Sustaining Our Leaders (Exodus 24:3; D&C 1:38; D&C 20:65; D&C 52:1)
And all things shall be done by common consent in the church. (D&C 26:2)
The principle of common consent is the principle that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in Church decisions (Exodus 24:3; D&C 20:65). All Church members have the right to sustain or not sustain the actions and decisions of their leaders. Members who sustain, or agree with, the decision show approval and support by raising their right hands when asked to do so. Those who are opposed to the decision may raise their right hands after the sustaining vote.
We sustain many decisions in the Church, but most often we are asked to sustain the callings of Church leaders. Once we have acknowledged our support and approval, we should continue to sustain our leaders. We can do this by supporting their decisions, remembering them in our prayers, following their counsel, and willingly doing what they ask us to do. President Gordon B. Hinckley has taught: "The procedure of sustaining is much more than a ritualistic raising of the hand. It is a commitment to uphold, to support, to assist those who have been selected" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 70; or Ensign, May 1995, 51).
We can have confidence in our Church leaders because we know that important callings are directed by the Holy Spirit (D&C 52:1). Those in positions of leadership are not placed there to exercise authority but to direct with kindness and serve with love. The Lord expects us to follow and uphold His chosen leaders because they are authorized to act and speak for Him (D&C 1:38).
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are asked to sustain our Church leaders. We sustain and show our support to our leaders by raising our right hand in Church meetings when asked to do so and by praying for them, supporting their decisions, and helping them when we are asked.
The Bishop (Mark 10:43-45; Titus 1:7-9; D&C 107:68; D&C 108:1)
But whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:43-44)
The Savior is the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through His holy priesthood, Christ gives leaders of the Church the power to act in His name. Bishop is an ordained office in this priesthood, and a bishop of a ward is called by the Lord to administer all the temporal things of that ward (D&C 107:68). The men who serve in this office devote a substantial amount of time and effort and do so without pay.
As the Lord's steward over the ward, "a bishop must be blameless, ... not self willed, not soon angry, ... a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught" (Titus 1:7-9). As a bishop righteously serves the members of his ward, he can be a tremendous force for good in their lives. With love and concern the bishop counsels regularly with each youth in the ward. He interviews ward members before they make covenants with our Heavenly Father—such as baptismal, priesthood ordination, or temple covenants—and conducts yearly interviews with all members of the ward during tithing settlement.
We can turn to our bishop when we need emotional or spiritual help. Not only can he give us encouragement and love, he can also give us direction from the Lord, and we have been counseled to follow his advice (D&C 108:1).
A bishop is called and ordained of God. He is appointed to watch over and serve the members of his ward and help them live the gospel. The bishop interviews ward members and counsels with them before they make covenants with our Heavenly Father, such as baptismal, priesthood ordination, and temple covenants.
Missionaries Teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 1:18; D&C 42:58; Moses 5:58-59)
Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. (3 Nephi 5:13)
Our Father in Heaven wants all His children to return to Him. This is why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends missionaries throughout the world to teach those who want to hear the gospel message.
The Lord has commanded His followers to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; to preach repentance; and to seek out those who will hear the truth. During every gospel dispensation, the followers of Christ have gone forth in boldness and faith to share the gospel and declare His word. (D&C 42:58; Moses 5 58-59)
Today tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints, in fulfillment of prophecy, serve missions around the world for the Church (D&C 1:18). Young men and women make great contributions to the missionary effort. In addition, several thousand married couples serve as missionaries to support the Lord's work with their experience and leadership. Missionaries must stand firm in the faith, live by strict standards of worthiness, and support themselves financially.
The Lord commanded us to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of the world. Today thousands of missionaries are called to go forth in boldness and faith to share the gospel. We should all prepare ourselves to be worthy to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Administering to the Sick (Matthew 9:35; Mark 16:17-18; James 5 14-16; Moroni 7:26; D&C 42:43-44, D&C 42:48)
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. (James 5:14-15)
When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He "went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matthew 9:35). Although Christ is not on the earth now, He has given righteous men the priesthood, the power to act in His name. Those who hold the priesthood can give blessings to heal us just as Jesus would if He were here.
Giving a blessing to someone who is sick is called administering to the sick. These administrations have two parts: anointing and sealing. Consecrated oil is used in the anointing. This is pure olive oil that has been consecrated for this purpose. To anoint, one Melchizedek Priesthood holder places a small amount of consecrated oil on the sick person's head. The priesthood holder then places his hands on the person's head, calls the person by name, and states that he is anointing with consecrated oil. After the anointing, two or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders once again lay their hands on the person's head and seal the anointing. Blessings, counsel, and promises are pronounced during the sealing as directed by the Spirit of the Lord.
Healings are one of the signs that follow the true believers (Mark 16:17-18). Worthy priesthood holders have the power to heal those who have the faith to be healed. The person who is sick must exercise faith in the power of Jesus Christ. Then "whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you" (Moroni 7:26).
People are not always healed after a priesthood administration, but Heavenly Father will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us. He knows that some people can become stronger by learning to live with their disability or sickness. Others may not be healed because it is not Heavenly Father's will. "And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed" (D&C 42:48). Priesthood blessings comfort the sick and show Heavenly Father's love for His children.
Jesus Christ has given the priesthood, or the power to act in His name, to worthy men. Men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood can administer to those who are sick. When we are blessed by priesthood authority, we must have faith that Heavenly Father can heal us if it is His will. However, people are not always healed after a priesthood blessing. Heavenly Father knows what is best for each of us, and sometimes the people being blessed need to return to live with Heavenly Father. Priesthood blessings will bring us comfort and help us know that Heavenly Father loves us and will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us.
Home Teaching (Mosiah 23:14-18)
Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness. (Mosiah 23:18)
Heavenly Father established home teaching to help every Latter-day Saint remain steadfast in the faith. President Ezra Taft Benson taught that home teaching is an inspired program that can touch our hearts, change our lives, and help us all achieve exaltation. He explained that home teaching is "the priesthood way of watching over the Saints and accomplishing the mission of the Church" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 60; or Ensign, May 1987, 48).
Home teachers represent Jesus Christ in looking after the welfare of Church members. Each month Church members receive visits from their home teachers, usually a Melchizedek Priesthood bearer accompanied by an Aaronic Priesthood teacher or priest. During the visit, they teach a gospel message and offer to pray with the family. Home teachers watch for opportunities to offer service and friendship to families and individuals under their care. Members of the Church can turn to their home teachers in times of need, for special priesthood blessings, or to perform ordinances such as baptisms or confirmations.
Each month throughout the Church two priesthood holders go together to visit assigned families and individuals in their ward or branch. These two men are called by the branch president or bishop to represent Jesus Christ in looking after and caring for the people. As they visit each home they teach a gospel message and offer to pray with the family. They also offer to serve the family in various ways when the family needs help.
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