- Nearly 70 years ago President David O. McKay, then serving as a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, asked this question to a congregation gathered for general conference: “If at this moment each one [of you] were asked to state in one sentence … the most distinguishing feature of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what would be your answer?” “My answer,” he replied, “would be … divine authority by direct revelation.”
- President Gordon B. Hinckley has added his testimony when he said: “[The priesthood] is a delegation of divine authority, different from all other powers and authorities on the face of the earth. … It is the only power on the earth that reaches beyond the veil of death. … Without it there could be a church in name only, [a church] lacking authority to administer in the things of God.”
- Just four weeks ago President James E. Faust said to BYU students in their devotional: “[The priesthood] activates and governs all activities of the Church. Without priesthood keys and authority, there would be no church.”
Elder Holland adds his own testimony to the worlds of the other prophets about priesthood authority.
- I begin tonight with these three brief citations (to which scores of others could be added) to stress emphatically just one point: that the priesthood of God, with its keys, its ordinances, its divine origin and ability to bind in heaven what is bound on earth, is as indispensable to the true Church of God as it is unique to it and that without it there would be no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Holland speaks about priesthood line of authority. We literally can trace our priesthood lines to the Savior himself.
- Little wonder that the Prophet Joseph would include in those succinct and eloquent articles of our faith, “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.”
- Clearly, acting with divine authority requires more than mere social contract. It cannot be generated by theological training or a commission from the congregation. No, in the authorized work of God there has to be power greater than that already possessed by the people in the pews or in the streets or in the seminaries—a fact that many honest religious seekers had known and openly acknowledged for generations leading up to the Restoration.
- We in the restored Church of Jesus Christ can trace the priesthood line of authority exercised by the newest deacon in the ward, the bishop who presides over him, and the prophet who presides over all of us. That line goes back in an unbroken chain to angelic ministers who came from the Son of God Himself, bearing this incomparable gift from heaven.
He concludes with some of the great miracles he has seen in his life that have been performed by the power of the priesthood. These are blessings that only are granted to those that are ordained of God and live lives of righteousness. When we do so, we can be the hands of God that are able to bless His children on earth.
- I have beheld the power of God manifest in my home and in my ministry. I have seen evil rebuked and the elements controlled. I know what it means to have mountains of difficulty move and ominous Red Seas part. I know what it means to have the destroying angel “pass by them.” To have received the authority and to have exercised the power of “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God,” is as great a blessing for me and for my family as I could ever hope for in this world. And that, in the end, is the meaning of the priesthood in everyday terms—its unequaled, unending, constant capacity to bless.
Elder Holland's reminder to us about what makes the Church of Jesus Christ unique and different from all other churches causes me to ponder on the blessings we really have. The power to bless another person's life is real. We can't use the Priesthood on ourselves. It is truly a worthless gift to ourselves and is only manifest in the blessings we can bring to other people's lives. My family has been blessed by priesthood power, exercised by righteous and faithful men who are trying to live their lives the way the Savior would like them to. I am grateful for righteous men who have blessed my family and friends over the years and have brought the light of Christ into our lives through their faith and giving.