For nearly 2,000 years, the authority to act for God was taken from the earth. When the Prophet Joseph Smith sought the true church, the powers of heaven were returned.
Black clouds hugged the horizon. The barometer was headed for the basement. And a stiff wind from the south carried leaves and trash. But the sun was still shining.
The forecasters had been warning that a big storm was on the way. But from the way they talked, many figured the storm should already have arrived. This was starting to look like a false alarm, especially after the wind died down.
Suddenly, a shock wave of wind hit from the west, filled with dust and shingles and tree branches. The sky went dark. The wind shifted its stance to punch from the north. Huge raindrops turned roofs into snare drums. And when the first lightning flared, the thunder was so close behind there was no time to count “one thousand one …”
Soon, lightning strikes began to knock out electric transformers all over the city, while the winds toppled poles or used whole trees to cut power lines. One after another, neighborhoods blinked into darkness.
By then, many had lit candles. But you feel kind of silly when you’ve lit candles and still automatically reach for the light switch or TV remote. Then, you begin to feel helpless as you realize that the garage door opener won’t work. The electric stove won’t heat your next meal. If the power is off for a long time, unused food in the fridge and freezer will rot. And the stores will be closed.
After the storm it took days to restore power to every neighborhood. The big power plants were still generating electricity. But until it reaches your home, it doesn’t do you any good.
Electricity is great. When mankind learned to harness it, electricity literally changed the world. It lit up the night. It made our modern way of life possible.
When the Savior came to earth, He brought a power that can transform us until we are like Him, a power that can fill us with light. He made eternal life possible.
Electricity could seem like a miracle if you were seeing its effects for the first time. But when you study the scientific principles of electricity and begin to use it in your everyday life, it becomes commonplace. On the other hand, the more you study the principles of the Atonement and apply them in your life, the more miraculous it becomes to you.
Just as electricity only benefits us when we connect to the power source, we must also personally connect to the power of the Atonement. In order to receive forgiveness of sins and become clean, every one of us must personally repent and come unto Christ. Everyone who desires forgiveness of sin must be baptized by one having authority.
The Atonement is an accomplished fact. As He died on the cross the Savior said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Following the death of the Savior and His Apostles, the keys of priesthood authority were lost, taken from the earth. The storm of apostasy that had been prophesied swept over the earth. During the long spiritual darkness that followed, performing a baptism was as ineffective as flicking a light switch during a blackout.
Finally, on 15 May 1829, a resurrected John the Baptist laid his hands on the heads of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored the “keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (D&C 13:1).
As before, it became possible for a repentant person to enter into the baptismal covenant and be washed clean of sin. Once again the fulness of the Atonement could bless and change lives. Power had been restored.
“This Aaronic Priesthood, bestowed by John the Baptist, also includes the keys of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. It is one thing to repent. It is another to have our sins remitted or forgiven. The power to bring this about is found in the Aaronic Priesthood. … The holding of the Aaronic Priesthood, and the exercise of its power, is not a small or unimportant thing. The bestowal of these keys in this dispensation was one of the greatest and most significant things incident to the entire Restoration. It was the first bestowal of divine authority in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. It is the priesthood of God, with authority to act in the name of the Savior of mankind.”
—President Gordon B. Hinckley
(Ensign, May 1988, 46)
“Priesthood is the greatest power on earth. … The power and authority delegated by God to act in His name for the salvation of His children. Caring for others is the very essence of priesthood responsibility. It is the power to bless, to heal, and to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel.”
—President James E. Faust
(Ensign, May 1997, 41)
“We are commanded to repent of our sins and to come to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and partake of the sacrament in compliance with its covenants. When we renew our baptismal covenants in this way, the Lord renews the cleansing effect of our baptism. In this way we are made clean and can always have His Spirit to be with us. The importance of this is evident in the Lord’s commandment that we partake of the sacrament each week (see D&C 59:8–9).
“We cannot overstate the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood in this. All of these vital steps pertaining to the remission of sins are performed through the saving ordinance of baptism and the renewing ordinance of the sacrament. Both of these ordinances are officiated by holders of the Aaronic Priesthood under the direction of the bishopric.”
—Elder Dallin H. Oaks
(New Era, May 1999, 6)