This is my latest sacrament talk all about the importance of having a Temple Recommend and keeping the blessings of the temple in our lives. The quotes by President Howard W. Hunter were from his talk “The Great Symbol of Membership.”
Temple Recommend Talk
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have the enormous blessing of temples and the covenants that can be performed inside. The way to unlock the blessings that come from temple service is the temple recommend. We need to take temples and temple recommends as a serious responsibility and make them the “Great Symbol[s] of Our Membership.”
I remember when I got my first temple recommend. I was 12 and eager to perform baptisms for the dead. Like most 12-year olds, I don’t think I knew exactly what the experience entailed, but I was excited. Temple Tuesdays were a fantastic tradition in our ward and helped me develop an appreciation for temples.
Living in Accordance with the Principles of the Gospel
In order to get a temple recommend, we must live our lives in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We become “temple worthy” when we strive to live the gospel to its fullest, through faith, repentance, and renewal of covenants. We then set up an interview with a member of the bishopric, if it is our first recommend we meet with the bishop and answer questions about our worthiness. In the case of a full-time recommend, we then move to the stake presidency and answer the questions again. If they and we find us worthy, we receive a temple recommend.
Worthiness is important to the Lord. Before 1891, the president of the Church had to sign off on a temple recommend because worthiness was so important. Today, I don’t think President Monson could meet with us all individually. The Lord clearly said, “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; … 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” (D&C 97:15, 17).
The Great Symbol of our Membership
So, I mentioned earlier that the temple should be the Great Symbol of our membership. President Hunter, in his October 1994, address said, “It is the Lord Himself who, in His revelations to us, has made the temple the great symbol for members of the Church. Think of the attitudes and righteous behaviors that the Lord pointed us toward in the counsel He gave to the Kirtland Saints through the Prophet Joseph Smith as they were preparing to build a temple.” Those attitudes and righteous behaviors mentioned were outlined in the Doctrine & Covenants: “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119).
It’s important to note that the Lord didn’t use any form of suggestive tenses. By saying “organize,” “prepare,” and “establish,” He is commanding us. He has commanded us to make temples, which in turn requires us to receive temple recommends.
I also believe that having a temple recommend is a good indication of our worthiness for Celestial Glory. If we strive to keep our recommend current and live all of the principles required to receive a recommend throughout our lives, I believe we will qualify for Eternal Life.
Personal Experience at Three Different Temples
When I was 15, my grandparents decided that all of their grandchildren would get a special trip for their 16th birthdays. I am the oldest grandchild, so I had the misfortune of setting the standard for my siblings and cousins. My sisters chose Boston and New York and my cousins chose Mexico and Puerto Rico. Do you want to know my choice? I chose a Church History tour. Instead of going to see a bunch of broadway musicals, explore art and history museums, or even just sit on the beach, I elected to sit on a bus with mostly old people and tour all of the early church sites, from the Smith’s family home to Nauvoo.
This trip taught me some interesting things about the Church. Not only did I come to the conclusion that living the standards of the temple recommend was the key to obtaining Eternal Life, but I also got to see the first two temples of this dispensation.
The Kirtland Temple
The first was the Kirtland Temple. Now, the Kirtland Temple, the first temple of this dispensation, isn’t owned by the Church anymore, so we had to pay a preservation fee to enter. That’s not that important to discuss, but we went inside and saw pretty much the entirety of the temple. I was reminded of the stories that I’d heard regarding the construction and dedication of the temple. So many sacrifices were made so that the early members of the Church could follow the Lord’s call to build a temple.
I think that the words of Joseph Smith at the dedication of the Kirtland temple are full of powers and relevance. “And now, Holy Father,” pleaded the Prophet, Joseph Smith, “we ask thee … that thy glory may rest down upon thy people. … We ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them.” These words mean a lot to me. My wish is that I could have the glory of the Father rest upon me. I also wish to consistently be armed with his power, with His name upon me. Hopefully, you also have these desires.
The crazy thing is, those promises are still in effect. We can have all of the blessings that Joseph Smith asked for in his prayer. These blessings come if we get our temple recommends and attend the temple. We are such a blessed people to have temples. No wonder the Lord has said, “I will manifest myself to my people in mercy” (D&C 110:7).
The Community of Christ Temple
As part of the tour, we stopped in Independence, Missouri and visited quite a few more sites. I want to mention one location that we visited in particular. The Community of Christ, which is the rebranded Reorganized LDS church, has a temple in Independence. We got to go inside. The feeling was so different than that of any of our temples. Anybody could enter, they had a store for souvenirs, their walls were adorned with images of water crystals that attempted to convince us that the Word of God had a different influence on the shape of the crystals than rap music, and people were wearing any clothes they desired. I didn’t feel that it was a house truly dedicated to the Lord.
The Nauvoo Temple
A few days later, my grandparents and I received the privilege of going to the Nauvoo temple. The tour group had given us almost an entire day to ourselves in Nauvoo to explore. My grandpa and I decided to go and do baptisms for the dead. We were prepared for this and I brought family names found by my maternal grandfather. It was almost surreal walking through that temple, especially after visiting the Community of Christ temple days earlier. I felt peace, I felt the Spirit, and I felt like I was participating in something much greater than myself.
We have the enormous blessing of having two temples so close to us. I know that I need to repent and take greater advantage of them in my own life. Hopefully, at some point, none of us will take the temple for granted.
I want to close with the following quote by President Hunter regarding why we should strive for a temple recommend. “The ability to stand by one’s principles, to live with integrity and faith according to one’s belief—that is what matters. That devotion to true principle—in our individual lives, in our homes and families, and in all places that we meet and influence other people—that devotion is what God is ultimately requesting of us. It requires commitment—whole-souled, deeply held, eternally cherished commitment to the principles we know to be true in the commandments God has given. If we will be true and faithful to the Lord’s principles, then we will always be temple worthy, and the Lord and His holy temples will be the great symbols of our discipleship with Him.” I bear my testimony of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.