First Presidency Message

“Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord?”


President James E. Faust

“Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord?”

In the 24th Psalm is the query, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?” (Ps. 24:3). I believe we find the beauty and sanctity of “his holy place” as we enter the magnificent temples of God. Under the prophetic inspiration of President Gordon B. Hinckley, we are living in the greatest day of temple building. Almost every week last year a new temple was dedicated. In one month as many as seven temples were dedicated. Never before in any age has temple construction gone forward on such a grand scale. The faithful Saints who pay their tithes and offerings have made this possible, and each will receive eternal blessings because of his or her faithfulness. Those who take advantage of the blessings of the temple will also be eternally blessed.

Each temple building is an inspiration, magnificent and beautiful in every way, but the temple building alone does not bless. The endowed blessings and divine functions—involving much that is not of this world, such as priesthood keys—come through obedience and faithfulness to priesthood authority and covenants made.

As we feel and see the awesome beauty of each temple, we see in vision and hold in our remembrance the endless blessings that will come to so many through its being. However, we should remember that we have faithful leaders and Saints in parts of the world where as yet they have no hallowed sanctuary in which to receive the sanctifying and cleansing ordinances of the temple. They are stake presidencies, patriarchs, high councilors, bishoprics, and other priesthood leaders, and a host of faithful Saints, as yet unendowed, who desire above all else to be sealed to their beloved parents, companions, and children. We have the blessing and the responsibility of helping them receive the blessings of the temple. Future temples will in a measure be a sanctification of our devotion and labors to build the kingdom of God in our time.

In the magnificence and splendor of our modern temples, well might we pause and reflect upon the laborers without shirts and shoes who built the Nauvoo and Kirtland Temples. Each temple that stands today is a vindication of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and a triumph for them and all of our people who suffered the destruction, the beatings, and the murders at the hands of the cruel tyrants in the mobs who drove our people west.

There is triumph for little Sardius Smith, a lad of about nine years who, at the Haun’s Mill Massacre (30 October 1838), crawled under the bellows in the blacksmith shop to seek safety and, when discovered, was shot dead. There is triumph for Bishop Edward Partridge (1743–1840), who was seized in his home and dragged to the town square by brutal and heartless men who proceeded to pour hot tar over his body and sprinkle it with feathers.

In the temples of the Lord, we learn obedience. We learn sacrifice. We make the vows of chastity and have our lives consecrated to holy purposes. It is possible for us to be purged and purified and to have our sins washed away so that we may come before the Lord as clean, white, and spotless as the newly fallen snow.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” We can see in vision the almost endless hosts of the elect, the devout, the believing who shall come to God’s holy sanctuary to seek its blessings. As they enter those hallowed halls, Nephi would remind all that “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name” (2 Ne. 9:41).

As the Saints come into the sacrosanct washing and anointing rooms and are washed, they will be spiritually cleansed. As they are anointed, they will be renewed and regenerated in soul and spirit.

We can see in vision the countless couples in their youth and beauty coming to be married. We see clearly the unspeakable joy on their countenances as they are sealed together and as there is sealed upon them, through their faithfulness, the blessing of the holy Resurrection, with power to come forth in the morning of the First Resurrection clothed with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. We can see unnumbered families surrounding the altar, all clothed in white, with bowed heads and clasped hands, as they are sealed one to another, as though they were born in the new and everlasting covenant. We can see the army of angelic young children with the mirth and eagerness of youth, coming to the house of the Lord with awe and wonder to be baptized for the dead.

We see the vision of the heavenly hosts unnumbered whose eternal odysseys have been suspended as they wait for their vicarious work to be done, including the purification of baptism, the hallowed blessings of the endowment, and the exalting beatitude of sealings. We can see families dancing, shouting, and crying with joy in their being united in another world.

We are grateful for the presence of the sealing power that binds in heaven that which is bound here on earth. We render thanks for and veneration to our great and humble prophet, who holds all of these keys.

“Who shall stand in his holy place?” May there be extended a helping hand to those who have wavered in their faith or who have transgressed, to bring them back. After fully repenting, they will have a special need for the redemptive portion of the endowment. May they know that their sins will no more be remembered.

As we recall the commandment to stand in holy places, we should remember that beyond the temple, the most sacred and holy places in all the world should be our own dwelling places. Our homes should be committed and dedicated only to holy purposes. In our homes all of the security, the strengthening love, and the sympathetic understanding that we all so desperately need should be found.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (Ps. 24:3–4). For “holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever” (Ps. 93:5).

Ideas for Home Teachers

Some Points of Emphasis

You may wish to make these points in your home teaching discussions:

  1. 1.

    What a blessing it is to live in this great day of temple building.

  2. 2.

    It is good to reflect on the early laborers without shirts and shoes who built the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples.

  3. 3.

    Many members still do not live near temples; we have the responsibility to help them receive temple blessings.

  4. 4.

    The blessings of the temple come through obedience and faithfulness to priesthood authority and covenants made.

  5. 5.

    In temples we learn about obedience, sacrifice, chastity, and consecrating our lives to holy purposes.

  6. 6.

    Beyond the temple, the most sacred and holy places should be our own homes, places also dedicated to holy purposes.

Discussion Helps

  1. 1.

    Relate your feelings about the temple.

  2. 2.

    Are there some scriptures or quotations in this article that the family might read aloud and discuss?

  3. 3.

    Would this discussion be better after a previsit chat with the head of the house? Is there a message from the bishop or quorum leader?

[photo] Photo of Suva Fiji Temple by Talat Mehmood

[illustration] Painting by David Lindsley

[photo] Photo by Jed Clark