When I hear the word “Authority,” what first comes to my mind is “permission.” Imagine that you’re a police officer, and I’m not. I go to the store, purchase all of the clothes necessary, make sure I have my gun and pepper spray, and then I dress up as a police officer. I then hop in my car and start pulling people over on the highway for speeding. I pull out my little notebook and write them a ticket, even. No! That’s not how it works. It’s because I don’t have the “authority” or the “permission” to do so. Even though I’m trying to do what’s right and keep people safe by enforcing speed limits, I’m not an authorized law enforcement officer. I may appear to be one, but I don’t have the authority that comes to one only through the State Government.
Authority from God works in a similar way. Many people think that they can baptize, confer the Holy Ghost, give blessings, cast out devils, and do all other acts in the name of Jesus Christ, even without the proper authority, or priesthood. Although they are good people and are trying to do what’s right, if it’s not done through the proper authority, it’s not going to be valid in the eyes of God.
Matthew 7:21-23: Christ himself explains that not everyone is recognized by God, even if they do it in the name of Jesus Christ. Just because an act is done in his name, it doesn’t mean that they have the authority to do so. An example of this is given in Acts 19:13-19. Even though the individual did the acts in the name of someone having the authority, or priesthood (such as Christ or Paul), they could not cast out the evil Spirit. In contrast, Luke 10:17-20 is where Christ gives authority to the Seventies, and the difference between the two are blatantly obvious. Another good scripture to point out is Acts 8:9-21 (and Acts 19:1-6), in which we find that this authority can neither be bought nor sold, and can only be given by the laying on of hands through one who already possesses it. Let me also point out that the authority is NOT the Holy Ghost. From reading these scriptures, you may get that sense. Conferring the Holy Ghost is an act that someone who holds the Priesthood is authorized to do. The Priesthood is the authority.
So how does someone receive or be chosen for this Priesthood? They must be called of God. Hebrews 5:4 tells us, “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” So in the case of Aaron, how was he called? Exodus 28:1-3 tells us that Aaron was called by a Prophet of God, one who already had the Priesthood.
In John 15:16-19, Christ explains that He is the one doing the calling, and not the individual. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit…that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
Some may try and argue the point that 1 Corinthians 15:50 tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” But we know, from other scripture, that we will have perfected physical bodies after the resurrection. In this scripture, “flesh and blood” refers to the natural man, who cannot enter into the kingdom of God. This is also clear, because the next sentence compares it to incorruption. Job 19:26 also tells us that “in my flesh shall I see God.” One last example: In Matthew 22:23, the Sadducees come to the Savior and say that there is no resurrection. Christ then gives the answer in verses 32 and 33.
Some have tried to argue the point that the ten commandments are no longer applicable to our day and that we no longer need, for example, a Sabbath Day. The ten commandments are old, archaic, and were all fulfilled in the Mosaic Law. Along with some common sense, Romans 13:7-9 and Matthew 5:17-40 show that they are still just as valuable and applicable in our day as in times past.
Saved Before Christ
There is a piece of doctrine that some try to prove, which says that nobody before the time of Christ can be saved in the highest kingdom, and that small children cannot be saved at all. Enoch lived many years before Christ. Although we have very little scriptural information regarding Enoch, Hebrews 11:5 and Genesis 5:21-24 explain that with his translation, he was taken back home to live with God. Elijah is yet another example of someone who lived before the time of Christ. 2 Kings 2:11 tells us that he also was translated and taken up to heaven. Matthew 8:11 explicitly states that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will all be in heaven, yet they lived many many years before Christ. And the doctrine of little children not being saved in the kingdom of heaven is easily combated with Matthew 18:1-6, Matthew 19:13-15, and Mark 10:13-16.
To end, I’d like to re-emphasize my position in saying that I truly hope that this article is not used with the intent to tear down anyone’s faith, but to simply inform in such a way that people can display our doctrines in a correct form. I would like to include a quote by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
“If a situation arises in which the Elders cannot in honor refuse a challenge to debate an issue, as when by withdrawing from the discussion they would lose their investigators, then it may be proper to go ahead and engage in the debate or discussion. In such instances, if the Elders are as informed as they should be, they always come off victorious. The truth is with the saints and truth will stand of its own self.”