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How Elder Rasband testified to a Catholic leader at the Rome temple about baptisms for the dead

In the temple, we renew our spiritual perspective. In the temple, we recommit our lives to the Lord. In the temple, we recognize “things as they really are, and . . . things as they really will be” (Jacob 4:13).

President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Come to the temple and place your burdens before the Lord and you’ll be filled with a new spirit and confidence in the future. Trust in the Lord, and if you do He’ll hold you and cradle you and lead you step by step along that pathway that leads to the celestial kingdom of God” (“San Diego Temple: 45th house of the Lord dedicated in ‘season for temple building,’” Church News, May 8, 1993).

Temples bring to families and individuals an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. In the temple, we can obtain a more eternal perspective. Always have a current temple recommend and count it a great honor to be worthy. Go to the temple often and you will prosper with the Spirit of the Lord in your lives.

The Saints in Italy waited a long time for a temple.

I treasure the time spent at the Rome Italy Temple dedication. It, like all temples, stands as “the great symbol of our membership” (Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, Oct. 1994). First, I joined Elder Bednar as we took dignitaries on tours at the open house. Sister Rasband and I hosted a delegation from the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican. I was concerned how the Catholic Church would welcome our temple in Rome. But we immediately felt their love and received their best wishes. We explained that temples did not originate with the Latter-day Saints. Solomon’s temple and Herod’s temple were built in early times. We described that from the Book of Mormon we know that the people of the Americas built temples and that the Savior appeared after His Resurrection at one of the temple sites. We talked of the majestic design, the finest materials, and the very best workmanship. When one of the delegation of Catholic leaders asked what basis in scripture we had for baptisms for the dead, I recalled a passage learned as a young missionary and said, “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?” (1 Corinthians 15:29).

The brother responded, “Elder Rasband, I have never considered that scripture this way before.” Privately in my heart I rejoiced.

At the conclusion of our tours, Sister Rasband and I took turns bearing testimony that the temple is the great symbol of our membership and that everything in the Church culminates in eternal marriage and the creation of eternal families. I was speaking for all of us, all in the Church whose witness of temple blessings is real in their lives. The temple gives us eternal perspective.

While there, Sister Rasband reflected on what made Rome so extremely special. She mused, “What was I feeling? Was it the joy of the Italians to finally have a house of the Lord in their country? Was it the symbol of the oval representing eternity, depicted in the shape of the temple and found throughout its celestially beautiful halls, a constant reminder of the eternal covenants made in the house of the Lord? Was it the wonderful temple piazza with magnificent 500-year-old olive trees that took our hearts back to Gethsemane, where the Lord bled for each of us? Perhaps it was walking beside the cascading fountain that ran through the center of the piazza to the visitors’ center, reminding us of Christ’s offered living water, as it led us to the welcoming arms of the magnificent Thorvaldsen-replica statue of the Christ, and behind Him the original Twelve Apostles who took the gospel out to the world to fulfill the work that their Savior had commanded them to do, or the magnificent curved art glass with the Savior standing in the center, His foot pointed towards us and His hand reaching out to us, welcoming all to come unto him (see 3 Nephi 9:14)?” Her question was answered: All of these things contributed to the powerful spirit of being at the Rome Italy Temple, because they all bore witness that Jesus is the Christ!

At one point, Elder David A. Bednar and I visited the Mamertine Prison in Rome, where the Apostles Peter and Paul supposedly were imprisoned. In that prison, in a dungeon two levels underground, we observed the little rock stump where Paul was chained for two years. You can imagine how that made us feel. The assurances of the gospel and God’s eternal plan sustained him in that terrible time. Was he troubled about his situation? I am sure he was. But was he troubled about his own standing with the Lord? Absolutely not, because he had been a faithful instrument in the work of God.

At the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center, all the prophets and apostles on the earth today, all fifteen of us, had our picture taken in our white suits surrounding the Christus with the statues of the early Apostles behind us. President Nelson went and stood next to Peter, the senior Apostle in the row, who had carved in his statue at his side a ring of keys representing the keys of the priesthood. We all marveled that those same keys were returned to the earth by Peter when he conferred them on Joseph Smith, and that now President Nelson, the seventeenth president of the restored Church, holds those keys.

It was a remarkable setting, a “hinge point in history,” with such a presence and power of the priesthood of God. As if in unison, prophets—present and past—were reaffirming that the Lord’s Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is on the earth, and “these are our days.”

Lead image: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Image titleIn this timely book, Elder Ronald A. Rasband shares a beautiful message of hope and light, reminding us what we can do to fortify ourselves and receive heavenly guidance. As Elder Rasband teaches, "By divine design, we have been called to the Lord's service leading up to His Second Coming." His apostolic counsel helps us recognize the ways the Lord guides us through the troubled times in our lives to build a greater sense of hope and peace with our foundation fixed on Christ, that ultimately we might accept the Savior's invitation: "Be not troubled" (D&C 45:35). Available now at DeseretBook.com.

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