Well it was a really crazy week! We worked really hard and definitely saw some miracles! We got the opportunity to watch the dedication of the Tijuana Mexico Temple this Sunday! That was awesome. I feel particularly privileged to have been able to see 2 temple dedications in my time on the mission, Tijuana, and the rededication of the Mexico City Temple.
Temples are super important, especially for those who say they believe in the bible. If you believe in the Bible, then listen up! Since ancient times God has had his children build temples. We understand that the ark of the covenant in the Exodus story was a traveling temple. King Solomon also built a temple, which is the one most frequently mentioned in the Bible, I believe. I think some people might misunderstand the purpose of a temple. A temple is not a church, nor a chapel, nor what the Bible and the Jewish people refer to as a synagogue.
A temple is something different, something more. The word temple is greek for "house". In ancient Israel the temple was literally the house of God. A temple is a house of the Lord. He may dwell therein, if He so pleases. No wonder Jesus said "make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." If a temple is a house of God, it is an extension of His holy kingdom. That means that no one should enter therein unless he or she has been washed clean by the blood of Christ, through repentance, faith, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and obedience to his commandments thereafter.
Why is it important that we have houses of God here on the earth? How does this bless us? In holy temples, the houses of the Lord, we prepare to meet our Savior after this life. There, in those holy temples, we receive a fulness of the blessings our Heavenly Father has for us. In the book of Matthew, chapter 16, verse 19, Jesus says to Peter that he will give him the "keys to the kingdom of heaven", that whatever he "binds on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever (he) loose(s) on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Let's take a moment to study this. What things are "bound" here in this life, that can make no claim on being bound in the next life? I can think of one thing. Traditional marriage ceremonies acknowledge this limitation in the phrase "till death do you part".
The family is one of the most marvelous blessings that God has given us, and that's why he gave Peter the power to bind families "for time and all eternity". This is a sacred ordinance, a covenant that one makes with God, authorized by someone who has power and authority act in God's name in these things. In temples we prepare to meet our Savior after our mortal life.
Family bonds can only be made eternal in a sacred temple. Why? Because families are the biggest responsibility that God has given us, the source of the greatest joys, and sometimes, for some people, the greatest trial. His plan was not to bind people in a painful situation forever. So what's the answer? A covenant with Him, where he sets the terms and tells us how we should live together, in love, service, and fidelity. If both parties keep His commandments and do their best to honor each other, they find happiness, and he grants them this blessing, the largest of blessings, a continuation of their relationship forever. No one who lives worthy, through the grace of Christ, of this receiving this blessing of an eternal family will be denied it, though not all deserving people receive it here on earth.
Being bound by His authority and living the way he asks us to is the ONLY way to have a family after this life. This is what we're here for, this is what YOU are here for. I'm just repeating what His prophets have said since the world began. (Read Malachi 4. It's only six verses.)
That's why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds temples. Only there can marriages be given power to become eternal. The authority that Jesus Christ gave to Peter exists today. It was restored to the earth to Joseph Smith by Heavenly messenger, and passed down to us today through latter-day apostles. It was lost to the ancient church when the apostles were killed. Their authority is restored today. The temples are real. Eternal families are real. Joseph Smith really was a prophet, an instrument in the hands of God to restore to the earth something important as eternal marriage. I this is true by the power of the Holy Ghost, just as anyone who asks God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, may also know.
Merry Christmas everyone!