Thursday, April 23, 2020


I've been pondering Salvation a lot lately. About a year ago one morning my husband and I were getting out of bed and I had a big wash of revelation come over me and I said, "I know that Jesus Christ saves me."

That was it.

But it may be the most profound realization I had ever had. Jesus Christ Saves ME! And for all my trying, I can't explain what I understood that day. It just became a part of me. 

Have you ever said or heard this before: "I'm an endowed member. All I need to do is stay faithful to church leadership and endure to the end and I will receive eternal life. I am sealed to my family forever as long as I continue to keep my covenants."

If you feel this way, I ask you:

What does each part of the endowment actually mean?
What is it exactly that you have received?

If you don't truly know the answer to those questions, then this post is to persuade you to consider that perhaps you haven't literally received your endowment after all.

Everything in the Temple is preparatory. There is not one single ordinance offered or administered that is literal. Everything given in the Temple is symbolic of something that is available for you to obtain, if you will seek for further light and knowledge.

The temple endowment is like being given a beautifully wrapped gift. You wonder to yourself, "What is it? What could it be!!"

Imagine that you personally gave someone you loved the best gift you had ever given to humankind—it had cost you everything you owned, your family, your life, all of it. The receiver of the gift didn't yet comprehend that, of course. They only knew you were handing them a mysterious gift and it was special. Instead of opening your precious gift, they choose not to open it and instead fawn over the beautiful wrapping paper. They say, "The packaging is so beautiful. Having this gift gives me a chance to slow down for a couple of hours and just feel separated from the world. Thank you so much. I'll come back to this place and hold it often."

Uh, what?

Imagine a scenario where you are going through the temple with your friend (and their family) prior to them getting married. You are excited for them! When the endowment is over, you all wait for them to come through the veil into the Celestial room, eyes bright and wide! After you and their family all hug and congratulate them, your friend asks excitedly, "So...what does all this mean??" You shift in your soft temple shoes, standing there not knowing what to say. You watch as all of the family's gleeful smiles begin shifting to awkward grins and blank stares. No one says a word. After a moment of silence your friend holds up parts of their robe and asks, "What is this for? What does it mean?" Again, more silent awkwardness. Someone thankfully breaks the silence by admitting they didn't know and another encourages them to ask the Lord to find out. Then you file out.

When we treat the endowment ceremony as the gift itself, we are focusing only on the wrapping and miss out on the true gift inside—the message of salvation embedded within the endowment ceremony. Unless we "unwrap" what is taught in the endowment session, unless we receive what God is really offering us, what good is the gift?

32 ...they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. 
33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.

— D&C 88:32-33
D&C 88 declares that if we don't receive the gift offered, then we will get only what we were willing to receive. If we don't achieve the purposes of the endowment but mistake the wrapping for the gift, then the wrapping is all we will receive; we will miss out on the gift inside and thus receive a lesser glory. Those people who don't accept the gift or who mistake the wrapping paper for the gift itself will be "quickened" from time to time—that is, they will experience the light of Christ/touches with the Spirit throughout their lives—but in the end, they will not have received what was beyond the wrapping paper—they will not have received their literal endowment.

One could argue that the temple has many layers of symbolism and meaning, and they would be right. It is designed that way to cloak a special message for the pure in heart who are ready to seek after its deeper meaning. It takes hard work to understand.

What is concerning is that the majority of the membership have little idea what the temple ordinances mean. Many claim that they have received "it" (vague) with testimonies that include things like, "I am thankful to know my family will be together forever" and "thankful we are sealed forever", but so few members have come to understand the endowment and therefore few have truly unwrapped the beautiful gift.

I had a dream a few years ago. In this dream I stood outside watching adults riding bikes in the street. They were having a great time. They were riding in circles, playing, and laughing and it was fun to watch how happy they were. I turned to see what was behind me and saw a woodshop of sorts. I went into the shop and there was the Father behind the work bench. I approached Him and saw that He was happy watching His children ride the bikes He had made for them.

We watched them for a moment and then I looked around the shop. There were mechanisms all around that I hadn't noticed when I walked in. I saw a mechanism on the wall and I pointed to it and asked what it did. Father smiled and was pleased that I had noticed what He had made. He pulled it off the wall and set it in front of me and began to explain what it was and how it worked. He was teaching me how to understand it.

As I listened and understood, I noticed more mechanisms appear on the wall that weren't there before and I pointed to one in particular and asked Him to teach me about it. He was pleased and happy that I had come to notice this particular mechanism. He pulled it off the wall, set it in front of me, and said, "If you want to understand this one, then you'll need to learn about all of these," and he motioned to more hidden-but-now-visible mechanisms on the wall.

The dream went on but what stood out to me was this:
  1. The Lord truly loves when we are happy with what He has given us (He gives you the desire of your heart). 
  2. The more knowledge we gain, the more we will understand and the more we can see. It was only after I had come to understand how a particular mechanism worked that I could see previously hidden mechanisms. Parallel this concept to the the temple endowment. 
  3. Only He can explain what He offers to you in its fulness. He is the Creator and to personally hear Him explain who He is and what He offers is far different than to hear another person tell you. 
Before I understood the endowment, I too bore testimony that I was so thankful to know that "my family would be together forever" because we had "been to the Temple" and "made those covenants" and we were doing our best to "keep them". Maybe you can relate to bearing or hearing a similar testimony. I bore this testimony with great belief. But it was a testimony of belief and sincere hope, not sure knowledge.

I thought I understood the endowment. When it came to the laws taught in the temple, like the Law of Sacrifice, Law of the Gospel, Chasity, etc. (those laws are referenced here:, I knew generally what those things meant and I studied many of the scriptures I could find about such topics. But if you held me over a cliff and threatened to drop me unless I could explain the endowment to you—unless I could tell you what those covenants all meant, and whether or not the Lord had blessed me with my literal endowment, and if I was truly sure that my entire family was sealed forever—I would have fallen off the cliff in my uncertainty. I believed, but I did not know. I hoped, but I had no assurance. 

6 For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator, were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God. 
12 But those who have not made this sacrifice to God, do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind.

— Lectures on Faith 6
If you feel that I am mistaken about the majority of endowed LDS members' lack of understanding of the Temple ordinances, this post will not be of value. However, if what I have written has struck a chord, if you feel like this post has been describing you, if you—like I once did—lack the ability to clearly explain what the endowment is all about, or if you think that perhaps you have been focusing on the wrapping paper and do not understand the gift inside, I invite you to keep reading. I invite you to open your mind and your heart and ask God to reveal this Gift to you personally, to explain what He is offering to you in His own words. And then I invite you to experience the endowment with a higher perspective, looking past the wrapping paper and asking God to show you the gift inside.

Let's look at the Carnal vs. Spiritual person:

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

— Romans 8:6-10

The endowment is like a layered gift which you must unfold. I was talking with a close friend about the endowment and they said, "But you can't really receive it until you die. It's to be received on the other side."

Many temple attendees view the temple with a literal interpretation, thinking the things they receive but can't discuss are akin to passwords, like something you would receive when joining an exclusive club or organization. The temple building itself is viewed in the same literal manner and few realize the deeper symbolism behind it.

In the temple, we are learn that our endowment is to overcome the spiritual death which cast us out of God's presence and to literally return to the presence of the Lord once again. Like my close friend, most people automatically assume this is referring to the afterlife. But let me ask you this:

Where in the endowment does it say that this experience takes place upon your death?


The only death that is inferred in the temple is spiritual death.

Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.

— Alma 42:9
The Fall of Adam lead to spiritual death. Spiritual death means one thing: Mankind is no longer in the presence of the Lord.

The entire purpose and meaning of the Temple is about being reclaimed from this spiritual death, or put simply, about no longer being cut off from the presence of the Lord. The temple teaches you how to walk back to the presence of the Lord. And nowhere does it say this is something you do upon your physical death. You learn to walk back to His presence here and now.

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

— Alma 34:32
Doctrine and Covenants 93:1 walks you through every single covenant of the Temple for those that have eyes to see:   
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who *forsaketh his sins and *cometh unto me, and *calleth on my name, and *obeyeth my voice, and *keepeth my commandments , **shall see my face and know that I am ;
Do you believe the Temple is teaching you identifications that you will need on the other side?

Or are you willing to consider the Temple is teaching you how to fulfill D&C see God face to face—in this life?

To help illustrate the carnal view of the temple versus the spiritual view, here are some examples:

The carnal view sees the temple as outward and literal. Just like Nicodemus thought Jesus meant he needed to literally go back into his mother's womb and be born again, the carnal man works from the outside in. They look for things outside of themselves and try to improve their environment, thinking it will bring happiness. They feel that outward saving ordinances and performances, like those done in temples, must be of the utmost importance over everything else.

The spiritual perspective realizes that the inner cup (their soul) is to be cleansed first, then all things will be added. They understand that all ordinances are only outward symbols of what should have already occurred within themselves.

Spiritual man or woman recognizes they are a temple that is built without hands.

The carnal man emphasizes the beauty and purpose of the temple building. They speak of the temple often, surround themselves with images of it—on pictures, calendars, wall art, jewelry, etc—and make it a point to visit the grounds with their young children, or to visit as many different temples as they can.

The spiritual person realizes that the temple building is no more than a symbol of themselves and that they are a walking temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). The spiritual person realizes that God can create a building much more grand than the the best built by human hands, but to create a Son or Daughter of God is much more difficult. THIS is the work of creation! This is the Glory of "the Fathers" (Malachi 4:6). The spiritual person respects the building but sees it as a symbol of themselves and does not revere it excessively. The spiritual man or woman is a temple that is built without hands.

To the carnal man, the temple takes on an undue importance that overshadows other things. They see it as an important place that they must go so they can check off their list of saving ordinances. They attend regularly to do work for their kindred dead and believe their salvation is tied to the attending of the temple.

The spiritual man understands the temple's place in their spiritual journey and keeps it in proper perspective. They understand that they themselves are found among the dead (spiritually). They know their salvation is only found in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.

The carnal person sees the creation parable in the endowment (reference: as nothing more than a historical account of the creation of the earth and how man and woman came to be. They see the fall of man as a event caused by literally eating from a prohibited fruit tree in the Garden of Eden. They see the way back to God as all the things that they must DO rather than what they must BE.

The spiritual individual realizes that all that is taught in the endowment is about them. They realize that they are "the man, Adam" spoken of in the creation story. On a deeper level of understanding, they see that they are comprised of a body, mind, and spirit (a holy trinity) and that Adam represents the Spirit and Eve represents the Body. They understand why Eve must be subject to Adam, because the body must be subject to the spirit, otherwise there is death (Mosiah 3:19). They understand that God is part of this trinity and that they (Adam; the spirit) can hear His voice if they will just pay attention and listen.

The carnal individual perceives the things given in the endowment as sacred secrets that are only given to the elect of God and feel that because they have received them, they are one of these elect. They believe there are things they must DO in order to reach the Celestial kingdom after they die. They think that they must protect things in the temple from being divulged on the peril of their own life because it is the mere knowledge of these things which will allow one to pass angels and gain entrance into heaven.

The spiritual person realizes the things given in the Temple have a deep spiritual meaning and that they are a mirror of what they should BE. They realize the mere knowledge of them exalts no one. They know that their own state of being and their relationship to God is what is symbolized by the things given in the endowment.

The carnal person lives in fear. They believe that when times get tough, they can save themselves by their external preparations (e.g. food storage), but are always fearful (and rightfully so) that they have not prepared enough. They suspect the "holy place" spoken of by Jesus (Matthew 24:15) means a place in the temple (building).

The spiritual person lives by faith and finds that perfect faith casts out all fear. They know that true peace comes from their relationship with God and the "holy place" and Temple spoken of is their own heart. They do not fear what happens externally, because they know that whatever happens will be for their own profit and learning. They take no thought for the morrow, but rely totally on God (Matthew 6:25-34).

The carnal person is "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7). The carnal individual is always searching for heaven but never seems to be able to find it. They become convinced that the way they have chosen is the correct one and that all others are in error. They trust in the arm of flesh (2 Nephi 4:34) and never find heaven because they are looking in the wrong place.

The spiritual person realizes that the creation parable teaches them that the new earth over which Adam is given dominion symbolizes their own physical body. They realize that they have been given dominion to overcome the "lusts of the flesh" and make their world (body) a celestial abode—a heaven on earth inside themselves. When others cry "Lo here," they are unmoved, for they do not externally seek for the kingdom of God. They realize the Kingdom of God is found within (Luke 17:21).

The carnal person thinks that life is a test and has a destination. They are seldom truly happy or joyful because of the stressful thoughts that arise from their own potential failure of the test or not knowing if they will truly arrive at the set destination.

The spiritual person knows that being redeemed from the fall, exercising great faith, and seek to experience, like the Brother of Jared, being redeemed from the fall. Jesus Christ is the destination. (Ether 12:19-22)

Salvation is Your Name
Joshua Aaron