Remember the 5 S's of Temple Worship

Contributed By Rachel Sterzer, Church News Contributor

  • 4 September 2015

Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple.  Photo by Jodi Ann Tolman.

Article Highlights

  • The “Five S’s” of the temple are
  • 1. Sanctuary
  • 2. School
  • 3. Salvation
  • 4. Sealing
  • 5. Savior

“‘Where do we stand with the Savior? Where do we stand with the temple?’ As we reflect on that, we can receive the personal revelation that will let us know the changes that can be made in our life, the divine help that is available to make those changes possible so that we can enter, participate, and love the temples of the Lord.” —Brad Wilcox, BYU associate professor

In sharing Matthew 8:20, which reads, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head,” Brad R. Wilcox explained that because the temple had been desecrated, there was no “home,” or house of the Lord.

However, if Jesus were to come today, Brother Wilcox continued, “He’d say, ‘Foxes have holes, birds have nests, and I do have a home. In fact, I’ve got about 150 all over the world.’”

In his class titled “You’re Not Alone: Come to the House of the Lord,” during BYU Campus Education Week on August 21, Brother Wilcox, an associate professor at Brigham Young University, shared the “Five S’s” of the temple for Latter-day Saints to remember about the house of the Lord.

1. Sanctuary

The first “S” of the temple is sanctuary.

The temple, he explained, is a spiritual sanctuary. “We can go there and escape the cruelness of the world and the pollution of the world and the evil of the world. … Our spirits feel like they’re going home.”

Brother Wilcox quoted President Ezra Taft Benson, who said when he was weighed down with a problem he would go to the temple, where he could put himself into an environment where he could receive personal revelation. “What a blessing to have a place where we can do that,” Brother Wilcox said, “to have a place to escape the world.”

2. School

In introducing the second “S” of the temple, Brother Wilcox quoted President Boyd K. Packer, who taught that the environment in the temple is conducive to learning.

The temple is a place apart from the world that provides an environment conductive to learning.

“Our second ‘S’ is school—a wonderful school where we’re taught the lessons of eternity—the beautiful lessons that matter in this life and beyond,” Brother Wilcox said.

Brother Wilcox explained that in the temple, individuals are taught in the Savior’s way—both directly and indirectly. For example, sometimes the Savior gave specific instruction, such as the Sermon on the Mount. Other times, He taught indirectly, such as when He taught in parables.

“There [were] times where [the Savior] expected the learners to take responsibility for their own learning. We go to the temple, we sit in soft seats, and we think we’re there to be spectators. But that’s not the case. In the temple, the chairs represent the court; they represent the field. We’re not the spectators. We’re the participants. … We ‘play’—we participate—in the school as we take responsibility for learning the symbols that surround us.”

The best way to learn in the temple is to go with questions, Brother Wilcox said. “In the temple there are new answers so even though we’ve gone many, many times, depending on the needs in our life, just like a parable, the temple offers … new answers, and we learn in this wonderful, wonderful school that has been given to us in the temple.”

3. Salvation

The third “S” of the temple is salvation.

“The temple is a place of salvation. … It’s where we go to receive saving ordinances and where we can go to perform those ordinances for others that have not had the opportunity.”

Brother Wilcox related an experience he had on his mission in Chile where he met a woman on a bus who spoke five languages fluently and was well traveled and well educated. Soon she told him she was going to ask him a question she had asked every minister, every priest, and every missionary she had ever met and no one had been able to answer it. Her question was simple, “If your church is true, if I have to be a member of your church to go to heaven, then what happened to everyone that lived and died before 1830?”

Teenagers in the Church participate in the work of salvation by participating in family history work for their ancestors. “The temple is a place of salvation. … It’s where we go to receive saving ordinances and where we can go to perform those ordinances for others that have not had the opportunity,” taught Brother Wilcox.

“Do you realize the joy I felt as I was able to tell her what we do with a group of teenagers when we [take] them to the temple on Wednesday night and do baptisms for the dead?” Brother Wilcox said.

The Church offers a doctrinal solution by constructing, dedicating, and filling temples with volunteers. “As you look around yourself at the world and see problem after problem after problem, just remind yourself that you are part of the solution, and we have it in the temple.”

4. Sealing

The fourth “S” of the temple is sealing.

“The temple is a place of sealing where couples and families can be sealed together forever.”

“The temple is a place of sealing where couples and families can be sealed together forever.”

Being married “for time and all eternity” are words that “our hearts long for,” said Brother Wilcox. However, “it takes much more than words and more than dreaming or hoping or wishing. It takes authority.”

Specifically, it takes the authority found in the sealing keys restored to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple and held by President Thomas S. Monson today. “We know that authority is essential.”

5. Savior

The fifth “S” of the temple is Savior.

“[The temple] is a place that focuses on the Savior.”

Brother Wilcox encouraged members to ask the question, “What does this have to do with the Savior?” whenever there is something in the temple difficult to understand.

“In the temple, we see a bigger picture. We don’t see the ‘what’ of the Atonement. We see the ‘why’ of the Atonement. We see why it was necessary in the first place, how it was planned in the beginning, and what it means to us—in this life and beyond.”

“As we ask that question, suddenly answers will flow into our minds. … And then the Spirit can teach us because everything in the temple is focused on Christ and His Atonement.”

Brother Wilcox said a woman once told him after attending the temple that she had expected to see more about the Atonement. “To me, it sounded like she said, ‘I went into a forest and really expected to see a tree,’” he said, until he realized that she had expected to see representations of Christ in Gethsemane, on the cross, or in the Garden Tomb.

He was able to explain to her, “In the temple, we see a bigger picture. We don’t see the ‘what’ of the Atonement. We see the ‘why’ of the Atonement. We see why it was necessary in the first place, how it was planned in the beginning, and what it means to us—in this life and beyond.”

In conclusion, Brother Wilcox quoted a statement made by Elder Robert E. Wells, an emeritus Seventy, who wrote, “Our deepest feelings about Christ are revealed in our feelings about the temple.”

“What an incredible statement,” Wilcox said, “and what a chance for us to personally reflect: ‘Where do we stand with the Savior? Where do we stand with the temple?’ As we reflect on that, we can receive the personal revelation that will let us know the changes that can be made in our life, the divine help that is available to make those changes possible so that we can enter, participate, and love the temples of the Lord.”