Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Keys of the Kingdom, Once Lost, Have Been Restored!

While the Savior was on the earth He established His church and gave the authority to preside over that church to His apostles. That authority is know as the priesthood. The "Keys" of the presiding authority of the priesthood were given to the chief apostle, Peter.

Christ Giving the Keys to Peter is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance painter Pietro Perugino, executed in 1481-1482 and located in the Sistine Chapel, Rome.
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. 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.
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 16:17-19

This painting by Guido Reni around 1626 depicts Christ giving the "Keys to the Kingdom" to Peter. I took this picture while visiting the Louvre in Paris and it caused me to ponder again the importance of this event. The link below is of another beautiful painting of this event.

Peter Paul Rubens painted this work for Nicholas Damant (c. 1531-1616)  The painting illustrates two separate stories in the New Testament which establish a special position for Peter among the Apostles. In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ charges Peter with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosened in heaven”. In the Gospel of John, Christ, after his death appears to the Apostles and tells Peter to ‘feed his sheep.'

This a statue of Peter at the St. Peter Basilica in Vatican City, Rome. Peter is seen holding the key given him by the Savior. I took this picture in 2012.

The fact that Peter was given the "Keys" and presided over the early church is well documented. However, the early apostles and members of Christ's church also knew that eventually an apostasy would occur making a restoration of the gospel necessary before Christ's second coming in the last days. Note these several passages from the Bible.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Acts 20:
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

1 Timothy 4:
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

2 Timothy 3:
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2 Timothy 4:
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

As foretold, eventually the church and organization that Christ established was fragmented and the authority to use those priesthood "keys"was lost. In the subsequent years (centuries) several different interpretations of Christ's teachings began to emerge resulting in many sects of Christianity. It was in the early 1800's when a young man confused by so many conflicting doctrines, decided to ask, through prayer, for guidance from his Father in Heaven.  

The young man, Joseph Smith, through a simple prayer of faith opened the heavens to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Several years after his initial prayer and vision, he recorded the following regarding the restoration of the "Keys" of the Priesthood.

From Joseph Smith - History
72 The messenger who visited us on this occasion and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood, he said, would in due time be conferred on us, and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second. It was on the fifteenth day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger, and baptized.

Doctrine and Covenants 27
12 And also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry and of the same things which I revealed unto them; 13 Unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times, in the which I will gather together in one all things, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;

The "Keys'" of the Priesthood have been restored to the earth and with them the authority to perform the necessary saving ordinances to open the doors of heaven for all of God's children. Just as the atonement and resurrection of Christ is the "Good News" of the gospel, the fact that the authority for man to act in God's name to perform ordinances, that allow us to covenant with God, is also news worth sharing indeed! For it is through these ordinances and covenants that we become partakers of the atonement and receivers of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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