Objective: To help sisters understand the importance of covenants and ordinances, for both the living and the dead.
The winter of 1845–46 was a difficult one for the Saints in Nauvoo. Many of them were forced to leave their homes and businesses. Yet the work of completing the temple and doing temple ordinances continued with the work of building wagons and gathering provisions.
The Saints were so eager to receive the temple ordinances that they thronged the temple night and day. On 3 February 1846, assuring the assembled Saints that the temple had served its purpose and that they would build temples in the West, President Brigham Young suggested that they pack their wagons and leave Nauvoo.
He walked to the door, put on his coat and hat, and left the temple. When he was some distance away, he turned and looked back. Not a soul had followed him.
Like the Savior, who took pity on the throngs that pleaded with him to stay, President Young turned around and walked back. He found the temple “filled to overflowing,” and, he recalled, “We continued at work diligently in the House of the Lord.” That day, 295 Saints received temple ordinances. (History of the Church, 7:579.)
Through gospel ordinances—including those of the temple—we demonstrate our love for the Lord, make solemn covenants to do his will, and receive the Lord’s power to help us keep those covenants. Through faithfully keeping the covenants we make, we increase our faith and receive great blessings.
Temple ordinances are not the only ordinances necessary for salvation. Through baptism we take upon ourselves the name of Christ. Alma indicated that those he baptized were covenanting to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light,” to “mourn with those that mourn,” to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” and to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places … even until death.” (Mosiah 18:8–9.)
Alma also explained to his people that if they kept their part, they would “be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that [they] may have eternal life.” (Mosiah 18:9.)
What glorious promises! Such covenants cannot be broken unless we break them; as the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say.” (D&C 82:10.) Another essential ordinance is confirmation, through which we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and its comfort and inspiration. And through partaking of the sacrament each week, we have the opportunity to renew our baptismal covenants and evaluate our progress in becoming more Christlike.
Each of us is responsible for receiving the saving ordinances of the gospel for ourselves. All worthy sisters can be baptized and confirmed. Likewise, the blessings of the endowment are available to all worthy sisters who have reached an age of judgment and maturity.
Through family history and temple work, we can also make gospel ordinances and covenants available to those who died without receiving them.
Gospel ordinances and covenants bring great blessings. Through them we become joint heirs with Christ of all that the Father has. (See Rom. 8:14–17.)
Share with the sister you visit your feelings as you participated in or witnessed an ordinance such as baptism or temple marriage.
Challenge the sister you visit to receive the blessings of gospel ordinances in her own life or by living worthy to receive those blessings in the future. If she has already received these ordinances, encourage her to attend the temple in order to make the saving ordinances available to others.