A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Plan of Salvation. I touched on the different things we could do in our mortal life that would keep us on the “path”. Baptism, Service, Missionary Work, and Church attendance were a few examples. But there was one aspect that I think deserves a closer look—going to the temple.
I remember as a young girl learning the words to the song, “I Love to See the Temple”. I loved it instantly and each time I sang the words, I knew that one day I too would go inside someday.
“I love to see the temple.
I’m going there someday
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty.
I’ll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty.
I love to see the temple.
I’ll go inside someday.
I’ll covenant with my Father;
I’ll promise to obey.
For the temple is a holy place
Where we are sealed together.
As a child of God, I’ve learned this truth:
A family is forever.”
(Children’s Songbook, pg. 95)
Yet, even though I loved this song and knew that one day I would go to the temple, I still didn’t really understand why the temple was…well…the Temple.
Okay, I could understand that I would:
- promise to obey
- get sealed to my husband there for time and all eternity
- create an eternal family
- listen and pray
- feel the Holy Spirit.
As I have grown older, and a little bit wiser too, I have begun to understand just how intimately entwined the temple is to Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation. We have been given this chance to experience life in a mortal body, and by golly, there is only one place that we were meant to take that body—the temple. Not just any temple, the House of the Lord.
OPERATION TEMPLE WORTHINESS
As Latter-day Saints, we believe in a pre-mortal existence—or spirit life before birth. We believe that we sat in a great big family council in which our Heavenly Father outlined a plan for us to gain a body like His. We also believe that Jesus volunteered to show us how to follow that plan to perfection.
But I can’t find anywhere that specifically tells us that temple recommend interviews were involved.
So how come I think that temples are so important?
We can’t make it back into Heavenly Father’s presence without the knowledge we gain through temple attendance.
BODY OF WORK
Christ came to earth to show us the way to get our bodies inside the temple. If no unclean thing can enter into the House of the Lord, and Jesus was the perfect example of living a clean and perfect life, than following His ways will surely lead us to the doors of the temple.
He set the example for us by his every word and action.
As I taught the primary kids this morning, Christ provided us with many great examples of how to guide our bodies to the temple, but four stand out as extra special:
- learning and studying the gospel: In Luke 2:42-49, we read about a young Jesus who was found expounding on religious doctrine to his elders in the temple.
I don’t know about you, but it would be impossible for me to even stand up and give a talk without having done a little bit of research and scripture study. And I am not even close to being a child anymore!
As we study the gospel, it becomes ingrained in our souls and is easier for our body to emulate.
- Baptism: Matthew 3: 13-17 gives us an account on John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan river.
It is here that we see Jesus set a perfect example of obedience. Even John the Baptist knows that Jesus is the perfect example and demures preforming this sacred ordinance, declaring that he knows himself to be unworthy. Still, Jesus reminds him that it is his role to be the supreme example and “must fulfill all righteousness”.
In the Bible dictionary we read:
“Baptism is not optional if one wishes the fullness of salvation.”
(Bible Dictionary: Baptism)
Christ knew this and made sure that we knew it too by setting the example himself. Just as he said he would.
- Missionary work: In Matthew 28: 19-20, Jesus issues the command to go unto every nation to baptize and preach the gospel.
While I do not believe that you have to serve a mission to be considered worthy to enter the temple, I do believe that sharing the gospel and inviting others to explore the gospel of Jesus Christ is essential. How will others be reminded about the Plan of Salvation otherwise?
Missionary work can be done daily. It can be as simple as honestly listening to a friend or neighbor and helping them to feel loved. Or it can be as involved as serving full time. Either way, you are sharing Christ’s love.
- Service: 3 Nephi 17:7-9 is a wonderful example of service. This is the story of Christ when he appears to the Nephites. After appearing to them and speaking with them for a time, he tells them that he must leave them for a while. And yet, after observing their distress at his going, he relents and offers to remain. It is then that he tells them to bring anyone in need of blessing to come forward.
This is a story that shows the true nature of Christ. He has just accomplished the most amazing feat and is immediately about his Father’s work. Knowing that he has another group of righteous followers to visit, he is willing to spare a few more moments to provide miracles.
For a man who has just overcome death and triumphed, surely healing a mere mortal body is nothing big, but he understands as he looks into their faces and hearts, that to these Nephites, these miracles are everything.
That is what our Savior is willing to do for each one of us.
Can we do that for each other?
And so, if we will train our bodies to follow Christ’s example, we will be clean and worthy to enter into our Heavenly Father’s house.
Inside the temple, we are reminded about why we are here. We understand more intimately how the atonement applies to our life and heals our soul. And we gain the knowledge for our souls to return to God’s presence.
That, I think, is the key. It is in the temple that the life of Christ culminates. His example leads our bodies to the door so that we can go inside and teach our souls how to return to God’s presence. To finally have our pre-mortal soul and our mortal body reunited for eternity, thus becoming like God himself.
As we continue to go to the temple we will be reminded of this promise, and we will gain courage to continue following in Christ’s path.
THE FACTS OF LIFE
We have been promised peace and relief from worldly distractions as we go to the temple.
I believe this is true, but after some deep thought, I would like to share with you what I have found to be true.
Sometimes it takes more than one visit to the temple to find that peace and contentment.
I have gone to the temple wrestling with trials and temptations, only to enter and leave still confused and disenchanted.
By sheer force of will, I returned because I believed the promise of peace would be fulfilled. I wrapped my work worn fingers around that promise and held on for dear life, white-knuckles and all.
It wasn’t until I had gone a few more times that I finally realized that promise had been upheld.
In my case, it was a matter of pride. One that I had to work out for myself.
But I know that working it out in the right place, at the right time, and for the right reasons helped me to feel that peace in the end.
When I was a girl, I loved to sing the song “I Love to See the Temple” because it encouraged me to make my way there someday.
As an adult, I love that song even more because I made it.
I have gone inside today. I have listened and prayed. I have covenanted with my Father and promised to obey.
For me, going to the temple has become essential. It is there that my soul is reminded why I am here. It is there that I am reminded how important and purifying obedience to God’s plan is. It is here that I gain the courage to move my body forward on that path.
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.