fellow servants
Week 07 is scheduled for study Feb. 8-14, 2021. As John the Baptist said to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, “Upon you my fellow servants …” Aren’t we all fellow servants in the great work of this last dispensation? This week we talk about establishing the cause of Zion and working with the Holy Ghost.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 12 – The Lord wants me to help establish the cause of Zion.

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received additional knowledge as they prayed about truths they learned in the scriptures (see Joseph Smith – History 1:68). How will you follow their example?

Today’s lesson brings up some interesting questions. What do you think constitutes the “cause of Zion”? What can each of us to do help establish that cause? And how do the attributes listed in verses 7-9 enable us to do just that?

I have a suitable vocabulary, but I still rely on the dictionary to help me with certain words. I had to go look up the word “cause.” A cause is a purpose, a design, or a goal, and a common cause is a goal or purpose that is shared by more than one person. Interestingly, I can work for a cause or purpose,  but I can also be the cause that something happens. In other words, I can make something happen, be the reason it comes about. So we can all be both the causers of Zion to come to be, as well as those working for Zion to come to be. In both cases we use the same word to describe what is happening – cause.

The cause of Zion

In verse six the Lord tells Joseph Knight he is to work to establish the cause of Zion.

Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.

What is the cause of Zion? Isn’t Zion a people who are so unified and at peace with one another that they are described as being of one heart and one mind? A Zion people are righteous, being lead by the Holy Ghost. The cause of Zion might also be the establishment on the earth of Christ’s kingdom in preparation for his second coming. What else can you think of that might qualify as the cause of Zion?

Causing Zion

In verses 7-9 the Lord gives the basic characteristics one those who will be able to establish the cause of Zion.

Behold, I speak unto you, and also to all those who have desires to bring forth and establish this work;

And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.

If we want to be part of this great cause, the establishment of Zion in the world, we must develop these basic character traits. I find it interesting that the Lord includes being temperate in all things as part of the list. Might he be referring to his injunction to not run faster than we have the strength for, or work harder than is needed that is talked about elsewhere in the scriptures? What else might he mean by telling us to be temperate in all things?

Another angle on verse eight is the Lord’s statement that we need to be temperate in “whatsoever shall be entrusted to [our] care.” All of us have different abilities, talents, and desires. Some of us are entrusted with great leadership opportunities, some with great personal service opportunities (think personal ministering), and sometimes we are just needed to be present to help carry the workload of basic membership in the kingdom. Doesn’t this charge to be temperate in all things apply to all of us, all the time? We shouldn’t be lazy in our membership, but we also shouldn’t hurt ourselves trying to do more than we can physically or emotionally accomplish without harm to ourselves and our loved ones. We need to learn wisdom in all things.

It appears that there is much more to this cause of Zion than immediately meets the eye. We not only have things to accomplish to bring about the readiness for the Lord’s return, but we, ourselves become part of the reason that the world is made ready for his return. We become both the agents of change, and the participants or supporters for the changes that will take place on earth to help prepare this world for the Savior’s second coming.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 13 – The Aaronic Priesthood was restored by John the Baptist.

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received additional knowledge as they prayed about truths they learned in the scriptures (see Joseph Smith – History 1:68). How will you follow their example?

Here are a couple of side notes from my own reading this time around. John the Baptist did not ordain them to a specific office in the Aaronic Priesthood. What he did was to give them general authority to ordain each other to the priesthood. His instructions to them were for each of them to ordain each other, and in a specific order that speaks to the levels of authority. Joseph was to baptize Oliver then Oliver, Joseph. After they both had received the covenant of baptism, Joseph was to ordain Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood (no specific office) then Oliver ordained Joseph.

As the designated first elder of the church (which hadn’t been restored yet), it was Joseph’s responsibility to be the first to exercise his priesthood power by baptizing and ordaining Oliver Cowdery. So in each instance, he who held the premier position in authority acted in his office first, and he who was second in authority acted second. This is the first priesthood pattern I know of in the Restoration. You may be aware of others, but this is the first I have recognized. This pattern of priesthood hierarchy still holds true today. The most obvious example of this I see is in the passing of the sacrament. The senior priesthood holder in attendance at the meeting is given the sacrament first. If it is just the Bishopric in attendance, the Bishop is served first. If a member of the Stake Presidency is in attendance, they are served before the Bishop. In many instances this is part of the unspoken or unrecorded hierarchy of the church. But that doesn’t make it any less a part of our culture in the kingdom.

Joseph and Oliver were both given the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood. Such a gift is rarely a shared experience. This experience also opened the doors to covenants again being available, through the priesthood, to man on earth. And with priesthood covenants comes blessings, power, and responsibilities.

Day 3

Joseph Smith – History 1:66-75 – Ordinances give me access to God’s power.

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received additional knowledge as they prayed about truths they learned in the scriptures (see Joseph Smith – History 1:68). How will you follow their example?

The baptisms of Joseph and Oliver are unusual in that they were not immediately afterwards given the gift of the Holy Ghost. But despite their not currently having the constant companionship of the Spirit, their having made covenants with the Lord through the priesthood power they held appears to have opened doors to them that were previously closed. Joseph and Oliver had read the scriptures all their lives, but now when they read them the Spirit opened the eyes of their understanding so they could comprehend things they previously could not. This is the nature of the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Here is the first half of verse 74 of Joseph Smith – History.

74 Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. …

As you were converted to the gospel, did you ever experience anything like this, where suddenly you comprehended things that had never even occurred to you before? This is common, and just one reason having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is such a blessing in our lives.

Have you ever considered the reason for ordinances in the first place? No ordinance is needed for the Telestial/Terrestrial kingdoms. Ordinances are only needed or those who proclaim they want to follow Christ back into the presence of the Father in the Celestial kingdom. So ordinances open doors to changes that need to be made within each of us to prepare our souls for exaltation. This is why Sister Carole M. Stephens, former counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency said, referring to priesthood ordinances and covenants, “They arm sons and daughters of God with power, God’s power, and provide us with the opportunity to receive eternal life.” All covenants and priesthood ordinances are given to us to prepare us to return to our Father in Heaven. Each covenant and ordinance enables more needed changes that must be made to enrich our life and enoble our soul, preparatory to our being ushered back into the presence of God. Note that the ordinance and covenant does not in and of itself make those changes in us. They only open the doors so the Spirit can help us make those changes as we seek to purify our souls and enlighten our understanding.

FHE/Personal Study

Joseph Smith – History 1:73-74 – The effect of the Holy Ghost

A discussion, though brief, on the effects of having the companionship of the Holy Ghost, though ever so brief, was given in the previous lesson above. As the testifier of truth, it is often the case that the Holy Ghost must first reveal that truth to us before he can testify of it. So with the blessings of the companionship of the Holy Spirit come revelations and witnesses of the truthfulness of those revelations.

Below are three articles I wrote previously on the gift of the Holy Ghost. I suggest you take a look at each of these articles to see different aspects of how the Spirit works in our life and how we can use his presence to enrich our life.

Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the file.

Upon You My Fellow Servants

Week 07