Sacrament important function of priesthood

Renews cleansing

Brings Spirit's presence

Vital to ministering

of angels

Noting that the Aaronic Priesthood holds "the keys of the ministering of angels," and of the "gospel of repentance and of baptism and the remission of sins" (D&C 84:26-27), Elder Dallin H. Oaks said the meaning of these doctrines is found in the ordinance of baptism and in the sacrament.

"Baptism is for the remission of sins, and the sacrament is a renewal of the covenants and blessings of baptism," he explained. Both should be preceded by repentance. When we keep the covenants made in these ordinances, we are promised that we will always have His Spirit to be with us. The ministering of angels is one of the manifestations of that Spirit."

Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke in the priesthood session Saturday evening, addressing his comments to Aaronic Priesthood holders and to the bishops and counselors who preside over them.

He said that the Savior, during His ministry, taught that baptism is necessary for salvation and introduced the sacrament of the Lord's supper.

"When He introduced the sacrament, the Savior also gave teachings and promises about the Holy Ghost," Elder Oaks noted, adding that Jesus explained the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, would testify of Him and reveal other truths.

"The close relationship between partaking of the sacrament and the companionship of the Holy Ghost is explained in the revealed prayer on the sacrament," Elder Oaks explained. "In partaking of the bread we witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and always remember Him and keep His commandments. When we do so, we have the promise that we will always have His spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77)."

The gift of the Holy Ghost is the most precious possession one can have in mortality, he said. "But to realize the blessings of that gift we must keep ourselves free from sin. When we commit sin, we become unclean and the Spirit of the Lord withdraws from us."

Because all mortals sin after their baptism, "without some provision for further cleansing after our baptism, each of us is lost to things spiritual," Elder Oaks said. "We cannot have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and at the final judgment we would be bound to be `cast off forever' (1 Ne. 10:21). How grateful we are that the Lord has provided a process for each baptized member of His Church to be periodically cleansed from the soil of sin. The sacrament is an essential part of that process."

When one renews baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament, "the Lord renews the cleansing effect of our baptism," he said.

He emphasized, "We cannot overstate the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood in this," adding that both baptism and the sacrament are officiated by holders of the Aaronic Priesthood under the direction of the bishopric, who exercise the keys of the gospel of repentance and baptism and the remission of sins.

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