Made With Hands
A Brief Exposition of the LDS Temple & Questions for the Active-Temple-going Mormon
When commuting through the southern-most part of the Salt Lake Valley, we often see three different temples from various vantage points. Then, just take a 20 minute drive northward and we find the Salt Lake City Temple, the very epicenter of this unique city. These, of course, are the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LDS (Latter-day Saint) temples are not only in the state of Utah; they are located all throughout the U.S. and various other parts of the world. As of October 2010, there were 134 temples in operation, 7 under construction, and 16 that have been recently announced. Most who see these structures and their surroundings are impressed by their beauty and grandeur. Leadership and membership of the LDS Church proclaim these temples to be sacred houses of the Lord, where select members perform their religious ceremonies on a regular basis. They firmly believe the temples to be the most sacred places on earth, where earth meets heaven. The current President and Prophet of the LDS Church, Thomas S. Monson, stated the following about the temples: "I think there is no place in the world where I feel closer to the Lord than in one of His holy temples."
LDS members firmly believe that the Lord has commanded them to build these temples throughout the world, so that members would have easier access to worship God and make sacred promises with him. Access into these temples, however, is not free for all. When it comes to access into the Lord’s houses, according to LDS Doctrine, only “worthy” members have that privilege. The one and only exception is when a temple is first built; the LDS Church allows for anyone (members and non-members) to tour the inside of certain parts of that temple when it is first built. However, once the temple has been “dedicated” with prayer by their leadership, only select members have access. One must earn his “worthiness,” however; it is not just freely given to every member of the LDS Church. In order to have access into the Lord’s houses, one must earn what’s called their “Temple Recommend.”
Temporary recommends are also rewarded to “worthy” members, ages 12 and up, for the purpose of performing one of their religious ceremonies, known as baptism for the dead. Adult members can be rewarded their official Temple Recommend if they prove their worthiness. How does one prove their worthiness? First of all, they must be a faithful member for at least one year. They must have a testimony of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and of the modern-day prophets and apostles of the LDS Church. On top of that, they must obey all of God’s Commandments and the Laws of Chastity, Tithing, and the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89 – “no use or intake of tobacco, alcohol, coffee (interpreted from “hot drinks”), tea (interpreted from “hot drinks”), or harmful drugs”). These are the basic requirements, the bare minimum, for those who are seeking access. One must live out at least these requirements to earn their Temple Recommend, and one must maintain these in order to keep it.
Ceremonies performed within the temples, along with the aforementioned baptism for the dead, include the following: endowment (members are given the gift of the power of God, necessary for exaltation into the highest heaven), temple marriage (members are sealed for time and all eternity), and other sealings (members are sealed to their children, for example; eternal families are strongly emphasized). These ceremonies and the requirement to follow all of the given commandments are necessary for the “perfecting of the saints.”
The LDS Church’s “Threefold Mission” is to proclaim their gospel, perfect the Latter-day Saints, and redeem the dead (through baptism for the dead). Members who have done their religious duty within the temple can freely share what it looks like within and what they felt during their experience. However, they are highly discouraged from sharing the specifics of what goes on within a temple and the various words that are used in their ceremonies, for they are too sacred to be freely discussed with outsiders. A common response is not that they are secret, but that they are sacred. We are not going to go into detail on the individual ceremonies, the pure white garments that are worn by temple attendees, and the symbolism used on the inside and outside of the temples. There is so much more to share, but this was to be a brief exposition.
As for the priesthood, the LDS Church makes this proclamation and believes it to be one of the main pillars of their religion: They firmly belief that the LDS Church is the one and only true Church on earth that holds the proper priesthood authority. Back in the early 1800’s their main Prophet and Seer, Joseph Smith Jr., had claimed that he had been sent by God to restore the true Church to the earth, since the Christian Church had gone into a state of total apostasy after the last Apostle had died around the First Century. Through various means, Smith also claimed that God had conferred unto him, and his followers, the Aaronic and the Melchizedek Priesthoods. Men were first ordained high priests within the LDS Church in the city of Kirtland, Ohio in the year 1831. Later, their first temple had been constructed in Kirtland, in the year 1836. Interestingly, temple work (referred to as “ordinance work”) was not first performed in this temple. It was first performed in the second temple, which was built in the 1840’s in Nauvoo, Illinois. This second temple, however, was purportedly destroyed by arson fire in the year 1848. Joseph Smith claimed to have learned from God that temples were to be constructed to enable all the functions of the restored priesthood to be properly exercised on earth. His claim was that the early Christian Church had once performed temple worship (as performed by LDS members) and it ceased when the Church had gone into apostasy. Smith’s mission back then and the LDS Church’s mission today was and is proclaimed as being the restoration of everything that mankind had corrupted pertaining to God’s purpose for the Church on earth; and the function of the temples and the priesthood is believed to be central to the purpose of the LDS Church.
For the active-temple going Mormon, here are 10 important questions:
1 – Acts 7:47-50 says, "Solomon built him (God) an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?” Also, Acts 17:24 says, "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands."
QUESTION: Does God need temples in order for mankind to have access to the highest degree of heaven from earth? If yes, how does that go in line with John 14:6, since the Father is in the highest degree of heaven and since the passage does not read “… but by me AND the house of the Lord?”
2 – Isaiah 56:7 says, "... them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices [shall be] accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people."
QUESTION: If the Lord’s house was to be called a “house of prayer for all people,” why is there not a strong emphasis of having prayer services for all members within and without the temples? Why is the temple not accessible to ALL members of the LDS Church for prayer, when it was to be “for all people?”
3 - 1 Samuel 1:9 shows the first mention of temple in the Bible: "So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple (tabernacle at this point in time) of the LORD." And Revelation 21:22 shows the last mention of temple in the Bible: "And I saw no temple therein (within New Jerusalem): for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it."
QUESTION: First, do you know of the Dead Sea Scrolls? They date back prior to Christ’s day on earth. These manuscripts are sufficient proof that the Old Testament is the same Old Testament we have today (not corrupted by man). Also, there are literally thousands of manuscripts which date back to the early centuries to back up what we have today in our New Testament (not corrupted by man).
With that being said, why is there absolutely no mention of “ordinance work” being performed in the temple within the Bible (from 1 Samuel to Revelation), as performed by the LDS Church today? Why did Jesus not mention it or command it, if it was necessary? Where is it mentioned in your own writing of the Book of Mormon, since it supposedly contains the “fullness of the gospel?”
4 – Leviticus 17:8-11 says, “... Thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man [there be] of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever man [there be] of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul.”
QUESTION: Blood sacrifice was a central act of worship to God in the Old Testament, performed under the Aaronic Priesthood. This was in place to make an atonement for the souls of the people. If the Aaronic Priesthood has been fully restored by the LDS Church, why is there absolutely no emphasis on blood sacrifice?
5 - Hebrews 9:22 says, "... almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness)."
QUESTION: If there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood, how does one receive forgiveness of sins? Whose blood must be shed?
6 - Hebrews 9:6-12 says, "Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle (in the wilderness), accomplishing the service [of God]. But into the second (the temple) [went] the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and [for] the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
Which [was] A FIGURE (a symbol) for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle (Himself), not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us]."
Hebrews 10:1 says, “For the law having A SHADOW of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”
QUESTION: If the temple, the priesthood, and what was performed in the temple under the Law was a “figure” or a “shadow” of Jesus Christ and what He would accomplish in His sacrifice and resurrection in the New Testament, why bring back it all back?
7 - Hebrews 7:21-27 says, "(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou [art] a priest FOR EVER after the order of Melchisedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this [man], because he continueth ever, hath an UNCHANGEABLE priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God BY HIM, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an High Priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself."
QUESTION: If God promised that Jesus would forever be a Priest after the order of Melchizedek and it would be unchangeable, since Jesus lives forever, why is there a change in the LDS Church? If Jesus, the High Priest, lives forever to make intercession for us and to save us, why is there a need for mere men to hold this Priesthood? Can men even meet the description of the One who holds this Priesthood?: holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens, and who needs absolutely no sacrifice (Jesus offered Himself as the perfect, eternal sacrifice)?
8 - John 4:20-24 says, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth."
QUESTION: According to the words of Jesus, is it possible for mankind to offer up true worship that pleases the Father, even if there is no physical building to offer it from?
9 – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of
God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
QUESTION: If the Christian is God’s temple, where the Holy Spirit dwells, and their High Priest is Jesus Christ Himself, why is there a need for physical temples and the LDS priesthood?
10 - Romans 3:10-20 says, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat [is] an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps [is] under their lips: Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet [are] swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery [are] in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin."
QUESTION: You may boast of keeping the commandments of the Bible and what has been given by the LDS Church, in order to earn your “worthiness” to receive your Temple Recommend. However, are you truly “worthy” to appear before the Holy God of the Bible, in light of the previous Scripture?
Charles H. Spurgeon, old-time Preacher, wrote these words: “Persons of merely formal religion cannot understand how we can rejoice that all our sins are forgiven us for Christ’s sake. Their works, and prayers, and ceremonies, give them very poor comfort; and well may they be uneasy, for they are neglecting the one great salvation, and endeavoring to get remission (forgiveness) without blood.”
John Piper, Baptist Pastor and Author, wrote these words: “When Christ died and rose again, the old temple was replaced by the globally accessible Christ. You may come to him without moving a muscle. He is as close as faith.”
In other words, you do not need physical temples (“Made With Hands”) nor do you need the priesthood of the LDS Church. Your works will in no way bring you forgiveness of sins before a Holy God. There needs to be a heart change. What the LDS Church has in place cannot change a man’s heart and is not Biblical in any sense. It is actually an offense to God and an affront to Jesus Christ and what He has done. Jesus said these words: "I say unto you, That in this place is [one] greater than the temple." He is to be the focus alone. The Gospel (Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection) is sufficient enough to bring us redemption and justification. God (John 1:1, 14) is the ONLY one that can change a man’s heart. It is ONLY by His blood that our sins can be forgiven and completely washed away. Repent and believe the Gospel, and the One true High Priest will be accessible to you by faith, whomever you are and wherever you may be.
In Spirit and Truth,
One Clay Soldier among many