RS/MP Lesson 8: “Temple Blessings for Ourselves and Our Ancestors” (George Albert Smith Manual)
Posted by kirkcaudle on April 13, 2012
As always, these notes provide insights into scripture with the intent that individuals will come to their own conclusions on how best to present the material in the manual. I know of no better way of accomplishing that task than by reading the scriptures. In my own lessons, quotes from the manual are alway supplemental to the text itself. I find the closer that I stick with scriptures in my lessons the closer the spirit sticks with me. This week I will base my notes from suggestion #1 in the manual.
Read the excerpts from the dedicatory prayer of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple on pages 82–83, and read D&C 109:1–5, 10–13 (from the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple). Ponder the feelings you have when you attend the temple, and think about the experiences that have strengthened your testimony that the temple is the house of the Lord.
Before getting into section 109 let me offer a brief background. A committee, overseen by Joseph Smith, composed the prayer for the dedication of the Kirtland temple a few days before the actual delivery of the prayer on March 27, 1836. Prior to this prayer, Sidney Rigdon preached a long sermon citing scriptures on Messianic expectations. The early Saints had a real sense of the imminent coming of Christ. In my opinion, this prayer is important to study for at least three reasons. First, this prayer became the pattern for all other temple dedicatory prayers. Second, eternal covenants could now be fully realized. Third, it shows us why we attend our temples today.
1 Thanks be to thy name, O Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant and showest mercy unto thy servants who walk uprightly before thee, with all their hearts— 2 Thou who hast commanded thy servants to build a house to thy name in this place [Kirtland].3 And now thou beholdest, O Lord, that thy servants have done according to thy commandment. 4 And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom, in whose name alone salvation can be administered to the children of men, we ask thee, O Lord, to accept of this house, the workmanship of the hands of us, thy servants, which thou didst command us to build.5 For thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation; and out of our poverty we have given of our substance to build a house to thy name, that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people.
v1. The people give two reasons for the existence of the temple. First, the temple exists because God keeps his covenants with those who keep theirs. Second, the temple is a sign of mercy. How often do you we think of the temple as a grace provided by God?
v2. Building temples is not just a “good idea,” but an actual commandment of God. God also controls the location of temples.
v3. I think this verse is beautiful, so let me quote it again, “thy servants have done according to thy commandment.” I like to think of this statement as the pure form of a temple recommend. God gives us temples, and allows us to attend those temples, because of our service to him. We know from verse 1 that God keeps his promises because of his mercy.
v4. The prayer petitions God to “accept this house.” This literally happens days later with the heavenly manifestations recorded in section 110. I also love the language of the people using “the workmanship of [their] hands” to build the temple. Contrast this with God “building” us with his hands. Because God build us with his hands we use our hands to show him honor.
v5. It took the Saints somewhere along the lines of three years to finish the construction of the Kirtland Temple. Everything surrounding the temple involves sacrifice. I would even extend this idea to modern temple attendance. I good question to ask is, not do I attend the temple, but “how much do I sacrifice to attend the temple.”
10 And now, Holy Father, we ask thee to assist us, thy people, with thy grace, in calling our solemn assembly, that it may be done to thine honor and to thy divine acceptance; 11 And in a manner that we may be found worthy, in thy sight, to secure a fulfilment of the promises which thou hast made unto us, thy people, in the revelations given unto us; 12 That thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house; 13 And that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness.
v10. The people recognize that this is the Lord’s house and that nothing can be done without his consent. If grace is found anywhere, it is found in the temple.
v11. “That we might be found worthy.” They know that they cannot make themselves worthy, but must be made worthy by the grace of Christ. This is what the temple does for us. The temple perfects us in ways that we cannot be perfected outside of the temple.
v12. The prayer dedicates the house to be sanctified and consecrated. The prayer then asks for God’s continual ”holy presence.” These items cannot exist without the other. If the temple is truly set apart from the world then God will dwell in that temple. On the other hand, if God is continually dwelling in the temple then we can be use that that temple has been sanctified and consecrated. Of course, this process is more than simply offering a prayer. We all play a role in keeping a temple sacred each and every time that we step into one. God will dwell in his temples as long as we provide the necessary enviroment for him to dwell in them. In this way we are “God’s housekeepers.” We have the responsiblity of keeping iniquity out of the temple. That is a lot of pressure.
v13. I have often tested the status of my own spiritual wellbeing by paying attention to how I feel in the temple. Sometimes I can feel the spirit, and sometimes not so much. However, there have been times when I have been “constrained to acknowledge that [God] sanctified it.” God is always willing to give us this message if we are willing to listen.
What God asks of us regarding the temple in D&C 109
v7. “Seek ye out of the best books . . . seek learning even by study and also by faith”
v17. Be sure that everyone/thing going into the temple “be in the name of the Lord.”
v18. Because that everyone/thing going out of the temple “be in the name of the Lord.”
v19. “All their salutations may be in the name of the Lord”
v20. “No unclean thing shall be permitted to come into thy house to pollute it”
v23. “bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth”
What God will do for us if we are faithful to the above responsibilities in section 109:
v22. Armed with power and guarded by angels.
v25. “no weapon against the shall prosper”
v26. “no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people”
v32. “complete deliverance from under this yoke”
v33. “rise up in the midst of this generation and do thy work”
v36. The bestowal of spiritual gifts.
v54-55. Mercy given to the nations and their leaders, as well as the poor
v58. The establishment of a holy city
v67. “all the scattered remnants of Israel . . . come to a knowledge of the truth believe in the Messiah”
v73. “church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness and shine forth fait as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners”
The temple is not just another thing that we do as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rather, attending the temple is what we do as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is clear from the above, and yet incomplete, list of blessings that the temple is tied to everything that we are trying to accomplish as a people. Because of this, I add my testimony to the prayer of George Albert Smith, “Wilt thou, our Heavenly Father, let thy presence be felt here always, that all who assemble here may realize that they are thy guests and that this is thy House.”