No, it isn’t being sealed to your spouse on wedding day, although that is a prerequisite (preparatory and required) to receive this highest and most sacred sealing ordinance. The priesthood sealing powers of Elijah, as restored in this last dispensation (D&C 110:13-16) and vested in the presiding high priest of the Church (D&C 132:7), are truly infinite in their application, being enabled to promise eternal life and exaltation to the faithful saints while yet in this life, as Peter explained to the ancient saints (2 Pet. 1; Eph. 1:13-14). Those saints who so receive are they who are of the church of the Firstborn (D&C 76:54, 94), and who may then receive the Second Comforter (D&C 88:3-5).
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared:
After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.
When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses. ((TPJS, 149-151.))
I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it. ((ibid., 299.))
Dr. Andrew C. Skinner, currently Executive Director of The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU, provides more insight into these sacred principles in his recently published book, Temple Worship:
Another aspect of the sealing power of the priesthood is the ability of the Lord’s authorized servant to seal men and women unto eternal life, to perform an ordinance granting them eternal life once they pass beyond mortality, “to place a seal on them so that no matter what happens in the world, no matter what desolation sweeps the earth, yet they shall be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (D&C 88:84-85; D&C 109:38, 46; D&C 124:124; D&C 131:5; D&C 132:19, 46, 49).” ((McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 683.)) Elder Bruce R. McConkie added this significant insight: “Since these sealing blessings are conferred by the laying on of hands of those who hold the keys of this power, it follows that John’s description of placing a seal in the forehead is not just apocalyptic imagery but a literal description of what takes place. As with other sacred things, however, the devil has a substitute seal to place; he puts a mark in the ‘foreheads’ of his followers also. (Rev. 13:16-18)” ((ibid.)) ((Skinner, Temple Worship, 2007, 74; emphasis added.))
As Elder McConkie noted, this sealing is “conferred by the laying on of hands” and therefore is a different sealing than when one is first married and sealed in the temple. Being sealed to your spouse initially at the altar and its associated promised blessings (including those mentioned in D&C 132) are contingent upon enduring faithfulness and righteousness throughout one’s lifetime, whereupon one may then receive this final sealing and ordinance:
The sealing of men and women (couples) to eternal life is predicated upon continued faithfulness in mortality over time, after their temple marriage, and is not automatic or inherent in the marriage ceremony when a couple is first married in the temple, as temple instruction makes clear. Said President Joseph Fielding Smith, “Blessings pronounced upon couples in connection with celestial marriage are conditioned upon the subsequent faithfulness of the participating parties.” ((Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:46.)) In fact, exaltation comes as a result of proven loyalty to the Lord and his kingdom “at all hazards.” ((Smith, TPJS, 150.)) The Prophet Joseph Smith not only described the kind of complete devotion to righteousness that is required to receive this ultimate blessing but showed us the way. ((ibid., 149-51.)) In 1843, after years of serving the Lord at all hazards, Joseph heard the Lord say: “For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father” (D&C 132:49). ((Skinner, Temple Worship, 2007, 74-75; emphasis added.))
We might ask, “Must we receive this ordinance in mortality, or can it be administered vicariously after we have passed on?” Dr. Skinner helps us in understanding:
Regarding the rest of us, the Lord indicates in D&C 50:5 that whether such a guarantee comes before death or after mortality has concluded, it makes no difference. The result is the same—exaltation. That is why it is so important for all of us to endure faithfully, patiently, and cheerfully to the end of our mortal lives.
In a way, the temple endowment is preparation for the sealing ordinance of eternal marriage, which in turn is preparation for the promise of eternal life preparatory to the realization of exaltation. ((Skinner, Temple Worship, 2007, 75; emphasis added.))
I would add that baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (a type of washing and anointing) are also preparation for the temple ordinances which include initiatories (washing and anointing – D&C 124:39), which are in turn preparation for these higher sealing blessings. Undoubtedly these ordinances have a relationship to the three degrees of glory found within the celestial kingdom (D&C 131:1-5).
Note that this sealing ordinance clearly does not make one like God while in this life, but is the promise, save committing the unpardonable sin (D&C 132:26-27), that one will eventually receive such an inheritance in the hereafter (Rom. 8:16-17; Gal. 4:7). Joseph Smith taught us:
When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel-you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. ((TPJS, 348.))
More can be learned about this most solemn and sacred ordinance and it’s associated principles at the following links:
Roy W. Doxey, “Accepted of the Lord: The Doctrine of Making Your Calling and Election Sure,” Ensign, July 1976, 50.
Robert L. Marriot – good collection of quotes from various latter-day prophets and general authorities on the doctrine of making your calling and election sure.
Is this ordinance performed in modern LDS temples? If so, who administers and how is one selected to receive it? Is it all performed in utmost secrecy?
Thank you for the questions. All the ordinances of exaltation are performed in temples of the Lord.
As mentioned in the post, the only individual on earth who possesses the authority of these sealing powers of the priesthood to administer them is the presiding high priest of the Church, who is the current prophet and president, or who he delegates that responsibility. In Joseph Smith’s day, Hyrum Smith was delegated that authority (D&C 124:124).
One is selected to receive this ordinance in accordance with one’s faithfulness and proved devotion to the cause of truth and righteousness throughout a lifetime of service in the Lord’s Church, as explained by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
And it is held most sacred, as are all the ordinances of the temple.
Doesn’t Joseph Smith’s statement that we should, “make your calling and election sure for yourselves,” imply that this could be done without a Temple ordinance?
Does his statement that, “the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.” mean the Lord will be speaking to the man via the designated Priesthood ordinance, or can it mean the Lord will say that personally to him in revelation?
My main question, I guess, is…Is there any reference that this is specifically a Temple ordinance, and not a personal revelatory experience?
Elder McConkie said that this blessing was “conferred by the laying on of hands” by the appointed authority, and therefore is not a personal revelation, but an ordinance of the temple. “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority…” (A of F 5).
I’ve never thought of it as being a Temple ordinance before, but Elder McConkie’s interpretation of the seal on foreheads in Revelation is pretty convincing as well.
Also note that Br. Skinner said that the appointed authority “perform(s) an ordinance granting them eternal life once they pass beyond mortality…”
References to this as an ordinance are scattered through LDS literature like tantalizing bits of chocolate in a cookie–elusive, but unmistakeably present. I have had people refer to this openly, but I have never heard anyone give anything beyond the most vague information.
There is simply no solid information about whether or not this ordinance is currently performed within the temples today. If it is, it is done in a manner that is so highly secret that we know virtually nothing beyond what Bryce has posted here, most of which is from McConkie and Skinner.
Is there more to the temple? I rather suspect that if there is, it is something that one is only introduced to after a lifetime of diligent service, and not always in this life. What is known is this: a person must have their calling and election made sure in order to reach the highest portion of the celestial kingdom, but that may happen in the next life. Be at peace.
Thank you for your comment Benjamin. I would agree that reference to this ordinance in LDS sources is rare (it is most abundant in the scriptures, and early Church history). But I do tend to believe, however, per Dr. Skinner’s recent comments in his book, that this ordinance is currently performed within temples today. Of course, there is no way of knowing for certain to what degree.
Is this ordinance also referred to as “…”? Is the ordinance given to both the husband and wife together, at the same time?
There is a reference to the administering of this ordinance in the biography of David O. McKay titled (if my memory serves me correctly) The Rise of Modern Mormonism. The information shared in that book on this topic was interesting and enlightening.
Since there is no recent precedence among any authorities to give the ordinance a name, I will not venture there. I would call it the highest sealing ordinance, for now. As with the initial sealing at the altar of husband and wife together, this last and final sealing is also only administered to couples. Note Dr. Skinner’s remark, “The sealing of men and women (couples) to eternal life…”
It would be interesting to pick up Pres. McKay’s biography and see what it says.
I’ve read references of what I believe is this ordinance in journals of early church members. It was not uncommon to read about a couple receiving it. This may or may not be the same ordinance, but if it is then the couple would receive the ordinance in the temple.
Isn’t this the …? From what I understand they were performed quiet frequently in the early days of the Church. I’ve heard that they’re doing it more often now.
Sorry Brett. I’m not comfortable posting the early name of this ordinance until there is recent precedence from an authority in the Church. Dr. Skinner didn’t feel free to do so, and neither do I. Dr. Skinner did say in his book that the sealing ordinances were in full operation within the Church today.
Thanks for the information Bryce. Nice website. Growing up in the Church I heard a lot about having your calling and election made sure. And sometimes the temple was connected to this idea. These days I rarely hear it discussed. But maybe I am in the wrong loop. I have a copy of Greg Prince’s biography of David O. McKay – I will take a look and see if there is anythin more that is mentioned.
You’re welcome Colin, and thanks for the compliment. I agree that having your calling and election made sure is rarely spoken of today. Maybe it should be more. Perhaps we were in a phase when the Lord could only give us the milk of this doctrine; maybe today we are more ready for the meat.
What of Enos in the book of mormon?
Nephi’s people had built a temple.
He and his brother Jacob had seen the savior.
Yet Enos received forgiveness alone while hunting.
Later Enos testifies of the things he had both seen and heard,
implies that although only a voice is mentioned in his
forgivness experience, he also saw someone. Outside of the confines of the House of the Lord.
Good question John. I’m not sure if Enos received his final sealing while hunting in the wilderness. From what I read, he heard a voice in his mind. I don’t think even seeing the Lord is the same thing as the final sealing. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in the First Vision, yet it was a long time yet before Joseph received his final sealing to eternal life (D&C 132:49).
Upon further research one of it’s possible names maybe “…”.
Perhaps Enos’ experience was just a preparation for the Brethren Performing an Ordinance.
President Kimball once said, if we expended the same effort and time as Enos did, we would obtain the same blessings he did. Interesting in light of the fact that the word ENOS means
MAN. Maybe it is a type for all mankind. Who would not trade 24 hours for complete forgiveness and complete answers to prayers on so many levels. Interesting to think about.
Maybe we should get some alone time and go hunting.
Thanks John for your comments. As I’ve mentioned in previous comments, since there is no recent precedence for naming this ordinance from any authorities, I will refrain from posting it. But you are right in that we might want to take more time for these Enos-like experiences in our lives.
There are references to this ordinance, whatever it’s called, every now and then. But never, from what I recall, from a pulpit. I suppose it’s one of those things we can study and discuss but within certain sacred parameters.
Thanks, Bryce, for this informative post.
Actually, there have been references to this ordinance from the pulpit now and again, if one knows what to listen for. For he who has ears, let him hear, and eyes, let him see, and the mysteries of godliness will be unfolded before his view (Mosiah 2:9; D&C 136:32). Sometimes the things of God are hidden in language that only those who are in tune will be able to distinguish. This is why the Lord spoke in parables.
Good point, Bryce.
I’m reading Elder Ballard’s When Thou Art Converted, and I’m simply amazed how much he refers to the Temple without saying it. Phraseology, wording — those who know, will know. Same in conference talks and even other talks. Subtle references that would go over the heads of those who are not aware.
I try to pay extra attention when the Brethren speak. Never know when they will say something that isn’t apparent, that’s hidden.
And Hugh Nibley does the same thing.
For what it’s worth, I do believe there is a name for this ordinance that is in use today. A search for “the Fulness of the Priesthood” in Mormon Doctrine, Doctrines of Salvation, and other common resources will demonstrate this.
Interesting. So are you saying that these final sealing ordinances are referred to today as “the fulness of the priesthood”? I can understand that. But that is probably not their name, per se. I have not found a recent authority that has given a name to the sealing ordinance(s), although Elder McConkie does refer to the the washing of feet as a high blessing, reserved for “those who make themselves worthy.” He also says:
Interesting quote! I don’t know that the name of the ordinance is “fulness of the priesthood” but it is commonly said that a fulness of priesthood is confered by the ordinance. See Mormon Doctrine under “Kings” and also look in Doctrines of Salvation under “Fulness of the priesthood” when you get a chance.
Those that don’t know speak….. while those that know don’t
“The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood. ” (D&C 131:5).
Doesn’t D&C 132 point out that there are two ways that one can receive their calling and election? Verse 19 “. . . 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; . . . .” This being via the Temple ordinance by proper priesthood representation and verse 26: ” . . . and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, . . . .” meaning that it can occur by personal revelation/visitation.
Are those who have mental illnesses, (such as being bipolar) and have to take “mood altering” prescriptions, likely to qualify for such a great blessing?
You make an interesting observation Bruce. I think the calling and election always comes by a priesthood ordinance, which is the “appointment,” by the laying on of hands. Whether that appointed person has to be mortal or if they can be a resurrected being is probably up to God. But in either case, Andrew Skinner points out “whether such a guarantee comes before death or after mortality has concluded, it makes no difference.” Such a great blessing does not have to come during mortality.
… During a tour of the Denver Temple, prior to it’s first opening, a neighbor of mine was able to see a few rooms that the general public does not. A member of his family took him on the tour. It was explained to him that the “Second Comforter” (Christ) was literally involved in this ordinance in this special room…?
Thanks for the insight SC Nielsen. I edited the historical name for the ordinance from your comment. I’m unc0mfortable publishing it here because the brethren are also hesitant to do so. A more recent term for this ordinance that the brethren are more comfortable using is the “fullness of the priesthood.” The exact connection or relationship that this ordinance has with the Second Comforter I have yet to discover, but your insight is interesting.
Just have a quick question – when Josesph Smith saw God and the Lord in the sacred grove would that count as him receiving the Second Comforter? I know that he said that when one receives the 2nd Comforter, the Lord appears to that person and teaches him face to face, so would every appearance from the Lord be considered someone receiving the 2nd Comforter?
I don’t believe so Sam. Joseph did not receive his sealing to eternal life until well after the First Vision (cf. D&C 132:49). He had to be tried and tested in his faithfulness, just like the rest of us. You’ll notice in the early revelations that there was still a chance of his falling from his high calling (see D&C 3). Bushman notes the date when Joseph received this higher ordinance in Rough Stone Rolling. I’ll look it up when I get home.
I always thought that the First vision consisted of Joseph being transfigured. Since, it is required that you be sealed to your spouse before you can receive your calling and election, I think that the first vision was probably not Joseph having his calling and election made sure. Receiving the 2nd Comforter usually goes with receiving your call and election. Unless I misunderstand.
Below is an excerpt from Truman G. Madsen’s book The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth that I thought instructive. It is entitled The Temple and the Mysteries of Godliness: Receiving Christ Fully.
That is a great chapter from his new book. I especially like these quotes:
“‘It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance’ (D&C 131:6). This passage refers to a specific kind of ignorance. The preceding verse is talking about sealing, about coming to know by revelation through the power of the holy priesthood not only that Jesus is the Christ, but also that a relationship has been forged between you and Jesus Christ. It is a testimony that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that He is making you His. How do you come to know that? I can tell you that the promise does pertain to the temple.”
“Therein we are promised that whatever our age or the decline and disabilities that we experience here, we will one day enter in at the gate to eternal lives. On that day of renewal, we will emerge into a celestial condition, into the ‘fulness of the glory of the Father’ (D&C 93:16). There the glorious privilege of priesthood, parenthood, and godhood come together as one. There, forever, will be the reunion of the separated. As this is the crowning ordinance of the house of God, it is also the crowning truth of the gospel.”
Hi Bryce – Perhaps this seal has its counterfeits, see Karl Marx and Phrenology.
Thanks Greg for the new information. I have no doubt that Satan has his counterfeits of almost every genuine and authentic practice, principle, or symbol of God (I’ve actually thought of writing a post on this at some point). We are taught about the “mark of the beast” in the scriptures, which certainly applies in this case.
This is from a poem that the Prophet Joseph wrote about the vision of D&C 76 in Feburary 1843 (thanks to Greg for pointing this out):
You can read the rest of the poem here.
Have you ever considered the possibility that having your calling and election made sure and obtaining this sealing are two separate events. Many people in the church had their calling and election long before the ordinances of the fulness of the gospel were completely restored to the church, many before the endowment was completely restored. Incidentally, McConkie stated Jan. 1, 1973, at a BYU devotional that “many” in the church today have had their calling and election made sure.
Receiving this ordinance is, in essence, having God bear his testimony of you. If you keep that in mind while reading the scriptures, you’ll find many instances where prophets and apostles have had this ordinance come to fruition in their lives. See, for example, Hel. 10:4-7.
David N. Armenta
I commend your efforts here; very good information. Thank you for your work. I most appreciate the verifiable references, as that follows the pattern of delivered truth (preparation (Spirit), revelation (Authority), validation (Type/Pattern of Ordinance), and confirmation. (Spirit).
I share my thoughts here with good intnent and in all sincerity.
SC Nielsen’s comment (though I can appreciate his/her sincerity), is typical of how second-hand falsehoods begin within the Church. We, as members of the Church, must be cautious of sensational stories and especially of second-hand knowledge. I find that we enjoy greater liberality on the internet as members of the LDS Church, with respect to social interaction, and that especially within our community than @ the pulpit. And rightly so! Irrespective of the neighbors’ experience, one must exercise caution in sharing information that could potentially mislead eager hearts and minds. What is the purpose of sharing an experience and how was that information received? (I’ll refrain from interjecting scriptural references here.)
I’d like to see more members of the Church sharing their personal experiences under the appropriate circumstances and in the appropriate settings. SC Nielsen’s neighbors’ experience fits the pattern of urban legends.
During my service as a missionary in the Ogden, Utah Mission from 1998-2000, I came across sources of information that are largely unique to Utah, namely literature written by members of the Church, both past and current writings. I was also privy to sacred experiences shared firsthand with me by the individuals that lived the experience. Many members shared experiences that they “heard from a friend” or “a friend of a friend”, with all the reputability of the friend’s qualifications (i.e. bishop, stake president, temple service worker, etc.)
With the powerful reach of the internet, think about how many people will have access to information for free. Information is available without qualification of the audience potentially receiving it! Now, think of the members of the Church seeking greater Light and Truth. To the undiscerning, your experience can mislead. It is similar to reports that I learned of during and after my mission service. It is the responsibility of members of the Church to correct each other and to help each other focus on the truths of the Gospel, truths that are Christ’s. Whether or not He administers those ordinances himself is not the principle to be discussed. The principle is that a pattern has been given, whereby, man can act in concert with the Heavens and administer saving ordinances. I pray that you limit the sharing of that experience. You were not there to verify what your neighbor claims. You did not experience it yourself. And, the fact that your neighbor did share such a personal experience with you almost demands that you would not share it on such an open forum such as this.
If He does administer how can we verify that? If He does not, how can we validate that? Let us not treat his Presence so lightly. Let us not “miss the mark” or look past it. Truths are revealed according to patterns. Focus on the fact that sacred ordinances are a blessing, and what can be learned from the ordinance. Does it matter if a Sealer performs those ordinances or if He does? Regardless, an individual would be blessed just to be given such an experience.
Yours in pursuit of greater Light,
Agreed. I am also one (much older than you) that has no tolerance for “urban legends”. If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t have subitted that post… I have known the man for 20+ years and I stand by what he told me, though I too take info “from neighbors” very lightly. Elder McConkie has spoken much about this subject, The Second Comforter, as being Christ Himself. His writings are available to all.
I also concur that sensationalism, especially with regards to this sacred subject, is not good…
I like what Elder Packer said about sacred “interviews”. “We do not talk of those sacred interviews that qualify the servants of the Lord to bear a special witness of Him, for we have been commanded not to do so”… I guess we could all take some counsel in this regard, as with sacred things.
Thanks for your response. I speak with great respect to you, especially because of the brotherhood that binds us together in our Master. Just to be clear, I in no way question your integrity nor that of your neighbor. I completely understand. I have learned this lesson from personal experience and only hope to strengthen my ties with my brethren wherever they might be throughout the earth. I seek mutual fortification from you and others who desire to do His work as I do. I became familiar with Elder McConkie’s writings on the matter of the SC prior to serving in Utah. When we have the chance, I’d like to get your email so we can communicate as well and share thoughts on Gospel Topics and material. I look forward to learning more from you as I have a sense of the wisdom you have to share. I have the utmost respect for your words and shared comments.
It’s interesting, Clarkston was within our mission boundaries and was an area that I covered during part of my mission service. I was fortunate enough to visit the grave and feel the Spirit there. I have to say that I miss Utah and the special areas such as MH’s grave, Elder M. Cowley’s home up in Idaho, President Benson’s gravesite, and tons of other special sites I came across on the mission.
I look forward to our harmonious endeavors (& Happy 2009 all!),
Thanks for the response.
My email is: email@example.com
I just read with some interest the posts to this thread since the beginning of the year. Certainly, the Internet and the web do provide for greater interaction among a wide spectrum of people and beliefs. As I read through the recent comments I wonder if President Packer’s teachings may serve as a reference in discussing sacred things – see for example, The Gift of Spiritual Experiences. Also, I wonder if these comments underscore the predicament that is described at the end of an article by M. Catherine Thomas called Hebrews – To Ascend the Holy Mount.
Isn’t one of the prerequisites for this blessing a passing of at least one Abrahamic test? (D&C 101:1-5) It seems to me that the Prophet Joseph would administer such tests. I don’t recall the specifics, but I remember being informed of an account of the Prophet asking a faithful man for their wife’s hand in marriage. After much painful and heart rending deliberation, the man consented. The Prophet’s response was, “You passed the test.” Is this a true story and do you have the full account?
I’ve never heard of that, no.
I think I came across the account you are referring to Bruce. Here it is as told by Orson F. Whitney in “The Life of Heber C. Kimball” on pages 323-324:
It is a very humbling account of sacrifice and consecration. But I do not think it is a specific test that we must all undergo from Joseph before having our calling and election made sure. In a more general sense, yes, we must show that we have sacrificed everything and consecrated our lives to the Lord, holding back nothing, before we will receive this eternal sealing blessing. I believe that is the Abrahamic test we must pass – full consecration. We will be tested and tried throughout our lives to see if we will do all that which the Lord commands, putting everything we have on the altar. Once the Lord knows that we will follow Him, and do His will at all costs, then we will be sealed up to eternal life.
Excellent reference Bryce.
Abraham was a type. Adam’s sacrifice was a type. Further light comes when we are found in the light. The Savior’s sacrifice is the center of all renewal. It is the true pattern of creation. It is the Glorious Manifestation of His Love. Our Father knows each of us, and to find congregation with the Firstborn, we must manifest to him our heart and lay it upon the altar of sacrifice. Only then, when our heart is given back to him-fully-can be become His; because He is become Ours. Walking back into his presence is different than being caused to stand before Him. We can put nothing more upon the altar than our hearts, for that is truly the only gift which is ours to give.
Perhaps, it is notable to then realize, “Where is my heart?”