Posted by: 2thdocbob | 19 May 2019

The Power of the Priesthood

This talk was given this morning in Lake Arrowhead Ward and in Running Springs Branch. I love visiting their little chapel in the mountains, and seeing so many good friends. We had a little winter storm with some snow flurries up on the mountain, and dense fog. It was a beautiful day!

In this talk, I share some inspired feelings about the priesthood and its power and authority. I am very grateful for the authority that God shares with us, and for the power that he has given to exalt his children.


One hundred ninety years ago, the spring was cool and wet, clear into May. Because of the weather, farmers around Harmony, Pennsylvania were delayed putting in their crops. This delay allowed Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to make significant progress in their translation of the plates.

They had come to an account of what happened among the Nephites and Lamanites when Jesus died in Jerusalem. It told of the great destruction that occurred when Christ was crucified.

They read that the voice of Jesus Christ pierced the gloom. “Will ye not now return unto me,” He asked, “and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”[1] Then the Savior dispersed the darkness.

While the people marveled, they saw the Son of God descend out of heaven. “I am Jesus Christ,” He said, “whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.”[2] He stayed among them for a time, taught His gospel, and commanded them to be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins.

“Whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved,” He declared. “They are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.”[3] Before ascending to heaven, He gave righteous men authority to baptize those who believed in Him.[4]

As they translated, Joseph and Oliver were struck by these teachings. Like his brother Alvin, Joseph had never been baptized, and he wanted to know more about the ordinance and the authority necessary to perform it.

On May 15, 1829, the rains cleared, and Joseph and Oliver walked into the woods near the Susquehanna River. Joseph wrote:

“While we were … praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven [who introduced himself as John] descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:

Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.

Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded.[5]

At some point later, Peter, James and John appeared to Joseph and Oliver and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon them. Additional authority came on April 3, 1836, when Moses, Elias and Elijah conferred priesthood keys on Joseph and Oliver.

With these visits, all the authority necessary for salvation and exaltation had been restored to the earth.

I testify to you that the priesthood authority is here, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that we are privileged to exercise priesthood power daily, through obedience to God Law.

All of us who have been in Primary recall that “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors,
teachers, evangelists, and so forth”.[6]

I hope you have felt that priesthood power as you have had hands laid on your head for a blessing or an ordinance of whatever type it may be. I hope you have had the opportunity to feel the spirit, the peace, and the power that accompanies these blessings.

I testify with deep gratitude that this power and this authority is real. I have felt God’s strengthening power both in giving and receiving priesthood blessings, and I have seen miracles happen.

Now, let us step back and look at what the priesthood is, and why this restoration was necessary.

We know that the priesthood is the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name on the earth for the salvation of His children. The priesthood is given to us as a part of Heavenly Father’s plan. Without priesthood authority to perform the saving ordinances of the gospel, we could not return to Heavenly Father’s presence.

Joseph Smith recorded that during the “first vision,” the Lord told him that the churches at that time had “a form of godliness, but they den[ied] the power thereof”[7]

With the scattering and death of Christ’s original apostles, priesthood authority, and particularly the authority to direct the priesthood, was lost. And so a restoration was necessary.

When John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood, he informed Joseph and Oliver that “he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John,” who were stewards of this greater authority and that the power to give the gift of the Holy Ghost “should in due time be conferred on [them]”[8]

The Lord also refers to this authority in Section 27, when he speaks of:

“Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;”[9]

Have you noticed what this verse says about priesthood authority? The Lord says “I have ordained you by hand of Peter, James and John.” A worthy priesthood holder acts in Christ’s stead as he functions in his priesthood calling. For that matter, any worthy member acts in the Christ’s stead as he or she functions in his or her calling.

Do you understand the significance of that? As you serve in your callings, having been set apart by one holding authority, you are functioning in the place of the Savior, as if he were here himself. If you understand that, you will recognize that there are no unimportant callings in the Church.

When I speak, I am sent by authority, and commissioned to teach what the Savior would have me teach you. No more “dry council” speakers; we are on the Lord’s errand. This is something I take very seriously, and I pray continually that I will know what the Lord wants me to share with you.

We can trace our priesthood authority back to the Savior himself. [refer to my line of authority]. Each priesthood holder can receive his line of authority, either from the priesthood holder who ordained him to his current priesthood office, or by requesting it through churchofjesuschrist.org.

Because the priesthood is God’s power, there are principles that govern its use. These governing principles come from our Heavenly Father, whose authority it is.

The Lord has told us:

“the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and … the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness”[10].

Who exercises these rights? Every one of us who has a calling in the Church. Think of that as I read the next verse. It applies most particularly to ordained priesthood holders, but it can be extended to all who have been called to serve.

He continues:

” That [the rights] may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”[11].

All who exercise priesthood authority in any form must adhere to these guidelines.

In other words, we must strive to be like God to effectively exercise the authority he has given to us. What are the principles of righteousness? Keep the commandments. Repent. Love God. Love one another. Avoid pride.

When I consider the great trust the Father has placed in me in sharing a portion of His authority, I am humbled and grateful. I do not feel proud, but unworthy of this great gift. It feels overwhelming at times.

We should never take this responsibility lightly. I wish I had gained a better understanding of this as an Aaronic Priesthood holder as a youth. I did not fully appreciate the rights and powers that were bestowed upon me as a boy. If I had understood better, I might have shown more respect for the sacred honor that was entrusted to me. I might have taken my duties more seriously.

It is important to discuss the rights and responsibilities of the priesthood in family councils, and at significant family events, many of which are connected to sacred saving ordinances.

We can look to Abrahams’s example of obedience. We read in Genesis that:

“He believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness”[12].

And “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice”[13].

God trusted Abraham because he obeyed his voice, and we enjoy the blessings of his obedience.

We gain some important insights from Abraham’s writings:

“And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.” [To me, this is a very powerful verse. Abraham was not satisfied with a life without progression: he desired something better for himself and for his posterity.]

It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.” [Abraham knew where his authority came from.]

I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.”[14]

As Abraham’s seed, we should follow his example. As great as Abraham was, he desired to be a greater follower of righteousness. He also sought greater knowledge, and look what happened: Heavenly Father taught him astronomy! (among other important things). He desired to receive instructions, presumably relative to his responsibilities, and also to keep the commandments.

Please note that Abraham also “sought for his appointment unto the Priesthood: he desired a calling.

The experience of Nephi, not the one in the beginning of the Book of Mormon, but the one in the middle, in the Book of Helaman, is also instructive. Nephi had been imprisoned because of his absolute commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and found himself freed.

The important lesson for us comes as he walks home alone. And isn’t that so often the case when we stand up for the truth? Righteous living can be lonely at times.

Nephi was pondering the wickedness of the people and he even felt depressed (although the scriptures say that he was “much cast down”[15], and this probably sounds nicer than depressed). We discover

“it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:

Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will”[16].

The lesson for us is that Nephi served the Lord with “unwearyingness”. In fact, we get a glimpse of the degree of his unwearyingness when we read that “he did stop and did not go unto his own house, but did return unto the multitudes who were scattered about upon the face of the land”[17]. He didn’t even say goodbye to his wife.

I believe that the Lord’s expectation of serving with unwearyingness varies from one person to the next, according to our capacities and our circumstances. But I also believe that the Lord’s blessings are available to each of us as we serve in our various callings and exercise the authority given to us.

I testify that the priesthood authority is here on the earth today. The authorized servants of Jesus Christ are here, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have the God-given authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel for the salvation of men and women. This saving authority extends beyond the grave, in both directions.

I testify that Russell M. Nelson holds the priesthood keys and guides the Church under the direction of Jesus Christ.

God lives. Jesus Christ is our Savior. This is his church. Of which I humbly testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


[1] The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 9:13.

[2] Ibid., 3 Nephi 11:10.

[3] Ibid., 3 Nephi 11:33.

[4] Ibid., 3 Nephi 11:23-33.

[5] Pearl of Great Price, JS-H 1:68-71.

[6] Articles of Faith 1:7.

[7] Pearl of Great Price, JS-H 1:19.

[8] See https://www.lds.org/study/history/topics/restoration-of-the-melchizedek-priesthood?lang=eng.

[9] Doctrine and Covenants 27:12.

[10] Doctrine and Covenants 121:36.

[11] Doctrine and Covenants 121:37.

[12] Genesis 15:6.

[13] Genesis 22:18.

[14] Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 1:2-4.

[15] The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Helaman 10:3.

[16] Ibid., Helaman 10:3-5.

[17] Ibid., Helaman 10:12.


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