Keys of Authority in the Book of Mormon

Detail from Alma Baptizes in the Waters of Mormon - Minerva Teichert - 1935 ca.

Detail from "Alma Baptizes in the Waters of Mormon" - Minerva Teichert - 1935 ca.

Note:  This is a comment I made on my last post, but I thought it was pertinent enough to make it into a post of itself.

The concept of “keys” is not absent from the Book of Mormon. Whenever God has chosen to give authority to man to perform ordinances in His name, it has been by ordination and a dispensation of keys.

Taking the example of Alma, where did he get his authority? President Joseph Fielding Smith said this:

We should take into consideration in the study of the Book of Mormon the fact that it is an abridgment taken from the records or history that had been kept by the prophets among the Nephites. Therefore, many of the details are lacking. This is equally true of the history of Israel as it has come down through the years to us in the Bible. We are left to accept the fact that Lehi, when he left Jerusalem, held divine authority and that this divine power was handed down from generation to generation until the time of the visitation of the Savior. Moreover, while the detail is lacking, the evidence is very clear that the Melchizedek Priesthood was possessed by the Nephites.

There were none of the tribe of Levi among them, therefore it was by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood that they officiated. There are many passages in the Book of Mormon in which reference is given to the Holy Priesthood. We should also remember that the record that we have received is an abridgment, and therefore many of the details are of necessity missing. Moreover, we are informed that many important things have been withheld from us because of the hardness of our hearts and our unwillingness, as members of the Church, to abide in the covenants or seek for divine knowledge.

In the case of Alma and his priesthood, we are left to surmise that he legally and divinely received it before the days of King Noah. We read that Zeniff, the father of Noah, was a righteous man. Alma evidently received the priesthood in the days of Zeniff, and at no time did he fully accept the teachings nor with full purpose follow the counsels and procedure of Noah and his wicked priests…

Just at what time Alma received the priesthood is not clearly stated, but we may presume that it occurred before Noah came to the throne. Moreover, we must also conclude that Alma at no time truly entered into the wickedness of this wicked king…

Where did Alma get his authority? Evidently he obtained it when he received the priesthood, which through his repentance he had not lost. There can be no serious question in relation to his authority, for it is written – “And it came to pass that Alma; having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 18:18). (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 4, 161-162.)

Whenever anyone is ordained to the priesthood, there is a conferral of keys. One does not hold the priesthood without a priesthood office. Every office holds keys of authority, or else there is no priesthood. Whenever Alma received his authority, it was by ordination from an authorized servant of God, and it contained keys.

Consider these scriptures that contain the concept of keys of authority being used and conferred:

Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, 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.
Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people. (Hel. 10:6–7)

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people. (2 Nephi 5:26)

And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God. (Mosiah 8:16)

And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God. And Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself an unworthy servant. (Mosiah 21:33)

And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men. (Mosiah 23:17)

I, Alma, having been consecrated by my father, Alma, to be a high priest over the church of God, he having power and authority from God to do these things, behold, I say unto you that he began to establish a church in the land which was in the borders of Nephi; yea, the land which was called the land of Mormon; yea, and he did baptize his brethren in the waters of Mormon. (Alma 5:3)

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. (Alma 13:1)

But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God. (Alma 17:3)

Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.
And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:
Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. (3 Nephi 11:23–25)

And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am. (3 Nephi 12:1)

Just because the Book of Mormon does not mention “keys” by name does not mean that they weren’t in use extensively, and being conferred from generation to generation, throughout Book of Mormon history, because, as we can see here, they were.

On the same note, we can surmise that there is also extensive temple work and temple references in the Book of Mormon, even if superficially the temple seems to be little spoken of, but only if we are willing to look for them.  Over the last several months I have found the Book of Mormon quite literally saturated with the temple, but it is because I’ve had it as a conscious focus of mine as I have been reading and studying it.

34 Comments

  1. Michael Towns
    Posted July 29, 2008 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Mormon is quite insistent in noting that he couldn’t even write the “hundredth” part of the records he abridged. Critics of the Church, both LDS and non-LDS, always seek to justify their unorthodox positions by resorting to “well, it’s not really mentioned in the Book of Mormon”.

    The Book of Mormon is not, and never was intended to be, a complete encyclopedia or compendium of total gospel doctrine. It simply brings people to Christ by exhorting faith, repentance, baptism, and personal righteousness.

    Of course, that is the crux of their beef: they want to do away with faith, repentance, etc. Those gospel fundamentals usually get in the way of “enlightened” positions on gay marriage, Gaia, and hatred of Republicans.

  2. Posted July 29, 2008 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait for Elder Maxwell’s triad of truth from the Lost Tribes that will further clarify the conferral of priesthood keys.

  3. Posted July 30, 2008 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    My understanding is that keys were the right to preside not the right to authority. I’m not sure how your scriptures establish the right to preside as evidence of the existence of keys in the Book of Mormon.

  4. Posted July 30, 2008 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your comment Kim. The right to preside does not stand alone. To preside over what? The keys. The First Presidency, who hold all the keys at all times, preside over priesthood functions, organizations, officers and ordinances made possible by certain keys of authority that they confer to others in order that these may exercise their priesthood in certain ways. This is a conferral of authority. Yes, the presidency may revoke those keys at any time, but the particular authority and keys that any priesthood holder has to baptize or administer any other ordinance are precisely the same authority and keys that the presidency holds. This is authority to act in God’s name.

    President Joseph F. Smith said:

    What is a key? It is the right or privilege which belongs to and comes with the priesthood to have communication with God. Is not that a key? Most decidedly. We may not enjoy the blessings, or key, very much, but the key is in the priesthood. It is the right to enjoy the blessing of communication with the heavens, and the privilege and authority to administer in the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. That is a key. You who hold the priesthood have the key or the authority, the right, the power or privilege to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the gospel of repentance and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., p. 142.)

    The Encyclopedia of Mormonism reads:

    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.

    Whenever anyone performs a priesthood ordinance, it is by exercising the keys of the priesthood that they have been given to do so. Priesthood does not and can not act without keys of authority. Because of this, there is much evidence of keys in the Book of Mormon, as we have seen.

  5. Posted July 30, 2008 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “To preside over what?”

    The use of authority. The EQP presides over the elders’ use of their authority. The bishop presides over the AP use of their authority and so forth.

    For example, consider what Elder Merrill J. Bateman said in October 2003 conference:

    “The priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated to man. Priesthood keys are the right to direct the use of that power. The President of the Church holds the keys necessary for governing the entire Church. His counselors in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also hold the keys of the kingdom and operate under the President’s direction. Stake presidents, bishops, and temple, mission, and quorum presidents are given keys to guide the Church in their jurisdictions.”

  6. Posted July 30, 2008 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Exactly Kim. The “use of authority” is given through conferral of keys. Alma and every other prophet in the Book of Mormon was given the power, authority, and keys to direct the use of priesthood power to baptize, ordain, preach, and do other missionary work. No priesthood ordinance is ever performed without the keys of authority pertaining to that ordinance being first given to the officiator. No doubt such keys also functioned in the temples of the Book of Mormon too.

  7. Posted July 30, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    “The ‘use of authority’ is given through conferral of keys.”

    I view it as being more like the “use of authority” is given because of conferral of keys, not through the the conferral. That implies everyone who exercises authority has keys.

    Even so, the scriptures above don’t prove keys existed. That’s a supposition you make, which is probably true.

  8. Posted July 30, 2008 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Everyone who exercises authority has keys to do so. Therefore, whenever Book of Mormon characters exercise priesthood authority it can only be with keys. They are inseparable. There is no other way of using the priesthood but by keys of authority. As President Joseph F. Smith said, keys “belong to and come with the priesthood.”

  9. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Then how do you explain Elder Bateman’s modifier “Their counselors do not hold keys”?

  10. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Counselors do not hold the presiding keys, or in other words, all the keys of the office of president, but they certainly still hold keys of authority, otherwise they would have no priesthood.

    We don’t confer any priesthood authority to anyone in the Church without also ordaining them to an office in that priesthood at the same time. This is because the priesthood is always associated with keys of authority in every office. Priesthood is not held without the keys of an office.

  11. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Elder Bateman is talking about all counsellors, not just the ones in the first presidency. I am an EQP, and my counsellors were given no keys in their callings.

  12. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I am an Elder’s Quorum secretary, and I didn’t receive keys either with my “calling.” But we still have the keys that pertain to the “office” of Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood. We can still bless others with consecrated oil, for instance. This is a key of authority.

  13. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    You can have priesthood without receiving keys. Keys are simply for governing the use of the authority. No one has keys conferred on them (except for a calling), only priesthood.

  14. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    No. Offices in the priesthood come with keys of priesthood authority. One of the steps of conferring the priesthood and ordaining to an office in the priesthood is the following declaration:

    Ordains the person to an office in the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood and bestows the rights, powers, and authority of that office. (link)

    The “rights, powers, and authority of that office” are keys to exercise the priesthood in ways that a deacon, a teacher, or priest cannot. Yes, many of the keys cannot be exercised unless authorized by presiding authority, but they are still there. And when they are exercised, they are the keys of the priesthood.

  15. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    You can bless soemone with consecrated oil because you have an elders quorum president who directs the performing of the ordinance through his keys, not because of keys you hold.

    Again, Elder Batemean said “priesthood keys are the right to direct the use of that power.” To direct the use of the power, not to use the power.

  16. Posted July 30, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    “The ‘rights, powers, and authority of that office’ are keys”

    Huh? Now you are equating authority and power with keys? That doesn’t make any sense.

  17. Posted July 30, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Kim, every blessing that I have performed on the sick and afflicted with consecrated oil has never been authorized nor directed by an Elder’s Quorum president. There is no instruction to that effect, that this ordinance must be done “under the direction of” anyone. Healing blessings are a key of authority pertaining to the office of an Elder, as are father’s blessings and blessings of comfort and counsel. The keys of this authority have already been given to me from the President of the Church to act in this regard when I was ordained an Elder.

  18. Posted July 30, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Yes, keys are authority and power. Why is this confusing to you?

  19. Posted July 30, 2008 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    President Joseph F. Smith taught:

    In their fulness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the Prophet and President of the Church. He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor. (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., p. 136.)

  20. Posted July 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    A key is the right to perform any ordinance in the priesthood. So when I am authorized to perform any priesthood ordinance, it is because I have been given the key to do so.

    No man, I do not care who he is or how much priesthood he holds, has any right to officiate in any ordinance of this gospel for any soul contrary to the sanction and the approval of the man who holds the keys of authority in this Church. Now the Lord has told us that. (Elder McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 135)

  21. Posted July 30, 2008 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Returning again to President Joseph F. Smith:

    It is the right to enjoy the blessing of communication with the heavens, and the privilege and authority to administer in the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. That is a key. You who hold the priesthood have the key or the authority, the right, the power or privilege to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the gospel of repentance and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., p. 142.)

  22. Posted July 30, 2008 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Bryce,

    Current church policy is that “keys are the right to preside and direct the Church within a jurisdiction.” (CHI, 2, p. 161) Non-presiding Melchizedek Priesthood holders do not preside and do not direct the Church within a jurisdiction.

    Whether your quorum president was with you or not is irrelevant to his directing the use of the Melchizedek Priesthood by his quorum members. It his responsibility that they are trained properly in how to perform ordinances.

  23. Posted July 30, 2008 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Kim,

    Yes, the keys are the right to preside and direct the work of ordinances. But as I have quoted extensively from the brethren, when any priesthood holder exercises their priesthood it is because they have been given the key or keys from the presiding authority pertaining to that particular exercise. No ordinance is ever performed unless the officiator has been given the keys to perform it. Please review the quotations from the brethren above.

  24. Posted July 31, 2008 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Great discussion Bryce and Kim!

    I have had this discussion several times over the last year or so. And we debated this nicely in HP group (not quorum – no keys) last week.

    I believe that Kim is correct, but with the exception of “You can bless someone with consecrated oil because you have an elders quorum president who directs the performing of the ordinance through his keys” (said by Kim)

    If tomorrow I was the last priesthood holder on earth I could not become the prophet, apostle, or bishop, I don’t have keys. I could not baptize or pass the sacrament, or administer temple ordinances because these must be done under authority of keys. But I can bless someone, prophesy, etc. but I can not administer ordinances without someone with keys directing the work. And just having priesthood does not imply key. Those who hold that position, in my opinion are usually just misreading D&C 107.

    From what I can see, the Book of Mormon clearly states that Alma had priesthood, and either had his own keys, or worked under the keys of someone else. For example, I hold no keys (and not in bishopric), but the bishop has left me in charge, under his keys, to run the ward for a week. In that situation I could run the ward forever, okaying the sacrament, approving baptisms (this could cause a paperwork problem), what ever, to the extend that he gave me permission. As a missionary district leader has no keys to approve baptisms, but does it under the direction of his mission president, who does have keys. IMHO.

    But, once again, I know this is a minority view.

    -David

    -David

  25. Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    David,

    What about President Joseph F. Smith’s teachings above? When the presidency authorizes priesthood ordinances to be performed, it is because they have given the officiators keys to do the work, have they not? The officiator can’t give them to others, and the presiding authority can revoke those keys at any time, but they nevertheless still hold them. In other words, the officiator has authoritative keys to perform ordinances, not presiding keys to give them to others or to direct the work of others. That is how they can perform their labors with authority, under the direction and conferral of keys by the presiding authority.

  26. Posted July 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Bryce:

    I think we have a language problem. IMHO, “actual” keys are only given by the laying on of hands, and reside in a president, bishop, apostle, etc.. And they are not given when priesthood is given. They are given when set apart to a presidency etc. (however apostles each have all the keys necessary to run the kingdom).

    Now, it may not be improper in a less specific sense to say that when just a regular elder does a baptism, he did it with the “keys,” but I think this usage of the word “keys” is meaning authority in a less technical sense, a general acknowledgment of proper authority, meaning it was done under the umbrella of authority.

    Notice that in the restoration process, Joseph Smith had the priesthood, but keys were given over a period of time. Because he had the priesthood at first, does not mean he had authority to administer the temple ordinances, until he received those keys.

    When the bishop authorizes me to do a baptism, he has not given me keys in a specific technical sense, but in a general sense, because I am working under his keys.

    In at least two senses, the word “keys” can be equated with the word “authority.” But the authority of keys authority is beyond just holding the priesthood. That is why we are not given keys when we receive the priesthood. IMHO.

    -David

  27. Posted July 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I agree that the use of the term “keys” is twofold. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states this:

    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.

    It is in the first sense of the word that every priesthood holder has keys to perform ordinances in the name of Jesus Christ. Elder McConkie also agrees with this:

    Two different usages of the term keys are found in the revelations. One has reference to the directive powers whereby the Church or kingdom and all its organizations are governed, the keys of the kingdom being the powers of presidency. The other usage refers to the means provided whereby something is revealed, discovered, or made manifest. (Mormon Doctrine)

    The “rights, powers, and authority” that are conferred when someone is ordained to an office in the priesthood are keys (link). It is the authority to perform ordinances.

    I agree that Joseph (and Oliver) were given all the keys over time. However, as soon as they were given the Aaronic Priesthood they had the keys (or authority) to baptize each other. In an interesting twist of the natural timing of things, they ordained each other after they baptized each other. But that’s what they were commanded to do.

    As you said, I think it is not improper to say that whenever anyone performs a priesthood ordinance, it is by the keys (or authority) that they have been given to do so. Keys are twofold. 1) Authority of presidency. 2) Authority to perform ordinances.

  28. Posted August 1, 2008 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Bryce:

    Good points.

    One note. Joseph and Oliver did baptize each other unto repentance (there were no authorized presidencies on the earth). They were re- baptized when the church was restored .

    -David

  29. Posted August 1, 2008 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    May I touch on the ‘Alma’ question again. We know that when Noah became king, he “put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts.” (Mosiah 11:5) I have to assume that “all” in this circumstance means ALL. A rational conclusion would be that this represented a break with the line of ordinations of priests, if that were even the case.

    Once Alma exits the court of Noah and begins teaching, he next brings the people to the waters of Mormon. I find it very interesting that when he takes Helam into the water, he asks “O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.” (Mosiah 18:12) This seems to be a plea for ‘authority.’ He plea is answered as the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him (verse 12) and then proceeds to baptize him ‘having authority.” Rather then depend on a missing link, I prefer to pull the most rational meaning out of the text of the scriptures. This scenario, where Alma gets his authority directly from God, is equally plausible to your ‘missing’ information. How is it that God cannot call Alma to restore the knowledge and practice of the gospel? Perhaps, the intent of the story of Alma is to demonstrate just that point.

  30. Posted August 1, 2008 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    spektator,

    Just remember, authority is always and has always been conferred by the laying on of hands by those in authority. That is the eternal order of things. Consequently, that must have been the mode by which Alma received his authority to baptize, just as Joseph and Oliver.

  31. Posted August 2, 2008 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    It is important to remember that the priesthood or authority of ANY man is conditional upon righteousnes, lack of pride, amdition and greed. Any attempt at dominion or compulsion will result in a man’s authority being null and void. We are also told that almost all men have this problem.

    Yes, Bryce. There are two options here. You can either fit the scriptures to your view or seek to understand what is in the scriptures.

    I had intended to contribute to your ‘one true church’ thread but you closed it. If you will permit me, I would like to add something that is pertinent to both threads.

    In 3 Nephi 27, the Lord establishes his criteria on whether an organization can be deemed as ‘his church.’ Here they are:

    1. If it is called in my name then it is my church (verse 8 )

    This one is pretty easy. His church should be called the church of Christ, as we find noted in the scriptures.

    2. If it is built upon my gospel (verse 8 )

    This one is a bit more challenging and begs the question: How does Christ define his gospel. Fortunately, He provides a clear answer later in the chapter, and summarized it in this verses 19 through 21. This reference along with three others can be used to define the gospel. These include D&C 33:11–12, D&C 39:6, D&C 76:40–42.

    In reviewing these four references, here is the summation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He came into the world to save the world We must repent, be baptized with water and with fire and the Holy Ghost in order to receive a remission of our sins and be sanctified.

    It is certainly debatable in my mind whether the church truly supports the idea of baptism of fire. This concept is foreign to most members and has been demoted to the result of a long Christ-centered life. According to the doctrine of Christ found in 2 Nephi 31:17–20, baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost is how we receive a remission of our sins and is the GATE (read entry) to the strait and narrow path to eternal life.

    On this count, the LDS church is found lacking.

    3. If it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men… (verse 10-11)

    What are the works of the Father? They are the same works that Christ did when He was among the Nephites (verse 21) There is a good summary in 3 Nephi 26:13–15 with the focus on the miracles performed by Christ among the Nephites; healing all their sick and raising dead.

    What do we have as criteria for the condition of the LDS church? The late President Hinckley offered this information several times in the last ten years. These markers of the condition of the church included tithing, temple attendance, building temples and meeting houses, and renovating downtown Salt Lake City. May I ask, do these sound like the works of God as defined in the scriptures? No, they are the works of men. As such, ‘they will have joy in their works for a season.’ (2 Nephi 27:11)

    Again, the LDS church is found wanting.

    So, according to my count, the LDS church is batting 1 out of three.

  32. Posted August 2, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    spektator,

    The baptism by fire and of the Holy Ghost begins when one is confirmed a member of the Church and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is being commanded to receive the Holy Ghost. Does this happen instantly? No. It is a command to receive the Spirit of God in our lives, and it does take time. It is through Christ-centered actions and lifestyle that we become like Christ such that we can become free from sin and have the enjoyment of the Holy Ghost to be continually with us. That is why the sacrament prayers repeat the covenant, “that they may have His Spirit to be with them….” This baptism by fire often comes through a lifelong giving of our will to God, and sanctifying ourselves in His word. That sanctification comes as we repent of our sins, having a desire to sin no more, and come closer to perfection. It is a gate, as you have duly noted, but the straight and narrow path still lays behind it. So, yes, the Church is fully and completely built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    God’s works have been made manifest in this Church since the beginning, and continue today. Miracles have been and are still being performed by the servants of the Almighty in this Church. If one cannot see them, then it could be a lack of faith that causes such blindness. “But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe” (D&C 63:9). We must have faith first before we will be able to see the signs. No one outside the Church can see these miracles, because they do not have the faith necessary. No one inside the Church can see them either, save they have faith. I personally saw countless miracles on my mission, some of them too sacred to share. I still see many miracles. But I see them because I have faith in Christ, and faith in God. Christ would not have been able to perform a single miracle among the Nephites unless they had faith.

    Does tithing, temple attendance, building temples and meetinghouses, and renovating downtown SLC show the condition of the Church? Only on a superficial administrative level. The currents of God’s miracles in this Church go much deeper than that. President Hinckley was simply giving an update on some of those administrative matters, something he did in every General Conference. Those items were “business” items. If you want to hear some of the many miracles that are happening in the Church today, pay close attention to the words of our current Prophet and President Thomas S. Monson. Nearly every talk he gives is filled to the brim of miracles that are occurring throughout the Church, without measure. So, yes, the Church does show forth the works of God in it, if we have an eye to see them, and the faith to have them.

    Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. (Deut. 29:4)

    13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
    14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
    15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
    16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
    17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. (Matt. 13:13–17)

    He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? (Ps. 94:9)

    And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. (Isa. 32:3)

    Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
    Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence… (Jer. 5:21–22)

    Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house. (Ezek. 12:2)

    Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? (Mark 8:18)

    For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated. (D&C 1:2)

    Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear;
    For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly. (D&C 136:32–33)

    And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off;
    And for these many generations, ever since the day that I created them, have they gone astray, and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark… (Moses 6:27–28)

  33. Posted August 2, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Bruce,
    Then explain to me why 2 Nephi 31:17–18 defines baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost is the GATE to the strait and narrow path to eternal life. What else is the strait and narrow path than that Christ-centered life of which you speak?

    Also, according to Moroni 6:1–5, it is expected that we be ‘wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost’ before we can be ‘numbered among the people of the church.’ It is clearly more, in both cases, than simply receiving the gift of Holy Ghost at confirmation. The expectation cited here the the same sanctification described in 3 Nephi 27: 19–20.

    Abandoning the true significance of the baptism by fire as characterized in the scriptures is rejecting the fulness of the gospel. The examples of Alma, Enos, the people of King Benjamin, and the 300 Lamanites were given that we may liken to scriptures to ourselves. This is what is meant by repent and come unto me since it is Christ who will baptize us with fire and with the Holy Ghost just as he promised the Nephites in 3 Nephi 12:1.

  34. Posted August 2, 2008 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    spektator,

    Yes, baptism and confirmation are the GATE to the strait and narrow. I don’t disagree with that. The strait and narrow is lifelong service, sanctification, and consecration to the will of God. Only that will lead us to eternal life.

    Why is being baptized and “wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost” different than receiving baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost? I don’t see the difference. We are cleansed from all sin when we are baptized and are confirmed, and as we keep our covenants, repent, and partake of the sacrament every week, our sins are continually remitted and we continually become more sanctified.

    Yes, there is a baptism by fire when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, but it continues throughout a lifetime of submitting ourselves to the will of God, until we become one with Christ and the Father.

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