Prospective Elder Course

January 2, 2014

The content of our course will come from Handbook 2, Section 7.6.2:

  1. The restoration of the priesthood and priesthood keys through the Prophet Joseph Smith
  2. The oath and covenant of the priesthood (see D&C 84:33–44)
  3. The responsibilities of husbands and fathers
  4. The duties of an elder and the purposes of priesthood quorums
  5. The purposes of priesthood ordinances and blessings and how to perform those ordinances and blessings (see chapter 20 and the Family Guidebook)

Materials

1. The Restoration of the Priesthood and Priesthood Keys through the Prophet Joseph Smith

In May of 1829 while translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith came across a reference to baptism. He discussed the matter with his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, and the two earnestly supplicated the Lord regarding the matter. Oliver wrote: “Our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer, to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit. … We diligently sought for … the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to administer in the same.”

In response to that “mighty prayer,” John the Baptist came, restoring the keys and powers of the Aaronic Priesthood, which our young men in this audience tonight have been given. A few weeks later Peter, James, and John returned to restore the keys and powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood, including the keys of the apostleship. Then when a temple had been built to which other heavenly messengers might come, there unfolded on April 3, 1836, a modern-day equivalent of that earlier Mount of Transfiguration, part of something President Hinckley once called the “Kirtland cascade” of revelation in which the Savior Himself, plus Moses, Elijah, and Elias, appeared in glory to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred keys and powers from their respective dispensations upon these men. That visit was then concluded with this thunderous declaration, “Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands.”

Little wonder that the Prophet Joseph would include in those succinct and eloquent articles of our faith, “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.” Clearly, acting with divine authority requires more than mere social contract. It cannot be generated by theological training or a commission from the congregation. No, in the authorized work of God there has to be power greater than that already possessed by the people in the pews or in the streets or in the seminaries—a fact that many honest religious seekers had known and openly acknowledged for generations leading up to the Restoration.

…we in the restored Church of Jesus Christ can trace the priesthood line of authority exercised by the newest deacon in the ward, the bishop who presides over him, and the prophet who presides over all of us. That line goes back in an unbroken chain to angelic ministers who came from the Son of God Himself, bearing this incomparable gift from heaven.

2. The oath and covenant of the priesthood

Now, if you are like I was when I first heard those words as a young man, the challenge of accepting the Melchizedek Priesthood could seem daunting. There are at least two reasons why you should be confident rather than discouraged with the penalties that would follow either failing to keep the oath and covenant or deciding not to accept it. Whether you accept the oath and covenant and find it too difficult or if you fail to try, the penalty is the same. There is no question, therefore, that your best course and mine is to receive the holy priesthood and try with all of our hearts to keep its covenants. If we choose not to try, we would certainly lose the opportunity for eternal life. If we try and with God’s help succeed, we will gain eternal life.

There is yet another reason to decide now that you will try with all your heart to qualify for that oath and covenant and have confidence that you will succeed. God promises you the help and power which, if you exercise faith, will give you success.

First, the very fact that you have been offered the oath and covenant is evidence that God has chosen you, knowing your power and capacity. He has known you since you were with Him in the spirit world. With His foreknowledge of your strength, He has allowed you to find the true Church of Jesus Christ and to be offered the priesthood. You can feel confidence because you have evidence of His confidence in you.

Second, as you will try to keep your covenants, the Savior has promised His personal help. He has said that as you go forward in honoring the priesthood: “There I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

3. The responsibilities of husbands and fathers

  1. Give father’s blessings to your children. Baptize and confirm your children. Ordain your sons to the priesthood. These will become spiritual highlights in the lives of your children.
  2. Personally direct family prayers, daily scripture reading, and weekly family home evenings. Your personal involvement will show your children how important these activities really are.
  3. Whenever possible, attend Church meetings together as a family. Family worship under your leadership is vital to your children’s spiritual welfare.
  4. Go on daddy-daughter dates and father-and-sons’ outings with your children. As a family, go on campouts and picnics, to ball games and recitals, to school programs, and so forth. Having Dad there makes all the difference.
  5. Build traditions of family vacations and trips and outings. These memories will never be forgotten by your children.
  6. Have regular one-on-one visits with your children. Let them talk about what they would like to. Teach them gospel principles. Teach them true values. Tell them you love them. Personal time with your children tells them where Dad puts his priorities.
  7. Teach your children to work, and show them the value of working toward a worthy goal. Establishing mission funds and education funds for your children shows them what Dad considers to be important.
  8. Encourage good music and art and literature in your homes. Homes that have a spirit of refinement and beauty will bless the lives of your children forever.
  9. As distances allow, regularly attend the temple with your wife. Your children will then better understand the importance of temple marriage and temple vows and the eternal family unit.
  10. Have your children see your joy and satisfaction in service to the Church. This can become contagious to them, so they, too, will want to serve in the Church and will love the kingdom.

4. The duties of an elder and the purposes of priesthood quorums

5. The purposes of priesthood ordinances and blessings and how to perform those ordinances and blessings