Friday Forum: D&C 1:38- Exactly Who IS a Servant?

Discuss D&C 1:38

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What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. D&C 1:38

Apart from Priesthood Blessings, my question is, who has the power to speak for God?  Obviously the Prophet and the Twelve have to power to speak in God’s name.  Do General Authorities, Stake Presidents, Bishops/Branch Presidents, Relief Society Presidents, HP Group Leaders, Elders Quorum Presidents, Teachers Quorum Presidents and Deacon Quorum Presidents, also have the power to speak for God? If so, do we all have the power to speak for God? How do we know if someone is a mouth piece for God or just expressing an educated opinion or their own personal weirdness?

Along the same vein, who is the Lord’s Anointed?  Clearly from this scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants 132:7;  God is speaking of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In our day the Lord’s Anointed is Thomas S Monson. Does this anointing also extend to the Twelve, General Authorities, so on and so forth right down the line; or is this Anointing a special Priesthood blessing received in the Temple such as the Second Endowment or Calling of Election?

If you know the answers to my questions, don’t be shy, please do tell. Inquiring minds want to know.

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

18 thoughts on “Friday Forum: D&C 1:38- Exactly Who IS a Servant?

  1. Confused readers may want to know that this post first posted last week and then we had problems with our RSS feed, so now it is posted again.

  2. JA: I think who speaks for God is the same as who can receive revelation from Him. The answer is we all do, but within the appropriate scope. I can receive revelation for myself, and as a father for my family. My Bishop can receive revelation for himself and members of the ward. The Stake President for the Stake and so on. Only the Prophet with the Quorum of the Twelve can receive revelations or new doctrine for the entire church. We are to seek independent verification of the Lord’s will for us even when it comes from a person with authority to receive direction for us.

    The Lord’s anointed in Doctrine & Covenants 132:7 refers to the current prophet: “and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred”. All other worthy men exercise the power of the priesthood through delegated authority from the prophet who holds the power and the keys. The Twelve hold the keys as well, but do not have the power to exercise those keys. God has insured there is only one leader of our church at a time, the Lord’s house is orderly.

    Perhaps my answers are more basic than what you are looking for, but given the dearth of comments I thought I’d put something up.

  3. I do think it is important to remember that some people do NOT have the authority to speak for God. When my bishop, after fervent prayer, gives me advice, that is different than if my LDS neighbor giving me advice. One has authority over me, the other doesn’t. This does not get rid of the need for me to confirm things and get my own revelation, but it does help you understand that all advice is not equal.

  4. I believe that a bishop, stake or quorum president has the ability to speak for the Lord, within their own stewardship and assuming they are acting righteously. It is up to us as individuals with the gift of the Holy Ghost to a confirmation from the Lord as to whether what they say or ask is His will. I believe that parents have this same ability within the home.

    As far as who the Lord’s annointed is, I have no clue and I’m interested in what others have to say.

  5. Exactly what I have always heard.

    Kim brings up a good point. Case in point. The Nashville Temple was planned originally to be built in Green Hills. A public protest erupted and the city of Green Hills refused to allow the temple to be built. The church took the city to court. Many years went by and it was preached from pulpit that the temple would be built AND it would be located on the Green Hill site. The church lost the court case and the temple was built instead in Franklin Tennessee.

    It does not matter to me if the temple is located somewhere other than where it was originally slated to be built. Still a big fuss was made over the Green Hills site and was promised the temple would be built there.

    So in cases like this, was the servant giving his opinion? Is God obligated to do exactly what the servant said if the Servant spoke his own opinion?

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  7. I think its important to consider the nature of the “revelation” or “inspiration.” For example, a patriarchal blessing is from God, but many of the blessings are contingent upon righteousness. Often blessings are contingent upon your righteousness and others. We don’t like to think of this life as a group project, but at least temporally it is.

    As for prophesy always coming true that is even more complicated than the parsing above. One of the most difficult problems we have in relation to understanding God’s will is the perception of time. When the word “soon” is used in a blessing we assume that means relatively quickly. Another issue is the specificity we like to have in our revelation. We might receive a revelation that says a Temple will be built on a particular site in Independence, and maybe that is exactly what the Lord is saying, or He might be saying the temple will be built in this area and the one who receives the revelation does his best to explain what the Lord wants. Does that mean we can’t trust anything a prophet says because they’re imperfect? I’d have to give a resounding NO! If I didn’t see an accident and I spoke to a witness they would have a much better understanding of what happened than a non-observer even though another witness might have a slightly different perspective. Prophets see visions, receive revelations, and describe them the best they can. Revelations has clear examples of John seeing and describing things as well as possible. There might also be some ambiguity build into the symbolism to prevent the adversary understanding too much.

  8. Good points HeLi. But what if the supposed servant ( for example, see #10) making the promise is not a prophet or an apostle? Are others, who are not prophets or the twelve, who make prophetic statements, is God then obligated to fulfill that promise?

  9. When you receive the washing and anointing in the temple, as preparation for your endowments, you are then one of the Lord’s anointed.

    (In the temple washing-and-anointing, you are not anointed “as” a priest/king (priestess/queen) but “to become” a priest/king (priestess/queen), based on faithfulness, worthiness, etc.)

    Therefore, in my opinion, anyone who has received their endowments should be accorded the respect due “the Lord’s anointed.”

    JAB: Perhaps the Nashville Tennessee situation might be like the Independence and Far West Missouri temples. They will be built there eventually.

    In the millennium, Nashville will likely support more than one temple, and the “promise” (you didn’t say it was “prophecy”) to build a temple on the Green Hill site can still be fulfilled.

    Who knows, maybe the change/delay was due to some failure or neglect on the part of local saints, as was the case in Missouri in the 1830′s.

    Anyway, here in Indianapolis, we’re told we didn’t get a temple due to the low number of tithe-payers. Indianapolis is in the center of 7 temples within a day’s drive: Louisville KY (2.4 hours), Columbus Ohio (3.3 hrs), St. Louis MO (4.2 hrs), Chicago IL (4 hrs), Detroit MI (5.1 hrs), Nashville TN (5 hrs), Nauvoo IL (6 hrs).

    Indianapolis is at a “hub” of Interstate highways, yet we don’t have a temple. We either haven’t built up the kingdom enough to support our own temple, or if we do have the members, we just aren’t faithful enough. And, most of the temples I listed above (including our assigned temple in Louisville KY) are not filled to capacity. Therefore, the region needs to fill those temples and keep them busy, plus have enough stakes in central Indiana to support our own temple. Otherwise, building a temple here would just take away patrons from those others.

    By my calculations, at least 1700 temples will have to be built before the end of the millennium to do the ordinances for the 60 billion people who have lived on the earth since the days of Adam and Eve. That assumes the endowment session will still take about 1.5 hours, and no temple work done on Sundays or Monday evenings. Take 60 billion times 1.5 hours, divide that over the number of available hours in 1000 years, subtracting out Sundays, Monday evenings, and holidays, and you come up with the “average” number of temples you’ll need. And if you assume that temples are built at a constant rate over the 1,000 years, as opposed to all at once, then you’ll need to reach 1700 temples at the midpoint, 500 years in, and will eventually build 3400 temples by the end of the 1,000 years. I have yet to figure out the numbers if you build 1 per month or 1 per week starting at the beginning of the millennium.

    Currently, on average it takes 10 stakes to support a temple in the US, or almost 20 stakes on average world-wide. However, when temples are within 10 minutes drive, instead of 2 hours for most stakes, it may go down to 5 stakes to support a temple.

  10. JAB (#12), Is God obligated to fulfill that promise? Only if God told that person to make the promise in the first place. Otherwise, that person was speaking on their own. If the person was not speaking under inspiration, I don’t see how God could be obligated.

    And even for prophets and apostles, if the person is not speaking under inspiration, I can’t see how a human can obligate God to do anything. Only that spoken under the inspiration of the Spirit is binding, and even then, history shows us that we might be making incorrect assumptions about the time frame for the fulfilling of promises.

    Another thing to keep in mind is the scripture “God decrees, and God revokes.” (I can’t remember the reference.) All of God’s decrees are conditional upon the obedience and worthiness of the people involved. If someone disobeys God, they lose God’s promises. This is what happened in the case of the Independence Missouri temple in the 1830′s. And Zion’s camp. The Lord determined that the Missouri saints needed to be chastened for their collective disobedience.

    This concept is illustrated in the Old Testament with Moses and the children of Israel. Moses told them he was taking them to the promised land. But they disobeyed, and most of them died in the wilderness during the 40 years, and with a few exceptions, only the children (those who were under 20 yrs old at the time of the Exodus) could go into the promised land.

    I bet a whole bunch of people who were over 20 told Moses: “You lied! You said you were taking us to the promised land!” And Moses might have said: “You had your chance and you blew it.”

  11. Bookslinger- Thank you for your comments. I go back and forth on who I think is the Lord’s Anointed. If it is The Endowment, then just about everyone is the Lord’s Anointed. If it is the 2nd endowment, then only the Prophet and the Twelve are the anointed ones. Either way, all of us need to be careful with our promises, back-biting, and gossip.

    I hesitate on saying the temple site was moved because of (un)/righteousness on the part of the Saints in this area. It would be saying the northern saints were undeserving and those in the southern part of the temple district were more righteous. The church (as far as I know, which is not much) still owns the land for the old site. The original temple plan called for a larger temple than the one that was built, so your hypothesis could very well be correct.

  12. I always read my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same that it did not matter who fulfilled the promises, either God directly or through his servants, the promises were still fulfilled.

  13. Bookslinger-The passage you referenced is Doctrine and Covenants 58:31-33, just in case anyone cares. It’s one of my favorites.

    Stephen- I probably just missunderstand you, but it seems you are saying that the above passage is about who fulfills the promise, not who says it. I would agree with you if the scripture was worded “whether by myself or by my servants, it is the same.” However the Lord uses the word “voice” twice. That would imply that it is refering to who is saying what, not who is doing what.

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