May 15 marks the 165th anniversary of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist on May 15, 1829, to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The Melchizedek Priesthood was restored by Peter, James and John to Joseph and Oliver in June 1829.
The restoration of the priesthood brought the blessings of priesthood ordinances back to the earth. The Lord said of the Melchizedek Priesthood:"Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
"And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh." (D&C 84:20-21.)
Church members have opportunities to partake of priesthood ordinances to bring blessings and joy into their lives and into the lives of their family members.
Mark R. Spencer and his wife, Laura, of the Evanston 5th Ward, Evanston Wyoming Stake, found great comfort through the priesthood when their first son was born recently.
"There were some complications when he was born, and it brought comfort when I gave a priesthood blessing to my wife as well as to my newborn son," Brother Spencer said. "When the rest of the world doesn't know what to do, its nice to be able to draw on a higher power."
Later he had the privilege of giving his son a name and a blessing. "It's one of the things I've looked forward to my entire life - giving guidance and counsel in a father's blessing," he said. "The priesthood has been an integral part of the relationship between my wife and me, and hopefully will be with our children."
Bruce G. Stinson of the Bangor 2nd Ward, Bangor Maine Stake, also has felt blessings through being able to perform priesthood ordinances in his family. He and his wife, Kimberley, have three sons and a daughter.
"Through the years," he said, "I've always encouraged fathers' blessings. I've particularly had sweet experiences giving father's blessings to the children prior to their first day of school each year. The blessings have been revealing to me as well as the children. I don't plan what to say beforehand and each child's blessing is different. I'm always amazed at it."
He said he believes using the priesthood in his family has been an example that has put his children on the correct path.
Stan and Brenda Ward of the Birmingham 1st Ward, Birmingham Alabama Stake, have seen their four sons and daughter grow strong in the gospel, bound in part by priesthood ordinances.
"Priesthood ordinances are certainly something that have made our family close," Brother Ward said. "We love the opportunity to go to the temple with our children. The priesthood is a major part of our lives. It started when I baptized our children, conferred the priesthood on our sons and ordained them to the various offices."
Priesthood holders throughout the Church could relate similar feelings concerning the blessings and joys of worthily participating in ordinances.
President Ezra Taft Benson has taught of the blessings and obligations of priesthood service, and of what type of life must be lived to merit power in the priesthood.
"The privilege of holding the priesthood, which is the power and authority to act in God's name, is a great blessing, and one that carries with it equally great obligations and responsibilities. When I ponder what kind of men and boys we should be as priesthood holders, I cannot help but think of the Savior's questions to the Nephite Twelve when He asked, `Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.' " (Conference Report, October 1986.)
In addition to President Benson, other prophets, ancient and modern, have spoken concerning the exercise of the priesthood in the ordinances of the gospel. Here are some of their words:
- "And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do." - Ex. 18:20.
- "That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." - Ezek. 11:30.
- "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you." - I Cor. 11:2.
- "Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord." - Alma 13:16.
- "And this shall be our covenant - that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord." - D&C 136:4.
- "We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." - Articles of Faith 1:3.
- "It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was, that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world. Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered, and He therefore poured out curses upon them. Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles." - Joseph Smith (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 308.)
- We see in the divine ordinances conferred upon us and in the revelations from the Lord on the priesthood the solution to every need in the government of the Church. - President David O. McKay (October 1967 General Conference.)
- "We are ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our commission is to represent Him. We are directed to preach His gospel, to perform the ordinances of salvation, to bless mankind, to heal the sick and perhaps perform miracles, to do what He would do if He were personally present - and all this because we hold the holy priesthood. - President Joseph Fielding Smith (April 1971 General Conference.)
- "In your study of this restored church, you will find herein the divinely restored powers and authorities of the holy priesthood. By this divine authority, and in no other way, the saving ordinances of the gospel are performed and are made binding for all time and eternity. I testify this to all of you who hear my voice." - President Spencer W. Kimball (April 1976 General Conference.)