Several of you asked for the list of questions from my talk about temple power. I include most of the talk here including the questions.
Temples—Power in the ordinances, covenants and the blessings
I. God wants a powerful people
From the days of the Old Testament, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples—sacred structures where He could teach, guide, and bless them. The temple in Solomon’s time was a place of prayer and a place of animal sacrifice, which was fundamental to their worship. The Lord told the Moses and Israelites to build a portable tabernacle that would be their temple while they traveled in the wilderness.
Today’s temples are also sacred places where God may dwell; they are places of prayer, but we no longer offer animal sacrifices because that was done away with when Jesus Christ became the Eternal Sacrifice for our sins.
So why would we need temples today? What purpose do they serve?
I’d like to focus on just one of the purposes of today’s temples: God wants a powerful people.
"Through the blessing of gospel knowledge we know we are here now in mortality because we are supposed to be here, now, trailing clouds of glory, fully prepared for the unique challenges and complexities we would face in the latter part of the latter days.
"[God] never intended for us to face the perils of mortality alone, having only our own strength, wisdom and power to draw upon. So He has made it possible to access his power. And God wants a powerful people." [Sheri Dew, God Wants a Powerful People - good book, highly recommend]
II. Why God shares his power
Why does God want a powerful people?
George Q. Cannon taught “God has reserved...choice spirits to come forth in this last dispensation, because of the greatness and the magnitude of the work to be accomplished...It has required apparently the most valiant men and women to come forth in the last days…[because] this is not a short lived dispensation; it is to go on increasing in power...until it shall fill the whole earth….And, of course, it requires great valor, great obedience and great gifts in order to accomplish the end that is to be attained under the promise of God. The Lord has permitted spirits to be born among the various races of mankind that are fitted and qualified to accomplish this great work.” (Gospel Truth, p. 18)
There are a few things we know about God’s power and his work. [ideas from Sheri Dew]
- God wants a powerful people. He wants a people who know and learn what Ammon knew and learned that in “his strength,” meaning the strength of the God, they “can do all things” (Alma 26:12). [There are 501 references to power in the scriptures.]
- He gives His power to those who are faithful and who qualify. D&C 59:4 "And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me. "
- We therefore have a sacred obligation or opportunity to seek after the power of God and then use that power as He directs. John 1:12 "...as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons [and daughters] of God, even to them that believe on his name"
- When we have the power of God with us, nothing is impossible. (Luke 1:37)
The most powerful expression of the priesthood
The kind of power I’m talking about is not same as the world’s definition of power. In the world, power is associated with fear and unrighteous dominion. I’m talking about the protective power to resist the influence of the adversary, the enabling power to better serve God, and the enobling power to become like Him. These forms are power are found in the temple.
Most of us have experienced the power of the priesthood in our lives through very personal blessings of healing and comfort, but the most powerful expression of the priesthood is found in the temple ordinances. They are significant, binding, long-lasting, eternal and true.
The fulness of Priesthood (God’s power on earth) is received through washings, anointings, solemn assemblies, oracles in holy places, conversations, ordinances, endowments, and sealings, as stated in the D&C 124.
We are invited in the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer in D&C 109:15 to “go forth from this house armed with [God’s] power, and that [His] aname may be upon [us], and [His] glory be round about [us], and [His] bangels have charge over us."
"God has endowed his people with power because He loves us, yearns for us to return home, and knows full well that only with His help—and drawing upon His power—may we expect to return to His loving, grateful, welcoming arms." (Sheri Dew)
So...we have a great work to do. He endows us with power through temple ordinances. He wants us to return to Him.
III. How we access that power/How God shares his power
There are other ways God shares his power. Or, stated differently, there are many ways we can access His power. Let me list a few. [some of these ideas from Sheri Dew]
- There is power in the word of God. Alma said that the preaching of word had a “more powerful effect upon the minds of people than the sword, or anything else.” (Alma 31:5) Studying scripture gives us power.
- There is power in the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It reveals to us the “truth of all things” and after we receive the Holy Ghost, we may “speak with the tongue of angels” (2 Nephi 32:2).
- There is power in the priesthood. Worthy holders of the priesthood may speak what the Lord would say to us, and whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven. Through the priesthood we have restored to us the ordinances of baptism, receiving the gift and power of the Holy Ghost (opening the doors of powerful personal revelation), the gift of knowledge known as the endowment, and the sealing powers that bind families together for eternity.
- There is power in the House of the Lord. Nephi understood this. He said "And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things. "
- There is power in purity. Pure hearts, pure minds and motives, pure judgments, pure desires and intents, pure morally. D&C 121:45 "Let virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly...then shall your confidence wax strong in the Lord. "
- There is power in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because of the Atonement we have access to His grace, or enabling power, and to His redemptive power; power that frees us from sin; power to be healed emotionally, physically, and spiritually; power to mend broken hearts and free us from all manner of captivity. (Luke 4:18); power to loose the bands of death (Alma 7:12); power to do good works; power to turn weakness into strength (Ether 12:27) and power to receive salvation through faith on His name.
Each of these is a talk or lesson in and of itself. But let’s focus on the power in the House of the Lord.
IV. What is the power in the House of the Lord? And, how can we better access it?
In the House of the Lord worthy members receive the Endowment. The Endowment is a gift of power from God. It is the instruction and covenants of the Holy Priesthood that they need in order to attain exaltation. The endowment includes instruction about the plan of salvation. (from Guide to the Scriptures at LDS.org)
A worldly Endowment is usually a gift of money or property that allows an individual or organization to more forward with it’s cause. Money is a form of power in our world.
But in the temple the endowment is a gift of knowledge that gives us personal power and therefore collectively the spiritual power to further the Lord’s work and kingdom on earth.
We’ve all heard the phrase “Knowledge is power”. It comes from a Latin phrase. It implies that with knowledge or education one's potential or abilities in life will certainly increase.
If knowledge is power then celestial knowledge is celestial power. It’s the power to become the person God wants us to be, to be clean, to be sanctified, to know God “when He shall appear, [because] we will be like Him”. (1 John 3:2)
Knowledge of the plan of happiness is powerful to make us happier.
Priesthood knowledge is priesthood power in the hands of men and women alike, in the temple.
Let me share one example of how temple knowledge has given me power.
In the temple we learn that Eve opened the door to our second estate for all God’s children by partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. She made it possible for us—all of us on earth, past, present and future—to progress from our premortal life to this life, from our first estate to our second estate.
In the temple we learn how Adam or the Sons of Adam through the power of priesthood ordinances open the door to progress from our second estate to our final estate and to exaltation with God.
That knowledge itself comforts, lifts and gives me perspective about the important roles of women and men on this earth, of motherhood and fatherhood, and priesthood ordinances. It clears the air of so much cloudy thinking out there today. That is powerful to me.
This knowledge increases my testimony of the need for restoration of the priesthood for administration of the church, of why we do missionary work, and why we build temples. To make the exaltation accessible to all. It gives more meaning and motivation to me. It makes me grateful for Eve, and I reverence and honor her for that difficult choice in the Garden of Eden, when so many religions in the world malign her. The knowledge helps me choose better actions in my life, and a better prioritized way of living.
That’s just one example. Every part of the temple endowment, ordinance and covenants give us more knowledge, and therefore power, if we choose to attend.
Sister Sheri Dew, Former General RS presidency counselor:
“The temple is a place of refuge and revelation….In the temple it becomes clear what it means to be “in but not of” the world...We are taught how to draw upon the power of God. How to part the veil. How to deal with Satan. How to fulfill our foreordained mission. How to cope with suffocating pressure and heartache. And, most important, how to come into the presence of God.”
All that is powerful.
Besides knowledge, participating in ordinances and keeping covenants give us power.
“An ordinance is a sacred rite or ceremony with spiritual meaning.
“A covenant is an agreement between God and man or woman, but they do not act as equals in the agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and men and women agree to do what He asks them to do. God then promises men and women certain blessings for their obedience.
"Principles and ordinances are received by covenant. Members of the Church who make such covenants promise to honor them. ...The Lord’s people are a covenant people and are greatly blessed as they keep their covenants with the Lord.” [Guide to the Scriptures, LDS.org]
By participating in ordinances and making covenants we demonstrate to ourselves, witnesses, angels and God an increased commitment to keep the commandments, to be virtuous, and to build the kingdom.
This commitment is not to be taken lightly and one should prepare for temple attendance.
In return we are promised great blessings of spiritual and physical health. We receive “power from on high” to face the challenges of life.
The sacrifices we make to receive temple ordinances are worth every effort we can make.
Temple covenants and knowledge start outside the temple.
The chapel, for example is an ordinance room. The sacrament is a sacred weekly ordinance we receive by covenant.
Baptism is the first ordinance of the gospel, the gate to other ordinances. Most of us have entered that gate. We stepped onto the pathway to the temple when we were baptized. We have entered into God’s kingdom by covenant and ordinance, and have begun to progress toward Him.
Learning to serve and serving diligently moves us along the temple path.
In the book Daughters in My Kingdom, the History and Work of Relief Society, there is a caption under a picture of two sister missionaries in bike helmets, with name tags, standing next to bicycles. It says “As Latter-day Saint women [and men] make and keep covenants, the Lord strengthens them to serve in His Kingdom."
Taking advantage of all the Priesthood has to offer moves us along the temple path.
“Men and women alike are magnified, purified, sanctified, strengthened, sealed, enobled, and ultimately perfected by priesthood power.” (Sheri Dew, p. 156)
Better access to God's power
For those who have been to the temple, consider several questions for better access to God’s power.
With what was I endowed or gifted in the House of the Lord?
What does that gift mean to me and how may I use it?
What do I learn there? What do I learn to do?
What do I learn about the power of God versus the power of the adversary?
What do I learn about communicating with the heavens?
What does it mean to receive a “fulness of the Holy Ghost” (D&C 109:15) and a fullness of the priesthood?
When a man and a woman enter the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, what kind of power do they share?
[Suggested in God Wants a Powerful People]
Additional ways to seek His temple power
For all of us temple-attending or not, here are some additional ways to seek His temple power.
- Keep the covenants you’ve already made. I’m speaking to every 8-year-old and older. Those of us who have been baptized and made a covenant.
- Increase your understanding of the temple. Start with studying D&C 88, 109, 131, 132.
- Pray to know his will for you and have the power to carry it out. Be humble, be teachable. God will lead you along.
- Understand that the gospel is simple in it’s steps of progression. Each step prepares us for the next.
- We move through at our own pace. We don’t judge another's pace, but are patient, kind, and encouraging. Remember we are all on the path.
- We “don’t run faster than we have strength” yet we don’t shy away from covenant-keeping.
- We strive for greater commitment and righteousness in exchange for His gift of knowledge and power.
- We each move along the path in the same way—by study, prayer and faith.
- Seek for more experiences that will bolster your faith.
“Every spiritual experience, every answer to prayer, every spiritual confirmation should increase our confidence, our faith, that God knows who we are and that He will respond to our needs. Faith is not a bulwark against tribulation, but an assurance that the Lord is overseeing all.” (Sheri Dew, p. 126)
V. I have felt the power and blessings of the temple, in 3 ways, among others.
1. The blessing of remembrance.
In my circumstances, I don’t have or take the opportunity to attend the temple often. Nearly every year it’s on my list of resolutions to attend more often. But I am blessed with remembrance of parts of the endowment. The phrases and promises come to mind often at just the right time or in the right circumstance.
Every day when I put on the sacred temple garment I’m reminded of the meanings there.
Often Wade and I discuss this principle or that and how our understanding is enhanced by temple knowledge.
When we were newlyweds we set a goal to go to the temple every week and try to memorize certain important parts. This helped us grow up and provided a foundation for our marriage.
It is a blessing to remember and ponder the temple in my mind.
2. The blessing of perspective
Temple knowledge helps me see the big picture. It helps clarify what things need to drop away and what needs to be added to my days. It helps me remember the most important things.
Also, there is a spirit of peace there like few other places on earth. A sense of renewal and rest can be found for a few minutes, then I can see my way forward.
The temple provides the blessing of perspective.
3. The blessing of personal revelation
Many of you seek His whisper, or His love at the temple. We take our problems, our worries, our concerns to a place of peace and quiet, and hope for an answer. I have done this too. I’ve attended the temple with Young Women presidencies with prayers and concerns over certain young women, with Primary Presidencies for the same reason, with Wade to ask for wisdom and strength to parent a troubled child better, with Relief Society sisters to strengthen sisterhood and unity.
And I have received answers.
If there is any place on earth to hear the voice of God or to feel His presence it will be in His house. I go humbly and seek for His will and wisdom and power. And it comes.
The temple is a place of personal revelation.
We are all on the road to the temple. The temple is a place of power in these latter days when we so need it. We have the opportunity to seek after the power of God. He wants a powerful people. We look to Him for knowledge, strength and love, so that we may better resist the adversary, better serve in the Kingdom, and eventually become like Him.
God Wants a Powerful People, Sheri Dew
Come to the Temple, Boyd K. Packer
Why Latter-day Saints Build Temples, lds.org
Coming to Ourselves, Robert D. Hales
The Way of the Disciple, Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Of Things That Matter Most, Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need, Richard G. Scott