How Do We Sustain the Priesthood as the Authority of God on Earth?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.
Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.
Delight in service and good works.
Love life and learning.
Stand for truth and righteousness.
Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.

The next question in this series is how do we sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on Earth? Notice that I did not make this question how do I know that it is the authority of God, or is the priesthood the authority of God. That is because I know that it is and cannot question it. I have had many experiences in my life with the power of the priesthood and the spirit has confirmed to me that it is God’s authority for man to act in his behalf on this earth. I needed with this post, to ask a question that I would be able to apply directly to my life at this time or at least cause me deeper reflection. Of course the first step to sustaining it would be to believe that it is that authority, so if you do not know that for yourself, I suggest that you seek for a confirmation of that truth for yourself. (Some of my previous posts directly related to the priesthood: The Priesthood, Priesthood Organization, The Church of Jesus Christ Today. Other resources related to the priesthood authority can be found here: Gospel Principles, Restoration, Topical Guide-Priesthood, Authority)

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I often raise my hand in church when it is announced that a young man or man will be ordained or advanced in the priesthood. In Doctrine and Covenants 20:65, we read, “No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church;”. This vote is a witness that I sustain them in the priesthood. It is important to understand what it means to sustain them and sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on Earth. In order to approach this question, I looked up the definition of the word sustain. The online search provided the following explanations: “Strengthen or support physically or mentally”, “Cause to continue or be prolonged for an extended period or without interruption”, or to “Uphold, affirm, or confirm the justice or validity of”.

What can we do to strengthen or support the priesthood? I don’t think that we strengthen the priesthood in a way that gives it more or greater power, because the power of it comes from God and not from man, but there are ways to support it. When we support something, we bear the weight of it. The power of the priesthood is a great responsibility to those who hold it. In the church we often talk of bearing the priesthood of God, so in order to support it, worthy men need to be willing to receive that responsibility. Doctrine and Covenants 84:40 says, “Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.” Receiving and bearing the priesthood, is to make an oath and covenant with the Lord. In addition, they need to be capable of fulfilling their duties as bearers of the priesthood. To give it the support it needs, they need to be able to do this in a way that is adequate to fulfill its purposes. In Isaiah 52:11 we read, “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” The priesthood is of the Lord and so it cannot be borne by those who are not prepared and worthy for it. Therefore, men who are willing and able to bear the priesthood, need to make and keep themselves worthy to use it in the way that God has intended. As a woman, I do not directly bear the priesthood of God. Something of which I am actually okay with. However, I still need to be a supporter of the priesthood. I can support in several ways as well. One is, that I can do my part to help men be worthy and able to bear the priesthood. As a wife, I need to keep myself on the right track, so that I do not draw my husband from the things that would keep him worthy of this privilege. When necessary, I need to be willing to stand up for what is right and help the men around me become more worthy. I know that my influence for good in this respect is great. If I was a mother to boys, which I am not (yet), I would have the duty to raise them to be worthy of this opportunity. As a woman, my support can come from showing that I approve of men having the priesthood, and in fact, I should encourage the use of it often. Doctrine and Covenants 107:1 reads, “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.” Both men and women support the priesthood, by learning what its purposes are, and caring that those purposes are fulfilled. In Ephesians 4 we learn of the callings within the priesthood and their purposes.

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The purposes of the priesthood are the perfecting of the saints, work of the ministry and edifying the body of Christ for unity of faith and unity in knowing the Son of God. This way we will be firm in the faith, so that when life hits us, we will not falter because of the ways of the world. Therefore, I sustain the priesthood by encouraging men to be worthy to bear it, being a good example of righteous living, learning about the reason for the priesthood, caring for its success on earth, and encouraging the men in my life to use the priesthood.

What is our role in causing the priesthood to continue or be prolonged without interruption? Doctrine and Covenants 13:1 reads, “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; and this shall never be taken again from the earth. . .” A promise was made to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, that the priesthood would not be removed from the earth again, but that does not mean that we will always be able to access it if we are not living righteously and faithfully. Priesthood power requires both a worthy bearer to use it, and a faithful receiver of its blessings. We sustain it by not only being worthy to use it, but by believing in it. The priesthood is the power from God and we have to have faith in Him for it to work. In the book of Matthew we read the following:

57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Even the Lord, Jesus Christ, did not work the miracles of the priesthood during his ministry, when those who should have received its blessings did not have faith and believe in Him. The faith we have today, also needs to be in Jesus Christ, because the priesthood is His power on earth. If we loose that faith, the priesthood will not work in our lives. We sustain the priesthood of God, by believing in God and His power.

How do we uphold, affirm, or confirm the justice and validity of the priesthood authority of God? One of the things that we need to do today, is recognize and witness that God’s authority and power are on earth today, as they were in times of old. In Exodus 40:15, we learn of the priesthood authority as it was given to Aaron. It says, “And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” Many people are willing to believe that the prophets of old had the priesthood authority, but they are not willing to accept that it can exist in our time as well. In Moses 6:7 we read, “Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.” It has been restored in its fullness and can be used today. There are many who believe that it was never removed from the earth, but it was. Those who feel this way, claim to have priesthood power from God, but they do not. During the apostasy that followed the death of the apostles of Jesus’s time, the priesthood was taken from the earth. The people were not living worthy to act on God’s authority. I believe that the authority was once again restored with the power of the priesthood, when Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery asked God about baptism. (See D&C 13:1 found above) In Doctrine and Covenants 27:12 we read, “And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them;”. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the priesthood power through the laying on of hands, first by John the Baptist for the Aaronic priesthood and then, by Peter, James, and John for the Melchizedek priesthood. In order to uphold, affirm or confirm the justice and validity of the priesthood, we need to have our own testimony that this is the truth. We need to know and share that the priesthood of old was indeed the power of God. We need to believe and share that we do in fact have the priesthood on earth today and that it is also the true power and authority of God. The spirit will testify to those who accept the blessings of the priesthood in their lives, of its truth and power. To sustain it, we need to be willing to share what we know about it and the blessings of it, with those who are willing to listen and learn for themselves.

I am so grateful for the priesthood. This past few months of study about it, has caused my testimony to be strengthened in many ways. I know that priesthood of God was given to man in the beginning of time on Earth. Adam was the first bearer of the priesthood on Earth and it continued on the earth during all times when men were worthy to bear it. After the great apostasy, the priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery by the hands of those with the authority from God to ordain them. The priesthood is on the earth today and we, both men and women, should be willing to sustain it, so that the work of God will continue to roll forth.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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