It is, perhaps, easiest to compare to an oasis—a place of renewal and refreshment, of serenity in a world encompassed by spiritual drought. Here a weary soul can drink deep of righteousness; a hungry soul can fill itself with the bread of life. Here, in a place of highest learning, man retraces his existence in premortal realms, his life on earth, and his potential, through faith and obedience, to return to the presence of his Father.
This is the holy temple, the house of the Lord. Within its walls, all is peace. Those who enter leave the world behind. It is a structure of beauty and reverence, but most of all, it is a place where the Spirit speaks. Here men and women come for understanding, to make promises, to receive blessings from God. Here prophets and priesthood leaders pray for inspiration. Here sacred ordinances such as baptisms for the dead are performed. Here marriages are made eternal and families sealed forever.
Whether the temple was carved from granite and ornamented with fine wood by pioneer craftsmen, or whether the gilded letters on its modern white tower are chiseled in Spanish or Chinese or German, great expenditures of time, skill, energy, and resources have been made just for the building to exist.
But beyond those sacrifices have been greater sacrifices still—a broken heart and a contrite spirit, a mastery over self-will, a lifelong devotion to seeking first the kingdom of God, a surrender of temporary craving in return for the soul-satisfying, long-term riches of eternity.
This is the temple, a house of holiness. Here the Lord has appeared to prophets; here he has covenanted with his children. He did so in ancient Israel; he did so in ancient America. And today in the house of the Lord, he continues to do the same.
“Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name.
“For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.
“Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house.
“Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house.
“And the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands; and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people” (D&C 110:6–10).
“That this house may be a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory and of God, even thy house;
“That all the incomings of thy people, into this house, may be in the name of the Lord” (D&C 109:16–17, from the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple).
“Reason demands that the family relationship shall continue after death. The human heart longs for it. The God of heaven has revealed a way whereby it may be secured. The sacred ordinances of the house of the Lord provide for it” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Why These Temples?” in Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, p. 6).
“If you will go to the temple and remember that the teaching is symbolic, you will never go in the proper spirit without coming away with your vision extended, feeling a little more exalted, with your knowledge increased as to things that are spiritual. The teaching plan is superb. It is inspired. The Lord Himself, the Master Teacher … talked of the common experiences drawn from the lives of His disciples. … He talked of the mustard seed, of the pearl. He wanted to teach his hearers, so he talked of simple things in a symbolic sense. …
“The temple itself becomes a symbol. If you have seen one of the temples at night, fully lighted, you know what an impressive sight that can be. The house of the Lord, bathed in light, standing out in the darkness, becomes symbolic of the power and the inspiration of the gospel of Jesus Christ standing as a beacon in a world that sinks ever further into spiritual darkness” (Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple, pamphlet, 1982, p. 7).
“You’ll learn about the creation of this world, and about our first parents being placed in the Garden of Eden. You’ll learn how Satan tempted Adam and Eve, and how they were cast out of the garden and out of the presence of God into our world, with its opposition in all things. Here they learned about the joys as well as the discomforts of life” (In His House, Church filmstrip, in Temples, p. 11).
“It is good to be in the temple, the house of the Lord, a place of priesthood instruction, of peace, of covenants, of blessings, and of revelation. … The temple, with its gifts and blessings, is open to all who conform to the requirements of the gospel of Jesus Christ. … The ordinances performed here are sacred; they are not mysterious. All who accept and live the gospel and keep themselves clean may partake of them” (John A. Widtsoe, “Looking toward the Temple,” in Temples, p. 78).
“Choice spirits … were reserved to come forth in the fullness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work,
“Including the building of the temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead” (D&C 138:53–54).
“The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.
“We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.
“His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:1–4).
“How shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name?
“For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, … and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was.
“Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies … are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.
“And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;
“For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fullness of times.
“And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof” (D&C 124:37–42).
“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
“… what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? …
“There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
“The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple” (Mal. 3:1).
“We have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.
“He has heard our prayers” (OD 2).
“And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Ne. 5:16).
“The Lord had decreed the establishment of Zion. He had decreed the finishing of this temple. He had decreed that the salvation of the living and the dead should be given in these valleys of the mountains. And Almighty God decreed that the Devil should not thwart it” (Wilford Woodruff, in OD 1).
“And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?” (Mark 11:17).
“I was walking several steps ahead of grandpa [President Lorenzo Snow] when he stopped me, saying … ‘It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. … He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as thought He stood on a plate of solid gold.’
“Grandpa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance and beautiful White Robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him.
“Then grandpa said … I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grandfather, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior here in the Temple and talked with Him face to face” (Allie Young Pond, personal journal).