The priesthood is the power of God. Jesus Christ, under the direction of Heavenly Father, used His priesthood power to create the heavens and the earth. He also uses priesthood power to keep the universe in perfect order. Heavenly Father loves us so much that He shares His priesthood power with His children on earth. Those who are ordained to the priesthood have the power and authority to act in the name of God.
That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness (Doctrine and Covenants 121-36).
Men must have priesthood power and authority to act in God’s name in order to perform sacred ordinances such as the sacrament and temple marriage. If men do not have the priesthood, God does not recognize any ordinances performed by them. The ordinances necessary for exaltation must be performed on the earth by men holding the priesthood.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, men must have the priesthood to preside and to direct the work of the Church in all parts of the world. Christ chose his apostles in ancient days and ordained them in order that they would have the power and authority to lead His church.
And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.
And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him,, and that he might send them forth to preach,
And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to case out devils (Mark 3:13-15).
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you (John 15:16).
Men also need the priesthood in order to understand the will of God and to carry out His purposes. He reveals His will to His prophet, His authorized representative on the earth. The prophet, who is also the president of the Church, serves as God’s spokesman to all members of the Church and to all people on the earth.
God has ordained that His sons should receive the priesthood in an orderly way. Any worthy man who is a member of the Church receives the priesthood by “the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof” (Articles of Faith 1:5).
This is the same way that men received the priesthood in the days of Moses: “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4). Aaron received the priesthood from Moses, who was the prophet and priesthood leader of Aaron (see Exodus 28:1). Men must first bear the priesthood before they can ordain other men.
No man can take the priesthood power and authority for themselves, and they cannot buy or sell it. The priesthood is here upon the earth to bless the lives of God’s children. It should be used to preside in love and kindness. It cannot be controlled except in righteousness; in fact, the power will be lost if it is used unrighteously to gain wealth or fame.
Priesthood bearers can do many wonderful things for other people. With the priesthood a man can baptize, confirm, administer the sacrament, bless the sick, give priesthood blessings, and help to perform ordinances when asked, but he cannot do any of these things for himself. The priesthood must be used correctly - “by persuasion, by longsuffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41).
God has promised great blessings to priesthood bearers that use the priesthood to bless the lives of other people. He promises that “thy confidence [shall] wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews form heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46).
President David O. McKay made the following promise to every man who uses his priesthood in righteousness.
He shall find his life sweetened, his discernment sharpened to decide quickly between right and wrong, his feelings tender and compassionate, yet his spirit strong and valiant in defense of right; he will find the priesthood a never-failing source of happiness – a well of living water springing up unto eternal life (David O. McKay, Instructor , October 1968, p. 378).