Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How the Restored Temple Sanctifies and Perfects

Matt. 5: 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Jesus Christ has given us the commandment to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. But, how can we comply with this seeming impossible command? Can God really help us overcome the lustful desires of the flesh? Can a man really reach a state of perfection in this world? This article will explain how the temple or the house of the Lord is a blessing given by the grace of God to overcome all temptation and completely sanctify and perfect His people.

Gen. 18: 14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord?
Luke 1: 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Rom. 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Matt. 19: 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
1 Jn. 4: 15-17 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

The purpose and covenant of the temple was not originally to sanctify and perfect God's people. Paul says that the Law of Moses did not perfect but only inspired faith in Jesus Christ and justification of sin but not sanctification.

Heb. 7: 11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? . . . For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
Gal 3: 24-25 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

In the Law of Moses and the OT Temple, a believer was continually reminded of thier sinful nature and need for sanctification by Jesus Christ. Every year Israel continually needed to sacrifice sheep and goats for a remission of the sins of the people. But these continual ordinances didn't change the people. These OT temple ordinances didn't sanctify and perfect but pointed to Christ who would restore a higher and everlasting covenant and priesthood. And it is this higher and everlasting covenant which does promise to sanctify and perfect us.

Heb 7:12;24 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Heb 6:1-3 Therefore [not] leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. . . Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
Ezek 37:26-29 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

Ezekiel talks about the restoration of the temple in the Last Days. However, this restored temple or sanctuary would not administer the same old Law of Moses, but would offer the higher and everlasting covenant to God's people. What is the new and everlasting covenant of the restored temple? Christ answers this for us while talking to the rich young man inviting him to sell all that he has, give the money to the poor, and come and follow him. We also read that the NT saints received and lived this this very same covenant. The NT in Acts describes the Saints living what is known as the "Law of Consecration" or "the United Order" with "all things in common" (Acts 2: 44, Acts 4: 32, Acts 4: 35, 37, Acts 5: 2).

Matt 19: 16-21 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

This invitation of Jesus Christ to the rich young man is the everlasting covenant. And it is this everlasting covenant of the restored temple that promises to sanctify and perfect God's people. The purpose of the everlasting covenant and Christ's atonement is not to simply sweep our sins under the rug. Christ's atonement is not only grace but also transformative power to change us, purify us like silver, turn us away from sin and change our heart such that we have no more disposition to do evil but to do good continually. You and I rightly admit that we are not completely sanctified yet. However, the Melchizedek priesthood temple has been given to help us complete the process of sanctification "in this world" and in the Millennium.

While we are not fully sanctified and perfected at the moment we accept Christ, we do become fully justified. Justification means that God acquits us from judgment through the merits and mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. This Justification makes it possible for us to receive the Holy Ghost. If we were not justified, the Holy Ghost couldn't dwell in us at all because He cannot dwell in unholy temples. But that doesn't mean we are sanctified and perfect. However, through the transformative power of the Spirit and grace of Christ the Holy Ghost will begin to change us. And as we receive a greater portion of the Holy Ghost and grow from grace to grace; the light and love of Christ will grow in us until the perfect day. That perfect day may not be realized until the end of the Millennium but begins in this world.

How does the Christian temple, the higher covenant or the "sealing in the forehead" spoken of by John in Revelations help the believer become perfected in Christ and sanctified?

#1. The restored temple covenant reveals to man who God is, who we are, and our relationship to God. When a person has a spiritual realization of the true nature of God, and that we are all spiritual children of God with infinite potential; the light of this knowledge and eternal possibility makes the enticings of sin pale in comparison.

#2. The temple provides an eternal prospective as it reveals to us the stages of the plan of salvation including the pre-existence, creation, the fall, the millennium, judgment and hope of eternal life. By going through the progression of the plan of salvation and understanding where our lives fit into eternity, we realize our true purpose to accept Christ and His word. Again when we see how short life is in perspective of the whole of eternity, sin loses any attractiveness.

#3. The Christian temple is a space set aside as holy and pure from the world. As a quiet and reverent place set aside, a person is enabled to enjoy and experience the light and power of the Holy Ghost and the infinite love of Jesus Christ. As we feel the pure love of Christ for us, we are strengthened against sin. And as a result, the allure of any brief pleasure that comes from sin pales in comparison to a taste of eternal glory and happiness.

The eternal perspective of the temple is why the scriptures refer to the temple as the "Mountain of the Lords House." The restored temple or "Mountain of the Lord's House" gives us an eternal perspective of who God is, who we are in God's eyes, our relationship to God, our eternal and infinite potential, the majesty of God's power and creation, God's mercy in sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ, and our important and individual role and calling in God's plan.

Ps. 24:3-4 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. Ps. 93:5 For “holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever”.
Isa. 2: 2-3 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Isa. 56: 7 Even 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.
Ezek. 20: 40 For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord God, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.

There is a wonderful scriptural example of how receiving the covenant of sanctification protects against sin and endows the believer with power against the tempations of Satan. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Genesis in the Bible and restored an account of Moses experience on the Mountain when God appeared to him.

Moses 1:1-11 The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain, And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence. And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless? And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease. Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth. And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all. And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee. And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered. And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth. And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed. But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.

So, as Moses communed with God, God impressed several things to Moses. God revealed to Moses who He is, that God is a divine, perfect, and exalted being. God communicated to Moses that Moses is a son of God and was created in His image. He also taught Moses about the power of God by showing Moses the majesty of creation. And God revealed to Moses about His infinite love and mercy by showing Moses that He would send His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ to save the world. And God revealed to Moses his important work and calling in God's plan.

As a side note, I do think it is interesting that Moses would say "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." This becomes significant when you remember that Moses grew up as a son of Pharaoh. Prior to this experience, Pharaoh, Moses and all of Egypt considered Pharaoh to be a god. But after this experience, all the wealth, fame, and glory of the Egyptian Empire was nothing in comparison to the glory and majesty of the One True and Living God. This knowledge served to strengthen Moses for the experience that would follow.

Moses 1:12-25 And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me. And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee? For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely? Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God; for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve. Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten. And he also gave me commandments when he called unto me out of the burning bush, saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me. And again Moses said: I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan. And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me. And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory. And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan. And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses, that he beheld him not. And now of this thing Moses bore record; but because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men. And it came to pass that when Satan had departed from the presence of Moses, that Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son; And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God.

Because Moses knew who God was, who he was, the majesty of creation, the great mercy and love of God's Plan of Salvation, Moses could resist sin and temptation. However, he still required continued help of the Holy Ghost. We see how Satan tried to elicit fear and doubt in the power of God by showing Moses the suffering and pain of war, disease, and hell; but Moses was still able to overcome and trust in God's love. By the power of the Holy Ghost Moses said to Satan:

"Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee? For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely? Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me?"

So, despite Satan's attempts to get us to doubt God's mercy, grace, love and power; the restored temple and everlasting covenant promises us that we can be sanctified and perfected in Christ by knowing who God is, who we are, God's power, love, and mercy, and our individual calling and purpose in God's plan. Possessing and knowing these truths empowers us against sin by making sin pale in comparison to the majesty, love, and eternal glory of God and the promise of Eternal Life. This is the great purpose of the restored temple.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi David. I happened to come across a link to this post from Bryce's Temple Study blog and thought you might enjoy my post on Hebrews - To Ascend the Holy Mount. You may also be interested in "Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord?" Sesquicentennial Reflections of a Sacred Day: 4 May 1842. I hope you enjoy them.

I appreciate your post on the idea that the Melchizedek priesthood ordinances exalt and sanctify. In this light, I stand in amazement that Joseph Smith said that all the Old Testament prophets held the Melchizedek priesthood and were ordained by God Himself, especially considering that the Aaronic priesthood ordinances were predominant throughout certain periods in ancient Israel's history.