Oath and covenant of the priesthood
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President James E. Faust expounded on the doctrine of "the key of the knowledge of God" in his priesthood session message, drawing text from Doctrine and Covenants 107:99.
President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, explained that "anyone who is righteous and desires to possess greater knowledge and to 'become a greater follower of righteousness' can, under the authority of the priesthood, obtain a greater knowledge of God. The Lord tells us one clear way to do so, as given in the Doctrine and Covenants, 'If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, . . . that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal' (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61)."
A righteous person, President Faust noted, "is one who makes and keeps gospel covenants. These are holy contracts, usually between individuals and the Lord. Sometimes they include other persons, such as spouses. They involve most sacred promises and commitments, such as baptism, the conferral of the priesthood, temple blessings, marriage and parenthood. Many of the blessings of Father of Abraham come as the Holy Ghost is poured out upon all people. Any worthy man or woman who receives the Holy Ghost can actually become 'a new creation' (Doctrine and Covenants 84:33-42)."
He said that to obtain the blessings fully, a man must enter into and keep the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Quoting President Marion G. Romney, he said it requires at least these three things: obtaining a knowledge of the gospel, complying personally with the standards of the gospel, and giving dedicated service.
"Two covenants are to be made by each priesthood holder," President Faust said. "The first is to be faithful unto the obtaining of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. The Aaronic Priesthood trains and prepares the priesthood holder for the greater duties of the Melchizedek Priesthood and prepares him to receive the blessings of the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Holding both the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods is essential to receive the full blessings that the Lord has for His faithful sons. The second covenant as His agent in this holy authority is to be faithful in magnifying one's calling with total faith in God."
As part of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, the Lord makes several unbreakable promises to His sons, President Faust said, including being sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies, becoming the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and becoming the elect of God. "As His agents they carry forth this holy work in our time upon the earth." Further, by way of promises, he said, all who receive the Lord's servants receive Him; those who receive the Savior receive God the Father; they receive the Father's Kingdom and will be given all that the Father has.
Aaronic Priesthood holders, President Faust said, have been given great authority and responsibilities, and they function under the direction of the bishop in at least two ordinances directly related to the Atonement: the sacrament and baptism for the remission of sins.
Explaining what it means to be the "seed of Abraham," President Faust said that scripturally it has deeper meaning than being his literal descendants. "The Lord made a covenant with Abraham, the great patriarch, that all nations would be blessed through him. Any man or woman can claim the blessings of Abraham. They become his seed and an heir to the promised blessings by accepting the gospel, being baptized, entering into temple marriage, being faithful in keeping their covenants and helping to carry the gospel to all the nations of the earth."
He said those so designated as Abraham's seed are obligated to do "the works of Abraham" (John 8:39), including obedience to God, receiving and keeping priesthood and temple ordinances and covenants, preaching the gospel, building a family unit and teaching children, and being faithful to the end.
"It is interesting that the Lord used the word 'seed' in His promise to Abraham," he said. "It has a fuller meaning than posterity because it means to multiply the blessings of the covenant of Abraham 'unto all nations.' The Lord promised Abraham a posterity 'as innumerable as the stars' or 'the sand upon the seashore' (Doctrine and Covenants 132:30)."
Abraham's righteous posterity, he said, is privileged to be adopted into the eternal family of Jesus Christ, including the right to eternal covenants and blessings of salvation.