The First Focus of the Temple Experience Should Be on The Savior

The First Focus of the Temple Experience Should Be on The Savior


It shouldn’t be a surprise as we begin any discussion about preparing to attend the temple that Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, is the beginning and the end of our discussion. Everything about the temple points us to the Saviour Jesus Christ, and so the best thing that we can do to prepare to attend the temple is to come to know Him and have a testimony of His Atonement and role as Saviour, Mediator and Advocate with the Father. If we have a testimony of His love then we will have a desire to attend His house. The scriptures teach us much about the link between the Lord and His temple:


“And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it; Yea, and my presence shall be there,
for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:15–16)


The temple is the natural next stage in our relationship with our Saviour Jesus Christ. We come to know Him in the daily act of living but this is developed and enhanced in the temple. Defined in context of the plan of salvation, life is a continuum of knowledge where we learn line-upon-line. As we attend the temple and claim its blessings, we can draw closer to Him in a way we had not previously enjoyed.


President Henry B. Eyring has said:


“President Russell M. Nelson made clear for us that we can “see” the Saviour in the temple in the sense that He becomes no longer unknown to us. President Nelson said this: “We understand Him. We comprehend His work and His glory. And we begin to feel the infinite impact of His matchless life.” If you or I should go to the temple insufficiently pure, we would not be able to see, by the power of the Holy Ghost, the spiritual teaching about the Saviour that we can receive in the temple.” (2021)


For our understanding to be added to, for us to comprehend His matchless life and love, we must have a testimony and understanding of Christ in the first place. We must, in preparing children, youth and adults to attend the temple, place Christ at the centre of all our teaching and example:


“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)


We do this through the way that we teach and the way that we live. When we teach the principles of the gospel, whatever they may be, we must be explicit in our explanation of how they relate to the Saviour. When I explore the teachings of Christianity with my students at University, I begin by asking them to compile a timeline of the events of Jesus’ life from the Annunciation to the Ascension. I then have them make a list of all of the actions that Christians perform such as baptism, prayer, partaking of the bread and wine, helping others and so on. Following discussion, I send them away to match up the two lists with the hope that they realize that every action that a Christian performs relates to the life and teaching of the Saviour.


The dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple as recorded in section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants shows how temple experiences develop our knowledge of the Saviour:


“And that they may grow up in thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to thy laws, and be prepared to obtain every needful thing.” (D&C 109:15)


Whilst we can never fully comprehend the work of the Saviour, in the temple we are able to “grow up” and receive more of a fulness of the Holy Ghost with regard being able to understand Him and His work. As we help others prepare to attend the temple we need to remember that everything points to the Saviour; we need to teach people both the importance of symbolism and the importance of asking purposeful questions.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in our public and private worship we are used to fairly clear symbolism. Consider the use of bread and water as emblems of the sacrament in representing the body and blood of the Saviour. The symbolism of the ordinance of baptism in the burying of the old person/creature, and coming forth as a new creature:


“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:4-6)


We explain baptism as representing a new birth, drawing together the elements present at physical birth:


“Inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten.” (Moses 6:59)


There are many symbols that we perhaps do not give much thought to: the raising of the right hand to sustain; the anointing with oil in the healing of the sick; the laying on of hands and so on. The meaning associated with such symbolism can be found when questions are asked and answers sought from the scriptures and from the Holy Ghost.

Similarly, there are elements of the temple experience where the symbolism is immediately apparent. By dressing in white, for example, we show the equality of all in the eyes of God. This symbolism also helps us understand our relationship with Christ: that through baptism and becoming His, we are unified in His work whatever our background or situation may be.


“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:27-28)


Central to any preparation to enter the Lord’s house is to know Him so that we can recognize what we can learn both about Him and from Him. Only by having that burgeoning relationship can we hope to recognize His influence and teachings. Purposeful questioning then, is an essential part of our preparation and our temple experience.


How does what I am seeing, doing, saying point me to Christ? What am I learning about Christ through these experiences?


This questioning is more important in the temple because not everything is immediately apparent. We have to consider the symbolism of our experience, our actions and words and seek understanding through revelation. We have to be careful about taking this to the extreme, however. After observing the events of creation in a film that was part of the temple experience, I remember one sister talking to me and saying, “Bishop, I’m sorry, I didn’t manage to count the number of fish.” In seeking symbolism in the minutiae, it is possible for us to miss the “bigger picture.”


The following was taken from the book It's Not a Secret by James Holt, currently available at