Making the Case for the Construction of Temples
Good afternoon Brothers and Sisters! For those of you who do not know me, my name is______ and I was asked to speak in sacrament today on a topic of my choice. I was contemplating what topic I should speak on while visiting the temple one day. Then it hit me! What better topic to speak on than temple worship and the purpose and importance it holds.
The Lord put temples on this earth at this exact time for specific and meaningful purposes. In the book of Doctrine and Covenants, section 138, verses 53 and 54, we learn that the Prophet Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and other choice spirits were placed on this earth to lay the foundation of the great latter day work- including the building of temples and the ordinances they hold. The lord wanted to make sure we, as latter day saints, had the opportunity to partake in such miraculous blessings that come from necessary temple worship. The Lord gave Joseph Smith precise and detailed instructions on how the saints were to physically build the temple, as we see in Doctrine and Covenants 95, versus 14-17 when he commands “…let it be built after the manner which I shall show unto three of you…” as well as precise and detailed instructions on how the saints were to utilize the power of the temple. He did this in order to give the saints a clear understanding of the importance of the latter day temples. It would have been easy for the Lord to simple say “construct a building so you guys can have a place to worship me”, but the Lord took the time to make sure the structure of the temple was perfect and took the time to give them specific purposes for using the temple.
There are many reasons the Lord wanted to have temples built for this time and dispensation. However, there are four specific purposes for temples that I would like to touch on today; the first one being temple ordinance work. Often times when we think of temples, this is one of the first things that comes to mind. It was set forth back when temples were first being consecrated, and is still used very frequently today. As we can see in Doctrine and Covenants 138: 47-48, the Lord explains that “the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead and the sealings of the children to their parents…” was a fulfilment of the promise Elijah’s made years ago back in biblical times. When we continue to do ordinances like baptism for the dead and ceilings, we are fulfilling one of the Lord’s intended purposes for instructing Joseph Smith and the saints to build temples in these latter days.
Another reason the Lord wanted us to have temples was so that we can use it for a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order and God. There are several places in the the book of Doctrine and Covenants alone where the Lord informs the people of this, including when revelation was given to Joseph Smith to first build the Kirtland temple in section 88 verse 119 and again in section 109 verse 8 in the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland temple. The fact that the Lord prompted these instructions to be placed in the scriptures on multiple accounts says a great deal to the importance of this particular scripture. Not only are we go to perform temple ordinances to help those that are in the kingdoms be baptized and further our progression toward eternal life with ceilings- but also to provide us with a spiritual sanctuary where we can better ourselves in this life to become closer to our savior through things like praying, fasting and learning. All of these things help the temple become a house of faith, glory and order. A house in which there is faith, glory and order is certainly a house of God.
What does it mean when we say “the temple is a house of God?” It is something we are told since the day we entered primary but given little explanation. A house of God literally means a place in which God resides here on earth and in spirit. In Doctrine and Covenants 110:2-10, we are given an example of the Lord physically manifesting himself in the temple to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery at the dedication of the Kirtland temple. We are also able to go to the temple and feel his spirit and know that he is present even if we cannot see him with our own eyes, as we learn when we read in Doctrine and Covenants 109:13 when it states “…all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power…”. This brings me to the third purpose of temples, which is a place where we can all go to feel the spirit of God and have a testimony and faith building experience. We all struggle at times and need to be reminded of our purpose here on earth and there is no better way to get that reassurance than by going into the house of the Lord and feel his power and love for you.
However, there’s a catch! According to Doctrine and Covenants section 97 verse 17, the Lord will not enter into any unholy or defiled temples. The temple is only beneficial to us when the Lord and the spirit are present, but if the temple is “unclean”- in other words, if you are unworthy of entering into the temple but attend anyways- the Lord’s will not be present and no good will come of your visit. The last purpose of temples I want to share with you today, is to give us an incentive and reason to be cleansed from our sins and worthy of being in the Lord’s presence. As stated in Doctrine and Covenants section 84 verse 2, “established in the last days for the restoration of his people”. We all mess up. It is human nature! But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give up hope that we can be made pure again. The Lord wants us to succeed and wants to see us repent and take advantage of the gift of the atonement so that we can be worthy to enter into the Lord’s holy house and receive blessings that come from doing his work. The Lord organized for there to be special temple recommend interviews specifically to ensure our worthiness of partaking in such sacred covenants. That is how important the temple is to him!
I challenge you, Brothers and Sisters, to ponder on the Lord’s divine purposes of temples in these Latter days. I challenge you to always be worthy of participating in the sacred covenants of baptism for the dead and ceilings, growing your faith and testimony through prayer, fastings and learning and also entering and being in the presence of the Lord your God. I challenge you to read and further study the scriptural insights and to learn more about what the Lord has to say about the purpose of temples. The Lord gives us so many specific directions and it’s all written down for us and compiled into one sacred book. May we all read from this book and receive personal revelation and further knowledge of the gospel.
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