Chapter 11: Priesthood, “the Power of the Living God”

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, (2011), 100–108


Priesthood bearers who live by principles of righteousness can be instruments in the Lord’s hands in the service of others.

From the Life of Heber J. Grant

“I shall never forget the occasion,” said President Heber J. Grant, “when a friend appealed to me, upon learning that the doctor had announced that his daughter, stricken with diphtheria, would die before morning. He asked me to pray for that daughter, and after leaving his office I prayed with all the earnestness of my soul that God would heal that girl. While praying, the inspiration came to me: ‘The power of the living God is here on the earth. The Priesthood is here. Hurry! Hurry! … Go and rebuke the power of the destroyer, and the girl shall live.’

“The doctor waiting upon that girl, said she could not live till morning; but when morning came he explained that he could not comprehend it, and that he believed the girl was going to get well. He could not refrain from expressing his surprise at the change in the girl’s condition over night. The power of the living God rebuked the destroyer.”1

President Grant rejoiced in the inspiration he received that night: “The power of the living God is here on the earth. The Priesthood is here.” In his general conference addresses, he frequently taught the Saints of the blessings they could receive through the power and authority of the priesthood.

Teachings of Heber J. Grant

The keys, authority, ordinances, and gifts of the priesthood have been restored.

As the translation of [the Book of Mormon] proceeded, Joseph Smith discovered that the doctrine of baptism was taught and practised by the Nephite people. Desiring to better understand this principle he did as he had done before, went with Oliver Cowdery, his scribe, into the woods, and engaged in earnest prayer. The following is quoted from his own words:

“While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us he ordained us, saying:

“‘Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.’

“The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this priesthood upon us, said his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchizedek, which priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred upon us.” [See Joseph Smith—History 1:68–69, 72.]

With this ordination, and the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood which was later conferred as promised, the fulness of the keys and authority of the Priesthood of Almighty God, which had for centuries been lost to mankind, was restored and has remained with the Church in unbroken succession until the present time.

With the restoration of the priesthood the way was open for the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the ordinances pertaining thereto, and the organization of the Church.2

I know that there are no gifts, no graces, no authority, which were possessed in the days of the Savior by his apostles which are not possessed today by the people of God.3

I bear witness to you here today that we have the truth, that God has spoken again, that every gift, every grace, every power and every endowment that came through the holy Priesthood of the living God in the days of the Savior are enjoyed today. I rejoice in knowing that these things that should be enjoyed—the blessings, the healing power of Almighty God, the inspiration of His Spirit whereby men and women have manifestations from Him, the inspiration of the Spirit of God whereby people speak by new tongues and have the interpretation thereof, and each and every grace and gift—are enjoyed today by the Latter-day Saints.4

Christ raising the daughter of Jairus

“Every gift, every grace, every power and every endowment that came through the holy Priesthood of the living God in the days of the Savior are enjoyed today.”

The healing power of the priesthood is in the Church.

I know that the healing power of Almighty God is in this Church. I know that but for the healing power of God it would not be my privilege to stand here before you today. I know that there are living monuments of the healing power of God among this people. If we had a record of all the wonderful blessings of the Lord which have come through the Priesthood since the establishment of the Church upon the earth, it would be a record far larger than the New Testament.5

Upon one occasion when my [half brother] Joseph Hyrum Grant … was in charge of a livery stable … , a number of employees of the Z. C. M. I. shoe factory were enjoying an outing. … [Joseph,] who had charge of the transportation, called their attention to the fact that a storm was threatening, and he urged them to return home, stating that … there was danger of … being overturned in a storm and in the darkness. But they passed a resolution that they would hold the firm blameless if any accident occurred.

Going home in the darkness the vehicle was overturned and several people were quite seriously injured. One of the girls had a number of bones broken and as a result of her injuries and exposure in the storm, pneumonia set in. The doctor in attendance declared that she could not live, and would probably die before morning. [Joseph] felt very much distressed about the matter, having been the driver of the vehicle. He asked me to go with him to administer to that girl, stating that he had received the witness of the spirit that she should live.

When we stepped up to the bed, I told him that she was dying and would be dead before we could get our hands off her head. He turned deathly pale and declared that he had received a manifestation of the Lord, and that he knew, as he knew that the gospel is true, that if we would bless her she would live. We did bless her, and in confirming the anointing I was impressed to promise her that the bones should knit, that she should be made well and go back and run her machine in the Z. C. M. I. shoe factory. I did not know that she had been running a machine or what was her work. That evening I met the superintendent of that factory and he said: “I have just returned from the home of Marie DeGray, and she was dying. I am convinced she is dead by now.” I said: “Brother Rowe, you go up into your office and sit down and write: ‘Marie DeGray is not dead. Marie DeGray will not die, but she will get well and come back and run her machine in your factory.’ It has been manifested to me by the spirit of the living God.” He said: “I don’t need to write it, because from what you say, I know that she will live.”

He then related to me an incident which had occurred in his own family. Said he: “In London, before I came to this country, one of my daughters was very sick, and the attending physician said she could not live till morning.” He sent, as I remember, three miles across the great city of London, for Junius F. Wells and his companion to come and administer to his daughter, and she was restored to health. “The next day,” said Brother Rowe, “the doctor came to my home and handed me a written certificate, duly signed, stating that my daughter was dead. I invited him into the parlor and introduced him to the ‘corpse.’ So when you tell me that this girl will recover, I accept your statement, for I know that the healing power of God is in this Church, as well as I know that I live.”6

Guided by principles of righteousness, priesthood holders can draw on the powers of heaven.

It is not an insignificant thing to hold the Priesthood of God—to have the right to influence the powers of the heavens for good.7

With reference to the authority of the Priesthood of God and how it is to be exercised: The Prophet of the living God was imprisoned in Liberty jail and there was a desire that he should be tried and executed; but all the prison doors in all the world can not prevent the revelations of the mind and the will of God coming to those that are entitled to receive them; and while in Liberty jail the Prophet Joseph Smith received one of the very greatest of all the great revelations from God that are contained in the Doctrine and Covenants. I read from Section 121:

“How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

“Behold, there are many called but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

“Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—

“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.

“That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

“Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.

“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

“Hence many are called, but few are chosen.” [D&C 121:33–40.]

Now, I want to emphasize the balance of this revelation, given in a jail. With all the power of a State trying to take away the liberty of Joseph Smith, they could not prevent the communication of that prophet with the heavens, and he received the following inspired words that should never be forgotten by any bishop or any president of a stake, or any apostle, or any president of the Church as long as they hold office in this Church:

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion,”

More priceless than all the wealth of all the world is to have the Holy Ghost as our 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 for ever and ever.” [D&C 121:41–46.]8

In talking to the Latter-day Saints, there is no revelation in all the Doctrine and Covenants that I have quoted from so often as that contained in Section 121 … that “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.”

There is no danger of a Priesthood of this kind—gentleness, and meekness, and love unfeigned. But when we exercise control, or domination, or compulsion, upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves. The Spirit of the Lord is grieved. And when it is withdrawn, “Amen to the Priesthood or the authority of that man.” These are the words of God.9

Is it a terrible thing to exercise the priesthood of the living God in the way that the Lord prescribes: “By kindness and gentleness”? That is the only way, and unless it is exercised in that way, Amen to the priesthood and authority of those who hold this priesthood in the Church of Christ.10

Men who have the Priesthood should not use it for their own aggrandizement. … Should they do so they would lose the spirit of the Lord and would aspire after the things of this world instead of the things of God.11

We can do nothing, as recorded in that revelation, only as we exercise love and charity and kindness—love unfeigned. With the help of the Lord that is exactly how I shall administer, to the best of my ability, the Priesthood of God that has come to me.12

Suggestions for Study and Discussion

  • In what ways have you and your family been blessed through the exercise of the priesthood?

  • How can we show respect for the priesthood? How can we help family members respect the priesthood?

  • What experiences have you had that have strengthened your testimony of the priesthood’s healing power? In times of sickness or other afflictions, what can we do to distinguish our own desires from the will of the Lord?

  • What do you learn from the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 121:33–46? Why must priesthood holders follow the principles in this revelation in order to act in the name of the Lord? How do these principles apply in all our relationships with others?

  • How can the blessings of the priesthood be made available to those who do not have Melchizedek Priesthood holders in their homes?

Show References

    Notes

  1.   1.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1925, 9–10.

  2.   2.

    Message from the First Presidency, in Conference Report, Apr. 1930, 10–11; read by President Heber J. Grant.

  3.   3.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1917, 14.

  4.   4.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1943, 7.

  5.   5.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1917, 14.

  6.   6.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1927, 15–16.

  7.   7.

    Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham (1941), 8.

  8.   8.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1923, 158–59.

  9.   9.

    Gospel Standards, 68.

  10.   10.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1928, 9.

  11.   11.

    Gospel Standards, 179.

  12.   12.

    Gospel Standards, 199.