Friday, July 13, 2012

Alma 13, an Invitation to Understanding

Ordination is an authoritative invitation to come unto God and receive from Him.  When my father was ordained to the priesthood, he was extended an authoritative invitation to come to God and receive power.

When a man who’s been ordained fails to gain God’s approval, he is much like king Noah.  He is a man who has been “ordained” or “called,” but elects not to become “chosen” by being true and faithful.  Noah sought to rule and reign over others by “virtue of the priesthood” (D&C 121:41).  He assumed “power and influence” by virtue of the priesthood (ibid.).    

God alone controls the conferral of power.  That power has never been entrusted to any organization, but its receipt has always been predicated upon righteousness and inseparably connected to the heavens (D&C 121:36).  Said another way, power is directly tied to heaven and to righteousness, and cannot be conferred by men.   

Joseph Smith taught us this when he said:

“Behold there are many called, but few are chosen…

“The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” (D&C 121:34, 36).

Offices in the Church are, however, conferred from one man to another.  Those holding offices in the Church derive authority to preside and conduct affairs by “common consent” and by the “vote of that Church.”

God’s power does not come in this manner.  God may choose to give his power to any man He will.  God’s conferral of power requires neither “common consent,” nor does it require the “vote” of men.  God controls the bestowal of His power.  It cannot be “controlled nor handled” by men (ibid.).

So, for the Alma 13 doctrines it would be wise for us to put aside what we think we understand about “the Holy Priesthood,” and allow Alma, a High Priest, to teach us about the matter.  We will draw nearer to God by this approach than we will by trying to see this matter through the lens of our present misunderstandings.

The whole chapter could be studied verse by verse.  Ask yourself questions about the text that you’re not used to asking.  Look for an answer that makes sense, and that the Spirit will verify.  We will look at only a few of the statements here.

“The Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son.” (Alma 13:1).

Who is meant by “the Lord God?”  Did he really “ordain priests,” or is this to be taken figuratively?  What did Joseph Smith teach about God ordaining the prophets (TPJS)?

What is “his holy order?”  Is this the Church?  Does it belong to the Church?  Does it belong to this earth?  What is the “order of his Son?”

“They were ordained…on account of their exceeding faith and good works” (Alma 13:3)

What is “exceeding faith?”  Is this different than “faith?”  Is exceeding faith required of men who are ordained in the Church? 

“And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest” (Alma 13:6).

Here’s mention of the “holy order of God” again.  What does it say is the purpose of the teaching of those called with this “holy calling?”  Is it to help other men and women “also” enter the Lord’s “rest?”  Why “also?”  What is the Lord’s rest?  Have those who are called to this holy order necessarily entered into the Lord’s rest?  What did it mean when Moses attempted to get Israel to enter the Lord’s rest (D&C 84)?  Was he called by “this holy calling?”  What about Joseph Smith?

“Thus they become high priests forever” (Alma 13:9).

Is it significant that this ordination and high office is “forever?”  Are there others that are not forever?

“Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb” (Alma 13:11).

How does one become “sanctified?”  What does that mean?  Can you become this kind of a high priest without being sanctified?  What does it mean to have your garments “washed white?”

These are only a few of the verses, and a few of the questions that could be asked.  The entire chapter should be considered. 

Next we’ll look at the example of Melchizedek to explore this issue a bit further.

No comments:

Post a Comment