Come Follow Me: D&C 106-108
This is a revelation to Warren Cowdery, Oliver's brother. Warren joined the Church in 1834, and became presiding officer of the Freedom branch. Later, he would move to Kirtland, where he would assist his brother Oliver in printing the Messenger and Advocate newspaper, later becoming its editor. He would become disaffected from the Church, due to the failure of the Kirtland Safety bank. Along with Warren Parish, he would start a Latter Day Saint church, using the Kirtland temple after Joseph and the faithful saints moved to Missouri. This church would fracture after a few months. Warren would live the rest of his life in Kirtland.
"And again, verily I say unto you, there was joy in heaven when my servant Warren bowed to my scepter, and separated himself from the crafts of men;
"Therefore, blessed is my servant Warren, for I will have mercy on him; and, notwithstanding the of his heart, I will lift him up inasmuch as he will humble himself before me.
"And I will give him and assurance wherewith he may stand; and if he continue to be a faithful witness and a unto the church I have prepared a crown for him in the of my Father. Even so. Amen." (vs 6-8)
Here, the Lord warns Warren of his weaknesses: vanity being a key issue. It is interesting to see how people could be so very diligent for a few years, only to fall away at the first sign of problems. Joseph Smith was a flawed man. Still, he was the person God chose to be prophet.
And it is today. Do we end up questioning prophets because they sometimes make mistakes or fail us? Do we question bishops and stake presidents for the same reason? Are we so vain that we look down upon them, rather than pray for them and sustain them in times of duress (ours or theirs).
Recently, many members (liberal and conservative) are grousing about statements made by Pres Nelson, Pres Oaks, Elder Holland and others regarding immigration, vaccines, BYU staying faithful to the gospel, conspiracies, location of the Book of Mormon, and many other issues.
Others I've seen are using nuance on what it means to "follow the Prophet" and claiming that personal revelation can be more important than prophetic authority. I've learned that while there are many important concepts taught by the Church, including agency, personal revelation and freedom, nothing is more important than submitting one's agency and personal will to the Lord by following priesthood leaders.
I wonder if the chaos in the world is leading the membership of the Church to a crossroads: do we follow the prophet, or follow our own worldview (whether liberal or conservative or other)? What do we do with our own vanity and pride? Do we bow ourselves to God's scepter, or not?
Along with a few other revelations, this is one of the major sections on priesthood. It includes a series of revelations, given as early as 1831 and updated in 1835 to include additional information on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
We learn there are two priesthoods, the Melchizedek and Aaronic. The higher priesthood is actually the Holy Priesthood after the Son of Man, but renamed to reduce the usage of the Lord's sacred name.
We also learn that only descendants of Aaron have a right to be a bishop as their inheritance. However, holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood can serve in any spiritual or temporal position, which is why we have high priests in the MP as bishops today. This also explains how the Nephites were able to build temples and offer sacrifices in their day: using the Melchizedek Priesthood's authority.
Mentioned again in D&C 107 are the keys held by each priesthood. The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the spiritual keys and the right to the mysteries of Godliness. We receive the members of the Godhead into our lives (constant companionship of the Holy Ghost). In other words, one can see God through this priesthood power.
The Aaronic Priesthood has the outward ordinances of repentance and baptism. It also has the keys to the ministering of angels. In this powerful gift, we can ask for angels to assist us in our lives, but also in the lives of others. Imagine our personal missionary work, family history research, or daily activities strengthened and enhanced by angels! Angels can help in converting others to the gospel, strengthen them in times of struggle, testifying of the truth, and performing miracles. I've even known of unseen powers help people find needed employment.
The Quorums of the Twelve Apostles and Seventy are also discussed. The Twelve are special witnesses of Jesus Christ in all the world. They are to testify of the resurrected Christ. The Seventy are an "especial" witness. Scripture does not explain the difference. Perhaps the main difference between a "special" witness and an "especial" witness is the letter "e."
In fact, this is what President Boyd K. Packer once told to Elder Ronald A. Rasband. Continuing, Pres Packer explained,
“The difference between especial and special is in the spelling, and it really does not mean anything more than that. To be a special witness of the name of Christ means that you have that witness and that authority that is unfailing, and it will be with you everywhere in the world.” ( https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/the-twelve-and-the-seventy-part-three-witnesses-to-the-world?lang=eng )
The First Presidency, Quorum of 12, and Seventy are three quorums "equal in authority." If something happened to two of these groups, the third group would have the authority to reorganize the other two quorums. Note that only the President of the Church holds all of the keys actively. While he lives, no person nor quorum can pretend to a power or authority greater than he has.
In other words, if an apostle or seventy were to try and start their own Church, they would not have the keys of authority to do so. This is why Denver Snuffer, the polygamy clans, and others do not have the approval from God to set up their own churches. They may have been ordained to priesthood, but they do not hold the keys nor authority to be prophets of God.
There is also a Patriarchal Priesthood as a part of the Melchizedek Priesthood. It was passed down from father to son, beginning with Adam. The section explains that Adam gathered his righteous children together at Adam-Ondi-Ahman and prophesied of the last days. Jesus Christ appeared to them and blessed Adam.
The Lord said to Adam,
"And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a over them forever." (vs 55)As with Abraham and others, Adam is promised to be father of many nations. But if Adam was the first person born on earth, why would this statement need to be said? As I ponder scripture, especially the Creation stories (there are several in LDS theology), I have come to believe that Adam was not the first humanoid born on earth. However, he is the first humanoid born with the promise and understanding of the fullness of the gospel. Prior to him, there was no one with the promises of priesthood and saving ordinances. There were none who were taught about Christ and the atonement. He was the first man of those who are righteous.
And, as Adam, Abraham and others have received the promise to be rulers over nations, so too can we receive this same promise through following Christ and living righteously.
"Wherefore, now let every man learn his , and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all .
"He that is shall not be counted to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen." (vs 99-100)
Herein are important concepts for all those who serve God with priesthood power and authority, which includes men and women. Diligence and learning.
In this time of Covid, it has been easy to become slothful in our duty to God. A year away from Sunday meetings and temple worship can be tempting to drift back into the ease of worldliness. However, for some, it was a time to rededicate themselves and families to home-centered church. Now is the time to pick up our scriptures again. Daily prayers. Family Home Evening and Council. Service in the Church.
And we must be learning our duty. What is our duty? Well, first it is whatever responsibilities we have in the priesthood/church and in our own families. Second, it is to learn all that is necessary to become like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. What is it that they know? Music, art, science, math, engineering, botany, and a whole lot more.
Our lives should be filled with learning, so that we are better able to give of ourselves to God and others. Else, how can we become rulers over many nations, if we do not know all there is to know about teaching and ruling a people? Of course, this all starts in the family and grows out to include others in our circle of influence.
Lyman Royal Sherman joined the Church in 1832 and moved the next year to Kirtland. He was a member of Zion's camp. He eagerly followed the Prophet Joseph and obeyed the commandments given him. In 1835, he was called to be the president of the Seventy, and was a member of the Kirtland high council. Later, he would be called into the Quorum of the Twelve, but would die in Missouri before he was informed or ordained to the calling.
In this revelation, Lyman was uncertain his standing before the Lord, feeling he had not been diligent in his calling. Because he chose to repent and seek the Lord's guidance through Joseph Smith, he was forgiven and blessed. Unlike Warren Cowdery, Lyman would stand firmly with the prophet through the trials of the Kirtland Safety Society bank, being chased out of Kirtland by apostates, and then endure the trials of Missouri. He is a great example of faithfulness and diligence until the end.