As bearers of the priesthood, we have been placed on earth in troubled times. We live in a complex world with currents of conflict everywhere to be found. Political machinations ruin the stability of nations, despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity, and left with a feeling of failure.
"We who have been ordained to the priesthood of God can make a difference. When we qualify for the help of the Lord, we can build boys, we can mend men, we can accomplish miracles in His holy service. Our opportunities are without limit.
"Ours is the task to be fitting examples. We are strengthened by the truth that the greatest force in the world today is the power of God as it works through man. If we are on the Lord’s errand, brethren, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Never forget that truth. That divine help, of course, is predicated upon our worthiness. Each must ask: Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure? Am I a worthy servant of the Lord?"
There is a way to release the spirits of the dead; that is by the power & authority of the Priesthood—by binding & loosing on earth. This doctrine appears glorious, inasmuch as it exhibits the greatness of divine compassion & benevolence in the extent of the plan of human salvation. This glorious truth is well calculated to enlarge the understanding, & to sustain the soul under troubles, difficulties & distresses.
“It is not enough to want to make the effort and say we’ll make the effort…It’s in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals. If we constantly put our goals off, we will never see them fulfilled.”
There are two basic principles that helped these young men become like the sons of Helaman. Even though the boys’ mothers were not members of the Church and did not understand the words of the Lord, priesthood leaders became like their fathers, and leaders’ wives became like their mothers.
These nine boys—I call them the “Boys of the Lord”—learned that they would be blessed when they listened to the Church leaders, even though they didn’t always understand why. They became like Adam, our first father, who when he made an offering to the Lord was asked by an angel, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” They became anxious to be obedient and to serve the Lord with their whole hearts.
They also learned that attending their Church meetings was very important. President Ezra Taft Benson said in his speech entitled “To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright’ ”: “May I now direct your attention to the importance of attending all of your Church meetings. Faithful attendance at Church meetings brings blessings you can receive in no other way.” As they attended their Church meetings regularly, the boys felt the great love of the Lord and learned how to apply the doctrines and principles of the Church in their own daily lives. They also learned how to participate in meetings with great joy and happiness.
All faithful members of the Lord's Church are equally blessed by priesthood ordinances. The first ordinance in a child's life usually takes place when he or she is a baby and is given a name and a blessing. When children reach the age of accountability, they are baptized. There is not a separate baptism for boys and girls. The same baptismal ordinance is performed for a young girl and a young boy, who are baptized in the same font. When those children are confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost, the same power is given to each of them. They qualify for the help of that holy power through their faithfulness and not in any other way.
As members of the Church, we are equal before the Lord as we partake of the sacrament. Through our faith in Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement made possible because of that ordinance, we can all repent and become better.
When I was a little girl, I often experienced serious illness. My father was always willing and worthy to use the priesthood power he held to bless me. But I have also felt that my mother's special gifts contributed to my healing. She was truly gifted in her ability to minister to my needs and help me get well. Her great faith that the Lord would lead her to answers about medical treatment was a comfort to me. How blessed I was to have two parents who lovingly used their spiritual gifts.
President Wilford Woodruff said that "it is the privilege of every man and woman in this kingdom to enjoy the spirit of prophecy, which is the Spirit of God; and to the faithful it reveals such things as are necessary for their comfort and consolation, and to guide them in their daily duties."
Through the blessings of the priesthood, the Lord shows us that He is "no respecter of persons." In my travels, I usually have the chance to visit members in their homes. Some of those homes are very basic dwellings. At first I would say to myself: "Why am I blessed with a house that has electricity and plumbing when this family does not even have water near their home? Does the Lord love them less than He loves me?"
Then one day I sat in a temple next to a sister who lives in a humble house. I spent two hours at her side. I looked often into her beautiful eyes and saw the love of the Lord in them. As we finished our work in the temple, I had a powerful realization. In all of the eternal blessings, in all of our most important privileges and opportunities, we were equals. I had been "baptized unto repentance," and so had she. I had spiritual gifts, and so did she. I had the opportunity to repent, and so did she. I had received the Holy Ghost, and so had she. I had received temple ordinances, and so had she. If both of us had left this world together at that moment, we would have arrived equal before the Lord in our blessings and potential.
Priesthood blessings are the great equalizer. Those blessings are the same for men and women, for boys and girls; they are the same for married and single, rich and poor, for the intellectual and the illiterate, for the well-known and the obscure.
I feel prompted to share the words in Doctrine and Covenants 121:45–46. They are for those who are called and chosen and who endure valiantly. They are for you in these trying days, just as they were for Joseph Smith and the Saints in those trying days of the early Church: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God [and] the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.”
When we are virtuous, we are promised we shall confidently stand in His presence—holy and like Him. We are promised priesthood power, the very power of godliness, because we are virtuous! We are promised the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, who testifies, directs, warns, comforts, and sanctifies. And finally, we are promised that we shall have eternal life, the greatest of all God’s gifts. We will be gods, living a godlike life, when we are virtuous. We will be like Him—pure even as He is pure.
The journey to Zion—the pure in heart—will take everything you and I have. I pray that each one of us will have the desire and strength to move out of our comfort zones as we prepare for the run of our lives and, like Agnes Caldwell, reach up and take the Master’s hand. His promise is for each of us: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). I testify that our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, live and They will prepare us for the great work to be done in the holy temples of our Lord in preparation not only for the Savior’s Second Coming but also for our eternal exaltation.
"[The] full restoration [of the priesthood] involved the coming of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, whose head was taken to satisfy the whims of a wicked woman, and of Peter, James, and John, they who faithfully walked with the Master before his death and proclaimed his resurrection and divinity following his death. It involved Moses, Elias, and Elijah, each bringing priesthood keys to complete the work of restoring all of the acts and ordinances of previous dispensations in this the great, final dispensation of the fulness of times. "The priesthood is here. It has been conferred upon us. We act in that authority. We speak as sons of God in the name of Jesus Christ and as holders of this divinely given endowment. We know, for we have seen, the power of this priesthood. We have seen the sick healed, the lame made to walk, and the coming of light and knowledge and understanding to those who have been in darkness."Paul wrote concerning the priesthood: 'No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.' (Heb. 5:4.) We have not acquired it through purchase or bargain. The Lord has given it to men who are considered worthy to receive it, regardless of station in life, the color of their skin, or the nation in which they live. It is the power and the authority to govern in the affairs of the kingdom of God. It is given only by ordination by the laying on of hands by those in authority to do so. The qualification for eligibility is obedience to the commandments of God. "There is no power on the earth like it. Its authority extends beyond life, through the veil of death, to the eternities ahead. It is everlasting in its consequences."
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."
That divine authority is, of course, the holy priesthood.
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."
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.