temple worship
Week 36 is scheduled for study Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2021. Temple worship is at the heart of everything we talk about this week.

Day 1

What principles and doctrine stand out to you as you study Doctrine and Covenants 94–97? Be sure to record your impressions.

Doctrine and Covenants 94; 97:15–17 – The Lord can be with me in my everyday life.

I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty of accusing the Lord of giving instructions that are insufficient. I wanted to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. The older I get, the more clearly I see the Lord’s wisdom in not doing what I was so insistent He do for me. The Lord gives us patterns to follow, and it is up to us to apply the patterns in our lives. Blessings always follow living by the Lord’s patterns in life.

In these two sections the Lord is giving directions on not just the sanctity of the buildings He is commanding to be built, but outlining their purpose. He then follows up with a promise that if His patterns are followed, the Church, His people, will be blessed such that all the world will be able to see and recognize that they are a choice people, protected by an unseen hand.

As to the buildings themselves, here are some of the Lord’s instructions, as well as His promises.

Doctrine and Covenants 94:6, 8-9

And it shall be dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, according to the order of the priesthood, according to the pattern which shall be given unto you hereafter.

And ye shall not suffer any unclean thing to come in unto it; and my glory shall be there, and my presence shall be there.

But if there shall come into it any unclean thing, my glory shall not be there; and my presence shall not come into it.

Doctrine and Covenants 97:15-20

15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;

16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.

17 But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples.

18 And, now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible.

19 And the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there;

20 And he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower.

Now let’s consider what the pattern given here has to do with us in our personal life. How many times have you been told that your body is a temple of God, and that the Spirit will come to you only as long as you haven’t defiled your body? How many times have we been told, as a people, to stand in holy places and be not moved? And how many times have we been promised great blessings to those who do make the effort to stand in holy places? We have also been told that our homes are one of our prime holy places to be in, together with the temples and our Church houses.

Our home is one of the most important holy places for us to be. It is also one of the most difficult to keep holy. Temples require recommends to enter, but our homes are almost completely open to the influences of the world. The sacredness of our home has to come from our personal righteousness, and our personal habits. Do we monitor the quality of what we see on our electronic devices? Are the movies, shows, and videos we watch worthy of a covenant maker and of the Spirit we want to protect us from day to day? Is our conversation uplifting, kind, generous and good?

Life at home can be difficult, especially if we live with others who are making different choices for their personal lifestyle. We may not have any control over how others choose to live their life, but we always have a choice over our own choices. Our sacred place may be restricted to just our bedroom, or even our bed, but we almost always have a place we can go away from the choices of others that would detract from the Spirit. It all depends on how great our desire is to have the influence of the Spirit in our life.

The instructions for today’s reading is about buildings owned by the Church. But the pattern is the same for each of our lives. If we build our personal life, and our companionship’s life around the Lord and His commandments, the results will be the same, whether we talk of buildings or personal blessings.

Day 2

What principles and doctrine stand out to you as you study Doctrine and Covenants 94–97? Be sure to record your impressions.

Doctrine and Covenants 95 – The Lord chastens those He loves.

The title of today’s lesson is fascinating. It is a plain and simple statement, but a statement that creates questions that beg answers and explanations.

The title of the lesson states that the Lord chastens those He loves. But doesn’t the Lord love all people? The answer of course is yes, He does. And from time to time all people get rebuked or chastened by the Lord, in the Lord’s own way. Our main concern here is our relationship with God. Why does He specify that He chastens or corrects those whom He loves, especially since we know He loves everyone.

From the scriptures in section 95 we can see that the Lord makes this statement of chastening His people from a very particular point of view. In verse one He says this:

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you

The recipients, or the audience for this revelation are those who have already made covenants with God. He states clearly that the reason chastisement is given is so that our sins can be forgiven. Why? Because with His chastisement “I prepare a way for [your] deliverance in all things out of temptation”. My first thought was, what is it about the Lord’s chastisement that delivers us out of temptation? It then occurred to me that He never just corrects us and condemns us for our misdeeds. The Lord always points the way forward by telling us also what we need to do in order to restore His blessings in our life. His chastisement is never one sided. There is always the chastisement, followed by the way to make things better. This is how He shows that He really does love us.

It is good to see that the Lord follows His own instructions. Later in the Doctrine and Covenants we are told how to correct someone in section 121:43-44. This is exactly what the Lord does for us.

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

Commandments not a few

Here is another key verse about how and why the Lord chastises His people. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 59:3-4. The Lord is telling the people that when we are obedient and seeking to do what is right, this is how He will bless us.

Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.

And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.

As I wondered about how they/we will be blessed with “commandments not a few,” I wondered if I could find evidence of it in the scriptures we are studying this week. I looked at the verses where the Lord is correcting the people then continued to read on, looking for the word commandment in what followed the chastisement. And sure enough, following every correction the Lord commands the people to do certain things that will restore or bring about their happiness. Do they still have to repent – Yes! But in every case the Lord is pointing out the path to happiness for His people. He is following His own declaration that after a rebuke we need to see a showing of an increase of love so we know that His love for us is “stronger than the cords of death.”

Day 3

What principles and doctrine stand out to you as you study Doctrine and Covenants 94–97? Be sure to record your impressions.

Doctrine and Covenants 95:8, 11–17; 97:10–17 – In the temple God blesses His people.

Rather than try to write something that might not be quite as helpful as what the Brethren have already written on this subject, I turned to the April 2021 General Conference and reread a talk from President Henry B. Eyring. He starts this part of his talk by quoting President Russell M. Nelson. This quote is referring to the comment the Lord made when He promised that those who enter the temple prepared for the experience will see God.

President Russell M. Nelson made clear for us that we can “see” the Savior in the temple in the sense that He becomes no longer unknown to us. President Nelson said this: “We understand Him. We comprehend His work and His glory. And we begin to feel the infinite impact of His matchless life.”

Henry B. Eyring

President Eyring continues his comments about what is available to us in the temple with these words from the same talk.

When we are worthy to receive such teaching, there can grow through our temple experience hope, joy, and optimism throughout our lives. That hope, joy, and optimism are available only through accepting the ordinances performed in holy temples. It is in the temple that we can receive the assurance of loving family connections that will continue after death and last for eternity.

It can be easy to dismiss the temple and its importance in our life if we are only focused on our “home centered, Church supported” gospel learning. Think back on what you have read for this week’s reading assignment. The Lord, Himself makes a big deal out of our personal need for what happens in His Temples. Following are just some of His statements about the importance of the Temples and what they can and should mean in our life.

Doctrine and Covenants 95:3-4

… ye have not considered the great commandment in all things, that I have given unto you concerning the building of mine house;

For the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to prune my vineyard for the last time, that I may bring to pass my strange act, that I may pour out my Spirit upon all flesh

Doctrine and Covenants 95:8

Yea, verily I say unto you, I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high;

Note that those who choose to keep His commandments are those whom He refers to as His chosen. We actually “choose” ourselves. Being one of God’s chosen people isn’t some random picking of His doing, it is all of our own doing.

Doctrine and Covenants 97:12-14

12 Behold, this is the tithing and the sacrifice which I, the Lord, require at their hands, that there may be a house built unto me for the salvation of Zion—

13 For a place of thanksgiving for all saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of the ministry in all their several callings and offices;

14 That they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you.

Note God’s own views on the importance of the temple – He uses phrases like, “for the salvation of Zion,” for a place of thanksgiving,” “and for a place of instruction.” The purpose for all of this is so we, as a people can be perfected “in the understanding of [our] ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine.” How much more can we expect from God than this? If we become casual about our temple attendance, we also become casual about receiving the blessings the Lord intends for us to receive from His temple.

Day 4

What principles and doctrine stand out to you as you study Doctrine and Covenants 94–97? Be sure to record your impressions.

Doctrine and Covenants 97:18–28 – Zion is “the pure in heart.”

I cannot think of anything the Lord has ever done for His children that doesn’t have more than just one result in good things. Everything He tells us to do physically results in spiritual blessings as well. All good that comes from God is a compound in that it has more than one effect for good. Consider yesterday’s lesson on how God blesses His children in the temple. It can be very easy to become myopic or narrowly focused on why we attend the temple, but there are always multiple blessings sewn into our temple attendance.

When we attend the temple we are both seeking the blessings the Lord has promised us for coming to His house, and performing saving ordinances for those who cannot perform those ordinances themselves. We become vicarious saviors to those who are already on the other side of the veil. It cannot be helped. The Lord has set up the temple to bless as many people from a single good deed as possible. Our focus on saving our self at once also saves someone else, as well as saves families on both sides of the veil. The Lord never wastes an opportunity to do as much good as possible with a single good act.

The people at the time of Joseph Smith thought of Zion as mainly just the city they wanted to build and be a part of. But in section 97 the Lord expanded the definition of Zion to all who seek to be of one heart and one mind with each other, as well as with the Lord. Isn’t this one of the main functions of temple worship – to unite us in the work of salvation with others doing the same work? And at the same time as we are learning to be Zion on this side of the veil, we ARE Zion to those on the other side of the veil who are receiving the ordinance work we are providing for them here. Temple attendance qualifies by any standard as a grand and glorious work.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 95:1–11 – Chastening and commandments

This will be short. My intent here is to convey the idea that Chastening from the Lord, and receiving more commandments from Him should not be viewed as punishment or being “disciplined” by Him. Christ didn’t suffer in the garden with the intent of being able to punish us and make us suffer for what we personally put him through that night. His intent has always been to provide us with an escape from the suffering he endured that night. To God, repentance is the ultimate mercy, the supreme kindness, and the greatest of all spiritual blessings. For the repentance He offers us enables us to become like Him.

So the next time we think of being chastised by the Lord, remember that His chastisement is a package deal. With His correction comes the path for our escape from the punishments of the wicked. And with the commandments that accompany our correction comes the opportunity for far greater blessings. This can all be ours for the taking, as long as we are willing to be humble and change our behavior as instructed by the Lord or His servants.

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For the Salvation of Zion

Week 36