Articles of Faith: Five

24 Mar

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, and 4. Today I will discuss briefly the fifth of the Articles, as given below.

We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

This article of faith discusses the authority to act in God’s name. Joseph Smith has already laid down the foundation of the gospel in Christ and the Godhead; has declared our belief in the Atonement and taught us the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. But what good is all this if the authority to perform those ordinances and teach the gospel is not had. Again, I find the order significant. In the first four articles he established what the Gospel was, and now he is telling us how to claim it as ours.

What he says here is very similar to what Paul tells the Hebrew Saints.

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 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. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

Hebrews 5: 1-4

Here Paul tells us that one must have the authority given to him from God in order to legally act in the office of High Priest. He must be called of God in the same manner as Aaron was. We read about it in Exodus 28, where God tells Moses to bring Aaron and his sons and set the coats of the priests office and them “and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them” (verse 41).

Joseph Smith says a man must be called of God, and Aaron received his called from God.

Joseph Smith says that it must be by prophecy. In this case Joseph Smith is not speaking of the foretelling of future events, but of the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Christ (Revelation 19: 19) or the spirit of Revelation, or to speak for God. Moses spoke for God in calling Aaron, and thus Aaron was called by prophecy.

Joseph Smith also says it must be by the ‘laying on of hands.’ This is the method of many ordinances, as the Bible attests to. When Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, he laid his hands on their heads (Genesis 48:14-19). The Apostles Peter and John bestowed the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-17). And, more to the story of Moses and Aaron, when Moses was about to leave Israel he took Joshua “And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.” (Numbers 27: 23). So, when we read that Moses was to anoint and consecrate Aaron it becomes clear that this meant the laying on of hands to consecrate them for the service of priests. Consecrate means to ‘set apart or dedicate to the service of God.” In the modern day we speak of setting people apart for callings, and do this by the laying on of hands. When Moses consecrated Aaron he set him apart, and did so, as he did later with Joshua, by the laying on of hands.

The last requirement Joseph Smith gives is that the one who is doing the laying on of hands must have authority to not only teach the gospel, but to administer the ordinances. Comparing this to Aaron again we see again that it was completed, for Moses clearly had the authority to do both.When Paul wrote to the Hebrews he told them that a man must be called of God as was Aaron if he was to act in the office of a High Priest. The Hebrews would have understood the circumstances and nature of Aaron being called. Joseph Smith, in this Article of Faith, states the same thing that Paul stated, but instead of making the comparison with Aaron (a figure not as well known to 1800’s Americans) he simply outlined the requirements.

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