There is a phenomenon in our latter-day culture that I find quite interesting. I bumped into it again two Sundays ago when I was teaching the High Priests group. The lesson was on Temple Marriage, and how to make it eternal. I chose to address the principle that Temple Marriage only has its full effect and blessing to those who actually enter into the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. Every other degree and Kingdom does not offer eternal families and eternal increase. I went on to say that every ordinance, including temple ordinances, must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise to be of effect into eternity.
I read multiple scriptures and statements by solid authorities to establish this principle. The point I was trying to make was that temple marriage was in a sense the signing of a contract which required us to diligently seek and qualify for the celestial kingdom in order have the ordinance of fullest value to us. This is solid and true doctrine, though not well understood.
One fine gentleman took exception to this, and brought up as an argument, an unfounded doctrine for which there is no scriptural evidence, and no quotable latter-day authorities. He maintained that just the ordinance itself guaranteed us the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, and that the Sealer had the authority to bestow every blessing. He spoke with loud authority, as if he were correcting a child.
I say he is a fine gentleman because he is presently a temple ordinance worker and a former bishop, and a person who loves the Gospel and faithfully attends to his duties. He apparently can’t see far beyond his “testimony” into the eternities.
Of course I didn’t argue. I just thanked him and went on with the lesson as if nothing had changed. I am always of the opinion that our job is to speak the truth, not to convince anyone of it. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.
The interesting phenomenon I mentioned is that some people seem to believe that knowing the church is “true” is the end objective of the journey. They apparently believe that after you have a “testimony” your search is over, and once you participate in the ordinances, that you have “earned” exaltation. What has really happened is that we have, by our faithfulness thus far, been given vast promises which we must then go out and seek diligently and sacrifice to obtain.
I don’t mean any of this to sound critical, because this is the way it is supposed to work. We start from wherever our life’s experience has taken us, and by belief and faith we find and embrace the gospel where things actually are “true”, and a “testimony” is a triumph of faith. These things are gloriously good.
But, there is so much more that builds upon this necessary foundation! There is a greater body of truth which we must obtain by further searching, greater obedience, and by hungering and thirsting after righteousness. This requires searching the scriptures, searching our souls, and searching the heavens in mighty prayer. The scriptures testify repeatedly of the fact that those who seek do obtain, and those who ask do receive, and those who knock do have the heavens opened unto them. The 7th verse in the whole Book of Mormon speaks of Lehi’s seeing God upon His throne where he obtained his great call as a prophet, and his great blessing that his family will be spared the destructions of Jerusalem.
Almost every chapter that follows is teaching us that we can seek and obtain the same.
© September 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.