothing or ourselves. There is so much mischief going on inside the church right now that I don’t think 500 General Authorities can get control over it. It is a run-away train. Between correlation, and the organizational systems in place, it is almost dysfunctional. 

The management structure for the church’s various departments is similar to what one would see in General Motors or Black & Decker.  Each “division” is separately accounted for and needs to justify its expenditures based upon performance. Measurable results are expected. The goal of course is salvation. However, goals such as “increasing faith in Jesus Christ” are used to justify expenditures. Then polling or focus group information is used to show the goals are being met. The lengths to which charades are enacted inside the Church Office Building are painful to many of those who work there. Agreements to keep information confidential has not prevented private sharing of the frustrations lived inside the great white building downtown.

The justification for Correlation is set out by them (the Correlation Department which oversees all manual writing) in the Gospel Doctrine Manual on The Doctrine and Covenants and Church History; lesson number 42. In there the following quote appears:  “Explain that the purpose of Church correlation is to preserve ‘the right way of God’ (Jacob 7: 7.)”  The quote is taken from Sherem, the first anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon, who is bringing an accusation against Jacob. Sherem, the anti-Christ accuses Jacob of perverting the right way of God by teaching of Christ. It is this accusation which the Correlation Department has lifted and used to justify their own actions.

Sherem was stricken and died. May those who use his words to justify their own failures share a similar fate when the coming plagues arrive. If his words are good enough to justify their actions, then his fate is good enough for them to share.

Correlation has robbed the church of vitality, deprived the Saints of power, and created an environment in which oppression and abuse is inevitable. Seeking to have true doctrine is no excuse for suppressing discussion, enshrining a militant orthodoxy, and following down the same path that destroyed Historic Christianity’s connection with God.

Well, I’m off topic and not doing any good with this. So let’s return to a discussion of the scriptures. If we want light, we find it in the Book of Mormon.

Keys and assignments

….For the benefit of a worthy inquirer, who has the right to know:
_____________________________________
Keys are related to assignments given. When the church gives someone an assignment, they receive the keys associated with performing the assignment. For example, when an Elder’s Quorum President is called, he receives the keys to preside over the Quorum. With those keys the President has the large assignment (making the Quorum function) and is entitled to the smaller or more detailed assistance from the Lord to serve each quorum member’s needs.
If the President neglects his duties, despite the fact that the authority is conferred upon him, he lacks the power associated with the assignment. His keys become thereby wasted or lost.
Keys, however, are not limited to the church giving an assignment. When the Lord gives an assignment, commission or commandment to a person by His own voice, then the Lord similarly gives to the person the keys to accomplish the assignment, commission or commandment. By acting consistent with the duty devolving upon him, the man receives not only the larger assignment, but also the inspiration to accomplish the smaller or more detailed activities related to the assignment given to him.
An example from Nephi illustrates the point. Nephi was commanded to build a ship. (1 Ne. 17: 8.) Nephi needed direction and instruction to accomplish the task given to him. Since he possessed the keys to accomplish the work, the direction was forthcoming from the Lord as it was needed and as Nephi inquired to obtain it.  (1 Ne. 17: 9-10.)  In the process of asking and receiving direction as he fulfilled the assignment, Nephi learned other, greater things as well.  (1 Ne. 18: 2-3.)
Nephi saw in the assignment (keys) he had been given a direct relationship between fulfilling the assignment to build a ship and Moses’ commission (keys) to deliver Israel from bondage. He used Moses as an example to his brothers to justify how the Lord could assign someone as untrained as Nephi to build a ship. (1 Ne. 17: 23-43.)  It was an appropriate example. It illustrates how once the Lord gives an assignment to a man, the Lord entrusts the keys and provides the inspiration to accomplish the assignment.
Similarly, all the prophets who have been sent to warn Israel in any generation have been given the keys from God to accomplish their assignment. Even among people who no longer held such authority, the Lord would directly ordain those He commissioned during the Old Testament times.  (TPJS p. 181.)

When the church builds a temple and calls a temple president the one called to preside over the temple is the only one who can organize and run the temple. He has the keys and should be respected. Anyone who has an assignment or keys conferred upon them, by the church or by the Lord, has an assignment that should be respected.  

Nephi’s brothers and the royal court of King Noah all learned that it simply wasn’t possible to terminate the mission of someone holding keys before they finished their assignment.  (For Nephi, see 1 Ne. 17: 48-55.  For Abinadi see Mosiah 13: 2-5.)  Of course, once the assignment given the man has been completed, they are as vulnerable to destruction at the hands of enemies as anyone else.  (Mosiah 17: 20; D&C 135: 4.)
When someone receives an assignment, and fulfills it with honor, they hold the keys of that assignment to all eternity.  (D&C 128: 21.)  They are expected to come to the great meeting when keys are returned to Adam and then, in turn, to Christ, preliminary to His return as the One whose right it is to preside over all things.  (TPJS p. 157.)
I suppose the best way to be invited to that meeting would be to obtain a key from the Lord, perform in strict conformity to the assignment He gives you, and become thereby entitled to return that key in the great assembly.
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….For the rest, I’m not sure if this post will have any meaning.