I Have a Question


Questions of general gospel interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy.

“When do missionaries receive the keys for their ministry—when ordained an elder, when set apart for their mission, or when they receive their endowment?”

President J. Murray Rawson Missionary Home, Salt Lake City, Utah

The receipt of a missionary call from the president of the Church allows a person to receive the keys of that assignment. When a missionary is set apart, he actually receives the keys to act in his assignment.

The keys are the right to “enjoy the blessings of communication with the heavens, and the privilege and authority to administer in the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine Deseret Book Co.: 1939, p. 142.)

The Lord tells us in the Doctrine and Covenants 42:11, “Again, I say unto you, that it shall not be given to anyone to go forth and preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority …”

The priesthood is the authority given to man to act for God. “Every man ordained to any degree of the priesthood has this authority delegated to him. It is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order.

“The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the priesthood. In their fullness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the Prophet and President of the Church.” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 136.)

President Spencer W. Kimball holds all the keys of the kingdom, which gives to him the power, right, and authority to preside over the kingdom of God on earth which is the Church and to direct all of its affairs. (See Gospel Doctrine, p. 136.) He has delegated some of his keys to the stake president and the mission president, who in turn, as they set a missionary apart in behalf of President Kimball, bestow upon him the keys to act in his missionary assignment.

“Why are medical doctors so important if the priesthood has the power to cure diseases?”

Elder Delbert L. Stapley, of the Council of the Twelve

The source of all knowledge comes from God to man for man’s benefit, guidance, and blessing. God expects man to use wisely the knowledge, scientific or otherwise, that he releases for man’s benefit. Nephi taught, “… it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23.) We can appropriately paraphrase and relate this statement to the healing of the sick or afflicted by the power of the priesthood by saying: “By grace are ye healed by the power of the priesthood after all ye can do.” If medical men have acquired skills and medical cures for the ills of man, shouldn’t they be used as part of the healing requirement?

Medical science is just a link in the whole plan and process of healing. The advances in medicine and medical treatment are providing cures for diseases and afflictions that in the past may have been terminal. An afflicted body fortified with medical help has great natural power to heal itself.

Man’s life is based upon many significant factors. The body is made up of many complex, interrelating parts, all of which must function normally to assure good health and physical endurance. Disorders, diseases, afflictions, injuries do occur in the lives of people and require the skills and treatment medical science is capable of furnishing.

In discussing good health, we should examine the Word of Wisdom, the physical law of health given by the Lord. In this revelation (D&C 89), the Lord gave us knowledge of the physical substances that are not good for man and knowledge of the produce of the earth that is good for man. Meat is to be used sparingly, if we obey this natural law, we are promised good health.

If we accept the Word of Wisdom and abide by it, can we not also accept the use of medicines and the professional services of doctors to good advantage? The power of man is limited, the power of God is unlimited. When man’s capabilities fail, God’s holy power through his faithful priesthood takes over and miracles often result.

The Lord has counseled:

“And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food …

“And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name …

“And … 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 42:43, 44, 48. Italics added.)

We can be grateful that the ordinance for the healing of the household of faith is in the gospel plan of our Lord.

The following examples will explain the medical link between doctors and the priesthood healing power.

The fourteen-month-old son of a doctor became very ill. During the course of his treatment, many consultants were brought in, but their contributions resulted only in a symptomatic approach to the disease. The result was that the child’s condition steadily worsened. His temperature was 104 degrees and the family had entirely given up hope for his recovery; his death was expected momentarily. At this point, a number of miraculous things happened. On their own and without a previous appointment, the bishop and his counselors came to visit the family. At the request of the family, they administered to the child. Almost immediately following the blessing, an intern, who was a friend of the family, stepped into the room and said, “Why not give him a transfusion?” The intern was a universal blood donor, and blood was taken from him immediately and given to the child. The child’s temperature dropped from 104 degrees to normal and remained at normal throughout his hospital stay. This is a case where medical aid had essentially failed; and on the basis of what medicine could offer, the child’s life had been despaired. The priesthood came into the picture, and the administration was followed by additional medical steps that previously had not been projected. The child’s life was saved. Today, he has matured and has a lovely wife and family.

Another case pertains to a man who had a serious heart condition. At two o’clock in the morning, it appeared as though efforts to control the disease preying upon his body were ineffective. At this time, a General Authority came into the room and administered to him; his heart action immediately improved, and his life was saved. His health has continued excellent to the present time.

Thus, you can understand that there can be a correlative effort between medical practice and priesthood administration, one aiding the other, and together forming an effective approach to the healing of the sick.

Yes, medical doctors are important. But it is through the priesthood that we receive that extra power by which miraculous cures and healings occur.