By President Gordon B. Hinckley
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Has he not asked himself, "Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is my relationship to my Maker? Will death rob me of the treasured associations of life? What of my wife and children? Will there be another existence after this, and, if so, will we know of another there?"
The answers to these questions are not found in the wisdom of men. They
are found only in the revealed word of God. Temples of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints are sacred structures in which these and other
eternal questions are
answered. Each is dedicated as a house of the Lord, a place of holiness and peace shut apart from the world. There truths are
taught and ordinances are performed that bring knowledge of things eternal and motivate the participant to live with an
understanding of his divine inheritance as a child of God and an awareness of his potential as an eternal being.
These buildings, different from the thousands of regular Church houses of worship scattered over the earth, are unique in purpose and function from all other religious edifices. It is not the size of these buildings or their architectural beauty that make them so. It is the work that goes on within their walls.
The Designation of certain buildings for special ordinances, as distinguished from regular places of worship, is not new. This was the practice in ancient Israel, where the people worshipped regularly in the synagogues. Their more sacred place was, first, the tabernacle in the wilderness with its Holy of Holies, and then a succession of temples, where special ordinances were performed and where only those who met the required qualifications could participate in these ordinances.
So it is today. Prior to the dedication of a temple, The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints invites the public to go
through the building and inspect its various facilities. But when it is dedicated it becomes the house of the Lord, vested with a
character so sacred that only members of the Church in good standing are permitted to enter. It is not a matter of secrecy. It is a matter of sanctity.
The work that goes on in these buildings sets forth God's eternal purposes
with reference to man -- God's child and creation.
For the most part, temple work is concerned with the family, with each of us as members of God's eternal family and with each
of us as members of earthly families. It is concerned with the sanctity and eternal nature of the marriage covenant and family
It affirms that each man and woman born into the world is a child of
God, endowed with something of his divine nature. The
repetition of these basic and fundamental teachings had a salutary effect upon those who receive them, for as the doctrine is
enunciated in language both beautiful and impressive, the participant comes to realize that since every man and woman is a child of a Heavenly Father, then each is a member of a divine family; hence, every person is his brother or sister.
When asked by the scribe, "Which is the first commandment of all?" the
Savior replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
"And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Mark 12:27, 30- 31.)
The teachings set forth in modern temples give powerful emphasis to
this most fundamental concept of man's duty to his Maker
and to his brother. Sacred ordinances amplify his ennobling philosophy of the family of God. They teach that the spirit within
each of us is eternal, in contrast with the body, which is mortal. They not only give understanding of these great truths but also
motivate the participant to love of God and encourage him to demonstrate a greater neighborliness toward other of our Father's children.
Accepting the premise that man is a child of God helps us see that there
is divine purpose in mortal life. Here again, revealed
truth is taught in the house of the Lord. Earth life is part of an eternal journey. We lived as spirit children before we came here.
The scriptures bear testimony of this. Witness the word of the Lord to Jeremiah: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jer 1:5.)
We come into this life as children of mortal parents and as members
of families. Parents are partners with God in bringing to
pass his eternal purposes with reference to his children. The family, therefore, is a divine institution, the most important both in
mortality and in eternity.
Much of the work that goes on within temples is concerned with the family.
Basic to an understanding of its meaning is
recognition of the fact that even as we existed as children of God before we were born into this world, so also shall we continue to live after death, and the treasured and satisfying relationships of mortality, the most beautiful and meaningful of which are
found in the family, may continue in the world to come.
Marriage partners who come to the house of the Lord and partake of its
blessings are joined not only for the period of their
mortal lives but for all eternity. They are bound together under authority not only of the law of the land that joins them until
death, but also through the eternal priesthood of God, which binds in heaven that which is bound on earth. The couple so
married has the assurance of divine revelation that their relationship and that of their children will not end with death but will
continue in eternity, provided they live worthy of that blessing.
Was there ever a man who truly loved a woman, or a woman who truly loved
a man, who did not pray that their relationship
might continue beyond the grave? Has a child ever been buried by parents who did not long for the assurance that their loved
one would again be theirs in a world to come? Can anyone believing in eternal life doubt that the God of heaven would grant his sons and daughters that most precious attribute of life. the love that finds its most meaningful expression in family relationships?
No, reason demands that the family relationship shall continue after death. The human heart longs for it, and the God of heaven
has revealed a way whereby it may be secured. The sacred ordinances of the house of the Lord provide for it.
But all of this would appear to be unfair indeed if the blessings of
these ordinances were available only to those who are now
members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The fact is that the opportunity to come into the temple and partake of its blessings is open to all who will accept the gospel and be baptized in the Church. For this reason, the Church carries forward an extensive missionary program in much of the world and will continue to expand this program as widely as possible, for it has the responsibility, under divine revelation, to teach the gospel to "every nation, kindred, tongue, and people."
But there are uncounted millions who have walked the earth and who have
never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Shall
they be denied such blessings as are offered in the temples of the Lord?
Through living proxies who stand in behalf of the dead, the same ordinances
are available to those who have passed from
mortality. In the spirit world these same individuals are then free to accept or reject those earthly ordinances performed for
them, including baptism, marriage, and the sealing of family relationships. There's no compulsion in the work of the Lord, but
there must be opportunity.
This vicarious work constitutes an unprecedented labor of love on the
part of the living in behalf of the dead. It makes
necessary a vast undertaking of family history research to find and identify those who have gone before. To assist in this
research, the Church coordinates a family history program and maintains research facilities unmatched in all the world. Its
archives are open to the public and have been used by many who are not members of the Church in tracing their forbears. This program has been praised by genealogists throughout the world and has been utilized by various nations as a safeguard of their own records. But its primary purpose is to afford members of the Church the resources needed to identify their ancestors that they might extend to them the blessings that they themselves enjoy. They in effect say to themselves, "If I love my wife and
children so dearly that I want them for all eternity, then should not my deceased grandfather and great-grandfather and other
forebears have opportunity to receive the same eternal blessings?"
And so these sacred buildings are scenes of tremendous activity, quietly and reverently carried forward. They call to mind a part of the vision of John the Revelator wherein are recorded this question and this answer:
"What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?...
"These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed
their robes, and made them white in the blood of the
"Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple." (Rev 7:13-15)
Those who come to these holy houses are arrayed in white as they participate
therein. They come only on recommendation of
their local ecclesiastical authorities, having been certified as to their worthiness. They are expected to come clean in thought,
clean in body, and clean in dress to enter the temple of God. As they enter they are expected to leave the world behind them
and concentrate on things divine.
This very exercise, if such it may be called, carries with it a reward
of its own, for who in these times of stress would not
welcome an opportunity to shut out the world and enter into the Lord's house, there to ponder quietly the eternal things of God? These sacred precincts offer the opportunity, available nowhere else, to learn of and reflect on the truly meaningful things of life-- our relationship to Deity and our eternal journey from a premortal state into this life and on to a future estate where we
shall know and associate one with another, including our own loved ones and our forebears who have preceded us from whom has come our inheritance of things of the body, mind, and spirit.
Surely these temples are unique among all buildings. They are houses
of instruction. They are places of covenants and promises. At their altars
we kneel before God our Creator and are given promise of his everlasting
blessings. In the sanctity of their
appointments we commune with him and reflect on his Son, our Savior and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who served as
proxy for each of us in a vicarious sacrifice in our behalf. Here we set aside our own selfishness and serve for those who cannot serve themselves. Here, under the true priesthood power of God, we are bound together in the most sacred of all human
relationships--as husbands and wives, as children and parents, as families under a sealing that time cannot destroy and death
These sacred buildings were constructed even during those dark years
when the Latter-day Saints were relentlessly driven and
persecuted. They have been built and maintained in times of poverty and prosperity. They come from the vital faith of an
ever-growing number who bear witness of a living God, of the resurrected Lord, of prophets and divine revelation, and of the
peace and assurance of eternal blessings to be found only in the house of the Lord.
What you have just read my dear friends are the words of a living prophet of God. He is the one we members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints revere, love, honor, and respect. We sustain him, pray for him, and support him in his high and holy calling for he alone on this world is the one chosen by God himself to this position. President Gordon B. Hinckley is a man. He is not worshipped by us nor do we give him reverence past that point of recognition for who and what he is. We love him, we care for him, we respect him. When he speaks - we listen. For from his lips come the messages that our Father in Heaven have for His children in these the latter days before the second coming of Jesus Christ. So it is and so it has been ordained of God our eternal Father and testified to by His only begotten in the flesh, even Jesus Christ.
What then can I, a mere man, add to that which a prophet of God has said. It is simply this. I know with every fiber of my being that this work is true. I know that God Lives and I know that His Son is Jesus the Christ, the one and only name under Heaven by which we may ever hope to return to our Father's presence. I say also that I love President Gordon B. Hinckley and I proclaim it to the world through this marvelous medium - the inter net. I invite you to come to this knowledge for yourself by going directly to the source and asking in the name of Jesus Christ if these things be true. I do so promise you that if you will humble yourselves and if you will ask in faith, truly wanting to know for yourself, that through the power of the Holy Ghost you may know all of this for yourselves for it is either all true, all precious, all wonderful and blessed news, or it is all a lie. There are no lies here. I invite you to enjoy the remainder of this my humble effort as I testify of this great work in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. To return to "Have You Ever Wondered?" simply CLICK HERE