The endowment is more than the ordinances


The endowment that we receive in the Lord’s temples today is not the complete endowment that the Savior intends us to have.  The ordinances introduce us but the endowment is not complete until we have come into the heavenly presence and have been instructed in the things of eternity.

You may ask, “If there is more to the endowment than what I have been taught in the temple, then why hasn’t someone explained it to me?”  A careful reading of scripture revealed in these last days contains all we need to know to fully understand that there is more, much more to it.

The redemptive mission of the Savior

In his role as our Redeemer, a primary mission of the Savior is to baptize us with the Holy Ghost and with fire.  He did not complete that mission with his disciples in Jerusalem while he was among them, explaining that he had to go away first in order for them to receive this sacred gift.

He also said that his apostles would do greater works than he did. In other words, they would give the gift of the Holy Ghost, which he had not yet done. It wasn’t until after he was resurrected that he gave them the gift of the Holy Ghost and the authority to give this gift unto others.

Receive the Holy Ghost

This is a major part of the ministry of Jesus that continues to this day as we are confirmed members of the Savior’s church. Interestingly, the wording of the ordinance is in the form of a command, “Receive the Holy Ghost.”  This honors agency and requires us to make an effort.

I think we can safely say that there are millions of people who have been baptized, and have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, but have not yet received it.  Even the apostles were with the Savior forty days after he gave the gift before they finally received it.

Promise of the Father

One can be given a powerful gift, or the right to receive it, but unless it is actually received, it has no real effective power.  The Savior taught that we will receive power after the Holy Ghost has come upon us.  So until we receive this power, the Lord’s mission is not complete for us.

The Savior made it clear several times that the gift of the Holy Ghost is a promise from our Heavenly Father.  Along with the promise of a Savior, this gift was promised before this world was created.  It is the Savior that baptizes us with fire and the Holy Ghost.  This fills us with great power.

We must seek this gift

I wonder how much our missionaries truly understand and teach their investigators that there is another step to their baptism that they must complete on their own after the ordinance is performed.  I sense that too many new converts do not continue on the path to be baptized by fire.

We must ask for it in humble and earnest prayer.  We must hunger and thirst after this gift.  As Paul said, we must covet this gift.  It is a pearl of great price that is worth all that we pay for it and more.  Even if years of effort and sacrifice are required to obtain it, we are commanded to do so.

Temple ordinances part of the process

We strive to ensure that converts receive the ordinances of the temple a year after they are baptized and confirmed.  The temple ordinances serve two purposes.  They give us the promised blessings of the family sealing ordinance and prepare us further to receive baptism with the Holy Ghost.

Being baptized with fire is a requirement of the Lord to enter into his kingdom.  I believe it is analogous to being born again.  It completes the process of baptism when we are immersed in the fire of the Holy Ghost.  The temple endowment helps us to understand and complete that step.

Endowed with power

The translators of the New Testament used the word endue to describe the process of fulfilling the Father’s promise to all those who believe in Jesus Christ as Redeemer and are baptized in his name.  Endue could also have been rendered to clothe, invest or to endow, as in give power.

The Lord used the word endow to Joseph Smith when he commanded him to build a temple in Kirtland so that he could endow the Saints with power from on high.  It was in the Kirtland temple that so many rich and powerful outpourings of the Holy Ghost were received by the faithful.

More than the ordinances

The endowment consists of so much more than the ordinances of the temple.  The ordinances are just the starting point for what the Savior has in mind for us when he promises to endow us with power.  There is great power in the ordinances but there is additional power beyond that.

The additional power is found when we are consumed with the burning of the Holy Spirit within us, strengthening our desire and commitment to submit our will to God’s.  It is found as we strive to be born again and to be visited by fire and the Holy Ghost as were the Lamanites in Hel 5:45.

Pattern found in Third Nephi

In the book of Third Nephi we read the account of the righteous that were spared and visited by the Lord after his resurrection and ascension in Jerusalem.  Towards the end of the year in which great destructions accompanied the Savior’s crucifixion, the saints gathered at the temple.

Some 2,500 people were to become witnesses that day that Jesus Christ is the Savior to the entire world.  They went forth and felt the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and thrust their hands into the wound in his side.  They then knew with personal first-hand knowledge that he lives.

Witnesses know for themselves

Because of this personal knowledge, they were witnesses in a way that nobody could ever dispute.  They had seen him and they had touched him.  No matter what anybody else said, they knew that Jesus lives and is a real being with a resurrected body of flesh and bones like man.

And yet they lacked something.  When the Savior had announced in the darkness of the destruction earlier that year that he would visit them, he promised that he would baptize them with fire and with the Holy Ghost, thus fulfilling his mission as he tried to do among the Jews in Jerusalem.

The endowment begins

It was the end of the first day and the Savior announced that he would leave and come back the next day.  Yet, their faith kept him there and began the events of something extraordinary that he had wanted to do in Jerusalem but which he could not do there because of the lack of faith.

Because of his love for them, the Savior first attended to their physical infirmities and brought their children to the center of attention.  He then led them in mighty prayer, blessed the children and directed the attention of the multitude to the angels that were descending to minister to them.

In the midst of fire

The angels appeared “as it were, in the midst of fire.”  I contend that this is the baptism of fire of which the Lord has tried to teach us many times.  This immersion in the heavenly element constitutes the fullness of the endowment that he promised to them and still promises even to us today.

This is the same experience that the Lamanites enjoyed in Helaman 5:45 when they were encircled about by a pillar of fire.  The Lord said that they were baptized with fire and knew it not.  This is also the process of transfiguration that completes the promises found in the endowment.

To be continued…

5 Responses

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LDS Blogs. LDS Blogs said: Latter-dayCommentary: The endowment is more than the ordinances http://bit.ly/9v8Thh #lds #mormon [...]

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  2. I drafted this essay last year when Carol was in the hospital with cancer but did not post it as I felt it might be too sacred to share. I have since decided that it may be helpful to someone else so I went ahead and posted it as I wrote it. I spent a lot of time in prayer and visits to the temple on Carol’s behalf during that time.

    This essay was written as an interpretation to a document shared with me by a trusted fellow blogger. The subject was the redemptive mission of the Savior. We discussed the doctrine involved and the ideas expressed here reflect that doctrine. I had many deep thoughts and ideas that went beyond the material here.

    What do you think? Is there more to the endowment than the ordinances we receive in the temple? Is there something more we are supposed to do on our own to be fully endowed with power from on high and to be immersed in the Heavenly element? Do we have the right to use elsewhere what we learn in the temple?

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  3. Tim,

    It was a great pleasure reading this post. Thanks

    I think you are on the right track by seeking to write and understand this part of the gospel. Of all the things Nephi could have closed his record with he chose to focus on the Holy Ghost, saying:

    1 AND now I, Nephi, make an end of my prophesying unto you, my beloved brethren. And I cannot write but a few things, which I know must surely come to pass; neither can I write but a few of the words of my brother Jacob.

    2 Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying. 2 Nephi 31:1 – 2

    Nephi’s teachings in chapter 31 and 32 are among the most powerful in scripture. He teaches what he calls the doctrine of Christ.

    I’ll ask a few questions to put into prospective a couple of important points of doctrine.

    What are we baptized for?

    To have our sins remitted.

    How are we baptized?

    By immersion in water.

    So our sins are remitted after immersion in water?

    We were told to receive the Holy Ghost when we were confirmed. Our sins are remitted when we receive the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:17).

    How will I know when I’ve received a remission of my sins by fire and the Holy Ghost?

    The Book of Mormon gives numerous examples of people who received this gift (Enos, Alma the younger, the four sons of Mosiah, King Benjamin’s people, King Lamoni, his father, hundreds of Lamanites, some of the righteous when Christ came to the Nephites).

    The account of king Benjamin’s people is interesting. They were a people who had the gospel among them for many years. They had many prophets and holy men among them, and were described as a diligent people in keeping the commandments, a people highly favored of the Lord. Yet they had not received the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost—the mighty change.

    They had holy men and prophets among them. How could this be?

    It appears they had the Holy Ghost to lead them, but the manifestation of fire and the Holy Ghost was new to them (there may have been some individuals who received this blessing—the record doesn’t say).

    Nephi teaches that we receive the Holy Ghost, and then comes the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. It is a two step process.

    …yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost;… 2 Nephi 31:13.

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  4. Tim, I really think you are on to something here. I totally agree that we need to remember that we have been commanded to receive the Holy Ghost. It doesn’t just come upon us when we are confirmed. We have to strive to live worthy of its leading and sanctifying influence.

    I love that you brought up the example of 3 Nephi 17. There is a great post along those lines over at TempleStudy.com: http://www.templestudy.com/2008/06/11/possible-prayer-circle-in-3-nephi-17/

    Quoting from the post: “While teaching 2500 people at the temple of Bountiful, Christ organized them in concentric rings of righteousness and then He prayed with them. He was the center of these rings. Then came a ring of little children; next a ring of fire and angels; with the outer ring made up of righteous adults…”

    A commenter on the same post brought something up that I thought was spot on: “Is that not the true order of Prayer?
    Or the sanctification process?
    3 Nephi 11:38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”

    In other words, we start out on the outer ring as adults, uninitiated perhaps. We pass through the ring of fire and angels, symbolic perhaps of sanctification and reception of the Holy Ghost as well as the covenants we make, and we also need to become as little children. Only then can we finally enter to where Christ is.

    Look forward to further posts on this.

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  5. I also think of the need to have our calling and election made sure, whether in this life or in the next. We are surely promised such in the temple, but that promise won’t be realized unless we are doing all we need to to keep the covenants we make and have the Spirit to be with us and sanctify us, the whole time relying on Christ and His merits and mercy to do so.

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