Lesson 12: Temple Ordinances and Covenants

The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, 2015


Introduction

Latter-day prophets have declared, “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). In this lesson, students will learn that through receiving temple ordinances they can enjoy sacred blessings during mortality and obtain eternal life.

Background Reading

  • Boyd K. Packer, “The Holy Temple,” Ensign, Oct. 2010, 29–35.

  • D. Todd Christofferson, “The Power of Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 19–23.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 97:10–17; 109:12–21; 124:37–40, 55

Purposes of temples

Show the class a picture of your favorite temple, and share why it is your favorite.

  • Why do we have temples?

To help answer this question, write the following passages on the board. Invite students to read one of the passages, looking for reasons why Heavenly Father provides temples:

  • According to these verses, what are some reasons why Heavenly Father provides temples? (As students respond, help them understand the following principle: Heavenly Father provides temples so His children can receive essential ordinances and knowledge and prepare to dwell in His presence.)

  • What phrases in these verses teach that temples help prepare us to live in God’s presence?

Tell students that Doctrine and Covenants 109 contains the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple. Ask students to scan Doctrine and Covenants 109:12–21 and make a list of ways in which temples prepare us to dwell in God’s presence.

  • According to these verses, how do temples prepare us to dwell with God? (Students might suggest the following: in temples we feel the Lord’s power, learn wisdom, and receive the fulness of the Holy Ghost; we are encouraged to repent quickly in the temple; and we are required to be clean when we enter the temple. If time permits, you might refer students to Exodus 19:10–14, which describes how Moses sought to prepare ancient Israel physically and spiritually to come into the presence of the Lord.)

Display the following statements by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and President Brigham Young (1801–1877):

Elder Robert D. Hales

“The primary purpose of the temple is to provide the ordinances necessary for our exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Temple ordinances guide us to our Savior and give us the blessings that come to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (Robert D. Hales, “Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Oct. 2009, 48).

President Brigham Young

“Your [temple] 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” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 302).

  • How do these statements help you appreciate the importance of receiving temple ordinances?

Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–21

Priesthood ordinances received in temples help us become more like God

Display the following statement, and invite a student to read it aloud:

“In the Church, an ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood. Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation. These ordinances are called saving ordinances. They include baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 109).

  • How do “saving ordinances” differ from other gospel ordinances? (Other ordinances, such as the blessing of babies and administering to the sick, are not required for exaltation.)

Before proceeding, point out that some saving ordinances, such as baptism and ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood, take place before we receive temple ordinances; however, this portion of the lesson focuses on saving ordinances performed in the temple. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–21 aloud. Ask the class to look for what we can receive as we participate in ordinances administered by the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  • What do you think the term “power of godliness” means? (Consider explaining that the “power of godliness” is the power to become godly or godlike.)

  • How would you state a principle taught in Doctrine and Covenants 84:20–21? (As students respond, write the following on the board: Through temples ordinances and covenants we can become more like God.)

Give each student a copy of the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask students to mark words or phrases that teach how participating in temple ordinances helps us become more godlike.

Elder Robert D. Hales

“The greatest of priesthood blessings available to [young men or women] are found in the temple. There, they get a glimpse of heaven. … The joys of eternity, which can seem so distant outside the temple, suddenly seem within reach.

“In the temple, the plan of salvation is explained and sacred covenants are made. These covenants, together with the wearing of sacred temple garments, strengthen and protect the endowed person against the powers of the adversary. …

“In the culminating temple ordinance—eternal marriage—bride and groom are promised that, if they are faithful, they will enjoy a family union with one another, with their children, and with the Lord throughout all eternity. It is called eternal life” (“Blessings of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 34).

Discuss what students marked.

  • How has participating in temple ordinances blessed you in ways similar to those described by Elder Hales?

Give students a few moments to write down what they might do to make temple worship more meaningful and more focused on helping them become like God.

Exodus 19:3–6; Doctrine and Covenants 109:22–26

Keeping temple covenants

Inform students that there is another important purpose of temple worship that is closely related to receiving temple ordinances. Ask them to listen for that purpose as you share the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

“I testify that in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is found the priesthood authority to administer the ordinances by which we can enter into binding covenants with our Heavenly Father in the name of His Holy Son. I testify that God will keep His promises to you as you honor your covenants with Him” (“The Power of Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 22).

  • When we receive saving ordinances of the gospel, what do we enter into?

Display the following statements by Elders David A. Bednar and Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite students to look for important characteristics of our covenants with the Lord:

Elder David A. Bednar

“A covenant is an agreement between God and His children upon the earth, and it is important to understand that God determines the conditions of all gospel covenants. You and I do not decide the nature or elements of a covenant. Rather, exercising our moral agency, we accept the terms and requirements of a covenant as our Eternal Father has established them” (David A. Bednar, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 28–29).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“A covenant is a binding spiritual contract, a solemn promise to God our Father that we will live and think and act in a certain way—the way of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. In return, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost promise us the full splendor of eternal life” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Keeping Covenants: A Message for Those Who Will Serve a Mission,” New Era, Jan. 2012, 3).

  • What stands out to you in these statements about covenants?

  • Why is it important that God determines the conditions of all gospel covenants? (Since He is the one offering us eternal life, He is entitled to establish the conditions upon which it is received. The only offering we can give Him is our agency as we choose to obey. As part of this discussion, emphasize the following: As we keep our covenants with the Lord, we are blessed in mortality and can obtain eternal life.)

Ask students to pair up. Ask one student in each pair to study Exodus 19:3–6 and the other to study Doctrine and Covenants 109:22–26. Invite students to look for blessings that are available to those who keep their covenants, particularly temple covenants. After sufficient time, invite pairs to discuss what they found. (In connection with the Exodus verses, you may want to make sure students understand that it is in holy temples that we begin to qualify as kings and queens who can someday become a holy nation and dwell in the presence of God; see also Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 19:16; D&C 76:55–56.)

  • How have your covenants with the Lord been a blessing or a protection to you?

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972):

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“If we go into the temple we raise our hands and covenant that we will serve the Lord and observe his commandments and keep ourselves unspotted from the world. If we realize what we are doing then the endowment will be a protection to us all our lives—a protection which a man who does not go to the temple does not have.

“I have heard my father [President Joseph F. Smith] say that in the hour of trial, in the hour of temptation, he would think of the promises, the covenants that he had made in the House of the Lord, and they were a protection to him. … This protection is what these ceremonies are for, in part. They save us now and they exalt us hereafter, if we will honor them” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith [2013], 235–36).

  • What thoughts or impressions have you had during this lesson that you would like to share with the class?

Display the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:

President Boyd K. Packer

“Life is a homeward journey for all of us, back to the presence of God in his celestial kingdom.

“Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into His presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality” (“Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 24).

Testify that receiving temple ordinances is indeed “the quest of a lifetime.” Temple ordinances help us acquire the credentials necessary for admission into Heavenly Father’s presence.

Invite students to ponder whether worshipping and receiving ordinances in the temple is a priority in their lives. Ask them to write down what they could do to focus more on the covenants they have made or will make in the temple.

Student Readings