Priesthood or Authority

Section 1 – Power and Authority to Act for God

The power to act for God is directly tied to the Holy Ghost. When a person is acting under the direction of the Holy Ghost, they are acting for God. Only when someone is acting under the direction of the Holy Ghost are they considered “Servants of God” or “My servants”.

And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.
And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.
Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. – D&C 68:3-5

Because the Holy Ghost tells us the mind, will and voice of the Lord, if it is instructing us, then God is instructing us and with that instruction to act for the Lord, comes the authority to act for the Lord.

“22 And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.” – 1 Nephi 10:22

We are only acting for God with God’s authority when we have the Holy Ghost with us, and we follow its instructions. When the spirit leaves us, we lose our priesthood or authority to act for God.

36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. – D&C 121:36-37

In D&C 68:3-5 (quoted above), we read that when people speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, they speak “the word of the Lord“. This is a key phrase used repeatedly throughout the scriptures to indicate that the Lord has spoken and declared it.

There is a law called, “The law of the word of the Lord” which states that nothing is accepted by God unless “the word of the Lord” is given through his spirit. This means that just because a person has a position in the church or priesthood according to the church, does not mean that they can do something in God’s name and expect that God is bound to accept or honor what they have done. God only accepts and honors those things which are done “by His word” under the direction of the Holy Ghost. We will know when something is accepted by God because God will bless it or seal it using the promise of the Holy Spirit. Until a thing has been sealed by this Holy Spirit of Promise, it is not accepted by God regardless of who did it and what priesthood position or authority they hold.

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.
Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.
Will I accept of an offering, saith the Lord, that is not made in my name?
10 Or will I receive at your hands that which I have not appointed?
11 And will I appoint unto you, saith the Lord, except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was?
12 I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord.
13 And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.
14 For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed. – D&C 132:7-14

Section 2 – Power and Authority to Act for the Church

The power to act for the church comes through Priesthood the line of authority through callings and positions given by the laying on of hands by those who are already in authority within the church. Within the church structure, callings are extended by prophecy and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority.

5 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 d thereof. – Articles of Faith 1:5

Position in the church indicates approval by the church to act for the church. It is hoped and expected that people in such positions will act for God in their role by always following the Holy Ghost, however, we have learned by sad experience that this is often not the case.

36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
38 Behold, ere (before) he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen. – D&C 121:36-40

No power of influence should be maintained by virtue of a person’s priesthood or position. They should never dominate or control using threats, manipulations or compulsion. Therefore, leaders should always persuade others using pure knowledge in an attitude of love, peace and long-suffering until those they lead chose to follow willingly.

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— – D&C 121:41-42

Persuasion requires teaching and communication. If the leader is not teaching by the spirit, then they are not speaking the words of God or acting with His authority.

17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
18 And if it be by some other way it is not of God. – D&C 50:17-18

It is the responsibility of the members of the church to know when leaders and teachers are speaking for God by listening for the witness of the Holy Ghost and only accepting or receiving those things spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost as true.

19 And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
20 If it be some other way it is not of God. – D&C 50:19-20

When teachers speak by the spirit of God, they as well as those who listen by the spirit of  are both edified and uplifted together.

21 Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?
22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. – D&C 50:21-23

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