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Restoration of the Priesthood (Sacrament Talk)

Receiving the Aaronic Priesthood

Receiving the Aaronic Priesthood

Now I have to preference this and say that I thought the talk came out good, but like my normal mode I was still editing it right before I got up s0 the hard copy differs from the soft copy. But I’ll post the what I have and you can be the judge of it. It would also seem that I get the opportunity to speak in sacrament a lot, well it’s more because we end up moving a lot and so as new move in’s we get to talk more than normal.

I was given the topic of the Restoration for my talk, and after spending a number of days and nights trying to decide how to approach such a vast topic, I decided I wanted to focus on the restoration of the Priesthood.

Some 74 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.”

That divine authority is, of course, the holy priesthood.

President Gordon B. Hinckley 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.” 2

President James E. Faust said to BYU students in a devotional: “[The priesthood] activates and governs all activities of the Church. Without priesthood keys and authority, there would be no church.” 3

Jeffrey R. Holland went on to say in a talk from May 2005

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.”

I think it’s safe to say that the priesthood is a very important part of our church, so much so that like President Faust said, there would be no church.

So what happened, why the need for a restoration?

We know that the Savior when He formed His Church during His mortal ministry he told His senior Apostle Peter, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 4 Six days later He took Peter, James, and John to a mountaintop where He was transfigured in glory before them. Then prophets from earlier dispensations, including at least Moses and Elijah, 5 appeared in glory also and conferred the various keys and powers that each held.

Unfortunately those Apostles were soon killed or otherwise taken from the earth, and their priesthood keys were taken with them, resulting in more than 1,400 years of priesthood privation and absence of divine authority among the children of men.

President Gordon B. Hinckley in a talk from May 2004 said this of the dark ages…

Ignorance and evil enveloped the world, resulting in what is known as the Dark Ages. Isaiah had predicted: “Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa. 60:2). For centuries, disease was rampant and poverty reigned. The Black Death killed some 50 million people during the 14th century. Was not this a season of terrible peril? I wonder how humanity survived.

But somehow, in that long season of darkness, a candle was lighted. The age of Renaissance brought with it a flowering of learning, art, and science. There came a movement of bold and courageous men and women who looked heavenward in acknowledgment of God and His divine Son. We speak of it as the Reformation.

And then, after many generations had walked the earth—so many of them in conflict, hatred, darkness, and evil—there arrived the great, new day of the Restoration. This glorious gospel was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph. The dawn of the dispensation of the fulness of times rose upon the world. All of the good, the beautiful, the divine of all previous dispensations was restored in this most remarkable season.

During May 1829 while translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith came across a reference to baptism. He discussed the matter with his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, and the two earnestly supplicated the Lord regarding the matter. Oliver wrote: “Our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer, to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit. … We diligently sought for … the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to administer in the same.

In Joseph Smith history vol1 we can read his remarks on this occasion

68 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 abaptism for the bremission 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 ccloud of light, and having laid his dhands upon us, he eordained us, saying:

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

72 The amessenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called bJohn the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of cPeter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first dElder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized.

According to the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, some weeks after John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood, Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood.

And according to the Our Heritage book:

Later, Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph and Oliver and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood. They also bestowed the keys of God’s kingdom upon them (see D&C 27:12–13; 128:20). The Melchizedek Priesthood is the highest authority given to men on earth. With this authority, the Prophet Joseph Smith was able to organize the Church of Jesus Christ in this dispensation and begin to establish the various priesthood quorums as they are known in the Church today.

Elder Holland goes on to say

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.” 8 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.

While I was writing this, I got thinking about where we would be if these two priesthoods had not been restored. While obviously the church would not exist, what else might it be like. Luckily, I found a talk by Robert D. Hales, that answers that exact question.

Brothers and sisters, can you imagine how dark and empty mortality would be if there were no priesthood? If the power of the priesthood were not upon the earth, the adversary would have freedom to roam and reign without restraint. There would be no gift of the Holy Ghost to direct and enlighten us; no prophets to speak in the name of the Lord; no temples where we could make sacred, eternal covenants; no authority to bless or baptize, to heal or comfort. Without the power of the priesthood, “the whole earth would be utterly wasted” (see D&C 2:1–3; D&C 2:1–3). There would be no light, no hope—only darkness. What a dark world this would be without priesthood blessings for you and me.

A loving Father in Heaven has sent his sons and daughters here to mortality to gain experience and to be tested. He has provided the way back to him and has given us enough spiritual light to see our way. The priesthood of God gives light to his children in this dark and troubled world. Through priesthood power we can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to lead us to truth, testimony, and revelation. This gift is available on an equal basis to men, women, and children. Through the blessings of the priesthood, we can be equipped with “the whole armour of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (see Eph. 6:11–18). This protection is available to every one of us.

I would testify that without the restoration of the true church, my life would be wholly different. I am grateful that my mother had questions and sought out to find answers, and through that seeking that my parents met two young men and were converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am grateful that I am worthy enough to hold the Melchizedek priesthood, and that when called upon am able to use that authority for my family, or others who need it. When I am involved in exercising those keys, it strengthens my testimony in the gospel. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. That the priesthood is truly the foundation of our world and many others. I truly believe that like we are blessed to have been raised up during the fullness of times, and to quote President Gordon B. Hinckley;

I do not know what we did in the preexistence to merit the wonderful blessings we enjoy. We have come to earth in this great season in the long history of mankind. It is a marvelous age, the best of all. As we reflect on the plodding course of mankind, from the time of our first parents, we cannot help feeling grateful.

I am indeed grateful to have been selected to come at this time, when we have had the priesthood restored, that we’ve had the Gospel restored, that I am able to call upon the authority of God and bless my family.

I am excited for my oldest son to receive the Aaronic priesthood next year, and can not wait for him to be able to exercise the keys there of.

In closing, I just want to thank my Heavenly Father for loving us so that He gave His only begotten Son to allow us a path back to Him, and in His name Jesus Christ Amen.

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