I have a hard time reconciling grace and the temple. I understand temples were used anciently, but as I have studied the Hebrew temple I have questions. There a priest made a sacrifice on behalf of the people and metaphorically entered into God’s presence on their behalf. Christ seems to fulfill the similitude of the Hebrew temple ceremony. He literally was the sacrifice and through him invites all to the presence of God. I do believe that faith without works is dead, but I also believe that it is Grace that is sufficient to save. I love the temple. I love the intention to unite the human family. I also love the intentions to live be eternal truths and covenants which I believe to be objective principals, I just struggle in my understanding of why such things need to be carried out in the temple in addition to the sacrifice already made by Jesus Christ. I’d really love help on this question, thank you.
One more additional thought. I often here it said that Christ’s sacrifice saved us from sin and death, and maybe this is where I get confused, is it then the ordinances of the temple that we need to enter into the celestial kingdom? If so does our eternal salvation then become contingent upon works again? This confuses me because those that except proxy work could only rightly be judged by their actions in accordance to their understanding in their life times. It seems to me that this creates a standard Mormons need to live up to in life in order to reach salvation and some other standard for everyone else. The concept of Grace seems so much simpler to me, not cheap I believe therefore I’m saved Grace, but I followed Christ so therefore I believe. Sorry it sounds like I’m going in circles, but the temple has been really confusing to me and I just want to understand its place in salvation better, it would be a huge help to me.
Thank you for writing. I appreciate your desire to better understand the temple, and how the blessings you receive inside are consistent with your understanding of salvation through the Grace of Christ. I think where you may be getting confused is by thinking that the ordinances of the temple are somehow separate from the Grace of Christ. Temple ordinances are actually physical manifestations of Christ’s Grace. For example, let’s look at the Temple Endowment.
Elder David E. Sorenson, then in the presidency of the Seventy, described the Endowment in the October 2003 Ensign
“The word endowment suggests receiving a gift, something of value for our eternal journey… The Lord is giving a blessing of spiritual power and protection to us so that we may enjoy life more fully, more abundantly.”
The Endowment received in the Temple gives, or endows us, with power from on high. In other words, it is one of many ways the Grace of Christ strengthens us in this life. Rather than being separate from Grace, it is actually giving us greater access to Grace! God has given us the Endowment to help us more fully rely on Christ, not to trust in ourselves for salvation. You have to attend the temple to receive this blessing. But how is this consistent with the idea that Grace is freely given to all if it’s only available in the temple? Elder Sorenson continues:
“The highest blessings in the kingdom of God come to us through the grace of Jesus Christ, by obedience to His word. Latter-day revelation clarifies that the fulness of Christ’s grace is bestowed on those who keep the commandments, including making and keeping covenants.”
Remember, while Christ’s Grace is freely given, in order to receive of His Grace we have to do two things. We need to have Faith in Jesus Christ and strive to follow His commandments. Both parts are necessary for salvation. One of those commandments, given to us in these days through God’s prophets, is to attend the temple, receive our own work, and perform ordinances for the dead. In addition to receiving power from God through the Endowment and other blessings, we are actually relying even more on Christ’s Grace by attending the temple because we are striving to follow His commandments. Remember what it says in Doctrine and Covenants 93:20;
“For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.”
Temple work does not supercede Christ’s grace. By going to the temple you are receiving salvation through His Grace! The Lord explains this even further in Doctrine and Covenants 54:6:
“Blessed are they who have kept the covenant and observed the commandment, for they shall obtain mercy.”
Christ’s Grace is part of the temple ordinances, not separate from them. And don’t worry if the temple is still a little confusing to you. The blessings of the temple are revealed to us little by little over time. I’ve been attending the temple for many years, and yet every time I go, I feel like I learn something new, or gain a better understanding of something I thought I already understood. Thank you for your question Jake, and keep attending the temple.