Let's say for a moment that you're driving down the highway. You're driving a little fast, over the speed limit, and I decide to do something about it. Here I come in my little Japanese ricerocket, honking the horn and flashing my headlights. I pull alongside and signal that you should pull over to the side. When you do, I march out of my car and tell you that you have broken the law, and I intend to enforce it. What do you do?
If you're anything like me, you say no. I mean, where do I get off ordering you around? I have no power, no right, in short, no authority.
(In no way, shape, or form, am I encouraging you to speed. Don't do it, it's bad.)
In a way, people do this today. They feel the Spirit of God, and assume that therefore they must have the authority. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works. Just reading the Bible and feeling the Spirit do not give you the authority, just the same way that reading all the laws and attending court does not give a person a policeman's authority.
In order for a person to have the authority, he must be ordained.
"And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." ~Hebrews 5:4In laymans terms, this means that a man cannot have the priesthood unless he receives it from somebody else. We cannot just "take the honor" unto ourselves.
Imagine, if you will, a candle. Let's say one of those nice ones that are a foot tall, scented, and are used in candelabras but for some reason are never lit.
The people of God have followed a cycle like this all through the Bible. God calls a prophet and gives him the priesthood. The prophet leads the people, and teaches them about God. Eventually, people reject the prophet, and the priesthood is taken. There is a time without a prophet while God prepares the people. When the people are ready, God calls another prophet and restores the priesthood.
Next post, we find out just what this has to do with Joseph Smith.