NOTE TO THE READER: The following article is adapted from the 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Manual: Lay Hold Upon the Word of God – Study Guide #1, 1988. Updated with new information and instruction from leaders and ministers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We learn that the power of the priesthood is built upon our faith in Jesus Christ.
The scriptures teach us that “Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness” and who “obtained peace in Salem.” The same passages also teach us that all who are ordained to the same order and calling of priesthood as held by Melchizedek “should have power, by faith … to do all things according to his will, according to his command” (JST, Genesis 14:26, 30-33). What does it mean to have power in the priesthood, by faith, to do all that the Lord requires?
Faith is a Principle of Power
The first principle of faith rests upon Jesus Christ. It is the central truth of the Gospel. And it is necessary for us to center our faith in Jesus Christ rather than in anything or anybody else. According to Moroni 7:33 our faith in Jesus Christ gives us power to do whatsoever is expedient in me. So, what does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ? Simply means we are to completely rely on Him – to completely trust in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. It also means we accept and adhere to His teachings and abide in Him as he abides in us (John 15:4). Through Jesus Christ, we are able to become fruitful in proclaiming the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored in these last days.
Faith Gives Us the Power to Work Righteousness
As we study through the scriptures, specifically the Old Testament, we become aware of the many men and women who exercised great faith in Jesus Christ. Such faith where they were able to bring about miracles, be called to prophecy, teach, lead, and call all men and women unto repentance. For example: Moses 5:4-6, we learn that Adam showed willingness to obey the commandments of the Lord. What was Adam’s reasoning for this? To worship God and offer up sacrifices before the Lord.
Another example is what we read in Alma 13:14-19:
Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after the same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever. And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. 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. Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore, he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father. Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention.
In this example, Melchizedek’s mighty faith in Christ came because of humility. Not only did the people humble themselves in the days of Melchizedek – but they also repented and sought forgiveness and placed their faith and trust in the Son of God. This, because the people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination … having gone astray …were full of all manner of wickedness.
Today, we are living in a period of time where the people have waxed strong in iniquity and abomination. Where individuals have left the faith and gone astray. Following the desires and vain imaginations of their hearts and becoming full of wickedness. Through the power of the priesthood – and our faith in Jesus Christ – we are to call all people unto repentance. To bring men and women unto Christ and to seek forgiveness and remission of sins.
Our faith in Jesus Christ also gives us the confidence in knowing that the Lord will strengthen us and help us face whatever challenges we are to face. We need not hesitate to do what our Heavenly Father calls us to do (1 Nephi 4:1-3). Thus, our attitude ought to be one of assurance and confidence in knowing that we will be successful in whatever the Lord calls us to do – and we ought to realize that we are constantly engaged in the Lord’s work.
We Show Our Faith through Our Works
Going back to what Christ taught his disciples (John 15) – our works is the fruit of our commitment and willingness to abide in Christ and do all that he has commanded us. This includes to love one another. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. taught:
Brethren, have simple faith, for faith is the implementing force of the priesthood. … If you … will run over in your minds the use of the Priesthood you yourselves have made, you will find that all the uses which have to do … with the alleviating of human suffering, the bestowal of spiritual powers and graces, all of these works we do are brought about through the exercise of faith.In Conference Report, April 1953, p. 54
What then is the connection between faith and priesthood power? The simple fact is that men with faith are able to use the priesthood to do acts of righteousness, and men who lack faith do not.
President Spencer W. Kimball offered this challenge and invitation to the members of the Church:
It seems clear to me, indeed, this impression weighs upon me – that the Church is at a point in its growth and maturity when we are at least ready to move forward in a major way. … But the basic decisions needed for us to move forward, as a people, must be made by the individual members of the Church. …
Seemingly small efforts in the life of each member could do so much to move the Church forward as never before. Think … what would happen if each active family were to bring another family or individual into the Church … Imagine, if only one additional mature couple were to be called on a full-time mission from each ward. … Contemplate the results if each family were to assist … an inactive family or individual into full activity. … Think of the blessings here and on the other side of the veil if each holder of a temple recommend were to do just one more endowment … And how would our nonmember neighbors and friends feel if we were each to do just one more quiet act of Christian service for them … regardless of whether or not they are interested in the Church!
Imagine how richer our family life would be if our spouses and children were to receive a few more minutes of individual attention each month! Are we ready … to do these seemingly small things out of which great blessings will proceed? I think we are. I believe the Lord’s church is on the verge of an upsurge in spirituality.“Let Us Move Forward and Upward” – Ensign, May 1979
Why does it take faith to do those simple tasks we are called to do? Because we are to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ (2 Nephi 31:19). We are to teach and call people unto repentance, have faith in Christ, teach them the virtue of humility and empower them to withstand the temptations of the adversary (Alma 37:33). And the miracles most of us will perform will be those quiet ones within the walls of our own homes and the homes of our neighbors as we seek to magnify our callings within the priesthood.
Faith in Christ is essential in order to exercise our priesthood power. We all are encouraged to increase our faith and power through personal righteousness where we continue to exercise our faith in Christ.
When we are placing our faith and trust in Christ, we are willing and committed to obeying the commandments, receive personal revelation through scripture study, prayer and meditation, ability to be an example of Christ-like love and ministering to those outside of our faith, and be a blessing within the workplace and community.
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