Special Witnesses

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Elder David A. Bednar

In May of 1829, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, were anxiously engaged in the work of translating the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

As they translated and learned about the necessity of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, Joseph and Oliver went into the woods here, along the banks of the Susquehanna River, to pray and to inquire of the Lord concerning this sacred ordinance.

In answer to their petition, John the Baptist—now a resurrected being—was sent to restore the Aaronic, or preparatory, Priesthood, to the earth. The heavenly messenger explained that he was acting under the direction of Peter, James, and John—the ancient Apostles who held the keys of the higher priesthood.

John the Baptist placed his hands upon the heads of Joseph and Oliver and conferred upon them the sacred priesthood authority necessary to act in the name of Jesus Christ. Having received the authority, Joseph and Oliver were directed to be baptized, and they obeyed.

The coming of John the Baptist was a first step in the process of restoring the priesthood to the earth. A short time later, Peter, James, and John were sent by the Savior to Joseph and Oliver and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood—the greater authority through which all spiritual blessings are administered—and  ordained them Apostles.

In time, other heavenly messengers bestowed upon Joseph additional priesthood keys.  Once again, the pattern of servants and leaders being called by Jesus Christ and ordained by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority had been established on the earth.

By virtue of the holy priesthood, ordinances are performed and blessings are bestowed in the name of Jesus Christ, and with His authorization, for the salvation of men and women. Through the priesthood, that which is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and that which is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven.

In the ordinances of the Savior’s gospel and the authority of His priesthood, the power of godliness is made manifest to us all.

The principles and events I have described are true. I declare my apostolic witness that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, our living Redeemer and Savior.

Priesthood authority, keys, and saving ordinances are again found on the earth that enable you and me to receive the joyous blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The heavens are not closed. God speaks to us individually and to the world through the authorized leaders of His latter-day kingdom upon the earth.

Of these things I testify, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Special Witnesses