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The Meaning of the LDS Temple and its Ordinances

In Denver Snuffer’s book, “Passing the Heavenly Gift”, he provides a great summary on the meaning of the temple and its ordinances.

The temple ordinances portray a walk back to God’s presence. Although the ceremonies are presented in symbols, they testify of, and invite the actual return to Him. The washings, intended to cleans us, are more than a physical ordinance. They testify to us about necessary individual purity and spiritual cleanliness. Anointing with olive oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Thorough the Holy Spirit we are sanctified. It is holy, and when we receive it we become holy through our association with it.

When we are clothed with a garment, it symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ, laying down His body to cover our sins with His atonement. These are powerful symbols of how intimately our individual redemption is connected to Him.

The endowment instructs us about creation, and our own journey through mortal life. We must consider ourselves as if we are respectively, Adam and Eve. When we do, we find an explanation of our mortal condition. It tells us we came from God’s presence, and now live in a fallen world. To regain God’s presence we need to obey, make sacrifices, follow Christ’s Gospel, observe the law of chastity and consecrate our lives to Him. As we do, we will receive sacred knowledge from His messengers. Such messengers are sent by Him.

Men will try and mislead us with false teachings that mingle the philosophies of men with scripture. But if we remain true and faithful to whatever light we receive from Him, He will always send more. Messengers will come from the presence of God, bringing His message. They will not offer themselves for worship, adoration or respect…

True messengers labor to have you come to know Christ. They want all to be redeemed from the fall.

The purpose of the temple is to guide you back to Him. It is not the real thing, but only a symbol pointing to the real thing. It is not enough to read what has been written in scripture or taught by true messengers. You must get an experience for yourself so you also know God.

The real thing is found when the veil parts and you gaze into heaven. (p. 466-467)

The idea that the temple “…is not the real thing, but only a symbol pointing to the real thing.” is critical to understand, not just of temple ordinances, but all ordinances. The gospel of Christ was meant to be lived and experienced; God expects to not just be blindly worshipped in word, but truly loved and trusted because we know Him.

I think we can be so full of worldly knowledge and confidence in covenants that we go no further; we know not the God in whom we should trust. We know a lot about what He has said to others via scripture and testimonies, but have we ever heard His voice? Do we stop at the symbol, or do we look beyond to what the Spirit of God can reveal to us?

This article discusses the topic of why symbols are used

This article references the dangers of being “stuck in Bountiful”

There’s song by Addison Road that I’ve been listening to recently that has some really awesome lyrics and sums up some of my thoughts on this subject (the audio is down below):

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all, no
If You touched my face would I know You
Looked into my eyes could I behold You

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean
Are You fire, are You fury
Are You sacred, are You beautiful
What do I know, what do I know of Holy

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean
Are You fire, are You fury
Are You sacred, are You beautiful
So what do I know, what do I know of Holy

What do I know of Holy
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame
And a God who gave life it’s name
What do I know of Holy
Of the One who the angels praise
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean
Are You fire, are You fury
Are You sacred, are You beautiful
What do I know, what do I know of Holy
What do I know of Holy
What do I know of Holy