Joseph Smith

    Prophet of God

    Blessings of the Temple

    The House of the Lord

    Introduction

    God commanded Joseph Smith in 1841 to build a temple at Nauvoo, Illinois. "Let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances 1 therein unto my people." 2 For the next four years, the Saints worked mightily on the temple. "The Church is not fully organized, in its proper order, and cannot be," Joseph taught the saints of Nauvoo, "until the Temple is completed."

    The temple would serve as a house for religious assembly, instruction and ordinances. Joseph taught the doctrine of baptism on behalf of the dead at a funeral in April 1840. This ordinance, Joseph taught, should be performed only in the temple. The news that members could be baptized for their deceased relatives was received with jubilation. In addition, the Prophet Joseph began in 1842 administering the first temple endowments 3 to a small group of faithful men and women in his Red Brick Store and at other locations.

    These holy ordinances, a source of "gladness for the living and the dead," are performed in Latter-day Saint temples today. 4

    Quotes

    Joseph Smith Quotes 

    The Temple of the Lord is in process of erection here [Nauvoo], where the Saints will come to worship the God of their fathers, according to the order of His house and the powers of the Holy Priesthood, . . . and where instructions from the Most High will be received, and from this place go forth to distant lands. (History of the Church, 4:269.)

    All those who have not had an opportunity of hearing the Gospel, and being administered unto by an inspired man in the flesh, must have it hereafter, before they can be finally judged. It is no more incredible that God should save the dead, than he should raise the dead. (History of the Church, 4:425–26.)

    Witnesses

    Mercy Rachel Fielding Thompson, Early Member of the Church 

    After seeking earnestly to know from the Lord if there was anything that I could do for the building up of the Kingdom of God, a most pleasant sensation came over me with the following words: "Try to get the sisters to subscribe one cent per week for the purpose of buying glass and nails for the Temple." I went immediately to Brother Joseph and told him what seemed to be the whisperings of the still small voice to me. He told me to "go ahead and the Lord will bless you." I then mentioned it to Brother Hyrum who was much pleased, . . . [and said] all who subscribed the cent per week should have their names recorded in the Book of the Law of the Lord. (Autobiographical sketch 1880, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; spelling and punctuation modernized.)

    George Q. Cannon, Apostle, 1860–1901 

    Previous to his death, the Prophet Joseph manifested great anxiety to see the [Nauvoo] temple completed. . . . "Hurry up the work, brethren," he used to say," let us finish the temple; the Lord has a great endowment in store for you, and I am anxious that the brethren should have their endowments and receive the fullness of the priesthood. . . . Then . . . the Kingdom will be established, and I do not care what shall become of me." (Deseret News, Dec. 15, 1869, 531.)

    Questions

    When did Joseph Smith introduce the temple ordinances?

    On May 4, 1842, Joseph and Hyrum met in his store with Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Newel K. Whitney, George Miller, and James Adams to administer ordinances and communicate things "to be received only by the spiritual minded." Though the gathering was small, Joseph taught, "There was nothing made known to these men but what will be made known to all the Saints of the last days, so soon as they are prepared to receive, and a proper place is prepared to communicate them . . . ; therefore let the Saints be diligent in building the Temple" (History of the Church, 5:2). "When the spirit prompted him [Joseph] that his life's work was drawing to a close, and when he saw that his earthly days might be ended before the completion of the temple," noted Franklin D. Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve, "he called a chosen few, and conferred upon them the ordinances of the holy endowments, so that the divine treasures of his mind might not perish from the world with his death" ("A Tour of Historic Scenes," The Contributor, May 1886, 301).

    Where did Joseph get the distinctive design for the Nauvoo Temple?

    On January 19, 1841, the Lord indicated to Joseph Smith that He would show him "all things pertaining to" the Nauvoo Temple (D&C 124:42). When William Weeks, chief engineer of the temple, disagreed with some of the architectural features of the building, the Prophet responded, "I have seen in vision the splendid appearance of that building illuminated, and will have it built according to the pattern shown me" (History of the Church, 6:197).

    Readings

    Online Resources at LDS.org

    Online Resources at BYU

     

    Footnotes

    [1] Sacred rites and ceremonies. Ordinances consist of acts that have spiritual meanings, such as covenants with the Lord (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Ordinances," 184–85).

    [2] D&C 124:40.

    [3] In a general sense, a gift of power from God. Worthy members of the Church can receive a gift of power through ordinances in the temple that gives them the instruction and covenants of the Holy Priesthood that they need in order to attain exaltation. The endowment includes instruction about the plan of salvation (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Endowment," 73–74).

    [4] D&C 128:19.