Through pondering and studying the recent teachings of our prophet Russel M Nelson, I have come to understand one of the mysteries of heaven and I want to share it with you. The pathway back to heaven to live with our Heavenly Father is to bind ourselves to God through covenants and then cling to those covenants and cherish them above everything else in this world. As we do this we will be filled with God’s power.
“Life is a homeward journey for all of us, back to the presence of God in his celestial kingdom. Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into His presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality.” Boyd K. Packer 1987 “Covenants”
In my study of the Old Testament in Come Follow Me this year, I have come to understand that God makes Covenants with his children to bless their lives. He desires a covenant people who will do His work on the earth. One of the greatest witnesses to me that this is the Lord’s true church is the fact that we have temples. I do not understand how one can seriously study the Bible and not conclude that God’s church must have temples! This is simply how God operates. The Bible dictionary teaches this eternal truth: Whenever the Lord has had a people on the earth who will obey His word, they have been commanded to build temples in which the ordinances of the gospel and other spiritual manifestations that pertain to exaltation and eternal life may be administered. Building and properly using a temple is one of the marks of the true Church in any dispensation, and is especially so in the present day. 168 operating temples and 53 new temples under construction and another 54 in the preconstruction design phase. 14 new.
Temple ordinances are ancient, our first parents Adam and Eve were commanded to build an altar to pray, make covenants and offer sacrifices. Moses 5: 6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. 7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only
Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. 8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
The simple truth that I have learned is that when we enter into covenants with God, through his Son Jesus Christ, it both defines our relationship with Them and fills us with His Power. One of my favorite temple stories from our Come Follow Me study of the Old Testament this year was the portable temple that God commanded Moses to erect. In less than a year from the exodus from Egypt, with the mud from the parting of the Red Sea still fresh on their sandals these Israelites constructed the tabernacle so that the presence of the Lord Jehovah could dwell among them as a cloud by day and a fire by night. The Lord’s instructions to Moses in the book of Exodus were so exacting that some 3000 years later an ambitious Stake of Zion in Huntington Beach was able to recreate Moses’s tabernacle.
Many of you have toured this tabernacle and this summer I was able to join our youth in a Mountain of The Lord Stake Youth Conference. The crowning event of the 3 day conference was the Saturday morning tour of the tabernacle. Each Bishop and YW President were assigned a station around the tabernacle were the youth tribe leaders would come to teach their tribes what they had learned about the symbols and significance of the tabernacle. That Friday night prior to dinner and the dance, Brother and Sister Holbrook took us leaders through the 8 stations and explained the symbols is such an amazing way that will ever be seared in my heart. As we moved through the Gate, to the Courtyard, past the Altar and Laver, and entered the Holy Place with it’s Table of Showbread, Lampstand and Altar of Incense - Bro and Sis Holbrook explained to us how everything in the tabernacle pointed to the Savior Jesus Christ, I knew the obvious symbolism of the Altar of sacrifice but I was amazed how even the crimson, and purple colors of the gate and veil had deeper meanings pointing to the royal king and His sacrifice for sin. With the sun almost set, we all passed through the veil into the Holy of Holies and learned about the ark of the covenant and our Stake President asked us why the lid with the two gold cheribums facing each other was called the mercy seat. He then testified of the tender mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ. I was overcome by the spirit throughout this experience. It has transformed my perspective on temple covenants and worship.
The temple and your spiritual foundation: Oct 2021 - President Nelson: The temple lies at the center of strengthening our faith and spiritual fortitude because the Savior and His doctrine are the very heart of the temple. Everything taught in the temple, through
instruction and through the Spirit, increases our understanding of Jesus Christ. His essential ordinances bind us to Him through sacred priesthood covenants. Then, as we keep our covenants, He endows us with His healing, strengthening power. And oh, how we will need His power in the days ahead. Overcome the world and find rest: Oct 2022 - President Nelson
The reward for keeping covenants with God is heavenly power—power that strengthens us to withstand our trials, temptations, and heartaches better. This power eases our way. Those who live the higher laws of Jesus Christ have access to His higher power. Thus, covenant keepers are entitled to a special kind of rest that comes to them through their covenantal relationship with God. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30
As your Bishop, I want to give you an invitation and a promise: First, for those of you with a current temple recommend, I invite you to spend time this Christmas season in the temple increasing your understanding of Jesus Christ, it will be the greatest gift you can give yourself.
For those of you whose temple recommends have expired, I invite you to come and meet with me so that we can work towards renewing your recommend. Lastly for those of you who have not yet entered the temple to be endowed with power from on high, I invite you to make this the priority in your life for the upcoming year. I testify that you
need God’s higher power in your life. Now the promise, and it is not only my promise but the latest promise from our prophet: “I promise that increased time in the temple will bless your life in ways nothing else can.”