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Getting Personal with Christianity in The Temple
I am most hesitant to uncover myself for the world to see, but my Master did it. Jesus Christ exposed Himself to the world and has been maligned since His death by detractors. So, I need to follow that example and let the consequences follow.
Though other Christians may not have a building as exclusive as a holy temple in their lives, I feel like they can, you can identify with what follows. I am about to tell you of sacred experiences that I have with God that move me so close to my Savior that it is hard to look at sin the same way!
These experiences comprise small miracles in my life, though none may be a spectacle for the world to see. I, however, am getting personal with my Christianity.
Article # 6
I write briefly about two temple-types.
The first is the temple of my body.
The second type of temple is a building--similar to the temple that was build for the Jewish devotees to administer the ordinances of the law of Moses.
The Temple of My Body
"It is not the outward improvements to our bodies that will bring us the feeling of completeness/fullness/joy/restfulness. Rather, it is the internal improvements we make efforts to [imbue] in our spiritual relationship with God, those which can never perish if they are [secure] in our hearts, improvements that bring joy and rest...
"God saw the ugly parts of me that I brought to Him... [and] each time I submitted to Him and allowed Him to dwell and work from within me as He worked out the situation for His glory.
Shortly after the resurrection of Christ, the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed. I compare my body to that temple... it being figuratively destroyed.
Now, I know that this is not supposed to be about health, but truly, the health of my temple determines the ordinances that occur inside of it. My temple is damaged and deformed. It is constantly in disarray.
Though my temple, my body, the receptacle that the Holy Spirit uses to bring me into the presence of God, and the masterpiece of God, is damaged, God does things that give me hope that it will rise again.
The Lord told His persecutors that if they destroy His body that He would build up that body/temple in three days. Though my temple is a long process of building, I have hope in the resurrection of my body, the rebuilding of my temple because of Christ's Atonement.
Why do I think that I am so special that God would resurrect me in a glorified body? I don't. I know that God is my Father in Heaven and He wants me to be happy, so He prepared a plan where if I repent of my sins, Christ will lift me up from them.
He also provided as a free gift to all people, a resurrection. The beauty of TRUE Christianity is its simplicity.
God has made it evident in my soul that He will rescue me from my imperfections and weaknesses. He will heal me of my ills as I trust in His word and willingly submit to all things that He is willing to inflict upon me for my learning, my building up as one of His Temples.
I learned in the temple of my body that pain and suffering exist to instruct me in patience. I learned that in this limited temple of mine that I need the assistance of others and cannot complete life alone.
Before all the issues with my temple, my body, I would not depend on others or seek others' help. I was full of pride, which has only diminished slightly. I thought that I could work away my sins and not trouble my Master with them.
I learned that my temple could be destroyed; but unlike Jesus, I needed His help to rebuild it and sustain it until He could facilitate my new body.
Now, this is a sensitive subject because there are no doctrines other than those of the Atonement being discussed here, only experiences and they are of nature, sacred. What is unifying about my experience is that every Christian may believe something similar.
The Matters of the Heart
I am learning begrudgingly that my body is a holy temple. In being a temple I should make sure that the outside looks presentable, not necessarily as ascetically pleasing as that of a body sculptor who uses himself as the marble or clay.
What I put into my temple should be things to help it function properly both spiritually and temporally. It is not correct that I abuse my temple to dull the senses with drugs.
I learned that the Holy Spirit works through the hormones of the body and helps to produce feelings of peace when I sense His presence. The devil can imitate all the gifts of the Holy Ghost except PEACE.
People tend not to trust feelings, and neither did I at first. Matters of the heart, which is the Holy of Holies of the body, are sacred.
In the temple at Jerusalem during ancient times, the high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies of the temple once a year on the Day of Atonement. In this place, the Holy of Holies is where the presence of the Lord dwells.
In other words, the priest would enter and could expect to see God sitting on the Mercy Seat prepared for Him, literally putting man in the presence of God. The priest represents man by proxy to God, and the Holy of Holies represents God by proxy to man.
My heart is the Holiest place of my body. I experience my connection with God in that organ as the pressure in my circulatory system responds to the emotions I experience separately from my brain.
I feel the Holy Spirit, which puts me in the literal presence of God, one of the three members of the Godhead which includes The Father, The Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Being in God's presence, or as Jesus puts it, receiving the comforter brings peace to my heart and invigorates my mind to remember all the truths I have been taught and aids me in identifying new truths.
Jesus speaks to the heart by the Comforter
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:26-27)
...But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)
Heart and Mind
A man by the name of Jorge Velasquez taught a Sunday School Class that I attended teaching the importance of the heart and mind--feelings and reason--in dealing with God.
He instructed us using the New Testament, particularly the story of Paul. Paul instructed the men of Athens who sat together often to reason together and hear a new thing that fancied them just for the sake of hearing it.
Jorge said, "the brain is easily distracted and will move on to the next thing without any need to hear again old information." He further instructed that desire and need come from the heart, which is the only way the mind will tarry on a particular subject.
I think of my feelings for my family and my country . My heart is connected to the knowledge that they belong to me and I feel a moral obligation to protect them and to honor them. Jorge's teachings provided enlightenment and peace, which let me know that what he said was true--the heart and mind working together create emotional bonds to things.
The Comforter, which Jesus says is the Holy Ghost is how He left the peace that passes worldly understanding, which speaks to my heart. The teaching from that Comforter is to include my intellect. God works in me by speaking to my heart and mind.
Paul denounced the Athenians' use of reason without direction from God--without an emotional bond period! Jorge explained that the heart is what receives the confirmation that the reasoning of my mind considers.
Do you know how to recognize when God is speaking to you?
Jesus Christ told Oliver Cowdery, who wanted to translate by inspirations from God in the same manner that Joseph Smith Jr. translated The Book of Mormon that he should study the things out in his mind, and if they are correct he would receive confirmation by a warm sensation in his bosom, his heart.
God works WITH our feelings. God sends His spirit to physically change us from within to testify of His truths the same way He visits His temples--the way He visited the Holy of Holies.
Additionally, I felt this confirmation in my heart and in my mind when, a woman in the class, Brittney Gale, confirmed again that "the heart is the vital organ of the body that pushes the blood to all the parts of the body."
She said that it supersedes the brain in importance "because without the function of the heart, nothing works!"
"The brain could not function without the life-giving blood the heart pumps. The heart is what is manipulated when the body goes into arrest."
Brittney related the function of the heart to how God gives confirmation to our souls that something is true and correct.
Instantly I felt understanding of my temple, my body reconfirm that God works through the heart in conjunction with my mind.
The heart beats more quickly when we fall in love. It aches when our feelings are hurt. It can even burst when it is broken--all based on emotion. Why not my heart expand when God reveals truths to me by the power of His Spirit? God feels emotion, love. He gives that love and I in return feel emotion, love, for Him.
God has shown me over and over again that He will provide me with learning experiences along the way to returning to Him.
He has taught me that life is full of adventure and hardship. He leads me to accept that life is about making the right choices. Jesus made them from the time He was a young child.
Heavenly Father helped me to see that I CAN become like my Savior Jesus Christ if I but learn to love as He loved. I can, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, cleanse my temple and rebuild it to stand as a testimony of purity before the Lord. To stand as a holy temple for His spirit to dwell.
The temple is an outward expression of the inward devotion to God and His ordinances for both the living and the dead.
I believe that God provided for the spiritual welfare of His Children in Israel by way of the temple. IT was the central idea of worship for the Israelites in ancient times.
The temple at Jerusalem toward the time of Christ served as the cultural center for all Jewish life in conjunction with the synagogue.
Though the meaning and use of the temple have changed from the time of Solomon to Jesus Christ, mostly because the culture had changed, the symbolism in the temple did not.
People in ancient Israel still went to offer before the Lord sin offerings for their villages and families.
I am not sure if they still did the scapegoat offering at that time, but at least they still had some semblance of the ordinances of the Mosaic system of law to offer up an offering to atone for the sins of the people.
Jehovah told ancient Israel to go to the temple and offer up sacrifice as a sign of His covenant with Them or be cut off.... This was to be a token of their devotion to Him and a sign of His forgiveness as the priests burned the fat from the offerings on the alter as sweet scents to heaven.
Christians are asked to accept Christ's sacrifice and offer up their lives in service unto God as a sweet scent to heaven as they are led by [church leaders] preachers and pastors or be removed from the book of life. [The Writings of Rodric Johnson]
The temple, both in ancient times and modern times offers symbolic treasures that point towards Christ. I know that I have found treasures from visiting the modern temples of God that come easily as I participate in the ordinances.
In my faith, one of the hallmarks of being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to go to the temple. I believe that the ordinances that I participate in while at the temple are necessary for my salvation and connection to Christ just like the Jews did in ancient Israel.
I do not believe that Christianity is a different religion than Judaism per se. Judaism is what I practice as it has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. I call it a different religion to be socially correct and sensitive for my fellow Israelites who do not accept Jesus as the last sacrifice and still look for Messiah to come.
The building that is the temple is a holy place where I go to commune with God and to feel His presence. I could do that in a forest, on a mountain, or some other place of serenity of course; however, temples are especially dedicated to the Lord for the purpose to serve as a Holy space for communion with God differently from a church building.
Unlike ward buildings/church buildings where all are free to go throughout the bulding and have social activities that promote charity and community in Christ, temples are very individualist in nature, as I experience it.
Temples are free to all to enter, but just as in ancient times, there are parts where only the covenant people may enter and the gentiles/non-covenant people may not. I am aware that once a temple is dedicated it is for use by the members of the church who have, or will make covenants to bind themselves to Christ.
Though people may enter the doors and wait in the waiting room or foyer, it is not a common practice for it to occur. For admittance inside the heart of the structure, a temple recommend from the Bishop and Stake President are required. With this recommend, I have admittance to participate in sacred ordinances posthumously for those who did not have the opportunity to make those covenants in this life.
Since I believe the dead are among the living--helping us if they were righteous in life--, I expect that for each person for whom I stand proxy will accept or reject the ordinances in which I participate on their behalf. I do the ordinance whether they accept or reject it, seeing as it is not always information to which I am privy.
Phoenix Arizona Temple Ordinance Rooms
There are several common ordinances that occur in temples: baptism, confirmation, priesthood ordination, washing and anointing, endowment, and sealed marriage.
The first four ordinances are dual in that they can occur for the living outside of temples. They occur by proxy or a living host standing in for the dead in the temple--as do all ordinances.
The last three I mentioned washing and anointing, endowment and sealed marriage occur only in temples.
I will not speak of sealed marriage or washing and anointing other than to say that as I understand it, marriage is meant to be for eternity for the faithful follower of Christ; so, it is done so by the power to seal things up in heaven that are done on earth.
And the washing and anointing ordinances are to rid adherents of the sins of this world, which is done by warning our fellow-beings of the good news of God, and anointing us to be heirs with Christ.
The Endowment is a series of ordinances or it can be seen as one long ordinance where keys and tokens are given to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and bind ourselves to Him in perpetuity. Baptism is the first step into heaven, while the endowment is the power of God to knowledge of how to gain entrance into Heavenly Father's presence.
One particular part of the endowment that I enjoy is the symbolic entrance into His presence that occurs at the veil of the temple, which is similar to the veil of the ancient temple at Jerusalem.
Like that temple, only the priesthood of God may enter the veil and enter into Gods presence. Both men and women have priesthood access in modern times to perform and participate in ordinances of the temple, unlike the ancient Jerusalem temple.
I take the hand, symbolically of God and He ushers me into His symbolic presence. The first psychological effect this has on me is that one day I am going to do this for real and this is just a rehearsal--when I get to heaven, I gonna really sing!
The place I enter is called the celestial room. In that place, all of those of us who have come through the veil enjoy the symbolism of being in the very heavens with God. We congregate with family and friends.
The second psychological effect that has on me is that I believe there will be a reunion in heaven with our dearly departed and ancestors all the way back to Adam and Eve just like we have in the celestial room of the temple in the presence of God.
Since I have a deceased daughter, the psychological longing for additional time to have with my little one fuels my faith in the hope of a resurrection.
I feel strengthen in the power of the Atonement and the symbolism helps me to want the actual heavenly scene to play out buoying up my faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I understand the psychology behind rituals that reinforce my faith in things that I already believe to be true and it does not diminish my desire to believe in any of those things. I know that Jesus is truly my Savior and could not imagine myself in any other place than where I am as a LDS Christian.
Being in the temple and participating in those ordinances connects me to God in a manner that I could not feel if I only attended the weekly church services. I will not deny that it makes me feel special and privileged, even though I know that I am no better than any of the other 7 billion people on the planet, I am one of a handful of people on the earth comparatively who knows God in the manner that I know Him.
It is a feeling that I wish all people wanted to experience because I believe my connection with God is better for having experienced the temple. If I did not think so, religion would not matter. I do believe all religions are equal under the law but are not all equally able to bring salvation and peace.
What Do You Say?
Do you have a personal space for Quiet devotion to God?
I wrote about the body of my temple and how I feel understanding and connection when that temple is healthy and open to the feelings of inspiration in my heart.
I wrote about the temple as a building, a sanctuary where I go for meditation and ordinances that help me to connect to God and serve as proxy to my departed brothers.
I shared many personal feelings as I dare about my walk as a disciple of Jesus Christ in relation to the temple of both my body and a building. I invite all of you to share your faith by getting personal with it, even if you only do it with yourself.
Meditate on the things you believe and why you believe them. It will help open up a window from heaven to have a deeper understanding of God if you are honest with yourself and willing to learn through the Holy Ghost.
© 2015 Rodric Johnson