Priesthood authority essential

Even though he had been visited personally by God the Father and Jesus Christ, and even though the resurrected Moroni had delivered to him the Nephite record and the instrument to translate it, Joseph Smith in early 1829 still lacked authority to organize the Church of Jesus Christ or administer the saving ordinances to mankind.

Priesthood authority, conferred by those who held it anciently, was necessary before he could do those things. Elder Wilford Woodruff taught this concept in a discourse at the general conference of Oct. 8, 1873, quoted in Priesthood and Church Government, compiled by Elder John A. Widtsoe (p. 27):"There never was a man and never will be a man, in this or any other age of the world, who has power and authority to administer in one of the ordinances of the house of God, unless he is called of God as was Aaron, unless he has the Holy Priesthood, and is administered to by those holding that authority.

"There was no man on the face of the earth, nor had not been for the last 17 centuries, who had power and authority from God to go forth and administer in one of the ordinances of the house of God. What did He do then? Why the Lord sent unto [Joseph SmithT John the Baptist, [see D&C 13 and Joseph Smith - History 1:68-75.T who, when upon the earth, held the Aaronic Priesthood, who was beheaded for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. He [as a resurrected beingT laid his hands upon the head of Joseph Smith and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and he never attempted to act in any authority of the Gospel until he received this Priesthood.

"Joseph was then qualified to baptize for the remission of sins, but he had not the authority to lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and he never attempted to administer in this ordinance until Peter, James and John, two of whom - Peter and James - were also martyred for the testimony of Jesus and the word of God. These three men were the last who held the keys of the Apostleship in its fulness and the power previous to this dispensation. They laid their hands upon the head of Joseph Smith, and sealed upon him every power, principle, ordinance and key belonging to the Apostleship, and until he received this ordinance he was not qualified and had no right to administer in the ordinances of the house of God, but he did after he received the Priesthood, and on the 6th day of April, 1830, he organized this Church."

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