God's Holy Temple
What does the Bible teach about God's holy temple?
In the Old Testament, God designed the temple as his great classroom. Its structure stressed that sin separates all humanity from God. Its sacrifices portrayed the principle of substitutionary atonement and pointed to Jesus' sacrifice for the world. The temple was not about people working for God. It was all about showing what God would do for humanity in Jesus Christ.
In this striking way, God taught the people about the seriousness of sin. But God didn’t use the temple only to teach about the seriousness of sin. He also showed that the blood of a sacrifice was needed to remove sin. As a result, the temple courtyard resembled a slaughterhouse day in and day out as countless animals were sacrificed.
However, no matter how many animals were sacrificed, they couldn’t take away sin. They all pointed ahead to Jesus, the true Lamb of God, who alone could remove sin. At Jesus’ death, God again used the temple to teach an important truth. The temple veil, for centuries, had symbolically separated God from man. When Jesus died, it was suddenly torn from top to bottom. In this vivid way, God demonstrated that Jesus had reconciled God and humankind.
The New Testament teaches that God dwells in all believers through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, all believers are God’s Holy Temple. God, in love, bestows this honor on every person who trusts that they are acceptable to God solely because of what Jesus has done for them.
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
1 Corinthians 6:19
What does Mormonism teach about God's holy temple?
The LDS church teaches that worthy Mormons perform ordinances required for their eternal life in buildings dedicated to God as holy temples. Only the worthy may come to the temple to participate in its work. This “salvation work” includes endowments, baptisms for the dead, and marriage sealings. Although performed by the living, much of the work done in the temple is for the dead.
47 The Prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers,
48 Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.
Doctrine and Covenants 138:47-48
Those who enter the temple must be worthy, which means that they keep the commandments and are prepared to make and keep sacred temple covenants. In two interviews—one with a member of a bishopric or a branch president and another with a member of a stake presidency or a mission president—Church members certify their worthiness to enter the temple. In these interviews, the priesthood leader asks about the individual’s personal conduct and worthiness. Those who are worthy receive a temple recommend, which allows them to enter the temple.
Gospel Topics Essays: Temples
All roads lead to the temple, for it is there that we are prepared in all things to qualify us to enter the presence of the Lord.
Boyd K. Packer
Remember Me: Relief Society Personal Study Guide 1, 84
Stop talking past each other. Gain a better understanding of the words that are unique to Mormonism and the differences of shared terms between Mormonism and Christianity.
Why this Matters
When we study the purpose and function of the temple in ancient times, we see that it was primarily a place of sacrifice. Weddings were not performed in the temple but publicly within the community. It was celebrated openly with family, friends, and neighbors serving as witnesses.
Nowhere can we find that believers in the Bible ever practiced or observed the rites of eternal marriage, endowments, or performing ordinances on behalf of the dead. On the contrary, rituals to enhance the deceased's afterlife were considered pagan practices.
The LDS temple system takes away from the completed work of Christ and gives the effort to humankind. However, sinful human beings cannot do salvation work for other sinners. Only sinless Jesus could do that, and he did. Salvation’s work is done.
Having done all that was necessary to carry out his mission on earth, Jesus now intercedes for us. The temple is no longer where one goes to find intercession with God. In Christ, we have complete access to God at any time and in any place.
Comparing the Differences: LDS Temples vs. Biblical Temples
LDS temples are considerably different from biblical temples. These differences are rooted in knowing who God is and what he has done.
All believers are God’s Holy Temple as the Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts all believers.
God’s Holy Temples are buildings where worthy Mormons perform ordinances required for their eternal life.