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Gospel Doctrine Lesson 18: How We Taught This Topic in the Past

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 10, 2009

Lesson 18: “Establish … a House of God”


1900: Deseret Sunday School Union Leaflets

Lesson 207: Temples


Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices, by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places, wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. (Doc. & Cov. 124:39.)

The tabernacle of the congregation:

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

* * * * * * *

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. (Ex. 25:1, 2, 8, 9.)

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

* * * * * * *

For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Ex. 40:34, 38.)

The Temple of Solomon:

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshiped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (Chron. 7:1-3.)

the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication that thou hast made before me; I have hallowed this house which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. (I Kings 9:2, 3.)

The decree of Cyrus:

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God), which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

Then there rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God has raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord, which is in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-5.)

The Temple of Nephi:

And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon, save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land; wherefore it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine. (II Nephi 5:16.)

But behold a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites, and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping, and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness. * * * cannot be contained in this work. (Helaman 3:14.)


Temple Ordinances. – “The main object [in gathering the Jews] was to build unto the Lord a house whereby he could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that when they are taught and practiced must be done in a house or place built for that purpose. * * * It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc.” – Joseph Smith.

Cyrus. – The founder of the Persian empire and the conqueror of Babylon and Assyria. He was the friend of the Jews, and he permitted those in captivity in Babylon to return to their own country and rebuild Jerusalem, and restore the temple, and even returned to them the holy vessels which were carried away by Nebuchadnezzar, (See II Chron. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; 3:7; 4:3; 5:13, 17; 6:3.)

Darius. – The king of Persia who helped the Jews rebuild the Temple. In the second year of his reign he allowed the resumption of the building and in the sixth year it was complet4ed. (Ezra 6:15.)

Zerubbabel. – A prince of the house of Judah, who returned from Babylon and rebuilt the Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem. He was made governor of Judea by King Cyrus.

Titus. – The Roman Emperor who destroyed Jerusalem. He was born A.D. 40 or 41, died A.D. 81. He was the son of Vespasian; served in the army; conducted the Jewish war after the departure of his father, and captured Jerusalem A.D. 70. He was associated with Vespasian in the government, and succeeded to the throne A.D. 70.

Tabernacle of the congregation. – The Tabernacle was the tent of Jehovah. It was also called the Sanctuary. The first ordinances given to Moses, after the proclamation of the law from Sinai, related to the Tabernacle, its furniture and its service, as the type which was to be followed when the people came to their own home, and “found a place” for the abode of God. During the forty days that Moses was with the Lord in the mount an exact pattern of all was shown him, and all was made according to that pattern.


Temples or other sacred places are needed for the performance of the holy ordinances prescribed by the gospel. Whenever the church of God, in its completeness, has existed upon the earth, the Lord has required the building of places where its rites could be properly performed. In every age of the world God’s chosen people have been a temple-building people. It was so with the Jews and the Nephites; it is so with the Latter-day Saints today. Shortly after Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt, the Lord called upon the people to construct a sanctuary to His name, the plan of which he minutely revealed. This is s known as the Tabernacle of the congregation, and God accepted it and manifested His glory therein. In later years the Temple was built by Solomon in Jerusalem. It was one of the most gorgeous structures ever erected by man for sacred uses. It was dedicated with imposing ceremonies, and the glory of the Lord rested upon it. Its splendor, however, was of short duration; for within less than forty years from the time of its completion its glory declined, and finally it fell a prey to the flames. A partial restoration of the temple was made after the Jews returned from their captivity in Babylon; and through the friendly influence of Cyrus and Darius the temple of Zerubbabel was dedicated. This temple remained standing for nearly five centuries, when, but a few years before the birth of our Savior, Herod the Great commenced its restoration. The veil of this temple was rent at Christ’s crucifixion, and in the year A.D. 70 the entire building was destroyed by the Roman soldiers under Titus.

On the western continent many temples were built by the Nephites. We read of temples in the lands of nephi, Lehi-Nephi, Zarahemla, Bountiful and elsewhere. Helaman, one of their historians, says that not a hundredth part of their building of temples, synagogues and sanctuaries could be contained in his record.

The Latter-day Saints are also a temple-building people. Already in their short history they have completed six temples (those at Kirtland, Nauvoo, St. George, Logan, manti, and Salt Lake City). They also dedicated the spot for two others – at Independence and at Far West, both in Missouri.

A temple is not simply a meeting house, a tabernacle, a synagogue or a church. It is a place specially prepared by dedication unto the Lord for the performance of the ordinances, both for the living and the dead, which pertain to the holy Priesthood. Occasionally they are used for special gatherings of the Priesthood when matters of unusual importance have to be considered.

What We May Learn from This Lesson.

1. That God’s people have always been commanded to build temples to His holy name. 2. That Israel built a tabernacle in the wilderness which was accepted by God until a temple could be built. 3. That after Israel’s arrival in Palestine, Solomon built a temple, which was also accepted by the Lord. 4. That this temple was destroyed by fire, but afterwards restored by Zerubbabel, and still later enlarged and beautified by Herod the Great. 5. That it was finally destroyed by the Romans under Titus. 6. That the Nephites built many temples on the American continent. 7. That the Latter-day Saints have already built six temples and dedicated the ground for two others. 8. That temples are not built for public worship, but for the performance of those sacred ordinances connected with the Gospel which God directs should be performed therein.

Questions on the Lesson.

1. What is the subject of our lesson? 2. What was the Tabernacle of the congregation? 3. By whom was it built? 4. Who gave the pattern? 5. Tell what you know of Solomon’s Temple. 6. What took place at its dedication? 7. Who was Zerubbabel? 8. Who was Cyrus? 9. In what way was Cyrus connected with the temple at Jerusalem? 10. Who was Darius? 11. What temple was in existence in the days of our Savior? 12. By whom was it destroyed? 13. Who was the first Israelite who built a temple in America? 14. Where did he build it? 15. In what other lands did the Nephites build temples? 16. In what places have the Latter-day Saints built temples? 17. What are temples? 18. To whose honor are they built? 19. For what purposes are temples built? 20. What ordinances are performed therein?

1942: “Out of the Books”: Genealogical Training Class

Lesson 2: Why Go to the Temple

Problem: What are the personal benefits to the individual who worthily participates in temple service and temple worship?

To be able to attend the temple is a great privilege, reserved for the faithful of God’s people. It is a blessing that should be earnestly sought after, as constituting one of the greatest opportunities of this life to learn the higher principles of the Gospel, to be enriched with power from on high, encouraged and inspired to live up to life’s highest ideals, and by participation in a self-sacrificing service to bring blessings to others, thereby qualifying oneself to become more and more like our heavenly Father.

1. Definition of the Endowment.

“Let me give you a definition in brief. 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, being enabled to give the keywords, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation.” (Brigham Young, “Discourses,” p. 637.) The Prophet also said, “The keys are certain signs and words by which false spirits and persons may be detected from true, which cannot be revealed to the elders till the temple is completed.” “Then go on and build the temples of the Lord, that you may receive the endowments in store for you,” continues President Young, “and possess the keys of the eternal Priesthood, that you may receive every word, sign, and token, and be made acquainted with the laws of angels, and of the kingdom of our Father and our God, and know how to pass from one degree to another, and enter fully into the joy of your Lord.’ (Discourses, p. 606.)

An instructive explanation of the endowment is found in “The House of the Lord,” pp. 99-101, and should be studied in this connection.

The Temple Endowment, as administered in modern temples, comprises instruction relating to the significance and sequence of past dispensations, and the importance of the present as the greatest and grandest era in human history. This course of instruction includes a recital of the most prominent events of the creative period, the condition of our first parents in the Garden of Eden, their disobedience and consequent expulsion from that blissful abode, their condition in the lone and dreary world when doomed to live by labor and sweat, the plan of redemption by which the great transgression may be atoned, the period of the great apostasy, the restoration of the Gospel with all its ancient powers and privileges, the absolute and indispensable condition of personal purity and devotion to the right in present life, and a strict compliance with Gospel requirements.

“As will be shown, the temples erected by the Latter-day Saints provide for the giving of these instructions in separate rooms, each devoted to a particular part of the course; and by this provision it is possible to have several classes under instruction at one time.

“The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure, to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King – the Lord Jesus Christ. With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions.

“No jot, iota, or tittle of the temple rites is otherwise than uplifting and sanctifying. In every detail the endowment ceremony contributes to covenants of morality of life, consecration of person to high ideals, devotion to truth, patriotism to nation, and allegiance to God. The blessings of the House of the Lord are 4restricted to no privileged class; every m ember of the Church may have admission to the temple with the right to participate in the ordinances thereof, if he comes duly accredited as of worthy life and conduct.”

2. The Teaching Value of the Endowment. In the endowment ceremonies we have the opportunity to raise our hands and make solemn covenant that we will serve the Lord, observe his commandments and keep ourselves unspotted from the world. This interesting judgment of the value of the endowment is given by Elder John A. Widtsoe:

“The wonderful pedagogy of the temple service, especially appealing to me, as a professional teacher, carries with it evidence of the truth of temple work. We go to the temple to be informed and directed, to be built up and to be blessed. How is all this accomplished? First by the spoken word, through lectures and conversations, just as we do in the class room, except with more elaborate care, then by the appeal to the eye by representations by living, moving beings; and by pictorial representations in the wonderfully decorated rooms (as any one may see in Dr. Talmage’s book, “The House of the Lord”). Meanwhile the recipients themselves, the candidates for blessings, engage actively in the temple service as they move from room to room, with the progress of instruction. Altogether our temple worship follows a most excellent pedagogical system. I wish instruction were given so well in every school room throughout the land.” (Utah Genealogical Magazine 12:58-569.)

3. Covenants and Promises.

“Knowledge becomes serviceable,” continues Dr. Widtsoe, “only when it is used; the covenant made in the temple, or elsewhere, if of the right kind, is merely a promise to give life to knowledge, by making knowledge useful and helpful in man’s daily progress. Temple work, or any work, would have no meaning unless accompanied by covenants. It would consist simply of bits of information for ornament; the covenant gives life to truth; and makes possible the blessings that reward all those who use knowledge properly; or the penalties that overtake those who misuse knowledge. Penalties and rewards hang upon the use of knowledge.” (Ibid., p. 61.)

4. Man’s Highest Ideal. Our highest ideal in life is to become like our Father in Heaven. To bring happiness to mankind Jesus made the supreme sacrifice. To become like them, we too must sacrifice, of our time, talents and means. In vicarious work for the dead, doing work like unto that of the Savior, we grow in likeness to our Great parent.

“The worth of a soul can best be measured in its effect upon man’s realization of his highest ideal. Without my brother, I cannot attain my highest. Without loving him I cannot look forward to the highest place. Without sacrificing for him I cannot hope to win fullest recognition. Without him I cannot achieve my likeness to the Lord. We are bound together, one great human family, moving on to a glorious destiny.” (Elder John A. Widtsoe.)

1942: Senior Department, Sunday School Lessons

Lesson 39: Ancient and Modern Temples

Nearly all peoples on the earth have built some sort of temples. Temples are found in China, Japan, India, Persia, etc. They are always associated with worship. Temples are of very ancient construction. Their ruins still exist in Europe, Asia, Palestine, Egypt, America, and numerous other places. Only among the Israelites and their descendants, however, is the true temple, “the House of the Lord,” to be found.

The First Temple

Groves are sometimes said to be God’s first temples. No doubt they were first used as places of worship before synagogues and churches were built. But the first real temple mentioned in our present records seems to have been the Tabernacle built by Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. It was truly a House of the Lord. In it Aaron and his sons performed the ordinances and ceremonies pertaining to the laws of Moses, and in the Holy of Holies Moses communed with the Lord. It was a symbol of God’s power during Israel’s travels in the wilderness. It was small, ten ft. wide, thirty ft. long and ten ft. ceiling, and could be taken apart and set up again like a tent. The Tabernacle was carried in the lead when traveling and while in camp, it occupied the center. It was a center of Israelite civilization during the reign of the Judges.

Solomon’s Temple

Solomon’s Temple was built on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem over the rock on which Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice. King David wanted to build the temple but being a man of war he was not permitted to build it. He did, however, collect much of the material later used b his son Solomon in its construction. It was double the size of the little Tabernacle, but built on the same plan. It had two rooms, the Holy of Holies, and the Holy Place. These rooms were separated by a beautiful curtain called the veil. The veil of the temple was miraculously rent in twain when Jesus breathed his very last on the cross.

The Temple of Solomon had a baptismal font resting on the backs of twelve life-size bronze oxen as they are in our Temples today. There is no evidence in the Old Testament that the font was used to baptize. At least there were no baptisms for the dead until after the resurrection of Christ.

The Temple was seven years in the building. All the parts were cut and fitted before they were brought to the ground. “Nor was there sound of hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house while it was building.” The Temple was completed 1005 B.C., and destroyed 500 years later by King Nebachadnezzar of Babylon. (I Kings, chapters 6-7; II Kings chapters 11, 18, 23; I Chronicles, chapters 6, 10; II Chronicles chapters 4, 26, 27, 35, 36)

Zerubbabel’s Temple

This temple was built on the spot where Solomon’s Temple was destroyed. It was built by the Jews who had returned form the Babylonian captivity. It was one-third larger than Solomon’s Temple, but not so costly and beautiful. There is not much said about its use. (Ezra, chapters 3 to 6: Nehemiah 6:10-11; Isaiah chapters 6, 44, 66)

Herod’s Temple

This is the temple in which Jesus and his apostles preached and whose destruction was foretold by our Savior.

It was not strictly a new building but the old one repaired and added to. The work was done to secure the favor of the Jews who hated Herod. The temple was literally destroyed by Titus, a Roman General, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. (Mark, chapters 13, 14, 15; Luke 1, 2, 4, 18-24; John 5, 7, 8, 10, 11)

“Book of Mormon” Temples

II Nephi 5:16 says: “And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; … but the manner of construction was like unto the Temple of Solomon.” Nephi had lived in Jerusalem and must have been familiar with Solomon’s Temple, inside and out. Nephi’s Temple was in the City of Nephi. It was used at least for religious gatherings. Jacob taught the people in it. (Jacob 1:17; 2:11) There was also a temple at Zarahemla where Mosiah and Benjamin taught the people. (Mosiah 1:18) There must have been one at Bountiful. The people gathered at this temple, and Jesus appeared to them there after the three days of darkness had cleared away. (III Nephi 11:1) When and by whom these last two were built is not known, but as nephi’s was built first, these last ones may have been patterned after it. There may have been others in America, not mentioned.

The Kirtland Temple

About three years after the organization of the Church the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that it would be necessary to build a temple, a house of the Lord. The Principle of salvation for the dead had not been revealed at that early date. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith says:

“There were certain endowments and blessings to be given to the elders, before they could go forth fully prepared to preach the Gospel in the world, which could only be obtained in the Temple of the Lord. For this cause the Lord commanded that the temple be built at once for the preaching of the Gospel was very urgent.”

This temple was fifty-five by sixty-five feet and two stories high, somewhat larger than Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. It cost $60,000, an immense sum to be paid by so few poor and struggling people.

The temple was completed and dedicated in 1836. Perhaps no building has ever had more heavenly manifestations within its walls than this little temple. Jesus appeared and accepted the house. At its dedication there were miraculous manifestations of God’s power, a bright light was over it, angels were seen and heavenly music was heard. On April 3, 1836, Elias, Moses, and Elijah appeared and gave to the Prophet authority to gather Israel and to build temples and therein do the work of salvation for the living and the dead.

This temple, like the one in ancient America, was used to part as a meeting house for the gathering of the saints. It still stands, owned and used by the Reorganized Church as a meeting house. It served its purpose. Great blessings were received therein before the saints were compelled, through persecution, to leave it.

The Nauvoo Temple

The persecuted saints had no sooner settled Nauvoo, Illinois, than they were commanded of the Lord to build another Temple. The Kirtland Temple had in it no baptismal font. In it no work was done for the dead, though the principle and authority had been revealed there by Elijah the Prophet. The temple at nauvoo was much larger and cost about $1,000,000.00. It was in every sense like our present temples.

Like Solomon’s temple, in it was a baptismal font resting on the backs of twelve life-sized oxen. It was completed in 1846, ten years after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. The Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum saw the introduction of temple work for the salvation of the living and the dead, but were martyred before the building was completed. As each room was finished, it was dedicated and used so that many of the saints received the temple ordinances before they were driven from Nauvoo.

Malachi’s prophecy concerning the coming of Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6) was now fulfilled, and those who had died without hearing the Gospel could now have its ordinances performed for them. This temple was destroyed by fire when the saints were driven out of the city in 1846.

The Salt Lake Temple

This great building is familiar to all who read this lesson. Its beauty and grandeur are known throughout the world. It was seen in vision by President Brigham Young on the spot where it stands when the pioneers first entered Salt Lake Valley. It was dedicated in 1893, being forty years in the building. It is a massive structure of gray granite. The walls are sixteen feet thick at the foundation, tapering to six feet thick at the top. This building is almost indestructible from natural causes. President Young said that it must stand through the Millennium, and well it may.

During its construction three different presidents presided over the Church, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff. Before its completion three other temples at St. George, Logan, and Manti, had been completed, dedicated, and used. Many interesting things are recorded about the construction of the Salt Lake Temple which cannot be retold here. References are given with the lesson.

The St. George Temple

This temple was built of red sand stone. Later it was veneered with plaster and painted white. Either night or day it is an inspiring sight, a great white monument in the midst of its red and green surroundings. It was commenced in 1871 and completed in 1877, the year of President Brigham Young’s death. It cost $500,000.00.

The Logan Temple

The temple site was dedicated in 1877 and the building completed and dedicated in 1884. It is like a precious jewel set in a costly ornament. The rich, beautiful valley is a truly fitting place for such a building. It cost $700,000.00.

The Manti Temple

This magnificent building stands on a hill overlooking Sanpete Valley. It can be seen from many towns and villages. It is God’s sentinel, silently watching day and night, ever beckoning men and women to come and bless and be blessed. The site was dedicated in 1877 and the building completed and dedicated in 1888.

These Utah temples with their massive structures and towering spires pointing heavenward, harmonize well with the everlasting hills and mountains symbolize the greatness and power of God’s work in the salvation of his children.

More Recent Temples

During the administration of President Heber J. Grant, three temples of entirely different type of architecture have been built, the Hawaiian, 1919, the Canadian, 1923, and the Mesa temple, 1927. These temples, ancient in appearance, yet modern, are like a visit from the old Prophets. Not many of us have seen all these temples, but from photographs and paintings we know something of their beauty.

And now another temple is in course of construction, at Idaho Falls, and the site of another located in Los Angeles, California. These are not the last; others will be built in various parts where needed most. When wars cease, and peace of the Millennium is established, thousands of people will continue to enter these temples to labor for millions who have gone on before. The hearts of the children have been turned to their fathers.

Temple sties were dedicated in Independence, Jackson County, Far West, Missouri, but have not yet been built.


1. How do temples differ from other types of religious buildings?
2. In this lesson, sixteen temples are mentioned; locate them.
3. We have seven temples now in use. Suppose work is done for two hundred dead people in each temple, five days per week. How many people will have had their work done in a year? In ten years?
4. Name two temples where only the Temple site or corner stone was dedicated.
5. Who may do work in the temples?
6. What did Elijah, the Prophet, have to do with temple work in our day?

1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley

Chapter 41

What is a Temple?

On the morning of Sunday, March 27, 1836, the first temple ever built in this dispensation by the command of God was dedicated to his name in Kirtland, Ohio. In all the dispensations of the gospel there are no recorded events in which the power and demonstration of the Spirit of God and the presences of heavenly beings were more gloriously manifest than during those days of dedication.

It was a memorable event in the history of the church. The temple had been constructed in compliance with a revelation received (see 88:119 and 95:8-9) at a time when the Saints were few and poor, and when to raise the money required great self-sacrifice on their part. B.H. Roberts estimates the cost of the temple at $40,000, and others put it between $60,000 and $70,000. “While the brethren labored in their departments,” says Tullidge, “the sisters were actively engaged in boarding and caring for workmen not otherwise provided for. All living as abstemiously as possible so that every cent might be appropriated to the grand object.” And thus they toiled from the 23rd day of July, 1833, when the cornerstone was laid, until it was ready for dedication.

In the revelation given on the 1st of June, 1833, the Lord indicated the special object for which this house was to be built: “… I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high.” (D&C 95:8.) It was to be a place in which the Church would receive a Pentecostal baptism in the fires of the Holy Ghost, a special house consecrated and dedicated, for holy purposes.

A temple is a sort of half-way house between this world and the next, the only place, it would appear, where something can be done here that will register over there. We believe that ordinances performed in holy temples by those who have the authority are not only binding in this world but in the next world as well, not for time only, but for all eternity. It is in these holy precincts that the great vicarious work for the dead is performed, and in this way is provided a plan by which all the children of our Father may hear, either in this world or the next, the gospel and have an opportunity to receive it or reject it.

Dedication of the Kirtland Temple

When the day of dedication arrived the people assembled early. They were full of joy and gratitude; and were not disappointed in their expectations. The manifestations of a divine presence were such as to leave no room in the minds of true Saints for doubt concerning the nature of the work in which they were engaged. Heber C. Kimball related that during the ceremonies of the dedication, an angel appeared and sat near Joseph Smith, Sr., and Frederick G. Williams, so that they had a fair view of his person. He was tall, had black eyes and white hair, wore a garment extending to near his ankles and had sandals on his feet. ‘He was sent,’ President Kimball said, ‘as a messenger to accept of the dedication.’” (Whitney’s Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 103.)

“On the 6th of April, a meeting was held which was prolonged into the night. On this occasion the spirit of prophecy was poured out upon the Saints, and many in the congregation saw tongues of fire upon some of those present, while to others angels appeared. ‘This,’ President Kimball says, ‘continued several days and was attended by a marvelous spirit of prophecy.’” (D&C Com., p. 891.)

The Prophet himself made the dedicatory prayer which he closed with the following words: ‘O Hear, … us, O Lord! And answer these petitions, and accept the dedication of this house unto thee, the work of our hands, which we have built unto thy name; and also this church, to put upon it thy name. And help us by the power of thy spirit, that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne, with acclamations of praise, singing Hosannah to God and the Lamb! And let these, thine anointed ones, be clothed with salvation, and thy saints shout aloud for joy. …” (D&C 109:78-80.)

“That same evening the Prophet met the quorums in the temple. Brother George A. Smith stood up and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a mighty rushing wind which filled the building. All the congregation arose in an instant, being moved upon by an invisible power. Many began to speak in tongues and prophesy, and others saw glorious visions. The temple was filled with angels. People from the neighborhood came running toward the temple, having heard an unusual sound and seen a brilliant light like a pillar of fire rising above the structure. These spectators were amazed at what they saw and heard.” (George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, 1888 ed., p. 196.) The writer heard Myron Tanner, at one time bishop of the Third Ward in Provo, confirm this circumstance.

What They Saw

On Sunday the 3rd of April, 1836, after the regular service of the day, the Prophet and Oliver retired to the pulpit and dropped a veil by which it was separated from the body of the house and bowed in solemn and silent prayer, and after rising a vision was given to them. The eyes of their understanding were opened. “We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father. Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice. Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have, with their might, built this house to my name. For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house. Yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house. Yea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house. And the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands; and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people. Even so. Amen.” (D&C 110:2-10.)

Jehovah declares in this revelation that he has accepted this house, and his name shall be there and he will manifest himself unto his people in mercy, and that the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which his servants have been endowed in this house.

Other Visions

This great vision closed and the heavens were again opened. Moses appeared and committed unto them the keys of the gathering of Israel. After this came Elias, who gave them the keys of the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham. When this vision closed, Elijah the Prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, appeared unto them testifying that the time had fully come which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi concerning the coming of Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. He came “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse.” (The visions and the keys which were conferred have been considered in a previous lesson.)

The erection of the temple at Kirtland seemed to increase the opposition to which the Church had been subjected since its organization. The persecutions became so violent that all of the Saints who could dispose of their property and leave, did so, and joined their fellow religionists in Missouri. Within two years following the dedication a general exodus of the Saints had taken place and the temple soon fell into the hands of the persecutors.

The dimensions of the temple on the outside are 60 by 80 feet, the height to the square is 50 feet, to the top of the tower is 110 feet. The building is of stone covered with a fine quality of stucco, which is still in a good state of preservation. The temple faces the east and occupies a sight that commands an overview of the surrounding country. It is owned at the present time by the Reorganized Church.

George A. Smith says, referring to the Kirtland Temple (page 892, D. and C. Commentary): “We considered it a very large building. Some nine hundred and sixty could be seated, and there would be room for a few to stand. The congregation was swelled to a little over a thousand persons at the time of the dedication. It was a trial of faith. The elders from every part of the country had come together. … The congregation was so large that we could not all get in; and when the house was full, then, of course, the doors were closed, and no more admitted. This caused Elder Frazier Eaton, who had paid $700 towards building the house, to apostatize, because he did not get there early enough to the meeting. When the dedication prayer was read by Joseph, it was read from a printed copy. This was a great trial of faith to many.” (JD, Vol. XI, p. 9.)

Keys Restored

“Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.” (D&C 110:16.)

Speaking on this subject, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The Bible says, ‘I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.’

“Now, the word turn here should be translated bind, or seal. But what is the object of this important mission? or how is it to be fulfilled? The keys are to be delivered, the spirit of Elijah is to come, the gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion.

“But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations, and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah. …

“The Saints have not too much time to save and redeem their dead, and gather together their living relatives, that they may be saved also, before the earth will be smitten, and the consumption decreed falls upon the world.” (DHC, Vol. VI, pp. 183, 184.)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the sole custodian of the keys, the authority, and the endowments necessary for the salvation of the living and the dead. Holy temples are the only places where certain blessings and endowments can be received. Without these blessings one cannot attain the highest exaltation in the Kingdom of God. Latter-day Saints are the only people who have the authority to do and who understand the importance of temple work.

The Gospel Message, by William E. Barrett

Lessons 31-32, The Eternal Nature of Covenants and Ordinances

Ordinances Eternal

The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is distinctive in its teachings concerning the eternal nature of ordinances and covenants when entered into under the hands of the priesthood. Latter-day scriptures reveal that the ordinances and covenants of the Church had their beginning before the world was and when properly entered into and obeyed may endure for all eternity. One of the purposes of the restoration was to restore the true ordinances and covenants. Referring to the state of the world before the restoration took place the Lord announced by revelation:

“For they have strayed from mine ordinances and have broken mine everlasting covenant.” (Doc. and Cov. 1:15.)

The need for the proper ordinances in the Church is emphasized in a later revelation.

“And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

“Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of Godliness is manifest.

“And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of Godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.” (Ibid., 84:19-21.)

Of course the power of God, as manifested in the laws of nature, the orderliness of the universe, the working of events in answer to prayer, the inspiration of poets, etc., can be known and understood by all men; but the power of God, exercised by or through men in the flesh is known only where men hold authority from God to exercise particular divine powers. It is the exercise of divine power that makes ordinances binding between the Lord and his children. Where the ordinances are properly performed, the Holy ghost may bestow upon men those gifts of the spirit by which the power of God was manifest among “men in the flesh” in the days of the apostolic church and again in the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

Ordinances have a special significance to the Latter-day Saints because, when properly administered by men with the priesthood, they become direct covenants with the Almighty and are hence eternal in nature.

Relation of Ordinances to Salvation

Salvation, of course, is not a mere matter of the performing of ordinances; but the ordinances as given of Christ are an evidence of obedience to the commandments. They follow good works and are a reward for them rather than a substitute for them. Consider the following:

“And again, by way of commandment to the Church concerning the manner of baptism – all those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his Church.” (Ibid., 20:37.)

To say that man cannot enter the Kingdom of God without baptism means more than the ordinance alone and includes the keeping of the commandments which are the prerequisites of baptism. The same principle applies with the ordinance of the sacrament. God’s spirit, which may come to one who partakes of the sacrament, does not come unless the promises made to God in the sacramental prayers are kept, and the individual comes to the sacramental table with clean hands and a pure heart. The Savior said:

“And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer anyone knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall administer it;

“For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; …” (3 Nephi 18:28-29.)

The same relationship of a good life to the ordinances of the Church is found when we consider the ordinances performed in the Lord’s temples. The endowment may not be entered into unless the bishop and stake president vouch for the purity of the candidate and his obedience to the commandments of God. Without the living of a Christ-like life the ordinances avail nothing; for the blessings promised in them are conditional upon obedience to the commandments.

Ordinances Mark the Path of Progression

The ordinances of the church are progressive in nature, the requirements becoming more stringent, and the blessings held out more glorious as man progresses in the Church. The gospel of faith, repentance, and baptism is referred to by the Lord as a preparatory gospel. (Doc. and Cov. 84:267-27.) It prepares the individual for entrance into the Kingdom of God; and when he has been admitted by a higher ordinance, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy ghost, and if he remains faithful to the principles, he will be saved in the celestial kingdom. But God has instituted other ordinances wherein man may enter into covenants to keep the higher principles of the gospel upon which exaltation depends. Salvation is not the highest goal which Latter-day Saints seek but they strive to so live that the way to exaltation and eternal increase may be open to them. The position of the church in this matter is found in the words of the Prophet Joseph:

“If a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of the world, upon which all blessings are predicated.

“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (Ibid., 130:19-21.)

The higher ordinances of the gospel are performed only in temples, when temples are upon the earth. Two of these ordinances may be entered into by all the righteous members of the church – the endowment, and marriage for time and eternity.

The Endowment

Three great principles underlie the ordinances in the temple. First, God is no respecter of persons. Rich and poor, those of higher social position and those of low, before entering the temple precincts, don a uniform apparel that they might learn the first great principle – all men will be judged by the same law and all who attain exaltation must present the same qualities worthy of such blessing, to a just God. Second, a man can be saved only so fast as he gains knowledge of the laws of God. This law of eternal progression is symbolized by a learning process during the endowment, and without a mastery of which the recipient cannot advance. Third, blessings are obtained only when there is obedience to the law upon which the blessing is predicated. The results of obedience and disobedience are taught in such a manner that the recipient will not forget the importance of the great principle once stated by the Prophet Samuel, “to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken, than the fat of rams.” (I Samuel 15:22.)

Concerning the “endowment,” John A. Widtsoe, of the Council of Twelve, writes:

“The endowment given to members of the Church in the temples falls into several divisions. First, there is a course of instruction relative to man’s eternal journey from the dim beginning towards his possible glorious destiny. Then, conditions are set up by which that endless journey may be made upward in direction. Those who receive this information covenant to obey the laws of eternal progress, and thereby give life to the knowledge received. Finally, it is made clear that a man must sometime give an account of his deeds, and prove the possession of divine knowledge and religious works. It is a very beautiful and inspiring series of ceremonies.” (Widtsoe, A Rational Theology, pp. 125-26. Read the entire treatment, pp. 125-129.)

Such a story can of course only be told symbolically. Every educational device known is used to make the elements of the endowment impressive and educational. The covenants made with the Lord in the temple are sacred and are not discussed outside of the temples.

Celestial Marriage – Marriage Ordained of God

The Lord has declared that marriage is a sacred institution and, while marriages performed according to the law of the land are recognized for this life and are productive of good, it is God’s desire that His children should seek His holy blessing upon their union. This blessing of our Father in heaven is given in His stead by men holding power and authority from Him for this purpose and is performed in a holy house or temple. When the conditions and requirements of marriage decreed by our Father in heaven are complied with, our marriage is recognized in His kingdom. As His kingdom endureth forever, even in the life beyond this, so the marriage is recognized forever and the covenant entered into becomes an eternal and everlasting covenant. This is a reasonable doctrine. A marriage in a political state must conform to the laws of the state; otherwise it is not recognized, and the attempted union is punishable. If a marriage is to be recognized in the Kingdom of God, it must conform to the requirements of that kingdom. The Lord made this law clear to His people in the following words:

“… If a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with he for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Sprit of promise, through him whom I have anointed, and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid, neither of force when they are out of this world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world, it cannot be received there, because the angels and the Gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory, for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.” (Doc. and Cov. 132:18.)

Requirements for Marriage in God’s Kingdom

What are the requirements for marriage in the Kingdom of God? First, faithful membership in the Church so that the man and woman may be recommended to the house of the Lord by those in authority over them. Second, the young man must have fitted himself for and accepted the call to service in the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood. Third, the young man and woman must have both previously entered into the covenants of the endowment ordinance. This ordinance acquaints individuals with the purposes of God in His dealings with His children, with His plan for their development and happiness, with the eternity of life and with the great blessings which await those who prepare for them. Above all, so far as preparation for marriage is concerned, the ordinance acquaints the individuals with the sacredness of the marriage relationship, the possible permanence of family ties beyond this life, and the possibility of Godhood which awaits those whose marriage is recognized by the Lord in His Kingdom.

The endowment, while required of those who wish marriage in the temple, is not a part of the marriage ceremony and may be entered into long before marriage or even by those who do not at the time contemplate marriage.

Those who are married by God, through His Holy Priesthood, in accordance with the requirements of His Kingdom, must also comply with the requirements of the civil state wherein the couple live. This is necessary for a legal marriage and the protection of property rights. In most states, this requirement consists of the obtaining of a marriage license and the performance of a wedding ceremony by one authorized by the state. In practically all states and nations a ceremony performed by an administrative officer of the Church, such as a bishop, stake president, or one of the General authorities, fulfils the civil requirements in this regard.

The Value of a Temple Marriage

The values of a temple marriage are many. Part of them are realized during this life; part in the existence yet to come.

Considered form the light of the results in this life alone, temple marriages prove a blessing to the Church membership. The result of such marriages is happier home life. Perhaps the best index to happy home life, in a church which allows divorce, is the low percentage of divorces which occur. Every divorce means an unhappy home. Hence a low percentage of divorces is indicative of happy home conditions. (Note: It must be remembered, however, that the difficulty of obtaining a divorce has a deterrent effect upon the number of people seeking them, even where unhappy home life exists. In some states divorces are almost impossible to obtain, and in such states the divorce rate is hardly an indication of happy or unhappy home life.) among Latter-day Saints the divorce rate among those married in the temple was practically negligible prior to 1940 (.28 per 1,000), while the divorce rate of those married outside the temple (1.04) is many times higher but less than the prevailing rate among non-Mormons in the same area. (L.D.S. Conference report, Oct., 1940.) The rate has risen somewhat in recent years.

This low divorce rate among those married in Latter-day Saint temples may be attributed to several factors: first, marriage becomes a significant covenant held sacred by God, our Father. Second, the holiness of the house in which the marriage takes place gives force to the covenants entered into and creates a deep desire to keep them. Third, the blessings promised concerning the hereafter to those who abide the marriage covenant causes man and wife to overlook petty quarrels and minor differences and to seek consciously to promote happy family life so that the eternal blessings might be obtained. Fourth, the approval of God for the marriage and His blessing through His authorized servants upon the married couple has a steadying effect throughout their lives. Fifth, the requirements before people may enter the temple for marriage and the recommend of character which they must present to the temple authorities prevent hasty and ill-considered marriage, guarantee equal moral and religious standards, and bring about a mutual respect of the man and woman rarely attained elsewhere.

The values of a temple marriage are apparent when we consider the future existence of man. The first value is a continuation of the married state in that future existence and the possibility of having spirit children there. Concerning this, the Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the Celestial Glory. The unpardonable sin is to shed innocent blood, or be accessory thereto. All other sins will be visited with judgment in the flesh, and the spirit being delivered to the buffetings of Satan until the day of the Lord Jesus. … In the Celestial Glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage) and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the others, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.” (Smith, History of the Church, Vol. V, page 391. Doc. and Cov. 131.)

A second blessing is the promise of a resurrection, man and wife together, in the resurrection of the just. From the revelations we read:

“Again verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood, and it shall be said unto them: Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities and powers, dominions, all heights and depths – then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the Gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

“Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be Gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” (Doc. and Cov. 132:19-20.)

One could hardly ask a greater promise of God for those who obey His law of marriage. Although we cannot in this life realize in full the significance of these possible blessings, we can grasp enough to cause us to have an earnest desire to so live that we may merit them.

The consciousness of our human weakness and frailties and the ease with which we give way to temptation causes all to wonder if the covenant would not be broken despite our willingness to enter into it and an honest desire to live up to it. Concerning subsequent sins of those married in the temple, the Lord has said:

“Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder, wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.” (Ibid., 132;26.)

The above passage is significant. No man or woman, even though married in the temple, may escape punishment for his or her sins, or for violations of sacred covenants. For the breaking of God’s laws they will suffer in mortality, and will be delivered to the “buffetings of Satan” in the spirit world. Nevertheless, after one or both of them, as the case may be, have paid the penalty for their sins, if the marriage covenant has not been renounced by them or broken by the shedding of innocent blood, they will be resurrected together into the same glory, as God has promised.

When we consider the advantage of a temple marriage both in this life and in the life to come, we become grateful to our Father in heaven for the restoration of His power and authority in the earth and the privilege of entering temples erected in His name.

Unhappy home life is avoided by church members who marry in accordance with the desires of the Lord and in the manner which He has provided.

The Latter-day Saints look upon children as gifts from God committed to our parental care, and for whom we will be held strictly accountable.

“The family institution comprises more than the wedded union of husband and wife with its mutual obligations and responsibilities, for the status of parenthood is the flower of family existence, while marriage is but the bud. Under the revealed law, parents are as truly answerable to God for the adequate discharge of duty to their children as for the faithful performance of the marriage covenant respecting themselves. Within the family, established and maintained according to the word of God, m en find their holiest and most ennobling happiness. Individual development – the education of the soul for which earth life has been provided – is incomplete without the impelling and restraining influences incident to the responsibilities of the wedded and parental state.” (James E. Talmage, Sunday Night Talks, pp. 456-457.)

Heirs of the Covenant

Not only does the covenant of marriage in the te4mple bring blessings to the husband and wife, but also to their children born after such a marriage. We say of such children that they are “born under the covenant” and are hence “covenant children” or “heirs of the covenant.” As children born under the covenant of marriage in the civil state become heirs to the property and contract rights of their parents, so children born of parents having a covenant with God become heirs of that covenant and are entitled to their share of the blessings which flow from it.

Sealing Children Born Before a Temple Marriage

Unfortunately, many marriages of Church members take place outside the temple. This may be because of a failure to understand and appreciate the advantages of a temple marriage, or because the great distance a couple lives from a temple renders it financially impossible for them to be married there. Whether the reason is a valid one or not, the temple is always open to them when they wish to comply or have opportunity to comply with the law of the Lord. Many parents converted to the Church desire marriage according to God’s laws, though they have been married for years under the civil law. Such parents may have children born to their civil marriage, who are legal children so far as this world is concerned, but whose relationship to their parents will not be recognized in the Kingdom of God after this life. To bring such children within the covenant with the Lord requires a sealing of such children to their parents. This sealing is done in the temple following the marriage ceremony. Through authority from the Father, men holding the holy priesthood seal these children to their father and mother so that they, too, become heirs of the covenant and so that they will be known as members of that family group throughout all eternity. Such children who are over eighteen years of age must receive their own endowments before being sealed to their parents.

Command to Build Temples

Seven years before the Church was organized, the Angel Moroni, during a visit to Joseph, quoted among other things an ancient prophecy uttered by Malachi:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

“And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Doc. and Cov. 36:8.)

The full significance of those words was not to be realized by the Prophet for some years. In December, 1830, the Lord announced in a revelation given to Edward partridge, through the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God; wherefore gird up your loins and I will suddenly come to my temple.” (Doc. and Cov. 36:8.

This was the first entry in the Doctrine and Covenants indicating that temples were to be built in this dispensation, but Moroni had previously acquainted the Prophet with such matters. In a revelation to the Church in February, 1831, the declaration that the Lord will appear in His temple is repeated. (Ibid., 42:36.) In July, 1831, the Lord designated a spot in Independence, Missouri, where a temple in His name was to be erected. (Ibid., 57:2-3.) In September, 1832, still further admonition concerning the building of a temple was received. (Ibid., 84:4-5.)

The Kirtland Temple

In December, 1832, the Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph to commence the erection of a house in His name at Kirtland. Further revelations on the matter were received during the spring of 1833. (Ibid., 94:1-9.) The work, however, went forward slowly and in June the Prophet and his people were rebuked for their neglect in this matter. (Ibid., 95:1-4.)

At a conference of high priests, June 3, 1833, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, the First Presidency, were authorized to obtain the first drawings for the building. (Smith, History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 352.)

The work of the building of the temple was to take the Saints three years, was to cost them $60,000, and was to bring upon them countless trials and hardships. (See Berrett, The Restored Church, pp. 165-170 for complete account.) The historian Bancroft says of this task:

“The building of this structure by a few hundred persons, who, during the period between 1832 and 1836, contributed voluntarily of their money, material, or labor, the women knitting and spinning and making garments for the men who worked on the temple, was regarded with wonder throughout all northern Ohio. (Bancroft, History of Utah, p. 112.)

The dedication of the temple occurred March 27, 1836, and the services were repeated on March 31. On April 3, one week after the initial dedication, lengthy service was again held in the temple. Joseph Smith records that at the close, he and Oliver Cowdery, while in prayer, received a vision in which Jesus Christ, Elias, Moses and Elijah appeared to them. The latter visitor said:

“Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi – testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come –

“To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse –

“Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committ4ed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors. (Doc. and Cov. 110:14-16.)

Thus was restored to earth the keys of authority necessary before the priesthood of the Church could officiate in temple ordinances. These keys had been held by Elijah and from him authority for performing temple work for the living and the dead was given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

The actual performance of temple ordinances followed the completion of the Kirtland temple. They consisted only of ordinances for the living – the washing of feet and the first part of the endowment.

Attempts at Temple Building in Missouri

The period of intense persecution which accompanied and followed the building of the Kirtland temple prevented an early realization of the work initiated by Elijah. The project of building a temple in Independence, Missouri, had to be abandoned when the Saints were driven from that place in 1833-1834.

Because of the circumstances, the Lord excused the Saints from the solemn obligation which had been placed upon them to build a temple there.

“Verily, verily I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have, to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings;

“And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God.

“Therefore, for this cause have I accepted the offerings of those whom I commanded to build up a city and a house unto my name, in Jackson County, Missouri, and were hindered by their enemies, saith the Lord your God.

“… And this I make an example unto you, for your consolation concerning all those who have been commanded to do a work and have been hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression, saith the Lord your God.” (ibid., 124:49-51, 53.)

During the latter part of 1837 persecution and apostasy at Kirtland caused a general migration to Missouri of the Saints who had remained faithful to the Prophet. In January 1838, the Kirtland Temple fell into the hands of apostates and even Joseph had to flee for his life. The Kirtland Temple had, however, served its purpose, for in it had been restored those powers and keys necessary for all temple work; and in it the faith of the Saints had been strengthened by remarkable manifestations of the spirit of God.

On April 26, 1838, a revelation was received commanding the Saints to build a temple at Far West, Missouri. (Ibid., 115:7-16.)

The cornerstones of the temple were accordingly laid July 4, 1838, and the excavation completed. Before the work could receive any real impetus, another storm of persecution broke against the Saints; and during the following winter the entire people were driven out of Missouri. Again the Lord accepted the offerings of His people and required that particular labor no more at their hands.

The Nauvoo Temple

Scarcely had the Saints become settled again, this time at Nauvoo, Illinois, than the Prophet Joseph designated a site for a temple. On January 19, 1841, he received a commandment of the Lord to commence another temple in His name. In the words of the revelation we find the following:

“For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.

“For a baptismal font there is not upon the earth, that they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead –

“For this ordinance belongeth to my house, and cannot be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me.

“But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.

“But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the endo f the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.

“… And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;

“For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.

“And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built.” (ibid., 124:28-32, 40-42.)

On April 6, 1841,the cornerstones of the nauvoo temple were laid and the great task of building a million dollar structure on the American frontier was begun. The church was five years in the building – five years of unusual sacrifice. When the capstone was finally laid, the Prophet and his brother Hyrum were dead; the city lay practically deserted; and its inhabitants were to be found in a long line across the Iowa plain – exiles seeking another home. (For the unique story of the building of the Nauvoo Temple, see Berrett, The Restored Church, pp. 236-242.)

By special permission of the Lord, ordinances which ordinarily belong to temples began even before the foundations of the nauvoo Temple were being laid. Baptisms for the dead were performed in the Mississippi River and some sealing ordinances, in the upper story of Joseph Smith’s store in Nauvoo.

As soon as a portion of the temple was completed, the Lord commanded the Saints to cease performing these ordinances outside the proper house. Part of the temple was dedicated before the entire building was completed, so that ordinance work could proceed without further delay.

By the time of completion, the Saints had been driven out of Nauvoo; but most of the adults had received their endowments and had had their wives, husbands, and children sealed to them. In addition, many baptisms had been performed for the dead.

The nature of the ordinances was revealed unto Joseph Smith in accordance with God’s promises during 1841 and were taught to the presiding authorities in that year.

After the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, some attempts were made to sell the temple building, but none of the offers made materialized. On November 19, 1848, an incendiary set it on fire. The tower was destroyed and the building so weakened that a tornado which struck it May 27, 1850, blew down the north wall. Finally, all the walls were torn down and the stone hauled away.

Temple Building in the West

The next epic of temple building was to occur in the tops of the mountains 1400 miles to the west. It was to be preceded by hardship, the like of which few people have endured, and was to be actuated by a faith few people have known.

While the Saints were still camped in their wagons amid dry sage on the heat-drenched slopes of Great Salt Lake Valley. Brigham Young, their leader, in July, 1847, planted his cane upon a plot of ground and chose it for the site of a new temple. On April 6, 1853, the cornerstones were laid. On that occasion Brigham Young said:

“I scarcely ever say much about revelations or visions, but suffice it to say five years ago last July I was here and saw in the spirit the temple not ten feet from where we have laid the chief cornerstone. I have not inquired what kind of a temple we shall build. Why? Because it was represented before me. I never looked upon that ground but the vision of it was there. I see it as plainly as if it were in reality before me. Wait until it is done. I will say, however, that it will have six towers, to begin with, instead of one. Now do not any of you apostatize because it will have six towers and Joseph built only one. It is easier for us to build sixteen than it was for him to build only one. The time will come when there will be one in the center of temples we shall build, and on that top, groves and fish ponds. But we shall not see them here at present. …” (Brigham Young, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 488.)

The work on the Salt Lake Temple begun at that date was to take forty years for completion and to require the expenditure of four million dollars. By the time of its final dedication, April 6, 1893, three successive presidents of the Church had had a hand in its building and the Church population in the territory had grown to hundreds of thousands.

Temple work for the living and the dead did not wait for the completion of the Salt Lake Temple. Before it was finished, three other temples had been erected, and ordinance work was proceeding in all of them.

At St. George in Southern Utah, a temple site was dedicated November 9, 1871; and the temple, completed and dedicated April 6, 1877. The building was of red sandstone and cost more than one-half million dollars. (The St. George Temple is now painted white, making its beauty conspicuous against the red sandstone of its surroundings.)

The site for a temple at Logan in Northern Utah was dedicated May 17, 1877; and the completed temple, dedicated May 17, 1884. The cost was more than seven hundred thousand dollars.

The site for a temple at Manti in Central Utah, was dedicated April 25, 1877; and the completed structure, dedicated May 21, 1888.

All of these temples were built in days of relative poverty, and attest the faith and sacrifice of a whole people.

While work on the Salt Lake Temple was in progress, an endowment house was built on the temple grounds in order that ordinance work (for the living) could be carried forward. The Endowment House served as a temporary structure and was torn down prior to the completion of the Salt Lake Temple.

During the administration of President Heber J. Grant, three new temples were completed. The Hawaiian Temple, commenced under the administration of President Joseph F. Smith in 1916, was dedicated November 27, 1919. Completed at a cost of two hundred and sixty thousand dollars, the temple is one of the beauty spots of the Hawaiian Islands.

A temple at Cardston, Alberta, Canada, was begun September 19, 1915, and dedicated August 26, 1923. The cost was about one million dollars.

Work on a temple at Mesa, Arizona, was begun October 23, 1923; and the completed structure, dedicated October 23, 1927. This temple also cost about one million dollars.

On December 9, 1939, ground was broken for a new temple at Idaho Falls, Idaho. On October 19, 1940, the cornerstone was laid; and on September 23, 1945, the completed structure was dedicated. This temple cost in excess of $700,000.

A site has been chosen for the erection of another temple at Los Angeles, California, which will be the first such temple on the Pacific Coast.

The story of Mormonism is inseparably linked with the story of temple building and much of its spirit has emanated from those holy edifices. The amount of sacrifice which has gone into this building bespeaks the importance in the eyes of the Latter-day Saints of temple ordinances for the living and the dead. The vast amount of work which goes on within temple walls is undeniable evidence that the hearts of the fathers have been turned toward their children with a desire to make them theirs forever and that the hearts of the children have indeed been turned to their fathers.

1968-69: History of the Church for Children


Related Scripture

“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?” – I Cor. 15:29.


To learn how the Saints were blessed through their sacrifices to build the Kirtland Temple.

To resolve to live worthy to go to the temple and be baptized for our loved ones who have died.

Point of View

The temple at Kirtland was built by people who made tremendous sacrifices. Immediately upon its completion, the Prophet and others who were worthy received some glorious visions which greatly encouraged the Saints and gave them further understanding about the glorious gifts of the Gospel. The enthusiasm and determination of the Prophet guided the people and made these new blessings possible. We must learn to follow our leaders, having faith that the Lord is directing them, and then they will not fail to guide us toward the blessings the Lord has prepared for His faithful children.


1. Ask students to show pictures of temples they have brought to class. Stress the importance of temples. Involve students in a brief discussion of the importance of temple work. Then introduce the material on the Kirtland Temple, the first temple built by the Church.

2. Call on assigned students to present a panel discussion on the purpose of temples and the importance of temple work. Make an appropriate transition to the lesson material.

3. Ask an assigned student to tell about his experience of being “baptized for the dead.” (This is useful for a general introduction to the subject of temples, although no baptisms for the dead were performed in the Kirtland Temple.)

4. If assigned last time, ask students to present their original drawings, poems, or stories on temples. (This might be used as an application or post-lesson activity.)

5. Bring to class an assortment of tickets, passes, certificates, and permits. For ease of handling and presentation these might be mounted on a single sheet of cardboard. If they are large or the class is small, show them to class members from the front of the classroom. If the class is large you may choose to pass the collection around.

Get students’ responses as to what these items are and what purpose they serve. Call attention to the idea that certain privileges are granted only to those who can present a ticket, a pass, a certificate, or a permit. Some privileges can be bought with money (a movie ticket); others must be earned by performance (driver’s license); still others are given to a special group (employee’s parking permit, student body card); and some are granted to persons of special merit (a doctor, one who earns a special scholarship, or a member of a high achievement group). Discuss with students some of the types of passes, tickets, etc., that come into their possession from time to time.

Once the point has been driven home that certain privileges are available only to those who can present proper credentials, show students a simulated temple recommend … it need be nothing more than a card or sheet of paper with the words “Temple Recommend” printed on it, with perhaps a place at the bottom for two signatures – Bishop __________ and Stake President __________.

Draw attention to the importance of the temple recommend – given only to those who have proved themselves worthy to go to the temple. It is a type of pass but it cannot be bought with money; nor is it given to just anyone. It is given only to members of the Church in “good standing.” Introduce some of the elements that determine worthiness for a temple recommend and point out that we begin to prepare ourselves early in our lives to receive a temple recommend. Give urgent and strong stress to the great importance of going to the temple, and highlight the significant privilege of doing so.

From this dramatization make a transition to the lesson material on the Kirtland Temple.

6. Procure pictures of all of the temples. Introduce each temple to the class. Begin with the latest temple to be dedicated, and then move backwards through time reversing the chronological order. Introduce finally the Kirtland Temple and launch into the lesson material.

7. As a visual aid to the actual lesson presentation, the following illustration might be placed on the chalkboard or flannelboard. [Outline drawing of Kirtland Temple, “dedicated March 27, 1836,” with these phrases drawn in cloud shapes ringing the temple: “Outpouring of the Spirit,” “Heavens Opened,” “Angels Seen, Gift of Tongues,” “Rushing Wind and a Pillar of Fire,” “The Visit of the Savior to Joseph and Oliver,” “The Appearance of Moses, Elias and Elijah,” “Heber C. Kimball Call to England.”

As these glorious events are described in the lesson presentation, refer to them in the order indicated.

Before dealing with the text material, point out once again to students that there were two Church centers at this time, Missouri and Ohio, with events occurring in both areas simultaneously. In the previous lesson some of the Missouri events were described. This lesson deals with some of the special events that took place at Kirtland, Ohio.



Kirtland Temple to be Built. Even before the Church had its third birthday, the Lord commanded Joseph Smith to build “a house of God” at Kirtland, Ohio.

“prepare every needful thing,” said the Lord, “and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” Aroused b this and a more recent revelation, the building committee and other volunteers began digging trenches and hauling loads of stone for the foundation. This work commenced in June, 1833.

When the enemies of the Church saw the walls of the Mormon Temple rising day by day, they wanted to put a stop to the building program. Therefore, the brethren had to guard the walls day and night to keep the mob from pulling them down.

Hearts Filled with the Glory of God. On one occasion, shortly before the temple was finished in 1836, the priesthood quorums met in the temple. The Lord poured out His Spirit upon them and the gift of tongues was given also; those present rejoiced greatly, being filled with the glory of God.

The Prophet records that in January, 1836, while the presidency of the Church were holding a meeting in the temple, “the heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof. …”

The Prophet also saw the beautiful gate through which God’s people will enter the celestial kingdom. It “was like unto circling flames of fire.” Then he saw “the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.”

The Prophet saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom; they had the appearance of being paved with gold. He also saw Fathers Adam and Abraham.

As early as seven o’clock on the morning of the dedication, March 27, 1836, the congregation began to assemble outside the temple. Five or six hundred Saints had assembled before the doors opened at 8 a.m. About a thousand people were eventually accommodated in the temple. The schoolhouse was also filled, where a separate meeting was held. Even then, many Saints were turned away.

Prayer and the “Hosanna Shout.” Three services were held in the temple on the day it was dedicated. The prayer used by the Prophet to dedicate the temple was given to him by the Lord through a revelation; it is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 109.

During the services, the Prophet asked all the Saints to stand and join in shouting praises to the Lord, using the words, “hosanna, hosanna, hosanna, to God and the Lamb,” three times, sealing it each time with “amen, amen, and amen.” Eliza R. Snow, who was present, says of the “Hosanna Shout,” that it was three times repeated, “with such power as seemed almost sufficient to raise the roof from the building.”

Angels Seen at Dedication. The Prophet writes that angels were seen in the temple during the dedication. In the evening, at the priesthood meeting, “… a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, which filled the temple.” The people arose, being moved by the Spirit of God.

“Many began to speak in tongues and prophesy. Others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation.

“The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the temple), and were astonished at what was taking place. This continued until the meeting closed at eleven p.m.”

The Savior Appears in the Temple. While the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery were in the temple the next Sunday, after they had risen from kneeling in prayer, the Savior visited them in mighty glory and great power. “His countenance shone above the brightness of the sun,” and His voice thrilled the men beyond description.

“Under his feet,” while he stood upon the breastwork of the pulpit, “was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.”

The Savior declared: “Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice … I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here … and the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands.” (We will shortly see how the fame of the temple did spread.)

Three visions followed the visit of the Savior. First came Moses, then Elias, and he was followed by Elijah. Each of these prophets brought a special work with new duties and responsibilities for the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ, so recently restored to the earth.

Heber C. Kimball Called to England. One day in the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet turned to heber C. Kimball and whispered, “Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me, ‘Let my servant, Heber, go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’”

Elder Kimball then asked if Brigham Young could go with him, but the Prophet said that this would not be possible because he had other work for Brigham to do.

Lyman E. Johnson heard of Elder Kimball’s call. He was sorry to see Elder Kimball go, but he said that if Brother Kimball was determined to go, he would help him all he could. He took his cloak from his own back and put it on Elder Kimball. It was the first cloak Elder Kimball ever had.

Each day until his departure for England, Elder Kimball went to the east room in the attic story of the temple, and poured out his soul unto the Lord. Through these secret prayers, Elder Kimball obtained the necessary spiritual strength to start him upon a mission that brought thousands of converts into the Church.

At Preston, England. The ship docked at Liverpool, England, and a day or so later the spirit of the Lord told Elder Kimball and his companions to go to Preston. In Preston, on July 22, 1837, the streets were filled with people, for it was election day. Queen Victoria had come to the throne about a month previous to this, and the first parliament of her reign was now being elected. A huge banner proclaimed, “TRUTH WILL PREVAIL!” the missionaries took this as a good omen. From that hour the gospel of Jesus Christ began taking root in the hearts of thousands in the Old World.

By the early months of 1838, Heber C. Kimball and his companions had brought more than fifteen hundred people into the Church. Without doubt these new converts heard about the temple in America. Thus the words of the Savior given to the Prophet in the temple were fulfilled in part.

Activities and Applications

1. If at all possible, make arrangements for your class members to participate in a baptism session for the dead ina temple.

2. Refer to Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God.” Introduce the idea that each of us has a body which houses the spirit. In a sense, then, the body is a temple in which the spirit dwells. How important it is that the body be kept a clean and holy place!

Ask students to imagine that just as the Saints built and maintained a temple at Kirtland, we, too,a re responsible for building and maintaining our individual temples, or our bodies.

3. The lesson concept of “becoming worthy to enter the temple” can be strengthened if students can be led to see a corelation between the care they give to themselves as individual temples and the eventful privilege of entering the “house of the Lord.” Perhaps the relationship can be more graphically expressed by turning again to a chalkboard or flannelboard. Illustrations:


[Outline of Salt Lake temple divided into “slices” labeled “Baptism for the Dead,” “Marriage,” and “Other Temple Ordinances.” Outline of human being divided into “slices” labeled “Holiness,” “Resistance to Temptation,” “Moral Cleanliness,” “love of Truth,” “Obedience,” “Church Activity,’ “Faith,” “Priesthood,” “Harmony,” “Testimony,” “Love,” “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” “Baptism,” “Repentance.” Written between: “When this temple [body] is not cared for and properly built, it cannot receive a recommend to enter this temple [building]” and “Sin – drinking, smoking, failure to receive the priesthood, etc., etc. – keeps us out of the Lord’s temple.”]

4. Develop the desire to go eventually to the temple, and enhance the determination to be married in the temple. the great privilege of going to the temple should be forcefully and continually emphasized. A great deal of stress ought to be placed on preparation and worthiness, the foundation of which is being laid right now – today!

5. Emphasize again the importance of commencing a “Book of Remembrance” – another opportunity to plant the seeds of interest in genealogy and temple work. This activity will be carried on as a long-term project. But the teacher can perform a great teaching service by getting youngsters started in this important work. It is suggested that the teacher work directly with the ward genealogical committee. It may be that by your working through students, parents also can be encouraged to begin or continue a family genealogical program.

6. Report to parents the substance of this week’s lesson material. Seek their cooperation in making the experience of “preparing and becoming worthy” an impressive one. Let it be the subject of discussion in the home, the emphasis of family prayers, and a frequent consideration in family night lessons.

In some instances the teacher may have to substitute for parents, and provide other opportunities for some children from less fortunate homes to feel the sacred obligation to prepare for temple work.

7. In the event that original poems, drawings, and stories on temples were not presented as an approach, they may be used at this point to help crystalize the idea of the importance of temples.

8. See the Enrichment Section for enrichment material.


1. Even before the Church had its third birthday, what did the Lord command the Prophet to build in Kirtland?

2. Describe several sacred events that took place in the Kirtland Temple.

3. When was the temple dedicated?

4. How many services were held that day?

5. What did the Savior tell Joseph and Oliver about the fame of the temple?

6. After the Savior’s appearance, who else appeared?

7. Who was first called to England as a missionary?

8. Who did elder Kimball want to go with him to England? Why couldn’t that person go?

9. What did Lyman E. Johnson give to Brother Kimball?

10. What helped Brother Kimball to obtain the necessary spiritual strength to start him upon his mission?

11. Shortly after arriving in Liverpool, England, where did Elder Kimball and his companions go?

12. Who had recently been placed on the throne of England at that time?

13. What was proclaimed on a huge banner in Preston on election day?

14. By the early months of 1838, how many people had Heber C. Kimball and his companions brought into the Church?

Enrichment By November, 1831, the Prophet had received about one-half of the 136 revelations in the present Doctrine and Covenants. The decision to have them published made the Saints very happy.

Anxious to Publish the Revelations.

The Prophet called a conference of the Church to talk about printing the revelations. While in this meeting, Elder William E. McLellin wanted to make some changes in the “messages from heaven” given to the Prophet. However, the Lord said that these revelations were from Him and must not be changed. And in a revelation he challenged “the most wise” among the elders to write a revelation like even the simplest revelation the Prophet had recorded.

Elder McLellin accepted this challenge, but utterly failed in his efforts to imitate the language of the revelations.

He finally gave up, and confessed that no one could write a divine revelation unless God gave it to him. The Lord thus made it known in those early days that no one but the Prophet at the head of the Church was to receive a revelation for the whole Church. Others could have personal revelations, but they must not write them for the Church to follow.


During his April 1957, General Conference address, Elder Harold B. Lee, of the Council of the Twelve, related incidents told him by one of the watchmen at the gatehouse near the Salt Lake Temple:

“One morning, not so long ago, I was sitting at the desk in the temple gatehouse, reading, when my attention was drawn to a knock on the door. There stood two little boys, ages about seven or eight years. As I opened the door, I noticed that they were poorly dressed and had been neither washed nor combed. They appeared as if they had left home before Father or Mother had awakened that morning. As I looked beyond these little fellows, I saw two infants in pushcarts. In answer to my question as to what they wanted, one of the boys pointed to his little brother in the cart and replied, ‘His name is Joe. Will you shake hands with little Joe? It is little Joe’s birthday – he is two years old today, and I want him to touch the temple, so when he gets to be an old man he will remember he touched the temple when he was two years old.’

“Pointing to the other little boy in the cart, he said this: ‘This is Mark; he’s two years old, too.’ Then, with solemn, reverent attitude, rare in children so young, he asked, ‘Now can we go over there and touch the temple?’ I replied, ‘Sure you can.’ they pushed their little carts over to the temple and lifted the infants up, and placed their hands against that holy building. Then as I stood there with a lump in my throat, I heard the little boy say to his infant brother, ‘Now Joe, you will always remember when you were two years old you touched the temple.’ They thanked me and departed for home.

“This spring (1956) a large group of young folks (perhaps one hundred), ages fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen years, from Spokane (Washington) Stake, came to the temple of the Lord to perform baptisms for the dead. They were a very fine-looking group. Their features beamed with the light of the Gospel. They were quiet and orderly; they possessed the spirit of reverence. They realized that they were on holy ground and were about to enter into God’s holy temple to perform baptisms for the dead. Led by the priesthood and members of the genealogical committee into the temple, they gave the right to citizenship in the kingdom of God to perhaps 750 souls. As they came out of the temple after their day’s work was done, I saw a young girl go up the steps to the main entrance to the temple on the east side. As I approached her, I noticed she was standing facing the door with bowed head and hands clasped in prayer. I waited. As she descended the granite steps she came over to me; tears of joy streaming down her face. She said, ‘This has been the happiest day of my life.’”

And Elder Lee closed that part of his address with: “May I pause to say that perhaps she, too, that day had truly touched the temple for the first time through holy and sacred ordinances.”

An inscription on the Alberta Temple reads as follows:

”Hearts must be pure to come within these walls,
Where spreads a feast unknown to festive halls,
Freely partake, for freely God hath given,
And taste the holy joys that tell of heaven.

“Here learn of Him who triumphed o’er the grave
And unto men the keys, the Kingdom gave;
Joined here by powers that past and present bind,
The living and the dead perfection find.”

– Elder Orson F. Whitney,
Quoted by Albert L. Zobell, Jr., in Story Wisdom, pp. 123-126, Bookcraft, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah.


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