Although we may be on our way because of the temple covenants we have received, we have not yet arrived to a “fulness” of the priesthood and glory of God, as the scriptures describe it (see Doctrine & Covenants 93:19–20; Doctrine & Covenants 124:28). No, not even close. That will take a lifetime (or more) of learning and experience. But we have received promised blessings from God for those who enter and continue on the covenant path after the holy order of His Son. Some of those promised blessings are available to us here and now in mortality, and some of them await their fulfillment in eternity. Three specific promised blessings are:
- Power to be endowed with spiritual gifts.
- Power to become the elect of God.
- Power to become exalted.
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Power To Be Endowed With Spiritual Gifts
Doctrine and Covenants 107:18–19 gives perhaps the best summary of mortal blessings for receiving the ordinances and living the covenants of the temple:
The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
In other words, through temple ordinances and covenants, in this life we are promised spiritual power; power to receive revelation (“the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”); power to call upon the heavens and have them hear us (“to have the heavens opened unto them”); power to have the promised ministering of angels to help us (“to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn”); power to truly come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ, and God our Father and to have a personal relationship with them (“enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant”).
Through the endowment we are promised power in this life to perform marvelous works and miracles beyond our own abilities;1 power to discern truth from error;2 power to more deeply understand God’s purposes and plans for His children, individually and collectively; power to have increased hope and peace in the midst of the daily demands and difficulties of life.3
This is the mortal endowment of power that was promised by God ever since 1831 (see Doctrine & Covenants 38:32). Maybe we’ve experienced some of these spiritual powers in our life already, and maybe we yet will in future years. They are real, however, and they are really needed. We may be tempted to think that this kind of power applies only to those who lead the Church (like the First Presidency and the Twelve) because of their callings, but they can also happen for everyday Saints because of their covenants. Remember, ordinances activate the powers of godliness in our lives (see Doctrine & Covenants 84:20–21). Do not doubt and fear like some members of the early School of the Prophets did, otherwise we won’t receive and experience this endowment of spiritual power (see Doctrine & Covenants 67:3). Whatever we do, let’s not sell ourselves short and live beneath our spiritual privileges.4 Let us not lose spiritual horizons5 as we shuffle with our heads down through mortality. Let us lift up our eyes and see the vistas of spiritual endowment that can be ours as we live our covenants (see John 4:35).
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Power To Become The Elect of God
With so many in the world who are confused about their identity and purpose, as we enter into and follow the holy covenant order of God, we will see more clearly the true purposes of mortality. As we comprehend this exalted vision, we will taste the love of God and be filled with the great gift of charity. As we experience the love of God, we will naturally want to share that love with others. The temple will not absolve us from the challenges of mortality, but it will give us the knowledge, strength, vision, and ability to overcome them through the grace of God. His name is and will be upon us, arming us with power, glory, and angels to have charge over us and help us in our daily lives (see Doctrine & Covenants 109:22).
This power becomes ours through priesthood covenants and how, by virtue of them, we can become the elect, or chosen children of God (see Mosiah 27:25; Ether 3:14; Doctrine & Covenants 25:1). One section of the Doctrine and Covenants that deals with this in a temple-centric theme is section 84. In this section we learn that God intends to build a holy temple so His glory can be there (see vv. 4–5). He teaches that the “sons of Moses and of Aaron” who enter that temple (this is all of God’s Church and people, women and men, who serve in the temple; see Doctrine & Covenants128:24) will be “filled with the glory of the Lord . . . in the Lord’s house” (Doctrine & Covenants 84:32). The Lord promises that if we will be “faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods,” or the covenant promises of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood available to both men and women,6 we become “the seed of Abraham” and part of the “church and kingdom” and specifically “the elect of God” (v. 34). This is because if we receive these priesthood covenants, we receive Jesus and have His name upon us. And if we receive Jesus, we will receive God our Father, and therefore we are promised His “Father’s kingdom” and “all that [His] Father hath” (vv. 35–38). That is God’s oath and covenant, which “he cannot break,” that belongs to the ordinances of the priesthood found in the holy temple (see vv. 39–40).
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Power to Become Exalted
Thus, if we will live faithful to the holy covenant patterns taught to us in the temple, one day we will receive the fulness of God’s priesthood, or all that He has. We will receive “thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions” (Doctrine & Covenants 132:19). Those thus exalted in the celestial kingdom will be “priests and kings [and priestesses and queens], who have received of his fulness . . . after the order of Melchizedek” (Doctrine & Covenants 76:56–57).
Importantly, this promise of exaltation is familial. There are no solo monarchs in heaven—no king without a queen, or vice versa. While salvation is individual, exaltation is matrimonial.7 One of the crowning doctrinal ideas of the Restoration is that women and men can become like God, but to do so they must “enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]” (Doctrine & Covenants 131:2).
While there are numerous factors that influence whether someone can have an eternal marriage in this life (many out of one’s own control), prophets have repeatedly taught that all who make and keep their covenants with God will have the promise of eternal life and exaltation afforded to them, including the blessings of eternal marriage and family.8 The purpose of mortality is not to form perfect families. None of us will have or experience that, as all families are fallen to some degree. The purpose of life is to know and become like Christ so one day we can form eternal families. The covenants we make in the endowment ceremony not only prepare us to one day become like our Heavenly Parents, but they prepare us to live in an eternal marriage covenant like they do. We cannot create eternal families without being humble, obedient, chaste, sacrificing, or being dedicated—first to God but also to each other. As the covenant of baptism prepares and points to the endowment, the endowment covenants prepare and point to an eternal marriage.9 And the eternal marriage covenant prepares and points us to progress toward exaltation.
With an eternal marriage, a couple can “pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods” (Doctrine & Covenants 132:19–20). These eternal blessings are promissory, secured upon us if we honor and keep our temple covenants.10 They have not yet taken effect, nor will they until they are “sealed unto [us] by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed” (Doctrine & Covenants 132:19).
This, really, is what the Restoration is all about. It isn’t just about restoring “the Church,” but about restoring the covenant family of God. It is about restoring our mortal relationships, our earthly ties to spouses, children, parents, siblings, and loved ones that are bound by celestial priesthood powers. It is about restoring us to our intended condition of fulfilled divine potential, on a perfected celestial earth, where gods and goddesses are enthroned with eternal power, glory, dominion, and increase. The temple ordinances and covenants—hinting constantly through progressive rooms and priesthood orders—not only promise these blessings but help us momentarily see and taste them as we participate in the endowment ceremony. Through it, we can catch a glimpse of our eternal identity and purpose.
1. Remember, as part of the first endowment of power at the June 1831 conference, Joseph Smith had learned while translating the Bible that high priests had power to “break mountains” and “divide the seas” and “put at defiance the armies of nations” (JST, Genesis 14:30–31). Editors for The Joseph Smith Papers write, “Jared Carter, for instance, associated the ability to perform miraculous healings with those ordained to the high priesthood” at the endowment of power at the June 1831 conference (Carter, Journal, 16–17). (“Historical Introduction for the Minutes, circa 3–4 June 1831,” 4, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/minutes-circa-3-4-june-1831/2).
2. At the June 1831 conference at the first endowment of high priestly power, there were both heavenly manifestations and evil ones. “The Devil took occation, to make known his power,” said John Whitmer in his history of the event, and Joseph Smith “commanded the devil in the name of Christ and he departed” (“John Whitmer, History, 1831–circa 1847,” 29, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/john-whitmer-history-1831-circa-1847/33). At the conclusion of the June 1831 conference, the Lord gave a revelation, giving “a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived” (Doctrine & Covenants 52:14). In verses 15–19 He expounded on that pattern, related to obeying certain ordinances. This pivotal event, and others (such as keys that Adam gave “detecting the devil when he appear[s] as an angel of light” [Doctrine & Covenants 128:20; see also Doctrine & Covenants 129]), are subsumed into greater temple concepts related to discerning truth from error.
3. The General Handbook summarizes “some of the gifts that members receive through the temple endowment” as “greater knowledge of the Lord’s purposes and teachings” and “increased hope, comfort, and peace” (27.2).
4. See Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Your Potential, Your Privilege,” Ensgin, May 2014; Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Unspeakable Gift,” Ensign, May 2003.
5. See James E. Faust, “Lost Horizons,” Ensign, Aug. 1999.
6. Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, in a discussion with Church President Russell M. Nelson on the oath and covenant of the priesthood found in Doctrine and Covenants 84, commented, “So that is just as relevant to women as it is to men, because all those priesthood blessings from the oath and covenant of the priesthood are enjoyed by both men and women.” To which President Nelson responded, “Totally. . . . Exactly, exactly” (author’s transcript taken from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/video/2020-05-0280-the-oath-and-covenant-of-the-priesthood-is-relevant-to-women?lang=eng).
7. President Russell M. Nelson has taught, “No man in this Church can obtain the highest degree of celestial glory without a worthy woman who is sealed to him. This temple ordinance enables eventual exaltation for both of them” (“Salvation and Exaltation,” Ensign, May 2008).
8. See General Handbook (2.1). President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993).
9. BYU Religion professor Richard Bennett writes, “The endowment was in many ways a precursor to the eternal union of man and woman—celestial marriage” (Temples Rising [Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book, 2019], 83).
10. See General Handbook 2.1.1.