The Doctrine of the Priesthood: The Pathway to Power Lesson 46: Sections 121-23

Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, (1981), 91–92


The Lord revealed through his Prophet some of the most sublime principles known to man, the center of which was the doctrine of the priesthood.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    Many are called to the priesthood because they have been foreordained to it.

  • B.

    Few are chosen to eternal life.

    1. 1.

      Their hearts are set upon things of the world.

    2. 2.

      They have not learned that the priesthood powers (rights) are connected with the powers of heaven and can operate only on the principle of righteousenss.

    3. 3.

      They give way to pride, sin, worldly ambition, and unrighteous dominion, all of which offend the Spirit, causing the loss of priesthood power here and in the life to come.

  • C.

    Through the doctrine of the priesthood we can learn how one is chosen for eternal life.

    1. 1.

      It is necessary to be an example of the divine attributes of patience, kindness, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned.

    2. 2.

      The priesthood can be exercised only by persuasion and long suffering.

    3. 3.

      A man can advance in the realms of the Spirit when pure knowledge is given through priesthood power.

    4. 4.

      In the doctrine of the priesthood is defined the royal road to exaltation.

Study Sources

Student Manual

Sections 121-23; Enrichment N, “Priesthood and Church Government, Part 2”

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

  • D&C 121-23. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder these sections.

  • D&C 107:30-31. What qualities are necessary in exercising the priesthood?

  • D&C 121:39. Those who hold the priesthood should be aware of what sin? Compare Matthew 24:45-51.

  • D&C 121:38. What happens to the man from whom the Spirit withdraws?

  • D&C 45:57. What is one way a man can safely avoid deception?

  • D&C 122:8. What two thoughts should give encouragement to everyone who experiences great trial or suffering?

Basic Library

  • Teachings, p. 169. According to the account of Cain’s experience, how long will the priesthood continue with a man who has been ordained?

  • Teachings, p. 308. How may a man obtain the fulness of the priesthood?

  • Teachings, p. 323. Some knowledge of the priesthood is received only in the temples of the Lord.

  • Discourses, p. 130. Do the principles of the priesthood comprise the celestial law?

  • DS, 3:132-33. Is it necessary to have the fulness of the priesthood to gain exaltation?

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

The Doctrine of the Priesthood (Transparency, Discussion)

Most studies of the priesthood deal with its definition, powers, offices, and keys. This lesson, though it encompasses all of these things, deals with the “doctrine of the priesthood.” It should be understood that this study is a sacred one for it deals with the principles that touch the personal lives of the students. Therefore, you should prayerfully study these things and be prepared to teach them by the Spirit, for the principles contained in the doctrine of the priesthood lie at the roots of priesthood influence and success. They place the priesthood holder in the position of being accountable and bound to honorably discharge his priesthood stewardship. They also reveal conditions under which he may fail in this.

Doctrine. Defined as teachings, tenets, precepts, principles, and revealed philosophies of pure religion (see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 204). Satan also has his doctrine. “True doctrines come from God, the source and fountain of all truth” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 204).

Key to understanding any doctrine. “In the final analysis the truth of doctrine can only be known by revelation gained as a result of obedience. ‛My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,’ our Lord proclaimed. ‛If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.’ (John 7:16-17.)” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 205.)

Warning and counsel. Students should realize that being taught this doctrine places them under obligation to live it (see D&C 82:3; 132:3; James 4:17).

Our destiny through the doctrine of the priesthood. To live the doctrine of the priesthood is to live in the state which enables man to gain exaltation. Read and emphasize the first nine lines from Smith, Teachings (p. 51).

The Lord taught the doctrine of the priesthood. D&C 121:34. Many are called to the priesthood, having been foreordained to that holy order from the foundations of the world (see also D&C 95:5-6; Alma 13:3-7, 14).

D&C 121:34. Few are chosen to eternal life (compare D&C 105:35-36; Mosiah 26:24; Alma 13:12). The proper living of the doctrine of the priesthood develops within the individual the divine nature and enables him to not only be called, but to be chosen.

D&C 121:35. The antithesis of the doctrine of the priesthood is the doctrine of the devil: seeking wordly wealth and seeking the honors of men. Living this doctrine guarantees that a person will not be chosen.

D&C 121:36. Why do the principles of righteousness have such a bearing upon the use of the priesthood powers? (Compare 1 John 2:28-29; 3:7; Mosiah 5:2, 7.)

Transparency 23, “The Doctrine of the Priesthood-A Comparison,” define the doctrine of the priesthood by contrasting it with the doctrine of Satan. Use the transparencies to summarize this part of the lesson.

You may find it useful to study 3 Nephi 12:1-16 (the Beatitudes) and compare it to the doctrine of the priesthood.

Seven Principles Which Will Crown the Lives of Those Who Become as God (Scripture Analysis)

  1. 1.

    The eternal promises of the Lord are merited through the spirit of the pure love of Christ (charity) toward all men. This charity is part of the inner man. It is the core of those who trust in God alone for their reward, and care not whether their service is accepted by or held in esteem by men (see D&C 121:45).

  2. 2.

    Absolute cleanness, including constant virtuous thoughts, qualifies a man for the Spirit (see D&C 121:45).

  3. 3.

    When a man knows by the Spirit that he has been forgiven of the Lord and is clean in thought and in deed, he is free from all guilt, is at one with God, and is confident in God’s presence (see D&C 121:45; compare 1 John 2:28; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:142-43).

  4. 4.

    In this state of freshness in the presence of God, the doctrine of the priesthood distills as naturally upon the soul as dew that appears on the grass (see D&C 121:45).

  5. 5.

    Then the Holy Ghost ratifies a man’s willing sacrifice (it being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise) and becomes his constant, abiding companion (see D&C 121:46; compare D&C 1:33; 45:56-57; 33:16-17; Acts 15:7-9).

  6. 6.

    The scepter is the symbol of the priesthood power by which the righteous live and labor. The power to rule in the house of God is unchanging and is administered only upon the principles of righteousness already mentioned (see 121:46; 1 John 2:28-29; 3:7).

  7. 7.

    The righteous are promised everlasting dominion. He who truly has the doctrine of the priesthood distilled upon his soul in this world will realize this happy dominion in the world to come (see D&C 121:46; 27:16-18; 59:20-23).

It should be clear that these seven principles, as identified above, also help define the doctrine of the priesthood. They can only be lived through the power of the Spirit. When they become a natural part of any child of God they have the power, through faith, to exalt the soul and reveal the divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:1-10). Truly the higher priesthood and its lofty ordinances (found in the temples of the Lord) give a man the power to make the pure principles of the doctrine of the priesthood his own (see D&C 84:19-22). Such a person is at one with the Lord and has the absolute assurance that he may call upon the name of the Lord, obey his commandments, see his face, and know that he is! (see D&C 93:1). You may wish to close with the summary of the doctrine of the priesthood found on Transparency 24, “Doctrine of the Priesthood.”