There is a great story in the Book of Acts about an Ethiopian man who had come to Jerusalem to worship. As he sat in his chariot reading Isaiah, the spirit led Philip to approach him. Philip asked if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” Philip then joined him in the chariot, taught him about Christ and baptized him (see Acts 8:27-39).
President David O. McKay once stated, “I have met so many young people who have been disappointed after they have gone through the House of the Lord. They have been honest in that disappointment. Some of them have shed tears as they have opened their hearts and expressed heart-felt sorrow that they did not see and hear and feel what they had hoped to see and hear and feel. I have analyzed those confessions as I have listened to them, and I have come to the conclusion that in nearly every case it was the person’s fault. He or she has failed to comprehend the significance of the message that is given in the Temple.” It’s not just the youth who feel this way. Many adult members sense deeply the temple’s importance but don’t feel they understand it very well.
Coming to understand our own endowment is a very personal and sacred journey, one largely between us and the Lord. No one, other than the Lord, is really qualified to unfold everything to us and much of that will come quietly through the Spirit. Each one of us is so unique. Part of the beauty of the temple’s ordinances and teaching lies in the fact that the Lord can personalize them to whatever stage we are at in our individual growth. The path to understanding requires time, effort and experience. Sometimes though it may seem a bit overwhelming. We might need some help or at least a foundation from which to begin. The intent of this book is to help lay that foundation and to enrich your temple experience. It is written for believing Latter-Day Saints who would like to better understand their own temple endowment.
Many show up at the temple to receive their endowments without knowing what to expect. Their initial experience could have greater meaning if they had some background and context with which to better understand it. Like the Ethiopian man taught by Philip, new endowees may need some guidance and help especially at the beginning. This book actually began as a paper I wrote to help prepare my oldest daughter to receive her endowment.
Understanding Your Endowment is based primarily upon the scriptures. It is meant to be easily read and understood and to provide fresh insight and perspective into the temple ordinances. It does not discuss elements, which we have covenanted not to disclose and seeks to approach this topic with deep reverence and humility.