What was started in the garden, rekindled with the Jews, advanced by the Catholics, and is claimed by the Mormons? Authority! Authority! Authority! Religious leaders want to own and franchise God's power. A lot of religious folks get all messed up over this one. They don't realize they are the hammer not the carpenter. They don't know who is swinging the hammer.
I hear the priest say, “I am the Lord's. Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for God hath given his power unto us. We own the franchise.”
And the things which shall be written out of the book [Book of Mormon] shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.
For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—
And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men; 2 Nephi 28:2-5
Who has power and authority to teach?
Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God. Alma17:2-3
How did these Sons of Mosiah obtain the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation? What is the key to teaching with power and authority?
I've pondered this scripture many days. The Lord spoke to my understanding. These sons had a sound understanding of truth because of their diligent search in the scriptures and their much prayer and fasting. The scriptures are there to lead you to the truth. They are the Lord's handbook. You gain understanding as you search, ponder, fast, and pray. The Word of God has power and authority. When you teach the gospel correctly, you teach with power and authority. It is not about the one who is teaching. It has everything to do with what is being taught.
We often use words without understanding what we are saying. To understand the meaning of Alma 17:2-3, we need to know the meanings of these phrases: “knowledge of the truth” and “know the word of God”
Who is the gospel? The Gospel is the Word. The gospel is the life and light of men.
In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made. In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life, and the life was the light of men; JST John 1:1-4
Who is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ? The Son
Of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision. Doctrine and Covenants 76:14
Who is the light and the life of the world? Jesus Christ
I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. 3 Nephi 9:18
And now, remember the words of him who is the life and light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Amen. Doctrine and Covenants 10:70
Who is the way, the truth, and the life? Jesus Christ
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
To come a knowledge of the truth is to come to know Jesus Christ. To know the word of God is to know Jesus Christ. When we speak His words, they are spoken with power and authority of God because they are the same as if he spoke them Himself.
Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen. D&C1:37-39
Receiving power and authority to teach the word of God is not some abracadabra, a man lays hands upon your head and now you have power and authority! When we know the Word of God, and send it forth, it follows that it is done with power and authority. If we freelance, our words lack power and authority.
God has not given his power unto men to own and franchise. If we are willing to make the sacrifice to learn His doctrine and abide the conditions, we accomplish His will with power and authority; not because we are anything special or have any special power, but because we are obedient to the law upon which the blessing is predicated.
Not many are willing to make this journey and want an easy solution. They would rather claim power and authority by going through the motions of rites and ceremonies without going the distance. They pretend to own it and then proceed to franchise this authority filling their pockets in the process. The facade is maintained until someone looks behind the curtain.
The sons of Mosiah followed the pattern outlined in scriptures. They knew the pattern because they had applied themselves to understanding. They communed with God and made necessary sacrifices. As a result they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.
God has given us a handbook. It's called the Book of Mormon; but men have written their own handbook because they don't understand, comprehend, or follow God's handbook. We can all read God's handbook and come to a knowledge of God.
God is no respecter of persons.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 10:34-35
All are alike unto God
For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. 2 Nephi 26:33
God became an object of faith for rational beings because of the testimony of those who know God face to face. It is the testimony of one who has knowledge of God which excites us to begin to exercise faith so that we too might know God. Those who know the Word of God teach with power and authority. If our hearts are soft, the seed of faith can be planted in our hearts. If we nourish the seed by our own study, fasting, prayer, and obedience, we too will obtain knowledge of the glory of God. When diligently pursued, the seekers of truth obtain the most glorious discoveries and eternal certainty.
We have now clearly set forth how it is, and how it was, that God became an object of faith for rational beings; and also, upon what foundation the testimony was based, which excited the enquiry and diligent search of the ancient saints, to seek after and obtain a knowledge of the glory of God: and we have seen that it was human testimony, and human testimony only, that excited this enquiry, in the first instance in their minds—it was the credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers—this testimony having aroused their minds to enquire after the knowledge of God, the enquiry frequently terminated, indeed, always terminated, when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries, and eternal certainty. Lectures on Faith 2:56