This marvelous lesson focuses on the blessings, lessons, covenants, and power of the temple in our lives. Our temples truly are “symbols of all we hold dear.” They are physical buildings in mortality that give us access to our most prized covenants for eternity.
The most important principle I brought away from this lesson is that our Father in Heaven’s purpose and objective really is to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). The Savior provides us with immortality through his atonement. The temple provides us the opportunity for eternal life through the covenants we make in them.
President Benson demonstrates for us how important the temple is in a story from the lesson. In the first section of the lesson he found himself at a party in Los Angeles, California on government business. There were high political officials from other countries, and he was there on behalf of the President of the United States. The party was hosted by people from Hollywood, and as such, there were many famous actors and important people there. Yet what was Bro. Benson doing during the party? Was he getting his fill of good food or getting autographs from famous people? No, he could see the temple outside a bay window in the room and was pointing out the Mormon temple to everyone at his table and to all the surrounding tables. Here is his quote:
I thought, as we sat there, “Much of what goes on tonight is simply the froth of life. The things that endure, the things that are real, the things that are important are those things represented in the temple of God.”
He was in the middle of all the movers and shakers of his day. He was surrounded by politically important people, and on official business from the President of the United States, and sitting next to the Hollywood elite, but his focus was on the temple he could see out the window. We often get so caught up in what is going on in mortality that we forget that we are only here for a very short time before we have to return home and report on what we accomplished in helping our Father in Heaven save the rest of the family. We could probably all do with a little less “froth” and a little more substance in our lives.
May [the temple] be a constant reminder that life is eternal and that covenants made by us in mortality can be everlasting.
Importance of the Temple
We look back on the history of the world and see so much of it devoid of the gospel and of covenants with God. Why is that? It is because men rejected the Lord and refused to listen to what he wanted for them. They followed Satan instead of God.
When our Heavenly Father placed Adam and Eve on this earth, He did so with the purpose in mind of teaching them how to regain His presence. Our Father promised a Savior to redeem them from their fallen condition. He gave to them the plan of salvation and told them to teach their children faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. Further, Adam and his posterity were commanded by God to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and to enter into the order of the Son of God.
To enter into the order of the Son of God is the equivalent today of entering into the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is only received in the house of the Lord.
We were never meant to go through mortality not knowing why we are here. We were never meant to go through mortality blindly. The Lord has, from the very beginning, tried to teach us why we are here and how to come away victorious from this mortal existence. But he cannot, and will not force his agenda on us. We have to be willing to accept it of our own free will and choice. The Lord’s greatest blessings lie within his holy house, the temple. We have to want to go there and claim those blessings.
Sometimes we treat mortality like it is completely separate from the rest of eternity, and in some ways it is. But we are still in eternity, and our progression is ongoing. It is here in mortality that we are finally able to begin to claim some of the major blessings we sought in the premortal life, that of getting a body, and of starting families of our own. For many of us, if we are not faithful, those families will only be for the few short years we are in mortality. When we leave mortality our families will be taken away from us, because of our unfaithfulness. But if we are faithful, the families we start here will be just the beginning of our glory and advancement in the rest of the eternities. That sacred privilege is to be found only in the Lord’s temple.
Temples are more than just a place for marriages
There is a power associated with the ordinances of heaven—even the power of godliness—which can and will thwart the forces of evil if we will be worthy of those sacred blessings. [Our] community will be protected, our families will be protected, our children will be safeguarded as we live the gospel, visit the temple, and live close to the Lord. … God bless us as Saints to live worthy of the covenants and ordinances made in this sacred place.
The purpose of the temple ceremony is to help us become more Christlike. The Lord teaches us through symbolism. Through symbolism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, we only learn a principle as we become worthy and prepared to receive that knowledge. Because the Lord teaches in symbols, those not ready for such knowledge won’t be held fully accountable for what they did not learn, while those who prepare themselves for more knowledge have it revealed to them through the symbolism of the temple ceremony. The temple is meant to be a place of revelation.
Blessing our Ancestors
In writing this article I called my mother and complained. I told her that if I get sealed to my spouse, and am sealed to my parents and to my children, then why do I have to worry about every man, woman, and child who ever walked the earth? Most of them won’t get sealed and accept the gospel anyway. Why do I have to go to all the work of finding each and every one of them and making sure their work gets done in the temple? My focus was on me and mine.
Her reply set everything straight for me. She said, “It is a family affair.” The light came on. Everything silently slid into place, and I understood. I love my mom! This is God’s work, and his glory. This is his family, our family we are saving. How can we expect to walk back into the presence of our Savior and our Father, and feel comfortable, if our focus is still on us instead of on the family, which is the eternal unit. We are required, as part of the covenants we make to seek the salvation of the rest of the family. Salvation is not an individual effort, but a family effort. No one should be satisfied with their own exaltation if it means abandoning their family members to get it.
The temples are all about saving the family as a whole. We only go through the temple for ourselves one time. All the other visits we make to the temple are on behalf of one of our other members of the family. The ultimate work of salvation is about saving the family of God, not just my family or your family. It is all about saving as many as we can. This is the work the Savior did in his atonement. This is the work of the Father. It must also become our work if we are to become like Him.
One last note
We all have to wait. Some of us came to mortality early on then had to wait for millennia before receiving the gospel in the spirit world. Some of us had to wait for millennia before coming to mortality, but now that we are here, and have been blessed with the gospel, we have an obligation to the rest of our family to help them prepare for the rest of eternity. We do this by finding them, and doing their work for them in the temple. In this way we assist our Savior by becoming, ourselves, saviors on Mount Zion. We participate in the saving of God’s family by receiving the priesthood and endowing our family members so they can be exalted with us. It really is a family affair. This is precisely what our Father in Heaven has wanted for all his children since the days of Adam and Eve.
Kelly likes to keep the gospel simple. For more of his articles and lesson helps go to his website, http://mormonbasics.com.