- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands apart from other churches that claim their authority is derived from historical succession, the scriptures, or theological training. We make the distinctive declaration that priesthood authority has been conferred by the laying on of hands directly from heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Elder Bednar speaks about having priesthood authority and how living righteously is the qualification to being able to access the power of the priesthood.
Priesthood Authority and Power
- Priesthood is the means whereby the Lord acts through men to save souls. One of the defining features of the Church of Jesus Christ, both anciently and today, is His authority. There can be no true Church without divine authority. Ordinary men are given the authority of the priesthood. Worthiness and willingness—not experience, expertise, or education—are the qualifications for priesthood ordination.
He reminds us that the priesthood is used to bless others and not ourselves.
- Nothing about the priesthood is self-centered. The priesthood always is used to serve, to bless, and to strengthen other people.
The priesthood is worthless to us if we are not living in the Lord's prescribed way to access the power the priesthood brings. Not acting in a the Lord's way is not acceptable to the Lord.
- A boy or a man may receive priesthood authority by the laying on of hands but will have no priesthood power if he is disobedient, unworthy, or unwilling to serve.
- For a boy or a man to receive priesthood authority but neglect to do what is necessary to qualify for priesthood power is unacceptable to the Lord. Priesthood holders young and old need both authority and power—the necessary permission and the spiritual capacity to represent God in the work of salvation.
Elder Bednar tells the story of his father who was not a member of the church. He speaks about how his father didn't understand that if we have the correct Priesthood from God, why Bishops and Quorum leaders have to beg the men of the church to do their home teaching and to fulfill their priesthood responsibilities. His fathers question caused Elder Bednar to reflect on how we should be different from others because God has trusted us with the Priesthood.
- Men who bear God’s holy priesthood should be different from other men. Men who hold the priesthood are not inherently better than other men, but they should act differently. Men who hold the priesthood should not only receive priesthood authority but also become worthy and faithful conduits of God’s power.
Priesthood power comes from righteous living. We cannot fulfill our priesthood obligations fully if we are not acting in a righteous way.
- Receiving the authority of the priesthood by the laying on of hands is an important beginning, but it is not enough. Ordination confers authority, but righteousness is required to act with power as we strive to lift souls, to teach and testify, to bless and counsel, and to advance the work of salvation.
Elder Bednar concludes wiht these comments:
- You and I hold priesthood authority that has been returned to the earth in this dispensation by heavenly messengers, even John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John. And therefore every man who receives the Melchizedek Priesthood can trace his personal line of authority directly to the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope we are grateful for this marvelous blessing. I pray we will be clean and worthy to represent the Lord as we exercise His sacred authority. May each of us qualify for priesthood power.
This talk is a great reminder that having the priesthood is a sacred privileged. It requires righteous living in order to be effective. The priesthood is not given to bless us personally but it given so we can bless others. Our personal righteousness qualifies us to draw on the powers of heaven to help others in need. We need to be living in a way that enhances our spiritual connection with heaven for the priesthood to be more effective in the lives that we are called upon to bless.