Talk for Sacrament meeting 12 January 2014 – by Paul Crockett
By way of introduction, I am Elder Paul Crockett and my wife is Sister Sherryl Crockett. I served a mission as a young missionary in Monterrey. Afterwards we were married and have raised 7 children – 2 boys and 5 girls. All of them are married and we are the grandparents of 28 ½ grandchildren. I retired in September after 31 years working for the Church in the finance area. Six of those years were in the countries of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. We returned to Utah in 1989 and I have worked in the Welfare Department for the past 23 years.
When they began construction of the temple in Bountiful, about 20 years ago they noted that we were receiving an almost free gift – and they asked. What sacrifice could we make? It would be our time – and we decided to attend the temple each week. Having done that for nearly 20 years, when we sent in our request to serve a mission in May of last year, it was very natural that we were called to serve a temple mission, and specifically in the Tampico Temple for 23 months. And here we are.
Yesterday, January 11th was a very beautiful day at the Tampico temple. There was more activity and ordinances performed than we have had for several weeks with Christmas and the New Year, etc. A little after mid-day many youth from our stake arrived, and many from our Jardin ward, to do baptisms and confirmations for the dead.
The stake had invited all of us to try to attend the temple some time during the day. In the last session brother Trejo received his endowment, accompanied by various members of his family and our ward.
So – we come to various questions –
1. Why does someone go to the temple?
2. Why is the temple a special place?
3. What do we hope to accomplish with the time we spend in temple ordinances – for the living, and especially for those who are dead – for many centuries?
In April 2001, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the twelve gave a talk in General Conference in which he dealt with various aspects related to attending the temple – so I’m going to use a lot of his talk in the time I have today. The title of the talk is “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings.”
It begins with the following: “Inscribed on each temple are the words “Holiness to the Lord.” That statement designates both the temple and its purposes as holy. Those who enter the temple are also to bear the attribute of holiness. 2 It may be easier to ascribe holiness to a building than it is to a people. We can acquire holiness only by enduring and persistent personal effort. Through the ages, servants of the Lord have warned against unholiness. Jacob, brother of Nephi, wrote: “I would speak unto you of holiness; but as ye are not holy, and ye look upon me as a teacher, [I] must … teach you the consequences of sin.”
The temple is the house of the Lord. The basis for every temple ordinance and covenant—the heart of the plan of salvation—is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, 4 as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.
President Hinckley said that “these unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.” 5
To enter the temple is a tremendous blessing. But first we must be worthy. We should not be rushed. We cannot cut corners of preparation and risk the breaking of covenants we were not prepared to make. That would be worse than not making them at all.
In the temple we receive an endowment, which is, literally speaking, a gift. In receiving this gift, we should understand its significance and the importance of keeping sacred covenants. Each temple ordinance “is not just a ritual to go through, it is an act of solemn promising.”
The temple endowment was given by revelation. Thus, it is best understood by revelation, prayerfully sought with a sincere heart. 7 President Brigham Young said, “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, … and gain your eternal exaltation.”
Preparation also includes qualification for a temple recommend. Our Redeemer requires that His temples be protected from desecration. No unclean thing may enter His hallowed house. Yet anyone is welcome who prepares well. Each person applying for a recommend will be interviewed by a judge in Israel—the bishop—and by a stake president. They hold keys of priesthood authority and the responsibility to help us know when our preparation and timing are appropriate to enter the temple. Their interviews will assess several vital issues. They will ask if we obey the law of tithing, if we keep the Word of Wisdom, and if we sustain the authorities of the Church. They will ask if we are honest, if we are morally clean, and if we honor the power of procreation as a sacred trust from our Creator.
Why are these issues so crucial? Because they are spiritual separators. They help to determine if we truly live as children of the covenant, able to resist temptation from servants of sin. These interviews help to discern if we are willing to live in accord with the will of the true and living God or if our hearts are still set “upon riches and … vain things of the world.”
Such requirements are not difficult to understand. Because the temple is the house of the Lord, standards for admission are set by Him. One enters as His guest. To hold a temple recommend is a priceless privilege and a tangible sign of obedience to God and His prophets.
One thing that I have thought about is a statement by President Monson, “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement increases.” This is interesting considering that 35 years ago temple attendance and the number of ordinances performed was collected and reported to Ward and Stake leaders. But about 30 years ago the stopped the collection and reporting of that information. I believe that was done because the leaders of the Church wanted the people to go to the temple because they loved the temple rather than because that activity would be reported. Thus there is an opportunity for individuals to demonstrate their dedication to the gospel and their love of God through temple attendance.
In Moses 1:39 it says “Behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” President Uchtdorf, a few months ago in the Ensign talked of the marvelous miracle and mystery that man is nothing – given the perspective that Moses received and the immensity of God’s creations. And at the same time, because we are children of God, we are everything to Him. He testified that God knows and loves each one of us – and I add my own testimony to that.
In the temple we are taught with symbols and the Spirit teaches each of us individually. As Elder Maxwell said, “It is simply marvelous and marvelously simple.” It is miraculous how the Spirit teaches each one of us at the level where we are and teaches us that which we are prepared to learn. I testify that it is so.
Another observation. If someone wants to live the law of consecration, they can begin to live it now by increasing their donations to Fast Offerings! There is no need to wait until they are commanded to do so. They can demonstrate their love toward God and their fellowmen right now by increasing their Fast Offerings – because it is not a commandment like tithing. There is no limitation.
So we have a lot of freedom to live more of the gospel than only that which our leaders assign us or call us to do.
So in closing – as a response to the questions I proposed at the beginning, I answer all 3 with the following:
1. Why do we go to the temple?
a. To become more holy, not because we already are holy, or saintly.
b. To make covenants with the Lord, including sealings to our families for eternity.
c. To learn more of life and eternity.
And as a final point. Temple attendance is one of those miraculous activities in which we can live the gospel and demonstrate our faith - through which the Lord blesses us. In the words of one leader with whom I spoke recently: “If the brothers and sisters will attend the temple frequently, the problems that they have to present to the Bishop will simply disappear.”
It is my testimony that to the extent we demonstrate our faith through temple attendance the blessings of the Lord will flow into our lives.
I know that God lives and this is His work – in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.