The teaching materials for the learning experience on “Priesthood and Priesthood Keys” are divided into four parts. In part 1, students will study paragraphs 6.1 through 6.4 of this doctrinal topic using the information in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. They will learn that all who serve in the Church are called under the direction of those who hold priesthood keys, and they will study the doctrinal mastery passage Doctrine and Covenants 42:11.
Note: You could teach the segments of this lesson in a single class session or over the course of several class sessions. If you choose to teach the segments over the course of several class sessions, you may need to briefly review with students what they learned in previous segments before you teach a new segment.
Give each student a copy of the accompanying quiz, or write the quiz on the board. Divide students into pairs. Instruct them to read aloud paragraphs 6.1 through 6.3 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and then take the quiz. Invite them to write whether they think a statement is true (T) or false (F), or to write T or F in their journals if you have written the quiz on the board.
After students have had sufficient time to study paragraphs 6.1 through 6.3 and complete the quiz, review the quiz together as a class (statements 1, 2, and 3 are true; statements 4 and 5 are false). For question 4, you may need to explain that while all of the priesthood keys that pertain to the kingdom of God on earth have been conferred upon each of the Apostles, only the President of the Church is authorized to exercise these priesthood keys (see paragraph 6.3). For question 5, you may need to explain that priesthood keys are not conferred upon every man who is ordained to a priesthood office (see paragraph 6.3).
To help students understand the difference between priesthood authority and priesthood keys, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The priesthood, or priesthood authority, has been defined as ‘the power and authority of God’ and ‘the consummate power on this earth.’ Priesthood keys are defined for our understanding as well: ‘Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth’ [Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 2.1.1]. Priesthood keys control the exercise of priesthood authority. Ordinances that create a record in the Church require keys and cannot be done without authorization. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that ‘ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is. He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used’ [“The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 50]” (Gary E. Stevenson, “Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 30).
How would you summarize in your own words the difference between priesthood authority and priesthood keys? (Make sure students understand that brethren who have been ordained to the priesthood can exercise that priesthood in certain ways in their home and in their lives, such as giving blessings to family members. However, the right to use the priesthood to direct the work of the Lord in His Church requires the keys of the priesthood.)
According to paragraph 6.3 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, who holds priesthood keys in a ward? (Bishops and quorum presidents: elders quorum president, deacons quorum president, teachers quorum president, and the bishop, who is also the priests quorum president. Stake presidents also hold keys and are the presidents of the high priests quorum in their stakes. A branch president holds the priesthood keys for his branch.)
Invite a student to read aloud paragraph 6.4 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a key statement of doctrine that explains how all who serve in the Church are called to do so. (Students should identify that all who serve in the Church—men and women—are called under the direction of one who holds priesthood keys. Invite students to mark this key statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.)
To help students understand the implications of this key statement of doctrine, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for how this statement clarifies our understanding of priesthood authority:
“The Church work done by women or men, whether in the temple or in the wards or branches, is done under the direction of those who hold priesthood keys. …
“We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties” (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 51).
What did President Oaks clarify about priesthood authority and serving in the Church? (Each person who “functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.”)
Testify that all who receive a calling to serve in the Church have been given authority to fulfill their assignments by someone who holds priesthood keys.
Ask students if they have a calling in their branch, ward, or stake. Invite a few students who have callings to tell the class what they have been called to do. Ask some of them the following questions:
Who extended that calling to you?
How were you called under the direction of one who holds priesthood keys? (Point out that the bishop, branch president, and stake president hold priesthood keys. If one of their counselors extends a calling to serve, they are doing so under the direction of the bishop, branch president, or stake president, who has keys and can delegate that authority.)
According to the statement by President Dallin H. Oaks in paragraph 6.4 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, what authority do you exercise when you perform the duties to which you have been called? (Priesthood authority.)
Which doctrinal mastery passage helps teach the key statement of doctrine that all who serve in the Church—men and women—are called under the direction of one who holds priesthood keys?
After students respond, invite them to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 42:11 and to consider marking this passage in a distinctive way in their scriptures so that they will be able to locate it easily.
To help students understand the context of this passage, explain that Doctrine and Covenants 42 includes a revelation referred to as “the law of the Church” (D&C 42, section heading). This law gave the Saints instructions on organizing the Church and preaching the gospel, as well as laws of ordination, moral conduct, consecration, and discipline. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 42:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words and phrases that help teach the key statement of doctrine they marked in paragraph 6.4 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Invite students to report what they find.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for what President Faust taught about the priesthood and priesthood keys.
“No one can claim priesthood authority except it is conferred openly by those possessing the authority, ‘and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church’ (D&C 42:11). The exercise of priesthood authority is directed by the keys of the priesthood. These keys rest with the presiding local and General Authorities of the Church” (James E. Faust, “Keeping Covenants and Honoring the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 37).
What did President Faust teach about priesthood and priesthood keys?
Why do you think it is important that those who are called to build up the Lord’s Church are called by those who have priesthood keys?
Note: The following review activity is not intended to be taught during the same class session as this lesson—“Priesthood and Priesthood Keys, Part 1.” Please present this activity during a seminary class session that takes place after you have taught this lesson, but before you teach “Priesthood and Priesthood Keys, Part 2.” This short review can be taught at the beginning or end of a class in which you teach a regular sequential scripture lesson from the Doctrine and Covenants. Be sure that this review takes no longer than five minutes, so as not to take away from the scripture block students will be studying in class.
Before class begins, invite a student to write the following key statement of doctrine on the board: All who serve in the Church—men and women—are called under the direction of one who holds priesthood keys.
Ask students to find the doctrinal mastery passage in the Doctrine and Covenants that supports this key statement of doctrine. When the students have found Doctrine and Covenants 42:11, invite the class to read this passage aloud. Ask students to explain how this passage supports the statement of doctrine written on the board. If time permits, ask students to name the people in a ward or branch who hold priesthood keys (bishop or branch president, elders quorum president, teachers quorum president, and deacons quorum president).