Every one of us was born for the hour and time in which we live. How short our days are! How important it is, therefore, that we understand the purpose of our lives, so that the things we are working on are the things that matter most.
In section 124 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord commanded Joseph Smith to build a temple, for only in such a sacred place would many of the necessary ordinances be revealed and performed. Joseph could not build the kingdom of God or finish his life’s mission without the things God would give him in the temple. (See D&C 124:27–28, 39–41.) Even Moses was required to have a type of temple—a mobile one—that the Lord might reveal his will to his chosen people. A house was also to be built in the promised land, in which house the ordinances might be revealed. (See D&C 124:38.)
Now we have permanent temples. If we go to the temple and use it for the Lord’s purposes, he will give us power (see D&C 95:8–9) and knowledge, and the great promise that we may receive “a fulness of the Holy Ghost” and be prepared “to obtain every needful thing” (D&C 109:15).
No greater blessing can come to us than obtaining “a fulness of the Holy Ghost.” I would like to discuss four ways in which the temple may help us obtain that promise.
First, the light and knowledge promised by the Father may come to us in the temple through the agency of the Holy Ghost.
The Lord has said he would reveal to us in his temple “those ordinances … which had been hid from before the world was.” (D&C 124:38.) The temple is a place of revelation.
The standard works and the inspired public utterances of the modern-day prophets are revelations. In the temple, as in our private prayers, we may also receive revelation directly from God. Our contact with him in that setting is sweet, sacred, and personal. The sacred clothing is personal, provided for us by the servants of God. The ordinances of washing and anointing are all personal. The covenants are personal. We cannot find them spelled out in the scriptures. These things were not meant for the people of the world until they prepare themselves. And the promise of a fulness of life is realized only when the worthy continuously and purposefully participate in temple worship.
Revelation to help us with difficult problems may come to us in the temple. Here are a few examples:
Hannah prayed in the temple. Her lips moved, the scriptures say, but there was no sound. She was praying for a son. And when she was given a son she said, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition. … Therefore … he shall be lent to the Lord.” (1 Sam. 1:27–28.)
A bishop wanted to decide who he should choose for his counselors. He could not decide on one of them. He testified that by fasting, meditation, and prayer in the temple, he was enlightened and assured that his choice would be right. He moved ahead and his choice proved to be correct.
The temple is a house of prayer. We may receive answers to our heart-felt questions if we go to the temple with a sincere desire to obtain them. There, the Holy Ghost may grant us added light and knowledge and the privilege of receiving the answers to the problems and trials the world presents.
How precious are the revelations of God to his people in the temple! Oh, the power to order our lives! The temple is called a “house of order.” (D&C 88:119.) In the temple the truth about God is manifest. In the temple ordinances the power of God is manifest. “And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.” (D&C 84:21.)
In this world we may receive many gifts—cars, money, beautiful homes, educational degrees, and fame in our professions. But none of these compares to the light and revelation that comes to us in the temple. Why is this so? Because there is a special spirit in the temple that can bring us direction and peace in our lives.
A second great blessing the temple offers us is instruction in the requirements of personal righteousness. Regular temple attendance will help us remember our temple covenants. These covenants involve obedience, sacrifice, the submission to gospel law, purity, and the promise to answer the call of our Church leaders with our best energies.
If we are faithful to these covenants, all of our sealings, covenants, and promises will be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Brigham Young once said of a righteous woman who died before she had a chance to be married that she would not be denied husband, family, and exaltation. (See Journal of Discourses, 14:229; see also 8:208.) Thus, righteous people who die before being married or remain unmarried for valid reasons will have the privilege in the Lord’s own time to have these ordinances performed and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.
Regular temple attendance will help those who have been sealed retain their sealings and assure their exaltations through a righteous life. Indeed, we may all lose important blessings if we do not live up to our temple covenants. How important personal righteousness is!
It should be difficult to come regularly to the temple, where we hold up our hands in solemn covenants of goodwill, and then be unkind or unforgiving. Temple attendance encourages us to forgive others and to live righteously ourselves. It should be difficult to participate regularly in the temple and not be in the process of saving and uplifting ourselves and our families.
A third blessing of the temple is that it serves as a place where we are taught our responsibility for others. Our first concern is personal righteousness and personal salvation. But exaltation and eternal life can only come by taking the next step—helping others. You should help your partner in marriage, your children, your parents, your brothers and sisters—and thus the circle of your influence widens to finally include all the children born on this earth. We can help living family members by living righteously ourselves and encouraging them to do likewise; we can help deceased family members by doing temple work for the dead.
The blessings of the temple involving families depend upon the keys of the sealing power restored by Elijah to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple. (See D&C 110:13–16.) These keys were such an important part of the Melchizedek Priesthood that the whole earth would have been utterly wasted at the second coming of Jesus Christ had they not been revealed and exercised on our behalf. The covenants of this priesthood allow families to be sealed for time and eternity. This is the only way for children and parents to have each other forever. The covenant of eternal marriage was ordained by the Lord. It helps us fulfill the purpose for which we came to earth.
The power available to us through the ordinances of the temple help us fulfill our longing for an eternal family unit. We must so teach our children that they will want to go to the temple and receive this promise. We must also help our children to be prepared to enter the temple.
Some individuals come to the temple quite unprepared, and it is often mirrored in their faces. However, many come prepared. The seeds planted by the temple ceremonies find fertile soil in their lives. Somewhere, great parents, Primary teachers, or bishops have touched their lives. One of the great purposes of the inspired programs of the Church, including home evening, is to lead the individual to the temple of God and the highest blessings God can give him.
I once saw a mother and daughter, a bride, waiting to go into the endowment room. They looked so radiant and peaceful that a sister worker said to the mother, “You both look so ready for the temple.”
“Oh yes,” the mother replied, “we have talked and dreamed about this day since she was a small girl. I have tried to teach her about the temple by coming often myself. Just before she left home her father gave her a blessing that she might have discernment and the desire to understand what the Lord would give her in his holy house.”
What a lucky girl she was! She had parents who taught her the true spirit of the temple.
We know that we really cannot achieve exaltation unless we share our love and knowledge with our kindred living and dead. We know that the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord. (See 1 Cor. 11:11.) It is also true that mothers and fathers must turn their hearts to their children. (See Mal. 4:6.) When we begin to be concerned about what our children do and yearn for only the best that God can give them, and when we go to the temple and have our children sealed to us, we have the true spirit of Elijah.
Now, we wouldn’t know this had God not revealed it to us. We would be as much in the dark about temples as the people of the world, and how dark is that darkness! The world is confused, troubled, unprepared. Someone has said that it is as if the world is more concerned about putting foam on the runway than doing preventive maintenance in the hangar.
Temple worship can help us prepare! We should go to the temple often. The work we do there has eternal consequences. There we can find strength to live righteously and teach true laws and principles. If we worship there often, we will know better how to prepare our children. But we cannot have its spirit if we don’t go regularly.
A fourth blessing of the temple is receiving the knowledge that we are a part of a great cause. This is an uplifting feeling—to know that we are a part of an inspired and very real plan headed by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. We are part of the preparation for his second coming.
One of the great revelations of the temple to those who go often is the reality and nearness of the spirit world. While serving in the Provo Temple, I can say that we felt the presence of the spirits of this unseen kingdom. Often it feels as if one is standing in the midst of eternity with no veil separating this life from the next.
How great is the unseen, but definitely felt, spirit world! It contains hundreds of times more people than our mortal world. Perhaps millions there have not heard a gospel presentation. President Joseph F. Smith saw in vision the hosts of the spirit world being taught the gospel by the priesthood. (See D&C 138:29–31.)
Every one of the individuals we do work for in the temples may receive the Lord’s promises if they are ready to receive them. They may accept the gospel, and the men have the opportunity of receiving the priesthood. And once they are organized, they may preach to the rest of the spirits.
People without faith doubt that every one of God’s children has the chance of accepting the gospel. They do not know that the faithful are working as hard or even harder in the spirit world than we are to move God’s plan along. Our concern should be to perform the ordinances for the dead so that they will not be held back. No wonder the Prophet Joseph Smith referred to temple work as “a voice of gladness.” No wonder we sing, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth!” (D&C 128:19.)
Let us commit ourselves to regular temple worship. One of the greatest of our duties is temple attendance, and some of the greatest of the promises given to us are found in temple worship. If we come to the Lord’s holy temples with our minds focused on the things of the Spirit, we may feel God’s presence. In this way, a temple is a place where God manifests himself to man. And what greater blessing than to have this manifestation? Under these circumstances, the symbolism of the endowment becomes much more clear. Every part of the ceremony becomes uplifting and sanctifying. We become better people.
When I performed the temple marriage for the next to the last of our children, I saw our children and their husbands and wives seated in the beautiful sealing room, all dressed in white. A lump came to my throat. These represented our kingdom. My eyes moistened and I said in my heart, “Oh God, who am I that you should care enough to bless me this way?” I could not answer that question. I could only weep at his love and the promise of his temple—the promise that if I would do all the small things he asks of me, his hand would never leave me and those I love most.