Jesus Christ had been teaching and healing people in Galilee. He knew that the time had come for him to organize his church and give authority to the men who would lead it following his death. He went to a mountain and prayed all night. “And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” (Luke 6:13.)
Jesus commanded them to go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:6–8.)
Jesus Christ later explained to Peter that the church of God must be built upon the foundation of the priesthood and that only those who had the keys to that authority could lead the Church. He promised Peter those keys.
“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
“And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Moses and Elias gave some necessary keys to Peter, James, and John at this time. Thus, after the death of Christ, they had the proper authority to act in his name and to lead the Church.*
After a time, because of unrighteousness, this priesthood authority was taken from the earth. It was restored again when the Aaronic Priesthood was given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829, and the Melchizedek Priesthood was given them soon thereafter.
Moses and Elias also appeared in a vision to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. They recorded that “Moses … committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.
“After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.” (D&C 110:11–12.)
In June 1829, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer received a revelation in which Oliver and David were commanded to search out the men who should be called to the Twelve. “The Twelve shall be my disciples, and they shall take upon them my name. …
“And if they desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart, they are called to go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature.” (D&C 18:27–28).
The same priesthood and authority that existed in the time of Jesus Christ are again upon the earth. Men are again being called by God and by the proper authority to lead The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.