Could you please provide specific examples as to how holders of that priesthood in this day and age might exercise each of these three specific keys? Also, what limitations on these keys are placed upon those who hold specific offices in this priesthood? Section 13 of the Doctrine & Covenants recounts the ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood on May 15th,1829 by the resurrected John the Baptist. In this ordination, Joseph and Oliver receive three specific priesthood keys:
1. The ministering of angels
2. The gospel of repentance
3. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.
Could you please provide specific examples as to how holders of that priesthood in this day and age might exercise each of these three specific keys? Also, what limitations on these keys are placed upon those who hold specific offices in this priesthood?, i.e., Deacons, Teachers and Priests. Your input and contributions are so very much appreciated. Thank you.
These keys are all held by the presiding prophet of the Church, who holds all the keys on the earth. These keys are then passed on to local leaders to direct the work in their part of the Lord’s vineyard. With the keys properly allocated, we then see the associated authority exercised locally.
The key for baptism is held by bishops and mission presidents. As I’m sure you’re aware, a convert baptism is invalid unless it is first authorized by the mission president. Similarly, child of record baptisms must be authorized by the ward’s bishop. The baptism itself can be performed by a worthy priest (D&C 20:46).
The key for the gospel of repentance is also held by bishops and mission presidents. The gospel of repentance is the invitation to change by coming unto Christ and doing the works He would do. The efforts to extend the invitation to those outside of the Church are overseen and directed by a mission president. The charge to share this invitation was initially given to priests who “prepare the way” (D&C 84:107) in assisting the elders (D&C 20:52). Similarly, in wards the invitation to “come unto Christ” is overseen by a bishop. He extends the callings to instructors and watchkeepers over his flock. Teachers are given the specific charge to carry out these duties to “watch over the church”, ensure the saints are living uprightly, and “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (D&C 20:53-59). Teachers perform these duties as home teachers (it should also be noted that although the high priest group and elders quorum organize the home teaching assignments, they must be approved by the key-holding bishop).
That brings us to the ministering of angels. A “ministry” is simply a service. In the past, when I’ve served in quorum and group presidencies, I’ve told my Protestant friends that I serve in the leadership of my church’s men’s ministry and they understand immediately what I mean. The ministry of angels means you are subject to the service of angels. They will be “round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88), it means they can come to you bearing divine messages, as Joseph Smith frequently experienced. Wilford Woodruff testified, “I had the administration of angels while holding the office of a priest” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 298).
I don’t know that anyone holds the keys for this ministry on the local level. It may be that this key will be exercised more fully during the Millennium when we will enjoy more frequent visits from our kindred dead. This key may have more to do with our work for the dead. From my research, it is very apparent that we have the authority to call upon the assistance of angels, but the order and the direction usually associated with keys gets murky for this one. I await for the Lord’s servants to receive further light and knowledge on this subject.