Teachings for Our Time Two Lines of Communication
By Dallin Oaks, taught by Owenna Nagy
By Dallin Oaks, taught by Owenna Nagy
Our Heavenly Father has given His children two lines of communication with Him—what we may call the personal line and the priesthood line.
All should understand and be guided by both of these essential lines of communication.
I. The Personal Line
In the personal line we pray directly to our Heavenly Father, and He answers us by the channels He has established, without any mortal intermediary.
This personal line of communication with our Heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit is the source of our testimony of truth, of our knowledge, and of our personal guidance from a loving Heavenly Father.
The direct, personal channel...is so essential that we are commanded to renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament each Sabbath day. In this way we qualify for the promise that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, to guide us.
The personal line is of paramount importance in personal decisions and in the governance of the family.
I feel to add two other cautions we should remember in connection with this precious direct, personal line of communication with our Heavenly Father.
First, in its fulness the personal line does not function independent of the priesthood line.
Similarly, we cannot communicate reliably through the direct, personal line if we are disobedient to or out of harmony with the priesthood line.
II. The Priesthood Line
Unlike the personal line, in which our Heavenly Father communicates with us directly through the Holy Ghost, the priesthood line of communication has the additional and necessary intermediaries of our Savior, Jesus Christ; His Church; and His appointed leaders.
Because of what He accomplished by His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power to prescribe the conditions we must fulfill to qualify for the blessings of His Atonement. That is why we have commandments and ordinances. That is why we make covenants. That is how we qualify for the promised blessings. They all come through the mercy and grace of the Holy One of Israel, “after all we can do”
The priesthood line is the channel by which God has spoken to His children through the scriptures in times past. And it is this line through which He currently speaks through the teachings and counsel of living prophets and apostles and other inspired leaders.
I feel to add two cautions we should remember in connection with reliance on the vital priesthood line.
First, the priesthood line does not supersede the need for the personal line. We all need a personal testimony of truth.
Second, like the personal line, the priesthood line cannot function fully and properly in our behalf unless we are worthy and obedient.
III. The Need for Both Lines
Both lines are essential to His purpose to bring about the immortality and eternal life of His children.
An early scriptural account of this need is in Father Jethro’s counsel that Moses should not try to do so much. The people were waiting upon their priesthood leader from morning till night to “enquire of God” (Exodus 18:15) and also to “judge between one and another” (verse 16). We often note how Jethro counseled Moses to delegate by appointing judges to handle the personal conflicts (see verses 21–22). But Jethro also gave Moses counsel that illustrates the importance of the personal line: “Thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do” (verse 20.
In other words, Israelites who followed Moses should be taught not to bring every question to that priesthood leader. They should understand the commandments and seek inspiration to work out most problems for themselves.
Our missionary work is another example of the need for both lines. The men and women who are called to be missionaries are worthy and willing because of the teachings they have received through the priesthood line and the testimony they have received through the personal line. They are called through the priesthood line. Then, as representatives of the Lord and under the direction of His priesthood line, they teach investigators. Sincere seekers after truth listen, and the missionaries encourage them to pray to know the truth of the message for themselves through the personal line.
We must use both the personal line and the priesthood line in proper balance to achieve the growth that is the purpose of mortal life. If personal religious practice relies too much on the personal line, individualism erases the importance of divine authority. If personal religious practice relies too much on the priesthood line, individual growth suffers. The children of God need both lines to achieve their eternal destiny. The restored gospel teaches both, and the restored Church provides both.