There is an interesting doctrinal discussion on a post by KC Kern over at Mormon Matters entitled “The Reason for the World.” In it, KC compares the lyrics of the song “The Riddle” by the group “Five for Fighting” to Mormon theology. It is an intriguing comparison in which he analyzes the song’s lyrics of what the purpose of this earth is and why we are all here. What he boils it down to is the principle of love. If it were not for love, the purposes of the earth’s creation would be utterly wasted (JS-H 1:38-39).
This made me think of a scripture in 1 Corinthians which also speaks of the ideals of love,
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2-3; see also Moroni 7:44, 46; 2 Nephi 26:30; D&C 18:19)
My comment on this was,
Charity we know is the “pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). We can know everything (omniscience), including the temple ordinances (mysteries), have all faith (omnipotence), and even give away all (consecration), including our own lives, but if we don’t have love—pure love—we have utterly wasted the purpose of this earth. One cannot become like Christ without love. God would be nothing if it were not for His love.
When the scriptures refer to the “mysteries” we know from modern revelation that they are referring to the ordinances of the temple (see my post on this subject).
So what is greater than the temple itself? Love. For without this, we are nothing.
I would note, however, that one of the greatest manifestations of love in this world is by performing the vicarious saving ordinances of the gospel in the temple for those who have passed into the spirit world, something which they cannot do for themselves. As the ultimate vicarious work, Christ performed the sacrifice of the Atonement for us, something that we could not do for ourselves. The work of the temple allows us to become “saviors on mount Zion”, and become even more like our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, extending the blessings and ordinances of the Atonement to all. Joseph Smith taught,
The spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established,…and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion. But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them; …and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 330)
This reminds me of something Krister Stendahl, a prominent Lutheran, once said in regard to the LDS ordinance of baptism for the dead,
In a world where we finally have learned what I call the “holy envy”, it’s a beautiful thing; I could think of myself as taking part in such an act, extending the blessings that have come to me in and through Jesus Christ. That’s generous, that’s beautiful, and should not be ridiculed or spoken badly of. (Between Heaven and Earth, DVD, 2002)
One way to look at it is that just an understanding or knowledge of the temple ordinances (mysteries) is not enough; we must also perform that work regularly in order to develop within ourselves the love and charity of Christ.