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the Apostle Philip, but presumably one of the seven men who had been set apart for a lesser ministry (Acts 6:3-6)— preached to the Samaritans and baptized many. Plainly Philip was empowered to administer water baptism; and it is equally clear that an authority greater than his was requisite for the higher baptism of the Spirit or the conferring of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. To this the Scriptures testify:
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." (Acts 8:14-17).
Very illuminating is the instance of Paul's ministry unto certain devout Ephesians (Acts 19:1-7) who professed to have been baptized "unto John's baptism," but who were plainly uninstructed as to the necessity of the baptism of the Spirit. It is probable that these men had submitted to immersion by unauthorized hands; and therefore Paul caused that they be baptized "in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied."
To the Twelve Disciples who were ordained by the resurrected Lord among the Nephites on the American continent, Christ gave special power, so that all baptized believers upon whom they would lay their hands should receive the Holy Ghost; and thus is the assurance recorded:
"Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized,
for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins." (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 12:2; see also Moroni, chap. 2.)
And in this modern day, the authority of both the Lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, which is requisite to water baptism, and of the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, without which the gift of the Holy Ghost cannot be authoritatively bestowed, has been restored to earth, through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Elders of the Church today are commanded to preach the Gospel, to baptize the penitent, “And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the Scriptures." (Doctrine & Covenants 20:41).
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN!
Authority of the Holy Priesthood Again Operative on Earth E believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and 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 No. 5).
We have seen that certain ordinances, prescribed by the Lord Jesus Christ, are indispensable to salvation. Without baptism by water and the conferment of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands no man can enter the kingdom of God, for so the Lord hath affirmed and so the Scriptures attest.
The outward form, mode, or operation in each of these sacred and far-reaching rites is notably simple. So far as the physical procedure is concerned, any man of ordinary
ability may learn to perform the ceremony, and that with a few minutes' oral instruction or reading. The same may be said of many ordinances prescribed in human institutions. One may readily commit to memory and learn to speak with due impressiveness the words by which a college degree is conferred upon the successful student, the formula by which man and woman are united in the bonds of wedlock, or the judicial pronouncement by which one prisoner is restored to liberty and another condemned.
But, as everybody knows, to make the utterance effective he who speaks must be invested with specific authority, without which his presumption to officiate would be a punishable offense under the secular law. Are consistency and reason less to be considered in matters of Divine administration than in the affairs of mortals?
Healing ministry to the afflicted in the name of Jesus Christ is one of the gifts of the Spirit implanted in the Church. The Apostles of old so administered, and with such effect that disease was stayed and evil spirits were rebuked. Certain vagabond Jews once attempted to imitate Paul in his authoritative functions, and among them were the seven sons of Sceva chief of the priests. (See Acts 19: 11-18). Unto a suffering demoniac these evil and presumptuous men, void of authority and power, undertook to minister, solemnly pronouncing the words: "We adjure you by Jesus," and then, as if to put beyond question the Name in which they blasphemously essayed to speak, added "whom Paul preacheth." But the demon in the man laughed them to scorn, and cried aloud in derision: "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?"
The Apostles who were with the Lord in the flesh had been ordained by Him to the Holy Priesthood; and Paul who was later called into the ministry was ordained by the lay
ing on of hands of those in authority. (Acts 13:2-4). Even the evil spirits acknowledged their authority, as earlier the demons had acclaimed the Christ "Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God." (See Mark 5:7). But for the vagabond pretenders there was contempt and humiliation.
And what of the impressive lesson taught by the experience of Simon the sorcerer? (See Acts 8:18-24). He marveled at the power demonstrated through the Apostles; for to the baptized believers upon whom they laid their hands came the Holy Ghost with manifestations of spiritual endowment. His mind, heart and motive darkened by sin, Simon sought to buy with money the power that only the call of God could impart: "But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." (Acts 8:20-23).
Far surpassing anything and all that man can bestow is the authority to preach the Word of God and administer Divine ordinances through the investiture of the Holy Priesthood. While Israel lived under the Law, bereft of the fulness of spiritual light such as the Gospel alone can give, Jehovah repeatedly manifested His righteous jealousy or zeal in behalf of His appointed servants and against all who pretended to arrogate authority unto themselves. Read the story of wicked Korah and his associates in their attempt to minister in the priest's office (Numbers 16); consider the rejection of Saul, king of Israel, who offended by undertaking to discharge the functions of the Lord's proph
et (1 Sam. 13:8-14). And think of Uzziah, king of Judah, who died an outcast and a leper, through the visitation of punishment for having presumed to officiate without priestly ordination. (2 Chron. 26).
In the establishment of His Church among the ancient Americans, the Lord was specific in conferring upon certain men the authority to baptize, to lay on hands for the giving of the Holy Ghost, administer the sacrament of bread and wine, and otherwise to officiate in the ordinances pertaining to the Holy Priesthood. By personal ordination the Lord invested His chosen representatives to minister in His Name. (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11:21, 22; 12: 1, 2; 18:5).
So also, in the present age, authority to minister in the saving ordinances of the Gospel must be given of God, not assumed by man. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims to the world that the Holy Priesthood, which is the appointment and authority to officiate in the name of God, has been restored to the earth in modern days, through direct dispensation from the heavens by angelic ministry to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The imperative urgency of the call is thus set forth in current revelation:
"And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them. Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear: Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to came, for the Lord is nigh. For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven." (Doctrine & Covenants 1).