When Joseph Smith was confined to Liberty Jail, suffering personal abuse and abuse for his people at the hands of government, he received a revelation regarding abuse of authority. However, it was not about the power or authority of government, but instead about abusing the power of God. Sitting in a Missouri dungeon, Joseph (and all those who read this revelation) are cautioned about how to handle priesthood. Things all follow rules, or laws ordained before the foundation of the world. (D&C 130: 20-21.) They cannot be violated and are invoked whenever men make choices. Choices lead to consequences, and these are ordained by God. We are free to choose. But we are not free to change the consequences.
The power of priesthood is connected with heaven. If any of us sever that connection we sever the priesthood. (D&C 121: 36-37.) If or when we abuse others by exercising unrighteous "conrtol, dominion or compulsion" and thereby forfeit priesthood, we are left to ourselves. We no longer have a connection to heaven. This is true of husbands who "rule" over wives by claim of priesthood. This is true of any of us serving in the church.
The priesthood is to bless others. It succeeds when we elevate others, bless their lives, bring them truth, and connect them with the Lord. When we focus on ourselves, or seek our own vainglory, we are abusing the priesthood and therefore, do not possess it. It is a call to serve, to kneel and wash another's feet. It is not to claim superiority over anyone we are asked to serve.
When we behave like the "gentiles" (Luke 22: 24-26), we are left without authority or power.
This solitary state of being alone, without God in the world (Mormon 5: 16), or being "left to himself" has a natural progression. The progression that follows, once our priesthood is gone, is that we "kick against the pricks"--meaning we then oppose the will of God, and it will harm us. (D&C 121: 38.) It is a law we are following. We cannot help ourselves. We must thereafter oppose the will of God and bring harm upon ourselves. In doing so, we also must "persecute the saints"-- meaning that when this route is taken, we will look for and oppose those who have remained in contact with the Lord. (Id.) It is a natural result, and it is irresistible. If this is the chosen course, anyone who follows it must seek out and oppose those who follow God's will, because they "fight against God" when they are in this gall of bitterness.
This an explanation about priesthood abuse. It cannot apply until someone has first been ordained, or in other words "called" to a priestly office. This is entirely internal to the church and its officers.
Further, the one engaging in the abuse must be in a position to actually assert "control" or "dominion" or "compulsion" over others. That would not include those who are not in positions of authority. Those who have no right to claim control, dominion or compulsion under the claim of priestly office would not be able to abuse that power. In other words, this revelation to Joseph Smith about abusing priestly authority or status is a fundamental statement of how we conduct our church. It is how we are to behave while serving in church offices.
Note also, it would apply broadly in any context where someone relies on their "priesthood" as a basis for claiming priority or demanding surrender. For most men, that hits closest in their marriage. Persuasion, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned has its greatest application within the family. Fathers should lead always with "pure knowledge" and through revelation.
The result is that while many are called (offered the chance to receive priesthood from heaven) only very few will be chosen, or receive power in their priesthood. (D&C 121: 34, 40.) Along the way the many who are called will refuse to submit to heaven and will instead become preoccupied with "covering their sins, gratifying their pride, and accomplishing their vain ambition." (D&C 121: 37.) When they do this they will exercise unrighteous control over others, establish their dominion, and wield control over the souls of men. This is the order the Lord's return will crush, because it is the commerce of Babylon to trade in the "souls of men." (Rev. 18: 13.) Churches, like the Roman Catholic Church, or some of the Fundamentalist LDS sects, claim to hold keys to consign men to hell or raise them to heaven. Such purported keys and power from God let them trade in the souls of men. These are the only ones who could conceivably trade in the "souls of men" referred to in Revelation. They are, therefore, Babylon, and the target of the Lord's destruction at His return.
On the other hand, when you find a soul in possession of the priesthood their conduct is altogether different. Since it is impossible to compel men to salvation, the priesthood can only invite, and persuade. The priesthood acknowledges it has the burden to persuade, and to convince, and cannot simply say something is so because they have authority. (D&C 121: 41.) Those who hold priesthood power can only proceed using "persuasion, longsuffering, gentleness and meekness" to enlighten those with eyes to see. (Id.) When this process is followed there is another law which confers upon the practitioner "love unfeigned" for those to whom they minister. (Id.) When they walk alongside their Lord and accept His yoke they find His love for others. This is the natural result of obeying the law governing priesthood. Love does not need to be feigned when the Lord bestows it as a grace, or an endowment, or a gift of His Spirit to one who follows Him.
It is a natural occurrence for those who abuse, rebel and apostasize from priestly ordination to then persecute the lowly and insignificant saints of God. It is natural for those who receive and magnify priesthood to find themselves loving the lowly and insignificant saints of God. These are natural gifts, normal graces bestowed by the power of God through laws instituted before the foundation of the world. It is part of the Lord's orderly program.
The content of this blog presumes you are already familiar with Denver Snuffer's books. Careful explanations given in the books lay the foundation for what is contained here. If you read this blog without having first read his books, then you assume responsibility for your own misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the writer's intent. Please do not presume to judge Mr. Snuffer's intentions if you have not first read his books.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Power in the Priesthood, Part 2
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