Above the door of every temple are these words: “Holiness to the Lord. The House of the Lord.” We teach and believe that the sacred temples are the house of the Lord. We go to the temple and are spiritually in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the temples, “we organize families according to the order that the Lord has revealed. In the temples members of the Church can participate in the most exalted of the redeeming ordinances that have been revealed to mankind.” (2)
Our Heavenly Father desires that his children have access to temples so He has commanded His prophets to build temples throughout the earth, bringing the sacred temple ordinances ever closer to His people.
In this last, great dispensation of the Gospel (3), ancient prophets came to the temple and conferred upon Joseph Smith the sacred keys of the priesthood that would permit temple work to move forward. These keys of authority were held by Adam, and by other prophets such as Elijah, the Old Testament prophet who never tasted death but was taken up directly to heaven. Elijah held these priesthood keys and Malachi referred to them when he said that Elijah would be sent “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”, and that he would “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”. This was such an important event that he warned that unless he came and brought these keys, God would “smite the earth with a curse”. (4)
After the completion of the Kirtland temple in 1836, Joseph Smith received a series of heavenly visits from messengers with various priesthood keys, culminating with the appearance of this very same Elijah. He recorded this experience as follows:
“After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and 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.”(5)
Sacred priesthood keys had once again been restored to the earth. The power to seal on earth and seal in heaven was again found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “This signal event went unheeded by the world, but it would influence the destiny of every soul who has ever lived or will live. Things began quietly to happen. The Church became a temple-building church. In the world there emerged here and there, in a way thought to be spontaneous, people and organizations and societies interested in tracing genealogies. This has all taken place since the appearance of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple.
“From that very day, April 3, 1836, the hearts of the children began to turn to their fathers. Thereafter ordinances were not tentative, but permanent. The sealing power was with us. No authorization transcends it in value. That power gives substance and eternal permanence to all ordinances performed with proper authority for both the living and the dead.” (6)
Temples are now being built across the continent of Africa – Kinshasa, Durban, and Harare. More will likely follow, but for now the temple of our people is in Johannesburg, South Africa. Members of the Church should do everything in their power to come to the temple in order to claim their blessings. It will require sacrifice, but then Joseph Smith taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” (7)
Great blessings await you as you come to the temple. “The temple transforms the individual and makes abundantly worthwhile any efforts made to get there. If you will go to the temple, you will never go in the proper spirit without coming away with your vision extended, feeling a little more exalted, with your knowledge increased as to things that are spiritual.” (8)
It is not enough to go to the temple just once. We are blessed to be able to go the first time for our own ordinances, but then we can return again for our deceased ancestors in order to provide these sacred ordinances for them as well.
So dear Brothers and Sisters, come to the temple. Come and claim your blessings. Come and be lifted and renewed. Come to the temple; it is a sacred work.
1) Liahona, September 2016
2) Preparing to Enter the House of the Lord
3) The time in which we now live. The days (or dispensation of time) just before the second coming of the Lord
4) Malachi 4:5-6
5) D&C 110:13-15
6) Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple
7) Smith, in Lectures of Faith 6:7, 12
8) Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple