What is an Ordinance?

What is an ordinance? It is a prescribed law or ceremony, directed by the Lord, to point our minds and spirits toward its spiritual manifestation.

Here are some examples of ordinances introduced by Joseph Smith in this last dispensation:

  • Baptisms for the Dead
  • Washing and Anointing (Points to the receiving of the Gift of the Holy Ghost and First Resurrection.)
  • Endowment (Points to the process of Ascension.)
  • Ordaining of Melchizedek Priesthood (Invitation to receive the authority to use the gifts of the Spirit in His name in the fullness.)
  • Marriage Sealing (Points to the establishment of a permanent union under the Everlasting Covenant.)
  • Second Anointing (Points to the Calling and Election Made Sure)
  • Sealing to the Church of the Firstborn (Not since Joseph Smith, sealing of others to him as proxy for the Savior.)

There is little understood about the true nature of these ordinances, as they are often taken at face value and assumed in some cases to be sealed upon us by means of the earthly ordinance. Joseph Smith said the following:

“Could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam, on the relation of man to God and angels in a future state, we should know very little about it. Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject. … I assure the Saints that truth … can and may be known through the revelations of God in the way of His ordinances, and in answer to prayer.” (History of the Church, 6:50–51;  from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Oct. 9, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards and Times and Seasons, Sept. 15, 1843, p. 331; this issue of the Times and Seasons was published late.)

In order for you to understand these ordinances you must ponder their significance and then seek personal revelation that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to you. In the future there will be additional ordinances made available that will teach and prepare one to receive the fullness of the Everlasting Covenant. The purpose of the temple/house/school of the Lord is to prepare us to receive all things. Pure temple worship will be perfected and made whole during the Millennium as the Church of the Firstborn, under the His direction, is established.

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17 Responses to What is an Ordinance?

  1. seekingthesecondcomforter says:

    Why are the above ordinances all simply symbolic and point the way but an ordinance like Baptism is required?

    So Joseph Smith did perform marriage sealings? I thought all of that got convoluted with polygamy after Joseph’s death?


  2. Baptism is a witness to the Father that you accept His Son. It opens the door to the Holy Spirit of Promise and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. The ordinances the Hebrews administered in the Temple of Solomon taught the people the pattern to receive the Messiah as a people. Baptism of water teaches us the pattern to receive the Lord as an individual.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Thanks for sharing this – it’s precisely how I’ve come to understand ordinances recently and it’s great to hear another witness. Some have defined the Holy Spirit of Promise as the Holy Ghost, but I know a few others who believe this refers to the ministration of Jesus Christ. Do you have any clarity on what the Holy Spirit of Promise is that you can share?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Are the ordinances specific to this earth or are they universal? What is the purpose of them being done in the flesh?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There is some creative license, but most are universal.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Rebecca Brent says:

    Is it possible to receive the baptism of fire and Holy Ghost from being baptized through other churches besides the LDS? In your book “A Witness of the Heavenly Realm” you met Ronald Reagan who told you he had received the Holy Ghost while alive. Are there other churches that have authority to baptize? Or is it the recipients faith which determines the validity?


  8. Yes, he did receive it while in mortality. Baptism is a witness to the Father that we accept His Son and prepares us for the gift of the Holy Ghost. If a minister of another Christian sect prays to God and through the Spirit receives authority, and the person recieving baptism has real intent, the Lord honors that baptism. There are no free passes regardless of who we think has that authority.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Rebecca Brent says:

    Wow Thank you so much! That helps me understand so much more and solves some other questions I had.


  10. J B says:

    “Hope is believing, faith is asking, knowledge is receiving, and priesthood is becoming.”


  11. Rebecca Brent says:

    In one of your books you shared what you learned about polygamy and what Joseph was actually practicing, but I am still confused about something. Was Joseph sealing women to him as his wives or something else? Why did Eliza R Snow consider him as her husband?
    Please help me understand what these sealings meant, thank you!


  12. Joseph sealed men, woman, and children to Him as part of an ordinance where he stood as proxy for Christ. It represented their entering the Church of the Firstborn. Eliza Snow claimed to be his wife.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. 1) In D&C 60:15 ” And shake off the dust of thy feet…and wash thy feet”
    2) baptism to restore the health
    are these ordinances still used in the church? and what do they mean (point to)?
    please dear kind brother, may you help me to better understand that. thank you so much bro!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. They are not used to my knowledge, but I have not inquired.


  15. tekoraa says:

    Regarding Baptism for the dead, what is the the intent for such an ordinance if baptism does not avail those who are without the law?

    22 For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. [All those who never receive the Gospel.] For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing—
    23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works. [It avails those who have accepted the Everlasting Covenant after death. They can receive the law in that realm too. Little children and those who do not have an opportunity to receive the law must still at some point make a choice. God is merciful and each will at some point have the day of their repentance, or rejection of God. PR]

    Liked by 1 person

  16. John Crane says:

    I have been studying D&C Section 128 with respect to baptism for the dead and other ordinances. I had just finished writing in my journal the answers that the Lord had given me to my questions, but I knew there was more. At that moment, I was prompted to look at my inbox, and in this post, and in the Q&A are the confirmations to some of the answers I received as well as the springboard to further questions I need to ask. Thank you for this post and for your recent answer to tekoraa and for them asking this question. And, thanks most of all to the Lord for what you wrote in this post. He is truly in the details, and though it might not be obvious to anybody else, there are mysteries revealed here that the Lord wants me to understand. He works through multiple people, across time and space to accomplish his work. Thank you for teaching me how to see this with an eye of faith.


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