Today I have the pleasure of speaking to you about going to the temple My remarks will stem from Richard G. Scott’s talk entitled: Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need. I will also be utilizing much of the manual entitled Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, which are the words of Boyd K Packer.
Elder Scott begins his talk by saying, “Each member of The Church is blessed to live in a time when the Lord has inspired His prophets to provide significantly increased accessibility to the holy temples.” He later asks the rhetorical questions, “What is there that is more important than attending and participating in the ordinances of the temple? What activity could have a greater impact and provide more joy and profound happiness for a couple than worshipping together in the temple?”
Brothers and sisters, there is nothing more important than this.
Once you are worthy to go to the temple, you should do everything possible to go. Pres Monson said, “Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings.”
Boyd K Packer put it simply when he said, “Every Latter-day Saint is responsible for this work.”
Elder Scott in his talk lists many suggestions on how to maximize one’s experience in the holy temple. I will expound upon each of these.
- Understand the doctrine related to temple ordinances, especially the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The 3rd Article of Faith reads: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
When speaking of ordinances, President Packer asked, “How important are they to us as members of the Church? Can you be happy, can you be redeemed, can you be exalted without them? Answer: They are more than advisable or desirable, or even than necessary. More even than essential or vital, they are crucial to each of us.”
The Purpose of Temple and Family History Work Manual clearly explains these doctrines and how they relate to the atonement. It reads:
Before you were born, you lived with Heavenly Father. He wanted you to be happy and to become like Him. He presented a plan for you and for all His children to come to earth and then return to His presence. Your life is intended to be a homeward journey to the presence of God in His celestial kingdom.
This journey would be impossible without the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. The Savior’s Atonement enables us all to repent and be forgiven of our sins and to be resurrected. We obtain the full blessings of the Atonement by receiving gospel ordinances and making and keeping sacred covenants with God.
An ordinance is a sacred act or ceremony performed by authority of the priesthood.
President Packer explains the authority to perform the ordinances: In the Church we hold sufficient authority to perform all of the ordinances necessary to redeem and to exalt the whole human family. And because we have the keys to the sealing power, what we bind in proper order here will be bound in heaven. Those keys—the keys to seal and bind on earth and have it bound in heaven—represent the consummate gift from our God. With that authority we can baptize and bless, we can endow and seal, and the Lord will honor our commitments.
Going back to the manual, it quotes President Packer again as he explained the role of ordinances and covenants:
“Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into [God’s] presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality. Once we have received them for ourselves and for our families, we are obligated to provide these ordinances vicariously for our kindred dead, indeed for the whole human family” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 27; or Ensign, May 1987, 24)
The temple manual ties this in to the atonement. It reads: Your effort in behalf of your ancestors is patterned after the work of the Savior, although on a much smaller scale. The Savior enables all of us to return to Heavenly Father’s presence through the Atonement, and you help your ancestors receive the blessings of the Atonement by making ordinances available to them. You do a saving work for them that they cannot do for themselves.
- While participating in temple ordinances, consider your relationship to Jesus Christ and His relationship to our Heavenly Father. This simple act will lead to greater understanding of the supernal nature of the temple ordinances.
As I think about Jesus’ relationship with Heavenly Father, I think of unconditional love, guidance from the father, and submission, obedience and loyalty from the son. The father and the son are united in purpose and both love each and every one of us.
When we are baptized, we covenant to always remember Christ. If we do this, our relationship with him will be that of love, trust, and obedience. Christ said that if we love him, we will keep his commandments.
D&C 132:22-24 reads:
22 For astrait is the gate, and narrow the bway that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the clives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.
23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that awhere I am ye shall be also.
Heavenly Father and Jesus love and know each of us. They are our family just as our spouses, children and siblings are our family. Participating in temple ordinances and keeping our covenants will bring us closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in this life, but also will bring us the ultimate blessing of dwelling in the presence of God for all eternity, which is exaltation. How glorious and sweet it will be to feel the pure love of Christ for all time and eternity.
- Always prayerfully express gratitude for the incomparable blessings that flow from temple ordinances. Live each day so as to give evidence to Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son of how very much those blessings mean to you.
To properly express gratitude, one must recognize the many blessings that come from temple worship.
When we go through the temple ordinances for ourselves, Russel M Nelson explained, These temple blessings include our washings and anointings that we may be clean before the Lord. They include the … endowment of obligations and blessings that motivate us to behavior compatible with the principles of the gospel. They include the sealing ordinances by which that which is bound on earth is bound in heaven, providing for the continuity of the family.”
After we do our own temple ordinances, we are continuously blessed as we do the ordinances for the dead.
President Boyd K. Packer promised:
“The Lord will bless us as we attend to the sacred ordinance work of the temples. Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. We will be blessed in all of our affairs. We will be eligible to have the Lord take an interest in our affairs both spiritual and temporal. …
As you prepare your family history and go to the temple for your ancestors, you will feel the influence of the Holy Ghost more powerfully in your life. You will be strengthened to do this work and the other tasks of your life more efficiently. As you do the work of the Lord, you will know Him better and become more like Him.
The temple manual echoes this:
No work is more of a protection to this Church than temple work and the genealogical research which supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness.
Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people. We will receive inspiration sufficient for the challenges of life.
To show how much these blessings mean to us, the temple manual reminds us that:
We are a covenant people. We covenant to give of our resources in time and money and talent—all we are and all we possess—to the interest of the kingdom of God upon the earth. In simple terms, we covenant to do good. We are a covenant people, and the temple is the center of our covenants. It is the source of the covenant.
Be faithful to the covenants and ordinances of the gospel. Qualify for those sacred ordinances step by step as you move through life. Honor the covenants connected with them. Do this and you will be happy.
- Schedule regular visits to the temple.
Elder Scott said, “I have seen that many times individuals have made great sacrifices to go to a distant temple. But when a temple is built close by, within a short time, many do not visit it regularly.”
As I was thinking about my own life, I can remember more than one conversation with my husband that goes something like this: Honey, we need to go to the temple more…You’re right, we do. And, that’s the conversation. We always meant well; it was a priority in our minds, but it wasn’t a priority in our actions because we didn’t plan in advance. It’s true that it’s hard to drop everything and go to the temple at the last minute, but with careful planning in advance, nearly all obstacles can be resolved.
Take some time today, if you haven’t already done this, to make a goal of how often you can go to the temple, and then mark the calendar and make arrangements. Elder Scott advised that once you make the plan, do not let anything interfere with it.
Remember, saying you don’t have time to go to the temple is like saying you don’t have time to brush your teeth or get dressed. All these things are essential!
Sometimes we may think that we already know what is said in the temple because we have gone so many times. However, there is beauty in repetition. Elder Neal A Maxwell said, “The ways of the world receive constant reinforcement – should not the ways of heaven?” The more we go to the temple, the more we will have the spirit with us and the less the world’s temptations will crash down upon us.
If you are a new member, set a date for when you will go to the temple for the first time, at least a year after baptism. If you don’t have a temple recommend due to worthiness issues, work with the Bishop to become worthy to enter the house of the Lord. All can experience the great blessings of the temple.
- Leave sufficient time to be unhurried within the temple walls.
If you are worried the whole time you are at the temple about being home on time, you will not be able to feel the peace and joy of the temple experience, and you will not be in the proper mindset to learn. That is why proper planning is so important. To offer extra peace of mind, I would suggest to plan to be at the temple an hour longer than the allotted timeframe.
- Rotate activities so that you can participate in all of the ordinances of the temple.
At the temple you can do baptisms and confirmations, washings and anointings, endowments and sealings. We only do these ordinances for ourselves once, and may forget the divine knowledge we receive and the details of our covenants if we do not go back and do them over and over again. All ordinances bring an outpouring of the spirit. Last month Jad and I did washings and anointings, or initiatories. I hadn’t participated in that ordinance since I had done my own many years ago. It was amazing to me how strong the spirit was and how much I learned from that session.
For planning purposes, if you are concerned about timing constraints, initiatory and sealing sessions are one hour, whereas the baptism and endowment sessions are longer.
- Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord.
As I think what watches are used for, we really don’t need them in the temple. We shouldn’t be bored, in a hurry, or thinking about our next appointment. This is the place to leave the world and all its distractions and cares behind.
- Listen carefully to the presentation of each element of the ordinance with an open mind and heart.
The temple manual says: What we gain from the temple will depend to a large degree on what we take to the temple in the way of humility and reverence and a desire to learn. If we are teachable we will be taught by the Spirit, in the temple.
If you will go to the temple and remember that the teaching is symbolic you will never go in the proper spirit without coming away with your vision extended, feeling a little more exalted, with your knowledge increased as to things that are spiritual. The teaching plan is superb. It is inspired.
When you have the opportunity to attend an endowment session in the temple or to witness a sealing, ponder the deeper meaning of what you see demonstrated before you. And in the days following your visit, keep these things on your mind; quietly and prayerfully review them and you will find that your knowledge will increase.
- Be mindful of the individual for whom you are performing the vicarious ordinance. At times pray that he or she will recognize the vital importance of the ordinances and be worthy or prepare to be worthy to benefit from them.
Each name read aloud during a temple ordinance is a real person who has gone before. Each of these people has been taught the gospel in the Spirit world. Try to imagine that person is right with you as the ordinance is performed and pray that (s)he knows how important the work is and that (s)he will accept it.
Elder Scott related, “Sometimes when I hear a choir during a temple dedicatory service, I experience a feeling so sublime that it elevates my heart and mind. I close my eyes, and more than once, in my mind, I have seen an inverted cone of individuals beginning at the temple and rising upward. I have felt that they represent many spirits waiting for the vicarious work to be done for them in that sanctuary, rejoicing because finally there is a place that can free them from the chains that hold them back in their eternal progress.”
If we think of each vicarious session as a work of service for someone else who has been waiting for these blessings, it will be much easier to always feel a sense of purpose when doing temple work, and not that it is just something we have to do.
- Recognize that much of the majesty of the sealing ordinance cannot be understood and remembered with one live experience. Substantial subsequent vicarious work permits one to understand much more of what is communicated in the live ordinances.
If we did any ordinance only once, it would be difficult to remember and understand the message. I find it interesting and appropriate that Elder Scott highlights the importance of doing many vicarious sealing sessions and that he uses the word majesty to describe it.
President Joseph Fielding Smith declared: “Marriage is a principle that, when entered into, presents more challenges and blessings than any other. … Nothing will prepare mankind for exaltation in the kingdom of God as readily as faithfulness to the marriage covenant. Through this covenant, perhaps more than any other, we accomplish the perfect degree of the divine will. If properly received, this covenant can be the means by which man gains his greatest happiness. The greatest honors in this life and in the life to come—honor, dominion, and power in perfect love—are blessings that flow from it. These blessings of eternal glory are held in reserve for those who are willing to abide in this and all other covenants of the gospel.”
“The Lord has given to the Church definite instructions in relation to this sacred principle which is so essential to the happiness of man. …
There is in the Church a ceremony that gives to the covenanting parties blessings which do not end with death. Marriage as understood by Latter-day Saints is a covenant ordained to be everlasting.”
“Marriage is considered by a great many people as merely a civil contract or agreement between a man and woman that they will live together, ‘until death do you part.’
“It is [in fact] an eternal principle upon which the very existence of mankind depends. The Lord gave this law of marriage to man in the beginning of the world as part of the gospel law. In the gospel plan, marriage should endure forever.”
“No ordinance connected with the gospel of Jesus Christ is of greater importance, of more solemn and sacred nature, and more necessary to the eternal joy of man than marriage in the house of the Lord.”
- Realize that a sealing ordinance is not enduring until after it is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Both individuals must be worthy and want the sealing to be eternal.
Boyd K Packer explained that “The Holy Spirit of Promise is the Holy Ghost, who confirms that the priesthood ordinances we have received and the covenants we have made are acceptable to God. This approval depends on our faithfulness.”
In other words, just because we do the sealing ordinance for ourselves, does not mean we will be with our families for eternity. That will only occur if we are worthy and faithful throughout our lives.
Elder Scott then goes further to address those who are not sealed to their spouses. He read D&C 131:1-4 which reads:
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an aincrease.
Joseph Smith explains what this means by saying:
“Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation [or through work for the dead], by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory.”
What a wonderful blessing to be able to have children in the celestial kingdom. At first thought those of us that already have children may think that we are doing just fine with those we have, but remember that there will be no contention or negativity in the Celestial Kingdom. There will only be love and joy. I can’t think of anyone I would rather be with than my family, and I can only imagine that increasing that family would lead to exponentially more joy.
I invite all of you to read D&C Section 132, which goes into great detail about the blessings that await those who are sealed in the temple. The blessings are truly glorious. I am so grateful that if I am faithful, I will be able to be with my family for eternity. I can’t imagine it any other way.
Brothers and sisters, I admonish you to always look toward the temple. Teach your children the importance of going to the temple, and set the proper example by going yourselves. This life is the time to prepare to meet God, and the best way to prepare is in the walls of the temple.
I am so grateful for the peace and abundance of the spirit I feel in the temple. It is a place of inspiration and a place where I can feel closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am incredibly grateful that I have been able to partake in the sacred ordinances of the temple. I hope for all of you to have this blessing in your lives and that your testimony of temples will continue to grow. Truly the most valuable piece of paper you will ever own is your temple recommend.
I end with Richard G Scott’s words: “Go to the temple. You know it is the right thing to do. Do it now.”