In about all religious organizations, an adherent attends and performs rituals to manifest their beliefs and commitments. Buddhists perform rituals to help them achieve Enlightenment. They also respect Buddha very highly. Muslims perform rituals to help them think about what Allah would do. About all of Christianity preach about the need to be baptized.
Part of the doctrine that is taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we have to do certain ordinances and make the related covenants in order to progress along the path to live with Heavenly Father again. But why do we have to do the ordinances? Why do we have to make these covenants? Why are we encouraged to attend the temple and perform ordinances for the dead? Why hear the same words again and again?
I hope to answer these questions with a few things that I’ve found from the scriptures and a few things that I’ve found that inspired people have said. I hope that the Holy Ghost will be present to teach where I can not teach.
The Fall of Adam Caused a Fallen State
A verse in 2 Nephi is a good intro into what I’ll be talking about. “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” God told Adam and Eve in Moses 3 that they were forbidden to eat the fruit because they would die. In order for the Plan of Salvation to progress, Adam and Eve had choosen to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In other words, mankind needed to know what it was like to have a choice and mankind needed to be able to learn.
The only way to learn was if we had to get out of our own comfort zone and live in a risky situation. A teacher at BYU-Idaho that the comfort and risky zones have changed immensely over time. In today’s world, we are privileged to live in the risky zone without having a risk of death. So we are able to learn more of what God would want us to learn. We can live and explore this world. “And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.”
Since Adam and Eve now had the possibility to learn, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ took the opportunity to teach them. Adam and Eve were taught about Jesus Christ and his role in saving mankind. Adam and Eve gained a testimony of how Jesus Christ would save mankind from physical death and spiritual death.
[Jesus Christ said to Adam and Eve] I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will. [And Adam said,] Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
Salvation is through Jesus Christ. It is in His mission to rescue mankind from the consequences of the Fall of Adam. Physical death was one consequence from the Fall of Adam. Since we bear no responsibility for choosing to die, Christ will rescue every soul from death through the Resurrection. We do bear responsibility for our own sins, so it is up to every soul to follow Jesus Christ and His doctrine and gospel. Adam’s choice does have significant impacts on our lives. We can learn and grow. We can have joy, or in other words a knowledge that everything will be alright in the end. This life is a time designated to live and grow. As Eve said, through our own choices to follow Jesus Christ, he will give eternal life.
Ordinances and Covenants
I would like to give an analogy. I hope one can see the analogy for their own benefit.
The sun influences life on earth. The sun helps instigate the water cycle, photosynthesis, and the general lifestyle on earth. Everything on Earth is dependent on the solar energy that the sun gives.
The sun’s solar energy travels through space at an enormous distance, and when they encounter Earth’s atmosphere they aren’t tired. They are ready to activate life on Earth in many different ways. Earth has to check in with the reason of the solar energy’s long immigration though. She will make sure that the right solar energy is accepted. The more intense solar energy is turned away. Once the right solar energy is admitted into Earth’s atmosphere, it can do a variety of things.
Some solar energy meet with the big oceans. All that water in the ocean will start to heat up and cause several things to occur. Water will start to evaporate into vapor, and the heat that forms vertical updrafts will carry the vapor into the lower atmosphere and the vapor will start forming into clouds. When those clouds are dense enough with water vapor, precipitation will form and drop water in different areas. One of those areas is land, where God’s creation’s can take in the fresh water for their life.
Speaking of God’s creations, they use solar energy in a variety of ways. Plants will intake carbon dioxide and solar energy to perform photosynthesis. Photosynthesis makes plant food and oxygen; the plant will consume the food and the plant will release the oxygen into the atmosphere. Plants will eventually produce fruit with seeds in them. Land creatures will often eat this fruit and help spread seeds to other parts of earth. So land creatures could reap the benefits of solar energy through plant’s photosynthesis!
The solar energy from the sun is also light. Thanks to the light reflecting off objects, one can determine the color attribute of an object. Light consists of many different colors. One can preview all the colors when light is refracted into a rainbow. When light hits an object, all that light is absorbed except for the color reflected. Most plants look green that is the color that is being reflected off that plant. The sun can help show the characteristic of God’s creations.
Here is the analogy that I want to provide, the Sun in the sky is similar to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. These scriptures may have been read recently in Come Follow Me
6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; 7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.
Christ is the one that ascended to the role of Redeemer and Savior. But in order to do that, He had to condescend to earth and live as one of us. When He lived as one of us, He performed the Atonement.
Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit[.] […] [H]ow great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
Christ is the answer to the question, “What do we do after the Fall of Adam?” Christ fulfills the requirements of sin needing to be paid for. Humankind can be saved through Jesus Christ’s Atonement if we obey His commandments with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Nobody can live with Christ or Heavenly Father if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the head of the Priesthood. That is His power. Because it is His power, he is capable of doing so many things. It is through obeying His commandments, covenants, and ordinances that He lets anyone have access to His Priesthood Power.
Why Repeat Going to the Temple?
Once we have completed all the ordinances and covenants that we are instructed to do, we are additionally encouraged to keep attending the temple to perform ordinances for the dead. We are giving the dead the chance to accept those required ordinances performed on their behalf. By going to the temple to repeat these ordinances, we are in effect repeating these same lessons. So why repeat these lessons over and over again?
Repetition brings different lessons in all stages of life
Elder Bednar came to BYU-Idaho to teach about the importance of repetitious learning. I was a student at the time and I was able to witness his teaching in the BYU-Idaho center.
We have learned to treasure the spiritual gems that are revealed through repetition. The distinctive nuggets of inspiration and spiritual knowledge that flow into our minds and hearts as we repeatedly teach and testify of gospel truths are the product of a line upon line and precept upon precept pattern of revelation. Repetition is a vehicle through which the Holy Ghost can enlighten our minds, influence our hearts, and enlarge our understanding.
One can gain spiritual knowledge through repetition. Repetition is simple and easy, and it serves as a constant reminder of the covenants that we are committed to.
I do believe it beneficial to be constantly reminded. Live is dreary like all the time! There are brief moments of respite where one could sort of ignore the bad things that are happening. One of those moments is getting reminded of the covenants that I made, and it definitely helps to be reminded of the covenants that I promised to do.
Elder Bednar says one more thing about repetitious learning. With Elder Bednar’s visit, he issued a warning to the students and faculty at BYU-Idaho. He warned that if there is ever a time when people at BYU-Idaho start getting self-entitled and prideful, then the caring attitude that BYU-Idaho encourages the students and faculty to have will be gone. Elder Bednar then says that he repeated this same warning several times, and he answers why he repeats it. Hear what he says.
I am not the same man who warned and promised in 2006 and 2010. I am the same man, but I am different. I have traveled the earth for more than a decade and visited countless homes of faithful Church members—the rich and the poor, the meek and the humble, the educated and the uneducated. Those converted and consecrated Latter-day Saints have changed me.
Elder Bednar encouraged the BYU-Idaho students to “consider your ways”. Elder Bednar didn’t want the BYU-Idaho students to have a feeling of self-entitlement. He invited the students to consider all the tithing money that is donated by members of the church that will never see a campus like BYU-Idaho.
In a likewise fashion, I believe that I am to attend the temple repeatedly and never get accustomed to having a temple so close. There are some members of the church that have to travel long distances to attend the temple. That number does get smaller each time President Nelson announces 10+ different temples each conference. Temples are getting closer to God’s people.
But I also want to emphasize that Elder Bednar said that he was a different man each time he repeated the warning to the BYU-Idaho students. Similarly, I believe that I have grown over time and I have been changed for the better. I can pull different lessons from the temple as I constantly visit at different ages.
Continue in Effort
I love the conversation that Sister Jones, the General Primary President, shared in April 2020 General Conference. A girl asks President Nelson if it’s hard to be the prophet. President Nelson promptly responds, “Of course it’s hard”. President Nelson teaches the children in the Smith Family home that, “the Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it.” With reference to taking piano lessons and not practicing, President Nelson continues to teach the children.
“Yes, you don’t progress [if you don’t practice the piano]? So the answer is yes, Pearl. It takes effort, a lot of hard work, a lot of study, and there’s never an end. That’s good! That’s good, because we’re always progressing. Even in the next life we’re making progress.”
Attending the temple is like practicing the piano. I took piano lessons once, and I never went through with the practicing. However there have been other things that I have set to practice. I have practiced language learning like Spanish or French! So I’ll allude to that. Starting out with Spanish or French, I fumble over word pronunciation and accent, and I’ll forget vocabulary. A Frenchman would probably stuff croissants in their ears than hear me speak! But I know that with constant practice, my ability to speak in another language will change.
I believe that with constant visits to the temple to perform ordinances for the dead, I can listen to valuable repetitious learning. Through the repetition, I can learn different aspects of holy truths that Christ has set aside for temple learning. I do believe that I can learn different things in the temple at different times in my life. I also believe that I can receive Priesthood Power through the ordinances and obedience to the covenants. The temple is a holy place where I can learn, grow, and become more like Christ and Heavenly Father.