Home Centered Gospel Study Helps #3: Keys

According to a recent Church News article,

“Too often, people are content to study merely what is listed out for them in a manual and then move on without digging for more, Top noted.
‘The scriptures and the doctrine of the gospel are like the mother lode gold vein in a mountain, but sometimes we are content to pan for little bits of gold dust downstream when in reality we can strike the mother lode if we get out the heavy equipment and do some serious excavation.’”

“Come, Follow Me’ should be just the beginning of your gospel study”

In an effort to provide tools to help in your third hour Sunday home directed Gospel study, we’ve put together a list of scriptures and prophetic teachings on basic Gospel principles that will build a long lasting Foundation.

An important concept that the restored gospel rests upon is the principle of Priesthood keys. The Lord said,

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. -Matthew 16:18-19

One man presides over all of the keys
D&C 132:7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

• How many people are being spoken of here?
• Is there anything to suggest there is more than one anointed?
• How many presiding over these keys will there be on the earth at a time?
Joseph Smith: “the sealing power is always vested in one man, and that there never was, nor never would be, but one man on the earth at a time to hold the keys of the sealing power in the Church. That all sealings must be performed by the man holding the keys, or by his dictation”1
• How many people is the sealing power vested in?
• Will there ever be more than one person at a time presiding over the keys to this sealing power?
• Can any sealing be performed by anyone else than this man or someone commissioned by him?
The Lord to John Taylor: “No person, or people, or nation can enter into the principle of celestial marriage unless they come in by me, saith the Lord, and obey the law of my Gospel through the medium of him who is appointed unto this power, as made known unto my people through my servant, Joseph” 2
• How many people are appointed to this power (of presiding over the responsibility of entering into celestial plural marriage)?
• Are we obeying the law of the Gospel (regarding celestial marriage) if it is not through the person presiding over this power?

Only one man at a time has this responsibility
D&C 107:65 Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed of the High Priesthood to preside over the priesthood, and he shall be called President of the High Priesthood of the Church;  Or, in other words, the Presiding High Priest over the High Priesthood of the Church. From the same comes the administering of ordinances and blessings upon the church, by the laying on of the hands.

D&C 107:21 Of necessity there are presidents, or presiding officers growing out of, or appointed of or from among those who are ordained to the several offices in these two priesthoods.

Being an Elder, Seventy or Apostle is not enough to perform sealings independently

The offices of Elder, Seventy and Apostle were instituted prior to the restoration of the keys in 1836, or to the restoration of the “holy order” and highest degree of the Priesthood in 1842-43. Therefore holding those offices does not automatically confer those keys or any responsibility beyond the basic duties related to their offices.

William W. Phelps, Joseph Smith’s scribe, and writer of many LDS hymns was excommunicated briefly from the Church in 1848, because he was married to a plural wife without the permission of Brigham Young. Henry Jacobs, who didn’t have the approval to perform sealings, performed the marriage and was later disfellowshipped for his part.
Being a General Authority – such as one of the Presidents of the Seventy – does not automatically confer the ability to perform sealings independently.

Brigham Young dropped Zera Pulsipher from the First Council of Seventy because he “transcended the bounds of the Priesthood in the ordinance of sealing.” in 1862. (LDS Biographical Encyclopedia 1:194)

Not even being Presiding Patriarch and Assistant President of the Church is sufficient to perform sealings independently.

Joseph Smith forthrightly told his Brother Hyrum when he “did in one case undertake to seal without counsel” that “if he did not stop it he would go to Hell” (Letter of Brigham Young to William Smith, 10 August 1845)

No one can marry a plural wife without the permission from the one who presides over the keys or from someone who has specifically been given that responsibility from him
“No man in Utah, who already has a wife, and who may desire to obtain another, has any right to make any propositions of marriage to a lady, until he has consulted the President over the whole Church, and through him obtains a revelation from God, as to whether it would be pleasing in His sight. If he is forbidden by revelation, that ends the matter.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer)

1 Letter of Brigham Young to William Smith, previously cited. Note: In Joseph and Brigham’s day that man was also President of the Church, but
as pointed out in the revelation we before cited he is also (and more importantly) President of the Priesthood.

2 Uncanonized Revelation to John Taylor 25/26 June 1882. Unpublished Revelations 80:6-7.

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