Attendant to the loss of the priesthood at the end of the New Testament era, the time in which spiritual power was manifest, a true understanding of the function and necessity of the priesthood was also lost.
Further, that church which could no longer say, “Silver and gold have I none” could also no longer say, “Rise up and walk.” Many claimed to possess the tree of everlasting life, yet none produced the fruits of that tree planted by the Savior. Of such the Savior said to Joseph Smith: “They teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).
From the days of the Reformation, a large segment of Christianity had denied the necessity of formal ordination or conferral of divine authority, stating instead that all men and women, as Christians, constituted “a priesthood of believers.”
Another segment perpetuated the falsehood that only a small minority of the Christian community—the trained clergy—were entitled to ordination and priesthood.
Both positions missed the mark and resulted in major misunderstandings. Without the blessings of the priesthood, man could not come to know God or gain those powers of godliness which prepare him for life with God and angels.