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We learn from the Book of Mormon that our whole purpose in life is to experience joy. “Men are that they might have joy.” 1 People look for joy in many places. A certain measure of joy can be found in many things, such as winning a game or doing a job well. A counterfeit joy can be found in the pursuit of pleasure-what the scriptures call “riotous living.”
But in only one place in this world can we experience anything like a full measure of joy, and that is the holy temple.
In the temple we unite our precious families for eternity. In the temple we receive the promise of exaltation. In the temple we feel the presence of our Father in Heaven. And in the temple we encounter our Savior. “We come unto Christ through the ordinances of the temple.” 2
The scriptures always couple the temple with finding the most superlative joys of life.
Just to stand in the presence of our Lord is the greatest joy we can experience. By entering the temple we enter into His presence. The Psalms teach us, “In thy presence is the fullness of joy.” 3 “I will go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.” 4 The Apostle Paul equates the presence of the Lord with our hope and joy: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? . . . the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 5
The Savior promises that the day will come when we are “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” 6 Imagine that moment. What will that moment mean to you? What would you not sacrifice to experience that moment? What would you give in exchange for that moment? In the temple, we can enjoy a foretaste of that supreme joy.
In the ordinances of the temple we find joy. It is a house of prayer, blessings, sacrifices, and covenants, all of which bring the Spirit into our lives, and the fruit of the Spirit is joy. 7 The Lord said to Isaiah, “I will bring them to my holy mountain [the temple], and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burn offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar.” 8
The ordinance of the endowment brings joy to our lives not only by teaching us the Father’s plan of happiness but also by providing us the means to return to His presence. Isaiah attributes the joy in his life to endowment blessings: “My soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” 9
In his dedication prayer at the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that joy is the grand outcome of the temple ordinances. He prayed “that our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy.” 10
Of course, the crowning joy of the House of the Lord is the sealing ordinance when husband and wife are united for eternity. Elder Russell M. Nelson teaches that “the noblest yearning of the human heart is for a marriage that can endure beyond death. Fidelity to a temple marriage does that. It allows families to be together forever. This goal is glorious. All Church activities . . . are means to the end of an exalted family.” 11 Why? Because it is in the exalted family that we experience the fullness of joy.
The prophet Jeremiah foresaw that the very definition of human joy would be the sealing of the eternal family in the temple of God. “The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. . . . Bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.” 12
President Spencer W. Kimball described the joys of the holy temple as a “glimpse into heaven.” One day a friend asked him if he had ever looked into heaven. He replied:
“Why, yes. . . certainly. I had a glimpse of heaven . . . just an hour ago. It was in the holy temple across the way. The sealing room was shut off from the noisy world by its thick, white-painted walls; the drapes, light and warm; the furniture, neat and dignified; the mirrors on two opposite walls seeming to take one in continuous likenesses on and on into infinity; and the beautiful stained-glass window in front of me giving such a peaceful glow. All the people in the room were dressed in white. Here were peace and harmony and eager anticipation. A well-groomed young man and an exquisitely gowned young woman, lovely beyond description, knelt across the altar. Authoritatively, I pronounced the heavenly ceremony which married and sealed them for eternity on earth and in the celestial worlds. The pure in heart were there. Heaven was there.
“When the eternal marriage was solemnized, and as the subdued congratulations were extended, a happy father, radiant in his joy, offered his hand and said, Brother Kimball, my wife and I are common people and have never been successful, but we are immensely proud of our family.’ He continued, This is the last of our eight children to come into this holy house for temple marriage. They, with their companions, are here to participate in the marriage of this, the youngest. This is our supremely happy day, with all of our eight children married properly. They are faithful to the Lord in church service, and the older ones are already rearing families in righteousness.’
“I looked at his calloused hands, his rough exterior, and thought to myself, Here is a real son of God fulfilling his destiny.’
“Success?’ I said, as I grasped his hand. That is the greatest success story I have heard. You might have accumulated millions in stocks and bonds, bank accounts, lands, industries, and still be quite a failure. You are fulfilling the purpose for which you were sent into this world by keeping your own lives righteous, bearing and rearing this great posterity, and training them in faith and works. Why, my dear folks, you are eminently successful. God bless you.'” 13
1 2 Ne. 2:25.
2 Gordon B. Hinckley, cited in George I. Cannon, “Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord,“ BYU-Idaho Devotional, Jun. 17, 2003. Accessed Oct 1, 2009.
3 Psalms 16:11.
4 Psalm 43:4.
5 1 Thess. 2:19.
6 2 Ne. 1:15.
7 Gal. 5:22.
8 Isa. 56:7.
9 Isa. 61:10.
10 D&C 109:76.
11 Russell M. Nelson, “Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 94.