I never realized how much instruction (concerning the priesthood) is recorded in Mosiah…First here’s the scripture reference:
“18 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.
19 And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets.
20 Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
21 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
22 And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God.
23 And he commanded them that they should observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.
24 And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support.
25 And there was one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to assemble themselves together.
26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.” – Mosiah 18:18 – 26
I found 10 interesting points concerning those who hold the Priesthood…
- Teach nothing save it that which had been taught by the Holy Prophets. The priesthood bearers are supposed to simply teach what the Holy Prophets have taught. They shouldn’t make up new things to teach. They need to stick with the gospel basics. I think of false prophets – like Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor (and many others). They taught exactly opposite of what had been taught by the Holy Prophets.
Also – think of Alma (who is instructing the Priests right now) – he was once a priest of Noah – teaching false principles, wickedness, and sin. Teaching only the things of the Holy Prophets is a big departure from that which he taught earlier in his life.
- Preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.– So…This point has me thinking about “space doctrine” (That’s what I like to call “deep doctrine” – you know, the speculative stuff.) I can’t deny that “space doctrine” is interesting. However, it is not the responsibility of Priesthood bearers to preach such doctrine. I’m not saying that we will never know some of the “deeper doctrines” or mysteries of God, but for now, Priesthood bearers need to preach the gospel of repentance. This is what saves. This is their duty – to God and to those whom they serve.
- No Contention one with another. Often, I have thought of this as a point of instruction to the church at large. And while it is good instruction for our church and families, Alma is speaking, specifically, to the Priests.
Think of how this instruction can effect a quorum.
Christ taught this same principles, to His 12 apostles – “And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger one with another,” (3 Nephi 11:28-29).
When considering why this information is given specifically to the Priesthood, I realize how if there is contention among the members of a quorum – then they can no longer function in a way conducive to the Spirit and authority of God. They can no longer effectively serve the members of the Church. Additionally, contention sets a very bad example to the Church.
- Look forward with one eye – The members of a quorum need to have the same focus. They need to have “one eye” of faith. If each member is distracted, then they will not be able to work together. If even one member is distracted, it may cause disruption to the whole quorum. This reminds me of when Joseph Smith, with Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris went to the Lord to see if they could be the three witnesses. They couldn’t prevail with the Lord. No revelation came. Then, Martin Harris excused himself and fervently prayed/repented. He realized that he didn’t have the same focus as the others, and that it was because of him that they could not receive revelation. (See D&C Institute Student Manual).
The point is: in order for a quorum and/or the priesthood to work together properly, the bearers need to look forward with one eye.
- Having One Faith – This is closely related to “one eye” (and “one baptism – which follows). This makes me think of how many churches – even of the same denomination – can compete with one another based on the pastor. If each member of the priesthood is acting according to his own faith – rather than one faith, then it could easily lead to discord, a break-up of the quorum, a loss of authority, and priestcraft.
I’m reminded of the following scenario, “And also they had peace in the seventy and eighth year, save it were a few contentions concerning the points of doctrine which had been laid down by the prophets,” (Helaman 11:22). What followed, in the 79th year, was “much strife” that was only stopped because of the unity that existed between Nephi and Lehi – and their preaching of true doctrine and faith.
So – people can often disagree on points of faith, but we need to beware! And if this happens in a quorum, I suppose it will be a problem for the entire church (or at least the church in the area they serve).
- One Baptism – So – this is pretty obvious, yet we can see how such instruction is crucial. There is only one baptism. There is only one way. We need to be baptized, by immersion, for the remission of sins, in the name of Jesus Christ. We are baptized when we are accountable. The priests, who are the ones who have the authority to baptize, are instructed that they should baptize others in this one way. If they deviate from the given pattern, they lose their authority, and the baptism is done in vain.
- Hearts knit in unity and love one towards another. I can’t imagine that a quorum that is riddled with contention, disagreement, and bad feelings to one another gets much done. I can’t imagine that they, on their own or as a whole, can do much good for others.
Concerning this point, I think of the amazing example of the Nephites who witnessed Christ,
“17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of –ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” – 4 Nephi 1:17
The priesthood can work so much more effectively when they are unified.
- Observance of Sabbath Day; Keep it Holy – It is interesting to me that this particular piece of advice is mentioned. It seems so different than everything else mentioned to this point.
I guess a part of it is – the priests especially need to keep the Sabbath Day Holy because they are often officiating the meetings and other ordinances that happen on the Sabbath.
They are examples to the body of the church. How can they expect the people to keep the Sabbath Day Holy if they break it?
Additionally, they constitute the church government. What would church be like if our priesthood quorums weren’t keeping the sabbath day holy? We wouldn’t be able to hold our meetings. We wouldn’t be able to worship properly. We need the presiding authority of the priesthood at our meetings. This is an especially important responsibility that priesthood members have to God and to the general membership of the church.
- Give Thanks Every Day – Another interesting charge. I suppose that this speaks to the need of humility for each member of the priesthood.
The humility that comes from gratitude may also help Priesthood holders remember that the source of their Power is God. They will continue to seek His spirit. And, perhaps, be less likely to become proud. As priesthood members have been instructed in latter days:
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” D&C 121:39
I suppose that one way to curb this tendency would be to remain grateful every single day. Perhaps, then, priesthood members will be more likely to remember the source of their great power. They will not nullify their authority by exercising unrighteous dominion…
I don’t know…I’m just kind of thinking out loud.
- Labor with own hands for support. This instruction is a far cry from the priestcraft that had existed in King Noah’s “quorum.” The people were accustomed to a priest being paid. So, I’m thinking that it was essential for Alma to teach them God’s custom for Priesthood bearers.
I’m not surprised that Alma had so much to teach the brethren who held the priesthood. Alma, especially, had the unique experience of being a wicked priest. When he was under the leadership of King Noah, he broke every single point listed here. Because of such violations, his priesthood was invalid. There was no authority. He committed priestcraft, which is a pretty bad thing to do.
Thankfully, Alma was repentant, and the Lord was forgiving, and the people were able to be corrected. The Priesthood was restored to this group, and it was administered properly. Because of such correction and counsel, all of the people who had been converted to the gospel, were led in righteousness and were able to covenant with the Lord.
I’m grateful to learn so much more about the priesthood.