The Oath and Covenant                                                                   Chapter 26of the PriesthoodIntrodu...
Chapter 26we shall receive all that the Father hath, which is    ■  “It is of utmost importance that we keep clearlylife e...
Chapter 26which every man is his own minister, in which           ■  “The faithful in the priesthood are those whoevery ma...
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  1. 1. The Oath and Covenant Chapter 26of the PriesthoodIntroduction Supporting Statements Because the responsibility of holding the A. The Melchizedek Priesthood is received by anpriesthood is so great, all who receive it do so by oath and a oath and a covenant. Honoring the covenant ■ “A covenant is a binding and solemn agreementmeans that “the man who accepts the priesthood entered into by at least two individuals. It requiresalso accepts the responsibilities that go with it. that all parties involved abide the conditions of theHe promises that he will give service and make compact in order to make it effective and binding”himself approved” (Joseph Fielding Smith, in (ElRay L. Christiansen, in Conference Report, Oct.Conference Report, Apr. 1966, 102). 1972, 44; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, 50). ■ “To swear with an oath is the most solemnDoctrinal Outline and binding form of speech known to the human tongue; and it was this type of language which theA. The Melchizedek Priesthood is received by an Father chose to have used in the great Messianicoath and a covenant. prophecy about Christ and the priesthood. Of him1. A covenant is a solemn promise between two it says: ‘The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, parties (see Genesis 6:18; 17:1–8; 1 Samuel 18:3; Thou art a priest for ever after the order of D&C 82:10). Melchizedek.’ (Ps. 110:4.)” (Joseph Fielding2. Oaths are sworn affirmations that we will be true Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 92). and faithful to our promises (see Numbers 30:2; ■ “In ancient dispensations, particularly the Alma 53:11; 1 Nephi 4:35–37). Mosaic, the taking of oaths was an approved and3. God uses oaths to confirm His promises to us formal part of the religious lives of the people. (see Genesis 26:3; Deuteronomy 7:8; Jeremiah 11:5; These oaths were solemn appeals to Deity, or to Acts 2:30; Moses 7:51). some sacred object or thing, in attestation of the4. In accepting the covenant of the priesthood, a man truth of a statement or of a sworn determination promises to receive the priesthood and to magnify to keep a promise. These statements, usually made his callings in it (see D&C 84:32–39, 43–44). in the name of the Lord, by people who valuedB. Righteousness is the key to priesthood power their religion and their word above their lives,and eternal life. could be and were relied upon with absolute1. God is trying to make His mortal children a assurance. (Num. 30.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, nation of priests and kings (see Exodus 19:6; Mormon Doctrine, 537–38). Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; D&C 76:55–56). ■ “Beginning in the meridian of time the law2. “The rights of the priesthood are inseparably whereunder men might take oaths in righteousness connected with the powers of heaven” and was done away, and the saints were commanded to can be controlled only upon the principles of refrain from their use. . . . righteousness (D&C 121:36; see also vv. 34–35). “No such restriction on oath taking, however,3. Those who hold the priesthood are to lead and applies to Deity. Both in ancient and modern times govern only by love, kindness, and persuasion he has spoken to his saints with an oath. (D. & C. (see D&C 121:41–46). 124:47.) The great covenant made with Abraham4. Priestcraft is a counterfeit of priesthood and that in him and in his seed all generations should be causes us to err (see 2 Nephi 26:29; Alma 1:2–12; blessed was made by God with an oath in which Micah 3:11; D&C 33:4). Deity swore in his own name (because he could swear by no higher) that the covenant would be5. Corrupt men lose the power of the priesthood (see D&C 121:37–40). fulfilled. (Gen. 17; Deut. 7:8; 29:10–15; Luke 1:67–75; Heb. 6:13–20.)” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 538).6. Righteous men gain eternal life by faithfully ■ “When we receive the Melchizedek Priesthood observing the oath and covenant of the priesthood (see D&C 84:33–39; 121:45–46). we do so by covenant. We solemnly promise to receive the priesthood, to magnify our callings in it, and to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. The Lord on his part promises us that if we keep the covenant, 69
  2. 2. Chapter 26we shall receive all that the Father hath, which is ■ “It is of utmost importance that we keep clearlylife eternal. Can any of us conceive of a greater or in mind what the magnifying of our callings in themore glorious agreement than this?” (Smith, in priesthood requires of us. I am persuaded that itConference Report, Oct. 1970, 91). requires at least the following three things:■ “Now, you made an oath, when you received “1. That we obtain a knowledge of the gospel.the priesthood. You made an oath, and you cannot “2. That we comply in our personal living withwith impunity ignore that oath. You promised. the standards of the gospel.When the stake president or mission president “3. That we give dedicated service” (Marion G.interviews, or the bishop or branch president, he Romney, in Conference Report, Oct. 1980, 64; orasks promises: ‘Will you? Do you? Have you done? Ensign, Nov. 1980, 44).Will you continue to do?’ And with that oath and ■ “They shall be ‘sanctified by the Spirit untothe promise, you move forward into your service in the renewing of their bodies.’ I present to you thethe Melchizedek Priesthood” (Spencer W. Kimball, thought that President David O. McKay, who wasin Stockholm Sweden Area Conference Report in his nineties, President Joseph Fielding Smith,1974, 99). who was in his nineties, and all the Presidents of■ “One breaks the priesthood covenant by the Church since almost the beginning becametransgressing commandments—but also by men of advanced age, that their bodies wereleaving undone his duties. Accordingly, to break renewed, and their spirits were sanctified”this covenant one needs only to do nothing” (Kimball, in Stockholm Sweden Area Conference(Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Report 1974, 99).Kimball, 497). ■ “Have you thought of that? ‘All that my Father■ “The Lord has made clear that they who hath’: to be a God; to be a great leader; to bereceive his priesthood receive him. And I think perfect; to have all the blessings which you canthat means more than just sitting in a chair and ascribe to your Father in heaven—all that ishaving somebody put his hands upon your head. available to you and me as we hold theI think when you receive it, you accept it. You do priesthoods, particularly the Melchizedeknot just merely sit. ‘And he that receiveth my Priesthood, which of course comes only after theFather receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore Aaronic Priesthood” (Kimball, in Stockholmall that my Father hath shall be given unto him.’ Sweden Area Conference Report 1974, 99).Can you imagine anything greater? Shouldn’t we B. Righteousness is the key to priesthood powerbe frightened, almost awed as we contemplate the and eternal life.honor we have and the responsibility we have that ■ “Whenever the Lord has a people on earth hehas come from the oath and the covenant” offers to make them a nation of kings and priests—(Kimball, in Stockholm Sweden Area Conference not a congregation of lay members with a priest orReport 1974, 100). a minister at the head—but a whole Church in70
  3. 3. Chapter 26which every man is his own minister, in which ■ “The faithful in the priesthood are those whoevery man stands as a king in his own right, fulfill the covenant by ‘magnifying their calling’reigning over his own family-kingdom. The and living ‘by every word that proceedeth forthpriesthood which makes a man a king and a priest from the mouth of God.’ (D&C 84:33, 44.) Far moreis thus a royal priesthood” (Bruce R. McConkie, seems to be implied in these requirements thanDoctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:294). token obedience—far more is needed than mere■ “Most men are inclined to abuse authority, attendance at a few meetings and token fulfillmentespecially those who wield it who are the least of assignments. The perfection of body and spiritprepared to hold positions of trust. It has been the are implied, and that includes the kind of servicecharacteristic of men in power to use that power to that goes far beyond the normal definition ofgratify their own pride and vain ambitions. More duty. ‘Behold, there are many called, but few aremisery has come to the inhabitants of this world chosen.’ (D&C 121:34.)” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Thethrough the exercise of authority by those who Example of Abraham,” Ensign, June 1975, 4).least deserved it, than from almost any other cause. ■ “Now, the sealing for eternity gives to youRulers of kingdoms in the past have oppressed eternal leadership. The man will have the authoritytheir subjects, and where they had the power they of the priesthood, and if he keeps his life in orderhave sought to increase their dominions. We have he will become a god. . . . The Lord created thishad some horrible examples of misplaced ambition earth for us and made it a beautiful place to live.which, in recent years, placed the very existence of He promised us that if we would live the righthumanity in peril. These conditions still prevail in way we could come back to him and be like him”high places bringing fear and consternation to the (Spencer W. Kimball, in São Paulo Brazil Areatroubled world. Conference Report 1975, 43). “There should not, however, be any of this ■ “What then, is the doctrine of the priesthood?unrighteous ambition within the Church, but And how shall we live as the servants of the Lord?everything should be done in the spirit of love “This doctrine is that God our Father is aand humility” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church glorified, a perfected, and an exalted being whoHistory and Modern Revelation, 2:178). has all might, all power, and all dominion, who■ “The priesthood cannot be conferred like a knows all things and is infinite in all his attributes,diploma. It cannot be handed to you as a certificate. and who lives in the family unit.It cannot be delivered to you as a message or sent to “It is that our Eternal Father enjoys this highyou in a letter. It comes only by proper ordination. status of glory and perfection and power becauseAn authorized holder of the priesthood has to be his faith is perfect and his priesthood is unlimited.there. He must place his hands upon your head and “It is that priesthood is the very name of theordain you. . . . power of God, and that if we are to become like “I have told you how the authority is given to him, we must receive and exercise his priesthoodyou. The power you receive will depend on what or power as he exercises do with this sacred, unseen gift. “It is that he has given us an endowment of “Your authority comes through your ordination; heavenly power here on earth, which is after theyour power comes through obedience and order of his Son and which, because it is the powerworthiness” (Boyd K. Packer, That All May Be of God, is of necessity without beginning of daysEdified, 28–29). or end of years.■ “There is no limit to the power of the priesthood “It is that we can enter an order of thewhich you hold. The limit comes in you if you do priesthood named the new and everlastingnot live in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord and covenant of marriage (see D&C 131:2), named alsoyou limit yourselves in the power you exert” the patriarchal order, because of which order we(Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 498). can create for ourselves eternal family units of our■ “Priesthood and priestcraft are two opposites; own, patterned after the family of God ourone is of God, the other of the devil. When Heavenly Father.ministers claim but do not possess the priesthood; “It is that we have power, by faith, to governwhen they set themselves up as lights to their and control all things, both temporal and spiritual;congregations, but do not preach the pure and full to work miracles and perfect lives; to stand in thegospel; when their interest is in gaining personal presence of God and be like him because we havepopularity and financial gain, rather than in gained his faith, his perfections, and his power, orcaring for the poor and ministering to the wants in other words the fulness of his priesthood”and needs of their fellow men—they are engaged, (Bruce R. McConkie, in Conference Report, a greater or lesser degree, in the practice of 1982, 50; or Ensign, May 1982, 33–34).priestcrafts” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 593). 71