While Joseph Smith was instructing the newly formed Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835, he told them: “You need an endowment, brethren, in order that you may be prepared and able to overcome all things.”
“That was the key for them, and I believe it can be the key for us also,” Anthony Sweat told BYU students during the April 5 campus devotional.
A BYU professor of religion, artist, speaker and author, Sweat taught students about the difference between endowment and the presentation of the endowment, and how “major temple covenants can facilitate the spiritual power that we so desperately need.”
The endowment is in effect a divine power, and the presentation of the endowment is an authorized religious ceremony to facilitate that power, he explained.
“Sometimes people participate in the temple endowment ceremony, and they may not really understand it at first, or they don’t feel much different after they leave the temple from before they entered. But we don’t get fully endowed with power in a few hours,” he said. “If we understand that endowment is a spiritual capacity, then we need to develop that capacity over time through faithfully seeking to understand and diligently live the concepts and covenants presented in the temple endowment ceremony.”
A summary of some of the powers that come to those who are endowed is found in Doctrine and Covenants 107:18–19. “Through receiving and living temple ordinances and covenants, we can have greater power to receive revelation; to call upon the heavens and have them hear us; to have the promised ministering of angels to help us; and to truly come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ, and God our Father in very personal ways,” Sweat said.
He echoed the words of President Russell M. Nelson, who said: “As we keep our covenants, [God] endows us with His… power… And oh, how we will need His power in the days ahead.”
He gave five examples of challenges in today’s world and how temple covenants can facilitate the spiritual power needed to overcome them. “These five temple covenants have been publicly published by the Church in numerous places, and Church leaders encourage us to understand them,” he noted.
In a time that highly glorifies individuality, “self-affirming but self-centric messages can be worthwhile in small doses given the situation, but consumed at today’s societal rate we may be overdosing on ourselves.”
“While a common refrain today might be, ‘You do you,’ Christ’s covenant call is, ‘Be like me,’“ he taught. “There is power in covenanting that we will obey the laws of God and not merely walk in our own way after the image of our own god.”
Another challenge of today’s world is “fractured families and declining marriage.”
Many young people want to establish eternal marriages and families but feel like the odds are stacked against them, he said. In his own marriage, Sweat has observed how their covenant of sacrifice with God has motivated them to “lay down our selfish lives to build our family life, and thus build the kingdom.”
“That’s true in any relationship,” he said. “There is power in learning that enduring love for God and others is grown in the soil of sacrifice.”
The spiritual power available through temple covenants can also help to handle discussions with those who have diverging views.
“Do we unfairly criticize, judge harshly, level accusation without sufficient information, speak evil or publicly belittle?” he asked. “If so, we lose spiritual power.” There is power in living the higher teachings of Jesus Christ “as taught in His marvelous gospel — to not judge or revile, to love, to pray for, to forgive, to extend mercy and to make peace.”
Sweat cited a 2020 Pew Center study reporting that of religiously unaffiliated Americans, 84% said casual sex is sometimes or always acceptable between consenting adults.
“Time and experience show that power without bounds is the foundation of both corruption and chaos, and there’s almost nothing more powerful than the power to create life,” he said.
“The covenant of chastity is about more than sex — it is about learning to develop a character that can be trusted, exercises restraint, respects boundaries, won’t selfishly abuse power and has the ability to create and maintain a covenant family. Whether we are single, dating, or married — young or old — there is divine power in developing a truly moral character.”
Another difficulty of today’s world is the pressure to be successful. “That word itself carries the cultural weight of expectations,” he said. “The desire to be something in the eyes of everyone else can taint our motives, lead us to rationalize away ethical standards, justify stepping on and overlooking other people in our desperate climb to the top, and cause us to miss our true life’s mission.”
Money, fame, position and prominence are not the problem, Sweat taught. Instead, “the issue is about what we love, and where our heart is.”
“The temple teaches us as its highest-pinnacle covenant to consecrate our entire lives to God, dedicating and making holy our time, talents and means to do His will and build His kingdom. … There is power in consecrating our life in the service of God and His children that enables us to find our personal path and purpose.”
It is tempting to think that this kind of power only applies to other people, but God’s power is very personal and can be received by everyday believers “if we will learn the patterns and implement the covenant concepts.”
Sweat compared becoming endowed with divine power to a university program or degree. “Just because we’ve been accepted doesn’t make us educated,” he explained. “The education comes slowly, even painfully. … Most of it comes almost imperceptibly over time. The tuition of education is paid by persistence.”
“In the Lord’s school of the prophets, the temple, we similarly grow in power and capacity by degrees as we learn and diligently implement the holy covenants and concepts over time,” he said.
Sweat testified that “as we act in faith, God promises to truly endow us with His power, even the power necessary to overcome the spiritual challenges of our day so that we can enter into the presence of God and receive a fullness of his exalted blessings.”