The Johannesburg Temple, the first temple in South Africa, was recently renovated and is now in full operation. The temple ordinances are once again available to all members in order to provide them with the way to return to God’s presence and to live with Him forever.
Building temples is one of our Heavenly Father’s expressions of love for each of us, His children, thus providing a way for us to enjoy the blessings that He has reserved for those who are faithful and worthy to assume eternal commitments. Each temple that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds is a manifestation of the testimony that God lives and that He has a plan for blessing His children in all generations, and that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the World and that His atoning sacrifice makes possible the fulfillment of the plan of eternal life for all those who worthily live the gospel.
In the Guide to the Scriptures, we read that the temple is literally the Lord’s house, which is why the front of each temple has the words, “Holiness to the Lord.” That is the main reason that temples are the most sacred places on all the earth, for the Lord Himself visits the temples, which have been erected in devotion to Him.
When I am in the temple, I have the strong impression that I am beyond the earth and that the solitary and unhappy world is very far from my mind. I feel completely immune to any maleficent influence of the world. When I think about the importance of the temple in my life, I see three distinct things that have helped me continue moving in the Lord’s direction.
The temple is a place of instruction
The first is that the temple is a place of instruction. In this holy place, we learn in a gentle and sacred way about a loving Father’s plan for His sons and daughters. We learn about the course we are on, from the pre-mortal existence to mortality and beyond. The purpose of everything that is taught in the temple is to bring to pass what the Lord said to Moses regarding His creation: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Everything is taught clearly and simply so that everyone may hear, learn, and be able to put into practice what has been learned. The clear understanding of the teachings received in the Lord’s house and the determination to do everything in accordance with what is taught are the essence of what will make it possible for us to receive the promises of eternal life. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, “I believe that if we could create in our minds a clear and true picture of eternal life, we would start behaving differently” (“The Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Liahona, May 2008, pp.44-46). Brothers and Sisters, it is in the temple that we create this vision of eternal life.
The temple is a place of personal revelation
The second thing is that the temple is a place of personal revelation. When we enter the temple, our hearts should be turned exclusively to the Lord, with sincere supplications, in order to come to an understanding about the things that can change our lives. My greatest and most important personal decisions are made after diligent consultation with the Lord in the temple. After much pondering and sincere prayer, a gentle and tender voice always comes to my heart. This is revelation. The most important decision of my life, which made it possible for me to establish a family in the gospel, was the one to marry my dear wife. What a great blessing it was to hear from the Lord that that young lady would make possible the realization of all my dreams and of the Lord’s promise for our lives. I am very grateful for that revelation because she helps me maintain the vision of the blessings that will come from faithfully living the gospel. President Hinckley once said: “The temple is also a place of personal inspiration and revelation. A legion of people who are afflicted at having to make difficult decisions and to resolve problems come to the temple in the spirit of fasting and prayer, seeking divine guidance. Many testify that, in spite of not hearing voices of revelation, they felt clear impressions about which course to follow, whether at that moment or later, which became answers to their prayers…” (Temple Work, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 533, 1997 edition).
Each person entering the temple must prepare
The third thing is the importance of properly preparing ourselves to enter the Lord’s house. We are frequently taught that the temple is a sacred place and that the Lord asks that it be protected from desecration. Any person willing to prepare himself well for this privilege may enter, but we need to prepare ourselves physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Preparing ourselves to go to the temple and to make covenants with the Lord requires that we ask ourselves the same question that President Thomas S. Monson asked at the general priesthood meeting in April of this year: “Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure? Am I a worthy servant of the Lord? (“Examples of Righteousness,” Liahona, May 2008, pp. 65-68). If our answers to these questions are in the affirmative, then the ordinances performed here will remain intact for eternity. Everything we do in the temple has eternal consequences. There, we deal with matters of immortality and eternity, and with our relationship with our divine Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Our hands must be clean, our hearts pure, and our thoughts dwelling on the importance and beauty of eternity. This is a sacred place, literally “holiness to the Lord.”
It is a privilege to attend the temple
Attending the temple and participating in its ordinances is a privilege to be obtained by those who are obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel and who are willing “to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” We should go to the temple only when we are fully qualified and satisfy the requirements that the Lord has set. Our temple recommend must be a certification that we are living in accordance with the covenants that we have made with the Lord and that we are striving to seek everything that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” in our lives.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Possessing a temple recommend is to possess something that is invaluable. It says that we are faithful, that we are doing what we need to do, that we are living the gospel, that we are sustaining our authorities, that we are keeping the Word of Wisdom, that we are paying our tithing, that we are treating our family properly, that we are treating our neighbors well, that we are the kind of person that we should be…” (“Temple Recommends,” Teachings of the Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 529, 1997 edition).
I bear my testimony that the gospel should be reflected in our lives by the way we live. We must diligently strive to merit the privilege of entering the Lord’s house.