30 May 2012

Passing the Angels Who Stand As Sentinels

Giving his own summary of temple ordinances, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote that they concerned:
…washings, anointings, endowments, and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so on to the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood, setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days, and all those plans and principles by which anyone is enabled to secure the fulness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn, and come up and abide in the presence of the Elohim in the eternal worlds.
Specific aspects of instruction in the endowment “pertaining to the Holy Priesthood” were described by Brigham Young in his description 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 able to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.
Although this statement is frequently quoted in official Church publications, the reference to “key words, the signs and tokens” is not explained. The sacred nature of these things prohibits any discussion of specific symbolism. However, it may be helpful for the modern reader to understand the general meaning of these terms in related contexts, which would have been much more familiar to those in Joseph Smith’s time than they are in our day. Before continuing, we observe that what matters in such tests for knowledge is not merely the requirement to remember the details of the instructions one has received, but, in addition, the expectation that one be sincerely engaged in the process of mastering the life lessons associated with them. Elder Dallin H. Oaks reminds us that, in the day of final judgment, it will not be enough to merely have gone through the outward motions of keeping the commandments and receiving the ordinances—the essential question will be what we have ourselves become during our period of probation.


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10 May 2012

How Are We Physically and Spiritually Reborn in the Temple?

The blessings of the Atonement are made available to mankind through what the Lord calls "The New and Everlasting Covenant." This comprehensive covenant includes the baptismal covenant, the covenant made during the sacrament, temple covenants, and covenants made at "other times."

What is meant by covenants that are made at "other times"? President Brigham Young answered this question when he said that there are additional ordinances that will be given to the faithful in the next life:
We will operate here, in all the ordinances of the house of God which pertain to this side the veil, and those who pass beyond and secure to themselves a resurrection pertaining to the lives will go on and receive more and more, and will receive one after another until they are crowned Gods, even the sons of God.
By means of the New and Everlasting Covenant, our Father in Heaven helps His children increase in spiritual stature. Although at baptism we execute our first gospel covenant in mortality by "relying wholly upon the merits" of Christ, the Lord intends that we gradually gain spiritual strength through making and keeping additional covenants until, someday, we come to the point where "we shall be like him." As Chauncey Riddle has written:
... [Human] beings may be saved only by binding themselves to Christ. It is as if our task were to stand straight and tall before Father, but because of the Fall, we are broken and twisted. The Savior is our straight and tall splint. If we bind ourselves to Him, wrap strong covenants around us and Him that progressively draw us up into His form and nature, then we can become righteous as He is and can be saved. But without Him we are nothing.... The New and Everlasting Covenant is our detour whereby our Savior strengthens us until we can tread the narrow way of justice and mercy on our own.

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