Thursday, September 23, 2010

3 Nephi 11: 21

"And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven."

Notice the Lord does not touch Nephi. He speaks the words. The Lord's word is sovereign. If the Lord speaks it, it is so. It is not necessary for the Lord to lay hands on the servant He has just called, only that He speak the words of commission which give the servant "power."

Notice that it is "power" and not authority. It is the "power" to baptize "this people" which is granted Nephi. Why would "power" be required for a man to be able to baptize? What if the man possessed "authority" to baptize, but lacked any "power" in his priesthood? Is "authority" anything if it lacks "power?" What is the difference? Can a church spread about the "authority" to do ordinances if that church lacks "power" to do so?

Why are "that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven?" (D&C 121: 36.) If indeed all rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, can a man who has never felt, experienced or had any connection with heaven hold any power? Hold any priesthood? What connection did Nephi have with heaven the instant the Lord spoke to Nephi the words: "I give unto you power"?

Why is it that "the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness?" What about ambitious men who view holding an office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as entitling them to direct, preside, control and dictate to others? What are the "principles of righteousness?"  

Now, I ask those questions not to give people reason to rebel against those who preside over them. It is not for us to weigh, measure or respond with accusations against those in positions of authority. I feel a great sympathy and pray for them. However, I offer it as a self-governing, introspective question to anyone who has any calling, family position or power over another person. Whether it is in church, or at work, or in the family, or elsewhere, the way we deal with others ought to be informed by the same standards as use of priestly authority. But these things are for internal use, not as a measuring stick to be applied critically against others.

Often we are able to see clearly the errors of others, but are completely unable to see our own glaring errors. This is why I have said repeatedly that the Gospel is for internal application only, and not for external use in judging others.

In the case of Nephi, he already held power, did he not? He had preached the Gospel, used words having such power that listeners could not disbelieve them, raised his brother from the dead, and cast out devils.  (3 Nephi 7: 17-19.) Despite all this, Nephi was called forward to receive from the Lord power to baptize?  Why? Why if he already had such great power as to be able to raise the dead, did he need a new grant of power to baptize?

Does the possession of authority in one dispensation (Moses') continue into another dispensation (Meridian of Time)? When a new dispensation of the Gospel opens, does authority need to be conferred by angels (or the Lord) in the new dispensation? Without a commission from Christ, could Nephi continue his ministry into the new dispensation?  Why not? Did the end of the prior dispensation of carnal commandments require a new delivery of power to those serving into this era of a new covenant?  (Hebrews 8: 13.)

Does the Lord's reference to "when [He is] again ascended into heaven" reveal anything to Nephi? To us? Does it confirm the Lord's status, power and right? Does it confirm, also, the Lord will be leaving the Nephites again? Does it reestablish what they saw when He first appeared, that He now belongs to heaven? Do we need to keep that in mind as well?


  1. It actually is our responsibility to know & discern if those who lead us are righteous & leading correctly or not.

    We will be held accountable if we follow a leader who leads us wrong.

    We are never asked to follow or support anyone who it not leading righteously.

    I believe the Priesthood is just simply 'love'. Love is the power by which God accomplishes all things. Love is the most powerful thing there is. It is God's power. We can recieve authority
    to use that power of love as God would if he were here.

    If a leader does not lead with love then he has no right, authority or power to inspire people to follow him & no right to have heaven's help in his calling.

    A leader who tries to lead without love but rather leads with unrighteous dominion, will be accountable someday to God.

    I agree it is a heavy obligation to be a leader, with serious consequences if done wrong & thus we should pray for help for our leaders that they will lead righteously.

    Since God requires us to only follow those who are righteous & who show love in all they do, he makes it very easy for us to tell if a leader is righteous & has & uses 'the power of love' or 'Priesthood', IF we possess that power of love ourselves, as all men & women can.

  2. I really like the question of why Nephi would be given the power to baptize if he was already raising people from the dead. Does our current rite of baptism which we believe we have the "authority" to perform merely point to a higher baptism? I do think it is really interesting that in the early days of the church a person could be baptized repeatedly. Is going from this to one baptism per person more correct? Or is this one of the ordinances being tweaked again?

  3. So does this apply to translated beings, too? Those who tarry?

  4. Reading this I wonder now if the people I have baptised and confirmed are really baptised and confirmed. Beside being told I had it I have never felt like I had any more power or authority after I was ordained than I did before. Have I done them a disservice?

  5. These comments about the authority and power of the priesthood call to mind the address by Pres. Packer at the opening of the April 2010 General Conference. We have the authority given but are we using the power?

  6. Packer said we are passing around authority ok, but seem to lack or pass on power. You have to have power to use it. I really liked that talk... shows some of the GA's see where we are heading. I heard Doug Brinley (giving a presentation at a BOM conference in Heber) said that he heard Elder Packer state that the church will head in the same general direction as found in Helaman 12. Brinley also feels we are on the last stage right before being swepped off this land for us failing in our duties. I agree.

  7. Authority comes by way of ordination.

    Power comes by way of personal worthiness, obedience and faith.

    Both are necessary. Ideally everyone with authority would live lives such that they had power. But sadly that is the exception rather than the rule. (Cf. D&C 121:39). Which is what President Packer was lamenting (and thereby calling us collectively to repentance).

  8. Did Nephi have priesthood authority, but needed to have power consistant to the new law under Christ after the doing away of the old law of Moses?

  9. Among other ideas, is it possible the pronouncement of power to baptize to Nephi was at least in part a sign or reaffirmation to the multitude that Nephi was the one the Lord was picking to do this work?


What Say You?