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.