The saving ordinances of the temple are essential, even the central focus, of the eternal plan of happiness, Elder Robert D. Hales told more than 20,000 BYU students Nov. 15.
"Today I want to discuss the doctrine of the temple, the effects of the temple doctrine in your life and mine and the ways that you can prepare yourselves — and hopefully your eternal companions can prepare themselves — to partake of the full blessings of the holy temple in mortality and in eternal life."
Speaking during BYU's weekly devotional, Elder Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve addressed the importance of temple preparation as an eternal perspective during a person's mortal probation on earth. The talk, held in the BYU Marriott Center, was also broadcast live on KBYU and BYU Television.
"The temple blessings are as essential for each of us as was our baptism," Elder Hales said. "For this reason, we are to prepare ourselves that we may be clean to enter into the temple of God."
Latter-day Saints need to acquire a testimony that the temple is a House of the Lord, he said. "When you are troubled and when you have crucial decisions that weigh heavily on your mind and soul, you can take your cares to the temple and receive spiritual guidance."
To preserve the sanctity of the temple, however, no unclean thing should enter it. "Reverence in the temple is a vital element to inviting the Spirit to reside within the temple every hour of every day," he said.
Elder Hales said when he was a boy, his father brought him from Long Island, N.Y., to the Salt Lake City Temple grounds to touch the temple and discuss the importance of the temple in his life. "It was on that occasion that I made up my mind that someday I would return to enter the temple and receive the ordinances of the temple," he said.
He told the students they can go to the temple grounds when they have important decisions to make. The temple grounds are a great place to discuss plans with a potential spouse, he said.
"The temple is a sacred edifice, a holy place, where essential saving ceremonies and ordinances are performed to prepare us for exaltation. It is important that we gain a sure knowledge that our preparation to enter this Holy House and participate in these ceremonies and covenants is one of the most significant events we will experience in our mortal lives."
The temple, he continued, is the greatest university of learning known to man, giving knowledge and wisdom about the creation of the world. Washings and anointings tell a person who they are. Endowment instructions give guidance as to how Church members should conduct their lives in mortality.
"The primary purpose of the temples is to provide the ordinances necessary for our exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Temple ordinances guide us to our Savior and give us the blessings which come to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The ordinance of the endowment means gift — consisting of a series of instructions on how we should live and covenants we make to live righteously by following our Savior.
"Another important ordinance is being sealed for eternity in celestial marriage. This covenant allows children to be sealed to their parents and children born in the covenant to become part of an eternal family."
Elder Hales said he often ponders why individuals who have taken upon themselves the sacred ordinances and covenants of the temple and who have covenanted with their eternal companion would ever allow themselves to be unfaithful. He has also observed couples who have maintained strong and vital marriages as they remain true to their covenants.
"For those who are not now married, as you prepare for a temple marriage there is great value in thinking about what makes a good marriage and the kind of person who will be able to make and keep temple covenants."
Elder Hales listed several things successful couples have done:
Elder Hales also said married couples should apologize and ask forgiveness if one has hurt the other, express love for one another, and lift and strengthen one another.
"If you live by these observations we have just discussed, it will strengthen your relationship in marriage and allow you to be faithful to your covenants," he said.
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