Come to the Temple
President Ross J Cuff, First Counsellor, Hamilton New Zealand Temple Presidency
There are many accounts in the scriptures demonstrating that throughout history the temple has played an important part in the lives of the children of our Father in Heaven. In this, the last dispensation, we know that it is in the temple that we learn of the crowning blessings and ordinances that can lead us to Life Eternal in the presence of our Father in Heaven and his Son Jesus Christ.
Chapters 6 to 8 of First Kings record King Solomon's building of a temple unto the Lord. Only the finest of materials were used to construct it. The dedicatory prayer offered by King Solomon asked that “Thine eyes may be open towards this house night and day ....” and “Hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place ....” indicating the special place that the temple would occupy in the lives of the people.
On January 1 2000 at the commencement of a new century, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a special testimony of the Saviour. In it they said “His way (emphasis added) is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come”. Then in Isaiah 2 we read “the mountain of the Lord's house shall ... be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it ... and many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways (emphasis added), and we will walk in his paths”. It is in the temple that our relationship with the Saviour and a fuller understanding of his teachings and his ways can be so much enhanced.
Chapter 52 of Jeremiah records the destruction of the temple and carrying away of the people out of Jerusalem to Babylon. Many years later under King Darius, and then King Cyrus, the Israelites were invited to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. In Chapter 3 of Ezra, we learn of the joy of the people when the foundations were laid – “And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets ... And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; ... and all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” Then when the temple was completed and at its dedication (Chapter 6 of Ezra), the people offered as a sacrifice “one hundred bullocks, two hundred rams and four hundred lambs” indicating their “joy ... in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel”.
Few will be unfamiliar with the wonderful address of King Benjamin recorded in the early chapters of the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. King Benjamin invited the people to come to the temple to hear this important address, but “For the multitude being so great that King Benjamin could not teach them all within the walls of the temple ...”. So the people “pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple ...”. It is not surprising to me that for this very important event, the people gathered to the temple.
In the book of Revelation in the New Testament, in regard to the blessings that come from serving in the temple we read: “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? ... And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more. ... For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes”. Oh what incomprehensible joy in the presence of our Saviour we can look forward to as we strive to live righteously and to the fullest extent we are individually able, make those sacrifices that will be necessary to ensure that we feel of the Saviour's love in His temple as often as we can.
A revelation received by Joseph Smith and recorded in Section 84 of the Doctrine & Covenants refers to the temple to be built at Kirtland: “For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house”. Then from Section 109 of the Doctrine & Covenants, the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple that was given to the prophet Joseph Smith by revelation, we learn what that “Glory of the Lord” can mean to those who are leaving the temple after serving therein – “And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them”. Given that this prayer was received through revelation, we can be confident that these wonderful blessings requested by a prophet of the Lord are being fulfilled and are available to us each time we leave the temple after service therein.
And then our current and beloved prophet, President Thomas S Monson has said: “The all-important and crowning blessings of membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God. ... My beloved brothers and sisters, may we make whatever sacrifices are necessary to attend the temple and to have the spirit of the temple in our hearts and in our homes. ... If you have been to the temple for yourselves and if you live within relatively close proximity to a temple, your sacrifice could be setting aside the time in your busy lives to visit the temple regularly. ... As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace; we will be renewed and fortified”.
To these wonderful witnesses of the divinity and importance of the House of the Lord, I add my own, which, over nearly 50 years of regular attendance at the temple, culminating in having the privilege and blessing of now serving full time for a period, has progressively filled my soul with an undeniable testimony that the temple is truly the House of the Lord. My regular attendance at the temple with my eternal companion allows me to bear a firm witness that the work undertaken here is real, true and divine. Sister Cuff and I have seen the joy in those that come to the temple regularly, we have assisted young couples to prepare for and participate in their temple marriages, and have subsequently seen many of them regularly return to further enjoy the wonderful spirit of the House of the Lord, adding to our knowledge that this work is of eternal significance.
And so we say to all, “Come to the Temple” and share in the eternal blessings that are here for all to receive, not only those blessings that come from performing the essential work for our kindred dead, but also for our own edification and spiritual upliftment that will continue to arm us with the blessings we need to assist us in our quest to achieve eternal life with those that we love.