Question: After the conclusion of Jesus Christ's first ministry on earth (he will return), was and is there still a need for ministers, and in particular, Melchisedec high priests? The question can be answered with a question: If priesthood were not needed, why did Christ choose twelve apostles, and why did they continue to minister after his ascension? Beyond that, after the death of Judas why was Matthias appointed to take his place? Why did the apostles turn "the world upside down," (Acts 17:6 KJV/IV) as the Jews in Thessalonica put it? James the Lord's brother expounded an authoritative answer to the church regarding which few parts of the Jewish traditions/law would continue to be observed and which would not (Acts 15:13-20). If there was no longer need for hierarchical leadership in the Christ's church, why did James do that? The ministry of the early Christian church and of the church today was and is appointed and ordained to feed the sheep, to provide leadership, and to be servants.
In any constructive social situation; whether in business, school, or even in the home; there is leadership. There are CEO's, principals, and parents. The priesthood office of high priest is appointed to provide such leadership in spiritual things. Hebrews 5:1-2 reads, "For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God...Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity." (KJV/IV) Mankind is still troubled with ignorance and still wanders in troubling paths, therefore high priests are still needed to minister from the standpoint of men who have endured tribulations of their own and can understand the trials mankind endures. Such authority to minister for Christ is not assumed, it is given as stated in Hebrews 5:4: "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (KJV/IV) Such selection of ministry is to be made by divine inspiration and wisdom.
While John the Baptist baptized with water, he indicated that Jesus would baptize "with the Holy Ghost and with fire." (Lk. 3:16 KJV) Why was it that Christ could baptize with fire but John could not? Jesus' priesthood was of the order of Melchizedek while John's was of Aaron. In speaking of Christ in Psalm 110:4, David wrote, "...Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 7: 11-12, 14-16 (KJV) reads, "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law....For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life." High priests, then are to be men of compassion as a result of the lessons of life and are to administer in spiritual things, including the bestowal of the Holy Ghost. This ordinance of giving the Holy Ghost, or laying on of hands, is not part of the ministry of the Aaronic priest but is part of the ministry of the Melchisedec priesthood.
Growing the Branches
The high priests met Monday night, February 13, to consider ways to grow the congregations or branches of the church. Here are some of the avenues discussed:
1. Divine power is needed (D&C R-147:5b).
2. The saints must be filled with charity or the love of Christ (Jn. 13:35).
3. Ministry needs to occur in the homes (Mt. 6:26).
4. Exhibit friendliness toward all, especially guests.
5. Invite many using personal invitations and public announcements.
6. Provide excellent worship services.
7. Be observant of those missing and let them know you miss them.
8. Improve facilities to provide a pleasant and worshipful atmosphere.
9. Excellent children and youth programs (very important).
10. Provide small group settings and foster friendships.
11. Have a good public image by being involved in the community.
Reference: What Every Pastor Should Know by Gary McIntosh and Charles Arn.
The Lord's Day
There are differing opinions regarding which day should be observed by Christians for worship. Does it matter which day is observed? What is the history of the early Christian church in this regard? Here are a few references in that regard.
- The Christian church was set up by Christ ("I will build my church..." Mt. 16:18), but the leadership of it by the apostles and other priesthood began on Pentecost. Pentecost (see Acts 2:1) was on a Sunday. Lev. 23:16 reads, "Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days..." The morrow after the Sabbath would have been a Sunday.
- The saints broke bread and were preached to by Paul on the first day of the week per Acts 20:7.
- Offerings were solicited on the first day of the week as recorded in 1 Corinthians 16:2.
- John records that he was "in the Spirit on the Lord's day..." (Rev. 1:10) Which day is the Lord's day? Numerous references indicate it was Sunday. Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology indicates such, for example, and references several sources for their information.
- The Didache, an instruction manual of the early apostles for the saints, says to break bread and offer thanks on the Lord's day (14).
- The Epistle of Barnabas, verse 15, says by celebrating on Sunday, the saints are looking forward to the "new creation" which occurs after the Millenium, or the eighth day in the Lord's time scale.
- Several other authors wrote in the second century AD that Sunday was the day used for worship by early Christians.
- In modern revelation, Doctrine and Covenants 59:2h, the Lord told the saints to offer their oblations and sacraments on the Lord's day.
- However, the second question still applies: Does it make any difference? Apparently not as indicated in Romans 14:5-6 – "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it."
- Also, in Gal. 4:9-10 we read, "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." Paul argued strenuously in opposition with "Judaizers," those Jewish Christians who wanted to maintain their old traditions which Christ fulfilled.
- Finally, Doctrine and Covenants 119:7 leaves the option open to either further revelation or the will of the people: "...Inasmuch as there has been much discussion in the past concerning the Sabbath of the Lord, the church is admonished that until further revelation is received, or the quorums of the church are assembled to decide concerning the law in the church articles and covenants, the Saints are to observe the first day of the week commonly called the Lord's day, as a day of rest: as a day of worship,...And on this day they should refrain from unncecessary work; nevertheless, nothing should be permitted to go to waste on that day, nor should necessary work be neglected."
Much energy is being diverted to debating about which day to use for worship. Paul wrote to the Colossians: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of Sabbath days; Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Our task is to shine the light of Christ by observing "the weightier matters of the law; judgment, mercy, and faith;" (Mt. 23:23 KJV)
Jack Evans, Counselor