The Power of the Holy Temple
President Kim B. Clark
BYU-Idaho Devotional | January 15, 2008
I am grateful to be with you on another great day at BYU-Idaho. To you who are just beginning your time at BYU-Idaho, I say welcome. To all of you, I extend my love and best wishes for a wonderful new semester.
In a few days we will witness the dedication and opening of the Rexburg Temple. The temple is glorious! It will be a great blessing to us all.
The Rexburg Temple comes at a marvelous time, but also at a time of commotion and darkness. Brothers and sisters, we live in a time of war. There are wars and rumors of wars in many nations. The wars of men are fought with terrible instruments of destruction, and they bring devastation and heartache and death.
But there is another war, a larger even more destructive war all around us. I speak of the Great War-the war that began in pre-mortality and continues on earth, the war between good and evil, the war for the hearts and souls of men.
The Great War is a central part of the testing and refining experience of mortal life. It is a spiritual war in which there can be much anxiety and worry, much suffering and pain, much despair and fear. I know that some of you are worried about what might come, and some of you are struggling even now in the battles of the Great War.
In another time, in another war, the Army of Helaman faced a terrible enemy. The young warriors felt fear come upon them, but Helaman testified that the Lord "did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him."1
I stand before you today as a witness that these promises of the Lord are our promises. What the Army of Helaman felt in a time of great peril, we may know and feel in our spiritual battles today.
I bear witness to you that the temple on the hill is a great symbol of those promises. It is the Lord moving in great strength to speak peace to our souls, to grant unto us great faith, and to deliver us through heavenly power.
My message today comes in two parts. I want to talk first about the nature of the Great War and then about the temple as a marvelous source of strength and power in the battles we face. I pray that the Holy Ghost will be with us so that you might hear today a voice of warning, a voice of promise and invitation, a voice of hope and strength.
The Great War
The theater of the Great War is the heart and soul of man. The purpose of the Enemy is to "[grasp us] with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance."2 As Peter said, "the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."3 In Alma, chapter 34, verse 35, Amulek warned:
For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.4
Where the Enemy's purpose is to bring to pass darkness, destruction, misery, and the chains of hell, our Father's purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. He has given us the plan of salvation, that through the power of the Atonement of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, we might be redeemed, know joy and happiness, and return home to Him. As King Benjamin proclaimed:
Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.5
This is the focus of the Great War-Satan desires to have power over you, to seal you his in darkness and misery and woe. The Lord Jesus Christ desires to redeem you, to make you a joint-heir with Him of all the Father has, and to seal you His in eternal liberty and light, joy, and happiness.
Although the Enemy has a season of time in which to wage the Great War on the earth, he will not prevail. The Savior will come again in power and glory "to put all enemies under his feet."6 The only question for us is: Will we be there with Him? Will the Lord Jesus Christ seal us His?
The Individual Battles of the Great War
The answer to that question depends on us. We fight the individual battles of the Great War over the desires of our hearts. As we look for insight and understanding and strength in our struggles, there is no better source than the life of the Savior and the battles He fought.
Following His baptism, Jesus was "led up of the Spirit into the wilderness"7 where He fasted for forty days and was tempted of the devil. The scriptures record three of Satan's efforts to tempt Christ with appeals to appetite, pride, and greed. In each case, the Savior cut through the lies and the sophistry and rejected the temptation. In majesty and power Jesus dismissed the Enemy: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."8
President David O. McKay underscored the power of these episodes as a pattern for us:
Nearly every temptation that comes to you and to me comes in one of those forms. Classify them, and you will find that under one of those three, nearly every given temptation that makes you and me "spotted," ever so little as it may be, comes to us as: (1) a temptation of the appetite; (2) a yielding to the pride and fashion and vanity of those alienated from the things of God; or (3) a gratifying of the passion or a desire for the riches of the world or power among men.9
The temptations of appetite, pride, and greed are with us today. We see the temptations of appetite at work in the evils of pornography, violations of the law of chastity, alcohol, illegal drugs, gambling, thrill seeking, an excessive desire for leisure, and a fixation on video games and other activities that addict us or distract us from doing what is right.
We see the temptations of pride at work in attitudes of entitlement and selfishness, in society's appeals to vanity and competition with one another, in feelings of self-satisfaction, in scorn and ridicule, in anger and abuse and violence.
We see the temptations of greed at work in society's fascination with wealth, in the desire for gain without honest labor, in the desire for the honors of men, and in the postponement of marriage and children for money and career success.
The Strategies of the Enemy
These temptations and many others are the battles of the Great War. Oh, how I pray that each one of us will follow the Savior and cut through the mists of darkness with those powerful words: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."10
These battles are real. The Enemy is clever and resourceful and tries to attack us with many different strategies.
Sometimes he uses deception. He is the father of lies and a master of disguise and camouflage.
At other times he attacks directly by raging in the hearts of "conspiring men"11 and stirring them "up to anger against that which is good."12
And there are times when the Enemy simply tries to distract us, to lull us into complacency, or to get us so caught up in the comings and goings of mortal life that we lose our focus on the things of eternity.
The strategies of the Enemy to deceive, attack, and distract are made even more effective if he can divide us from one another. Division comes in many forms-contention, disunity, gossip, backbiting. But perhaps the most insidious is silence.
The principle of silence, or the code of silence, in the face of evil has been the foundation of secret combinations and the works of darkness since Cain murdered Abel. Please turn with me to Moses, chapter 5, verse 29:
And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.13
Wherever we find secret combinations, we find the code of silence. But silence has also become part of the culture of society.
The Savior taught us about silence in the parable of the Good Samaritan.14 When the priest and the Levite came upon a wounded man by the side of the road, they were silent. They took no action to help, nor did they tell anyone of the man in trouble. The Samaritan, in contrast, spoke in word and deed. He bandaged the man's wounds and took him to an inn. The Samaritan told the innkeeper about the wounded man and arranged for his care.
The man by the road represents so many of our brothers and sisters, so many of us wounded by the perils of mortal life and the battles of the Great War. And yet, in our modern society, the Enemy has spread fear of getting involved when someone is in trouble and has fostered a social stigma that attaches to people who speak up in the face of evil. The Enemy whispers, "Don't get involved; it's not your problem. Don't tell; you will be a tattletale."
Here is an example: a lonely, confused young man gets addicted to pornography by first starting with the wrong movies and then edging into material that is increasingly sleazy, vile, and immoral. He stops going to church, and there is darkness in his eyes. The young man is spiritually wounded on the battlefield of the Great War. His roommates know. But they are silent. They do nothing to help him, and they say nothing to him or to anyone else as he descends into an earthly hell until he is bound in the chains of awful addiction.
Oh, brothers and sisters, don't leave the wounded on the battlefield! Stick together. You don't need to be a more "righteous-than-thou" person. We are all sinners. We all have troubles. We have all been wounded spiritually. But you who have felt the redeeming power of Christ, you who know His love and His grace, you know He can heal all wounds. If you reach out in a spirit of love and humility, you can help the spiritually wounded find the Savior. If you need to, call for the medics: talk to your bishop, call the Dean of Students, tell someone who can do something that you have a friend in trouble. Don't be silent. Don't leave the wounded on the battlefield!
The Power in the Lord and in His Holy House
The temptations of the Great War are many. The battles are real, and the strategies are clever. The Enemy is cruel, ruthless, and relentless. We must not underestimate the danger. We must be vigilant and valiant.
But in that vigilance we must not overestimate what the Enemy can do. We need have no fear. If we are prepared and faithful, we will have strength and power to resist and overcome whatever the strategies and tactics of the Enemy may be. The Prophet Joseph taught that the "devil has no power over us only as we permit him."15 Paul taught the Corinthians that God "will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able"16 There is always protection, always "a way to escape"17 and a way to overcome.
You and I already know a great deal about winning the Great War. We know that victory is in, and with, the Son of God. Please turn with me to Revelations, chapter 12, verses 10-11. Here is John's description of the Great War in pre-mortality:
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.18
We were there, brothers and sisters. We fought in the Great War in pre-mortality. Armed with the power of Christ and our testimonies of Him, we were part of that great victory.
And that is how we must fight the Great War now-through the blood of the Lamb, through the power that is in Christ, and through our testimonies expressed in word and deed.
We need the power of faith, the power to discern evil, to resist temptation, and to "chase darkness from among [us]."19 We need the power to repent of our sins, to overcome bad habits and addictions, and to purify our hearts. We need the power to proclaim the gospel and bear witness of the truth. We need the power to love, to reach out to others, to lift and strengthen and serve. We need the power to endure well the trials of our lives.
You have felt those powers in your lives already, but the Lord desires to give you more.
All through your lives the Lord has prepared you to receive the blessings of increasing heavenly power. We do not receive a fullness of those blessings all at once. The Lord gives them to us line upon line and precept upon precept. Everything you have done in the Church has been focused on preparing you for increased spiritual growth and increased spiritual power, according to your faith and your obedience. Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that all these things point us to the temple of the Lord:
The temple is the house of the Lord. The basis for every temple ordinance and covenant-the heart of the plan of salvation-is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple . . . .20
Brothers and sisters, I want you to hear today a voice of invitation and hope: Come to the temple! Put your life in order and prepare to enter the holy temple! Come and receive the supernal blessings the Lord has prepared for you.
To those of you who are not yet endowed, I say, "Prepare now to attend the temple when the time is right. Live the commandments." If now is not the season of your life to receive your own endowment, qualify for a recommend and attend the temple to do baptisms for the dead. Let your desire to receive all the blessings of the temple work in you, pointing you to a life of obedience and faith. As you do so, you will feel growing strength and spiritual power until the day comes when you are prepared and worthy and ready to receive your temple blessings.
To you who have been endowed, I say, "Come to the temple often." Make sure your recommend is current and use it often. Come to the holy temple and bless the lives of those who cannot receive those marvelous blessings without you. Come to receive all the blessings the Lord desires to give you.
When you come to the holy temple, you follow an ancient pattern established by the Lord in the days of Adam and Eve.
President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of this pattern:
. . . Adam and his posterity were commanded by God to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and to enter into the order of the Son of God.
To enter into the order of the Son of God is the equivalent today of entering into the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is only received in the house of the Lord.
Adam and his descendants entered into the priesthood order of God. Today we would say they went to the House of the Lord and received their blessings.21
When we speak of temple blessings, we speak of the powers of heaven given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Today I will highlight three kinds of blessings and three sources of power we receive in the temple: knowledge, sacred covenants and promises, and the blessing of an eternal family.
The temple is a house of learning, especially about the plan of salvation. We learn many wonderful things in the temple about our Heavenly Father, about His Only Begotten Son, about the plan of redemption, and about our divine nature and destiny. We learn about our purpose here on earth, about the Great War, and about what we must do to return home to our Father. In this sacred knowledge there is power against the deception, the attacks, and the distractions of the Enemy.
In addition to this formal instruction, temple ordinances like baptism for the dead, the endowment, and temple marriage contain symbols and patterns with great potential for new understanding and knowledge, no matter how often we have been in the temple.
Because of these symbols and patterns, the Spirit may teach us many things that are very personal and specific to our needs. We may see in the temple patterns to take with us and apply in our lives. We may come to know the Lord more fully. In the temple, therefore, we receive a fulfillment of the promise of the Lord when He said:
If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things-that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.22
Covenants and Promises
In the temple we take upon ourselves sacred obligations of obedience, virtue, and dedication that bind us to the Lord. There is great power in those personal covenants. When they are written in our hearts, they become our deepest desires and our most precious and sacred commitments.
When we face the wiles of the devil or his fiery darts, they stand as a bulwark of power and strength against the Enemy.
These covenants also come with great promises of the Lord, promises so magnificent and so full of power that our pioneer ancestors labored day and night to build the Nauvoo Temple to receive them. Today, our brothers and sisters in many parts of the world travel many, many days and sell all they possess in order to receive those promises.
Those promises include:
- Becoming the seed of Abraham,23 enjoying posterity and the power and blessings of the priesthood in its fullness, including the rights and responsibilities of holy callings in the kingdom of God.24
- Receiving spiritual capacity, including revelation, the capacity to discern the truth, and to recognize and heed the word of the Lord.
- Physical capacity sufficient to accomplish the Lord's purposes; in the words of Isaiah, "[we] shall run, and not be weary; and [we] shall walk, and not faint."25
- Protection from evil26 and thus peace and spiritual well being.
The temple is the place on earth where we may go to start a new eternal family. In the Lord's House the ordinance of sealing binds us to our eternal companion and to the Lord and establishes an eternal family. Every sealing ordinance is one more welding link in the great chain of the generations, one more thread in the tapestry of heaven. This marvelous sealing power brings the blessing of living here on earth in an eternal family. We enjoy a legacy of faith and righteousness that flows to us from our forebears, and we pass that legacy on to our children who participate in that eternal covenant. That legacy, and the love and support of our eternal family, becomes a tremendous source of power and protection in our lives.
The creation of an eternal family in the holy temple carries with it the supernal promises and blessings of eternity: resurrection in celestial glory, exaltation in the celestial kingdom, eternal life with our Heavenly Father, and an eternal family and eternal increase in His kingdom. If we are true and faithful to our covenants, we will be "sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true."27 We will be joint-heirs with Christ,28 and He will seal us His:
Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's.29
The blessings of the temple come to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. In His holy temple we receive power through knowledge, sacred covenants and promises, eternal families, and from the presence of the Lord. At the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed:
And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ . . .
. . . that thy holy presence may be continually in this house;
And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord's house may feel thy power . . .
. . . that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power . . .30
When we attend the holy temple, we experience the presence of the Lord and feel His power. Going to the temple, therefore, is a spiritual experience full of power that inspires, edifies, lifts, and strengthens. Truly, in the holy temple we are endowed with power from on high31 and our ". . . confidence [waxes] strong in the presence of God."32
It is in the temples of the Lord that Nephi's great prophecy about the latter-days is fulfilled in its fullness:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.33
Oh, brothers and sisters, this is our promise. This is our legacy. Come to the temple! Prepare now and come! Come to learn the blessed truths of salvation; come to partake of sacred ordinances and enter into eternal covenants; come to be sealed in an eternal family; come to receive glorious promises and blessings of capacity and protection and strength; come for peace; come to serve and love; come for the Savior--to be in His presence, to feel of His love and His power.
Come and be endowed with power from on high. It is the power that is in Christ and in His holy house that will help us resist temptation, overcome evil, reach out to love and help the wounded, serve and obey, and be valiant in a time of war.
I give you my witness that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I know the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove and launched the Restoration of the gospel, including the power and authority to administer all the blessings of the holy temple. That power has been handed down in an unbroken chain from Joseph Smith to Gordon B. Hinckley. I so testify.
I know the temple is the house of the Lord. And I know the blessings of the temple are worth everything it takes to get there. I hope and pray that all of you will receive all your temple blessings, including the blessing of an eternal family. And so, I leave you today with a personal blessing. I bless you that you will have the righteous desires of your hearts. Those blessings will come in the Lord's time and in His way, but I bless you they will come. Please let those desires and this personal blessing work in you and point you to the House of the Lord.
When you walk on this campus every day, look up! Look to the temple, to heaven on earth. Let this magnificent temple on the hill draw you to Christ and give you hope, and strength, and power. The Rexburg Temple stands as a glorious invitation to come unto Christ, that we might put our trust in Him and prevail through Him and with Him now and forever.
I leave you this blessing and my witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1 Alma 58:11
2 2 Nephi 28:22
3 1 Peter 5:8
4 Alma 34:35 (emphasis added)
5 Mosiah 5:15 (emphasis added)
6 D&C 49:6
7 Matthew 4:1
8 Matthew 4:10
9 David O. McKay, "Individual Righteousness the Strength of the Church," Instructor, September 1962, p. 290.
10 Matthew 4:10
11 D&C 89:4
12 2 Nephi 28:20
13 Moses 5:29
14 Luke 10:30-37
15 Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181
16 1 Corinthians 10:13
17 1 Corinthians 10:13
18 Revelations 12:10-11
19 D&C 50:25
20 Russell M. Nelson, "Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings," Liahona, July 2001, pp. 37-40
21 Ezra Taft Benson, "What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple," Ensign, August 1985, p. 6
22 D&C 42:61
23 D&C 84:34, D&C 132:30-31
24 Alma 13:8-9, D&C 76:56
25 Isaiah 40:31
26 D&C 109:22, 25
27 D&C 76:53
28 Romans 8:17
29 D&C 76:59-60
30 D&C 109:4, 12-13, 22
31 D&C 38:32
32 D&C 121:45
33 1 Nephi 14:14