I mentioned in my last post about the "keys of the Priesthood". Some time back, I mentioned this phrase to another blogger who seemed to not understand its meaning. I thought I should try to explain for those who might not be familiar with this term.
When I received my calling as a seminary teacher, I was given keys to the building. Some of my keys open the seminary closet where our supplies are stored. One of my keys opens the church library so that I can have access to pictures and the copy machine. I also have a key that gives me access to another key which is shared by me and my fellow teacher. That shared key gives us access to the televisions and VCR/DVDs. Without these keys, my calling would be much more difficult to perform, and at times impossible to perform. Along with these keys is invested in me a certain level of trust; that I won't steal or damage any of the equipment. I am trusted to not share the keys with someone who is not trustworthy. Recently I attended a scout activity that was held in the room where I teach seminary. One of the Scout leaders asked to borrow my keys to get something from the library. I knew that he was trustworthy, and that he couldn't do his calling of scout leader well without access to the library, so I gave him my keys to use during the meeting.
This is much like the keys of the Priesthood. Throughout time, God has followed the same pattern with regard to Priesthood keys. He gives the keys (or authority) of the Priesthood to the Prophet, who can then bestow those keys upon those who need them. The only man on the earth that has the authority to use all of the keys of the priesthood is the prophet, although the apostles also hold all of the keys. When the Prophet dies, and a new Prophet is chosen, he is given that same authority over all of the Priesthood keys.
Certain keys can be given to others as needed for their callings. The Prophet holds those keys necessary for the governing of the church. Included in those keys are the "sealing keys" that bind a husband and wife in marriage for eternity, not just until "death do you part". This same authority was given to Peter by the Savior. Jesus said, "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." (matt. 16:19) The Prophet can bestow those keys upon temple presidents and workers so that they also can have the authority to seal couples and families. It is interesting that this idea of "Priesthood keys" was well known in the ancient church, although many people today do not understand this term. I heard a talk once wherein it was told that Pres. Kimball had been visiting a museum and noticed a statue of Peter holding a key. Here is a picture of that statue by Thorvaldsen, followed by other art I found that depicted Peter holding keys.
Clearly the ancients understood the term "Priesthood keys". These keys, as evidenced in the scripture I used above, were given to Peter. He was the chosen president of the church. After his death, and the death of the apostles, there was no one left with the authority to pass on those Priesthood keys to others. While many people, I'm sure, held the authority of the Priesthood, they did not have all of the keys, or authority. Those keys needed to be restored. The "sealing keys" were, as I mentioned in the previous post, restored by the prophet Elijah. This was foretold by the Savior, Himself: "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things." Matt 17:11 The name "Elias" is Greek form of the name "Elijah". The name Elias is also a title for someone who is a "forerunner". This "restitution of all things" had also been foretold: "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:21
Today, the President of the church, Thomas S. Monson, holds all of the keys that were restored to the earth through Joseph Smith. Because the keys have been restored to the Earth, all of the ordinances are available to man. The temples of God can once again function and carry on the work of the redemption of the dead. I'm thankful to live in a time when the keys of the Priesthood are once again on the Earth.