“Lesson 20 Class Preparation Material: Temple Ordinances and Worship,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)
“Lesson 20 Class Preparation Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material
In 2019, the First Presidency shared:
Whenever the Lord has had a people on the earth who will obey His word, they have been commanded to build temples. Scriptures document patterns of temple worship from the times of Adam and Eve, Moses, Solomon, Nephi, and others.
With the restoration of the gospel in these latter days, temple worship has also been restored to bless the lives of people across the world and on the other side of the veil as well. … A dedicated temple is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. (“First Presidency Statement on Temples,” Jan. 2, 2019, newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
The first temple to be built in our dispensation was the Kirtland Temple in 1836. The dedication of that temple began a remarkable season of spiritual manifestations. The faithful felt the Holy Ghost, and some spoke in tongues, had visions, or saw angels. The culminating event of this time was the appearance of the Savior to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple shortly after it was dedicated. At that time the Savior said, “I have accepted this house” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:7).
On March 27, 1836, Joseph Smith offered a dedicatory prayer (the words for which he received by revelation from the Lord) for the Kirtland Temple. This dedicatory prayer is recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 109. In this prayer, Joseph asked the Lord to give certain blessings to those who worship in the temple.
Sister Jean A. Stevens, former First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, said this about the blessings we receive in the temple:
If we are to receive all the blessings God so generously offers, our earthly path must lead to the temple. Temples are an expression of God’s love. He invites us all to come, learn of Him, feel His love, and receive the priesthood ordinances necessary for eternal life with Him. Each covenant is made one by one. Every mighty change of heart matters to the Lord. And yours will make all the difference to you. For as we go to His holy house, we can be “armed with [His] power, … [His] name … upon [us], … [His] glory … round about [us], and [His] angels have charge over [us]” [Doctrine and Covenants 109:22].
… It is through His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, that every hope, every promise, and every blessing of the temple is fulfilled. (Jean A. Stevens, “Covenant Daughters of God,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 117)
Even before the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Kirtland, Saints in Missouri had dedicated a site to build a temple in Independence, Missouri. Later, they laid cornerstones for a temple in Far West, Missouri. Both remain unfinished because the Saints were driven from their homes and properties. In the October 1840 conference, the Saints accepted the Prophet’s call to build a temple in Nauvoo. Again, with a spirit of sacrifice, the Saints began donating labor, money, and other resources to help with construction. In January 1841, Joseph Smith received a revelation that provided further reasons why the Lord required this temple to be built. This counsel is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 124. As you study the following verses, consider some of the reasons that the Lord commands us to build temples in the latter days.
In the temple, the Saints received important ordinances that the Lord had revealed to the Prophet, including the endowment ceremony.
Among these [temple] ordinances was a ceremony called the endowment, which expanded upon the washing and anointing ceremony Joseph had introduced in the Kirtland Temple in 1836. Fearing his life would be taken before the temple was completed, Joseph Smith called a handful of men on May 3, 1842, to arrange the upper room of his Red Brick Store to represent “the interior of a temple as much as the circumstances would permit.” The next day, Joseph administered the endowment for the first time to a group of nine men. (“Temple Endowment,” Church History Topics, ChurchofJesusChrist.org/study/church-history)
This endowment ceremony “taught exalting truths. It drew upon scriptural accounts of the Creation and the Garden of Eden … to guide the men step-by-step through the plan of salvation. Like Abraham and other ancient prophets, they received knowledge that would enable them to return to the presence of God. Along the way, the men made covenants to live righteous, chaste lives and dedicate themselves to serving the Lord” (Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, vol. 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 , 453).
On [or before] September 28, 1843, Emma Smith became the first woman to receive the endowment. Joseph’s promise that Relief Society members would see “the blessings of the endowment rolling on” was confirmed as Emma began to help administer the ordinance to other women. (Jill Mulvay Derr and others, eds., The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History , 10)
Although Joseph initially invited only a few people to participate in the endowment, he clearly intended to open the temple ceremonies broadly to worthy Latter-day Saints. … Willard Richards explained, “There was nothing made known to [us], but what will be made known to all the Saints of the last days, so soon as they are prepared to receive, and a [temple] is prepared to communicate them.” (“Anointed Quorum (‘Holy Older’),” Church History Topics, ChurchofJesusChrist.org/study/church-history)
In the April 2019 general conference, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited all members of the Church to become familiar with the resources available at temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org (see “Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2019, 103–4). From this website, we learn the following about the temple endowment:
The word endowment means “a gift.” In this context, the temple endowment is literally a gift from God whereby He bestows sacred blessings upon you [through the Atonement of Jesus Christ]. The endowment can only be received in His way and in His holy temple. Some of the gifts you receive through the temple endowment include:
Greater knowledge of the Lord’s purposes and teachings.
Power to do all that God wants us to do.
Divine direction and protection as we serve the Lord, our families, and others.
Increased hope, comfort, and peace.
Promised blessings now and forever. …
In conjunction with these ordinances, you will be invited to make specific covenants with God. These covenants include:
Law of Obedience
Law of Sacrifice
Law of the Gospel
Law of Chastity
Law of Consecration
In return, God promises wonderful blessings in this life and the opportunity to return to live with Him forever. (“About the Temple Endowment,” temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
President Russell M. Nelson has taught this about the spiritual significance of the endowment:
The temple endowment was given by revelation. Thus, it is best understood by revelation, vigorously sought with a pure heart. President Brigham Young explained 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, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, … and gain your eternal exaltation” [Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 416]. (Russell M. Nelson, “Preparing for the Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Oct. 2010, 42)