During the Saturday morning session of general conference, Elder Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, defined the purposes and duties of the twelve apostles and encouraged church members to live the gospel and hearken unto the voices of all of the Lord’s servants.
Elder Packer, quoting the apostle Paul said, apostles are called for the purpose of “perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
The word “apostle” as defined in the dictionary of the King James Bible means “one who is sent forth.”
“Where the First Presidency cannot go, the Twelve are sent to unlock the doors of the kingdom in all places,” Elder Packer said.
Elder Packer, quoting J. Reuben Clark said of apostles, “They posses a special gift; they are sustained as prophets, seers and revelators, which gives them a special spiritual endowment in connection with their teaching of the people. They have the right, the power and authority to declare the mind of God to his people.”
Elder Packer said that each apostle “carries that certain witness that Jesus is the Christ.”
Apostles are blessed with the spirit of discernment, or the ability to see things.
He referred to words spoken by Mormon, who explained that angels accomplish their work by “declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.”
He acknowledged that the apostles are overcome by what the Lord has spoken regarding those in sacred callings.
Elder Packer referred to D&C 68:4 which reads, “Whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”
“I certify to you that the fourteen men with whom I share this ordination are indeed apostles,” Elder Packer said.
Elder Packer said the apostles are true servants of the Lord, and told church members to heed their counsel as well as the counsel of all church leaders who have been called to serve.
The apostle Paul taught in his time that the offices of apostles would exist until “we all come to a unity of the faith, and a knowledge of the Son of God.”
“Never in the history of the church have the brethren of the Presidency and the Twelve been more united,” Elder Packer said.
The First Presidency and the Twelve open and close weekly meetings in the temple with prayer. Elder Packer said each prayer is offered in “submission and obedience to him who called us and whose servants and witnesses we are.”
All decisions made by the apostles must be made in the “unanimous voice of the same.”
He said the same sacred authority, which was involved when Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven as the first apostle, is “inherent in the ordination of every apostle.”
The keys were lost until Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Elder Packer suggested that even Joseph Smith was not given all of the details in the beginning, but rather, the information came, “a piece at a time as the brethren were ready and as they inquired of God.”
“It took a generation of asking and receiving before the order of things as we know it today was firmly in place. Each move to perfect that order has come about in response to the need as an answer to prayer and that process continues in our day,” Elder Packer said.
Historically, the First Presidency was in place in 1833 and two years later, in 1835, the Quorum of the Twelve was organized. Elder Packer said that was the way it should have been because the First Presidency came first in sequence and stands first in authority.