Latter-day Saint Life

How can the Book of Mormon help me understand what happens in the temple?

The Orem Utah Temple in Orem on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.
The Orem Utah Temple in Orem on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.
Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

The Old and New Testaments talk about temple worship and covenants. And there are clear mentions of the temple in the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. But what about the Book of Mormon?

While the references to temple worship and covenants may not be as obvious, I’ve realized the Book of Mormon is filled with insights on this topic. Here are some of my favorite passages that have helped me understand and appreciate the temple even more.

Why We Make Covenants

“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy(1 Nephi 8:12).

While I usually associate the symbolism of the fruit on the tree of life with God’s love (see 1 Nephi 11:22–23), I’ve learned that it also teaches how we can access this love.

Elder David A. Bednar has taught that this fruit represents the blessings of [Jesus Christ’s] Atonement, and the way that we partake of this fruit is by “receiving of ordinances and covenants whereby the Atonement can become fully efficacious in our lives.”

Nephi’s description of the tree a few chapters later reminds me of temples as well: “The beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow” (1 Nephi 11:8).

Lehi’s overall dream also shares themes with the temple endowment, which helps us understand our place in God’s plan of salvation. As Dr. Jennifer C. Lane wrote:

“Like the presentation of the endowment in the temple, this story is a model for the journey we are making back to God. … [It] helps us understand the spiritual journey that we must make to have our own encounter with the love of God.”

The Gifts of Spiritual Power and Protection

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14).

In today’s chaotic world, we all need the safety and strength that come from Jesus Christ.

This verse in 1 Nephi is a striking reminder that making covenants with the Lord arms us “with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” We can access this covenantal power through the ordinances of the temple, receiving increased spiritual strength to overcome challenges and even have angels’ protection over us (see Doctrine and Covenants 109:22).

Church leaders have also taught that the temple endowment specifically blesses us with spiritual power. In the April 2024 general conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen taught:

“In His house, we are literally endowed with heavenly power. Our faith in Jesus Christ and our love for Him are confirmed and fortified. We are spiritually assured of our true identity and the purposes of life. As we are faithful, we are blessed with protection from temptations and distractions. We feel our Savior’s love as He lifts us from our difficulties and sorrows. We are armed with the power of God.”

The Blessing of Divine Guidance

“I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts” (2 Nephi 28:30).

Continuing revelation, as explained in this verse, is an important gospel principle. And adjustments to temple procedures throughout Church history are excellent examples of how the Lord guides and blesses us “line upon line.”

President Nelson has taught that these changes “are continuing evidence that the Lord is actively directing His Church,” helping us to understand our temple covenants more clearly and come closer to Christ.

This principle also applies to our individual testimonies and experiences in the temple. For various reasons, going to the temple may not always feel natural or comfortable for everyone. Even and especially when it’s difficult, we have been promised that we will be blessed for our faithful efforts to attend regularly. As President Nelson has suggested:

“If you don’t yet love to attend the temple, go more often—not less. Let the Lord, through His Spirit, teach and inspire you there. I promise you that over time, the temple will become a place of safety, solace, and revelation.”

The Need for Sealing Power

“Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people” (Helaman 10:7).

Sealing power is essential to making covenants with God. As Elder D. Todd Christofferson has taught, “We tend to think of the sealing authority as applying only to certain temple ordinances, but that authority is necessary to make any ordinance valid and binding beyond death.”

Just as the Lord gave Nephi (the son of Helaman) the priesthood authority to unite families forever, He restored this power in our dispensation through the prophet Elijah, who appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple (see Doctrine and Covenants 110:13–16). This priesthood authority is the same power that He conferred to His Apostles during His earthly ministry (see Matthew 16:19).

This verse from Helaman reminds us that ordinances performed with the proper authority are sacred because this power comes from the Lord Himself. As we are true to our covenants, He will help us to receive the blessings He promises us—even if earthly circumstances make them seem out of reach.

The Role of the Temple in the Gathering of Israel

“And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; … wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.

“Wherefore, our father hath not spoken of our seed alone, but also of all the house of Israel, pointing to the covenant which should be fulfilled in the latter days; which covenant the Lord made to our father Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (1 Nephi 15:14, 18).

This scripture helps us understand that everyone will have the opportunity to accept the gospel and become part of the Lord’s covenant people.

The temple is vital to how God fulfills His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bless “all the kindreds of the earth” (see also 3 Nephi 20:24–26), even those that have gone on to the spirit world. As the prophet has explained, “The ultimate objective of the gathering of Israel is to bring the blessings of the temple to God’s faithful children.”

We are seeing the Abrahamic covenant “[being] fulfilled in the latter days” as temple construction continues to expand across the globe.

This scripture also highlights how covenants give us greater spiritual knowledge, helping us come to know the Savior, “the very points of his doctrine,” and “how to come unto him and be saved.”

“Everything taught in the temple … increases our understanding of Jesus Christ,” President Nelson has taught. “His essential ordinances bind us to Him through sacred priesthood covenants. Then, as we keep our covenants, He endows us with His healing, strengthening power.”

The Reality of Eternal Families

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord;

“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (3 Nephi 25:5–6).

After His death and Resurrection, the Savior shared Malachi’s prophecy about the spirit of Elijah with the Nephites in the Americas.

This shows how important temple and family history work is to the Lord. It also highlights that we must open our hearts to being “[turned]” as we participate in fulfilling this prophecy. Joseph Smith also suggested that the word “turn” could be translated to “bind” or “seal,” speaking about the sealing power for vicarious ordinances.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong recently spoke about how this turning or sealing process will lead to greater unity, creating covenant belonging and “[knitting] the hearts of [our] fathers, mothers, and children together in love.”

And this work doesn’t just bring our hearts closer to our literal relatives—it joins us all as children of our Heavenly Father. As Elder Gong taught, “By birth or adoptive lineage, we are ultimately all connected in the family of God and in the human family.”

Knowledge to Part the Veil

“Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him” (Ether 3:20).

The story of the brother of Jared can be compared with a temple experience, as he “went forth unto the mount” to seek greater light and instruction from the Lord (Ether 3:1).

One blessing of the temple endowment that Church leaders have spoken about is “[greater] knowledge of the Lord’s purposes and teachings.” Like the brother of Jared, participants who receive this knowledge “symbolically return to the Lord’s presence as they enter the celestial room” toward the end of the endowment.

This image might also represent receiving revelation as we make and keep covenants with the Lord. As President Nelson has taught:

“Spiritual doors will open. You will learn how to part the veil between heaven and earth, how to ask for God’s angels to attend you, and how better to receive direction from heaven. Your diligent efforts to [understand temple covenants and ordinances] will reinforce and strengthen your spiritual foundation.”

The Relationship Between Miracles, Covenants, and Angels

“[Have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. …

“And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men….

“And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men” (Moroni 7:29, 31–32; emphasis added).

Angels support us in temple and family history work. And we can serve as angels to those on the other side of the veil by helping provide opportunities for them to accept covenant blessings.

As President Nelson wrote in a recent book, “We believe in angels—heavenly messengers—seen and unseen; and earthly angels who know whom to help and how to help. Gospel messengers, or angels, can include ordinary people like you and me.”

This scripture from Moroni helps us understand that covenants are at the center of the ministry of angels. Angels help “prepare the way” for God’s children to return to His presence, giving “the residue of men,” or those who have not yet had the opportunity to accept Christ’s gospel, to make and keep covenants.

Available to All

“For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned” (Mosiah 3:11).

“But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!” (Moroni 8:12).

These comforting scriptures also confirm that all people can choose to receive the blessings of Christ’s Atonement, whether they died before learning about the gospel or didn’t have the chance to be baptized by the proper authority.

God is merciful, and these verses assure us that the Savior makes it possible for everyone to accept saving ordinances—even after death. As the Church’s Gospel Topics entry on this principle states:

“Because He is a loving God, the Lord does not damn those people who, through no fault of their own, never had the opportunity for baptism. He has therefore authorized baptisms to be performed by proxy for them. … in temples throughout the world.”

While we may not always think of studying the Book of Mormon with the temple in mind, its pages are filled with beautiful teachings that can help us learn more about our covenants. They truly are the “words of Christ” (see 2 Nephi 33:10), and as we study them, we can learn more about Him and how He works in our lives through temple covenants.

▶You may also like: How going to the temple has given me a healthier relationship with social media

The Book of Mormon, Journal Edition

These journal editions lay flat for easy studying and writing. All the text of the Book of Mormon—as well as the wide, lined margins—will give you an interactive canvas for creating a personal record. Use the journal space to express your thoughts, document your insights, or add your own visual art and calligraphy. It’s a perfectly personal way to capture and reflect on your scripture study experience. Available at Deseret Book and

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