Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Keys of the Kingdom

A friend asked me what is the difference between priesthood authority and priesthood keys. This friend wanted to know the significance of Christ giving Peter "keys" in Matt 16.

In Matt 16, Christ reveals to Peter his future death and resurrection. The purpose of discussing keys is teaching Peter how the Kingdom would be administered after Christ's ascension. Christ says he will give Peter keys in Chap 16 but in Chap 17 they are given on the Mount of Transfiguration.

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (New Testament, Matthew, Chapter 18)

Christ gives the sealing power to his disciples in Chap 18 but not keys. Peter was given keys in Chap 16 and the rest of the apostles authority and power but no keys.

A person might be given the Priesthood to officiate an ordinance or action in Christ's Church. However, without keys, he cannot authorize that the ordinance or action be done. He can officiate the action only under direction. Only Keys authorize. Keys prevent someone being ordained to go off and start his own church.

Priesthood authority: authority to perform or officiate an action in Christs Church that is valid in heaven

Priesthood keys: power to authorize an action in Christs Church

Priesthood power: atonement of Christ, faith and obedience that empowers moral and spiritual authority.

The problem was that after the martyrdom of the Apostles and Seventies you quickly had local bishops acting beyond their keys and authority. Ignatius teaches the idea of keys when he says "do nothing without the bishop"

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans Chapter VIII "Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. . . It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize, or to offer, or to present sacrifice, or to celebrate a love-feast. But that which seems good to him, is also well-pleasing to God, that everything ye do may be secure and valid."

Epistle to Hero, a Deacon of Antioch Chapter 3 “Honour widows that are widows indeed.”Be the friend of orphans; for God is “the Father of the fatherless, and the Judge of the widows.”Do nothing without the bishops; for they are priests, and thou a servant of the priests. They baptize, offer sacrifice (ἱερουργέω = to act as a priest), ordain, and lay on hands; but thou ministerest to them, as the holy Stephen did at Jerusalem to James and the presbyters. Do not neglect the sacred meetings Specifically, assemblies for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. [of the saints]; inquire after every one by name. “Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example to the believers, both in word and conduct.”

Here we see Ignacias speaking about Deacons (authority to officiate) ministering unto or assisting the Bishop (keys) like Stephen (Seventy) assisted James (Apostle with keys). Apostles with keys can "entrust" authority to Seventy. This is exactly how the priesthood operates in the LDS Church

Clement 1 was teaching about the appointment of bishops by "eminent men" and not bishops selected or elected by the congregation. If Bishops are to be appointed by eminent men then there must be authority above a bishop with keys to authorize the appointment.

Clement 1 Chap 44. "Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blame-lessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry."

Melchizedek had the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The point of the NT saying Christ was a priest after the Order of Melchezidek was not to associate Christ with. Melchizedek but to associate Melchizedek and Abraham with Christ.

22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: 24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Old Testament, Genesis, Chapter 5)

Translation like Elijah aside. If Enoch " walked with God". How could Enoch have walked with God unless Enoch was a Christian and able to overcome his fallen state through receiving the atoning grace of Jesus Christ. The answer is Enoch like all the Patriarchs to Abraham were Christian.

The problem entered in at Moses when Christ invited all the Elders of Israel up to the mountain and they refused saying "19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." (Old Testament, Exodus, Chapter 20).

When Moses returned he found the people worshipping the golden calf. It was then Moses drew the line in the sand and only the Tribe of Levi stood with Moses. God wanted to give Israel the higher law and covenant of Abraham and Melchizedek and Enoch and Noah. But instead he gave them a predatory priesthood and covenant-- The Law of Moses.

A Future Promise To Israel

26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. (Old Testament, Ezekiel, Chapter 37)

The Abrahamic Covenant is the Christian Covenant

15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. (New Testament, Galatians, Chapter 3)

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? (New Testament, Hebrews, Chapter 7)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Unity: Sign of Christ's Church

Many Traditional Christian denominations do not recognize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Christian because we do not accept the Nicean Creed which forms the foundation of the Trinity Doctrine. The Nicean Creed was a product of the first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church which attempted to establish the offical definition of God. It makes you wonder why Protestant Churches who split away from the Catholic Church due to disagreements over subsequent Catholic Ecuemical Council pronouncements would exclude LDS from their Orthodox Christian Club because we take issue with the first Catholic Creed.

Actually, when it comes to the Nicean Creed, there is only 2 problems with it. LDS agree with the Nicean Creed when it says that we believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. The problem with the Creed is when it says that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are "One substance" or "Homoousios". Homousios is a Gnostic term that has led to the mysterous description of the Godhead as 3 separate Persons yet 1 Being. Joseph Smith, Like Stephen in the NT, saw Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God the Father. Therefore, Like Justin Martyr, we declare that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are 1 God, 1 in purpose, 1 in power, but 3 persons, 3 individuals, 3 personages, 3 beings. It is the LDS who believe Creedal Christians have the responsibility to explain how 3 persons can be 1 being without having some sort of psychiatric disorder.

I was talking with a friend about the Nicean Creed and the Ecumenical Councils and he said pointed to the scriptural account of Paul and Peter coming together to determine what the position of the Church would be concerning circumcision. My friend equated the Ecumenical Council with this biblical reference.

However, I think there is a critical distinction between the Ecumenical Council and the Bible account. The distinction involves consensus and unanimity. When the Church leaders got together to discuss an issue, all sides are passionately debated. However, in the debate, when all sides of an issue are illuminated, consensus and not compromise are fostered. When consensus is acheived, then that decision is brought before the Lord for confirmation by the Holy Spirit. This is a powerful process by which the mind of God and revelation is obtained. Individuals are encouraged to study out any question in our mind and make the best decision based on the what is known, and then take that decision to the Lord in prayer for confirmation.

The problem with the Ecumenical Council is that consensus was not acheived. In the case of the Nicean Creed, the Trinitarians and Arians voted, and a decision was made based on a split 5/4 decision. While 5/4 split decision is how democracy sometimes operates, this is not how the Church of Christ is administered or the will and mind of the Lord revealed.

In the LDS Church the Church Apostles and Prophets do not move forward unless, after debate, there is not consensus and unanimity. The Brethern then go before the Lord in prayer and seek spiritual confirmation by the Holy Spirit. This is how difficult decisions facing the Church have always been approached and why sometimes certain decisions may have taken time before they were made despite external public pressure.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

What is, " All We Can Do?"

LDS do not believe we save ourselves. LDS believe that salvation is in Christ alone. However sometimes LDS leaders use the words "merit" or "earn" with respect to salvation. When The Book of Mormon says we are "saved by grace after all we can do", it does NOT mean that we somehow meet Christ part way on our own? No. Instead, according to Alma 60:21 , we believe we are to receive, apply, and make use of the gifts and grace that Christ has already given us, and by doing so, qualify for more perfecting grace later.

The Book of Mormon teaches, 2 Nephi 25 "23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

What is "All We Can Do?". Captain Moroni answers this question is his letter to Pahoran discussing the 'conditions of deliverance'.

Alma 60:21 "Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?"

"All we can do" simply means Christ expects us to "receive", "apply", and "make use" of the gifts and grace that Christ has already given us, and by doing so, "qualify" for more perfecting grace later. This is like saying "finish what's on your plate before asking for seconds" or growing from "grace to grace".

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8,9

Yes, justifying grace is offered to all and is unconditional. If it were not so, no one would be rescued as all have sinned. However, after receiving justifying grace, perfecting grace is conditional and is qualified for by consecration (eating your spiritual spinach and leaving a clean plate).

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (New Testament, Matthew, Chapter 19)

We should be careful not to confuse unconditional "rescuing grace" or "saving grace" with conditional "perfecting grace".

Moroni 10:32 "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."

Moroni 10:32 is talking about the conditions to receive perfecting grace. This is not saying be perfect first, and then Christ will make you perfect later. This is not saying you have to be perfect to become perfect.

Denying all ungodliness goes back to keeping the minimum standard of 1 Cor 5:11. Through the justifying and sanctifying grace of Christ we have already received we are empowered to keep 1 Cor 5:11. If we keep 1 Cor 5:11 through Christ, we will qualify for Christ's perfecting grace in the resurrection. Our bodies will be raised to a Celestial and perfect state.

We know there has to be different states of grace as no one is perfect in mortality. Believers receive justifying grace and sanctifying grace and we hope for conditional perfecting grace in the future.

No, no one is perfect in this life. But through the justifying and sanctifying grace of Christ we can realize a minimum standard. Perfection is our hope in the future resurrection. Paul says not all are raised to the same state in the resurrection:

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: (New Testament, 1 Corinthians, Chapter 15)

35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: (New Testament, Hebrews, Chapter 11)

LDS hope for a better resurrection.

Christ himself taught this same principle. In Matthew 25:14-30, we read about the parable of the talents. The Lord begins the lesson:
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods...."

The Lord gives his servants (us) talents, and then later returns and demands an accounting. Those who have "done all they can do" are received into his kingdom. Those who have done nothing are cast out.

Those who have done "all they can do" are split into groups. Some have brought forth 10-fold, others 50-fold and others 100-fold. Each servant is rewarded accordingly.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Mortality Prep Classes

LDS believe that everyone who accepts Christ will be saved and dwell in heaven. So, if that is so, what does being LDS get us? Why worry about sinning or not sinning with this body here and now when we will have better resurrected bodies later in the Millennium making it easier to not sin?

Because we will be judged (judge ourselves) on what we are doing now with this body. Why? Because while everyone who accepts Christ will be saved in heaven. Not everyone will be given the same jobs to do (or reward, calling, kingdom, crown, mansion, glory).

LDS believe spirit is eternal. Spirit cannot be brought into existence or annihilated. (it can be organized). Therefore, our spirits within us lived before we were born and will live on after our body dies.

Part of what it means to have Eternal Life, for LDS, is to be given Eternal Parenting responsibility to guide and prepare spirits to come to Earth to have their own mortal experience. So as you are preparing these spirits for "body drivers Ed". What are you going to tell them? Who do you think God wants teaching these "mortality prep" classes?

What would you say to spirits preparing for mortality? "The body, shoot!, Let me tell you." "life is an exciting ride, sometimes bumpy, but don't follow my example" " I could never really get control of that body". "it seemed it was driving me most of the time."

Are you preparing yourself to have the honor of teaching mortality prep? Who do you think God would want to be preparing His spirit children for mortality? Ask yourself, "could you teach a hypothetical 'mortality prep' class?" "Could you teach a hypothetical 'body drivers Ed' class?" What kind of calling or service could you expect to be doing for eternity?

A friend commented that if there is a veil over our memory, why would pre-mortal spirits need to be taught a mortality prep class before coming to an Earth? The answer is not only that we were taught and understood the gospel plan so we would be able to recognize truth again on Earth when we would hear it again, but I wonder if is possible that we could have planned out much of our life circumstances before coming to Earth.

If we know that all spirits who would come to this Earth assisted Jesus Christ in the creation of this Earth which will be the eventual eternal home to the righteous forever. We also know we were organized into families in the pre-mortal realm. Knowing this, is it too much of a stretch to think we may have planned out other details of our life, such as: what family we would be born into, what time period in history we would be born, what talents and weaknesses we would have?