Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Where Are the Keys?

My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to a lesson titled “Thou Art the Christ” and Matthew 15-17 and Mark 7-9. The lesson was preceded with the following counsel: “Reading the scriptures invites the Holy Ghost into your life. One of the Holy Ghost’s important missions is to testify of Jesus Christ. As you read the scriptures this week, pay attention to spiritual feelings that strengthen your testimony of the Savior.” The lesson was then introduced with thisparagraph

Isn’t it strange that the Pharisees and Sadducees would demand that Jesus show them “a sign from heaven”? Weren’t His many well-known miracles enough? What about His powerful teachings or the multiple ways He had fulfilled ancient prophecies? Their demand was prompted not by a lack of signs but by an unwillingness to “discern the signs” and accept them. (See Matthew 16:1-4.)

Peter, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, witnessed the Savior’s miracles and heard His teachings. But Peter’s definitive testimony, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” did not come through his physical senses – his “flesh and blood.” His testimony was revealed to him by our “Father which is in heaven.” Revelation is the rock upon which the Savior built His Church then and now – revelation from heaven to His servants. And this is the rock upon which we can build our discipleship – revelation that Jesus is the Christ and that His servants hold “the keys of the kingdom.” When we are built upon this foundation, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [us]” (Matthew 16:15-19).

As with most scripture blocks, this one contains numerous principles that are important and should be discussed. However, this post will discuss one of the last principles discussed in the above paragraphs: “The keys of the kingdom of heaven” are on the earth today (Matthew 16:13-19; 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-9). The Savior promised to give to Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven,” which are priesthood keys (Matthew 16:19).

You may be asking “what are priesthood keys?” and “why do we need them?” Consider these two questions as you read the Savior’s promise (Matthew 16:13-19) and its fulfillment (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-9).

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered, and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:13-19)


1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, an one for Elias.

5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. (Matthew 17:1-9)

Mark 9:2-9 tells the same story with similar wording as Matthew 17:1-9). However, Mark 9:4 has a footnote that links us to more information given in Joseph Smith Translation 9:3: “And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, or in other words, John the Baptist and Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.”

Peter held the keys to the kingdom of heaven while he lived on earth. When the Apostles were all killed, they took the keys of the kingdom of heaven with them. The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to earth began on a spring day in 1820 when Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith.

A few years later when Joseph reached adulthood, Moroni – a glorified prophet from ancient America – visited Joseph and began preparing him to translate the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. During the translation process, other heavenly messengers appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, his scribe. John the Baptist bestowed the Aaronic Priesthood on them, and Peter, James, and John later gave them the Melchizedek Priesthood.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on April 6, 1830. The latter-day saints built the Kirtland Temple, which was dedicated March 27, 1836. A week later on April 3, 1836, the Savior appeared and accepted the temple. Then Moses appeared to Joseph and Oliver to restore “the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:11). Then Elias appeared and gave them the keys of “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” for the blessing of all generations (v. 12). He was followed by Elijah who restored the keys of the sealing power – the power to bind on earth and in heaven and the power to loose one earth and in heaven – to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse” (vv. 13-16).

We come back to the two questions: What are priesthood keys? Why do we need them? Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about keys and authority of the priesthood in the April 2016 General Conference. He shared a family experience of losing the keys to the family vehicle at a ski resort and not being able to enter the vehicle until they found the keys. Without the keys, the vehicle was just plastic and metal with a fully charged battery and did them little good. He used this story to explain what priesthood keys are and why they are necessary.

First, an understanding of these terms may be helpful. The priesthood, or priesthood authority, has been defined as “the power and authority of God” and “the consummate power on this earth.” Priesthood keys are defined for our understanding as well: “Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth.” Priesthood keys control the exercise of priesthood authority. Ordinances that create a record in the Church require keys and cannot be done without authorization. [These include blessings of babies, baptisms, confirmations, priesthood ordinations, and ordinances performed in the temples.] Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that “ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is. He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used.”

Young men as young as eleven years old are ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, and most of them are ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood at the age of eighteen years. However, only the presidents of the various quorums and men in leadership positions like Bishop, Stake President, Temple President, Mission President, or Apostle hold the necessary keys to administer in their assigned duties. Only the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds all the keys given to mortals on earth.

Priesthood keys are the authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The ordinances are necessary to prepare us to return to the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

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