June’s doctrinal topic for study was the priesthood. The priesthood can and should bless our lives every day. We often hear about priesthood keys, priesthood authority and priesthood power, but do we truly understand what they can mean to us personally? Russell M. Nelson has taught, “Priesthood is the authority of God delegated to man to minister for the salvation of men. ‘The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood.’”1
“Priesthood authority has existed in many dispensations, such as those of Adam, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, the meridian of time, the Jaredites, the Nephites, and others. All previous dispensations were limited in time, as each ended in apostasy. They were also limited to small segments of planet Earth. In contrast, our dispensation—the dispensation of the fulness of times—will not be limited in time or place. Globally, it will host a whole, complete, and perfect union, welding together dispensations, keys, powers, and glories from the days of Adam even to the present time. The Aaronic Priesthood was restored May 15, 1829, by John the Baptist; the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored shortly thereafter by Peter, James, and John. Other heavenly messengers conveyed specific keys of the priesthood. Moroni held keys of the Book of Mormon. Moses brought keys of the gathering of Israel and the leading of the ten tribes. Elias conveyed keys of the restoration of all things, including the Abrahamic covenant. And Elijah conferred keys of the sealing authority.”2
I have heard President Nelson say on more than one occasion that salvation is an individual matter. Have you thought about how the priesthood helps you on that journey? The prophet declared, “The restoration of the priesthood of God, including the keys of the priesthood, opens to worthy Latter-day Saints the greatest of all spiritual blessings.”4 With the Aaronic Priesthood, we are able to partake of the sacrament each week. The Melchizedek Priesthood is necessary to accomplish missionary work, family history work and the perform the ordinances of the temple. Each of these has the power to change our lives and bless us in dramatic ways.
Speaking of priesthood power, in her book Women and the Priesthood, Sheri Dew explains, “Priesthood power heals, blesses, protects, and inoculates all of the Father’s righteous sons and daughters against the powers of darkness. It has the power to separate and safeguard us from the world, to subdue the adversary and help us surmount obstacles, to enlarge our physical and spiritual capacity and enable us to hear the voice of the Lord, to strengthen marriages and families and bind us to each other and to the Lord and to allow us to triumph over mortality and come unto Him.”3
Those are some pretty incredible blessings! But they don’t just come to us, we must do something to earn them.
A year ago, President Nelson voiced this concern, “Too many of our brothers and sisters do not fully understand the concept of priesthood power and authority. They act as though they would rather satisfy their own selfish desires and appetites than use the power of God to bless His children. I fear that too many of our brothers and sisters do not grasp the privileges that could be theirs.”4
To fully understand the concept of priesthood power and authority we must not only learn but we must act on what we learn. President Nelson gives some specific things we can do. He said, “We … increase the Savior’s power in our lives when we make sacred covenants and keep those covenants with precision. Our covenants bind us to Him and give us godly power. As faithful disciples, we repent and follow Him into the waters of baptism. We walk along the covenant path to receive other essential ordinances. … Covenant-keeping men and women seek for ways to keep themselves unspotted from the world so there will be nothing blocking their access to the Savior’s power.”5
Several years ago, President Nelson shared an experience he had while he was trimming the hedges and vines around his home. “I was at work with my electric clippers and long extension cord. I had done this often, each time reminding myself of the need to use these clippers with great care in order to avoid cutting things that I shouldn’t.
“Suddenly the blades became jammed. Caught between them was the power cord itself. Because I had not seen it in the thicket I was trimming, I had cut into the very line that was providing the power to work. ‘Isn’t that one of life’s great lessons?’ I thought. ‘Power, if misused, can cut into the very source of that power.’
“Just as the careless use of electrical power can sever the source of that power, so is it possible to misuse spiritual power to sever our spiritual power line. We would then lose that which enables us to generate success in our lives.
“… Like cutting the cord with clippers, it is possible to use spiritual power so carelessly as to destroy one’s very connection to that power.
“… Worship strengthens our power line to deity. There can be no true worship without sacrifice, and there can be no true sacrifice without a cause. The cause that earns our love and priority is the cause of Jesus Christ. … As we carefully and prayerfully protect the spiritual power line that links us to the Savior, we become more like him!”6
Our lives are increasingly busy. If we are not careful, we can temporarily lose sight of what really is important and sever our spiritual power line. If we fill our lives with too many little things, we may jam our spiritual line. If we overload our lives with things having only temporal significance, there will be no time for things of eternal significance. We have a sacred responsibility to ourselves and to our families to keep our spiritual line clear, allowing us to enlarge our spiritual capacity and drawing us closer to the Source of spiritual power. We are to be men and women of God not men and women of the world. He is counting on us!
Speaking to the women President Nelson said, “The women of this dispensation are distinct from the women of any other because this dispensation is distinct from any other. This distinction brings both privileges and responsibilities.”
He gave quite a list of responsibilities!
“We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.
“… Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity.”7
To the men, he said, “I urgently plead with each one of us to live up to our privileges as bearers of the priesthood. In a coming day, only those men who have taken their priesthood seriously, by diligently seeking to be taught by the Lord Himself, will be able to bless, guide, protect, strengthen, and heal others. Only a man who has paid the price for priesthood power will be able to bring miracles to those he loves and keep his marriage and family safe, now and throughout eternity.
“… In these latter days, we know there will be earthquakes in diverse places. Perhaps one of those diverse places will be in our own homes, where emotional, financial, or spiritual ‘earthquakes’ may occur. Priesthood power can calm the seas and heal fractures in the earth. Priesthood power can also calm the minds and heal fractures in the hearts of those we love. Are we willing to pray, fast, study, seek, worship, and serve as men of God so we can have that kind of priesthood power?”8
Why is it so important for us to be those men and women? Because, as President Nelson warned, “Difficult days are ahead. Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested. The Apostle Paul warned that in the latter days, those who diligently follow the Lord ‘shall suffer persecution.’ That very persecution can either crush you into silent weakness or motivate you to be more exemplary and courageous in your daily lives.
“… Available to each of you brethren and sisters are blessings obtained through the power of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood. These blessings can change the circumstances of your lives, in matters such as health, companionship of the Holy Ghost, personal relationships, and opportunities for the future.”9
My hope is that we can more fully appreciate and incorporate the power of the priesthood in our lives. It will bless our lives now and throughout eternity. Of course it will take effort to access this power, but it will be worth every effort we make. And I believe we will have heaven’s help as we sincerely try. President Nelson testified, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with His power, which is available to every earnestly seeking daughter or son of God. It is my testimony that when we draw His power into our lives, both He and we will rejoice.”5
1. Keys of the Priesthood – Russell M. Nelson
2. Personal Priesthood Responsibility – Russell M. Nelson
3. Women and the Priesthood – Sheri Dew, pg. 125
4. Ministering With the Power and Authority of God – Russell M. Nelson
5. Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson
6. Protect the Spiritual Power Line – Russell M. Nelson
7. A Plea to My Sisters – Russell M. Nelson
8. The Price of Priesthood Power – Russell M. Nelson
9. Face the Future with Faith – Russell M. Nelson