President R. Brent Kinghorn
First Counselor, Rexburg Idaho Temple Presidency
It is indeed an honor to be invited to speak at a BYU-Idaho Devotional. I express our deep appreciation to President and Sister Clark and President Bruce Hobbs, the Director of University Relations for giving Sister Kinghorn and me the opportunity to return to campus and be a part of today's program. It is a blessing to be able to look out across a sea of faces representative of the many, many BYUI students who willingly come daily to the temple to give of your time and your love to sacrifice for the eternal blessings of those of the unseen world who benefit so greatly from your selfless service — and, on their behalf to say thank you. You truly are wonderful.
For 23 years I sat here on this stage every week during the devotional assemblies. I had a part in the arranging for each of the devotionals. I have been taught much from this pulpit by many, many wonderful speakers that has impacted my life for good. Before and after these devotionals I had, over the years, the opportunity to either pick up many of the devotional speakers at the Idaho Falls Airport or to take them back there for their return flight home. During those wonderful rides I received even more of the spirit and testimony of those who have stood at this pulpit.
Many from whom I learned much, were not General Authorities, but were members of our own faculty and administration, or people from local or nearby areas. Not as well known, perhaps, but people with powerful testimonies and with messages to share that touched not just me, but all those within the devotional audience. I stand on the shoulders of these great speakers who have shared from their souls their teachings that, in many instances, have literally changed lives. My wife and I are humbled to be included with such spiritual giants. It is my hope that what we share with you today may be of worth and will motivate your lives for good.
With that in mind, and as a way to introduce my message to you, may I share from an article I read last Fall in the Church News. The date was September 20, 2008. The article was concerning a news report on the Salt Lake City North Stake Conference broadcast. The article quoted Elder Richard G. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Seventy, the son of our late prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley. In his address Elder Hinckley expressed:
...[I have] a renewed sense of awe and wonder for the keys that [the Lord] has restored in this dispensation, and, even more specifically, for the keys and authority made manifest in the ordinances of the temple. (Elder Richard G. Hinckley)
Then Elder Hinckley made reference to an experience that had happened a little over a year earlier when members of his family were in the Salt Lake Temple for the sealing of his sister's youngest daughter, the 24th of President Hinckley's 25 grandchildren to be married. Elder Hinckley commented on how this was the last sealing his father performed in mortality. Then Elder Hinckley told of how his father had made a few informal remarks before the beginning of the actual sealing ordinance. He told of how President Hinckley's comments were unrehearsed and spontaneous; how he talked for a minute of two, and how he then paused and looked around the sealing room which was filled with family and a few friends of the bride and groom and then said something that struck Elder Hinckley with a powerful force:
President Hinckley, speaking quietly, almost as though speaking to himself, said, "It has occurred to me that I have sealed all five of my children and 24 of my married grandchildren in this temple." Then he paused for a moment or two and concluded with this remarkable statement, "I think that is the finest thing I have ever done" (President Gordon B. Hinckley).
Elder Hinckley then was quoted as saying, "I thought of his 97 years, and of the tremendous, untiring efforts he had made to bring the kingdom forward in the earth, yet when all was said and done, just eight months before the end of his long and productive life, in the quiet privacy of that sealing room, he reflected that the finest thing he had ever done was to bind his family — his posterity —together for eternity."
Brothers and sisters, that little snippet from the life of our dearly beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley has caused me deep reflection as well. First I tried to think of all that President Hinckley did during his 97 years of life, his almost 50 years as a General Authority, and his almost 13 years as the President of the Church. The list is impressive, but let me highlight a few of the monumental accomplishments that will forever be associated with him:
- He traveled more than a million miles and visited over 60 nations in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe, and North, Central and South America
- He met the national news media head on including Larry King Live, Mike Wallace and the National Press Corp in Washington DC
- He received 10 honorary doctors degrees from prestigious colleges and universities
- He was given the United States' highest civil award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush
- He master-minded the concept, construction and use of the massive Conference Center in Salt Lake from which we enjoyed General Conference earlier this month
- He directed the changing of Ricks College and its two year associate degree program to BYU-Idaho and its four year baccalaureate degree program
- He announced new temples in historic Palmyra New York, Winter Quarters Nebraska, and the re-building of the Nauvoo Temple in Illinois
- But he will, perhaps, best be known for his inspired determination to make the temple ordinances available to members around the world by bringing the temples to the people
- Through this great vision of small temples, he announced and oversaw the construction of 79 temples during his presidency and he dedicated or re-dedicated 95 temples during his lifetime
President Hinckley will forever be remembered for all these things, yet, in his own words, the "finest" thing he ever did was the sealing of his five children and 24 of his 25 grandchildren. It is what makes these sealings his finest accomplishment that I want to speak about today.
Twice in my life I have had the privilege of serving as a bishop in the church — once in my home ward and once here on campus. During those years I performed several marriages for members of my respective wards. Each time the couple did its best to plan as nice a wedding as possible under those circumstances. I performed weddings in our ward Relief Society room; in the member's home, in my home, in a member's back yard, and once on the banks of the Snake River by a motel across from the Idaho Falls Temple. In each case, there was music and refreshments, best wishes and pictures, a best man and a maid or matron of honor. In some of these weddings rice was thrown and a couple of times tin cans were tied to the back of the couple's car. Each time the Wedding March was played and in some cases, it was as good as the weddings we see portrayed in Hollywood. Truthfully, I have to say that in most instances the guests were not "over dressed" for the occasion and, a few of the times, neither were the bride or groom. But, in all cases, the wedding was performed according to the laws of the land, by one having authority — me — and in each case the wedding carried with it the maximum duration allowed — even "until death do they part."
But, my dear young brothers and sisters, I cannot say — nor even remotely so — that these were the "finest" things I ever did. In fact, in every case, it wasn't what I wished could have happened for these young couples. I ached for them and, in some instances, for their parents because I knew it was not what the they had wanted for their son or their daughter either.
A little over a year ago, however, a very significant and wonderful thing happened when President Thomas S. Monson and Elder Russell M. Nelson came to Rexburg to dedicate this magnificent new temple that stands above us on the Rexburg hill. They brought with them, not only their graciousness and spirituality, they brought with them the sealing power — even the power to bind on earth and bind in heaven — and that power was given to several sealers to perform marriages in the Rexburg Temple that could last for time and for all eternity and I was privileged to be one of those who received this sealing power through the authorization of President Thomas S. Monson and under the hands of Elder Russell M. Nelson.
Since that time it has now been my privilege to have personally performed 40 or so of the 500 plus marriages that have been performed in the sealing rooms of the Rexburg Temple. Two of those I performed last Saturday. And, my young brothers and sisters, I believe I now know a little more about why President Hinckley said what he said when he performed his last sealing as reported by his son, Elder Richard G. Hinckley. May I assure you that such sealings in such temples are the ultimate ordinances performed here on earth.
Let me tell you why I believe President Hinckley felt this way. In his book Doctrines of Salvation, President Joseph Fielding Smith, the great scriptorian of latter day prophets, says this:
There is no ordinance connected with the gospel of Jesus Christ of greater importance, of more solemn and sacred nature, and more necessary to the eternal joy of man, than marriage. If properly received, [in a temple of the Lord] this covenant becomes the means of the greatest happiness. The greatest honors of this life, and in the life to come — honor, dominion, and power in perfect love — are the blessings which come because of it. [A temple] marriage is the grandest, most glorious, and near exalting principle connected with the gospel. (President Joseph Fielding Smith)
In essence, President Joseph Fielding Smith felt that marriage in the temple brings the crowning blessings of the gospel to each man and woman who kneels at the alter and is sealed for time and for all eternity by one holding the sealing powers of the Priesthood.
But the blessings of the sealing power of the temple aren't just limited to a man and his wife. The family is also sealed together for time and for all eternity. Each child born in the covenant or sealed in the temple is sealed to their parents forever. In his great vision of the spirit world, President Joseph F. Smith related:
The Prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, 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,... (Doctrine & Covenants 138:47-48)
What an added blessing. What an added reason for President Hinckley to feel that the "finest" thing he ever did was to perform the sealings of his children and grandchildren.
Can you married students in the audience imagine not having those special little ones who have blessed your lives so powerfully, not be yours in the life to come? Those of you who attended the open house of the Rexburg Temple last year might remember the short introductory film that was shown to all prior to beginning the actual temple tour. In it Elder Jeffrey R. Holland commented on the concept of heaven relative to his family. "Heaven," he said, "Heaven, just wouldn't be heaven without my wife, and my children." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland)
And it wouldn't be, would it? Having your family with you forever adds new meaning to what was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith when the Lord told him,
And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy. (Doctrine & Covenants 130:2)
Brothers and sisters, many of us have wonderful relationships with our parents and our siblings. Some maybe not so good, but all of us have that dream of a wonderful family life. We look forward to loving and enjoying our children. And yet, in the next life that relationship can and will be far beyond anything we can imagine here.
In addition to having been privileged to perform the marriages of almost 40 couples in the Rexburg Temple, I have also had the opportunity to seal several couples who were married earlier in a civil ceremony. In some of those cases I also had the opportunity to seal their children to them. Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that I can think of nothing more beautiful than to see the tears streaming down the cheeks of a husband and a wife — a father and a mother — after they have now been sealed together with the same authority and the same blessings as those being married for the first time, to see their little ones brought in. These beautiful little children dressed in white who are then sealed to their parents, the same as if they had been born in the covenant. May I assure you, there is nothing more beautiful and meaningful.
But there are things that have been revealed through latter-day prophets that we also need to ponder about those marriages that are not sealed in the temple. The Lord said to the Prophet Joseph,
And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant [of marriage,] it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God. And verily I say unto you, that the conditions, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into [in the temple] and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed...are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (Doctrine & Covenants 132:6-7)
Contrast that to revealed words given to the Prophet Joseph about those marriages that are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise by one holding the sealing power in the House of the Lord:
And again verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant [in my temple], and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood;...it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.
(Doctrine & Covenants 132:19-20)
Now do you begin to catch a little glimpse of why President Hinckley shared his feelings that this sealing of his children and grandchildren in the sealing room of the Salt Lake Temple was the finest thing he had ever done?
My dear sisters, those of you not yet married, can you envision yourself kneeling across the alter someday from your perceived most handsome, most thoughtful, most understanding, most spiritual man — one worthy to take you to the temple? My dear brethren, those of you not yet married, can you envision yourself kneeling across the alter from your perceived most beautiful, most exciting, most pure woman — one whose feelings about the temple are the same as yours? My dear brothers and sisters, those of you who are already married, who already know of what I am speaking, have you already or can you yet envision someday holding the most beautiful, the most perfect little spirit in your arms that was ever created and knowing that he or she is yours for all eternity? All of you, then, when that someday comes will know why your temple sealing was worth waiting for and why it was truly the "finest" thing you ever did.
Brothers and Sister, in closing I'd like to remind you of the story told by Sister Kinghorn today about her Grandfather's experience of traveling through Las Vegas, Nevada, where he vowed that he would not knowingly enter into Satan's backyard. May you know that if you make that same vow in all that you do, then your temple worthiness, your temple desire and your temple covenants will keep him out of your backyard so that the "finest" of all mortal experiences, the blessings of the sealing powers in the Lord's temple for time and for all eternity, can be yours.
In the dedicatory prayer offered at the new Draper Temple last month, President Thomas S. Monson asked the Lord to bless you, our youth of today and our hope of tomorrow. He said,
In a time of departure from safe moorings, may youth of the noble birthright carry on in the traditions of their parents and grandparents. They are subjected to the sophistries of Satan. Help such youth to stand firm for truth and righteousness. Open wide to their view the gates of learning, of understanding, of service in Thy kingdom. Bless them with a lengthened view of their eternal possibilities. (President Thomas S. Monson, Draper Temple Dedicatory Prayer)
I bear testimony that an understanding of the sealing powers of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage provides this lengthened view of your eternal possibilities. I bear testimony that President Gordon B. Hinckley, a prophet of God, was truly inspired to declare what he knew to be true about insuring your temple sealing to be the finest thing you could ever do. May it truly be so, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Your Temple Sealing; The Finest Thing You'll Ever Do
Audio of President President R. Brent Kinghorn Spring 2009