A Temple Motivated People
My talk is based upon an ensign article by President Howard W. Hunter (Feb 1995)
Are we a temple centered people?
Do we place attendance at the temple as the pinnacle of our worship of God?
What do you think of the Temple?
I was asked by a non member friend once:
#1 why do we need temples today?
#2 what do you do in them?
#3 if the dead can hear and accept the gospel as you claim… aren’t you saying that men can do what they want in this life and then repent later? (Isn’t this even worse than accepting the doctrine of death bed repentance?)
Today I would like to talk about Temples and share with you my testimony and the answer I gave my friend. I would also like to clarify the doctrine of salvation for the dead as well as teach concerning it.
#1 Why do we need a Temple today?
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
2 Nephi 9:20-24 – if a man repents not and believes in Christ he will be dammed
2 Nephi 31:17-21 --This is the way… and there is no other way…
From these scriptures it is plainly manifest that:
#1 A knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ and God is required
#2 all men must be baptized or they cannot enter the kingdom of God
#3 without this knowledge and an authorized baptism a man will not be saved
Who during the history of the world has had these great and grand opportunities presented unto them? Is it not but a small few out of the large majority of humanity who has lived upon the earth?
What?? does God by his whim and selection select the few individuals who are placed into this position and saves them and none else?
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
This is not a Just God who would do this. This is not the God whom we believe and adore. God is perfectly just, he is perfectly merciful, and he is all knowing. It is his purpose and goal that all mankind may be saved not the select few who have had this opportunity in this life.
How then are these individuals to receive the knowledge and ordinances of the gospel?
For how many individuals have died without these ordinances being performed?
How many individuals have died not knowing that it was even required?
Can we truly believe that God has consigned them all to never receive a remission of their sins for not receiving this essential ordinance?
Thus, this demonstrates the importance of salvation for the dead, and in accordance with that the need for Temples.
Bible Dictionary – Temple:
A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.
Whenever the Lord has had a people on the earth who will obey his word, they have been commanded to build temples in which the ordinances of the gospel and other spiritual manifestations that pertain to exaltation and eternal life may be administered. In cases of extreme poverty or emergency, these ordinances may sometimes be done on a mountaintop (see D&C 124: 37-55). This may be the case with Mount Sinai and the Mount of Transfiguration. The tabernacle erected by Moses was a type of portable temple, since the Israelites were traveling in the wilderness.
From Adam to the time of Jesus, ordinances were performed in temples for the living only. After Jesus opened the way for the gospel to be preached in the world of spirits, ceremonial work for the dead, as well as for the living, has been done in temples on the earth by faithful members of the Church. Building and properly using a temple is one of the marks of the true Church in any dispensation, and is especially so in the present day.
With the establishment of a temple men were set apart to sacred offices of the priesthood to officiate in the ordinances of the temple. These priests were mediators between the people and God, performing for the people what they could not do for themselves.
Thus we see that in the past – during the Old Testament time they had Temples. These temples were sacred special locations where ordinances could be performed on behalf of another.
These ordinances were in accordance with the Law of Moses and were performed by priests on behalf of the petitioner in order for them to symbolically receive a remission of their sins through the future atonement of Jesus Christ.
In a like manner we have temples today wherein we as priests may perform ordinances in behalf of the dead. This is so that they may have the opportunity to receive of the blessings of these ordinances and thus obtain a remission of their sins. This is why need temples today!
Were it not for the doctrine of vicarious ordinances of the dead we must conclude that God is a respecter of persons and not a just God at all if he were to require baptism or any other ordinance before a remission of sins may be granted!!
All mankind will eventual receive salvation and be heirs of salvation. Even those who are consigned to the Terrestrial and the Telestial Kingdom will be heirs of salvation and receive a remission of their sins, although not their exaltation through the ordinances of the temple performed for them.
D&C 138:57-59 - After they have paid the penalty of their transgressions
D&C 76:106-107 - Terrestrial suffer until Christ completes work
D&C 76:85-88 - Telestial Heirs of Salvation
D&C 76:36-39 - Only sons of Perdition have no salvation or redemption
Thus we can see that these ordinances are for those dead who are able to accept of the atonement and be received into the Celestial Kingdom as well as for those who after paying the penalty of their sins receive of their reward in a lesser kingdom.
What do we do in the Temple?
Ordinances Performed in the Temple:
We perform baptisms for the dead:
1 Cor. 15:22-30 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?
Some have said that this is speaking of pagan practices being performed at that time. However, as you can see with all verses taken in context it is plain that this scripture is speaking of the early saints performing baptisms for their dead, and not some pagan practices!
“In fact, as we study ecclesiastical history, we find that baptism for the dead was practiced by the early Christians. There was vicarious work for the dead at that time, and there is today. Indeed, vicarious work is not something new or strange to us. We remember that the Savior himself in a vicarious manner atoned for the sins of all mankind. Today, baptisms are again performed by the living in behalf of individuals who have died, as is also the laying on of hands for the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost for these same deceased people. These ordinances for the deceased, however, are performed only in the house of the Lord.” Ensign Article
We perform Endowments:
“The endowment is another ordinance performed in our temples. It consists of two parts: first, a series of instructions, and second, promises or covenants that the person receiving the endowment makes—promises to live righteously and comply with the requirements of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The endowment is an ordinance for the great blessing of the Saints—both living and dead. Thus it is also an ordinance performed by the living in behalf of deceased individuals; it is performed for those for whom baptismal work has already been performed.”
We perform Celestial Marriages and Sealing:
“Another temple ordinance is that of celestial marriage, where wife is sealed to husband and husband sealed to wife for eternity. We know, of course, that civil marriages end at death; but eternal marriages performed in the temple may exist forever. Children born to a husband and wife after an eternal marriage are automatically sealed to their parents for eternity. If children are born before the wife is sealed to her husband, there is a temple sealing ordinance that can seal these children to their parents for eternity, and so it is that children can be sealed vicariously to parents who have passed away.”
It is through these ordinances that individuals are washed clean through the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is through these ordinances that individuals are sealed together as families. It is through these ordinances that God’s work and Glory is made perfect and complete!
Should we not glory in the house of the Lord and the ordinances performed there? Should we not worship God and praise him for the perfect ness of his Justice and Mercy?
3 if the dead can hear and accept the gospel as you claim… aren’t you saying that men can do what they want in this life and then accept it later? (Isn’t this even worse than accepting the doctrine of death bed repentance?)
A careful consideration of the matter, however, will show that this doctrine affords no reason for such objection.
To reject or ignore in any degree a gift of God is to forfeit to the corresponding extent one's claim upon that gift. D&C 82:10 – I the lord am bound.
Amulek, a Nephite prophet, who admonished the Church on the western continent four score years before the birth of Christ speaks concerning this in the following way.
32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
Thus this doctrine is not the doctrine of procrastination... it is the doctrine of a fair and Just chance and a Merciful and Kind God.
“Let us truly be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. We should hasten to the temple as frequently, yet prudently, as our personal circumstances allow. We should go not only for our kindred dead but also for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety that are within those hallowed and consecrated walls. As we attend the temple, we learn more richly and deeply the purpose of life and the significance of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience.
Let us share with our children the spiritual feelings we have in the temple. And let us teach them more earnestly and more comfortably the things we can appropriately say about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing. Let us prepare every missionary to go to the temple worthily and to make that experience an even greater highlight than receiving the mission call. Let us plan for and teach and plead with our children to marry in the house of the Lord. Let us reaffirm more vigorously than we ever have in the past that it does matter where you marry and by what authority you are pronounced man and wife.
All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them. I encourage everyone to worthily attend the temple or to work toward the day when you can enter that holy house to receive your ordinances and covenants. As the prophets have said, the temple is a place of beauty; it is a place of revelation; it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It must be holy and important to us.”