By Emilia Julian | June 8, 2019
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
I have been blessed with the privilege of teaching online seminary to some of the youth in the Hamilton, Ontario Stake. We just finished an incredible year of studying the Doctrine and Covenants. As a convert to the Church, the Doctrine and Covenants was foreign to me. Through the years I learned more about Joseph Smith and the Restoration but I never really plunged too deeply into that sacred book of scriptures until I was called to be a Sunday school teacher years later.
The Doctrine and Covenants is one of four books of scripture used by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although it is not a translation of ancient records such as the Bible and the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants contains revelations from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a result of the Great Apostasy which happened after the deaths of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, men began to make unauthorized changes in Church organization and eventually gravely corrupted the principles of the gospel.
For this reason, the Lord retreated for many years (known to man as “the dark ages”) until 1820, when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and begun the process of the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel in this dispensation. Some of the early Apostles of the ancient Church of Jesus Christ knew that an apostasy would occur before Jesus Christ returns again at the Second Coming. Relating to this, Paul addressed the Thessalonians about this event. He wrote, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
The priesthood and temple ordinances were a considerable and crucial part of the Restoration, and the Doctrine and Covenants offers much learning and instruction regarding the purpose of temples and our divine responsibilities and duties. Temples are literally houses of the Lord. Throughout history, the Lord has commanded His prophets to build temples, and today, the Church is engaged in building temples all over the world to make it more accessible to its members. We attend to participate in ordinances necessary for us to return to dwell with our Heavenly Father. As more and more temples are built, people all over the world will have outstanding opportunities to enjoy the blessings thereof.
In our seminary study of the Doctrine and Covenants this year, not only did we learn about the organization of our Church as being structured in the same manner as what Jesus Christ established in ancient times, but we also learned about the degrees of glory awaiting us after this life, and about the eternal nature of families.
As members of the Church, we have been given the privilege to gather Israel on both sides of the veil. Attending the temple provides us that sacred opportunity, and President Nelson has advised us that absolutely nothing happening on the earth right now is more important. I feel that great responsibility on my shoulders. I was absolutely elated when I joined the Church, but I was the only member of my family who walked into the waters of baptism, and therefore, have much work ahead of me. I feel blessed to have participated in the ordinances of the temple, and I want those blessings to be extended to all of my family if they will accept them (yes, they do still have the freedom to choose even in the spirit world). This includes my living family and those who have passed on before me. What a great delight it will be for me to finally come to learn that even just one of my ancestors accepted this great work which was done here on their behalf.
“Through the power of this priesthood which Elijah bestowed, husband and wife may be sealed, or married for eternity; children may be sealed to their parents for eternity; thus the family is made eternal, and death does not separate the members.”
Families are forever!!! We are eternally connected. Life did not begin in mortality, nor will it end there. Since the moment we were born, we’ve already had to leave our loved ones behind temporarily in the premortal existence to experience life here on earth. We will leave them behind again when we are taken in death. To understand that our moment of separation is but a fleeting moment provides a sense of peace and comfort. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, “Through the power of this priesthood which Elijah bestowed, husband and wife may be sealed, or married for eternity; children may be sealed to their parents for eternity; thus the family is made eternal, and death does not separate the members.” Being blessed with eternal sealings helps us to face death as an essential element of God’s remarkable plan of salvation.
On September 21, 1991, my dearest fiancee and I knelt across a sacred altar of the Toronto Ontario Temple where we were pronounced husband and wife, wedded for time and for all eternity by a worthy priesthood holder who also held the authority to seal couples and families forever. I have no words to describe the feelings I experienced knowing that as we continue to draw closer to the Saviour and remain worthy, I will be with Jason for eternity! As a result of our choice to be married in the temple, our two sons, who were born a few years later, are bound to us by that same sacred ordinance. What a great comfort and blessing that is! Although death may separate us for a short while, we are linked together for eternity after that!
It doesn’t stop there! Heavenly Father’s plan is all about family, and His greatest desire is for all His children to have these same privileges and blessings which can only be done through temple ordinances. Not only can a husband and wife be sealed together and their children sealed to them, but we can also have our ancestors sealed together and to us. We do this by gathering our family history of our deceased ancestors and make temple covenants available to them by performing these sacred temple ordinances for them by proxy (see Doctrine and Covenants 128:9-10, 132:19 and 138:29:37). The priesthood power to seal families together was prophesied in ancient biblical times (see Malachi 4:5-6). The ordinances of the temple relate to both our personal eternal glory and to that of our ancestors. “For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation. … they without us cannot be made perfect — neither can we without our dead be made perfect (D&C 128:15).
Being sealed for time and all eternity has had more significant meaning for us throughout the years. Not only are we vigilant in remaining faithful to the covenants that we have made in the temple, but doing so has helped us find greater joy in our marriage and family relationships. When trials seem to occasionally slip in through our front door, we put our focus on the eternal perspective of matters and deal with things in a manner that will please God and exalt us.
In September 2018, my husband made the decision to become a temple ordinance worker. Before I joined him the following January, I noticed a change in Jason. He has always loved attending the temple and made a point to be there at least once a month. But since he began his duties as an ordinance worker, he came home each week with a brighter countenance, and he was happy and full of faith and love. He’s like that anyway, but even more so by the time he would finish his temple shifts. His faith was strengthened each time he went. I didn’t quite understand the difference until I started going myself.
Attending the temple 2-3 times a month as a temple ordinance worker vs. going as a patron has given me a different perspective of the temple altogether. I had come to understand more clearly many things that were still a little blurry to me when I attended as a patron. Serving there in a different capacity is quite a commitment but so rewarding at the same time. I have had the opportunity to learn and grow more spiritually and feel the Spirit even more deeply than when I use to attend only once a month, and sometimes even less. I have been able to experience things as an ordinance worker that I usually wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, and I am so thankful for the enlightenment I have earned.
Whether we are attending the temple as patrons or as ordinance workers does not matter as much as it does that we just attend and perform the vital work necessary for the living and for our ancestors. Sometimes, depending on our circumstances, it can be challenging to get there. Temple attendance is a sacrifice. It may be as simple as making the time to renew our temple recommend. Other times, we may have to sacrifice worldly habits or behaviors to enable us to become worthy to receive that temple recommend so that we can worthily enter the temple. Until the Toronto Ontario Temple was built, the closest temple to us was in Washington D.C. Members had to sacrifice significantly to go, and they did. To travel to the Washington Temple, members would have to take time off work, drive 10 hours one way, rent a hotel room, pay for gas and meals, and then do it all over again on their way home. This is just a small example of some of the sacrifices members have had to make and have made gladly and faithfully as a result of their testimony and love for the temple.
What sacrifices are we making today to attend the temple? How important is the temple to us?
Recently I watched a Church video based on a talk that Elder Holland had given of a man whose name was John R. Moyle. Brother Moyle was one of the early Saints and faithful builders of the Salt Lake Temple. He lived in Alpine, Utah, about 22 miles from the temple. Here is his story as told by Elder Holland:
Now that you have watched the video above, allow me to repeat the questions I asked before it:
What sacrifices are we making today to attend the temple? How important is the temple to us?
As a result of his love and testimony of the temple, Brother Moyle made many great sacrifices. Compared to him, we may never have to make the kind of sacrifices he made for attending the temple. But our sacrifices, big or small, do count if we are sacrificing for the right reasons. I have known many people who have made significant sacrifices to attend the temple, and I know their lives have changed as a result. They feel the blessings of engaging in the work of the Lord.
Temple work is not an escape from the world but a reinforcing of our need to better the world while preparing ourselves for another and far better world. Thus, being in the Lord’s house can help us to be different from the world in order to make more difference in the world.
The temple of our Lord is a place of revelation. It is a place of inspiration, meditation, and peace. It’s a place to rehabilitate ourselves and to clear our minds. Aside from participating in life-saving ordinances, we have frequently gone there to find answers to our prayers or comfort during times of trial. We enjoy the satisfaction of worship, service, and the beautiful friendships we have made with the brothers and sisters that serve along with at the temple.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated that “temple work is not an escape from the world but a reinforcing of our need to better the world while preparing ourselves for another and far better world. Thus, being in the Lord’s house can help us to be different from the world in order to make more difference in the world.”
Elder Dale G. Renlund recently compiled a list of special blessings available to anyone who participates in the temple in any capacity. As you read the list, ask yourselves if these are blessings that could be of benefit to you. According to Elder Renlund, these blessings include:
- Assistance to mend troubled, broken or anxious hearts.
- The ability to no longer feel alone.
- Increased love for others, especially your family members living and dead.
- Power to discern.
- Greater influence of the Holy Ghost to feel direction in life.
- Increased ability to repent and protection from temptation.
- Refinement and sanctification of one’s heart.
- Increased family blessings, no matter one’s current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect one’s family tree may be.
- Deep and abiding conversion to the Saviour through increased faith in Him and a better understanding of his atonement.
- And, increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord.
These are only but a few examples of the many astonishing blessings we can enjoy when we make temple attendance a vital part of our lives.
President Brigham Young reminds us that “your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father”.
When Jason and I travel, the first thing we do is to look for the closest temple nearby.
During business trips, if we can, we take time away from the group and spend it at the temple. If we don’t have time for an endowment, we walk the grounds where we still find harmony and contentment knowing that we are at the house of the Lord. We have visited temples all over the world, and we look forward to someday visit the temple that has been recently built in the country of my birth–the Rome, Italy Temple.
There is just something about being at the house of the Lord that feels like you are in a heaven on earth. Once we walk through those doors, our phones are left behind, we get into our white clothes, and we become one with everyone else. Nothing outside those doors matter anymore, and by the time we are finished there, we leave with the renewed courage and comfort to face the world with our testimonies strengthened and the guidance of the Spirit.
President Monson said: “In our lives, we will have temptations; we will have trials and challenges. As we go to the temple, as we remember the covenants we make there, we will be better able to overcome those temptations and to bear our trials. In the temple, we can find peace.”
Our temple attendance is a sign of our testimony of life after death. Each temple stands as an emblem of our membership in the Church. President Brigham Young reminds us that “your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1941), 416).
Having attended the temple both as a patron and an ordinance worker, I feel blessed that I have participated in the ordinances that are required for me in this life to prepare me for my eternity, and that I am able to be of service to my ancestors who did not have the opportunity to do it for themselves. I testify that the blessings of the temple are abundance and priceless. I am especially grateful for the benefits of being sealed for time and all eternity to my best friend and husband Jason, and thankful that my children were born under the covenant. I am most appreciative for the gospel in my life and for the knowledge and testimony I have gained and love to share. I pray that we may all find the time to attend the temple to receive the instruction and knowledge we require in this life and in the next and to discover the joy waiting for us there.
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