Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6: Importance of the Priesthood

                Paul continues to address the subject of Priesthood in this letter to the Hebrews; he starts out by urging the members of the Church to “…go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works…” (Hebrews 6:1) In other words, we should move towards becoming perfect, this doesn’t mean that we are currently perfect. However, if we continue to sin (especially if it is the same sin) over and over again, and ask for repentance the same number of times… we are not moving towards perfection.

Paul explains that certain ordinances must be performed when God permits them to be performed; “…baptisms, and… laying on of hands… resurrection of the dead… this will we do, if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:2-3)

So a big question arises, how do we know when God permits? Looking back one chapter; we read that we cannot take upon ourselves “…this honour…  [except] …he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Hebrews 5:4) This is where having a modern day prophet on the earth is IMPORTANT. With the Authority restored on the earth, we can know God’s will today. We don’t have to rely on prophets of old to help us solve our problems of today. Therefore, proper Priesthood Authority is needed… a direct line back to Jesus Christ Himself MUST exist.

Assuming that someone has proper priesthood authority, doesn’t mean that they can’t lose that priesthood authority. Paul, addressing the Hebrews and most likely their concerns, explains the process for returning to full fellowship, with priesthood keys restored; “If they [priesthood holders] fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:6) This means that if a priesthood bearer, fall away from the Gospel and His covenant at Baptism; he must repent, crucify themselves (spiritually) and be publicly dis-fellowshipped from the congregation. This means that they would not participate in the more sacred callings and privileges reserved for obedient members of the church. Until, a time when priesthood leaders through revelation, determine that the member be restored to full fellowship.

Paul explains that those who do fall away should not feel as if they have failed in the eyes of God; “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name…” (Hebrews 6:10) If someone fails to live righteously, but earnestly seeks to do well… will be granted forgiveness, in that; “They be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12) How marvelous is God, being merciful unto all men!

Paul explains that God made a promise to Abraham, and because God could swore to no one greater than He; “…he swear by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.” (Hebrews 6:13-14) Abraham was given a promise, and the Lord made sure that if Abraham fulfilled his promise, God would swear by His promise. “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (Hebrews 6:15)

                Paul mentions this to help us better understand that we have purpose in this life; “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…” (Hebrews 6:19)

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Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5: Importance of the Priesthood

                Paul explains the importance of Priesthood, but most importantly he explains the importance of proper authority in the Priesthood. Paul explains; “…no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Hebrews 5:4) In other words, no one can claim to take upon themselves the Authority of the Priesthood, except they be called of God, like Aaron was called.

How was Aaron called of God? In Deuteronomy we learn how the Authority was transferred from Moses to Joshua upon the death of Moses; “…Joshua… was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him…” (Deuteronomy 34:9) In the same manner, Aaron received the Priesthood from someone who had been called of God, through temple ordinances (see Exodus 40).

Paul explains that Christ was also given the Priesthood from God, and He gave the Priesthood to His Apostles; “…also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou arty my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisadec.” (Hebrews 5:6)

 

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                In Matthew, Christ called His Apostles and gave them the priesthood power; “… he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power…” (Matthew 10:1) This power was given by the laying on of hands.

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This same power and authority exists in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was restored to the earth through Joseph Smith. In the Joseph Smith History it reads;

“We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying: Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter [The Melchizadek Priesthood];” (Joseph Smith History 1:68-70)

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1: The Gospel = Word and Power

                Paul addresses the Thessalonians and explains that he came unto them in word and power;

                “For our gospel, came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

                This chapter, although short, is very powerful. Paul explains that he is not just a minister of word, but actually has POWER from God. This power or “Authority” is necessary in the ordinances of the gospel and is needed for the TRUE Church of Jesus Christ.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the power of the Priesthood and its restoration began on May 15, 1829 when the resurrected John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon them.

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1: Saints Foreordained/Restoration of the Gospel

                Paul writes a letter to the Ephesians, he starts by explaining that he is an Apostle of the Lord and explains that we are all God’s children, for God “…hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, what we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ… In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (Ephesians 1:4-5, 7) We learn from Paul that we are not only children of God, but that Jesus Christ will adopt us and through His atoning sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and His Crucifixion, we can be forgiven of our sins.

Paul goes on to explain that God will make known “…the mystery of his will…” (Ephesians 1:7) Essentially Paul is telling us that ONE DAY we will have answers to the questions of our soul, like: Where did we come from? Why are we here and where are we going after death? Paul explains that in the ‘dispensation of the fulness of times’ we will come to this knowledge;

“…the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” (Ephesians 1:10)

What is the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times?

                First, what is a ‘Dispensation’? Dispensations are periods of time in which the gospel of Jesus Christ is administered by Holy Prophets, who are ordained by God. Through these Prophets, God can speak to His children and administer the affairs of His kingdom on Earth. Dispensations begin with the calling of a prophet, by God. Dispensations end, when the people reject the prophets and kill them.

The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times began in 1820, when Joseph Smith had the First Vision. During this time God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ spoke to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet. Through Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ was restored back to the earth. In modern day scripture we read; “It is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18).

                So we learn that through Joseph Smith, the Father and the Son ushered in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, where all dispensations from Adam to Present are linked together to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Paul ends his letter to the Saints in Ephesus, and prays that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ given them the “…spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; The eyes of your understanding being  enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:17-18) Paul was urging them to open their minds and hearts to being filled with knowledge and enlightenment over the doctrines of Jesus Christ. Today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asks the same thing, for people to open their hearts and understand that the Church, Jesus Christ personally established when He was on the earth… is now Restored with modern day Prophets and Apostles.

1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12: Organization of the Church

                Paul speaks about Spiritual Gifts, and explains that there are a variety of gifts that can be given, a variety of administrations and diversities… but only one Spirit. Paul explains that “…no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Examining what Paul said; ‘…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.’ This means that no one can claim to believe in Jesus Christ, without feeling the Holy Ghost testify of Him. Therefore we learn a very important principle; Spiritual knowledge can only be found through Spiritual means. Sure, someone can go and testify of Jesus Christ as being the Lord and someone listening to that knowledge can be converted. But, until the person being converted receives the knowledge Spiritually they cannot know and will not truly be converted. For this reason many do not believe in Jesus Christ, some even think believing in God is foolish. Why is this? Because they learn about God or Jesus through worldly knowledge and do not accept the knowledge that can only be gained spiritually.

Paul testifies that; “…by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or fee; and have been all made to drink into on Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) This scripture is similar to one we read later when Paul addresses the Ephesians, which reads: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:5)

                So the question that has caused contentions throughout the world for 1,000’s of years… who is right? Which of all the churches, sects, religions is correct? Paul teaches that the church he belongs to (the one Jesus Christ established) was the correct church and because of that we can only be baptized into one body (or church) and there is only One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism. He said this to both the Corinthians and the Ephesians to convert them to the true church, because they were joining false religions that taught in contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is where Paul teaches about the TRUE ORGANIZATION of the Church of Jesus Christ;

“And God hath some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps [administrative offices, programs and provisions in place to help the saints], governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28)

Today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) claims to be the TRUE church of Jesus Christ. LDS Doctrine believes that the Church Jesus Christ setup before He departed the world, slowly eroded until the last Apostle died and the power and Authority that He had given to them was no longer in the world. This period of time without the Authority (or priesthood) on the Earth was known as the Great Apostasy, which accounts partly for the time we know as the Dark Ages. After centuries of having no Authorized servant on the Earth, God decided to bring forth His church once more in the Last Days. God called a prophet and through that Prophet Jesus Christ restored His church on the earth. That church is known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that has the same organization Christ originally intended; Prophet, Apostles, Teachers, Evangelists and so forth.

Acts 20

Acts 20: Apostasy

Paul travels through Greece and Macedonia, where he arrived at Troas. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” (Acts 20:7) For this purpose the first day of the week is Sunday, and therefore the Sabbath Day is Sunday. While preaching a certain woman brings a young man who is ‘sleeping’ to see Paul, his name is Eutychus. Paul raises Eutychus from the dead.

Paul then travels to Miletus and sends for the elders of the church in Ephesus to meet him there. Paul says he will face imprisonment and tribulations preaching to Jerusalem. However, Paul is undeterred, because testifying of the gospel fills him with joy. Paul warns about the coming Apostasy in the church; “…after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30; see also Acts 28-30) Shortly after the apostles had been killed, the church started to fall in Apostasy and with time, evil men did lead away the members of Christ’s church, destroying it. Therefore, it was needful that a Restoration of His same Church, the Church of Jesus Christ would be restored in the last days, before His second coming. That church is known today as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Acts 13

Acts 13: Saul = Paul

                In the church at Antioch, the Holy Ghost calls Barnabas and Saul to missionary work. They are both set apart by the Holy Ghost to administer this missionary work (see Acts 13:2). This act of ‘separating’ them for the work is the same way LDS Missionaries are set apart for 18-24 months to preach the Gospel throughout the world.

Barnabas, John and Saul depart for Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos and during their travels they encounter a man named Bar-jesus, who was a false prophet and a sorcerer. Another man named Sergius Paulus, who was a prudent deputy of the country desired to hear the word of God from Saul and Barnabas. However, Bar-jesus [Elymas, as it was being interpreted] desired to turn him away from the faith. Saul, who is also called Paul looked at Elymas and said; “…O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10) Sergius wanted to learn about Jesus and the His Gospel; however those with evil intent were trying to say him away from hearing the truth. Paul causes Elymas to go blind for a season. When Sergius saw this, he believed. John departs back to Jerusalem and Paul and Barnabas continue on to Perga where Paul delivers a sermon in the synagogue on the Sabbath day.

Paul gives a extended history of Israel, and explains how Jesus came from the lineage of David. Paul preaches the risen Christ. When the Jews see the popularity of Paul’s message, they become envious. Paul quotes Isaiah, saying that Christ is a light to the gentiles. Paul explains that they need to be careful if they don’t want the wrath of God, as promised by the prophets of old. Paul explains that God will “…work a work in your days, a work which ye shall no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (Acts 13:14, see also Habakkuk 1:5) Paul is explaining the great Restoration the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will happen in the Last. Many will not believe of the great work, even if someone were to tell them. That Restoration has already occurred, and the Church of Jesus Christ is back on the Earth today; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These statements angered the Jews, which causes them to expel Paul and Barabas from the region; they shake the dust from their shoes, and move on to Iconium.