Monday, August 18, 2008

Proper Authority

“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” (5th Article of Faith).

We believe, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that men must have the proper authority from God to perform the ordinances of the gospel. We believe that when Joseph Smith restored the gospel, he also restored the ability for men to act in the name of God, also known as the priesthood.

In his own history Joseph Smith writes,“We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven 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. …

“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 … 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.

“The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us”(JS—H 1:68–72).

Shortly after, Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. We now have the fullness of the priesthood upon the earth and this allows men who have received this priesthood to conduct the affairs of the Church in the name of God.

I attended a Catholic Mass a few weeks ago. When it came time to administer the sacrament, what we as Latter-day Saints believe to be a priesthood ordinance, it was administered by women. It seemed strange to me to see women participating in the sacrament.

The gospel, as taught by the Savior himself, was lost for a time. After the Savior’s crucifixion, his apostles were murdered and the priesthood was taken from the earth. Since the true gospel of Jesus Christ was removed from the earth, it was necessary that it be restored, along with the ability to perform ordinances in the name of God.

When my husband served his mission in Chile, investigators told him that they did not need to be baptized because they had already been baptized in another church. While other churches baptize their members and perform ordinances, we believe that they do not have the authority to do such ordinances and that those ordinances performed without authority will not be recognized by God.

All ordinances must be performed with the proper authority and we believe that we have that authority.

Return to the neighborhood.

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