Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why we Build Temples

Why do the Latter-day Saints build these temples? How are they used? Are they for worshiping assemblies or for ritualistic purposes? Just what takes place in them? Why have the Latter-day Saints made such investments in time, effort, and money in such projects as these?

In biblical times sacred ordinances were administered in holy edifices for the spiritual salvation of ancient Israel. The buildings thus used were not synagogues nor any other ordinary places of worship. They were specially constructed for this particular purpose. While the people traveled in the wilderness, they used a portable tabernacle. This tabernacle is called “the temple of the Lord,” and it was there, for instance, that Samuel’s mother went to pray. (1 Sam. 1:9.) When they ceased their wanderings and obtained a stable government, they built a glorious temple in Jerusalem to take its place.

Following the pattern of biblical days, the Lord again in our day has provided these ordinances for the salvation of all who will believe and directs that temples be built in which to perform those sacred rites.

Anciently, to obtain the saving blessings of the Lord, it was necessary for an individual to do two things:

(1) Live the righteous life described in the commandments of the Lord, and

(2) Participate in the saving ordinances administered by the Lord’s truly authorized servants.

Although some of these ordinances could be performed wherever the people found themselves, others were so sacred that the Lord required that they be performed in a specially built edifice, such as the tabernacle or temple, as at first, or the great temple which replaced it.

There the priesthood ministered in solemn rites. Not everyone could enter, only those of proven worthiness. Unauthorized officiators suffered the wrath of God. The holy ordinances were never fully made known to the world at large; they were too sacred, but the chosen and faithful participated in all solemnity.

As the gospel was restored in these last days, temple building and temple ordinances also were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Latter-day Saints were taught by their Prophet that celestial glory could be theirs in the eternal world, but only through “obeying the celestial law, and the whole law, too.”

Speaking to his people on April 8, 1844, the Prophet Joseph said that the temple ordinances as he was giving them were so important that “without (them) we cannot obtain celestial thrones. But there must be a holy place prepared for that purpose.” (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:318–20.)

Without temples, therefore, the blessings could not be given. The answer consequently was that the Saints should build temples, and this the Lord commanded them to do.

While each temple increases the influence of righteousness in the earth, the greatest blessings, of course, come to those who actually attend the temple. There we receive further light and knowledge and make solemn covenants that, if followed, help us walk in the path of discipleship. In short, the temple teaches us about the sacred purpose of life and helps us get our true physical and spiritual bearings.

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