Feast upon the Word Blog

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RS/MP Chapter 17: “Priesthood—’for the Salvation of the Human Family’” (Lorenzo Snow Manual)

Posted by Robert C. on September 13, 2013

(Apologies this is late.)

The lesson from the manual can be found here.

From the opening “Life of” part of the lesson, I am impressed with Pres. Snow’s patience in waiting on the Lord (see, for example, Isaiah 40:31). I think sometimes we get overzealous in efforts to share the Gospel, and in other aspects of our lives. It’s easy to use this as an excuse, and to let fear prevent us from showing courage and exercising faith to do something we should do, but it is also dangerous to be overly impatient in trying to bring about good on our own timetable rather than the Lord’s. The priesthood is not something that can be bent to our own will, but brings blessing to our lives only when we wait humbly and patiently.

In the next section, regarding delegated authority, I like Pres. Snow’s rhetorical question, “Can I give [the gift of the Holy Ghost?" Pres. Snow answers "no," of course, and elaborates on how priesthood authorities only act "as a messenger of the Almighty to whom has been delegated authority." D&C 122 reminds us how easy it is to abuse authority, and I think this attitude toward the priesthood, and to any position of authority in the Church or in secular life, should be adopted. I am reminded of this as a father, that it is as though I have been entrusted to care for my children, while they are young, to help care for them and teach then the Gospel. Although I will always be the father of my children, the kind of care I give them now is temporary. I think it's helpful to think of callings and priesthood ordinances in a similar manner, as temporary/temporal activities or enactments that have eternal significance, but only because we such acts are commissioned by our Eternal Father.

The next section, on "happiness" being the purpose of the priesthood is my favorite section of the lesson. If happiness is not the fruit of the Gospel in our lives, "in this life and throughout eternity," then we are doing something wrong. True, this does not mean we will be spared hardships or suffering, but oftentimes we fail to experience happiness because we have a warped relationship to the Gospel. I've been thinking a fair bit about guilt lately, and the good and bad (usually bad, IMHO!) reasons we experience guilt in the Church. The Gospel is a message of joy, and although it is sometimes painful to live the Gospel, I think happiness is a good yardstick for measuring whether we are properly understanding and applying the Gospel and the priesthood in our lives. If we don't see or use the priesthood as an aid toward happiness, then something is amiss (and it's not the priesthood that is the problem!).

The final section of the lesson is about priesthood holders "seek[ing] diligently and energetically for spiritual gifts.” Because the priesthood is (currently…) held by men (at least outside of the temple) in the Church, this part of the lesson is focused on men. I recently had a conversation with a friend about the benefits that have come through the “feminization” of society, how in this day and age there tends to be less brutality than in previous ages. Nevertheless, there are many vices that men are particularly prone to, and I am very grateful for the righteous examples that priesthood leaders set, as a light to the world regarding what men should be like and are capable of. News events and headlines have made me especially grateful for the teachings that we receive as men in the Church, particularly about the importance of respecting women, and avoiding harmful ideas, thoughts, images, etc. It is increasingly rare to hear these kinds of values taught, especially outside of religious communities. Being worthy of the priesthood requires these values, and just as God and angels rejoice when such values are adhered to, so do they sorrow when they are not.

Although I have not bothered to offer very many specific quotes in this week’s lesson, I hope these thoughts will help inspire you as your read, study, and ponder this lesson on your own.

2 Responses to “RS/MP Chapter 17: “Priesthood—’for the Salvation of the Human Family’” (Lorenzo Snow Manual)”

  1. Dawn Bradbury said

    I am so curious to know…did Joseph Guy’s family become members? Did Joseph serve a mission? WHAT HAPPENED to him and his family? can you find out?

  2. Awesome lesson Robert!

    “I have been entrusted to care for my children, while they are young, to help care for them and teach them the Gospel” [for me personally, this touched a chord that reached to the very center of my soul]

    Happiness is a condition of the soul. This joyous state comes as a result of righteous living.

    Happiness” being the purpose of the priesthood [“ is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”]

    Helaman 3:27-30

    27 Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.

    28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.

    29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—

    30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.

    20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

    The final section of the lesson is about priesthood holders “seek[ing] diligently and energetically for spiritual gifts.

    “Being worthy of the priesthood requires these values, and just as God and angels rejoice when such values are adhered to, so do they sorrow when they are not” [I was really moved by this].

    A noteworthy yet subtle detail of then Elder Snow took before contemplating the course he should take, to the blessing of little 3 year old Joseph Guy, whom was laying on death’s bed, especially under the current negative climate towards Mormons of that time?

    From the get go they went about befriending the people and setting good example

    6 Sep 1850
    “For some hours before I retired to rest, I called upon the Lord to assist us at this time [prayed in solemnity of heart]. My feelings on this occasion will not be easily erased from memory.”

    7 Sep 1850
    That morning “he proposed…that we should fast, and retire to the mountains and pray,” called and visited the little boy…felt compassion and was filled with love towards that little boy. He regarded this circumstance as one of vast importance. There was a willingness to offer “his all” at the altar of sacrifice for the righteous desire of his heart. A few hours later they proceeded to administer the priesthood blessing. He had faith enough and trusted in God and a miracle was wrought about!

    Was there not an echo “as if” a voice from the dead… words from those long ago?

    Alma 17:29
    Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.

    Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God. [Alma 6:6]
    [Al. 31:5] And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

    It seems that revelation and prophecy are the outcome for much prayer, study, and fasting.

    For Latter-Day Saints, we fast as a Church once per month, in order to provide for the poor and needy. However, it seems that Ammon and his brethren fasted much more often. They seem to have fasted (almost to starvation), in order to gain a better understanding of the scriptures and truth all for the welfare of souls and their devotion to our Great GOD! Fasting and prayer seem to have opened their minds to the mysteries of godliness.

    When you are about our Fathers work, you will find no greater power and you will see Him moving in all His Glory and Majesty, and the mysteries of His kingdom will open even unto you.

    1 Ne.1: 20
    And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

    We know that God is omnipotent and Omnipotence is the possession of all unlimited power, and that there is no power which God does not have. Now, being assured and trusting this [faith], we can know that the power that we call upon through prayer is without limit. Our great God possess all faith, power!

    The assurance that the children of men have, is that He would NEVER act contrary to eternal law, thus he has the Allegiance of most life in a terrestrial and celestial state.

    Pres. Snow answers “no,” of course, and elaborates on how priesthood authorities only act “as a messenger of the Almighty to whom has been delegated authority.

    Also, the Holy Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God is the means of using Christ’s power (faith) through a proxy type of a relationship. There are some curious details with regards to faith, power and/or the use of priesthood power. It is late and I have a very long and busy schedule tomorrow.

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