Priesthood and Priesthood Keys
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“Priesthood and Priesthood Keys,” Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Material (2016)

“Priesthood and Priesthood Keys,” Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Material

Priesthood and Priesthood Keys

Note: The following doctrinal mastery activities could be done over the course of several class sessions or in a single class session.

Understanding the Doctrine (20 minutes)

Segment 1 (7 minutes)

Hold up a key or draw a picture of a key on the board, and ask students to describe what it is used for. Explain that the Lord has used the analogy of a key to help us understand how He directs and governs His priesthood and His work upon the earth.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud doctrinal topic 6, “Priesthood and Priesthood Keys,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along and underline statements of doctrine that help them understand what priesthood keys are and how they relate to the power of the priesthood.

  • How is the priesthood defined?

  • What statements of doctrine did you identify that clarify what priesthood keys are? (Students may want to discuss a few statements of doctrine from what they have read. Once they have responded, invite them to mark the following doctrine in the third paragraph: The keys of the priesthood are the rights of presidency, or the power God gives to man to govern and direct the kingdom of God on the earth.)

To help students better understand this doctrine, invite them to use what they marked in this doctrinal topic as they discuss the following questions:

  • What connection do you see between priesthood keys and ordinances?

  • What priesthood ordinances must be authorized by those holding the appropriate priesthood keys?

Help students understand that saving ordinances (including baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood [for men], the temple endowment, and temple sealing) require authorization from a priesthood leader who holds the appropriate priesthood keys or who functions under the direction of a person who holds those keys (see also doctrinal topic 7, “Ordinances and Covenants,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document). Authorization is also required for naming and blessing a child, dedicating a grave, giving a patriarchal blessing, and preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament. However, Melchizedek Priesthood holders may consecrate oil, administer to the sick, give father’s blessings, and give other blessings of comfort and counsel without first seeking authorization from a priesthood leader.

  • What is the connection between callings in the Church, for both men and women, and the role of priesthood keys?

Segment 2 (7 minutes)

Review with students the following doctrine: The keys of the priesthood are the rights of presidency, or the power God gives to man to govern and direct the kingdom of God on the earth. To help students deepen their understanding of this truth, ask them to imagine that they were given a vehicle that required a key to start it but were not given a key.

  • Why would you need a key if you already have access to the vehicle? (Although they may have access to the vehicle, a key is required in order to start the ignition and allow the vehicle to function.)

  • How might this analogy relate to how priesthood keys are necessary to direct the work of the priesthood and God’s kingdom upon the earth?

Display or provide copies of the following explanation of priesthood keys by President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite a student to read President Nelson’s explanation aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how President Nelson described priesthood keys.

Nelson, Russell M.

“Keys are important and valuable. Most of us carry keys in pockets or purses wherever we go. Other keys are not only important and valuable; they are precious, powerful, and invisible! They have eternal significance. They are the keys of the priesthood. …

“Priesthood is the authority of God delegated to man to minister for the salvation of men. ‘The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood’ [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 141]. We distinguish between holding the priesthood and holding keys of the priesthood. When an individual is given keys, he does not receive additional priesthood. What he has is the right to direct the work of the priesthood” (“Keys of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Oct. 2005, 40).

  • What did you learn from President Nelson’s explanation that helps you better understand priesthood keys?

Invite students to silently read the fourth paragraph of doctrinal topic 6, “Priesthood and Priesthood Keys,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask them to look for some examples of individuals who hold priesthood keys. Invite students to report what they find.

  • When has your life been blessed by someone using priesthood keys?

Segment 3 (6 minutes)

Write Matthew 16:15–19 on the board, and explain that this is a doctrinal mastery passage that teaches us about priesthood keys. Invite students to mark this passage in a distinctive way that designates it as a doctrinal mastery passage. Encourage them to consider writing key words in the margin of their scriptures that will help them remember the doctrine taught in this scripture passage concerning priesthood keys.

Explain that the Savior once asked His Apostles whom they thought He was. In response, Peter testified that he knew that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus then declared that He would confer upon Peter the keys of His kingdom. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud Matthew 16:15–19. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus told Peter regarding priesthood keys.

  • According to verse 19, what did the Savior say Peter would have the power to do after receiving the keys of the kingdom, or the priesthood keys? (Bind and loose on earth and in heaven. This means that actions such as ordinances performed under these priesthood keys are valid and in force in mortality and in eternity, including the binding, or sealing, of families in temples.)

  • How could you use this doctrinal mastery passage to help someone understand the importance of the authority that the prophet and apostles hold today to direct God’s work?

Note: You will need to review doctrinal mastery passages with students on subsequent days to help them remember and be able to use them. Look for opportunities to review this and other doctrinal mastery passages throughout the school year.

Practice Exercise (25–30 minutes)

Help students practice applying the three principles of Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge as they relate to doctrinal topic 6, “Priesthood and Priesthood Keys,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. You may want to write these principles on the board before beginning the practice exercises:

  • Act in faith.

  • Examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective.

  • Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources.

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Divide the class into three groups, and provide the students in each group with copies of the handout that corresponds to their group number. Give each group 8–10 minutes to discuss the scenario and questions on their handout. Explain that following their group discussion, each student will have the opportunity to practice answering their assigned question with students from the other two groups.

Group 1

Read the following scenario as a group:

You are serving as a missionary, and you and your companion are teaching an investigator about the importance of baptism. When you invite your investigator to be baptized, she responds by asking, “Why do I need to be baptized again? I was already baptized in my church.”

Discuss how you could help your investigator by using the principles and questions outlined below:

Act in faith:

  • What could your investigator do to act in faith as she seeks to understand why she needs to be baptized by the authority of the priesthood and under the direction of one holding priesthood keys?

Examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective:

  • How does an understanding of the priesthood and priesthood keys help put your investigator’s question in a new light?

Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources:

  • How could the doctrine taught in Matthew 16:15–19 help your investigator find an answer to her question?

  • Are there other scriptures that would help your investigator understand why she needs to be baptized by proper authority?

Group 2

Read the following scenario as a group:

A friend confides in you that he has committed some serious sins involving the law of chastity and is trying to repent. In your study of the scriptures, you have learned that the bishop or branch president in each ward or branch of the Church holds the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, which include the keys of “the gospel of repentance” (D&C 13:1).

You encourage your friend to visit with his bishop, but he responds by saying, “I don’t know why I need to meet with my bishop. I know I need to confess what I have done, but I have already confessed to the Lord. I have prayed for forgiveness and have changed my behavior. I have taken the sacrament. Why do I need to go to the bishop in order to receive the Lord’s forgiveness? Isn’t it between me and the Lord?”

Discuss how you could respond to your friend by using the principles and questions outlined below:

Act in faith:

  • What could your friend do to exercise and strengthen his faith in the Savior and in the priesthood keys He has conferred upon His authorized servants?

Examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective:

  • How does an understanding of the priesthood keys held by the bishop help clarify your friend’s question?

Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources:

  • How could the Savior’s words in Matthew 16:19 help your friend understand how the priesthood keys held by the bishop are related to the eternal blessings available to him, including forgiveness of sin?

  • What other divinely appointed sources could your friend turn to for further understanding?

Group 3

Read the following scenario as a group:

While vacationing with your extended family for a week, your family discusses finding a ward or branch to attend on Sunday. Your cousin, who is a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, turns to you and says, “Why don’t we just hold our own sacrament meeting? I’m a priest and can bless and pass the sacrament, and you and a few other family members can give prayers and talks.”

Discuss how you might respond to your cousin’s suggestion by using the principles and questions outlined below:

Act in faith:

  • How might your family demonstrate faith in the authority of those holding priesthood keys to direct the work of the priesthood as they plan how to partake of the sacrament on their vacation?

Examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective:

  • How does an understanding of the doctrine of priesthood keys help clarify when a priesthood holder can perform an ordinance, such as administering the sacrament?

Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources:

  • What divinely appointed sources could you turn to for further understanding about when a priesthood holder is authorized to perform a priesthood ordinance?

If students need help identifying divinely appointed sources related to the questions in their assigned scenarios, consider inviting them to search the following sources:

Group 1: Doctrine and Covenants 22:2–4.

Group 2: Mosiah 26:12–15, 29–31; Elder C. Scott Grow, “Why and What Do I Need to Confess to My Bishop?” New Era, Oct. 2013, 28–30; or Liahona, Oct. 2013, 58–60.

Group 3: “Priesthood Ordinances and Blessings,” Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 20.1, LDS.org; Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 49–52.

After each group has discussed their assigned scenario and how they might respond, place students in groups of three consisting of one student from group 1, one from group 2, and one from group 3. Invite each student to read his or her assigned scenario to the students in the group and then role-play how he or she might respond to the question.

After sufficient time, invite a few students to share their thoughts and testimonies regarding the blessings of being led by those who hold priesthood keys.

Doctrinal Mastery Review

To help students remember the location of the doctrinal mastery scriptures they have learned thus far in the course, have each student draw a 4 × 4 grid on a piece of paper. Ask them to number each row from top to bottom and write the letters A, B, C, and D across the top of the columns.

A

B

C

D

1

2

3

4

Review the doctrinal mastery passages students have learned so far in the course. Then ask them to write 16 doctrinal mastery passage references randomly on the grid. (If students have learned fewer than 16 passages, they could write some of the passages more than once. If they have learned more than 16, you could have them add rows or columns to the grid as necessary.)

Read a portion of one of the doctrinal mastery passages aloud as each student places a finger on the reference on their grids that he or she thinks corresponds with the passage. After you have finished reading, say the reference aloud for students to check their answers. If they are pointing to the correct reference, have them mark it with an X.

When a student has marked off four squares in a row in any direction, he or she should call out “Doctrinal Mastery.” You could continue until everyone has marked four in a row or until students have marked all of their squares.