What Happens in Mormon Temples?

THROUGHOUT HISTORY, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places of worship where individuals make sacred promises with God.

A Temple is literally the house of the Lord. The Lord has always commanded his people to build temples, holy buildings in which worthy Saints perform sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel for themselves and for the dead. The Lord visits his temples, and they are the most holy of all places of worship.

The tabernacle erected by Moses and the children of Israel was a portable temple. The Israelites used it during their exodus from Egypt.

The best known temple mentioned in the Bible is the one built by Solomon in Jerusalem (2 Chr. 2–5). It was destroyed in 600 B.C. by the Babylonians and was restored by Zerubbabel almost a hundred years later (Ezra 1–6). Part of this temple was burned in 37 B.C., and Herod the Great later rebuilt it. The Romans destroyed the temple in A.D. 70.

“Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are sacred structures in which eternal questions are answered.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley)  In the temple we are taught, we make covenants, and we are promised blessings. We receive ordinances that enable us to live in the presence of God.

Sacred Ordinances performed in the Temple

One ordinance we receive in the temple is the Endowment. The word endowment means “gift” or “bestowal.” As part of this ordinance, we are taught about the purpose of life, the mission and Atonement of Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father’s plan for His children. We gain a glimpse of what it will be like to live in His presence as we feel the peaceful atmosphere of the temple.

Sealing

Another temple ordinance is the sealing ordinance, in which husbands and wives are sealed to each other and children are sealed to their parents in eternal families. This means that if we are faithful to our covenants, our family relationships will continue for eternity. People sometimes also refer to this ordinance as “temple marriage” or “eternal marriage.”

Ordinances for Deceased Relatives

In addition to receiving these ordinances for ourselves, we can receive them for our deceased ancestors. In this way, people who died without receiving essential ordinances such as baptism and confirmation, the endowment, and sealing have the opportunity to accept these ordinances.

In the Bible, Jesus taught about baptism (see, for example, John 3:5). Because many people do not have the opportunity to be baptized in this life, the fonts in temples are used by the living to be baptized in behalf of those who have died. This truth was taught in Paul’s day and early Christians performed baptisms for their deceased ancestors. This is what Paul was referring to when he said, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1Corinthians 15:29)

Temples are for all the World and All People of all Times

The history of temples and temple building goes back to the time of the Old Testament. In the wilderness of Sinai, the Lord commanded Moses to build a portable tabernacle so the people of Israel could make promises with God. After the Israelites settled in the promised land, the Lord gave them instructions to construct a temple. Solomon built a Temple to the LORD with the finest materials and workmanship that could be obtained. It was revered for its beauty but its purpose was to worship God and offer sacrifices as a way to show obedience, commitment and gratitude.

In the Book of Mormon, the righteous followers of God that came from Jerusalem to the New World were also led to build and worship in temples (2 Ne. 5:16;Mosiah 1:183 Ne. 11:1). Building and using a temple properly are signs of the true Church in any dispensation, including the restored Church in our day. The Kirtland Temple was the first temple built and dedicated to the Lord in this dispensation. Since that time temples have been dedicated in many lands across the earth.

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