In Chapter 4 of First Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, Nephi was given a task by the Lord which required him to do something that he might have felt was beyond his ability to do. It was something that went against everything he had been taught concerning correct principles and doctrine; he was required to slay Laban. This test was given to him so that he could prove to the Lord that he was willing to keep the covenant he had made, to do as the Lord commanded. It allowed him to prove to the Lord that he could be trusted in all things, that he was one who the Lord could have confidence in. This confidence is eventually what is required to gain the blessing of power in the priesthood, or the sealing power.
The sealing power is more fully discussed in the Book of Helaman. Approximately 500 years after Nephi lived, there was another prophet whose story is told, and his name is Nephi also. This second Nephi was required to do hard things just like the first one. He too, was tested by the Lord and found worthy of the Lord’s confidence.
Look for what Nephi did to gain the Lord’s blessing.
Helaman 10:4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
Nephi had proven that he was faithful by his unwearyingness in declaring the word of the Lord to a people who were hostile and unrepentant. By doing so he proved to the Lord that he would follow the Lord’s commandments at all cost, even at the peril of his own life. He showed that he feared God more than he feared man, feared meaning loved and respected. He showed the Lord that He could have confidence in him.
Look for the blessings given to Nephi from the Lord because he had proved to the Lord that he could be trusted.
Helaman 10:5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
8 And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.
9 And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done.
10 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.
Nephi was given power in the priesthood wherein, literally, whatever he spoke would happen. The Lord would place His “seal” of approval on anything that Nephi said and did because Nephi had gained his trust. The Lord knew, by the tests Nephi had been given and passed, that Nephi would always submit his own will to that of the Lords will. The Lord knew that Nephi would act as He would act, and speak as He would speak, if the Lord, Himself, were present in any given situation. He knew that Nephi would not ask anything that was contrary to His will. This delegation of authority is one of complete “power in the priesthood”. It is what is referred to as the “sealing power.” It is the “power of the word”. I believe that one could even go so far as calling it “divine investiture” of authority.
After the Lord required the first Nephi to slay Laban, the record shows that Nephi’s very word exhibits power. Nephi literally teaches, speaks, and acts how the Father would act if He were in Nephi’s place. It is, in every essence, what Boyd K. Packer describes as “the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present.”
It is interesting to ponder this fact as further study of the Book of Mormon continues. In your study, look for how Nephi teaches us of the “power in the priesthood” by showing us “the power of the word.” Look for Nephi as a type of the Father, and Jesus Christ.
Because Nephi has recorded the process that he followed to gain this power in the priesthood, I have come to better understand how one receives it. The process outlined is simple;
it requires first a desire to know, coupled with the willingness to ask in faith with a repentant and humble heart, requiring one to enter into covenants because of the knowledge given in response to the inquiry, and finally showing proof of obedience in all circumstances that the Lord sees fit to try one in.
Nephi also shows us, with the record he makes of his experiences, the responsibility that attends this great power, and how to exercise it properly too. I have gained a greater love and respect for Nephi, and subsequently come to understand the nature of both the Father and the Son better as I have realized that Nephi’s actions reflect those of the Father himself because he is a righteous priesthood holder with “power in the priesthood”.
It is no wonder to me that we are asked to study the Book of Mormon more deeply, looking for those patterns that teach us how to gain power in the priesthood. Boyd K. Packer taught:
The authority of the priesthood is with us. After all that we have correlated and organized, it is now our responsibility to activate the power of the priesthood in the Church. Authority in the priesthood comes by way of ordination; power in the priesthood comes through faithful and obedient living in honoring covenants. It is increased by exercising and using the priesthood in righteousness.
This is what we learn from Nephi too.