If John held keys, why did he not continue ordaining other apostles and keep the church running? How was there an apostasy when the keys were still on the earth?
The way I understand it is that Lord couldn’t have a church with one person -John, or if His followers were being martyred faster than they could be converted. Consider this a little further, the Lord could have given the keys to anyone He chose. He could have John use them, or chosen someone else. However, what the Lord won’t do is force His will on His children. So it appears that the real problem was the wickedness of the people. Imagine a people so corrupt that they would kill their God. That is serious iniquity. Yes there were a few who were righteous, but they were pursued by the wicked and killed. At this time on the earth accepting the gospel was a death sentence.
The main problem, Tomas, was not that there was no one on earth with the keys, but the rampant wickedness. Elder Russell M. Nelson explains it this way:
“After a time the Church as established by the Lord fell into spiritual decay. His teachings were altered; His ordinances were changed. The Great Apostasy came as had been foretold by Paul, who knew that the Lord would not come again “except there come a falling away first.”
This Great Apostasy followed the pattern that had ended each previous dispensation. The very first was in the time of Adam. Then came dispensations of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others. Each prophet had a divine commission to teach of the divinity and the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. In each age these teachings were meant to help the people. But their disobedience resulted in apostasy. Thus, all previous dispensations were limited in time and location. They were limited in time because each ended in apostasy. They were limited in location to a relatively small segment of planet earth.” The Gathering of Scattered Israel
There is a lesson here for us as well. We have a choice whether or not to have the Holy Ghost be a part of our lives, or to experience a personal apostasy. One can leave the church and cut himself off from its blessing, even though the keys are still on the earth. However, if one has cut himself off, those keys can’t help him until he repents. Let us all strive every day to be worthy of the Holy Ghost and the blessings He brings into our lives, along with the blessings of being part of this dispensation.