D&C Section 20 (Part 3)

(Continued from previous post: Part 2)

This section was given as the “Articles and Covenants of the Church”, at the time the church was first organized. It is important for these things to be included, because they teach us how the church should be governed and ran. I know that these things are according to the will of the Lord and I am grateful for the instruction that he gave the early church leaders.

What Does It Mean to “Come Forth with Broken Hearts and Contrite Spirits”?

“Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation (v. 33); Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also (v. 34). . . . And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church (v. 37).”

To have a broken heart is to know that we cannot be saved without the grace of the Lord. It is being humble and completely submissive to the will of the Lord. To have a contrite spirit, is to have and show an understanding of sin and recognize the sorrow that comes with. It is to truly have the desire to be forgiven for our sins.

What Is Meant by “an Apostle Is an Elder”?

“The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ—An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize (v. 38 ); And to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons (v. 39); And to administer bread and wine—the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ (v. 40)—And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures (v. 41); And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church (v. 42); And to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost (v. 43); And to take the lead of all meetings (v. 44). The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God (v. 45).” At this time the apostles held the Melchizedek priesthood. The Apostles and all those who hold this office of the priesthood, are therefore Elders. Those who are the Elders of the church, are called to baptize, ordain members of the priesthood, administer the sacrament, confirm and give the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who have been baptized, teach and watch over the church, preside and conduct meetings by the spirit.

“The Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost”

We are required to have two baptisms, one of water and one of the Spirit. In John 3:3-5 we read, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (v. 3). Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born (v. 4)? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (v. 5).” Baptism of water, is the way to wash one clean of sin. Baptism of the spirit can keep us clean and able to return to live with God again.

What Is the Major Function of the Office of Deacon?

“The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament (v. 46), And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties (v. 47). And he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons (v. 48 ). And he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present (v. 49); . . . In all these duties the priest is to assist the elder if occasion requires (v. 52). The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them (v. 53); And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking (v. 54); And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty (v. 55). And he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest (v. 56)—And is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires (v. 57).”

In this section, no specific duties are given to the office of a deacon. His major function is to always assist the teachers in all his duties. In his assistance, he will prepare himself to be ordained to higher offices of the priesthood.

Why Didn’t the Lord Make Known All Priesthood Offices When the Church Was First Organized?

“Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him (v. 60).” The Lord gave the church the organization that was necessary to get it started. If he had completely organized everything at the beginning, than understanding would have been too overwhelming for those involved.

The Purposes of Church Conferences

“The several elders composing this church of Christ are to meet in conference once in three months, or from time to time as said conferences shall direct or appoint (v. 61); And said conferences are to do whatever church business is necessary to be done at the time (v. 62).” The conferences of the church are for handling church business as the spirit has inspired our leaders. We have the opportunity now to have general conference every 6 months. We are blessed to receive teachings and guidance for us in our lives today. Other conferences are held at different levels of the organization of the church, such as Stake conferences and Ward conferences. These are also set apart for the business of the church.

The Principle of Common Consent

“The elders are to receive their licenses from other elders, by vote of the church to which they belong, or from the conferences (v. 63). Each priest, teacher, or deacon, who is ordained by a priest, may take a certificate from him at the time, which certificate, when presented to an elder, shall entitle him to a license, which shall authorize him to perform the duties of his calling, or he may receive it from a conference (v. 64). No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church (v. 65);”. All priesthood ordinations are done with a sustaining vote of the church. We have been given the gift of agency and the Lord will not have us do anything without a choice. Our will should be in line with that of the Lord, but we as a collective membership, have the choice whether or not to sustain all callings and ordinations that are extended.

How Does One Sustain a Church Officer?

When we raise our hand in a sustaining vote, we make a commitment with the Lord, to support that person in that calling. We make a commitment to help them when they need us, to be prepared to listen to their teachings and counsel, and to stand up and defend them if necessary. If we hold to our sustaining vote, the church will remain strong and will continue to move forward.

Why Are Little Children to Be Blessed before the Church?

“Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name (v. 70).” All little children of the church should be given a blessing from the Lord. When members of the priesthood give blessings, they are do it in the place of the Lord. We learn the importance of blessing little ones from the Savior’s example. In 3 Nephi 17:21 we read, “And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.” Knowing that the Lord is unchanging, we should understand that little children should be blessed now, just as they were blessed in ancient times.

Why Aren’t Infants Baptized?

“No one can be received into the church of Christ unless he has arrived unto the years of accountability before God, and is capable of repentance (v. 71).” Since we learned that baptism is to cleanse us from sin, one should only be baptized if they can understand sin and repentance. A child cannot understand sin and repentance until they are at the age of accountability and therefore should not baptized as an infant.

Set Prayers

Baptism

“Baptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent (v. 72)—The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen (v. 73). Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water (v. 74).” A set prayer is a pray that should be said word for word, without any changes. These prayers are specifically used for making sacred covenants with the Lord. The prayer given as one chooses to be baptized is one of these set prayers.

Two other set prayers in the church are those used as we partake of the Sacrament. “It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus (v. 75); And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this amanner shall he administer it—he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying (v. 76): O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen (v. 77). The manner of administering the wine—he shall take the cup also, and say (v. 78 ): O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen (v. 79).”

Is Wine Acceptable for Sacramental Use?

It was revealed later (see Section 27) that it did not matter what was used to eat or drink as long as it was done in remembrance of the Savior and His sacrifice. We no longer use wine because we have the revelation of the Word of Wisdom (see Section 89), which tells us not to drink wine.

The rest of this section covers how to deal with transgression and membership in the church (v. 80-84).

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