Through Temple Worship
Jesus Christ is the center of all that we do in His Church. Our living prophet, President Nelson, has been consistently teaching us this truth during his entire ministry as an apostle. He has tried to teach us the centrality of Jesus Christ both by what he has said and what he has done. He taught us that we should always use Christ’s name when referring to His Church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He taught us that Christ is the source of power when he said:
Under the Father’s great eternal plan, it is the Savior who suffered. It is the Savior who broke the bands of death. It is the Savior who paid the price for our sins and transgressions and blots them out on condition of our repentance. It is the Savior who delivers us from physical and spiritual death.
President Nelson also introduced a new symbol for the Church to “remind [us] that this is the Savior’s Church and that all we do as members of His Church centers on Jesus Christ and His gospel.” He even directed us that our “meetinghouses [should] reflect an attitude of reverence for the Savior,” and specifically directed us to “[place] art representing Jesus Christ in meetinghouse foyers and entryways.” Our ward and stake leadership has also felt prompted to focus our attention more fully on Jesus Christ in our church meetings, activities, and ministering. I have repeatedly felt the whisperings of the Spirit that this must be our focus.
Our focus on Jesus Christ requires faith and repentance. Our belief in Christ, who we have not seen, motivates us to take action to repent daily. We strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and increase our resolve and capacity to repent by making and keeping sacred covenants. The ordinances of the priesthood are the way that we enter into these covenants. These ordinances are “an outward [ – physical –] expression of an inner commitment to follow the Savior Jesus Christ.” They are a “physical representation of a spiritual reality.” The ordinance and covenants available in the temple draw us to Jesus Christ and give us power.
Last January, our ward youth council met together to set some goals for the year. We discussed that our goals should be reachable and things we could accomplish by using our own agency and faith in Jesus Christ. We decided that we should focus our goals on the work of salvation and exaltation – specifically on temple and family history work and missionary work. The youth on that council decided that the youth of our ward would set a goal to perform 1000 baptisms for the dead in the temple in 2022. I will admit that I had some serious doubts about our ability to reach this goal! This would require us to go to the temple every month with a good-sized group of youth. We were just coming out of COVID restrictions and there were limited appointments at the temple. For the first few months of the year, there weren’t even any appointments that weren’t during school hours. But despite our doubts, we chose to act in faith and go to work! The results have been nothing short of miraculous.
We were able to find times to attend the temple every month. Some months we went during school, and some youth and their parents were somehow able to participate. Some months we got up very early on Saturday mornings to get to the temple for an 8 am session in the baptistry. Some months we traveled to Houston when the San Antonio temple was closed for cleaning and repairs. We learned that if we did not bring our own family names to the temple, we would be limited in the amount of work we could do. This motivated us to research and bring our own family names. Youth and adult members participated in this work. It was not easy to do, but our youth chose to prioritize time in the temple. They chose to show their faith in Christ by their actions. In December, one week before Christmas, the youth took their final trip of the year and completed their goal.
The example of our youth in their temple attendance has been inspiring to me. Not only have I seen their hard work and diligence in exercising faith, I have seen their faith grow in huge ways this year. They have become more resilient to the storms of life. They have become happier. They have strengthened their friendships. Most importantly, they have unlocked the door to the covenant path for many, many of their deceased ancestors. And this year the are already asking – “what is our goal for 2023!”
Brothers and sisters, the rest of us can probably step up and follow our youth’s example! God is asking all of us to step up and exercise more faith in Jesus Christ by increasing our focus on the temple. I hope that we will not wait for the Austin temple to be dedicated before we choose to increase that focus. It may seem like it will be “easier” to attend the temple when it is close – but it will not be. Proximity to the temple does not make it easier. When the temple here is completed, we will have to fill it! This will require even more faith and commitment than perhaps we are now demonstrating. Therefore, we should choose today to increase our focus. We should be intentional about our attendance at the temple. We should make it a priority and actively plan time to attend. There are always excuses to not attend the temple. Let’s not let the excuses get in our way! If your temple recommend has expired, or if it has been years since you have attended the temple, come and talk to a member of the bishopric today to get your recommend renewed. Go online today and make an appointment to attend the temple.
Our choice to increase our focus on the temple and our increased participation in the ordinances there will bring great blessings to our lives. These blessings come because of the covenants that we make there. President Nelson taught,
Entering into a covenant relationship with God binds us to Him in a way that makes everything about life easier. Please do not misunderstand me: I did not say that making covenants makes life easy. In fact, expect opposition, because the adversary does not want you to discover the power of Jesus Christ. But yoking yourself with the Savior means you have access to His strength and redeeming power.
President Nelson has also taught us that,
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.
I love the temple. I have seen rich blessings come to my life and my family as we have intentionally, and regularly spent time serving there. I know that Jesus Christ leads this church. It is His church. He speaks through President Nelson and is actively inviting us to follow and prepare the world for His second coming. I know, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that Jesus Christ is the way back to our heavenly home. I know that His power is real. Every good thing we do comes from Christ. I know that His grace empowers us through faith and repentance to become perfected in Him. I know that none of us will be perfect in this life, but that as we “exercise faith, repent, and improve each day” that we will ultimately realize our “divine destiny as heirs of eternal life” through Christ’s atoning power.