Building the Nauvoo Temple Lesson 47: Sections 124-27

Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, (1981), 93–94


Theme

The Lord commands the building of temples so that he may reveal the fulness of his holy priesthood and the ordinances connected therewith.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    Temple building is an important part of God’s eternal program.

    1. 1.

      The temple is a place of prayer and meditation where man may seek and find the Lord.

    2. 2.

      Only the pure in heart should enter into temples of the Lord.

  • B.

    The Nauvoo Temple was the first modern temple in which all the higher ordinances of exaltation were revealed in this dispensation.

    1. 1.

      Those ordinances include the endowment and the sealing blessings of the priesthood for the living.

    2. 2.

      Ordinances are performed by living proxies in behalf of deceased persons who never had the privilege of receiving them in life.

Study Sources

Student Manual

Sections 124-27; Enrichment O, “Salvation for the Dead”

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

  • D&C 124-27. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder these sections.

  • D&C 97:13. What are two reasons for building temples?

  • D&C 97:15. What promise is given if the sacredness of the temple is maintained?

  • D&C 97:16-17. Who will see God in the temple?

  • D&C 109:8. What kind of house should the Lord’s house be?

  • D& 124:29-36. What do we learn about the sacredness of baptism for the dead?

  • D&C 124:27-28. Do you have to go to the temple to obtain a fulness of the priesthood?

  • D&C 124:39. What are some of the things the Lord has ordained to be done within the temples?

  • D&C 124:40-42. How is the temple a place of revelation?

Basic Library

  • Teachings, p. 224. Is the Church fully organized without temples?

  • Teachings, pp. 362-63. Without the higher ordinances administered in temples, can members of the Church obtain celestial thrones (exaltation)?

  • Discourses, pp. 416-17. Under what conditions was the Nauvoo Temple built? What happened to it?

  • Discourses, p. 394. How many temples will be built upon the earth?

Additional Sources

  • Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 13:167. The fulness of celestial glory is obtainable only after receiving the sealing ordinances of the holy temple.

  • Joseph F. Smith, “Redemption beyond the Grave,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1901, pp. 146-47. The great work of the millennium will be temple work.

  • Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, pp. 134-38. The temple is sacred but not secret. Anyone who will prepare may enter and engage in the ceremonies therein. One should be pure of heart and mind to enter the temple.

  • Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, p. 141. Temple ordinances are a “guide and a protection” to us throughout our lives so that we “might not fail of an exaltation in the Celestial kingdom where God and Christ dwell.”

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

The Nauvoo Temple: A House of God (Report, Discussion)

This lesson could begin with a student report on the building of the Nauvoo Temple (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History, pp. 302-11). Or, you could quickly emphasize the following important points:

  1. 1.

    Shortly after Joseph Smith’s escape from Missouri in 1839, the Prophet taught the doctrine of baptism for the dead.

  2. 2.

    Permission was given to perform baptisms for the dead in the Mississippi River until a temple could be built.

  3. 3.

    On 19 January 1841, a revelation was given (D&C 124) commanding that a temple be built in Nauvoo.

  4. 4.

    The building of the Nauvoo Temple was begun and carried on at great expense and hardship for the Saints and was not completed until just before the Saints departed Nauvoo for the West

Read Doctrine and Covenants 124:26-28, 38-41. Point out that although an earlier temple had been built at Kirtland and some ordinances performed there, the Nauvoo Temple was the first to be built wherein the “fulness of the priesthood” and its attendant ordinances could be performed. Enemies of the Church sought to drive the Mormons out, so the Saints redoubled their efforts to get the temple done before they were forced to leave.

President Brigham Young reported: “But what of the temple in Nauvoo? By the aid of sword in one hand, and trowel and hammer in the other, with firearms at hand, and a strong band of police, and the blessings of heaven, the Saints, through hunger, and thirst, and weariness, and watchings, and prayings, so far completed the temple despite the devices of the mob … And then, to save the lives of all the Saints from cruel murder, we removed westward, and being led by the all-searching eye of the great Jehovah, we arrived at this place.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 417.)

Conclude this portion of the lesson by pointing out Doctrine and Covenants 124:39 wherein the Lord says that his people “are always commanded” to build temples unto his holy name. Temple building is one of the most important parts of God’s eternal programs for his Saints.

What Is the Purpose of Temples? (Discussion)

Before presenting this material, look at lesson 48, “The Sealing Powers of the Priesthood,” and lesson 55, “The Redemption of the Dead.”

Invite students to suggest as many purposes of temples as they can think of. (A place of meditation and prayer, a place where sacred ordinances are performed, etc.) Draw attention to Doctrine and Covenants 124:40-41 and ask what is meant by the “things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world.” When students have had opportunity to respond, give the following quote by Brigham Young as an example of an ordinance which has been revealed in its fulness in this final dispensation.

“Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell” (in Journal of Discourses, 2:31).

  1. 1.

    Why would the special ordinances of the house of God constitute an endowment? What is an endowment? (An endowment is a gift.)

  2. 2.

    Why would such a gift as that described above be necessary? (Temple ordinances are symbolic. One who has received the endowment and its sealing ordinances is symbolically prepared to pass the angels and the sentinels who guard the celestial kingdom because he is, actually as well as symbolically, in possession of those truths and tokens which identify him as one who has elected to follow God and keep his commandments.)

    For teachers trained in its use, the Temple Media Kit, available through area directors, has some excellent overhead transparencies on temple work and the ordinances thereof.

What of Those Who Never Had the Chance? (Discussion)

Millions have died without ever hearing of the Son of God or his saving gospel. Would a just God deny them eternal life if, through no fault of their own, they happened to be born in a day and time when the gospel and its blessings were not on earth? Or if the gospel were here but they never heard it? Point out that one of the prime purposes of the temple is to make the gospel ordinances available to the dead as well as to the living. Consider the following statements.

“Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.” (History of the Church, 5:423.)

“It takes just as much to save a dead man as a living man” (Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 19:228).

“Every man who wishes to save his father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends, must go through all the ordinances for each one of them separately, the same as for himself, from baptism to ordination, washings and anointings, and receive all the keys and powers of the priesthood, the same as for himself.” (History of the Church, 6:319.)

Members of the Church, having had their own endowments, have the privilege, and indeed are commanded, to undergo the saving ordinances as proxies in behalf of those who are dead. The dead hear the gospel in the spirit world and if they accept it, are candidated for eternal life the same as those who hear and obey the gospel while alive.

“All nations and races have a just claim upon God’s mercies. Since there is only one plan of salvation, surely there must be some provision made whereby the ‛uncounted dead’ may hear of it and have the privilege of either accepting or rejecting it. Such a plan is given in the principle of salvation for the dead …

“All ordinances performed by the priesthood of the Most High are as eternal as love, as comprehensive and enduring as life, and through obedience to them, all mankind, living and dead, may enter into and abide eternally in the kingdom of God.” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 17-18.)