“We are very ordinary men that shoulder an extraordinary responsibility,” says one of the modern Apostles of Jesus Christ.
In a recent interview, Elder David A. Bednar explained the ministry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “We read in the Bible that the ancient Apostles held the keys of the kingdom. The role of an Apostle today is the same as it was anciently,” he said. “An Apostle is a missionary, bearing testimony of the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ in all the world.”
Elder Bednar emphasized that work at every level in the Church is directed through priesthood keys. Priesthood leaders are called and given keys to direct the Lord’s work in local quorums, whether they be presidents of deacons or elders quorums or stake presidents who preside. But 15 men—the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve—hold keys authorizing them to direct all the Lord’s work on earth.
“It is not because of our background. It is not because of our experience or capacity that we have been called to these positions,” Elder Bednar said. “The ancient Apostles were common men, and that was part of their credential. It had to be the Lord’s work because, given the magnitude of the work, it could not have been accomplished through uneducated fishermen. The same is true today. We are very ordinary men, and this work cannot prosper because of any capacities that we may have. It is the Lord’s work, it is His restored Church, and it is His direction that enables us to accomplish what He needs to have done.”
“The commission is to go into all the world and proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (see Mark 16:15; 1 Corinthians 2:2). Elder Bednar suggested that through advances in our modern world, members of the Quorum of the Twelve can now travel much more widely than did ancient Apostles. “But the basic purpose is the same,” he says. “Everywhere we travel, we are to find individuals or families. . . . This is an individual work. The Savior knows people by name, He knows their circumstances, and He directs us in our work to bless the lives of individuals.”
Recounting examples of being led to individuals who needed the help of an Apostle, Elder Bednar also mentioned examples of being touched and taught by individual members who were faithful and strong in their testimonies of Jesus Christ.
“The basic principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are simple, and they are universal. Faith in the Savior is the same in Boston as it is in Accra,” he said. “I find it invigorating to go to so many different places in the world and learn from so many different people.”
Without the direction of the Savior, Elder Bednar explained that he would feel wholly inadequate in his calling as an Apostle, and he bore strong testimony of the Lord’s hand in His work on earth. He suggested that members can best help the work of the Lord move forward by being fully converted, living what they know, and putting the light of their example before the world.