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Lesson 7 Class Preparation Material: Restoration of the Priesthood
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“Lesson 7 Class Preparation Material: Restoration of the Priesthood,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)

“Lesson 7 Class Preparation Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material

Lesson 7 Class Preparation Material

Restoration of the Priesthood

Joseph Smith Baptizes Oliver Cowdery

Think of the last time you participated in a priesthood ordinance or received a priesthood blessing. What did you feel during that experience? As you study, consider how the authority and keys of the priesthood have provided you access to the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Section 1

How did the Lord restore priesthood authority to the earth?

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had questions about priesthood authority as they translated the Book of Mormon. Joseph and Oliver read in 3 Nephi that after Jesus taught His twelve Nephite disciples that baptism was necessary for salvation, He then gave the disciples priesthood authority to baptize (see Joseph Smith—History 1:68; 3 Nephi 11:21–27).

Joseph and Oliver were struck by these teachings. … Joseph had never been baptized, and he wanted to know more about the ordinance and the authority necessary to perform it.

On May 15, 1829, the rains cleared and Joseph and Oliver walked into the woods near the Susquehanna River. Kneeling, they asked God about baptism and the remission of sins. As they prayed, the voice of the Redeemer spoke peace to them, and an angel appeared in a cloud of light. He introduced himself as John the Baptist and placed his hands on their heads. Joy filled their hearts as God’s love surrounded them. (Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, vol. 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 [2018], 66–67)

Upon You My Fellow Servants

Then John the Baptist conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon them, as recorded in Joseph Smith—History and Doctrine and Covenants 13.

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Study in Preparation for Class

Read Joseph Smith—History 1:68–70, 72. (See also Doctrine and Coventants 13.)

Sometime after Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist, they received the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James, and John (see Doctrine and Covenants 27:12–13). The specific date of this event is not known. However, historical evidence suggests it occurred in May or June of 1829. (See Larry C. Porter, “The Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods,” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 30–47.)

The Voice of Peter James and John

The Lord gradually revealed more about the priesthood and its functions and sent messengers who committed additional priesthood keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The following chart illustrates this restoration.

The Restoration of Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge

Date

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Date

1829

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

John the Baptist

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Conferred the authority and keys of the Aaronic Priesthood (Doctrine and Covenants 13)

Date

1829

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Peter, James, and John

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood and keys of the kingdom (Doctrine and Covenants 27:12–13)

Date

1830

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Doctrine and Covenants 20

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Revealed the procedures for baptism and the sacrament, and outlined the duties of priesthood holders

Date

1832

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Doctrine and Covenants 84

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Revealed the history, purpose, and covenant of the priesthood

Date

1831, 1835

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Doctrine and Covenants 107

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Revealed the naming, administration, and structure of priesthood offices and quorums

Date

1836

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Moses

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Committed keys to gather the house of Israel (Doctrine and Covenants 110:11)

Date

1836

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Elias

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Committed “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:12)

Date

1836

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Elijah

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Committed keys for the sealing power (Doctrine and Covenants 110:13–16)

Date

1839

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Revealed knowledge about conduct of priesthood holders

Date

Unknown

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Adam, Gabriel, Raphael, and divers angels

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Declared their dispensation, rights, keys, and the power of their priesthood (Doctrine and Covenants 128:21)

Date

1978

Heavenly Messengers and Revelations

Official Declaration 2

Priesthood Authority, Keys, and Knowledge Restored

Revealed that all worthy male members of the Church of Jesus Christ could receive the priesthood

Note: The meaning of specific priesthood keys will be discussed more in lesson 16, “The Kirtland Temple and Priesthood Keys.”

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Ponder in Preparation for Class

How can your testimony of the priesthood be strengthened by knowing how it was restored to the earth?

Section 2

What is the relationship between priesthood authority and priesthood keys?

President Joseph F. Smith taught:

Joseph F. Smith

The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God. Every man ordained to any degree of the Priesthood, has this authority delegated to him.

But it is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 224)

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency has also taught:

Dallin H. Oaks Official Portrait 2018

“Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood [holders] to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth” [Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 2.1.1]. Every act or ordinance performed in the Church is done under the direct or indirect authorization of one holding the keys for that function. As Elder M. Russell Ballard has explained, “Those who have priesthood keys … literally make it possible for all who serve faithfully under their direction to exercise priesthood authority and have access to priesthood power.” …

Ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is. He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used. (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 49–50)

Section 3

How do priesthood ordinances help us access the Savior’s atoning power?

In the Church, an ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood. Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation. These ordinances are called saving ordinances. They include baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing. With each of these ordinances, we enter into solemn covenants with the Lord. (“Ordinances,” Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the power we access through priesthood ordinances:

Dale G. Renlund

For Heavenly Father’s purposes to be accomplished, Christ’s atoning power needs to be made available to God’s children [see 1 Nephi 11:31; 2 Nephi 2:8]. The priesthood delivers these opportunities. … Priesthood is essential because necessary ordinances and covenants on earth are administered only by its authority. If the priesthood fails to deliver the opportunity to benefit from the Savior’s atoning power, what would be its purpose? …

… Through the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest in the lives of all who make and keep gospel covenants and receive the associated ordinances [see Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–21]. This is the way each of us comes unto Christ, is purified, and is reconciled to God. Christ’s atoning power is made accessible through the priesthood. (Dale G. Renlund, “The Priesthood and the Savior’s Atonement,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2017, 65)

President Oaks also offered the following explanation of how the Aaronic Priesthood is a channel to access the Lord’s cleansing power:

Dallin H. Oaks Official Portrait 2018

Baptism is for the remission of sins, and the sacrament is a renewal of the covenants and blessings of baptism. Both should be preceded by repentance. …

Not one of [us] has lived without sin since [our] baptism. Without some provision for further cleansing after our baptism, each of us is lost to things spiritual. …

We are commanded to repent of our sins and to come to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and partake of the sacrament in compliance with its covenants. When we renew our baptismal covenants in this way, the Lord renews the cleansing effect of our baptism. …

We cannot overstate the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood in this. All of these vital steps pertaining to the remission of sins are performed through the saving ordinance of baptism and the renewing ordinance of the sacrament. (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 38)

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How have the ordinances of the priesthood helped you access the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement? Record your response in your journal or in the space provided below.